"Keep It Heavy Hungary!": Interview with Tim Ripper Owens

írta MMarton88 | 2010.03.13.

After the Tim Ripper Owens solo show at the Crazy Mama Pub, Budapest, our Magazine made an extensive interview with the singer, who proved to be a complete gentleman, and a positive, good-tempered person... Hard Rock Magazine: Hello Tim! Let me greet you in the name of Hard Rock Magazine, and in the name of the hungarian Ripper fans. Your concert finished only a couple of minutes ago, it was a blast! What do you think? Tim Ripper Owens: Hello! Yeah, it was great, it was good! I mean we never rehearsed Painkiller, Ripper, or Death Race, and a bunch of songs before, but it worked! The band was awesome. For me Scream Machine was especially good! I haven't heard these guys before, we've rehearsed only last night. They are great musicians, learned the songs very well. Hard Rock Magazin: You gave here in Hungary a very special show tonight. Can you tell me, how did this whole thing started, who's idea was this concert? Tim Ripper Owens: Metal Angel got in contact with me about the idea of this show. You know, I've been so busy last year, with my own shows, I decided to see what will happen. Maybe he can put it all together, than why not? I know him from Myspace, he was there on the last hungarian Beyond Fear show too. Hard Rock Magazin: How did you choose the song for the setlist? What do you think, which are your most popular songs? Tim Ripper Owens: You know, it's a mixture of some of the songs I've done with my old bands, but Metal Angel had ideas too. I also put in my solo songs and Beyond Fear. You know it's always different everywhere. Some places Painkiller kicks ass, somewhere not so much, it's always different. But for example Scream Machine works everywhere. Hard Rock Magazin: Was it a conscious thing, that you haven't played Iced Earth? Tim Ripper Owens: Yeah, in a way. It was not because of the memories, only because I didn't need those songs tonight in the setlist. They weren't necessary to play, but don't misunderstand it, I like the Iced Earth records too. Hard Rock Magazin: There wasn't an encore tonight. Why? The crowd was a little confused... Tim Ripper Owens: The problem was that we didn't have any more songs. I always do an encore, but this situation was a little different. I've never had an additional singer on stage before, especially not one who looks like Rob Halford. It was uncomfortable. I was confused, I forgot encore. But we didn't know any more songs, that was the main problem. I know some more, propably the Green Manalishi, or something else, but the band didn't. But we'll leave the door open. We'll come back again, we will play a much longer setlist. This night was very successful. Great crowd! We'll come back with a whole set. We'll make a proper concert! But actually I enjoyed bringing up these guys on stage too, it was fun. Not the Halford thing, but the other stuff. You know, I take the singing serious, but you don't have to take your whole life too serious. Before Living After Midnight, we should have done something. It was a little mistake. Hard Rock Magazin: What do you think about the Charred Walls Of The Damned song? Tim Ripper Owens: It was awesome. I just sang it in the studio, before the show I had to learn the lyrics again. First, when the idea came, I said no. I wasn't prepared, it's not an easy song. But we learned it, it was great! Richard was excited. He was like "Oh man, you've got to do it, it's so cool, you've got to do it!" Hard Rock Magazin: Do you have any plan in the future about making a special show like this again, somewhere in the world? Tim Ripper Owens: I do these kind of shows a lot. A little different from this, but I get a band behind me and play. I've spent seven weeks in South America like that. So, you know it's fun to do when a promoter contacts me to come somewhere. It's always interesting, I like it. Hard Rock Magazin: Your last solo album, Play My Game was released in 2009. What do you think about that album? Tim Ripper Owens: This is one of the better records of my carreer. It's strong from it's start to the finish. Unfortunately the label wasn't on the top, when the album came out. You can't find it anywhere to buy. But it's a strong album, a kind of timeless. It's gonna be strong forever. It's not an album, which will disappear within