ICED EARTH guitarist Jon Schaffer has posted the following message on the band's official web site:
"It's time for an update once again. Things have been pretty crazy between the awesome news of being a future father for the first time, the back problems and the numerous doctor visits; MRI's, EMG's and a load of other tests, a new business that has taken off and grown much quicker than expected (Spirit of 76 Collectibles),the 'Gettysburg' DVD, ICED EARTH's day-to-day, DEMONS & WIZARDS, a four-figure miniature series called 'The Great Americans' and another line-up change.
"Unfortunately for me, the guys in the band, the crew, the label, and more importantly the fans, we will not be touring Europe or anywhere else until summer 2005 due to my serious lower back problems and the fact that I'll be a father in early March. We plan on playing many of the big European festivals next summer and they are being booked at present.
"This is the main reason that [bassist] Jimmy [MacDonough] is no longer with ICED EARTH. He called me after it was obvious that ICED EARTH would not be touring for a while and asked if I would mind if he auditioned for MEGADETH. I wished him luck and told him that if he can go out and earn money by playing bass he should do it. This is a tough business and it's not easy for musicians to make a living when they're in an underground band that is not touring. That's why so many musicians that are in bands and have records out also have day jobs. Tim, Bobby and I wish Jimbo all the best!
"As for the 'Gettysburg' DVD, Mark Briody was just here a few days ago and it's looking very cool. We had a brainstorming session for some of the final touches and we are both very excited about the project. We are shooting for a January release date at this point. Mark and I both feel that this will be one of the most, if not the most unique releases a metal band has ever done. It'll be a double disc packed with all kinds of cool stuff. It will have the 'Gettysburg' video in 5.1 Surround (both the metal and theatrical mixes) and in stereo. There will also be a battlefield tour where I interview and discuss the battle with a licensed battlefield guide as we walk through the events of the three days. There will also be a very in depth and entertaining interview between Mark and myself. Also, it will have the 'When the Eagle Cries', 'The Reckoning (Don't Tread On Me)' and if we get it finished in time, a video that is going into production very soon for 'Declaration Day'. I think in all it will be over 3 hours of material to check out. It's going to be killer.......
"Fortunately my back situation will still allow me to write and record over the next months. [BLIND GUARDIAN frontman] Hansi [Kursch] and I will be getting together in October to write and go over arrangements on the new material that we have finished. This CD will be a big step forward for us. I have always seen DEMONS & WIZARDS as a special kind of monster that we've created and the new material will propel us beyond what was accomplished with the first CD. Some people have wondered if it will be possible for us to beat the first one since we had a Grammy nomination in Germany and because it was such a big success worldwide. All I can say is that we don't concern ourselves with that stuff. We have fun together and we do it on our terms and no one else's. It will rule, that's all I know!
"Tim and I will also be working on new [ICED EARTH] material over the course of the next several months. I'm looking forward to what we can do when we put our heads together. We have great chemistry together on a personal level and it will surely come through in the music.
"My newest venture is a four-figure miniature series called 'The Great Americans'. This will be an ongoing series that will be dedicated to those personalities who have had an impact on all of our lives and who have served and made a difference in this world. The figure set is a very limited, highly collectible, 54mm or 32nd scale pewter figure that is hand painted to amazing detail. The figures are designed by myself and Andy Neilson of King and Country and manufactured by King and Country exclusively for Spirit of 76 Collectibles. You can check out pictures of this awesome four-figure set at www.spirit-of-76.com and place your order, if so desired, by following the instructions there.
"Well, as you can see I'm a bit busy, and this is just what it's like when I'm in a bit of a quandary with my back problems and in a period of 'down' time. It's normally a much more intense work schedule...
"One thing that I want to be clear here is that these changes will have little or no effect on this band. When I'm healed and ready to roll again we will be back with a vengeance, tighter than ever, with a world class line-up. On that you can depend. So, to the ICED EARTH fans out there; don't fall into the trap of rumors and BS that runs rampant when change occurs. Every change that has happened thus far has been for the better; everything happens for a reason.
"Wish me luck through the next months of intense procedures and therapy on the back, I'll need it.
"With that I bid you a fond farewell, for now..."