TIM ‘RIPPER’ OWENS: ‘I’m Not Sure If LEMMY Will Ever Die’

TIM 'RIPPER' OWENS: 'I'm Not Sure If LEMMY Will Ever Die'J. Thorn recently conducted an interview with powerhouse vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens (DIO DISCIPLES, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, JUDAS PRIEST, ICED EARTH). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

J. Thorn: What’s it like playing in DIO DISCIPLES?

Owens: It’s an honor. It’s emotional every night. I feel it every time I step on the stage. There’s something special about playing with Ronnie‘s [James Dio] bandmates and I was his friend. Wendy [Dio, Ronnie‘s widow/manager] is such a great person and Ronnie was a great person, so it feels even more special. It’s really an honor to be able to do it.

J. Thorn: News from Wacken [Open Air festival in Germany] and whispers in the heavy metal world indicate that Lemmy [MOTÖRHEAD] is in rapidly declining health. The bands that came from the ’70s, like MOTÖRHEAD and JUDAS PRIEST, are getting older. In your opinion, what’s the future of heavy metal? Where’s it headed?

Owens: Metal is in good hands. It’s a shame now, but guys like Lemmy have laid the groundwork. People will always dislike change, but it’s still metal. There weren’t a lot of bands like PRIEST before PRIEST, and when they started, people probably didn’t like them, didn’t like that style of music. Bands like IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, and BLACK SABBATH — they’ve laid the groundwork for newer bands. Bands like DISTURBED — which I like because I think they have a lot of old-school influences and they’re at the top of the charts when they release a record, and it’s nice to see that. But I’m not sure if Lemmy will ever die. He’s been in “declining health” for about 20 years, right? Lemmy is a machine… But that’ll be a sad day. Seems like [Tony] Iommi [BLACK SABBATH guitarit] came back from his cancer scare. I think we’ll be alright. These guys have laid the groundwork and every band you see is influenced in some way by Lemmy or these other guys, so we’ll be okay.

J. Thorn: Do you think we’ll end up with “heavy metal franchising,” like Gene Simmons used to talk about? Imagine each city having their own KISS franchise with the KISS seal of approval, playing all the songs people love so that the “band” lives beyond the original members. Is that viable?

Owens: I don’t know if we’re very far from that now. FOREIGNER was out not too long ago without one original member in the band. But it’s hard to say. Bands like MOTÖRHEAD can’t continue without Lemmy. Some bands can’t continue. With PRIEST, I was able to come in but it still really didn’t go on without Rob Halford. It was a different situation. If anybody were to try a “heavy metal franchise,” it would definitely be KISS. Nobody would like it, but they would try it, because they just need to put the musicians in make-up and maybe get away with it. I’d go watch it. You already got MINI KISS out there.

Read the entire interview at J. Thorn.