Tim `Ripper" Owens
By Jay Oakley
I'm sitting here with Tim `Ripper' Owens of Judas Priest, Tim `Ripper' Owens solo, Iced Earth and a whole mess of other things.
Everything. I've got all kinds of stuff.
You just got done playing here at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis with the Trinity tour. How was the set?
Yes. You know, it's fun. It's a great thing to do. It's fun, we have fun. I mean, people can see it every night. It's not like we get up there and just go through the motions. I can probably guarantee that Geoff (Tate, Queensrÿche) hasn't laughed on stage and laughed off stage like he has and the same with Blaze (Bayley, Iron Maiden) and myself. Blaze and I did this in South America a few years ago and we had a blast. It's just great, to do this and you've got to realize, I grew up in the mid-80s listening to Geoff Tate sing and becoming friends and doing this, it's fun every night.
Absolutely. You touched on this on stage but I'd love for you to reiterate in a little more detail for the fans that haven't made it out to the shows, how did this come about?
Well, Geoff and I have been trying to get together and do something for the last few years. Geoff called and said that he had this idea. We just could never get timing to do certain things and then he called this time about this idea and Blaze and I had already done this, like I said, in South America but not recorded anything or went into it as much as Geoff had talked about. So, we had the idea to put some shows together, do a song together and we did the video together for the song that's on the Operation: Mindcrime record (Resurrection) and the "Taking On The World" video is out there now with us and then we, kind of, put this tour together to see how it works. Everybody was like, "How come you didn't tour here or there?" Well, we put a two week tour together where we could in our schedules.
I think, really, there's a lot of legs with this thing. I think we could, myself, because we're all so busy and that's the problem but I would love to record a record or an EP with us using our voices the way we can and making it a great record. But, it's fantastic. It's fun to play these songs and it's great for me also because I'm playing songs from Beyond Fear and I'm playing songs from Iced Earth and I'm playing songs from the Jugulator (Judas Priest) record so I get to play a little bit of everything.
As far as recording an album with Geoff and Blaze, would you be looking to record original songs?
I think it would be recording a few songs and writing songs together. Just my idea, what I think would be a great idea is if we ever could have time because I'm in the middle of writing right now with Chris Caffery, (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Savatage) we're writing a record and I'm doing something with Roy Z, I just released the new Charred Walls Of The Damned CD but what'd be great is if we could do like four songs and then maybe take one song from each of our solo records and re-record it and put it on a record. But, if you made three or four songs and you wrote them together and used our three voices I think it'd be pretty awesome and pretty different.
I actually did want to touch on the Charred Walls Of The Damned album, I was able to pick that up today so I'm pretty stoked. I actually talked to Richard (Christy) a couple of months ago right before the album came out.
I'll see him tomorrow. I'll be having dinner with him tomorrow, yes.
So please, talk about the new record?
It's a great record. Creatures Watching Over the Dead, it's our third record on Metal Blade Records and it's really great. It's not a long record, you probably could leave here and it'll be over not to far up the road. Nine songs, they're not long, it's a little more straight forward then the other records we've done. We were trying to make choruses catchier and more sing-a-longs. I think one of the problems with the earlier Charred Walls was it was hard to do live and get the crowd into it because it's not written to be played live. But, it's my favorite record that Charred Walls has done and it came out of the gate well. It's funny because some people will say, "Hey, you should go write some music or do some original stuff." and I'm like, "Well, it's my third record with Charred Walls Of The Damned, what do you think that is?"
One of the things that was interesting when I talked to Richard about it, your first two albums (Charred Walls Of The Damned and Cold Winds On Timeless Days) came out in consecutive years. It was a five year gap for this one and he said that the one thing he wishes he could go back and change about that was spacing those two records apart more.
Absolutely, that's the first thing he said.
He said, you were still pushing the first record when the second album was coming out.
You're 100% correct and that was the first thing he said afterwards was we should have waited another year or two to put the other one out and that is it. But, you look at it and, again, we're all so busy, I don't have to do Trinity, I don't have to do Charred Walls Of The Damned, really. I could record my own music and sit and tour solo and just spend all year touring solo and playing my stuff but doing these records and doing these things is what I do for a living. As a music fan, singing on stage with Blaze and Geoff every night and hanging out and just laughing and talking, I came out of the gate as a singer in the late 80s singing "Take Hold Of The Flame" (Queensrÿche, The Warning album) so I'm still a fan or music even though I get to play on stage with everyone I've ever grown up listening to is seems like, I'm still a fan. That's why I pick to do these things and it's fun.
When you look back at Charred Walls Of The Damned, Judas Priest and your time in Iced Earth, how has it been overall getting to do all these projects?
