The Ripper is coming, and if you’re an Australian and consider yourself a metalhead, its your duty to greet the man when he (quite literally) screams into country later this month. For one thing, he virtually saved metal Gods Judas Priest from the dumpster when Priest’s iconic frontman Rob Halford upped and left the band in a fit of midlife crisis fuelled pique in the early nineties; For this alone he deserves our undying gratitude. But, perhaps more importantly, the man has an utterly devastating voice and it’s a rare treat to be able to view such a talent at such close quarters as we’ll be able to during this tour.
So, ahead of this momentous metallic memory in the making Metal as Fuck decided to catch up with Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens to find out what’s been going on in his world of late.
Hello Ripper – can I call you Ripper? You’re coming to Australia advertised as the voice of many of heavy metal’s most loved acts, and we assume you’ll be offering selections from all of those artistes when you come down under; Which of the bands you’ve been in was the most challenging for you as a vocalist? And which songs do you find most enjoyable to sing live and why? “Hello there!! I gotta say my own stuff is the most challenging, The Beyond Fear songs and solo songs are really tough to sing; next I would say Charred Walls of the Damned...But whatever bands I've played with or songs I have sung, I always try and do them to the top of my ability.”
How did you come to be involved with the Dio Disciples project? “Wendy Dio is my manager and has been since around 2005, and Ronnie was a friend of mine.I am freinds with the guys from Dio so it was a no brainer for them to get me, who Ronnie liked as a singer and Me, who loved Ronnie! There’s a lot of passion every night when we do this.”
One of my favourite cameos from you in the last couple of years was your appearance on the Absolute Power album, which was one of Metal as Fuck’s albums of the year last year – how did you hook up with them? “Hahaha! Simon (Efemy, AP vocalist) was doing monitors for Iced Earth, he told me about his band and I said, I wanna do some screaming on it!”
You certainly managed to do that (just go back to that excellent album and have a listen to Faster than the Speed of Evil if you need any proof, people)! Do you have any plans for another solo album in the near future? Or are you happy to tour this ‘greatest hits’ style-package? “Well I'm working on a new Beyond Fear CD. Drums, and guitars are done... I’ve got around 10 killer songs! I would like to do another solo album down the road, this time with a proper band! But I love touring and it pays the bills. Ain’t gonna make much money from cd's…”
Ain’t that the truth. We were talking earlier about the songs you find difficult and/or enjoyable to sing. What sort of set should we expect on this Australian tour? “It is a great set, some songs I haven't sung in years... Priest songs from my era and some other classics, some Beyond Fear, Solo stuff, Dio/Sabbath stuff and much, much more!! This will be the best set I have done on a solo tour... I've got a great backing band (Jimmy Lardner Brown and Doug Dalton from Killrazer on guitars, Vo and Dom Simpson from Darker Half on Bass and Drums respectively) with me and they are primed and ready to make you feel the power!”
I’m feeling it already, like a gust of Manowar-approved black wind ruffling my trouser legs. But enough of that. As a somewhat limited vocalist myself, and knowing there’ll be a few budding young Rippers in the audiences across our Great Southern Land every night keen to find out what it takes to truly be one of the greats - what sort of advice can you give to us lesser singers? “Sleep, drink water and try your best all the time…The goal is, blow people away at all times!”
Are you listening, young uns? Wise words direct from one of the masters. And now back to one of Metal as Fuck’s favourite questions - last year Judas Priest appeared on the mega populist reality show American Idol, backing up finalist James Durbin – what did you think of that? “Pretty cool, it's nice to see metal up there on prime time TV.”
Clearly, nearly a year after the event this one is going to run and run, particularly when people like us keep asking the same old questions, but it’s a question worth asking… Every now and then. Now, Tim, time is running out, the bottom of the page is approaching and we’re going to have to draw this chat to a close.Anything else you’d like the readers of Metal as Fuck to know about the upcoming tour? “Be ready! Spread the word, this is gonna be a great tour!! I have not been down to Australia since the tour I did with Priest in, like, 2001! So bring it on!”