five years. I'm proud of it. All the reviews I've seen were good. I think everybody understood, what I was doing and they got it. Hard Rock Magazin: It was a big suprise for me, how the songs from Play My Game kicked ass during the live performance. They were mutch better than the album versions... Tim Ripper Owens: For me, the best song I've ever done is Starting Over. When a record comes out, people expect something. My solo record is not like Beyond Fear, because Beyond Fear is Beyond Fear, it's a little bit different. But I think Death Race, Starting Over, or It Is Me, which was originally written for Beyond Fear, are very good songs. Anyway, I'm a singer. A live performer. On the stage I can give my songs the chance, what they deserve! After people go home from my show they say: "Maybe we shold go back, and listen it again!" But it's an interesting thing. Starting Over was originally completely different. It started as a sad song. I didn't want it to rip your face off. I wanted it to make you cry. It's about losing your love. It's funny, that tonight it was such a blast. The band played it really great. Hard Rock Magazin: You have collected plenty of musicians, very big names, very talented guys to play on your album. Do you know every one of them personally? Tim Ripper Owens: I haven't met all of them before, but most of them I did. You know, Billy Sheehan, Steve Stevens, I've never met them before. But almost everybody out there was a friend of mine, I've called them and they've come. It was a lucky situation. In the last years I toured a lot, and played lots of festivals. I met these guys there and we've become friends. Hard Rock Magazin: You have done a tour with your solo album. What was it like? Tim Ripper Owens: It was fun, it was a good tour, you know. I really enjoyed it, it was great with David, Chris and John. It was a "dream-line-up" you know. It was fun to do. When I collected the guys for it, I just called some friends of mine, and they wanted to do it as well as me. Unftorunately I couldn't pay as much, as they usually get, so they did me a favour. You know making a tour costs a lot of money. Hard Rock Magazin: Can we talk a little about your Priest era? Tim Ripper Owens: Yeah! Hard Rock Magazin: How do you remember the "Priest times"? Is there anything which you consider a serious mistake? If you had the chance, would you change anything? Tim Ripper Owens: No, we had very good times. It was a really good line-up, with some good friends of mine. We really enjoyed it. All of us. We're still in contact. Unfortunately I couldn't go to a Priest concert since the reunion, everytime they come, I'm on tour. But we often talk or send e-mail to each other. Hard Rock Magazin: Don't you think, that someday in the future, you might do a guest appearance in a Priest concert? Tim Ripper Owens: No, never. Hard Rock Magazin: A couple of months ago you had a little arguement in the media between you and Rob. Was it a real thing? Tim Ripper Owens: I don't even remember it. What was it about? Hard Rock Magazin: Rob said something about your singing... Tim Ripper Owens: Yeah, I've got it. He said, that only a gay man can sing Judas Priest songs well. I can't sing them because of it. But it wasn't true, it couldn't be true, it's a silly thing, he would never say something like this. Hard Rock Magazin: After the Priest, you were a member of Iced Earth. In the beginning it seemed that you have a strong position in the band. But the end of this relationship wasn't nice. How could you be a gentleman during those hard days? Tim Ripper Owens: Well, in the beginning, Jon was a gentleman too. (laughs) Everybody knows me, everybody knows that I never say bad stuff on people. It's easier for me, to stay the same. And I'm more succesful since Iced Earth, after that story, only positive things have happened to me. Hard Rock Magazin: Are you in contact with the old Iced Earth members? Tim Ripper Owens: Well, while I was in the band, there were about 20 different musicians in the band. We're good friends with Richard Chrity. But not with Jon. Hard Rock Magazin: Jon said, that he kicked you out, because during the tour the fans convinced him to bring back Matt. Have you noticed anything during the tour? Tim Ripper Owens: No, nothing. I think the main reason was that he thought that the ticket sales and the