UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

With singer Tim `Ripper' Owens

09 April 2019 by Liselotte `Lilo' Hegt

2019 is an important year for metal singer Tim `Ripper’ Owens. The frontman, who kick-started his career with a bang as the new lead singer of the NWOBHM legend Judas Priest [1996-2003], followed by a spotlight in Iced Earth [2003-2007] and many other appearances over the years, has recently released 3 studio albums. Under the banner The Three Tremors, Ripper takes a full 80s heavy metal spin on the debut `The Three Tremors’, together with singers Sean `The Hell Destroyer’ Peck [Cage, Denner/Shermann] and Harry `The Tyrant’ Conklin [Jag Panzer], while with Spirits Of Fire he hits the vibe of Savatage and Judas Priest, together with guitarist Chris Caffery [Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra], bass player Steve DiGiorgio [Death, Testament a.o] and drummer Mark Zonder [Fates Warning, Chroma Key]. With A New Revenge, Ripper shows his more melodic, hard rock side with the solid back up of his band mates, drummer James Kottak [former Scorpions], bass player Rudy Sarzo [Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot] and guitarist Keri Kelli [Alice Cooper, Slash, Vince Neil a.o.]. Besides these projects, Ripper is part of Dio Disciples and he keeps himself busy as a solo artist. Time for an up close and personal with a man who lives and breathes metal.



MUSIC
Spirits Of Fire
,,Chris and I have been friends for a long time now. We have written a few songs together in the past so I thought it would be great to get together and write material, write a record. To get Steve and Mark in and have it produced by Roy Z, I thought was a great idea. I am a big fan of Savatage so I knew there would be a lot of Savatage influences on the stuff Chris wrote. Roy would help out writing some songs and I knew his ideas would be different than that. In the end I felt we would come up with a really great traditional heavy metal record made by a bunch of friends. It was really great to do it. Our music is traditional metal in the style of Savatage and Judas Priest but it is more than that. There are a lot of layers and the lyrics are really great, there is a lot of personal stuff in it. I think it is a really good metal record but making your first record you learn a lot as well. For sure I want to make another record and Chris is probably writing new stuff right now. We also would like to tour and actually I was hoping to do shows for this one, but at the moment I am swamped because I have a lot of other tours and shows coming up. It is really hard to tour financially when you are in our age and you need to pay bills [laughing]. That’s why I tour solo. I don’t have an issue with the way my career is but I am sure we can tour with Spirits Of Fire in the States and maybe in the future we can hit the festivals and do Europe.’’



The Three Tremors
,,That came right after when I was just about finishing Spirits Of Fire. Sean called me and said he wanted to do a three-singer project. I was in but I wanted it to be original, writing our own music and not be a band that just go out on tour and play songs from the Judas Priest `Jugulator’ CD or any other songs from my era, you know. We got Harry from Jag Panzer on board and The Three Tremors is really different from Spirits Of Fire because this record has more of a power metal style. There are three singers who sing it all, with tons of high notes and fast songs. The lyrics are over the top, the artwork is over the top, and actually everything just makes your head explode. To me it all reminds me of the 80s metal era, just everything that is going on with The Three Tremors has a throwback to it. Sean already recorded the vocals and he sent me this vocal template. Then I recorded my own version of the record by myself and what it made me do was sing it a little different than I would have if it was my own record. I didn’t want to approach it just like Sean and both have similar voices on the album. I sang it on purpose with more raspy falsetto notes, kind of like AC/DC, Metal Church and like in ,,Riding On The Wind’’ by Judas Priest. I put a lot of different layers of vocals and lows, highs and mids into it. The guys didn’t make me sing any higher because every record I do there’s some big high notes somewhere. There are actually these people who reviewed `The Three Tremors’ with hatred and they do that with everything I have done so far. A prime example of that is this one person that is saying: “Oh, Ripper is singing exactly the same again and it sounds horrible”. I am like maybe it could sound horrible but I am not singing exactly the same. That is kind of crazy. Does critique bother me? No, unless people just give the album a bad review because they hate me and therefor don’t like it. Instead they could say: “Well this is not my kind of thing but it is pretty good what they are doing”. I think when people have never had anything to do with music in the first place but yet they think they know how to tell you how to do your music, that’s when its funny to me.’’



