Ripper Owens is an ideal interlocutor: he does not get lost, he is concise, concise, he answers sincerely and does not remain silent even when faced with some of the thorniest questions, without ever falling into too many polemics.
The reason for our meeting is the publication of “The Sinner Rides Again”, the second album by KK’s Priest, which has reconciled us a little with a band born under an unfortunate star. The composition this time is stronger, everyone’s interpretation is more convincing (especially Owens’ own), but the continuous references to the Judas Priest universe end up reviving a comparison that, in our opinion, does not benefit Downing’s creation. .
Therefore, we took the opportunity to ask the American singer for some clarifications, going through the stages that led him to this umpteenth recording adventure, his expectations and an increasingly difficult and challenging record market.
“THE SINNER RIDES AGAIN” LOOKS MORE SOLID AND POWERFUL THAN ITS PRECESSOR, HOW DID YOU WORK ON THE NEW PARTS? HAVE THERE BEEN DIFFERENCES IN YOUR APPROACH?
– The songs were written by KK as on the first album, but this time with a major contribution from AJ Mills. As for me, I recorded my vocals in my home studio: it’s something we discussed, because KK wanted me to go to England to record, while I wanted to do everything here.
I think the album is very vocally aggressive and I knew I could pull it off by doing it all here from my house. Overall, however, it’s a very solid, powerful work, and it was easy to give the songs even more character than the previous one.
DID YOU WRITE THE LYRICS OF THE SONGS?
– No, the lyrics are also by KK. On the other hand, she wrote for Judas Priest for forty years and it was important to him to try his hand at something that completely belonged to him. So he wrote everything, music and lyrics, and I was thrilled to see how happy and satisfied he was doing it.
THIS RECORD IS ALSO FULL OF QUOTES REFERRING TO THE JUDAS PRIEST UNIVERSE. WHY THIS CHOICE? IT’S A WAY TO TELL EVERYONE “HEY, WE ARE NO LESS JUDE PRIEST THAN THEY“?
– This is not a comparison between the two bands, it is simply KK’s legacy. He is linked to these themes, he wrote them himself, but otherwise I see no reason to make comparisons. We don’t want to be ‘the other Judas Priest’, we are our own band: we already have two albums under our belt and we will build the our legacy, but I think KK has every right to maintain those types of images, because they belong to him and he rightly wants to preserve them.
We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, we are what we are.
YOU HAVE TURNED FIFTY-SIX YEARS OLD, BUT YOUR VOICE HAS A TRULY INCREDIBLE EXTENSION AND POWER. HOW IS IT PRESERVED TO STILL BE ABLE TO SING LIKE THIRTY YEARS AGO?
– Surely when I was younger it was easier for me to sing like that. Now I drink a lot of water, I try to rest and sleep well, luckily for now my voice is still in excellent shape. Maybe the difference is that now I feel like a better singer, with more character, and I can adapt and sing in the style that best suits the song, it doesn’t matter what it is, I just do it. My voice manages to be hoarser, transmitting more emotions and colors, without having lost power in the high notes that I can still reach like when I was young.
FOR THIS RECORD, DID YOU HAVE CARTE WHITE ON THE VOCAL LINES OR DID YOU FOLLOW KK’S INSTRUCTIONS?
– No, I just try to be myself and use the register that best suits what I have to sing. The music will be styled by whoever wrote it, but the voice will always be Ripper’s!
KK gave me the indication of the general melody or rhythm. Sometimes I found myself choosing a more aggressive register than the original intention, but the working method was basically this, KK gave me the general starting idea and then I created my parts independently.
WHEN THE KK PRIEST WAS INTRODUCED TO THE PUBLIC FOR THE FIRST TIME, LES BINKS ALSO APPEARED IN THE LINEUP. THEN FOR PERSONAL REASONS HE COULD NOT RECORD THE FIRST ALBUM, BUT WE THOUGHT IT WOULD ONLY BE A TEMPORARY ABSENCE. WHAT HAPPENED?
– Just when we realized that Les wouldn’t be in the game for the first album, we moved on. be (Elg, nrR) He’s a friend, we played together in Three Tremors and he’s an exceptional drummer: as I told you, we want to be a band, without too many changes, so our lineup will remain this. And his work on the album was fantastic.
FOLLOWING JUDAS PRIEST’S PERFORMANCE AT THE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HALL OF FAME, MANY RULES HAVE BEEN CIRCULATED ABOUT A POSSIBLE REUNION WITH KK. THIS DIDN’T HAPPEN, BUT IF IT HAD HAPPENED, HOW WOULD YOU HAVE REACT?
– I don’t know, it would have been fine for me, because I’m still a Judas Priest fan. I would have understood and accepted it, because I still have my own solo career that gives me satisfaction. But I’m sure even for KK it would have been difficult to leave this band aside, because I see how much passion and dedication he puts into it: I honestly don’t think he would have been able to continue with both bands, they wouldn’t. I haven’t allowed it. I can’t say with absolute certainty, but in my opinion, KK would still have wanted to stay in KK’s Priest.
THIS SUMMER YOU HAVE HELD A ROUND OF DATES AT SOME OUTDOOR FESTIVALS. HOW DID IT GO?
– It was great! Festivals can be more difficult than a normal show, especially for a newly released band like ours. KK’s Priest’s songs work very well, it’s incredible… The audience sang songs like “One More Shot At Glory” or “Hellfire Thunderbolt” at the top of their lungs.
And then we had the opportunity to put on a show in style, with a big stage, lots of fireworks, giant screens, in short an important production for a band like ours. The goal now is to do an actual world tour, although this has now become an expensive affair. If all goes well, we should be able to do it next year.