album sales weren't good enough. Maybe he thought it was my fault. But now I'm not in the band anymore, and ticket sellings are worse. It's nobody's fault. But it's great that Matt went back. He's a cool guy and a great singer. Hard Rock Magazin: Let's talk about your new job, you're the singer of Yngwie Malmsteen. There were 2 Priest albums, 2 Iced Earth albums, will there be only 2 Malmsteen albums too? Tim Ripper Owens: Well, I don't know. It's a different situation, but nowadays I have more possibilities to do my own stuff. I can do much more other stuff. Hard Rock Magazin: People say that Malmsteen is a man, who is hard to handle. What do you think about it? Tim Ripper Owens: Well, I know him for a couple of years now, and our relationship is great. But that's my experiences. He is one of the easiest person, I've ever worked with in the studio. It's great. He says "awesome", if I do what he wants me to do, it's great. Hard Rock Magazin: What do you think about Perpetual Flame? Tim Ripper Owens: It's good! I mean the mixing could have been better, but I really enjoyed singing the stuff. There are also a couple of songs, which were recorded, but they haven't appeared on the album. They are awesome as well. Hard Rock Magazin: How did the Malmsteen fans welcome you? Did they accept you? Tim Ripper Owens: It seemed to be good, I mean, it worked pretty well. The concerts were great, we hope to go again, and do more and more. Hard Rock Magazin: Malmsteen's previous singers were a little bit different from you. Their voice was different. What do you think about it, it's a big challange for you, to sing the old Malmsteen songs, like the previous singers did? Tim Ripper Owens: You know, I'm me. It's the common thing in all of my previous bands. Me. My voice. In the Priest, in the Iced Earth, Malmsteen, Beyond Fear, it's me. They wanted me to sing, they called me to sing. Malmsteen had the chance to keep Doogie in the band, but he wanted something different. He wanted something new, he wanted me, my style, my voice. I like Doogie's voice, but my voice is totally different. But I think the singers before me were not the same too. My voice has maybe the most common style with Jeff Scott Soto's voice. I can't sing the old Malmsteen songs like the original singers, but I can sing them in my way, and it's great. People come to me after the shows and tell me, they love my versions much more than the album versions. I like singing. I like expressing my emotions with it, it's a great thing. I like my job at Malmsteen. Hard Rock Magazin: I see. What's about Beyond Fear? Tim Ripper Owens: It's a funny thing. I fly home Sunday, and we'll have a rehersal on Wednesday and Thursday. I'll sing on a benefit thing on Wednesday night, a friend of mine had an accident. And next day we'll have a rehersal again with Beyond Fear. On the following week, we'll go to the studio to record 4-5 songs. We want to make some stuff, that we can send to the record companies. Our songs are great, now the missing thing is a record deal. This 4-5 songs will kick ass, but we want to be sure, and make the right decision about the record company. Maybe around March or April we can record our new album. The last Beyond Fear album was recorded, mastered and mixed within 15-16 days. We want to put 9-10 songs on the new album, we'll see how things'll happen. Hard Rock Magazin: You've got an other band, an all-star group: Hail! How did you end up together in a band? Tim Ripper Owens: Originally, David Ellefson started this all-star jamming thing at the NAMM, and he was like "Man! That would be awesome, if we would do some shows..." A year later a manager friend of ours called me again with the idea, then David called me, the stuff was ready, and we went down to South America with Jimmy DeGrasso, and did six shows. Man, that was unbelievable! People were crazy for us! They wanted to meet us at the airport, it was awesome. My idea was that I don't want to take this project too serious. I don't want to make a record with it, and I don't want it to take too much of my time. And exactly this happened! We've been everywhere with it in Europe, Greece, Turkey... This venue would be perfect for Hail! I mean it's not too big, but it can be packed, it has upstairs, it's just great. That's what Hail! is about. You come down to Budapest, play some songs, drink