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Tim The Ripper Owens (Judas Priest)

Interview with Tim The Ripper Owens from Judas Priest
by Orpheus Spiliotopoulos at 19 May 2001, 2:00 AM

After a period of absence due to various problems THE PRIEST IS BACK! Judas Priest are preparing to release their comeback album called Demolition. We had the honor to be among the first people to interview Tim The Ripper Owens here in Greece, just a couple of hours after his delayed arrival (due to his flight) at the Metropolitan Hotel.<br><br>Unfortunately, the whole interview schedule got a bit messy so we interviewed Ripper together with a Radio Station representative, Tommy, so this Interview is a sort of a collaboration. Read what Tim had to say about the new album, the problems they had during the past years, the rumors about Rob Halford and more than you could ever imagine! The Priest is back. Enjoy!

Since I’m from an online Metal Zine, Tim, tell me what your relationship with the Internet is.

Well, I used to get on a little bit but I don’t get on it too much anymore. That’s because I started reading some bad stuff about me there. You know, one week I’m in a drug rehab and the next week I’m singing for Pantera, the next week Rob’s \[Halford] in the band and the next week you know…

That many rumors?

Yeah, you know, I couldn’t have like good rumors like I was seen with a bunch of women. \[Laughs] Actually I got sick of paying for it so I got rid of it. When I get back in town, I better get back on the internet because I haven’t been on it too much anyway. I just got married and my wife’s on it somewhat at work. I also have all my friends that keep me up to date and bring me stuff. I need to get on it more. The rest of the guys in the band are on it. I read the stuff and Jayne \[Andrews - band manager] gets me the stuff that people say on our web page. But I don’t get on it too much I got caught on the porn stuff too much and I had to get rid of it you know I was looking at too many naked women so my wife said you know what? That’s done! \[Laughs]

So since we’re talking about the Internet, what do you think about MP3 and Napster? The whole fuss that’s been going on, you know…

It’s good in some ways and bad in some. I mean obviously I think it’s a good thing if they would give out samples of music. Sample songs and not whole songs or one song off of an album so people could go buy the album…\[the Hotel service brings a bottle of cold water to the table]… I’m getting my vodka, straight vodka right here with all you people! \[Laughs and continues]…

You know what? Somebody’s got to get paid. The artists have to get paid. If they’re going to start doing it with music then they’ll start doing it with movies, start doing it with software and whatever. So I think it’s wrong to get whole albums or to get stuff out before it’s even put out from the bands! When I was young - obviously you guys would do the same thing - I’d get tapes off my friends and tape things and you’d do stuff like that. Ok, that’s going to always happen. People sell their CDs to Used CD Shops anyway. But as I said, I don’t agree with the whole thing.

Tommy: We already know a few things about the Demolition album. Could you clear it up for us by giving us some information about the new material? Songs, lyrics, style; we even have some keyboards on the album actually.

It’s got, obviously, some keyboards in the background but they’re used in a modern way. Keyboards will always be used in the background to thicken songs up. The way they’re used on this album isn’t that amazing but they are used in the background. I think this album’s got the Jugulator edge at times but it goes beyond once again. It actually goes back towards the classic Priest sounds at times. I think it’s got more melody than the last album. We did that on purpose you know. I think the best thing about the Jugulator album was that it’s a Heavy Metal album like nobody’s ever faced and said like Here it is. Take this album and if you don’t like it well stick it up your ass, you know.

That was basically what we wanted to do. No singles no nothing on it. Just here it is! With this album we wanted to do the same thing but I thought maybe we’d get some younger kids to like it and get some radio play too maybe. I absolutely love this album. It’s got some great songs on it. I just love the album.

Could you tell us what the main inspirations were behind the Demolition album?

Well, the BloodSucker is about the court case. It’s about the kids who committed suicide and blamed Judas Priest for it in the States. That song’s about the attorneys, honestly entitled BloodSucker. I think the album’s lyrics are more true to life even if they’re not about something in particular the lyrics on this album are more true to life. Close To You is about losing a loved one and trying to deal with it and One On One is somebody like a big time wrestler coming into the ring. It’s not made up stuff, it doesn’t seem made up like a fantasy-world stuff.

