TIM 'RIPPER' OWENS On KK'S PRIEST: 'The Plan Is To Just Tour Non-Stop For A Year Or Two'

December 16, 2022

In a new interview with The Metal Voice, former JUDAS PRIEST vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens spoke about the status of the sophomore album from his new group KK'S PRIEST, in which he is joined by another ex-JUDAS PRIEST member, guitarist Kenneth "K.K." Downing. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I just finished [recording the vocals for] the last [song] a couple of days ago. I'm sure I'll have to go back and redo a few things on 'em — maybe add some parts, whatever. I mean, I sent a lot of vocals.

"I really like it," he continued. "And the music I had, it still needed guitar parts, which is already done. Because they just sent it to me early stages, which they've already added stuff; [K.K.] and [guitarist] A.J. [Mills] have been in the studio doing it.

"It's really close [to being done]," he added. "Now it's really in the mixing process, I think, and producing the stuff and moving some stuff around."

As for the musical direction of the second KK'S PRIEST, album, Owens said: "I actually really like it. I think it's next level from the last one [2021's 'Sermons Of The Sinner']. I think the last one was the perfect record.

"What I said to people, when they would say [about 'Sermons Of The Sinner'], 'This kind of sounds like PRIEST.' But it's, like, no, it sounds like K.K. Downing. I mean, that's what he has written. This next one, though, I think, is that and beyond. Vocally, it's gotten a little heavier. It's got tons of highs still, but it's got edgier vocals. It's got some melodic, beautiful vocals, but it's just edgier, I think. I enjoyed doing this one a lot."

Owens also talked about the fact that KK'S PRIEST was recently announced as one of the co-headliners of next year's edition of the Alcatraz open air hard rock and heavy metal festival, set to take place August 11-13, 2023 in Kortrijk, Belgium.

"Next year is gonna be pretty swamped because KK'S PRIEST, now we're finally gonna put this record out and tour," Tim explained. "So the plan is to just tour non-stop for a year or two… I think the plan is to hit the road [extensively].

"I don't think [K.K.] wants to just do festivals," Owens added. "It's too hard. It's fine for me to do festivals [as a solo artist] if I show up and there's a band waiting for me that I can just jump onstage. But it's just hard to just go and pop and do festivals here and there. The plan is definitely to tour. The plan is definitely to hit the road and do stuff. So hopefully it all comes together. I know we have an agency looking into that. It's all in the hands of everybody."

Downing, Owens and Mills are joined in KK'S PRIEST by bassist Tony Newton (VOODOO SIX) and drummer Sean Elg (DEATHRIDERS, CAGE).

"Sermons Of The Sinner" was released in October 2021 via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records.

Downing spent four months writing and recording "Sermons Of The Sinner" and, along with new ideas, he even resurrected a few archived riffs from the '80s.

K.K. formed KK'S PRIEST after JUDAS PRIEST turned down his offer to rejoin the band for their 50th-anniversary tour. It followed a couple of celebrated stage appearances, first with former MANOWAR guitarist Ross The Boss in the summer of 2019, then with a one-off lineup that included former MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson and former PRIEST drummer Les Binks later that year.

Last month, Downing told Danny Stoakes about KK'S PRIEST's upcoming LP: "It's imminent, for sure. Everything's gonna be sticky-taped and glued together, and we'll fire it out very soon. It's more than well on the way; we're in the mixing process."

He continued: "It's great. I can't wait. It's so frustrating. You just want it out now. But it will happen. So I'm looking forward to that."

Downing was reunited with JUDAS PRIEST for a performance at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony on November 5 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

PRIEST received the Musical Excellence Award at the event, which honored Eminem, Dolly Parton, DURAN DURAN, Lionel Richie, Pat Benatar, EURYTHMICS and Carly Simon in the Performers category.

Downing left PRIEST in 2011 amid claims of band conflict, shoddy management and declining quality of performance. He was replaced by Richie Faulkner, nearly three decades his junior.