It's great. Everything I've done worked out for a reason. I do Judas Priest which is, obviously, the best thing that could ever happen to me and I still look back and it couldn't have been any better and the guys were such great friends and it was such a great ride but that made me be able to do all these things and everything was a little bit different. Iced Earth was a different fan base from Judas Priest, Yngwie Malmsteen was a different fan base from Iced Earth, I did my Beyond Fear record, I did a solo record, I've actually got a record I recorded that's not out yet with Project Rock which is Rudy Sarzo and Keri Kelly and James Kottak which is an amazing record. It's more of a straight forward hard rock but I look at doing everything I've done in my career and I think some people look at it and go, "Well, you got fired from this or you couldn't do this or now you're playing here, you're playing here." I do more stuff now and I travel more then ever and I could do it even more but I'm pretty lucky. I look at everything I did and the great records, Framing Armageddon to me, people always talk about The Glorious Burden with Iced Earth but I think Framing Armageddon is better. The Judas Priest records, Jugulator and Demolition, are amazing. They're better now then when I listen to them back then. My solo record and Beyond Fear record, I look at everything I've done, the Yngwie records (Perpetual Flame and Relentless.) Listen, I made a record with Yngwie Malmsteen, he changed the face of guitar playing in the 80s and I get to make records with him and tour with him and I had a blast with him. It's pretty cool what I get to do.
I wanted to touch on your time in Dio Disciples briefly. The first time I got to meet you, you played White Marsh, Maryland with them and I loved the show and I loved watching you work those songs. I'd like to ask you about the tribute album (Ronnie James Dio – This Is Your Life) that came out a couple years ago. You weren't involved in it. Was the opportunity given to you? Were you to busy?
No, it wasn't given to me. It was a strange thing. It was something that happened that I actually didn't like, to be honest. I didn't like that I wasn't included, I'm in Dio Disciples and I was friends with Ronnie and he wanted to work with me and other singers were asked to do it. It was kind of strange that you had to run out and get other singers. I ended up being on the record (Japanese bonus track with Stryper's cover of "Heaven And Hell") with a live version of "Stand Up And Shout" that was a bored recording from the last show of a month long European tour. It was upsetting to me, I thought that the first person and band that should have been asked to sing on that record would have been Dio Disciples. We should have had our pick of a song and then go out and see. Basically, everybody else got to pick and I was never even asked to do it. I would have done it, I would have dropped everything.
Listen, I love Dio Disciples! Wendy Dio could not be, there could not be a better person on this Earth then Wendy Dio. She raises money for the Stand Up And Shout Cancer Foundation. She does this hologram and people think that she is trying to do this off of Ronnie and make money. No, she's spending money to do this. She doesn't need to. If she wants to make money she would sit home and do nothing. She would sit home and just go, "OK, here comes the money." She's taking money and trying to please Ronnie's fans and make fans happy. She's an amazing woman with the biggest heart I've ever seen. I love singing Ronnie on stage every night. I don't do it as much now when they tour (DD) because I tour solo. We they get shows they ask if I'm available and I tell them I'm already booked, that's the only reason.
But yeah, I was definitely hurt. I'm thinking about it now and I'm just still flabbergasted. And, it wasn't just me, to be honest. I mean, I think Oni's (Logan, Lynch Mob) on it. I thought, "How the fuck does that happen?" I was shocked that Dio Disciples wasn't asked to do a song with even me and Oni singing. We should have done "Stargazer." It should have been Dio Disciples and me and Oni singing "Stargazer."
Yeah, honest to God, the one thing I've always told people, the song that I personally wanted them to drop and have you do instead was Killswitch Engage's version of "Holy Diver." That's not meant to be disrespectful to Killswitch Engage. I'm actually from Boston and I'm very familiar with those guys but it was simply because that version has been out for years. So, in my eyes, I saw it as a common version, it was the only song on the album that had already been released and felt that since you weren't on record that that's the song I would have liked you to sing.
Yeah. Well, it's just a shame. I actually think it was a shame and I should have been asked to sing on it.
I wanted to talk to you about the Priest days and it's not, "What was it like to do this?" or "Tell me about the call to join." When you look back, what is something that really stands out to you about you time in Priest? Was it getting to know the guys? Was it touring certain areas? Was it recording the records? Is there anything in particular about your time in Priest that you look back on and just go "Fuck Yes!"?
I think, the friendship. I think, the how they treated me like family. Right when I went into Priest it was, from management to band to everything around it, I was never treated badly. It was so much fun and I was treated so well and we just got along so great and we did everything together. Ate, golf, whatever it was, we just had fun and we just did stuff. These were my idols and I've said that the only bad thing that came out it were these were my idols, these were my guys when I was in high school, ten years before I made the band, on my bedroom wall and now they're my friends and my family so I lost my idols. It was, kind of, a weird situation. I guess that's what happens when you get treated so well. That was the thing that stands out, I always say it, I don't miss...yes, we had better hotel rooms and better tour buses and all that when I was in Priest but I don't miss any of that stuff, I miss just being around and hanging out and the friendship and the family. It was amazing.
So, you always felt like an equal?
Oh God, yes! It was so awesome.
Since Trinity's wrapping up, what's next for you?
Well, since Charred Walls is out, I'm doing the writing with Chris Caffery, he's out with Trans-Siberian Orchestra right now but I've got some songs that he has and Roy Z, I'm working with him and I'm also throwing some ideas around with David Ellefson (Megadeth) and some other guys. But, the one with Chris Caffery is gonna to be on Frontiers (Records) so I gotta go home and start working. I'm not taking time off when I go home. No, I work non-stop, write some music.
God, you're so busy.
I know. I like it.
Tim, a pleasure, man.
Thank you, man. Thank you very much.