A New Revenge
,,This project goes way back and was originally called Project Rock. Keri and James had this idea to start an all-star band, go to Europe and play songs from our back catalogue. When James called me I liked the idea because having also Rudy and keyboard player Teddy Zigzag we could play songs from Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Quiet Riot, Alice Cooper, Scorpions, Guns ‘N Roses. We toured in Europe and a lot in Russia but then Keri said he got some songs and wanted to write more music together and we did. When the album was written, ready to put it out, we thought it was better to change the band name. I love the way `Enemies & Lovers’ turned out. There are some heavy songs, some middle of the road songs on it and I really love it. Also the production is fantastic. It is also great that A New Revenge sounds different than The Three Tremors and Spirits Of Fire. This one is more like hard rock. It is very melodic, very catchy and has a sing-along to it, like hold your beer up in the air and everybody just kind of sings to it.’’



`Gazing At Medusa’: 10th album by Christian metal band Tourniquet [2018]
,,Ted Kirkpatrick is the drummer and the main guy of this band and he gave me a shout asking if I was interested in singing on the new album. When I listened to it I thought this is really different for me, more low kind of singing, great melodies, switching back and forth from the heavy singer. I thought it was great. Tourniquet is an established band already and it was an honour to do it. When I recorded my part here in my own studio, I had a really good time. I think it came out really awesome and I would love to sing on future albums as well.’’

Dio Disciples/DIO Returns: The Tour
,,I do Dio Disciples when I can, I mean I am pretty busy with my solo stuff but I really look forward to do the Dio Returns hologram tour again. Over a year ago we only played in Europe and it was the first and only time we toured. Since we got back we now try to make some changes and re-do a few things. I really enjoy doing this because nobody has done anything like that before. It is a really crazy and emotional experience as well because when I am backstage during the show and I hear Ronnie talking and he goes in with the band it’s kind of eerie because I feel like I just walk out there and see him. So it is an emotional experience but it’s definitely really neat and unique that’s for sure. You know, I was really good friends with Ronnie, great friends with his wife Wendy and I know she only wants to make us try to make fans happy whatever it cost. Just like Ronnie did. He did take the dragon out on tour to come back and lose money on that tour because his stage set was too big. Wendy is doing the same thing. I know some fans don’t like it but she just tries to make fans happy. I love being involved in it, it is something different and as a fan I would go watch it. I would love even to go see a David Bowie hologram show because I think it would be a fantastic show.’’


Photo by Ronald den Dekker of WACON-Images

Solo career

,,Next year it probably might be time to put something together whether it is a solo record, or maybe a new Beyond Fear record. Working solo or being in a band is really not a big difference for me, it is just when I do something solo it has my name on it. Other than that I write music and I approach everything the same, but yeah it keeps me busy all the time [laughing]. There is nothing to announce yet, other than I wrote and recorded, the song ,,Tarnished Dream’’ with Glen Drover, guitarist for Megadeth for his project Walls Of Blood. The album `Imperium’ is released earlier this year and there are different singers involved, like Chuck Billy from Testament.’’


Spirits Of Fire-Photo by Alex Solca

LIFESTYLE
Fuelled by Monster Energy
,,It is a great company and a great product and I am endorsed by Monster Energy for a long time now. They treat the artists great and they help me out and they do a lot for my career. My favourite flavour is Ultra Black, it’s like a black cherry. Actually there is a new apple flavour coming out here in America, a limited edition, which is pretty good actually.’’

