Often when a person begins a statement "with all due respect," it's safe to assume that what's about to be said could be interpreted as less than respectful. And when an ex-bandmate is involved?

Judas Priest bassist Ian Hill chose to make use of this precarious phrase when the San Antonio Examiner asked him about the absence of former guitarist K.K. Downing on the band's current tour.

"With all due respect to Ken, no one's missing him," he said with a laugh. "No one's asking about Ken."

However, the statement appeared to have more to do with praising the prowess of Downing's replacement Richie Faulkner than dismissing his predecessor's contributions to the legendary band. "Richie is an altogether great talent. An absolutely excellent guitarist. He does what Ken did, plus his own little traits. He's a great performer and character. We've been really lucky to find him."

Downing chose to bow out from the band shortly before they embarked on their "Epitaph Tour," which has been billed as a farewell of sorts. The veteran British metal band has said they will continue to make music and perform but have promised that their days of constant and steady roadwork are behind them.

"Personally, I think he had enough," Hill speculated as to his old friend's reasoning for splitting. "Out of all of us, maybe he's the one who enjoyed it the least … that's something you'd have to ask him."

The band certainly seems hellbent on proving they won't disappear following this tour. They've got a new best of set handpicked by many of their peers and fans on the way and Hill confirmed they are about three songs deep into a new album, which he said will be akin to their 2005 set, 'Angel of Retribution.' "We're going to get back to the heavy metal that Priest is known for," he promised.