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K.K. Downing Says He Had ‘Lots and Lots of Reasons’ for Leaving Judas Priest

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Five years after he quit Judas Priest, guitarist K.K. Downing is still being asked about his reasons for leaving — and the answers haven’t gotten any less complicated.

Downing delved into his departure during a recent interview with the Five Count, which you can listen to above. Starting off by saying “an awful lot of things” went into his exit, he traced it back to a moment of truth that took place after the band’s Japanese tour in the fall of 2009. Describing himself as “exhausted and tired” upon returning home, Downing recalled being taken aback when he got a call from management asking how soon he could get back to writing material for a new EP.

“I just wasn’t totally in agreement with the idea, to be honest,” said Downing. “We just had a long, long world tour, after 40 years, and I just thought … ‘Not too sure about that.’ And I just started to think about myself and my life and everything. I didn’t think 100 percent of what we were doing, every night up onstage, was what I really thought the fans were expecting. And it was about another 30 reasons other than that, really — lots and lots of other reasons. Some small, some not so small. And collectively, putting everything together, I thought that I wasn’t totally in a happy place, so I thought it was time to make way.”

Although Downing sounds quite content to stay home and spend time with family, he allowed for the possibility of new music at some point, even if it still feels far off on the horizon right now.

“I think, actually, today I’m a better player than I was yesterday or five years ago when I left the band, because I’ve had a chance to relax a little bit and take in and absorb stuff that I’ve learned and practice, as opposed to learning something and zipping off somewhere and having to do this, that and the other,” said Downing. “I still learn and practice, and one day there’ll be a show somewhere. But we’ll have to see.”

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