Ex-ICED EARTH Singer TIM 'RIPPER' OWENS On JON SCHAFFER's Involvement In U.S. Capitol Riot: 'He Knew He Was Wrong'

April 28, 2023

Former ICED EARTH singer Tim "Ripper" Owens says that Jon Schaffer "screwed up" by being involved in the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Owens, who joined ICED EARTH in 2003 and stayed in the group for four years before being fired in December 2007, addressed his time with the band in a new interview with Riff Crew.

Asked if he "saw it coming" that Schaffer would be involved in something like the Capitol riot, Owens said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Listen, he's known for being out there a little bit. We didn't get along, and, obviously, I left the band. I haven't talked to him hardly since I left. But no, I really didn't see it coming. It's a shame he did it. He knew he was wrong. He probably knows he's wrong; he screwed up. Obviously he would have been better off going into the inner city and looting a building and burning it to the ground and stealing TVs. He probably would have got off and not had any trouble. Unfortunately, he did something else and he got in trouble for it. And you know what? He was wrong and he did it. Even though they opened the doors for him and said, 'Come on in,' you can't go in; that's just the way it is."

Reflecting on his time with ICED EARTH, Tim said: "[Jon] and I, we weren't eye to eye politically and other things. But I'd never seen any of that. We didn't talk politics. It was a different time, politically, when I was in the band too. People weren't as crazy back then. Now everybody's filled with hate and anger. I mean, if they don't like what I say, people e-mail me that they hope my family dies… People do dumb and stupid and crazy things. Like I said, you'd be better off burning down a cupcake shop, some small business, and you'd okay."

Last November, Owens was asked in an interview with The Shred Shack if he would ever consider rejoining ICED EARTH if he got the call. He responded: "No, no. And contrary to his issues he has… It wasn't a good falling out.

"People don't realize that it's been a long time since I was in ICED EARTH," Owens explained. "It wasn't a good ending. And career-wise, I've moved on, and I do my thing now.

"No, I would never do ICED EARTH again. No," Tim reiterated.

Owens previously reflected on his split with ICED EARTH in a December 2021 interview with Metal Mythos Aftershock. At the time, he said: "It wasn't a very good parting. I was leaving to go to [Jon's] house to record a new record. And I walked back into my house to grab something and I got an e-mail and I looked at it and it said, 'Brothers and sisters… You're fired,' or whatever. It's the same e-mail he sent Blabbermouth at the same time. And it wasn't a good falling out. It was two weeks before Christmas. It wasn't good."

Owens continued: "Two weeks before that, [Jon] sent me an e-mail saying, 'Listen, I really need to teach you how to be a frontman and teach you how to do things.' And Wendy Dio, who was my manager at the time, was beside herself. She kept saying, 'Get out of this thing, man. You've gotta get out of this thing.' And it was unfortunate that it ended like that — two weeks before Christmas with an e-mail that's the same e-mail he sends Blabbermouth. I was kind of sad, but life goes on, and you move on to the next thing. And I think two days later I was recording a new Yngwie [Malmsteen] record. So it's kind of, like, everything moves on for a reason."

Owens had also discussed his departure from ICED EARTH in a 2012 interview with Australia's Loud. He said: "It was handled poorly, I think, the situation. It could've been handled good and everybody could've looked good in the situation. But it was handled poorly, I think… I started getting all the blame when things weren't the same. Or things weren't what Jon thought they could be. And then, of course, it all came down on me. None of the blame ever came down on Jon. I'm fine with that, but the funny thing is that nothing really changed when I left anyway. I read numbers and I talk to agents, and the crowds are the same or smaller now. I think it was also me wandering a bit, knowing that ICED EARTH was kind of like a solo project. It's really Schaffer's band, and I knew that. And I started having my own: I started doing BEYOND FEAR, and pushing BEYOND FEAR when probably I should have been talking about ICED EARTH. I think Jon read a lot of that and he read into it that my heart and soul wasn't into ICED EARTH."

Schaffer addressed Owens's exit from ICED EARTH in a 2008 interview with Metal Exiles. At the time, the guitarist said: "Tim was great to work with in the studio, and from a standpoint of performing live, he was great as far as being an incredible vocalist, but he was not a true believer in this band. It was a job for him, and ICED EARTH is not about that… He was more interested in doing his solo thing — that was where his head was at — and it was becoming more and more obvious. This band was a means to an end for him."

In April 2021, Schaffer pleaded guilty to his role in the U.S. Capitol riot. As part of the plea deal, Jon entered into a cooperation agreement with the government.

Following the initial reports that Schaffer was involved in the riot, his ICED EARTH bandmates distanced themselves from his actions. Singer Stu Block and bassist Luke Appleton later posted separate statements on social media announcing their resignations. BLIND GUARDIAN frontman Hansi Kürsch also quit DEMONS & WIZARDS, his long-running project with Schaffer. The allegations also apparently affected Schaffer's relationship with his longtime record label Century Media, which had released albums from both ICED EARTH and DEMONS & WIZARDS. As of mid-January 2021, the Century Media artist roster page did not list either band.

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