1. So before we start talking about the forthcoming Iced Earth album “Framing Armageddon”, I wanted to ask how your other band Beyond Fear was received by both fans and critics?
TIM: It went good man, probably that was one of the best reviewed albums I had been part of. I know I really liked that debut album. To go over how well it did with the fans and critics was great. We didn’t get to tour as much as we would have liked, guess since it was our first album, but it was a good surprise. The next one is gonna be even better. We’re gonna do what we did with the last one, take the best parts, and continue on.
2. Do you think you may try something different on the next album?
TIM: It will always be classic metal but I think a lot of the later songs that we recorded for the debut, like “Scream Machine”, became favorites for fans. And lyrics to a song like that were not so serious and more cliché metal lyrics, you know about a metal machine (laughs), so I think some of the new songs may go in that direction. We are still gonna have songs like “Save Me” but I think it will probably have some more aggression. We have been writing now, John Comprix and I, for a while, I have a lot of ideas and melodies in my head that I really can’t use anywhere else (laughs). Its nice I get to use em for Beyond Fear. I mean I have been a writer for many years but I don’t get to do it as much as I would like and Iced Earth just keeps me so busy but its nice that every once and a while I get to do my thing with Beyond Fear. And we get to take our time with this band and practice together. I mean that’s what I want to hear with all my influences on one album that’s what I like to do with Fear.
3. You guys recently played the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany. Did Iced Earth headline a night and how did that go?
TIM: It was awesome man it was a good show, the crowd is great but the problem is the crowd is so far away from you because of the barrier. I mean that crowd was so loud, the stage show was great we had some pyro, we played really well. I know the show was taped but there was a couple technical glitches and pyro miscues.
4. Did any of the Heaven and Hell shows happen yet?
TIM: We did one with them in Greece but we are doing a nice tour with them in November and that is gonna be real exciting, that’s just awesome. Ronnie (James Dio) is just one of the nicest guys one of best singers out their and just a class act and Sabbath in general is.. Sabbath. Iced Earth has been given a great opportunity and I wish we could had done the whole European tour I think we are perfect for that tour. You know Iced Earth never really had many opportunities to be support and on a tour they always headlined.
5. Do you find that “Framing Armageddon” is closer to what the fans, and critics, expectations may be for Iced Earth than what came out of “The Glorious Burden”?
TIM: I don’t know really (laughs), to me it’s the same type of thing that happened when I was in Judas Priest. And it’s the fact the I’m in a band that has never really been the same with every record. I mean with Iced Earth musically you could tell, but musically things changed chorus’ were different, moods were different. But I think this one as a whole is more back to the roots of Iced Earth and taking everything they have done up till now and mixing it in one record. You know people say Iced Earth is really a heavy band but they do have a couple balls out heavy songs per album, and then you have a couple slow ones, and then there are the mid tempo ones. I think “Framing Armageddon” is a great cd and I cant see an Iced Earth fan not liking it.
6. Well in regards to your last statement, coming from an Iced Earth fan I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a great continuation from the original “Something Wicked This Way Comes” album while expanding on the story and a lot in the music.
TIM: Yeah well its got so much. I mean I heard a few people say “O its got a lot of intros”, well then skip em. It is a story you know and you are supposed to listen to it as such. But the intros are separate from the other tracks. Like when I just burned the album into my Ipod I skipped the intros. But they are there to serve a purpose. Its like what “Gettysburg” was.
7. Since “Glorious Burden” was the first Iced Earth album you sang on, what is different the second time around now for you as a singer.
TIM: Its similar vocal wise because John (Schaffer) has always said he always writes the same. He said he always wrote for a singer like me. He said in a lot of interviews that Matt (former singer) use to write lyrics but John writes all the melodies and vocal parts. And he doesn’t write em for the singer in the band at the time, he writes them the way he thinks they should be sung. I know I naturally have a higher voice but I do wish I could sing more of the lower parts.
I know with this album I was their when it was written, I went in their and did the demos and sang the parts. John said here’s the lyrics and melody and I want you to deliver it, here’s what I would like you to deliver it like but you do what you feel. So that’s what was cool about this album. “The Glorious Burden” was probably an easier album for me to sing than this one, even though it was already written when I came into the band. But when I go back and try to sing some of the stuff on “Framing Armageddon” I’m just like “holy shit what did I do”?
8. Speaking of what you are singing on “Framing Armageddon”, I was going to ask was there anything challenging to do on this record?
TIM: Definitely. I think there is a difference between a songwriter and a singer and John (Schaffer) is a song writer and I think he forgets sometimes that I have to breath (laughs). And I do to I have to remember also in the heat of the moment while I am in the studio recording so its my fault, but then again when I have to go back and sing some of this stuff again you know. Its like “Ten Thousand Strong” that’s just balls out and when we were doing it in rehearsal I was like “man this is tough”. It’s a natural high voice with no room to breath, its fun and challenging. There was stuff we did for Beyond Fear that was the same way but the difference is we rehearsed those songs first before we recorded those.
