ICED EARTH's TIM 'RIPPER' OWENS Likes Versatility In His Metal

August 23, 2007

Mark Carras of Rock My Monkey conducted an interview with ICED EARTH/ex-JUDAS PRIEST vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens on Tuesday (August 21). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Rock My Monkey: Now, everyone loves to say that the newest cd is the band's best. So what makes this the best ICED EARTH release ever?

Tim "Ripper" Owens: I think versatility. I think, you know, I think a big thing about this album is it stays really, it goes all the way to the classic sound of ICED EARTH. It really has this… You go back to early stuff. You could tell it's stuff that Jon [Schaffer] would have loved to have done, maybe with the choirs and different things, but he couldn't probably afford to. Or the technology wasn't there. But it has this classic feel that, it's written so well and played so well, the story is so good. It's definitely, it's definitely quite the record. I'm never going to say something's… I don't always say something's the best record. Everybody has their favorites for a reason. But it's definitely a great CD.

Rock My Monkey: Well, I remember when way back, before you joined the band, when he was trying to tie off things with, basically finish up things with Century Media, he kept talking about this great and awesome thing that he had going, but that he couldn't release it yet because he wanted to make sure it was a label that was worthy. I mean, this is something he's been talking about since several albums back.

Tim "Ripper" Owens: Oh yeah, he has. He wanted to make sure. I mean, obviously it's always a shady thing, I mean, as long as the album is good to the artist, I guess. It's pretty hard in music nowadays to please all of your fans. I just have never seen in, in band that I've been in, or any other band. In the reviews of albums that bands do, you never find all, all the people who like it. But I guess it's up to the artist to make what they want. For Jon, it was the right time and the right label and the right album.

Rock My Monkey: Do you think a lot of people, a lot of ICED EARTH fans have kind of hemmed and hawed about some of the past couple of releases. Do you think this is going to win a bunch of the older ICED EARTH fans back?

Tim "Ripper" Owens: I would think, but I'm confused by them anyways. I'm confused by what they want. Because you know, you do an album like this one, that to me is a classic, like I said, a classic ICED EARTH CD. If you go, if you mix all their stuff where you hear ICED EARTH, this is ICED EARTH. I can't figure out why it's not. You know how some people say, "Well, it's not aggressive enough." Well, when I go back and listen to ICED EARTH CDs, which I have been a lot lately to get ready for tour, you know, you find a CD with a couple fast songs, a bunch of slow stuff, a bunch of mid stuff. And that's what this album has. I think the last couple albums, I mean, to me, "Gettysburg" was the best ICED EARTH ever done. The "Gettysburg" piece. Just that piece. To me, that was the best ICED EARTH out of anything ever done. And it still is, I think, as just a piece. But as an album, this one is amazing. That album was amazing for what it was. I thought "Horror Show" was a great record. Everybody's always different. You still have people that absolutely love "Burning". What was the one before "Dark Saga"? I can't remember the name of the album. My mind is blank now. But still say that is the best CD, and that's Jon's least favorite, you know? So it's like, you know, they always get mad because we won't play anything off of it live — "Burnt Offerings". Jon's is like, "I just don't like the CD, so what can I do?" So it's one of those things. I like all the albums for different reasons. I love songs off "Dark Saga". I'm not a giant fan of… I'm a fan of a couple mellow things, but I'm not a giant fan of a bunch of mellow stuff. I actually like the balls-out stuff. I want to sing low and heavy. A little easier.

Rock My Monkey: Me personally, I like it better when you mix things up, because you don't get velocitized. You don't get being pummeled to death. It all kind of sounds, to me it gives it almost a monotone feel to the record. But it you mix it up, it gives you a break. You got to reel back the hammer to really slam it down hard.

Tim "Ripper" Owens: Don't get me wrong. I love the slow stuff. But I don't like it all the time. I'm just like you. That's the thing about ICED EARTH that is nice. And it was the same thing why I fell in love with JUDAS PRIEST. I like versatility in music, so I like HEAVEN AND HELL [and] BLACK SABBATH. It's why I like JUDAS PRIEST. It's why I like ICED EARTH. I like versatility a lot. A lot of different characters in the voices. It's why I enjoyed doing the BEYOND FEAR CD. There wasn't a shitload of slow stuff, but there was different tempos. There was fast, there's slow, there's medium, there's the SABBATH, there's nowadays, you know, everything. I enjoy that. And this record, ICED EARTH has always done that, and that's what's great about it. That's what's funny when someone says, "Well, it's not heavy enough. There's not enough fast stuff." Well, I think it's still there. I mean, ICED EARTH's always been like that. They've never been a thrash band. They've always been a band that's… I was so surprised when I joined them to really study it and hear all the mellow stuff. I mean, I'm listening to the albums now, in the background, and there's so much mellow stuff. It's like, "Wow."

Rock My Monkey: Even IRON MAIDEN has some mellow tunes.

Tim "Ripper" Owens: But IRON MAIDEN had versatility, as well. You have to learn their songs like "Hallowed Be Thy Name" where it starts slow, and has pieces of this and that. Exactly.

Check out the entire interview in text and MP3 format at this location.

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