Former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim "Ripper" Owens gave a rambling interview to Eddie Trunk on last night's (Friday, January 11) edition of the "Friday Night Rocks" radio show on New York City's Q104.3 FM in which he discussed his split with ICED EARTH and his future plans. A few excerpts from the chat follow (edited by BLABBERMOUTH.NET for clarity).
On the split with ICED EARTH:
"I think it was something that had to happen for both sides. It [was] not [amicable] at all. To tell you the truth, you don't get fired two weeks before Christmas and told ten minutes…
"I completed the [HEAVEN AND HELL] tour [with ICED EARTH] and was getting ready to work on [ICED EARTH's forthcoming album 'Something Wicked Part II']. I was actually supposed to be in my car and leaving that night [from Tim's home in Ohio] and decided, since I didn't hear from Jon [Schaffer, ICED EARTH mainman], I would wait until the morning to leave to go his house [in Indiana] and work on it. And the time I was supposed to be already gone, I just happened to go on my computer to see if Jon e-mailed me about what time he wants me there tomorrow is when I got the e-mail saying I wasn't in the band. And that was at 5:30. 5:40 — it was like 5:42 or 5:43 — I got my first e-mail from somebody, and then my first call came in at 5:45, saying, 'Man, I just heard.' [Laughs] My oldest daughter said to me, 'Man, what [would have happened] if you weren't home? That would have really sucked.' So the whole thing, really, was not handled in the way that I think it should have been. It's an unfortunate situation and an unfortunate ending.
"I had a nice ending with PRIEST — they made sure that, financially, I was handled for the next while to make sure that I got on my feet. Things were handled right and in a professional way. And I think the worst thing [about getting fired from ICED EARTH] was, [which] bummed me out, it was [two weeks] before Christmas. Now, I agree with the decision — I needed to go. I mean, I've gotta be honest.
"I'm trying to get back on my feet to get going, but I've gotten so many offers, it's unbelievable, and some great ones. And obviously BEYOND FEAR [Owens' solo project, which released its self-titled debut album in 2006], SPV [the record label] is so excited about it, we already have a gameplan on that, Wendy Dio [Ronnie James Dio's wife/manager] is still managing me.
"You know, it's [the split with ICED EARTH] something that had to happen, and I don't disagree with that."
"I think each one of us [Jon and I] had different ideas. I think the main idea was that I wanted to write and I wasn't able to, but in Jon's mind he did give me an opportunity to. But you know what?! I've gotta be honest… it all was good and it just didn't work out.
"I have nothing bad to say about Jon and I do wish him luck and everything. I really wanna do BEYOND FEAR and I have other opportunities that are better for me at this time, anyways. The unfortunate thing is I've been offered a few things in the past few years that I've turned down that were pretty good things, and I've turned it down, and looking back, I wish I would have probably taken them. But it was a good ride, and it was a good thing. It taught me that it's not always what you think it is in the business.
"Every step I've made in my career I've learned — everybody learns. I've always said I wanted to become a better singer and a better frontman and I've learned from this experience that you continually try to become that.
"The PRIEST thing was a great experience for me and I love to talk about it because it ended so well.
"I saw Glenn [Tipton] and Ken [Downing] — they came out to the Birmingham show when we played and they came back. It was a blast talking to them, and they are just so fun. Glenn and Ken and Jon and I sat in the dressing room, and we just had a great chat. It was fun. I've always enjoyed talking to those guys, and they were always really genuine with me, and 'till the very end, they were pretty genuine with me. I mean, the business end talks — there's no doubt about it — and it's the same thing that happened with ICED EARTH. The first person that's gonna get blamed is the new person, whether it's something else that could be an issue. But, really, that's what happened, and I know that, for me, publishing is a big thing, and I'm not getting it with that.
"It really got worse for me after I did BEYOND FEAR, because BEYOND FEAR was actually one of the better-reviewed CDs across the board that I've done. It might not have [gotten] as many 10s as maybe [ICED EARTH's] 'The Glorious Burden' did, but it definitely didn't [get] as many 2s and 3s as 'The Glorious Burden' did either. So it was one of the best-reviewed CDs I've ever done, and I wrote the whole album — I mean, half of it I wrote all by myself and the other half I wrote with John Comprix, the guitar player. So I think it got even worse then. But that is what it is. What's funny now is they have to get the old singer back although all Jon ever said in interviews… I think it's more of a… 'they need that, they need to get Matt [Barlow, ICED EARTH's singer who preceded and followed Tim in the band] back' and I agree — Matt's a great guy and a great singer. All Jon ever said was — and still will say it — is he writes all the stuff. 'I tell Matt what to sing.' It's what he always said and it's what he did with me.
"If I went out and joined somebody like YNGWIE MALMSTEEN. Well, you know what you're getting into — you're not joining a band, you're just joining a project to jump in and sing with him real quick. It's a whole different experience. I thought I was getting into a band and I was promised different things, and it all worked out until now. And I think everybody does know that it's the Jon Schaffer thing. It's a revolving door with everybody, and that's a cool thing, and Jon has built this thing from the ground up."
"You have to remember something, and the same thing happened to me when I got in JUDAS PRIEST — the band changed their style a little bit, and I love the change, but all of a sudden there's violins and 1,800-choir-piece singing on. You know, that wasn't going on in the past. The albums I did were a big change. On the new record you've got bongos and wool instruments. It seems like when I get in bands, they change a little bit. But you know the pressure of getting ICED EARTH was nothing like JUDAS PRIEST. To me, they're both major, major bands, but when you compare them, it's like comparing a triple-A ballclub to Major League baseball. And that's not a [knock on ICED EARTH] because every great baseball player has played in the triple-A."
"Jon and I always got along so well — our press trips and while we were together — so that was always a fun thing. We always got along well in the studio. It was a learning experience probably for both of us. It was more of a learning experience for me, I know, because obviously Jon's pretty used to getting rid of people and getting new members, so it's not really much of a difference for him. My bass player [BEYOND FEAR's Dennis Hayes, who was fired from ICED EARTH at the same time as Tim] found out because he looked on the web site and his name was gone. [Laughs]
"I felt like I was going nowhere. It was the same thing in PRIEST — 'Man, I wanna write, I wanna do stuff. I'm getting all these offers for BEYOND FEAR to do these tours and these shows and I can't get them out there. I've gotta turn everything down. Damn, I just wanna get out there and do other things, I wanna write and do stuff.' I got my wish… [Laughs] … just in an unprofessional way. I know if I ever would have left, I would have given notice — I would have done an album and given notice.
"It's funny how things work out. I remember Jon always complaining how Richard Christy [former ICED EARTH drummer who quit the band in order to work for 'The Howard Stern Show'] left in the middle of a tour — he said, 'I'm gonna end up leaving' — and [Jon] said it was unprofessional. And I think to myself, I got fired two weeks before Christmas, which was kind of strange. But it makes you a better person.
"I have good memories of ICED EARTH and it was a good opportunity for me."
ICED EARTH performing at Wacken Open Air festival in 2007: