ICED EARTH's TIM OWENS: 'JON SCHAFFER Is The Nicest Guy That I've Met'

Former JUDAS PRIEST/current ICED EARTH frontman Tim "Ripper" Owens told the Cleveland Free Times during a phone interview a few days ago that he plans on finishing a solo album when he gets a break from touring with ICED EARTH.

"I've written the music to it and it's a basic classic-type metal, PRIEST-meets-SABBATH type stuff," he said. "I'm going to have a bunch of [Ohio-]area musicians jam with me. I have enough material for the record already. I have about 10 songs done. The first step is to get the deal and then come back and start recording the record and maybe writing a few new tunes."

Tim also reiterated the fact that he was relieved when it was announced last summer that Rob Halford was returning to JUDAS PRIEST and Owens was out of a job.

"It's definitely worked out a lot better for me that Rob came back," he said. "I'm glad for the guys. It all happened without losing their friendship and just moving on in a good way. I needed to do something else for my career, and I think they knew it. PRIEST started to get where we weren't doing that much. I had a family, and if you go on a tour every four years, and you do an album every four years, it's hard to support your family."

According to Owens, he wasn't that surprised when Halford returned to PRIEST.

"It's something that had to happen," he told the Cleveland Free Times. "I think that PRIEST had to get Rob back. And Rob had to get PRIEST back. And I had to go do something else. But people were calling me like I died. I was just telling my wife, 'I really hope that PRIEST fires me because I'll never quit.' I'm ecstatic for them. I hope I'm in town in August to go see them. I know where their beer's at, and I'm going to go steal it."

Owens also defended ICED EARTH leader/main songwriter Jon Schaffer — whom he calls "probably the nicest guy I've met" — against criticism from fans who have misinterpreted lyrical message behind the group's new album, "The Glorious Burden".

"There's been some people from Europe and Canada who think this album is all pro-America," he says. "They don't understand that it's about history. There's more about American history than European history because we're an American band. It's not about how great America is."

With regards to whether he feels he's made the right decision by joining ICED EARTH, Owens said, "This album's sold 80 percent more than any ICED EARTH record in the past. It's almost up to 40,000 [copies sold in the U.S.]. It just came out in mid-January, and we haven't toured yet. If you get the singer from JUDAS PRIEST, that's going to help. But we have a new record label that's pushed it really hard. And it's a great record."

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