ICED EARTH mainman Jon Schaffer recently sat down for a lengthy interview with MetalReview in which he discussed a number of topics ranging from the group's tour with MEGADETH to ICED EARTH's next studio album. Here are some of the highlights from the interrogation:
On death metal:
MetalReview: With the ever-growing death metal scene in Europe and the
states, where do foresee power metal five years from now?
Jon Schaffer: Ever-growing death metal? It's dead. It's been dead since the early nineties. When it took off in the late '80s, early '90s in Europe, that's when it peaked. I'd say since '95, '96, it's been on a steady stream downward, those guys aren't selling shit anymore. Those guys from OBITUARY and all them they can't sell records anymore. That scene's dead, I don't agree with that at all. I know the numbers, and power metal or whatever is taking over.
M.R.: Did you see [Dave Mustaine's] shit falling off after Rust in Peace?
J.S.: I was never a fan anyway. Cool guy, good band, and a good player, whatever. It's not my thing man, never has been, I like Dave as a person but I'm just not a fan of his music.
On ICED EARTH frontman, and Schaffer's brother-in-law, Matt Barlow:
M.R.: At this point one could believe everyone in ICED EARTH beside you is expendable. I personally think at this point though Matt is not.
J.S.: I've worked with Matt and coached him through every single thing. Matt doesn't have the kind of personality that he would have done this if it wouldn't have been with someone behind him. I can do that with anybody. Take [JUDAS PRIEST frontman] Tim Owens, if we did a project together, I'll show you something that dude didn't even know he had inside of him, that's the way I work. I can pull shit out of people they don't even know they had. I'll push you to the limit. As far as that goes, everybody is replaceable including Matt and he knows that. Does that mean I'm going to fire him next week? No, as long as he does a good job and works hard and is dedicated while doing the right things, then he's in. We have a very good relationship, he feels fortunate to be here. He knows it wouldn't be if it weren't for me. It's become a vehicle that he can do things he enjoys to do. He's a performer not a songwriter.
On ICED EARTH drummer Richard Christy and the rest of the band members' status as "musicians-for-hire":
M.R.: Do you plan on bringing in Christy for the recording of the new DEMONS & WIZARDS album?
J.S.: Richard's going to do everything I will do probably. Every project I do, and every album.
M.R.: You guys are pretty tight now?
J.S. : Richard's my guy. Everybody in ICED EARTH is on contract. Nobody is a member or a "percentage owner" of the company, it doesn't work like that. As long as these guys work hard and stay focused and do their parts, I don't ask much… well, actually, I do ask a lot. I ask of 100% of all of them. Show up, do you parts, do your job, be reliable, and no drinking before the show, none of that kind of shit. Everything else is pretty cool. Then they have the vehicle to go out and play music in front of huge crowds and make money at something they always dreamed of doing. If they fuck up and cross that line to where it costs me money, causes headaches and problems, then we have problems. I think at this point though I've got a group of guys that have been around long enough that know this is a great opportunity for them.
On the forthcoming ICED EARTH album:
J.S.: I'm going to be writing both DEMONS [& WIZARDS]and ICED EARTH through the summer. The new [ICED EARTH] album will not be a concept album. When the album comes out, it has to be done just right. Any time I don't follow my gut, I fuck myself. It's going to be an album of like 12 or 13 songs, strong songs. No concept, no theme. I'm done with Horror Show, I have been since we finished it. It's a good record, but it's not personal enough. That's something about the album that just bothers me. I had all this shit going on in my personal life and that's usually when the best shit comes out. I was fighting lyrically, because I had already announced that we were going to do this theme record. I'm going to write about fucking monsters. I wasn't into it. I didn't want to write about monsters. That's why I handed over a lot of the lyrical duties to Matt, because it was like, 'Fuck this.' The Mummy, I'm not in the mood to write about the mummy. I'm done with it. The next album I can probably say there will be some very strong ballads in there, but some really intense dark stuff, too. One song, I already have chunks of it recorded. I decided to keep it off the Horror Show album because I didn't think Century Media had the vision for it and I didn't want to waste it. It's called "Hollow Man", it's one I'm actually going to be doing lead vocals on. It's very powerful and very dark, but it's a cool ballad. It will be our "I Die For You"/"Melancholy", that strong of song. There will be a few of those on the next album but it's going have some very heavy and intense stuff as well. It's going be similar vibe-wise to Something Wicked as far as the rollercoaster of emotions go. There's a lot of stuff I need to get off my chest and it's going to be a good strong album. DEMONS AND WIZARDS, like I said, I'll be working on both kind of parallel. I would like to have ICED EARTH released 2003 in the spring and DEMONS & WIZARDS in the fall. That could change, if we get offered a big major tour through the summer than we will go out on the road for three months then, which will postpone everything. I'm not one of those guys that can go out on the road and write in a hotel room. I need to be locked up in my basement. I get very intense and weird when I write. That's probably one of these reasons why I'm not married anymore.
To read the entire interview, visit MetalReview at this location.