Interview by Robert Cavuoto
Three of metal’s greatest vocalists; Tim “Ripper” Owens, Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin, and Sean “The Hell Destroyer” Peck have united as the Three Tremors and released their debut self-titled CD this past January.
There are twelve original songs featuring all three singers on every track; songs that cover all different metal styles and have some incredible vocal performances. It’s a fierce juggernaut of old school metal songs combined with hair raising vocals. Songs like “Sonic Suicide” and “Speed to Burn” are pure brutal US metal.
To hammer the point home, US fans will get their chance to witness the Three Tremors perform live on their first-ever tour running from February through March 2019. Tickets for the shows can be purchased here: http://www.thethreetremors.com/site/shows.html
I caught up with Ripper Owens between shows to talk about the creation of the Three Tremors CD if he would ever work with KK Downing on a CD, and his personal thoughts on lip-syncing.
Robert Cavuoto: The Three Tremors CD has an old school US metal vibe, was that intentional?
Tim “Ripper” Owens: Absolutely! When Sean asked me if I was interested in participating, the thing that won me over was that he wanted to make this a band, with a record, and do a tour. It was not just the three of us going on stage playing songs from our respective bands. Everything we did was going to be over the top with the music, lyrics, hitting the high notes, and the artwork. We wanted it to have a vibe of the music we grew up on but over the top. Some people might not be able to take it [laughing] because it might be too over the top for them, but that is what we wanted.
Robert Cavuoto: Was the music and lyrics written prior to you joining forces with Sean and Harry?
Tim “Ripper” Owens: It was written but what was great was I had just written Spirits of Fire and the year before that I was working with the new band, New Revenge with Keri Kelli, Rudy Sarzo, and James Kottak, so it was nice to take a break from writing. Sean sent me ideas with his vocals, and I recorded the entire record myself using his ideas as a template. I changed my voice quite a bit, which was more than I might normally have done because I didn’t want to sound like Sean or do the exact same thing he was doing. I did more layering with a raspy falsetto voice. I also added to the huge harmony parts. During the mixing, they worked out who would take what vocal part in the final mix. We are looking to release the CD with the three versions of each singer alone. We are thinking of releasing as a three-CD box set so people won’t have to go out to buy our individual versions like a contest.
Robert Cavuoto: You’re a very a versatile singer and blend in nicely with so many of the bands that you perform with; incorporating your style yet enchanting the band. Do you feel this CD is created more in line with your personal preference of music?
Tim “Ripper” Owens: I think this CD forced me to sing in a different voice than I’m used to doing. On the last Charred Walls of the Damned CD, I used a falsetto raspy AC/DC voice, but I don’t use it as much as I did on this CD. On the New Revenge CD that I just did, I love the vocals as it was a straight forward hard rock. The one that gets it all is the one in the middle; Spirits of Fire as that is a Judas Priest/ Sabotage type of voice. Like you said my voice blends into the music and adapts. So anything I sing it fits. I like to sing in character.
Robert Cavuoto: I really loved your vocals on Perpetual Flame with Yngwie Malmsteen.
Tim “Ripper” Owens: I loved that record too. I would love to work with him again. Maybe do another CD with a producer this time around to do a little better mix. Everybody is expecting me to talk dirt about him but don’t have any bad to say. He was one of the easiest guys I have ever worked with in the studio. I would want to do a retake of the vocals, and he would say, “They are good, and we don’t want to lose that take.” [Laughing]. I would get off stage with him and tell him that I didn’t think I had a great night and he would always say, “You sounded fucking great, man!” He was so complimentary to me and my singing. I thought he might have unleashed the fury on me, but he never did. I’m waiting for the call from him to make another record!
Robert Cavuoto: “King of the Monsters” is about Ronnie James Dio and Lemmy Kilmister, tell me about is creation?
Tim “Ripper” Owens: “King of the Monsters” was originally going to be about Godzilla, but Sean changed direction because they are both monsters of the metal world. What’s great about hard rock and metal is that you can sign about anything. When I made my solo record, the song “Play My Game” is about believing in yourself. “Death Race” is about driving a fast car. “The Cover Up” is about aliens. You can write about everyday stuff or add political innuendos into the songs. I don’t like to get political though. The CD Beyond Fear has some political songs, a song about a messed up situation where people screwed me over, and a song about a metal monster. I’ll sit down to write lyrics for a song and when I first start to come up with the idea vocally, whatever comes out of my mouth will be what the song is about. It’s a weird thing.
Robert Cavuoto: I read KK Downing’s book, and he spoke highly of you. Did the two of you ever talk about working on putting together a band or a CD?
Tim “Ripper” Owens: We kind of talked about it. He is always busy doing other stuff. You never know as I think he is getting a little fever to do it again. I think it would be awesome to do a record together. We have been offered well-paying gigs to do all star-line ups or be special guests, but he never wanted to do it. He has been doing this since the 70s, and I have to imagine he enjoys doing some other things outside of music. I get calls about doing a tour or something with KK, and I always give the person KK’s email and tell them to talk to him about it first. I would do anything in a heartbeat that is why I have three records coming out at the same time. I’m probably the only person who in one year has released five records. They weren’t all recorded in that year. I like to work so don’t have a lack of offers.
Robert Cavuoto: In the book, KK Downing talks about Judas Priest playing smaller venues after Rob Halford left the band, what was the band’s feeling of downsizing at the time?
Tim “Ripper” Owens: I don’t think it was easy. The guys in Priest told me at the time of Painkiller; they were doing shows to 1,500 people. They may have been playing in arenas, but they were only a quarter full. When I was in the band, we were playing club gigs to 2,000-3,000 people. They were fine with it because they loved performing.
Robert Cavuoto: There is a lot of talk on social media about bands lip syncing live, would you ever consider that in your career?
Tim “Ripper” Owens: I don’t need to use them or think about it. I don’t care if people use it. They can do whatever they want. Me, I don’t need them only if I was stuck with some difficult back-up vocals. I would never use with main vocals, that’s just silly.