some beer, have fun with friends, with this all-star line up. It's just joy music. The creative stuff is my solo stuff and Beyond Fear. Hail! is just fun. Hard Rock Magazin: Who are now the Hail! members? What's about Mike Portnoy? Tim Ripper Owens: Mike just did the New York thing. The funny about the drummers is, that we've been always needed a drummer. We did some shows with him, it was great. I don't know who'll be in the next line-up of the band. David returned to Megadeth, it's a great thing, I'm glad about it. There are lot of people who wants to join. Promoters always suggests bass players. But, you know, it's not good enough for us. I've got at least 15 e-mails, from guys who think they are well-known, but they aren't. You have to have a name. Not the biggest name in the world, but you have to be someone. You know, like David Ellefson, or Andreas Kisser. Or the drummers, Roy Mayorga, Paul Bostaph, they are well-known musicians. We'll see what'll happen with Hail!, who will be in it next time. Hard Rock Magazin: Your most recent work is the Charred Walls Of The Damned stuff. How did you ended up in this band? Tim Ripper Owens: Well, Richard is a friend of mine, we've been together in Iced Earth, we stayed friends. He asked me, if I could sing this stuff for him, and I sad: Yeah. This band is also great! This music kicks ass, it's awesome. I really enjoyed, when the album came out. Hard Rock Magazin: Is it a real band, or just a project? Tim Ripper Owens: Unfortunately, we haven't been thinking about the touring yet. I'm very busy. I want to do serious touring with my solo band and with Beyond Fear. But of course every tour is important for me. Touring is a hard situation for this band, but we'll try to figure out something. We've got great reviews, everyone wants to make concerts. But you know, our guitar player is a well-known producer, he's got lots of work. Steve has got a normal job too, maybe when we'll start a tour, we'll have to make changes in the line-up. We'll see what'll happen. Hard Rock Magazin: And in the end. Some personal sutff... Tim Ripper Owens: Sure, come on! Hard Rock Magazin: When did you start singing? Tim Ripper Owens: I was a little child. I sang Elvis, and stuff like these. Every children sang this kind of music in those days. But my father liked the Rolling Stones, Bachman Turner Overdrive, stuff like these. But we also had Johnny Cash, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper albums, so this was the beginning of my relationship with the rock music. I tried to sing their songs and it was very easy for me, and I also felt that I found myself in the singing. It was a part of me. Later I appeared in choirs too. Hard Rock Magazin: Did you attend to a teacher? Tim Ripper Owens: No, not really. I had some teachers in high school, but you know... It's a natural thing. You can write, my wife is a designer-engineer, much smarter and more attractive than me, and I'm a singer, I can sing, I have the ability to sing. I'm good in the singing. If I had a choice I would be a brain-surgeon. Hard Rock Magazin: Really? Tim Ripper Owens: Yeah, it has to be great! But I can sing, I'm a singer. I think it's a natural gift, a natural talent. It's interesting. When you're younger you can sing better, it's much more easier. You can be up all night and sing, now I can't do this. It's not so easy anymore. But you know, talent is a gift from nature. A guitar player has to practice really lot to be a good guitar player. For the singing, I've got natural ability. I'm good at it. Hard Rock Magazin: Is it difficult to organise your family life with your carrier? Tim Ripper Owens: Nowadays it's easier than before. My wife understands, that to make money I have to make tours. But nowadays I'm doing better financially than anytime before. The last two years were very succesfull. But if I wasn't touring so much, I would be in big trouble. You know, we have to pay the house rent, it's not easy. My wife works too, she understands it. Last year I spent 7 months on the road. But my wife can handle it great, she understands, that that's the way it is. We've got two kids at home, it's not easy for us, none of the marriages are easy. But when I'm home, we're such a family! It's so great! Everything we do, we do like a family. Dance lessons, swimming lessons, we take the kids