Tim "Ripper" Owens - Beyond Fear

April 3, 2006

It is such a pleasure to finally get to talk to you.

Well, good.

You're a really lucky guy. You were a fan of Judas Priest and got to sing for them. You were a fan of Iced Earth and got to sing for them. It reminds me of when I interviewed Eric Singer once. He was a fan of Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, KISS, and Queen and basically got to play with all of them. I guess the two of you have always been in the right place at the right time.

We have been. I've definitely gotten pretty lucky to have Priest get the video tape of me being that I was in the Priest tribute at one time, but I wasn't in it for over a year and hadn't sang a Priest song in over a year. For them to all of a sudden get the video tape then was definitely a lucky break, no doubt about it.

Then they did a movie loosely based on that called Rock Star. I actually got to see that not too long ago for the first time.

Originally they called us. There was a New York Times article about me and Warner Brothers had actually called and wanted to make a movie called Metal Gods and after a while it didn't look very good. It didn't look what we thought it should look like. Judas Priest pulled away from it so they went and made their own movie and it still had as many similar items as they could put without having to pay me, I think would be the way it was done.

Did you watch it?

I did see it, yeah. I thought it was all right. It was a campy Spinal Tappish type movie but unfortunately like I said, there were a lot of similarities. That was the only bad thing about it.

Yeah, I can definitely understand that. Were you surprised when Rob came back to Priest?

No, this had to happen. We weren't doing anything and we didn't have any game plan on what we were going to do anyway. I knew it was going to happen eventually and actually it happened at a really good time because I had already done the Iced Earth record. I was still in Judas Priest when I did that so I already did that. It was definitely good timing but it didn't surprise me. I knew it was going to happen eventually.

A lot of people were telling me it was such a pity that you're out of Priest now and I said no, now I get to find out what he's going to sound like with Iced Earth.

Yeah, that was a great thing. Things have been definitely really good since I left Priest and a good progression.

I got to see the reunited Priest when they were on Ozzfest. What made that so cool not only to get to see Rob back but to have this young kid standing next to me asking me all sorts of questions about Priest. I was watching him getting totally blown away and I thought "my God, this is another generation of Priest fans."

Yeah, you've got to think about it. When I first started in '97, I joined in '96 and toured in '97, there weren't as many Priest fans because Judas Priest was gone for so long. There weren't younger people but as we toured and when I remember doing Demolition, there were just tons of young people out in the crowd. It was so funny. What a transition it was coming back to a couple of years later with Judas Priest doing Ozzfest, which I had an opportunity to do when I was with the band, but we turned it down every time because we were getting ready to record. There are younger fans there to see the other bands and it's always nice to go do that.

To me that was so damn cool. It actually brought a big smile to my face to experience that. Yeah, definitely.

I'm 38 years old and I grew up in that era with Priest and KISS. You've got a new band called Beyond Fear. What led you to start that band?

When Priest and I split, I was thinking of doing it then but at that time I was thinking of a solo record. I really think that waiting was the good thing because I just wanted to join Iced Earth and be the singer of Iced Earth. So waiting to do it actually worked out real well for me and I knew I would do it eventually. I thought the timing was right. I thought at the time I had enough material. I met some guys that make it a band and I just think it was time to do it. It definitely worked out that way. It definitely worked out really good.

How does Beyond Fear differ from Iced Earth and Judas Priest?

I think the difference between Beyond Fear and Iced Earth is that I think it has Iced Earth elements in it but it stays more aggressive. It stays more to roots of like Black Sabbath. It stays more to roots of like Judas Priest but from British Steel. It has some Pantera roots. It has the aggressiveness that Iced Earth has at times but Iced Earth has a lot of variations and a lot of more galloping, more Maidenish type stuff where this doesn't. This is more straight forward catchy rhythms. The vocals are very similar because it's me singing so there's really not going to be a whole lot of difference to that.

No, that's not going to happen.

It's not more aggressive than Iced Earth. It's not that. It stays pounding. It stays more in your face. There's one slow song. It's just metal. It's just hard to describe it but that's just heavy metal. I think this just has more of the Sabbathy Panterish type of roots. It probably has the classic metal mixed in with just a little bit of hardcore or something.

