Tim is an approachable and likeable guy. He spent the entire night on the floor of the club, walking from table to table and conversing with fans. He is clearly a “homer” as he told me in our interview and he wears his love for Akron (and Ohio) on his sleeve. Owens spent time with a little girl in a wheelchair (with what appeared to be a significant handicap, not a sprained ankle) and auctioned off a signed guitar in order help raise funds to send a local metal band on tour overseas. Ripper is promoting the local scene as well as the local music scene and I plan on bringing Threefold Law (my band) down I-77 to play to an enthusiastic and grateful audience.
Please allow me to introduce to you one heavy metal’s most powerful voices and an advocate for Ohio, local music, and fine dining. Ladies and gentlemen, Tim “Ripper” Owens.
What was it like growing up in Akron?
It was great. I’m always a homer on everything I do. Friends and family; I stick with them forever especially with this restaurant near Kenmore where I grew up. I travel a lot and I never had to move away when I made it in music. I got a lucky break and I was too ugly in the 80s to go to L.A. with that whole scene. I’m a homer. All my friends and family are here and that’s nice. I like everything about Akron; from the mayor to the growth downtown. Everything is great.
It’s nice to have cheerleaders for Ohio. We don’t always get the national recognition that other cities get.
Yes, that’s true.
What’s it like playing in Dio Disciples?
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 band mates and I was his friend. Wendy 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.
Are you working on new material with Chris Caffery?
You’re a busy guy. I can attest to that.
I don’t have a hard time playing with myself. [laughing]
News from Wacken and whispers in the heavy metal world indicate that Lemmy 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?
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 Iommi 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.
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?
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.
Tell us about the brand new Ripper’s Rock House.
We couldn’t sign a lease at the old Tap House which was the main reason we had to relocate. I had Micah come in and he was buying my other partner out and we were going to stay there but we couldn’t re-negotiate the lease so we decided to move. It’s a great opportunity because my partner Micah is really smart, he has a couple of business degrees, owns a 40-truck landscaping company, and I wanted to surround myself with good people. For the new Rock House I wanted to improve on everything. I like the location, the size, it’s more spacious, the food is better, the staff is better, and the sound system is premiere. It’s a Jeff Hair sound system. He was out with Manowar for years and they’re known for having a loud system. So we improved everything. First and foremost, we’re a restaurant; a restaurant that likes to rock out on the weekends. It’s been great getting Don Jamieson here and if you look at the upcoming schedule we’re getting some great people here.
Who? [Don Jamieson piping up from the corner]
Some dirt bag. [laughing]
He did something. Maybe worked at the last place? No, he was on the road with me. He drove the van.
I did drive the van. [Don Jamieson also laughing]
You have Rhino Bucket on the schedule too, right?
Yes, Rhino Bucket is booked. We have some younger acts too like Losing September and a bunch of other stuff in the works. I want to really try and promote the local original and cover bands. We want to treat’em well, give them a couple of pizzas, a case of beer, and a private green room. So far, we’ve been slammed every weekend.
Any other projects you have going on you’d like to mention?
Not your typical stage stunt.
You can’t ask for better publicity than that. He jumped about four inches into the air during the first song and when he landed both of his shins broke in half. They took him away in ambulance. So I’m still waiting for him to break both of his arms to open this place.
He’s got to up the ante.
Just to open the club he’s giving away his kidney. Seriously, he’s in a great band. Fracture is a great band.
Thanks for your time, Ripper. I really appreciate it.
No problem, man.
A special thanks to Cleveland’s own Heavy Metal Godfather, Bill Peters, for putting me in touch with Ripper Owens.
Official - http://www.timripperowens.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TimRipperowens
Twitter - https://twitter.com/TimRipperOwens
Ripper's Rock House - http://www.rippersrockhouse.com/