Wardrobe
,,Not all the time but probably half the time I wear Wornstar clothing. This brand makes custom clothing but they also sell a regular line. They have great items and again a great company right there with rock star looking clothing. I especially like the jackets they make for me. Stage wise I am pretty basic, just black and blue jeans and I like to wear a leather jacket. Off stage again pretty basic, like a button up kind of shirt or a black hoody and I wear a baseball cap all the time.’’

Life after 50
,,It is good. I definitely start to feel it [laughing]. I try to stay healthy, in fact I just got back from the gym a little while ago and I try to keep going. I mean life after 50 is good. I have a great family and I am a lucky guy so it’s all good. Yeah, I got wiser over the years I guess, but I’m probably not making the smartest decisions all the time [laughing], I don’t know [laughing].’’


Photo by Ronald den Dekker of WACON-Images

Life on the road
,,It’s a job now you know, you know. I go on the road and I tour. I go to the shows, I do my shows, I love the fans and I try to get back to the hotel as soon as I can to get my sleep. That’s what I do. I miss home but now it is a little better because with the technology you can always hook up with the family at home.’’

Biggest struggle as a musician
,,Probably even though I do well, better than I ever have financially, you still always thinking in the future wondering if it is always gonna be like this? I try to stay busy and that’s why. For me there is two things: try to make sure my voice is in shape and make sure try to stay busy and keep thinking about the future.’’

Last thing before going on stage
,,Usually being in a room by myself. I try to not talk, take a couple of deep breaths. I drink a lot of water before I go up, put my gum in my mouth, my sunglasses on and go on stage.’’

Easy musician or a pain in the ass
,,I would say I am an easy musician but the other people might say I’m a little bit of a pain in the ass. But yeah I am pretty easy and I’m easy to work on stage.’’

Social media
,,I think social media isn’t good for relationships, people tend to do things they shouldn’t sometimes. I’m fortunate that its never done anything with me but social media helps things tear apart. I am a big believer of that, but it is what it is.
It breaks and helps the market and it is great to connect the fans. I use it to promote my work but I also put some of my family life on there for the fact I want people to know a little bit who I am so they don’t mix me up. I have a girlfriend, I have kids and this is my life. It is a great life so I want them to know. I usually don’t have messenger but I just decided to get messenger again and start talking to all my fans on there and anybody that wants to get a hold on it, I can now.’’


A New Revenge

Spare time
,,I am working a lot so that is the problem. I used to golf but I don’t even have time for that anymore. When I am home I take my kids to school and pick them up and the whole day is just the craziness of that. That is four hours of the day for me right there. But mainly it is always music for me. Right now I am getting ready to do a South America tour.’’

A healthier and cleaner planet earth
,,We definitely recycle at the house here, that is probably the most we do. But I am always conscious of things.’’

Worries
,,It worries me that everybody’s feelings get hurt and everybody takes things the wrong way. The anger of people out there now. It started about six years ago. We started getting people who are angry about things and it just amazes me and it just continued on. It is a way of life now and it is only getting worse.’’

Friendship
,,As a musician I find it easy actually. I have a lot of friends in the music business and a lot are the same exact friends I had my whole life in my hometown.’’

Spotting your successor
,,Oh, I imagine there is plenty of them out there [laughing].’’

Advise to the new generation
,,Actually to any musician I would say: your job is to go out on stage and do your best. Everything you do should be around going on stage and doing your best. You prepare for that. That’s what it is: dedication and hard work. It is a lifestyle.’’

Forming the ultimate rock/metal band
,,I probably use the guys from Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler [laughing]. And I put Simon Wright on drums and we go kill it.’’
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Header Photo by Ronald den Dekker of WACON-Images
HBLS review Spirits Of Fire here
HBLS review The Three Tremors here
HBLS review A New Revenge here
HBLS interview Wendy Dio here
HBLS live review Dio Returns the tour here

Tim `Ripper Owens on Facebook here
Official TRO Website here









#timripperowens #spiritsoffire #thethreetremors #anewrevenge #headbangerslifestyle #hbls #awayoflife #frontiers





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