We already have some dates lined up in the UK, a show in Malta and we’re working hard to put together an actual tour. It’s not easy, also because we don’t want to settle for a smaller and cheaper production, we want to be sure that fans come to see a great show.
TODAY YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A PARTICULAR SITUATION: ON THE ONE HAND YOU ARE ON STAGE SINGING THE CLASSICS OF THE PRIESTS NEXT TO ONE OF THE LEGENDARY FOUNDERS OF THE BAND, ON THE OTHER HAND THERE ARE THE REAL PRIESTS OF JUDAS WHO, INSTEAD, APPEAR TO PRETEND THAT YOURSELF ALBUMS WITH THEM NEVER EXISTED. HOW DOES THIS MAKE YOU FEEL?
– They did a trick worthy of a magician: they made me disappear! What can I tell you, I love singing those songs and I do it even when I’m on tour alone. It’s even more exciting to be able to sing Judas Priest classics and songs from my time with Ken. I still love the years I spent with Judas Priest and will continue to celebrate them, because they are part of my life.
BUT LATELY HE HAS ALSO REMOVED SOME BITLES FROM HIS SHOE: WE READ A STATEMENT FROM HIS IN WHICH HE SUBSTANTIALLY SAYS THAT HE NOW HAS NEWS FROM THE PRIESTS ONLY THROUGH THEIR LAWYERS. WERE YOU SERIOUS OR WAS IT A FIGHT?
– I was a little sarcastic, but it’s basically the truth! Lawyers contact me to tell me I can’t use that particular piece of art or something. For example, I was doing this tour in Australia called “The Metal Gods”, because we were doing Priest and Dio songs and they contacted me to tell me that I couldn’t use that name…
I never get a phone call even to ask how I’m doing or to congratulate me on something I’ve done. So when someone asks me how things are, I just tell the truth…
AND WE APPRECIATE IT! OUR INTERLOCUTORS MANY TIMES DO EVERYTHING TO EVALUATE THESE TYPES OF QUESTIONS…
– It would probably be a more correct choice… Look, I consider myself a friend of Judas Priest, I spent some fantastic years with them and I have always had nice words for them. And this is also the truth, I love you all, but that’s the way it is. If it were different, I would say so without hesitation.
I WILL MAKE A BRIEF AND NON-EXHAUSTIVE LIST: FROZEN LAND, MALMSTEEN, BEYOND FEAR, THE LOADED WALLS OF THE DAMNED, THE THREE SHAKES, YOUR SOLO CAREER… WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO SING IN SO MANY DIFFERENT PROJECTS INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON ONLY ONE?
– Because the world of music today is in a different time. Nowadays it is no longer possible to found a band, not have other projects and make a living just from that. If one day I am back in a band that can give me a steady job, the possibility of going on tour regularly, then I too will be able to dedicate myself only to that project: I make a living from music, this is my job. , singing. I would like to be able to say that with KK’s Priest I will only be able to have one band, but the truth is that not even they themselves will be able to guarantee me this security. My standard of living is certainly higher thanks to being part of Judas Priest and Iced Earth and I would like to try to maintain it: I have kids to send to university! (laughs, ed.)
FROM THIS POINT OF VIEW, HOW DO YOU EXPERIENCE THE ISSUE OF SPOTIFY-TYPE STREAMING PLATFORMS?
– They certainly changed the way I make a living. In my opinion, these services are useful for spreading music, which can reach more people, but they do not help the groups at all, especially the new ones, who receive those 0.0003 dollars per song.
All artists should be paid more, whether by increasing the rate or putting some kind of basic flat rate, I don’t know. Things have changed a lot compared to the 80s, when people could be counted on to buy CDs or records, that’s just the way it is…
IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE THE HIGHEST MOMENT AND THE LOWEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
– One of the best moments is, without a doubt, my joining Judas Priest: it is what started my career, what made me who I am and what allows me to make a living with music. It’s harder to find a really bad moment, because when I left Priest Iced Earth immediately came and then Malmsteen, my solo career… Everything happens for a reason, I have no regrets. Maybe just not go to college and get a real job! (laughs, ed.).
BUT HAVING SUNG IN ALL THESE PROJECTS, MORE OR LESS KNOWN, HAVE YOU NEVER REGRET SAYING YES TO SOMEONE?
– Sometimes, none of the most famous names that everyone knows, but I have found myself saying: “Hmm, maybe I should have said no…“. I just needed the money at the time, that’s all, and once it’s done, I’m usually satisfied anyway. I’ve sung everything from classic rock’n’roll to hardcore, and it’s still fun to try so many different things.
BESIDES THE PRIEST OF KK, WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
– These days I am recording a couple of songs for two bands and last year I released my solo EP, “Return To Deathrow”, together with Jamey Jasta, which was a real success and I hope to start working on it soon. real feature film. In November I have some solo dates in South America and of course with KK’s Priest.
WILL THERE ALSO BE A THIRD ALBUM FROM TRES TREMORS?
– I guess so, since there are three of us, it would be absurd to stop before having released the third album!
TO CONCLUDE, CAN YOU LIST five albums that changed your life?
– I would tell you “Four Wheel Drive” by Buchman-Turner Overdrive, “Screaming For Vengeance” by Judas Priest, the album of the same name by Metal Church… One by Anthrax, maybe “Spreading The Disease”… Are there four of them? we?
– And then “Heaven And Hell” by Black S… Not really, “Holy Diver” by Dio.