In a new interview with Classic Rock magazine, JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford was asked if he has listened to “Demolition” and “Jugulator”, the two albums PRIEST made with singer Tim “Ripper” Owens during a period in the late 1990s and early 2000s when Halford was out of the band. “No. I still haven’t,” he said. “This might sound selfish, but because it’s not me singing, I’m not attracted to it. I sound like a twat, but I’m really just not interested. And that’s no disrespect to Ripper, ’cause he’s a friend of mine.”
Halford went on to say that he first met Owens “when the band went through Ohio, [and Tim] came to the show. Was it awkward? Not in the least,” he said. “We gave each other a hug. He’s a massive PRIEST fan, and when the opportunity came for me to go back, he was, like, ‘Thumbs up, it’s great. I’m happy for the band, I’m happy for Rob.’ I respect his chops; he’s a great singer.”
Owens joined PRIEST in 1996 after being discovered when the band’s drummer, Scott Travis, was given a videotape of him performing with the PRIEST cover act BRITISH STEEL. JUDAS PRIEST at the time was seeking a replacement for Halford.
In a 2000 interview, Halford explained why he was reluctant to hear “Jugulator”. “It’s just too difficult for me to listen to the band when I’m not in it, and that’s nothing to do with taking a shot at Ripper,” he said. “I just can’t listen to it. It’s just psychological. I should just put it on and listen to the fucking thing, but then if I do, [interviewers] will say, ‘Well have you heard it?’, and I’ll go, ‘Yeah’, and then you’ll go, ‘What do you think?’, and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be put in that situation. I just love all the things that I’ve done with the band and I’m happy to be a part of that great legacy and that’s all. You want to treat it with respect because that’s what it deserves.”
Last October, Halford told “The SDR Show” that he would “absolutely” be open to performing material from “Demolition” and “Jugulator” with PRIEST. “Those two albums are just as valid as everything else in the PRIEST catalog,” he explained. “So who knows? That day may yet come.”
In 2019, Owens told Ultimate Guitar that he believes his era of JUDAS PRIEST is largely overlooked. “Yeah, I think it definitely deserves more [attention],” he said. “I mean, they don’t do anything. [Laughs] It’s kind of amazing that they just totally erased it that they won’t play… I mean, ‘Burn In Hell’ [off ‘Jugulator’], the crowd would like to hear ‘Burn In Hell’.
“They don’t have to give me a tribute or anything, but it would be nice to play a song from… You know, that was a pretty big thing, I did two studio records, two live records, and a DVD, starting from ’96 to 2004. So it’s kind of crazy that it’s just been erased and they won’t even play a song from it live, because it is JUDAS PRIEST.”
In October 2019, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner said that “Hell Is Home” is one of his favorite songs from the Owens era. The PRIEST guitarist, who joined the band in 2011 as the replacement for K.K. Downing, offered his opinion during a live video chat. He said: “I was listening to the Ripper albums the other day, and ‘Hell Is Home’ is such a great track. It’s really heavy and the vocal melody is really great. I think Ripper sings it really well. It’s probably one of my favorite PRIEST songs of the Ripper era. ‘Hell Is Home’ — I really like that.”
“Demolition” and “Jugulator” are included on “50 Heavy Metal Years Of Music”, JUDAS PRIEST‘s upcoming limited-edition box set which will contain every official live and studio album to date plus 13 unreleased discs. Due on October 15, it is the most extensive release of previously unreleased music the band has made from its vast archives.