Former JUDAS PRIEST drummer Les Binks has opened up about the recent surprise revelation that he was not involved in the recording of the debut album from KK'S PRIEST, the new band featuring fellow ex-JUDAS PRIEST members K.K. Downing (guitar) and Tim "Ripper" Owens (vocals).
When KK'S PRIEST's formation was first announced in early 2020, Binks was listed as a member of the group, and was scheduled to take part in the making of "Sermons Of The Sinner", which is now due on August 20 via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records. However, earlier this month, it was revealed that the drum tracks on the disc were actually laid down by Sean Elg (DEATHRIDERS, CAGE) after Binks sidelined due to "a wrist injury."
The 69-year-old Binks, who played drums on PRIEST's "Stained Class", "Hell Bent For Leather" (released as "Killing Machine" in the United Kingdom) and "Unleashed In The East" albums, addressed his non-participation in "Sermons Of The Sinner" during a brand new interview with Canada's The Metal Voice. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "This all came about from a one-off show that we did up in Wolverhampton, at K.K.'s Steel Mill, with Ripper. And it really was that — it was supposed to be a one-off thing. And I think K.K. enjoyed being out there on stage again, and he got the itch to go back on the road and to take it out and play to the fans again. And so he contacted me again after that, shortly afterwards, and asked me if I would like to make it a more regular band. And I agreed to that; [I] thought it would be a good idea. And he said, 'We'll have to do some fresh material, get an album together, and then do a tour.' He set up management and everything else, and everything was looking rosy. So that was the plan — let's do an album and then go straight on tour."
He continued: "We did that show in November 2019, and we're in 2021 now. So, of course, the recording sessions were set up, and I had a bit of a nasty accident and injured my wrist at the time, which was really bad timing. I didn't wanna delay the whole thing, 'cause I knew [K.K.] was anxious to get out on the road. So I suggested that they use another drummer, so that the album could carry on and be done. Because Ripper was flying over [to the U.K. from America] to do his vocals and so on and so forth. And luckily, he managed to do that before the lockdown came in and travel between America and the U.K. became rather a no-no."
According to Binks, it soon became obvious that his wrist injury was more serious than he originally believed. "I thought I just got a nasty sprain, but it turned out to be — after I've had it X-rayed — a little hairline fracture," he said. "So it took quite a few months to heal properly. And I'm more or less back to full fitness again. That was quite some time ago, obviously. And then, of course, the COVID thing happened, which screwed everything up. Not only for the plans that we had to go on tour, but everybody — the whole music industry, the West End shows. It's devastated the musicians' livelihoods, the road crews, the lighting people — everyone connected to live music entertainment. Everybody knows it's been a total disaster."
Binks, however, remains hopeful that he will still be able to make special guest live appearances when KK'S PRIEST tours in support of "Sermons Of The Sinner".
"I spoke to K.K. recently, and he tells me it's unlikely that there'll be any shows until 2022, which is next year," Les said. "So nothing's gonna happen for some time. And he's asked me if I would still like to be involved, and I said, 'Yeah.' So there may be something we can work out where I do a guest spot or something. But, as I said, no actual tour dates have been announced, and so everything's in that sort of uncertain stage at the moment. 'Cause nobody knows how this pandemic is gonna work out."
KK'S PRIEST, which also includes guitarist A.J. Mills (HOSTILE) and bassist Tony Newton (VOODOO SIX), will play select shows to mark the 50th anniversary of PRIEST and Downing's career as a founding member. KK'S PRIEST's setlist will consist of PRIEST classics and new songs.
Owens joined PRIEST in 1996 and recorded two studio albums with the band — 1997's "Jugulator" and 2001's "Demolition" — before PRIEST reunited with Rob Halford in 2003.
Downing left PRIEST in 2011 amid claims of band conflict, shoddy management and declining quality of performance. He was replaced by Richie Faulkner, nearly three decades his junior.
In 2019, Downing said that he reached out to JUDAS PRIEST about taking part in the band's upcoming 50th-anniversary tour but that their response was that they were not interested in including him in the celebrations.
In 2018, Downing revealed that he sent two resignation letters to his bandmates when he decided to quit JUDAS PRIEST. The first was described as "a graceful exit note, implying a smooth retirement from music," while the second was "angrier, laying out all of his frustrations with specific parties."
Downing later said that he believed the second letter was "a key reason" he wasn't invited to rejoin PRIEST after Glenn Tipton's decision to retire from touring.
Photo courtesy of LES BINKS' PRIESTHOOD Facebook page