too, we're going out for a dinner, it's so great! When I'm at home, I don't go out to drink with my friends. I want to be with my family. And I'm not a big drinker either. (laughs) I'm lucky, when I'm at home, I'm really at home. We're together with my wife, with the children. When I record something in the studio they are there with me, I love it! Hard Rock Magazin: You like wearing a baseball hat on stage. Why? Tim Ripper Owens: It's a funny thing, people always ask it. Brian Johnson also have a hat. Klaus Meine also have a hat. Yeah, I know, Fred Durst also have a hat too, but for example Rob Flynn from Machine Head also wears sometimes hat. I'm big fan of sports. I like to be myself on the stage. And in the everyday life, I also wear a baseball cap. So why would I take it off on stage? It's funny, because people always tell me, that Fred Durst has baseball cap too, but you can see a hat in an AC/DC video too. Yeah, Fred Durst's baseball cap is very similar to mine, but do you know what the funny thing is? Maybe I've been wearing my baseball cap longer time than Fred Durst. I know that there are other kind of hats too, but what can I do? I like baseball. Hard Rock Magazin: How can you describe your last 15-20 years? Tim Ripper Owens: It was great. I've appeared on awesome records, I met a lot of people, and they helped me a lot. For example they said to join Iced Earth, and I did it, it was great. We had a great time, we had great albums, for example Gattysburg is amazing! I look over my past 15 years, and I can see lot of good things since 1996. I want to continue my carrier as long as I can. When the Priest era was over, I had the Iced Earth. When it was over, I started to work with my solo stuff and Beyond Fear. I'm a very lucky person. Hard Rock Magazin: Can you tell us the wildest story of the last 15 years? Tim Ripper Owens: I've got some secrets, but I want to keep them for myself. But I'm not a problem guy, I don't drink too much or do shots. But who knows, tomorrow we will go to this tribute night, anything can happen. (laughs) Hard Rock Magazin: Tomorrow Airbourne will also play here. Tim Ripper Owens: And You'll go there, won't you? Hard Rock Magazin: Yeah. Tim Ripper Owens: Then forward them my greetings. (laughs) But about the wild stories. I don't have any now in my mind. Hard Rock Magazin: How many days can you spend here in Budapest? Will you have time to look around? Tim Ripper Owens: Maybe tomorrow. Before the concert I don't like making programs. I like relaxing in my hotel room. I take my things easy, but before singing it's not a wise to do things. Hard Rock Magazin: Do you have memories about your previous hungarian concerts? Tim Ripper Owens: Yes. Last time the Beyond Fear show wasn't promoted well, people didn't know about it. But it was a great concert. I liked it very much! But we also had here a great time with the Priest. We had a late night, we enjoyed it, it was awesome. It's always great to come back here. Hard Rock Magazin: Can you tell us something about your plans for an upcoming hungarian concert? With which band do you want to come back? Tim Ripper Owens: We will see it. In September we'll do a European tour with my solo band, it will be great. We'll make 15-16-17 shows. But I come back here happily, with any other band of mine. Beyond Fear, Charred Walls Of The Damned, we'll see. But the guys, who supported me tonight, they were also great, with them I play again happily. No rehearsal and such a show! It's unbelievable. But next time I'll do more Beyond Fear and solo stuff. Hard Rock Magazin: Can you follow the happenings in the world of the metal music? Tim Ripper Owens: Not really. When I'm at home I always have to work with my own stuff. I usually listen to the radio, but always to sport or talking stations. If you mention nowadays music, the new Heaven & Hell record comes to my mind. Hard Rock Magazin: Which are your three favourite albums? Tim Ripper Owens: Badmotorfinger from Soundgarden, Heaven & Hell from Black Sabbath, and Sad Wings of Destiny from Judas Priest. Hard Rock Magazin: Do you have any new, secret project, like Charred Walls Of The Damned was? Tim Ripper Owens: No, now nothing. But who knows, maybe within a month I'll have something new again. (laughs) Hard Rock Magazin: Tim, thanks for the interview! Take care, see you soon. MMarton88