You mentioned Close To You. I noticed that there are two ballads on the new album, Close To You and Lost and Found. Actually it’s like the first time we hear The Ripper singing that softly and…

People heard it in the beginning of Cathedral Spires and they heard it in some other songs too like Bloodstained had it in the middle, a little section, but it was always a little section to tease people a little like look at him! can’t sing! and then I come back with some kind of a scream from hell or something like that. After I did Diamonds And Rust on the Live album - I did that acoustically - Glenn \[Tipton - guitar] was like I think we need to show off your voice even more into that angle because Glenn likes to make me sing anyway a human can possible sing. That’s why when we go in the studios he goes like OK, I have this thing in my mind and it’s kind of like a dog being hit by a car. Can you make that noise?. So we decided to put a couple of ballads on this album but that didn’t shorten the album. I mean we’ve got 13 songs on it They’re probably my favorite songs on this album. Cause I could like play it for my family too \[Laughs].

You know, my dad’s got a big Burn In Hell tattoo on his arm and he probably likes the heavier stuff while I don’t like the heavier stuff that much.

Tommy: Of course you know about the movie that’s dedicated to you in a way, as the singer who makes his dream come true.

Rock Star….

Tommy: Yeah, it was called Metal God I think but they changed it.

Yeah guys, well, we got away from the movie. There’s a story on me in New York Times and they bought that and we pulled away from the story. Cause you know what, they’re changing it, making shit up and it was almost like a spinal tap thing and we said we can’t deal with this. We had to get away and I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. It’s a good idea and everything I’m pretty flattered but we’re not like making money off of it. I’ve got people coming out of the woodwork saying I knew you then. You should pay me money.

I’m not sure but I think I heard they were going to have Brad Pitt be you.

No, it’s Mark Wallberg. He’s a good actor. He’s been in good movies even though he was Marky Mark, you know. And Jennifer Anniston’s my girlfriend you know \[Laughs]

Oh my! \[Laughs]

Yeah, that’s right. I didn’t even have a girlfriend at that time! \[Laughs] It’s supposed to be me though. The story’s pretty close but then they just put a whole new thing. They put a whole new thing like a twist in there you know I mean this relationship going on. I never had a relationship at that time you know. I was dating dancers and having sex but I wasn’t in some serious relationship \[Laughs, then looks around]…  I shouldn’t say that, my wife’s probably somewhere out here \[Laughs].

Why has it taken you so long from 1997, from the Jugulator album , to release a new album?

Well, we released that Live album and then we had the Record contract problems. We changed Record Labels in the States. We weren’t happy with the label we had. We didn’t feel they were pushing us good enough in the States so we got out of that deal and signed a deal with Atlantic and it took a long time to get to a contract sign it took about a year. We had this, not being able to record an album and then Glenn’s dad got sick and there were just so many problems.

Well, I’m asking because ok, there was the Jugulator album and then there was the Metal Meltdown live album but you know all the Priest fans were going like we want something new!

So did we. It was a hard time for us. Real hard time! I was at home, not able to do anything and I’m on a contract where I can’t do anything by myself and it was a hard time. We signed that new record contract - that new label - around ? if I remember well. This record definitely won’t be in between us for the next one. We already have stuff we’ve written and we’re always writing new songs and we’ll be moving off with this one.

Tommy: Are there going to be any additions to the new album? Like bonus tracks or something?

Well, I don’t think. There might be something to come out eventually. You always like to through something in nowadays you have to put one out there that’s a little different somewhere Japan always has to have something different or whatever. So we’ll see what happens we’ll see what we can dig up in the archives and see what we have. Hey I don’t even know! \[Laughs] They’ll probably make me sing another song on tour or in sound-check and record it, who knows!

Judas Priest breathes for like 30 years now and you’re sort of new if you come to think of the whole history of the band. How do you feel these days and at the point you’ve reached with Judas Priest? What do you think about all the fans around the world?

