NAMM 2008: Conversations of Steel
Whether it’s Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Winters Bane or Beyond Fear you can always count on godly metal vocals from this guy. The following is my interview with Ripper Owens!
MR: First off Ripper, what brings you to this years NAMM convention?
Samson Wireless flew me out, They are just a great company…they had me signing Friday, Saturday and Sunday! And there stuff is just great!
MR: When you recently parted ways with Iced Earth you had mentioned in a press release that you were going to focus primarily on Beyond Fear and also on some other projects. What is new with Beyond Fear and can you currently disclose the other projects you are working on?
Well I have a big project that I will be doing real soon..it is real exciting! And the Beyond Fear stuff is sounding great, I’m loving it, we really are just about ready to go into the studio, just waiting for the label to get it going….
MR:You have worked with Dennis Hayes now in several different bands (Iced Earth, Winters Bane, Beyond Fear) will he rejoin the ranks of Winters Bane if you chose to work with them again?
Not sure, but it does look like the Winters Bane is a little way’s off..just to much on my plate at the moment..But it will happen someday, when the time is right.
MR: Would you ever consider fronting another big name metal band should they’re singer decide to call it a day, and what would have to be understood beforehand for that to happen?
Well I would..First off they need to stay the style that they were before I joined, it seems when I join a band they change a little bit…So that is one thing and I would get what people tell me they are gonna do in a contract! But with Judas Priest and Iced Earth it was all a great learning experience and a whole lot of fun.
MR: With the success of metal singers before you such as Sebastian Bach, Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson releasing well received solo albums can you see this as being something you’d like to pursue and if so what players ideally would you want to work with?
I would love to, my manager Wendy Dio is looking into it, With some real NAME players on it..Big name players, lets see what happens and when the timing of it will be the best.
MR: After working for years fronting such big name acts like Iced Earth and especially Judas Priest one could only assume that you have learned your share of the business side of the music industry. Knowing what you know now, would you ever consider authoring a "How To" guide for the aspiring metal musician?
No, everybody I’ve played with did it there own way and they said this is how it’s done, the way they do it is wrong, and to tell you the truth, it makes me sick, everybody does things there own way..All I say is work hard and keep on working hard, read your contracts and have somebody look at them, I know at the moment, My manager wishes she would have looked at mine..(laughing)
MR: I know that you have expressed interest in the past with working with Michael Wilton (Queensryche) considering that he was at the NAMM convention this weekend, I am curious if you had a chance to plan anything with him? Did you bump into any other musicians you’d like to work with?
Yeah man, he is a friend and a great guy, he has some great tunes which I’ve laid some demo track too..we shall see, if I do a solo thing, maybe I can get him to do a few tunes for it.
MR: When you joined Judas Priest it was certainly a tale of a metalheads dream come true, you went from playing in a Judas Priest tribute band to singing for Judas Priest. What are some of your fondest memories of fronting the Priest and how is your current relationship with the band? Will we ever see a JP/Beyond Fear tour?
First off..lets get Beyond Fear out with Judas Priest….hell yeah! I have nothing but great memories with them, just class acts and great friends from the beginning up till now.
MR: When you are creating music with a band what comes first in your musical creativity: Vocal phrasing or lyrics, is it usually spontaneous for you and what is the longest it has taken you to create your stunning vocal tracks?
I do melodies first, sometimes I might lay some down with a guitar or just sing them. Then lyrics later on..It doesn’t take that long for the original melody but putting it all together takes awhile.
MR: How do you take care of your voice on the road, do you have a particular pre show warm up routine that you practice?
No, I just need my sleep, it is a lot harder now that I’m older. (Laughing)
MR: Having Wendy Dio as your manager would make anyone feel very confident and well taken care of, how has working with her thus far been and can you reveal any must see summer tours she may or already has booked Beyond Fear on?
She is great and really believes in me and my music, which is what you need. Not sure what will be going on this summer, but it won’t be Beyond Fear, that will be (around the end of summer maybe a cd in October)….then we will tour for the next 2 years…I hope.
MR: Another notable metal singer to audition for Judas Priest back in the day was Ralf Scheepers from Primal Fear and formerly of Gamma Ray who ultimately as you well know, did not land the gig. Being a fan of both you and him I was curious if you are familiar with him and are you a fan of Primal Fear as well?
He never tried out! But he is a friend and a GREAT singer..I love his stuff!!!
MR: I’ve noticed that for the majority of your professional career you have worked almost exclusively with SPV / Steamhammer. What is it about that label as opposed to other labels that makes you continue to work with them?
Well, that is just the way it has gone….SPV is great and they have some great staff there.
MR: What metal cd can you not get enough of lately?
WOW….not sure man!
MR: What are your memories of the first show you ever performed? How old were you, and were you nervous or did it just come natural?
I was around 18 and it was at a jam night at Temple Tavern in Akron, yeah I was nervous but it was killer!
MR: What is your opinion on the current state of the music industry’s slump in cd sales and push in digital downloads? What do you think is the most effective way to combat music piracy?
Not sure..Do you mean that is why the cd’s out there aren’t selling well, I was told If somebody’s cd isn’t selling well, it’s my fault! Not sure what to do….I say bring the law down on downloader’s….It is against the law and there should be something that happens to them, also really go after the people giving it away….But I got to be honest, If I can go on a car lot and just drive away with a car….maybe I’ll change my mind!
MR: And my last question for you today Ripper is what can we expect from you in 2008?
MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC!
MR: I’d certainly like to thank you for taking the time to speak with me Ripper, it was an absolute honor. Is there anything you’d like to promote or address before we wrap this up?
Check out my sites to get some killer merch….The fan pack is cheap and killer….and I do have some great shirts!!
Thanks and Keep it heavy Ripper.