I mean with new Iced Earth album there are some registers that John has me reaching that I don’t use that often that I used in the past but not so much of recent. Two singers that were always like that were Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and Ronnie Dio, those are two guys that were always tough to do.
9. How about the music on “Framing Armageddon”. I am hearing some different sounds and instruments used can you tell us about those?
TIM: John brought in some different worldy sounding instruments on this album because it’s a world story. The instruments play a big part in the story because you are going back ten thousand years ago when the humans weren’t the original people on the Earth and the Setiens peoples were. He started dabbling a little bit with the vocal parts even on the “Something Wicked Trilogy” so it’s a continuation from that. You have the world voices and Indian chants but I don’t really know what specific instruments John used on the album.
10. Do you have any favorites from “Framing Armageddon Part 1”?
TIM: Yeah you know I like “The Clouding”, it’s a mellow tune but really cool. I like the “Domino Decree”, the title track. Man there are so many to remember (laughs). (As Tim plays the cd) “The Setien Massacre” is really cool. “A Charge to Keep”. But with this album John has really written plenty of variety for each song and they all don’t come across the same way. “Framing Armageddon” is such a traditional Iced Earth song but then others are just arranged differently.
11. What about the classic Iced Earth songs. Which ones are you favorites?
TIM: I know we did “Pure Evil” a couple times recently and I really like that one. “Burning Times” we always do and a favorite. I know I’m looking forward to doing some of these new ones. I enjoy doing “Jack” we just did that in Greece and at Sweden Rock. There are a few I like that I don’ t think we are doing for this tour (laughs).
12. Do you think the Iced Earth fans at this point have become more comfortable with you as the new singer?
TIM: I don’t know. I mean the real Iced Earth fans know that John Schaffer was always the driving force of the band. And Matt Barlow (former singer) was a great singer but decided to make a career change. If they don’t accept me then listen to someone else I guess it doesn’t really hurt my feelings. I know John is doing exactly what he wants to do and its still classic Iced Earth. I mean people have to realize that I followed Halford in Priest and coming into Iced Earth now doesn’t hold that much pressure.
13. How far along is Part II to “Framing Armageddon”?
TIM: Its really coming along John is finishing up some melodies, most of the rhythm guitars and music is done, the lead guitars and vocals have to be done. I think it should be out around March/April 2008.
14. Is their anything different with the music on Part II?
TIM: I really don’t know John has given me a couple songs to put some melodies too, I really like coming up with melodies. I really can’t help him with lyrics because this is his story but I can help out with melody lines. I haven’t really listened to too much of the music because I had to really concentrate on the first part plus learning songs for this European tour.
15. What are the tentative touring plans for the States at least?
TIM: I think we are trying for January in the States. I hope it happens.
16. Any bands that you would like to take on the road with Iced Earth?
TIM: I would really like to bring out Primal Fear, I saw Biff from Saxon recently that would be really cool for the States. Blind Guardian would be excellent and do a co headlining thing and bring Saxon and Primal Fear with us. We could probably do some nice sized shows as well with that kind of bill.
17. You know that Iron Maiden is going out next year and apparently bringing back the stage set from “Powerslave” and doing songs just from along with “Somewhere in Time” and “Seventh Son”.
TIM: Now that would be awesome maybe we could push for that. Man that would be up their along with touring with Heaven and Hell and being in Priest. I think we could push all the metal fans for that.
18. Plans to record a live DVD?
TIM: Yeah man that’s the plan now that rights to the Iced Earth songs are back with John. I mean recording it in mighty Europe somewhere would be great. Like I said earlier we just did Wacken and that was amazing. I would like to tape it maybe in Cleveland Ohio (Tim’s home State), New York would be great but we really need to play a nice sized venue if we do it in the States.
19. Contributing vocals to any other projects?
TIM: Not right now Iced earth keeps me pretty busy but I would like to. I would love to do a project with maybe Scott Ian from Anthrax, Vinny Paul (Pantera) on drums I mean there are so many people I would love to work with. You know someone else I would love to work with down the road is John Oliva (Savatage/Trans Siberian Orchestra). I mean his style and my vocals would be a phenomenal mix, I think. I mean imagine Jon Oliva, myself singing, Scott Ian doing rhythms and bring in Chris Caffery on leads that would be awesome.
20. Now that you mention John Oliva I think you would sound great singing the old Savatage stuff. And have you ever considered doing some vocals on a Trans Siberian Orchestra album?
TIM: Man I love that old Savatage stuff if they ever get it back together again I would love to jam with them. Concerning TSO I did speak with Paul O’Neil but he just didn’t pursue the idea, it was really surprising. I mean I think it would work pretty well and I would sing what fits TSO’s music. That band has some great singers that travel with them as it is, I mean I would love to be part of that.
Official website: www.timripperowens.com