What can I say? This guy is cool. He has gotten to experience what everybody would love to experience…a dream come true. He went from being an unknown in the international music business, playing in a Judas Priest cover band, and then suddenly being asked to replace the vocalist in Judas Priest. While in Priest, he recorded several albums including the Grammy nominated “Jugulator.” After Rob Halford’s return to the band, Tim continued on to play in various projects including; Beyond Fear, Iced Earth and others as well as a solo project…and did them with some of the most talented and famous musicians in music including; Yngwie Malmsteen, Chris Caffery and Simon Wright…just to name a few in a very, very long list. T.E.N. recently caught up with “Ripper” at the Tap House in Akron, Ohio where he shared his thoughts on his new projects, the movie “Rock Star” and what it was like not only fronting one of the biggest Metal bands in history, but becoming great friends with his music heroes.
The Entertainment Nexus- What have you been up to lately?
Tim “Ripper” Owens- Well, between the family stuff and working on some new Beyond Fear stuff….that’s a pretty much it.
TEN- Tell me about the “Charred Walls Of The Damned” project.
TRO- It’s been real successful. The album came out a lot better than people thought it would come out. It’s awesome and the reception for it was great. It’s a great CD really.
TEN- You have a very impressive list of players on your “Play My Game” cd. Could you give me a rundown of the people who contributed?
TRO- Everybody from Steve Stevens to Ray Luzier from Korn on drums…all my friends like Simon Wright and Rudy Sarzo, David Ellefson, Chris Caffrey. Then we went on with Billy Sheehan and Tony Franklin, Jeff Loomis from Nevermore, Michael Wilton from Queensryche. Bruce Kulick and Bob Kulick produced it. I mean the list is just awesome. Ya know, I don’t know if I would do it on the next solo record, if ever do and another solo record, I wouldn’t do it that way, I’d probably just get an all-star band and do it. The thing is, across the board, the album sounded the same. It didn’t sound like it was recorded in different places to put together. It was mainly recorded in L.A. so we had all the guys coming in the studio in L.A. I have all my friends on it and then some. When Billy Sheehan walked in and started playing my song it was like “Dude, how fuckin cool is that?” I was like; “Dude, just do what you wanna do.” It was awesome.
TEN- I caught your “Scream Machine” performance during the “Download Festival” on VH1 Classic. What was it like to be out on the road with those guys?
TRO- It was awesome; I mean once again he was a band of my friends but every one of them I look up to. I mean John Comprix to Simon and Chris and Dave….I look up to all of them as musicians cause there all so good. I grew up in the late ‘80s and hearing and watching Megadeth onstage and watching Simon with Dio. I watched these people so it’s like…here they are staying at my house. I’ve had Don Jamison staying at my house and earlier in the year I had Simon Wright in my basement David Ellefson stayed upstairs, Chris stayed at my guitar player’s house. I mean they’re all my friends but it’s still like they’re so good. Simon on the drums is a different style drummer than what I play with like in Beyond Fear. Him playing “Scream Machine” was just outta of control. It was so good because he doesn’t do double kicks; he does other things so good. Simon is so good. It was awesome…a dream come true.
TEN- How did you get the Yngwie Malmsteen gig and what wasn’t like working with him?
TRO- I was leaving Iced Earth and Yngwie’ s management called and asked if I would be interested in singing on something and we just kinda got together and met each other. We played on “Mister Crowley” years ago but we didn’t meet each other. So we met and hung out, went to Starbucks and I went and heard some of his stuff and I sang on it. We just kinda hung out and I actually really like hanging with him. I always say that when I call and talk to Yngwie on the phone, he’s one of the most enjoyable people to talk to on the phone. He’s so happy when he’s talking to me. I like being around him. He has all these horror stories said about him. Me…I love hanging with him. I really love it. I have a lot of stuff on my plate so I have other priorities that come above that, but dude, I can’t wait to make a new album with him.
TEN- You my friend, are a living example of having dreams come true. Do you remember what went through your head when you got the Judas Priest gig?
TRO- Well, it’s funny because I remember people used to tell me that I should be a singer for Priest and stuff like that. The way it happened was so funny because I was singing in that Seattle band for about a year when I got a call from Judas Priest so I was far from that stuff and all of a sudden I got a call. I mean everybody knows when I grew up in the ‘80s may be up to about 91, especially in high school Priest was my life. I lived and breathed it. You know…to get a call from your idols to come out and do it. The great thing about the story is I lived and breathed Judas Priest but I went there and became friends with them. We became really good friends and we still are really good friends. I probably got along and hung out more with Judas Priest than any band that I’ve ever been in my life. We did more together…I mean it took the whole “star quality” of them away from me. That’s what’s funny looking at now I don’t have the same star quality looking at them. It’s like they’re my friends. It’s almost a sad moment sometimes when you look and you go “I’ve lost that feeling that I had towards Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing.” We did so much together. I love the guys. It was an awesome time.
TEN- When you began working with Priest, what was the creative environment like? Were they open to your suggestions or ideas?