In 2019, Downing said that he reached out to JUDAS PRIEST about taking part in the band's 50th-anniversary tour but that their response was that they were not interested in including him in the celebrations.

In 2018, Downing revealed that he sent two resignation letters to his bandmates when he decided to quit JUDAS PRIEST. The first was described as "a graceful exit note, implying a smooth retirement from music," while the second was "angrier, laying out all of his frustrations with specific parties."

Downing later said that he believed the second letter was "a key reason" he wasn't invited to rejoin PRIEST after Glenn Tipton's decision to retire from touring.

Owens joined PRIEST in 1996 and recorded two studio albums with the band — 1997's "Jugulator" and 2001's "Demolition" — before PRIEST reunited with Rob Halford in 2003.

A little over a year ago, Downing said that he had no problems with fans making comparisons between PRIEST and KK'S PRIEST. "It's absolutely fine, because it's who I am and what I am and what I do and how I do it," he told Brazilian journalist Igor Miranda. "It's too late to change; I can't change. I can't go out and buy different guitars and different amplifiers and start to write differently and think differently. I have to do things the way that I like them to be done. And that's what I did in JUDAS PRIEST for all those years to the best of my ability. But even now that I don't have to consult with anyone else, really, then I feel a lot more freedom to be able to do this.

"I think I can do what I do better now than I did before, if that makes any sense," he continued. "Because I'm working and writing and putting things together for me — and, obviously, of course, the rest of the members in [KK'S PRIEST] as well. But I was on my own, for the most part, in the lockdown doing this. But there was a lot of things I wanted to say and get off my chest.

"The [KK'S PRIEST] album's full of emotions, sentiments and messages and also rejoicement. It's a lot of things, all in one package. And it was very important for me to be able to express myself through this album.

"I know that people will make comparisons, but that's fine. I either succeed or fail, like everyone else in life. But I'm a fan of this wonderful style of music, and if I like it, I'm hopefully sure that the fans will like it too. And I really hope they do. And I'm very much looking forward to the feedback from everybody all over the world.

"Towards the end for me in JUDAS PRIEST, it wasn't as energized as it was in former years, and I missed that. I remember the days when Rob [Halford, PRIEST singer] used to come offstage and he used to empty his boots out, and the water — which was sweat — used to just pour out of the boots. And it was the same for all of us. It was like we ran a marathon or something. So, hopefully we deliver that up. So I'm looking forward to doing that. I'm definitely gonna do my best, put it that way."

In September 2021, Owens said that there was no competition between JUDAS PRIEST and KK'S PRIEST. "I don't think we look at it [like that]," he told The Rock Experience With Mike Brunn in an interview. "There's one JUDAS PRIEST. They're JUDAS PRIEST. If [K.K. and I] wanted to take that angle, we would have called [our new band] KK'S JUDAS PRIEST. But I think fans are happy 'cause they know they do have two things that are the same vein, and they have K.K. back. I went nowhere — I've been putting music out like crazy — but they have Ken and I back together again. So there's no competition. I mean, how awesome would it be if we do shows with them? I don't care. I really don't. I love the guys in PRIEST. Rob's [Halford, PRIEST singer] my idol. And Richie [Faulkner, PRIEST guitarist] and I are friends. But this isn't a competition. We're not trying to make it a competition or another JUDAS PRIEST. That's why we put an album out first; that was the difference. If we were trying to make it that, we would start touring right away, doing the back catalog."

Asked if KK'S PRIEST is really open to touring with JUDAS PRIEST, Tim said: "I'm open to anything. I've never burned bridges. From the sounds of it, it's never gonna happen. 'Cause it never happened with me. I tried to get BEYOND FEAR to support JUDAS PRIEST on tour. Wendy Dio was my manager, and they were, like, 'Absolutely not. You're not gonna support us.' But we're all friends. I mean, I'm speaking for me — I'm not speaking for Ken. But, yeah, listen, I always look at it as how much fans would love stuff. How cool would it be if that happened?"

Photo by George Chin

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