Interview with Jon Schaffer of ICED EARTH July 10, 2012

July 22, 2012 by: Shauna O'Donnell

July 10, 2012

ICED EARTH

Jon Schaffer (Rhythm and Lead Guitars, Backing Vocals)

Tampa, Florida

http://www.icedearth.com/

By: Shauna O’Donnell


Shauna: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me.

Jon: You’re welcome.

Shauna: How are things going on the Volbeat tour?

Jon: It’s been a blast! We are having a great time and the guys are really cool people. All the bands and crew are getting along great, which is making it a success.

Shauna: I think that is important.

Jon: Yeah, it is. Nobody has an out of control ego or anything. There is a lot of good teamwork going on.

Shauna: Do you think it is important for bands to be really compatible on tour or do you think having a little diversity among the bands is good too?

Jon: For us it is great because we are reaching a new audience. Iced Earth has needed to be a support band more than we have. We have always headlined, not because we have wanted too. Volbeat is only the fourth band that we have opened for in twenty-seven years. We are always preaching to the choir and this is a really cool way for a lot of people to get exposed to us. I don’t think it is for every Volbeat fan, but we are definitely making new fans.

Shauna: Twenty-seven years is a long time in this industry. What do you think is the key to a long term successful career in this industry?

Jon: I think you really have to have integrity. You have to keep your craft up.

Shauna: You guys have pretty much toured everywhere I would imagine in your career. Is there anywhere you haven’t been that you’d like to go?

Jon: We have never played Japan, which is crazy. There are a lot of places in Asia, but we did just go to China for the first time, which is really cool. I want the band to play everywhere, so we are hitting all kinds of new territories. We are about 120 shows in for Dystopia since November 1st, so we’ve been kicking ass.

Shauna: Well Volbeat wants to go to Japan too, so…

Jon: Yeah, well you never know. Michael (Volbeat) and I are going to be doing a lot of stuff together in the future.

Shauna: Like working on songs together?

Jon: Yeah I think so. We had such a strong chemistry. We both feel like we’ve known each other for a thousand years. It’s one of those things. We haven’t tried writing together yet, but we’ve been talking about it and I think maybe if we do a tour together in the future we could come up with a really cool project. It will be something that hasn’t been done before. He has some specific ideas that I really like. The way our personalities are and the way we get along, we need to do this together.

Shauna: What do you think is most important when putting on a live show? What do you think fans enjoy the most?

Jon: I think a front man with a good sense of humor is a good thing, which Stu certainly has and so does Michael (Volbeat). Michael cracks me up with the shit he does in between songs. He does his Elvis impersonation and all that. It is just classic stuff. I think people love that. I sit and watch them every night and they are one of my favorite bands.

Shauna: What are the plans once this tour ends at the end of the month?

Jon: We are going to Europe for festivals and then we are filming a live DVD. That will probably be the last thing for a little while, like a couple months. We have some other shows coming up in Europe in December. I think in these few months off we may start working on some new tunes. We have been talking about starting the songwriting process in the Fall, but that does not mean that there is going to be an album that quickly either. The DVD will come out probably in Spring of next year and maybe a new studio album later in the year.

Shauna: Is it difficult to come up with a set list, seeing as how you have such an extensive discography with so many fan favorites?

Jon: It is very hard, especially in a forty minute set. I think we picked a good selection of songs from the catalog that seems to please the fans. I think these are good songs too, because I know we are being introduced to a much more diverse crowd between the HellYeah and Volbeat fans. It’s a good mixture of Iced Earth.

Shauna: Have any of your songs been placed in horror movies or any type of TV?

Jon: No, the only thing I have ever done for any soundtrack is on the Sons of Liberty album, my solo album. There’s a movie coming out called Silver Circle. It is an animated movie and I’m in the movie too. They animated me and it is kind of freaky seeing myself as a cartoon. They are using some Sons stuff for the soundtrack. Iced Earth has never had anything in movies, but we’d love to.

Shauna: You guys have been a band for a long time and you have seen many changes in the industry. What are your thoughts on how things are today and how have the changes affected you?

Jon: Oh yeah, the things that are changing now with physical sales are just almost non-existent. There are still some, but you are seeing all these labels going out of business as well as distributors and retail chains. It’s kind of a freaky time, but I hope at the end of the day it’s going to be better for the artist because I think they’d be lying if they said they were big fans of record labels. If we can deal direct with our fan base and at some point have our own label, then that’s my goal. It’s headed there and that’s a good thing for the artist financially. I think in the metal industry it has affected us probably less than the big pop stars. If you go from selling 50 million albums down to 2 million, it’s a major failure. The metal fans kind of “get it” more that if they don’t buy the music then the bands can’t do what we do, but it still has affected us for sure.

Shauna: Have you reached your goals as a band yet?

Jon: I set goals all the time whether they are short term or long term. We still have a lot left to do. The band is coming back very strong and there is a lot of good energy behind it. The band and the crew are a great group of guys. I think we are going to be able to take the band further than we ever have and we are focused on making that happen. The last decade has been really tough with a lot of line-up changes, a lot of label problems, management problems and a lot of shit. Now everything is coming back and coming back strong.

Shauna: Dystopia released in October of 2011. Was there something specific that inspired that record?

Jon: It’s basically what’s happening. The country is being destroyed. We just witnessed the largest theft in human history and these scumbags behind all these wars and all the evil shit that is going on in their mind. People need to speak up before we let it turn into Dystopia, which is where it is headed. We are not the land of the free, we are a fucking police state and we are just letting it happen. There’s a good movement of people that are sick of the left/right bullshit and want to get back to the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Principles of Liberty and prosperity for everybody. It has just turned into such a nightmare. It’s been going on for a long time, but the last ten years has really accelerated. The television is a fucking weapon and they are using it to keep people dumbed down and distracted with stupid shit that doesn’t even matter. Meanwhile we are being policed and our country is being destroyed.

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