Guitar International: I understand you had your reasons for leaving [JUDAS PRIEST], but how did things go from the band retiring in 2010 with a “farewell” tour, to you leaving in 2011 and them continuing on?
Downing: I’m glad PRIEST is continuing on. I was so close to doing that tour, it wasn’t funny. It was just one of those things. I had lots and lots of reasons for not continuing, as I wasn’t content with things as they were. I wasn’t happy with the band’s live performance. I thought it could have been better; not that the fans would notice. To me, PRIEST was always a stealth machine and that’s what I liked about it. Even though you get older, you still need to be able to deliver the goods. People came a long way and paid a lot of money to see us, so you’ve got to make sure you still give 110 percent. I thought that should be inherent and what it should always be.
Guitar International: Would you ever consider joining PRIEST for a special one-off show or perhaps join them on stage for a song or two?
Downing: [Laughs] No, I don’t think that will ever, ever happen! Obviously I’m quite happy for Richie Faulkner to be in the band. But I really wasn’t expecting to have someone who had so many familiarities as me, the looks and everything. At a glance, nothing too much has changed for the fans.
Guitar International: Can we expect a solo CD or hear you on someone’s CD, as a guest performer?
Downing: It’s hard for me to be creative in music. If I thought I was still coming up with good ideas and writing good stuff, it would probably still be befitting of PRIEST. It’s hard after 40 years; we’ll see what happens in time. I get lots of requests to perform on people’s CDs. I had a bad time with the people from Cleopatra Records; they got me involved in a WHO tribute CD. The producer hacked the solos to death and then randomly put it into the song. On my site, you can hear what I originally did. I also did a solo on Geoff Tate’s [QUEENSRŸCHE] CD. People have always asked me to do stuff, but I was always dedicated to PRIEST. It’s great that people still remember me.