It’s great! I feel the best part is this band is we get along I get along with this band better than I ever got along with any band! We’re more friends on tour than I’ve ever been with anybody. Our chemistry on stage is unbelievable! Right from the start it was unbelievable. It carried on to our live performance and it carries over to the fans. Cause the fans have been great right from the start. They’ve accepted me most of them. Obviously there’s going to be fans that don’t accept me and I understand that. Glenn and Ken said Come and watch us live. If you can’t accept him then What can we do?.

It’s a good show so … \[The Hotel Service brings a bill for Tim to sign]… Let me sign this here and interrupt this program! \[in a very funny voice hehe]… Jesus! \[in a sort of  I’m glad they’ll stop bothering us voice]… We should have got a bunch of beers, should we start drinking! \[Laughs]. If I knew I would pay for it, I would have (bought beers). The fans have been great throughout the world. That’s why I’m looking forward to coming this time to Greece.

What have you heard about the fans in Greece?

I’ve heard they’re pretty crazy! I heard they’re crazy fans and that they support bands.

And they’ve been wanting to see Judas Priest for such a long time!

So there you go. You know, I’ll tell you one thing. When we had Greece on the Tour schedule, we were just so excited. You should have seen Glenn and Ken’s faces, they were like yeah!, you know. We need a day off there you know and I hope we do have a day off! It will be great! It will like about a hundred degrees, right?

You’re talking in Fahrenheit

Yeah, Fahrenheit.

Well, it will be like 45 degrees Celsius. Very hot, man! You like fried eggs on the road outside!

That doesn’t bother me ’cause I love playing in hot weather! Wearing that leather and sweating, I’m awful! \[Laughs] I can’t wait to be in this festival.

And you’ll be with other bands too like Megadeth and Savatage.

Yeah, I can’t wait. We’re touring with Savatage and that’s going to be just great!

Do you know Jon \[Oliva]?

I was a major fan of Savatage. When I grew up I would sing Savatage songs in some bands I was in. I got to meet Jon but I really became friends with Chris \[Caffery]. I can’t wait to play, I can’t wait to play with them. It will be like playing with a bunch of kids cause you know, they’re a little too crazy! Me being a singer unfortunately I go to bed a lot, I don’t drink that much but when I’ll be with Jon, Chris and the other guys; it will be like hell \[Laughs]. I haven’t seen the new singer yet though.

Neither have we.

I haven’t met the new singer yet but I’ll see a whole hell of a lot of him on Tour!

Tommy: What’s your relationship with Rob Halford?

I don’t have much of a relationship with him. I definitely don’t have that kind of a relationship with him! \[Laughs] I mean we’re not that close.

I bet everybody’s been asking you this question.

Well, you know, I’ve met him. I was always a Rob fan, a Priest fan growing up and got to meet him the past year in my hometown and it was nice. It was nice cause I got to say hello to him you know. Obviously he keeps telling everybody he wants back in the band, well no shit he wants back. People tell me that, you know Rob wants back in the band. Use common sense! Hell yeah he wants back in the band. He hasn’t broken any records on his own out there and all the fans have to realize that he’s not coming back because he left Judas Priest.

He totally left he left Heavy Metal one time. I know they want him back but he left the band you know and he burned his bridges when he left the band. He said Heavy Metal is done.

What would happen if Rob talked with Glenn and K.K….

…well, they’ve talked.

… and they came to an agreement or something.

It wouldn’t upset me. It’s business you know and I wouldn’t burn any bridges. I would move on, be friends with the band and hopefully still work with the band. I don’t know if they could ever work with Rob. Maybe a tour, maybe a show but I don’t think they can work with him anymore.

Imagine two singers on the band, especially you and Rob.

Oh it certainly wouldn’t be that.

Tommy: In his words he seemed to respect the fact that Judas Priest have a singer, you. What’s your opinion about this statement?

In our meeting with Rob I said I’m a Priest fan, always have been and I always will and I’m going to sing the songs like they’re supposed to be sang and I’m not coming in there to change the band.

Tommy: Like you said before a lot of fans have accepted you.

