Marko Syrjälä and Arto Lehtinen of Metal-Rules.com recently conducted an interview with heavy metal vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens (ICED EARTH, BEYOND FEAR, ex-JUDAS PRIEST). A few excerpts from the chat follow:
Metal-Rules.com: You [ICED EARTH] just released your new EP, "Overture of the Wicked". With the exception of brand new track, what was the reason you decided to re-record a couple of old songs for it?
Tim: Because it's what the story is about, the next two records are about. So Jon [Schaffer, guitar] wanted to just re-release that, put that out there so that people kind of start getting familiar with it again. I mean, he wouldn't have done anything else, it just fit what we were doing and since the album was coming out, he thought while we're here let's do the "Something Wicked" trilogy, re-record it. Start the story off again; familiarize people before a couple of times.
Metal-Rules.com: When will the actual tour start?
Tim: We're probably looking at starting in October or something, I would probably think. Because we do have the HEAVEN AND HELL tour we're doing in the U.K. with HEAVEN AND HELL, so we'll probably go out before that and do a headlining tour. Once you get close to the album coming out, we'll probably start then and work it hard. We're going to try, I mean, hopefully his back will be good. Obviously this time we're going to start in Europe and not start in America…
Metal-Rules.com: Well, after finishing your European tour, you're probably going back to the States, do some tours there. What kind of following do you have in the States, because as far as I know that classic albums/classic metal is not that big thing there at the moment?
Tim: Well, we did rather well. We sold out places, House of Blues and theaters that we would play here as well here. We did well, and we had a good package on it, we had CHILDREN OF BODOM and EVERGREY, so it was a nice package. So really, it's obviously not the same over there. One thing they don't have is the festivals, which are the thing. I mean I guess they do have big festivals that tour; they have Ozzfest that tour and it will probably have 10 to 15 thousand people every night.
Metal-Rules.com: Some old-school fans of ICED EARTH still keep on asking why Matt isn't in the band, is Tim as good as him and blah blah blaa?
Tim: Well, you'll always get it. I mean there are still fans that liked the singer before Matt. I actually still hear that. That's how it is, Matt was a good singer, and a good guy and people should do that. I think people should always want Matt, but they have to still look to the future, and open their ears up and listen, come to the concert and listen. But you're always going to get it…
Metal-Rules.com: Did you manage to put your own input to the songwriting process of the new songs, because the last time, you basically came in and did the vocals for the previous album?!
Tim: It was hard with this one as well, because this is Jon's story, it's in his head, so it's hard to come in, you know and…The advantage to this record is that there wasn't somebody singing on it before me, so it was wider open for Jon's ideas, to write material that he knew could even branch out something a little bit different. But it's a story, that's the great thing about it; I said that the whole time. It's a pretty complicated story, so it's hard to write melodies for something you don't write by yourself...It's complicated for Jon to talk about, so you can imagine…
Metal-Rules.com: So, on the last album, you had "The Red Baron", you had some writing credits, so you'll have some on this one too?
Tim: I don't know, I haven't seen the credits yet! But the difference was that I was asked to write a song about something, or he had the song and I could write it about into "The Red Baron", whereas this one I couldn't write about something I didn't know about. I did give him a couple of melody ideas and we used one on one song. I think in the future as we write together, he can do that more often and we realize how we can do it. Even if he writes some lyrics, he can go, "Hey why don't you see if you can put this to something?"
Metal-Rules.com: Speaking of lyrics, the last time you had lyrics about different fighting and war things and now it's more about fantasy things. Which kind of lyrics do you prefer more to sing about, like war, fantasy or realistic ones?
Tim: I'll sing about anything! I enjoyed singing, "Gettysburg" was just awesome to sing, because it's such an amazing piece, the three songs were quite amazing and to be able to do that live, was pretty spectacular, it's not something you pull off. I'm not a sci-fi guy, and that's pretty much something with a sci-fi type of thing. But it has such a human element to it, it's not robots coming down. It's almost like a human…you know what I mean? Let's say, its non-fiction, put it that way. But I actually like singing just about normal stuff myself, something that you can feel, understand and know what's going on.
Metal-Rules.com: So it feels kind of corny to be singing about wizards and demons and dragons and swords…
Tim: Well I did it on the BEYOND FEAR record, I sang about it, "Scream Machine", and it was written that way to kind of be a little tongue in cheek, kind of a JUDAS PRIEST song. It was the last song I wrote for the record and I wrote it to be a nod, to kind of say to PRIEST that I could've written on the records if you asked me to. So I wrote "Scream Machine", which is a very JUDAS PRIEST-like song, and lo and behold, it became the most popular song on the record. So, kind of funny that I'm singing about a metal monster coming to get you [Laughs], but that's the great thing about heavy metal, you can write a song about anything from politics to metal monsters, to demons and wizards, to history. And it's also fun that way, and I would never limit myself to write about one thing.
Metal-Rules.com: We would like to ask little more about BEYOND FEAR, what is the state of that band now?
Tim: Luckily we all live locally, so we get together and practice and stuff. John Comprix and I already threw round some ideas, so we probably have about four songs already. My goal is to whenever ICED EARTH tour is done is to go right back into BEYOND FEAR and just have the album pretty much done. Going home, working on some songs, maybe we'll even record stuff while I'm on a break from ICED EARTH. I'm looking forward to it. It's probably going to a be a little bit more "Scream Machine" and "Words of Wisdom" and stuff and stuff like that.
Read the entire interview at Metal-Rules.com.