What do you think about the metal scene right now having been in for so long? How do you feel it's changed and how do you feel it's stayed the same?

I think it's good. It's a lot better than it was 10 years ago. You've got to remember that 10 years ago, there wasn't one. There really wasn't. In the mid-90's, bands weren't touring like W.A.S.P. and all these because a lot of them weren't together anymore. When Priest started with the tour with me, it was a lot harder. We were going out and there was nowhere to play videos on. There was nothing. So now we have Headbanger's Ball. Obviously it's more aggressive and it's not something I really listen to but it has to do that. You've got to change. It can't stay the same. Music has to evolve. Kids want it to change a little bit. I think the good thing about nowadays is a lot of these young bands are influenced by Maiden and Priest and stuff so I think that's a good thing. It's good. Obviously it's not a singer's paradise with the aggressive metal bands but I think it's good. Like I said, it's nothing I listen to too much but I remember in the '80s the older people weren't listening to Judas Priest. The people my age at that time. Now I'm that person back in the '80s as my parents whereas my nephews are going to listen to music that I'm not going to listen to. But it's good. We didn't have festivals as big back then. Nobody does coliseum tours or anything like that any more. Nobody in any kind of music. The whole music as a state is different than what it was but I think metal right now is pretty good.

I've actually gotten into some of the current bands. Lamb Of God and Children Of Bodom are current favorites of mine. It's kind of funny. They always say the more older you get the more mellow you get but it seems with me my music has to be heavier and harder.

Well, if you like metal. The only difference with me is I would love it but me being a singer, I look at things a little bit differently. I look at it differently but I like Children Of Bodom and there are a lot of metal bands out there like Evergrey that I like and Trivium. There are a lot of great bands out there.

You toured with Chris Caffery and Jon Oliva. Was that the first introduction of people to Beyond Fear?

Yeah, I guess live it was. We've played a festival in Spain and a festival in Mexico but yeah, it was just a little teaser to go out and tour a little bit and let some people see us.

I was reading a show review of a show you had done in Brooklyn I think it was and the person pointed out that you didn't do any Priest or Iced Earth tunes. I thought that's fucking killer. Everything was totally Beyond Fear and unexpected.

Actually I played a little Sabbath medley. I didn't play Priest but I did play "War Pigs" into "Neon Nights" and out with "War Pigs". A little medley but yeah, that was the first tour. My manager suggested that I probably will play some in the future but that was the first taste of it. If I do it, I'd like to do a little medley of maybe a couple of Judas Priest songs. A couple of songs of my era and maybe an Iced Earth tune because fans are going to want it but that one I just wanted to get right into their faces.

Yeah, but it seems like it was a total hit though. I remember when Bruce Kulick started his band Union and I heard so many KISS fans bitching about how it doesn't sound like KISS. I was like well, damn if you want a rehash of KISS, go see KISS. I was wondering if you've actually had someone say that you don't sound like Priest or Iced Earth.

I'll have somebody say "wow, it sounds like Priest" and then the next person goes "it sounds nothing like them" and then some other guy goes "how come you sound just like Priest now?" It's going to sound a little like it because I was the singer in Judas Priest so it's going to always kind of sound like it.

What's your reaction to stuff like that?

They don't get it. That's how I sing. That's the kind of music I listen to. If I didn't, I would be fooling everybody. The great thing about this album is it's just me. This is me. This is Tim Owens singing like Tim Owens. Not anybody else. If I happen to sound like someone at one time then I do. It's just the sound of my voice.

You probably have a lot influences and that does come out sometimes. You are going to be releasing your debut album on May 8. I heard the new record and I love that style of singing. I've heard you in Priest and Iced Earth. It's kind of operatic and you have all these vocal ranges. I often wonder how you do that.

I wonder myself sometimes. A lot of sleep and hoping that I can hit those notes the next day. I was actually not going to put very many high notes on this album but my wife and my friends all said "you have to be nuts if you're not going to sing high notes. That's what you do. You do that as good as anybody so you better sing high notes on it." So I thought okay, I better listen to them.

Do you do anything special to take care of your voice?

