When Judas Priest axeman K.K. Downing announced his departure in 2011, fans were sent reeling wondering what would come next for the Metal Gods. A replacement was quickly named as the rock world speculated what big name guitarist would be worthy of filling the void. The relatively unknown Richie Faulkner was selected and has been embraced ever since and the six-stringer even admits he wasn’t nervous assuming his slot alongside the legendary Glenn Tipton.
“Priest didn’t want someone who was too well-known,” Faulkner began telling Metal Blast. “They didn’t want someone who had been in five or six bands already and who had been around the block. Although they wanted someone who was relatively new, at the same time they wanted someone who they knew would respond well on stage, someone who knew the life on the road and the experience of the big stages.”
Having spent time playing with Lauren Harris (daughter of Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris) opening for Maiden and others, he realized he fit the mold and went on, “Fortunately, I was in the right position; I had been all over the world, I had played big crowds, but was still relatively unknown, so it sort of ticked all the boxes for what Priest wanted.”
When asked if he was nervous to replace the legendary K.K. Downing, Faulkner said, “It wasn’t really a concern, no. You can’t let that get in your way; you’ve been given an opportunity. There will always be people out there who don’t like you and who’ll prefer someone else. That’s the beauty of music; we’ve all got our own opinion.” Talking about the situation from a fan standpoint, he added, “There was some skepticism, of course; after 40 years there’s a new guy showing up, so people feared the worst. I think that’s healthy, since it showed the passion that the fans had for the band. They cared so much that they are skeptical. It was the same when Rob Halford left. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t have an opinion. I understand.”
There has been a lot of talk from Rob Halford about a follow-up to Priest’s 2014 effort, Redeemer of Souls, which was also the first to feature the new guitarist. Speaking about a new record, Faulkner said, “If we put ideas on the table and they aren’t very good, if they don’t at least match the quality of Redeemer Of Souls, there might not be a case for doing a new record.” The band have been riding high on their latest release with bassist Ian Hill calling it the best album they’ve ever made.
Continuing, he stated, “You and I know that the band won’t release something that they think is below standards. If the ideas we put down are not good, then there may not be a new record; but if there are some sparks in the room, then we’re going to push forward and a new record might take a shape. I think it will! I’m confident that it will. I’ve always got tons of ideas, and I know the other guys do as well.”
Late last year, Faulkner revealed he could have wound up in the ranks of another British heavy metal titan: Iron Maiden. He stated Steve Harris said, “I would have had you in my band. If anything would have happened to any of my guys, you were the guy that was going to do it.”
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