TRO- Not really, but I understood that and I was a great with it. We were hoping to get to the point someday where it could be. That’s probably why I wrote the song “Scream Machine” with John because I wanted to say “Here’s a fuckin Judas Priest song!” Maybe I should’ve written some songs with them. John gave me the music and I wrote little lyrics and vocals to “Scream Machine” and that could have been on any Judas Priest record in any time in history and probably would’ve been one of the best songs on the album. That’s why I did it; it was like “I can fuckin write em.” I never got to but I was always fine with it. I never complained about it. At the end I started thinking…maybe…ya know…I’d like to do more or given a chance to do more. I understood it; I mean it’s Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing ya know!
TEN- What was it like the very first time he stepped out onstage between the band and the crowd and you knew that you had arrived?
TRO- It was great we did the “Boathouse” in Virginia Beach for our first show. I was totally ready to go and I was so fuckin “in the zone” that I wasn’t worried. People ask me if I was nervous but no I wasn’t. I knew I could do it. If I could sing for Anyway, at that point in my life I was so ready to sing for Judas Priest. That was a well oiled machine. I remember walking onstage and I heard some people start saying “Ripper! Ripper!” and I was like (Smiles) got little chants of “Ripper.”
TEN- How did the band break the news to you that Rob Halford was coming back and you were out?
TRO- I got an e-mail from them. But I was all right with it. I got an e-mail but it wasn’t done right. There’s a way to send an e-mail and a way not to send an e-mail. When you send an e-mail to somebody at the same time you send it to BLABBERMOUTH or something…that’s not the way to do it. Judas Priest handled it in a good way. Financially they handled it in a good way, they didn’t just say: “You’re fired…don’t pay your house payment!” They were like “Here’s what goes on…” and they handled it in a good way. I actually understood it and that’s why we’re still friends. Because, I didn’t want to be in it anymore, I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted to branch out and figure out what I could do. I wanted to see financially if I can do more, creatively if I could do more…every aspect I wanted to see if I could do more. I never would have quit Judas Priest. I never would have quit. They let me go and I guess I that’s why we’re still friends. It had to happen. It had to happen for Rob, it had to happen for Judas Priest, and it had to happen for me.
TEN- Did you ever meet Rob Halford?
TRO- Oh yeah, we’re friends. Rob’s a great guy. I still get a little star struck seeing him. It’s kinda funny, I still see him and we’re friends but it’s like “Dude, it’s fuckin Halford!” He is the “Metal God.”
TEN- What’s the one thing that you kept most from your days in Priest?
TRO- They were always like “Be good to people, be good to family.” I’m a hometown guy and I have a good family and I come here and I do this. I get a lot of shit from doing this but you saw tonight. I mean it’s fuckin packed! Free shows…have fun…and that’s why we do it. And Priest, when they met me they were like “We don’t want you to be an L.A. Rockstar.” I’m not so I kept that. They are nice to the fans and they do the thing so…
TEN- What are your feelings about the movie “Rock Star?”
TRO- (Long pause) It could have been good ya know. We we’re gonna do the movie and it was gonna be about us. It could’ve been a good thing and uh…ya know. I’m a fan of who was in it. Mark Wahlberg was in it and it’s the first time that I’ve ever had abs in my life. I liked a lot about it but the music was pretty shitty to me. It wasn’t the best in the world. It’s an honor that they wanted to write a New York Times article about me and then write a movie. I mean it was a Judas Priest movie but really the movie’s about me. That might have been what hurt the whole thing. The movie was about me not Judas Priest. I think Judas Priest pulled away from it in my opinion because the movie was about me and not Judas Priest. It would’ve been nice if it was about us and we all could’ve made some money from it. I never got a fuckin dime.
TEN- You surround yourself with the Monster energy drink logo and products. Are you endorsed by them and how to you get the endorsement?
TRO- You bet! I’m endorsed by them now but before I got endorsed by them I got some Monster and I liked it. I asked them if I could get some for when I go on the road. They sent me some on the road and I liked it so much. I mean they hooked me up with some free Monster and I was like “Dude, this is fuckin great!” I mean endorsements are great but I really like it! Ie-mailed them and asked them if I could put the Monster logo in my liner notes on my CDs. They said “Yeah, how about we officially sign you as an act?”
TEN- Ok, tell me something disturbing about yourself that you’d never revealed before an interview.
TRO- Well, I’ve said everything from “I’ve a little peter” to “I’ve got a hairy back.” I don’t think there is anything that I have not said, so there’s nothing disturbing that I can tell ya. (Laughs)
TEN- Is there anything else that you want to add or say?
TRO- I’ve got new merchandise coming among web site; I’ve got new shirts and hats. My solo CD will be re-released hopefully very soon on a different label with extra bonus tracks. We’re going to try to work it out someday so we’ll see. “Charred Walls Of The Damned” is out there. Locally, come on out to the “Tap House”…it’s a fun experience.
I want to thank “Ripper” for talking the time to talk with T.E.N. and making my ears bleed with his vocals.
For more information on “Ripper” visit www.timripperowens.com as well as his Facebook.
For exclusive photos of “Ripper” please visit the “Showing Some Love For TEN” gallery.