Rock Eyez Webzine
Rock Eyez
Rock Eyez Webzine


Interview with Jon Schaffer
(Guitars - Demons & Wizards / Iced Earth)

Jon Schaffer - Demons & Wizards

Interviewed by Pedro Lopes
Date: May 26th, 2005

Thanks for taking the time for taking this interview!
No sweat!

You’re a busy man, with a new DEMONS & WIZARDS album coming out and your own store, right?

And you have ICED EARTH and a family…
Dude, there’s…believe me, that’s the understatement. It’s nonstop, but it keeps life interesting.

So, with the new DEMONS & WIZARDS album, did Jim Morris help produce the album again?

Did he do any guitar work on the album?
Yeah, he did. He did the guitar solos that were there, not very many, but the ones that he did were awesome.

Ok, well, I haven’t heard it yet so…
Oh, yeah? Well, that sucks!

So, what’s the concept for this album?
There really isn’t a concept, even with the artwork, when you see the whole package laid out. There are three songs that are based on Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series and that’s Hansi’s thing because he’s the one that read it, I haven’t. He usually comes up with the themes for the lyrics. I have contributed to the lyrics on just about every song, but he’s the one that sketches out the basic lyrical ideas and then we finish it up together. It’s just a conglomeration of a lot of different fantasy and sci-fi ideas. I mean, when you look at the album cover it almost has a Martian landscape or it could look like hell. It’s red, there are mountains and pyramids in the back, and that has to with a few songs. So, there isn’t really a concept or theme going on.   

Are you aware that the album was leaked onto the internet? 

Do you think that affects the launch of the CD in anyway?
Well, I mean it sucks obviously, and it’s hard to prevent that from happening. I don’t know if it will be affected or not, especially the actual percentage. Metal bands, like us, BLIND GUARDIAN, DEMONS & WIZARDS, ICED EARTH, and IRON MAIDEN have the super hardcore loyal followings. I don’t know if we’re affected as much as the some of the major acts, some of the pop oriented stuff. That audience is used to getting ripped off and having an album with two or three good tracks and the rest of them are crap. Those people feel, as maybe from 30% to 40%, will just steal the music. For us, it just might be 10%. I think that overall, metal fans are more supportive for the bands, it’s more of a lifestyle, and I think a lot of those people are smart enough to realize that if they don’t support us, we won’t be able to keep on doing this. I used to be super psyched when a new IRON MAIDEN album came out or KISS or whatever, and just holding the album in your hands, reading the lyrics and looking at the art was a big part of the experience and I think metal fans enjoy that. So, even if someone has downloaded the album I think if they really like it, they’ll still go out and buy it. 

Yeah, I think the same way. With that said, are there any plans to do any live shows as DEMONS & WIZARDS?
We’ve had plenty of offers and we did tour Europe for the first album, and right now it’s scheduling issues and I think for Hansi it’s going to be tough because he’s going into the preproduction for BLIND GUARDIAN and I’ve got to be getting into the writing for the next ICED EARTH album, so if we do something, it’s not going to be this year. But, we’ve talked about doing a DEMONS & WIZARDS live album and most likely we will do that in the States and I would like to record it in New York. If we’re going to do that, we’ll probably do half a dozen major markets in America and make a small event out of it. But, in terms of making a full blown tour out of it, that’s not going to happen. 

So, will you continue with Hansi on any future projects?
Oh yeah! I mean, they’ll be more DEMONS & WIZARDS albums and we’re like brothers, and we like creating things together. For the Demons thing, it’s not about money or having to do something, it’s wanting to do something and when we can do it. We’re not under any tight schedule or contract stating that we have to release anything in a certain amount of years. This is about friends that realized after many years of being friends that we have writing chemistry as well and that we’re going to share it with people. 

Let’s jump to the “Gettysburg” DVD, what differentiates your DVD from other bands' DVD’s?
Well, we’ve been very upfront with the people on this DVD that it is not your typical metal band DVD release. It’s not a live concert; it’s not a compilation of a bunch of videos because we’ve only done two videos. So, it’s a very different thing, it’s almost a history lesson in surround sound. To me, this is the way the song “Gettysburg” should be experienced and hopefully the majority of the people who buy the DVD will be able to enjoy it on a home theater system. With the DVD, besides the “Gettysburg” video in surround sound, you’re getting insight into the band via the interview and getting some knowledge on what inspired the song via the Battlefield Tour. I was pretty adamant with the record company to be honest about that and they agreed a 100% that we need to be up front with people and that this is not a ‘live’ concert. At the same time, “Gettysburg” was a very popular part of the “Glorious Burden” if not the most popular, and I think a lot of people are going to be interested in listening to this and seeing it. 

Do you think that’s going to make new fans or make old fans upset?
If they go and buy it and get upset then they haven’t been paying attention because nobody’s trying to create an illusion when it’s not. I really wouldn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for somebody if they go out and buy it and say, “Man, I thought this was going to be a live concert!” Well, nobody said that!

Is it true that ICED EARTH is preparing for a summer tour?
Well, um, no, where did you hear that?