There’s always going to be a few that don’t accept me but hey I’m there just to have fun and sing the songs like they’re supposed to be sang. I think Rob will take that and he’s going to say he wants back in the band but that’s it. That’s how it’s going to be but he also wants to do his own thing and make Halford work.

Unofficially, nothing’s going on behind the scenes, right?

Not at all. Nothing good. I mean, they tried to make up and you know what? There’s no turmoil. It’s been nothing but us. We just signed the contract with Atlantic in the States. The day I signed this contract, two weeks later it was like Halford’s coming back and people don’t understand that I had to sign a contract. It’s always going to be that way. It doesn’t bother me. I think it bothers mostly the rest of the guys when they talk about Rob rather than it bothers me. We’re fucking sick of these questions and he’s not in the band, he’s not doing this show with us.

Doesn’t it bother you that most Judas Priest fans have connected Rob Halford with the band’s name?

Well, no. He’s sang with the band for some twenty years. He’s going to be connected to it.

Doesn’t it bother you at all?

No, hell no. I love to get up there and sing the songs and it doesn’t bother me at all. I’ll tell you though it could bother me if there were something wrong with it because you know he sang all those hits, sang those songs and influenced thousands of heavy metal fans. It doesn’t bother me at all. Just those rumors that we were sleeping together \[Laughs].

What’s your opinion on the Metal scene nowadays? There are so  many newcomers and there are still bands like Judas Priest hanging on there.

I think it’s a great Metal scene. There’s been a resurrection. I also think that there are good bands in the States that I like that if came out like Godsmack because they’re still raw. There are just a new face. Guitar singing attitude they wear cut off shirts like this \[showing us his shirt] and tattoos and you know my kind of shit. I like that, I like that kind of stuff. They also get a lot of Radio play in the States. They’re huge in the States and they’re pretty heavy you know.

I mean, to get Radio play in the States and I like that. The scene with bands like Savatage and others I think it’s really getting stronger because a lot of the older bands came back, so it’s good!

Tommy: Did you compose any of the songs or write any of the lyrics in the new album?

No, I didn’t. That’s because of that year that everything had happened, which I mentioned before we had written some songs and we’ve been writing songs since then but with that many miles between us and that Record Label deal and with Glenn’s dad being sick it was so hard to get together. So we had to do it in spots. I got to put a lot of influence in the album. I mean, I wanted to and Glenn wanted to but on the next album it will be a lot more influenced by me.

Tommy: You’ll have more influence in the next album.

Yes, we’re looking forward to. It’s just we were so unfortunate with all the things that happened we just couldn’t do it on this one. That sucks. Next album with this tour, we’ll tour a lot more and the album we’ll be out a lot quicker and I’ll get to put some more influence into it.

Tommy: After the Tour for this Record, you’re going to hit the Studios again?

Oh yeah, we definitely will!

You’ve got to cover up all the absence \[Laughs].

Yeah, you know, that happens. And there’s a lot of bands that don’t put out an album in a couple of years but the bad thing about us was we just came back you know what I mean we just came back and just started to get that fire burning.

I noticed something on your Judas Priest web page. In the Discography there are two albums missing on the top. The two first ones

Yeah, you know why? Because they were on a different Record Label.

I read something about them doing something bad.

Yeah, they don’t own the rights to these record albums and they don’t make anything off of it even if the songs are re-done the won’t own them. I’m not quite sure about this anyway

Ok. Since we’re finishing with this Interview, I’d like you to give a message to all the Judas Priest fans that will stop by and read this Interview.

My message is that I can’t wait to get here (Greece). First of all everybody knows I can’t wait to play here. Never been here and I’ve seen nothing I’ve like been here for two hours and I can’t wait to see the fans, I’ve heard so much about them. Also I’d like to let everybody know that I am still the singer of Judas Priest. I’m not singing for Pantera \[Laughs], I’m not in a drug rehab \[Laughs] so there you go! Looking forward to getting crazy and seeing how crazy the fans can get!

All over the World

All over the world!

Thanks Tim for this Interview. It was more than just a pleasure meeting you!

Thanks, guys, it was a pleasure meeting you too. Take care!


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