TIM 'RIPPER' OWENS: Why Now Was Right Time To Release New Solo EP

December 30, 2022

Former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim "Ripper" Owens spoke to Brian Aberback of The Aquarian Weekly about his recently released solo EP, "Return To Death Row". The effort was produced by Jamey Jasta (HATEBREED) and Nick Bellmore (JASTA, DEE SNIDER). Players on the EP, which contain Owens's "heaviest songs yet," include Nick Bellmore, Charlie Bellmore (DEE SNIDER, ex-TOXIC HOLOCAUST) on guitar, and Chris Beaudette (JASTA, ENTEIRRO) on bass.

Asked what influenced his decision to record a solo album at this time, Owens said: "I'd done one in the past called 'Play My Game' [2009] and it was more straightforward metal, but Jamey Jasta has been trying to get me to do something like this for ten years now. He loved the JUDAS PRIEST 'Jugulator' stuff and he loved my BEYOND FEAR stuff and was, like, 'Man, we got to capitalize on that and make it a little heavier and straightforward metal, and add the influences that you've had in your career.' It just was never the right time. When he put out the Dee Snider [TWISTED SISTER] records that he produced, I really loved them. I thought they were so good. Then I did his podcast to promote the KK'S PRIEST record, and he's, like, 'Let's do that record we've always talked about.' It's the 25-year anniversary of 'Jugulator', so it's a good time and we started working on it. They had some songs written and started sending me ideas. Some I wrote along with them. The majority of the writing was with Jamey and the guys. They were such good songs. Even if I had the right ideas or sang to them, it came together so quick that they would just send them to me and I'd sing them in my studio and it was easy — really easy — stuff."

As for why he chose to release the EP under the RIPPER name, Owens said: "Since I'd released 'Play My Game' under Tim 'Ripper' Owens, I thought with this one we'd just go under Ripper and do a little bit of a rebranding. It's always nice, especially when it's as good as this one is. The production is great, the songs are great, my voice was in top form, and it was fun in the studio."

Three months ago, Owens spoke to Australia's Heavy, Owens about the response to "Embattled", the first single from "Return To Death Row". He said: "It's been great. I think people are just gonna really dig it. If they're into the real mellow part of my career, then they might not dig it quite as much 'cause this EP is pretty heavy. Right off the bat, it starts with a really fast song. Then we'll probably go into 'Embattled'. Then it's got a couple of more fast songs. 'Embattled' is the second from being the mellowest song on the record. So it's really good.

"The whole part about Jamey Jasta and I talking about this is he wanted to capture what I did a lot in my early career and what I did with BEYOND FEAR and what I did with [JUDAS PRIEST's] 'Jugulator' [album]. His main part, when he first talked to me, he was, like, 'Man, we've gotta do something to capitalize on what you did on 'Jugulator', 'cause it was brutal and it was great, and the vocals on there.' And that was his big thing.

"People know me that I can sing a lot of different styles of music, and this is probably one of my favorite ways to sing, on this record," Owens added. "I like the straightforward, brutal metal that's still melodic, because it gives you bigger range. You can sing heavy as hell, but you can take it down and sing mellow, you can sing high, clear notes, raspy… I mean, it widens it even more."

Asked to elaborate on what Jasta brought to the table, Owens said: "He did Dee Snider's last couple of records, and they were a lot heavier for Dee and I think they were some of the best stuff I've heard from Dee in ages. It was such a fantastic [collaboration]. That's what really [convinced me]. I'm, like, 'Man, let's do that.' I think he just was sending me stuff that was, like I said, more aggressive and heavier but true to my vocal ability — kind of, like, 'This is what I want you to do.'

"People know that I'm a big fan of heavy guitar riffs and heavy music, and normal vocals," he explained. "I'm not the cookie-cutter guy, but I can do that. Probably on Dee's records, Jamey probably sang some backups to give him maybe a heavy part that needed that [guttural] part that was in the background. I think Jamey was probably, like, 'Hell, yeah, I don't have to do it on Ripper's record because he can do it himself.' But that being said, Jamey would send the vocal ideas that he had for songs, and we would go back and forth, and they were fantastic, his singing. There was a song he sent me — the last track; I can't remember the name of it offhand; the last track on the record — and I couldn't capture what he was doing at the beginning of the song. I'm, like, 'I can't do it.' This sounds like him. He just had this certain thing to it. So I think Jamey enjoys doing things like this 'cause it brings out other parts of the music — probably parts that he grew up listening to. It's like me — I grew up listening to heavy [stuff like] TESTAMENT and SLAYER and ANTHRAX and METALLICA, but also IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST and everybody else. And that was probably the same with him. Jamey grew up listening to hardcore, but he also was listening to PRIEST and MAIDEN and all that stuff as well."

Owens is currently the frontman of KK'S PRIEST, featuring fellow former JUDAS PRIEST member K.K. Downing.

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