Some rumors online.
Nah, online is a very dangerous thing. There’s always the potential to be an opening act for a bigger tour, but it’s gotta be the right thing. There’s only a few bands where there would be an exception, I mean right now Tim and I just had babies, he’s got a baby girl, I got a baby girl, they were born 4 weeks apart. I don’t really want to leave; I want to be around for the first 6 months of her life. The only thing that is going to make me want to go tour is if METALLICA calls and says we want you guys to open. Then, obviously we would drop everything and go and do that, because it’ll be a big difference. But, to go out and headline again would be kind of silly because you’re preaching to the choir. To go out and open for on some mini festival tour which would only draw a few people would not be inviting either. If we’re gonna do it, it would have to make sense and propel the band forward. When you’re touring, especially for me as a writer, it’s a different frame of mind completely and when I go into song writing mode I basically need to get into my own head and not be bothered. Going on tour would not be a great place to write songs. 

So with new material, is it true you are working on a sequel for the “Something Wicked” series?
Yeah, it is in a discussion stage and depends on some decisions that SPV is gonna be making about ICED EARTH’s contract and whether we will extend it or not. This is really going to be “Something Wicked” part 1, because the trilogy was just a teaser to the story. If the decision comes down, and it looks like it’s going to that I really break out the “Something Wicked” story and concept record then we are talking about doing the most ambitious thing that ICED EARTH has ever done. Full orchestra, world instruments, tribal drumming from South American tribes to African tribes to American Indian sounds. There’s going to be so many elements in this thing because it’s a story that spans over 12,000 years of human history and it’s a conspiracy, horror, sci-fi story that will blow your fuckin’ mind. I’ve been kinda putting it off because I didn’t feel the time was right and now, the time is right. As long as SPV makes the right decisions, I will carry forth with it. This is going to be in two parts, because I can’t fit the whole story in one record. So, when we release the first part, we’ll still be in the studios recording the second part and that one will come out around 6 months later and that’s when the tour would start. 

Are you still thinking about doing a comic book?

And it’s based on the “Something Wicked” series?
That’s right. 

With the series put to the side, do you have any other concept stories that you would want to work on for ICED EARTH?
Do you mean as far as the comic goes?

Well, from your past albums, “Dark Saga” was about Spawn, “Glorious Burden” was about history, “Horror Show” was about monsters and whatnot, so is there any concepts that you would want to work on, that you had in mind?
Stormrider,” since that’s a concept album also and that would make a really cool comic book and story. It’s pretty fuckin’ dark, and it’s been a fan favorite for years so I can see that turning into a mini series of comics. There’s still plenty of time to do that, but it depends on how things ultimately goes with “Something Wicked,” that can open up a lot of doors and I have a lot of friends in the comic industry. The comic book will probably be 4 to 6 issues for “Something Wicked” and the artwork will be just as good as our album covers because it’ll be from the same guys who did that. It’s going to be a very cool thing, and if it does what I think it’ll do, then we may do something for “Stormrider.” 

Where do you see ICED EARTH in the next couple of years?
Well, pretty much on how I outlined it out. If the right tour comes along, we’ll go out and do it. In the mean time, I’ll start on the writing process in a month or two and when the time comes to record part 1, we’ll do that, and I hope that be within the next 6 to 12 months. 

You opened a store called the Spirit of ’76?

And do you manage it directly?
No, I actually hired a manager recently. My wife and I were managing it and she was running it while I was on the road but now since so much is going on with the DEMONS & WIZARDS and “Gettysburg” release and having a child now we felt that we should get somebody in to manage the shop on a regular basis. 

What’s your goal for the store, what did you have in mind?
Well, it’s place like a history buff’s paradise. And the goal is just to build up a business that is unique with something I have a passion and I enjoy and I’ll be able to do until my elder years. As long as I can keep up with, and I have a very intense schedule, with the shop and the family, it’s a lot and I hope to be able to manage it into my later years. 

I noticed from the “Glorious Burden,” that you have a strong appreciation for history, specifically US history. I have to ask, do you feel that historical education is important in schools?
It’s the most important, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not emphasized enough, and that’s why the nation, as far as I’m concerned, is crumbling from within. Generations of people are being raised and have no appreciation for where they live and where they come from. They don’t care because they don’t know and it is society’s fault and that makes me fucking sick. I see the level of ignorance from our college students around the country or regular Joe-blow on the street. I care deeply about our country, I’m thankful everyday for the sacrifices from WWII vets to the Vietnam and the vets currently serving and they are the ones that have been out their in the battlefields and giving us the freedoms that we have. And people don’t think about that enough. The only real way you can learn about it is if you study about it. The Constitution is something we should try to live up to. But, we’re fucking up, we’re not putting enough importance on history and there are people out there that don’t know how our government works.

So, do you feel that music can reach people into getting interested?
Yeah, I think it will, and it has. I’ve seen evidence of that when we did our touring, I’ve seen kids out there with signs that say, “Freedom is not free” and I’ve had people come up to me saying that they developed an interest in the civil war because of the “Glorious Burden” album. Is it enough to make a difference, I don’t know. 

I just want to say thank you for taking the time for this interview!
No problem, man! 


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