Nah, I try to drink a lot of water and get a lot of sleep. It's really probably the biggest thing that I try to do. I've got to get more sleep now that I'm getting older and it's definitely something that I have to change. No staying out late anymore when I'm on the road and things like that. Just try to take care of it. You've got to know your limitations of what you can do and what you can't do. Some singers can do a lot more. Go out and do stuff or stay up later and some singers can't. I just happen to be a singer that can't.

I've noticed that some singers I've been a fan of for years and years manage to keep their pipes up and some don't manage to. It's always a pity when they don't. I think as long as you take care of yourself you ought to be good for a long time.

Yeah, exactly.

Tell me a little bit about the new record and why did you guys choose Morrisound Studios?

Well, the studio time and how much time we spent in the studio probably as a whole was between 15 and 20 days to record, master, and mix the album. That was it. We were well rehearsed and practiced and we did the drums, rhythm guitar, and the bass in Cleveland, OH at a place called the Lava Room. Jim Morris flew into town for that and I think that we did that little tour and then John the guitar player and I flew to Morrisound and worked there to finish it off. The thing is I work with Jim Morris because I think he's a great musician. He's a really good guy. He knows his music, he knows his harmonies, and he's going to put out a product that has the kind of sounds that I want it to be. He's not going to try to make something that he thinks it should be sounding wise. I mean he's going to give his two cents but he's really going to work with us on the sounds that we want. He's so easy to work with and it came out exactly how I wanted it to come out. I did The Glorious Burden with him so he's just a good guy. A good family kind of good guy.

Did you already have the songs completed by the time you went in?

Yeah, that's why we did in 15 or 20 days. I think I probably spent on the Judas Priest record 20 days on one song. They were done and they were recorded. We were just running. We actually did 14 songs and there are two bonus tracks that will come out next week. We recorded 14 songs and mastered and mixed between 15 to 20 days. So yeah, we were already done.

What three songs on your CD do you feel represents what Beyond Fear is all about?

I would say "And You Will Die", "Save Me", and "The Human Race". I would say those three are a good example of what you're going to get with the whole thing.

You're going to be touring with Anthrax in April in Europe.

Yeah, we actually leave Wednesday to go to Europe and pretty much the month of April we're in Europe touring and it's great. It's great publicity really to do that before the album comes out. It's definitely a good thing and they're nice guys and friends of mine. I'm looking forward to it.

What are your feelings on the Anthrax reunion?

I think it's great. I did my tour with Anthrax with John Bush but I'm a fan of both the bands. That's the great thing about Anthrax. I grew up listening to "Medusa" and "Caught In A Mosh". They were definitely one of my favorite bands and I think this is going to be great. Like I said, I'm a fan of both the bands. I'm pretty excited about it.

I always loved Joey Belladonna's vocals. I just love that kind of operatic style of singing.

Yeah, it was good. Like I said, I liked both styles. That was definitely good as well.

You posted "And You Will Die" online. What has been people's reaction to that song so far?

It's been good. The reviews of the album have been really good and the response to the album has been good. When people understand what it's about, I think people can tell by listening to this album that it has a heart. This is a metal band. This is a metal guy. He's not made an album here to be trendy. He's not made an album to please anybody else. He's made an album that's heavy metal. I think people get that so all the reactions so far have been real good. There are going to be negative ones but there are just people who have negative things for everything. It's been really good so far.

I know with our local paper we had this one reviewer who whenever he reviewed a metal show, it was always negative. I always wondered why he reviewed metal shows if he isn't a metal fan. I think you run into that sometimes. I was reading some interviews where people kept asking you if there was any interference with Iced Earth and you said not if it's done right.

Yeah, you have two bands at different times. Iced Earth tours and does things one year or for a few years and then when it comes off, Beyond Fear will be ready. We'll have songs written, we'll go into the studio and do it, and go back out. There's plenty of time to do both projects and have a life. They definitely won't interfere with each other.

Any other thoughts or comments?

May 9th the CD comes out and hopefully we'll be touring this summer. Maybe we'll go on the Gigantour or something. We'll get on something. Wendy Dio is managing us so May 9th go out and get it. This is a good old heavy metal record.

Tim "Ripper" Owens