Tim "Ripper" Owens tells NorthJersey.com in a new interview that he had no problem with being fired from JUDAS PRIEST when Rob Halford reunited with the band in 2003."I was fine with Rob coming back," Owens said. "It was a time when Rob needed JUDAS PRIEST and JUDAS PRIEST needed Rob. I'm still great friends with the guys. I love PRIEST and I love the recognition. I love playing music and singing and I do it more now than I ever have." Owens added that he "got lucky" when he was plucked from a PRIEST tribute band in 1996 to front the legendary metal group. "I tell people that all the time, that I got a lucky break," Owens said. "But I've also worked my butt off and controlled my career really well." Owens's vocals bore an uncanny similarity to those of Halford, as was immediately evident on Tim's first album with PRIEST, 1997's powerful comeback "Jugulator". "I'm fortunate that my voice is tailored to be able to sing Halford's material, but in my own way," Tim explained. Owens recorded two studio albums with JUDAS PRIEST — "Jugulator" and 2001's "Demolition" — before the band reunited with Halford. Tim told The Metal Voice last year that he "wouldn't have quit JUDAS PRIEST." He clarified: "I wanted to leave JUDAS PRIEST, 'cause I had already recorded the ICED EARTH record ['The Glorious Burden']. So I wanted out of JUDAS PRIEST, 'cause I wanted to do other stuff, but I never would have quit. 'Cause I was great friends with them, and I was the singer of JUDAS PRIEST. But to make more money and to do more things, I had to branch out and do other things." In a separate interview, Owens defended himself against accusations by some JUDAS PRIEST fans of changing the band's sound to a more brutal, modern direction on "Jugulator". He explained: "Every record JUDAS PRIEST puts out is different. I mean, 'Nostradamus' sounds nothing like JUDAS PRIEST ever wrote, ever. 'Turbo' sounded nothing like JUDAS PRIEST. You know, JUDAS PRIEST changes. They wrote 'Painkiller', and 'Jugulator' was a transition; it was kind of following what was going on." He continued: "You've gotta remember, JUDAS PRIEST always went with the times a little bit. Glenn [Tipton, guitar] started playing arpeggios. PANTERA was really big [at the time]. [On the] 'Painkiller' [tour], they toured with PANTERA; PANTERA opened for JUDAS PRIEST. 'Painkiller' was a heavy record, and this was a natural progression. The difference is I probably had a few more different layers to my voice that they could tap into — some deeper, death metal kind of undertones to do backups and some different types of voices that they might be able to try. But it was JUDAS PRIEST."