Tim “Ripper” Owens is one of the most sought after vocalists in heavy metal today, maybe ever! That’s what happens when you replace, arguably, the greatest heavy metal vocalist, Rob Halford in Judas Priest. Owens recorded two albums, Jugulator and Demolition before Halford returned. By this time, everybody knew the name “Ripper” Owens and his golden voice, so the calls began to come and never stopped. His appearances are legion, including Charred Walls of the Damned, Iced Earth, Beyond Fear, Dio Disciples and Killing Machine.
Now Ripper is back and he’s not alone on the mic. This time he combines his incredible vocal range with other vocalists with similar skills. Started by Cage singer Sean Peck, The Three Tremors (a pun on the name of the opera group) shows Peck harmonize his voice with Ripper and Jag Panzer throat-shredder Harry Conklin. Peck’s mates in Cage handle the instruments and instill chemistry and familiarity. The Three Tremors just released their self-titled debut album and successfully completed a European tour and are gearing up for a tour in the States. The Ripper spoke with Heavy Music Headquarters about the making of this album and these tours.
Darren Cowan: Ripper, you’re in a new band called The Three Tremors. Please talk about forming the band.
Tim “Ripper” Owens: Sean (Peck) really spearheaded it. He called me about five years ago and said, “Hey, I have this idea. What do you think about it?” I’ve been involved in a lot of all-star singer bands. Most of the time they were bands that would go out and do your catalog. I would be playing “Burn in Hell,” “Scream Machine,” “Painkiller,” those kinds of songs, but Sean wanted to record a record. That was his idea right from the start. Let’s make a record and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re not doing all that other stuff; we’re recording a record. That’s really what got it going on. We were looking for a third singer and Sean, with this being his thing, said he wanted to call Harry Conklin, so that’s how it all started
The backing band, your musicians, all play in Cage with Sean.
That wasn’t part of the original plan, either. Sean was going to try to put an all-star band together. I think he was going to try to do this with a couple of guys. It just made sense for him to get the Cage guys, his guys, live out there. They’re in San Diego. They can rehearse. They can write together and they are always there, so it made sense. It was feasible and easier to just get those guys. They are amazing musicians. I used them before as a backup band for a solo show. They were amazing! They are so good and they love doing it, so it was just easy to do that.
Do you write lyrics with Sean or does he do all the writing?
He did on this one. He asked that from the start. I’ve got to be honest; it made it better for me because I had just finished writing the Spirits of Fire CD. I spent a lot of time writing and recording that. I also have another CD called A New Revenge, which used to be called Project Rock. I had written that before Spirits of Fire with Keri Kelli. It was nice to have someone else with the material. I could just work on singing, doing melody ideas and just having to worry about how I’m going to sing it and what kind of voice I’m going to use. Sean really was the mastermind of that as well.
How did you record the vocals? Take us through the recording process.
I would record it in my studio. Sean would send me his ideas. He would sing it. He wrote the songs and sang them, so he had a template down. Then, I would sing the whole song over again. I would actually do it my own way, harmonies and everything. I would do it like I’m recording my own CD, but in a different voice than Sean’s. It was kind of cool because I purposely changed my voice around, so it’s the most different I’ve ever sung on a CD. There is a lot more falsetto, like David Wayne from Metal Church, AC/DC, Savatage; more higher stuff and raspy.
It was cool that I purposely did that and did a lot of layering, so I didn’t do anything like Sean or Harry. The greatest part is, I would do the whole record, mixed, and they would say, “listen to this part,” “he did that different,” “let’s use this part,” but the coolest part is this CD can be released individually. We all could release our own versions of this record. We all sang it. We didn’t just sing individual pieces on every song. Sean didn’t tell me, “Sing this part.” No, he wanted me to sing all of it. We could release a record of our own versions. That’s kind of cool.
That would be cool to see you release a three-record vinyl set with each singer doing a record.
I’m eager to hear how it would sound. I think it’s a great idea. I wouldn’t put it past next year us releasing that.
Does Sean plan on making an album with different people on it every time?
I don’t think so. I mean the plan, unless something happens like he wakes up one day and doesn’t like me anymore, the plan is us three. We plan on sticking together for another record. That’s what is great about it. We don’t look at making this a one-off thing. Again, when we tour, we play the whole record. We play all four songs, plus a couple extra like “Burn in Hell,” “Scream Machine,” a Cage song and a Jag Panzer song. Yeah, so the idea is for us three to be The Three Tremors.
You made a video for “Invaders from the Sky?” Please talk about the story and the imagery.
The greatest thing about doing these is the official video for “Bullet for The Damned” will be coming out, but these other ones were put together by Sean. The technology today to put together videos makes it so much easier that you can sit at home and make them with your iPhone. “Invaders from the Sky” comes right at you. Everything about it is in the title of the song, which is great because Sean wrote a record which is classic power/heavy metal. Some people won’t like it because it’s in the style of ‘80s/early ‘90s heavy metal, and that’s what we wanted to do. I release records that are different styles all the time. I wanted this record to be straight at people who love this kind of music, people who love old-style, colorful concert shirts and over-the-top lyrics. That’s what “Invaders from the Sky” does. It hits it right on the head. It just grasps all of that.
“Fly or Die” has sound samples. It’s a WWII song.
Yeah, absolutely. I love that song. To me, it has a little kind of Maiden thing going for it. I guess I feel that way because it has a kind of story thing to it like what Maiden would write. That’s another one where right off the bat it’s just crazy. Its high notes and the lyrics are great. Sean really nailed it.
Then you have your anthem, the namesake song. That’s a really metal song.
Yeah, I love that song! It’s one of my favorites, actually. “Wrath of Asgard” and “The Three Tremors” are two of my favorite songs on the record.
When did you get off your European tour?
We did that around October. Originally, the CD was supposed to be out in October. The CD would come out and then we would hit the road, but then there were a bunch of stumbling blocks and the CD was stalled a bit. It wasn’t out yet. We still toured and it was a blast! Here we are on tour in Europe. We’re touring Cypress, Israel, Greece, just everywhere. You name it. We went to Sweden and Switzerland. It was really great seeing these fans of this kind of music get into it without even hearing the music. They heard a couple of songs like the ones you mentioned. We kind of teased them, but they hadn’t heard much, so didn’t know much. It was great to see that.
Do you expect that from the U.S. tour? The material is new, but everybody knows your name.
They’ll have a little more info on the songs. I actually expect the U.S. shows to be exactly like the European shows. I expect the crowds to be the same, maybe a little bigger in the U.S. because the CD will be out or coming close to be out. There will be word of mouth about it. There could be bigger shows. I don’t know, but I expect the crowds to be the same; the same enthusiasm and fun. If you are there for that kind of music, high notes and power metal, I expect it to be pretty great.
(interview published February 6, 2019)
Watch The Three Tremors – “Invaders From The Sky”