Ex-JUDAS PRIEST frontman Tim "Ripper" Owens recently spoke to the U.K.'s Live 4 Metal about the split with his former bandmates and his decision to join ICED EARTH as the group's new vocalist. Asked how he snagged his new position, Owens said, "[ICED EARTH mainman] Jon [Schaffer] and I were talking this past year about doing a side project, some music demos, listening to some stuff… Then all of a sudden out of the blue he calls me and says, you know what? Him and his manager called me. He [Jon] says, 'We were in the studio and I was mixing down the record and [previous singer] Matt's [Barlow] vocals just didn't cut it.' [Jon says], 'He didn't have what I wanted and I'm working my heart and soul into this thing, and Matt's heart is not in it anymore.' He asked if I'd be interested in doing some vocals. This was the next day after him and Matt decided to call it a day. [There were] no strings attached. I was still in JUDAS PRIEST. So I signed a contract…as a guest musician. And I did the vocals. You know, I was doing them because I thought it was a good thing. A few days after that is when PRIEST and I split, so then I had a big decision: should I join ICED EARTH? I had a lot of offers, a lot of different things coming in, a lot of projects from a lot of other bands, and a lot of musicians. It was just a matter of: now this is already done, Jon and I get along great, but is this exactly what I want to do? So man, it took me a month and a half [to make the decision]. I could have joined the day PRIEST and I split. I could have said, OK, I'm in ICED EARTH, the album is coming out… That's honestly how it could have been done, but I just wanted to make sure that it was definitely the right thing."

When asked if he feels like his role will be quite a bit different in ICED EARTH than it was in JUDAS PRIEST, Tim said, "Oh yeah, it will definitely be different. I'll be writing material, I'll be hands-on with the decisions, and I'll eventually grow and be a bigger part of this band. It's a partnership. Obviously, Jon will always have the biggest stake because it's his project, but I'm going to be a major part of the band. That's something that's going to be nice on the writing end of it, and that's something that I didn't get to do in PRIEST. That was fine. It takes a little more pressure off if I'm not writing. It'll be a good time. I'm looking forward to it."

With regards to Rob Halford's return to JUDAS PRIEST, Owens said, "I'm rooting for the guy! I really hope that the [next JUDAS PRIEST] album is very successful. Obviously, I hope that ICED EARTH sells more [laughs]. It would be kind of funny. I'd really like to see them do really well. I'd like to see them do their 30-year reunion and have a good time. I hope those guys all get along. I hope they have the same fun." Read the rest of the interview here.


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