ICED EARTH's JON SCHAFFER: 'There's A Lot Of Bands Who Would Give Their Left Nut To Be Able To Do What We've Done'

December 16, 2017

ICED EARTH mainman Jon Schaffer was interviewed on a recent installment of Eddie Trunk's SiriusXM show "Trunk Nation". A few excerpts from the chat follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the goal of maintaining more control over the band while increasing profits:

Jon: "That's absolutely the goal. The way music is being consumed, it has certainly collapsed compared to the old days. The problem is when you're still under the confines of the old model of a contract, it's really difficult. The idea going forward is yeah, we may sell less physical copies, but our profit margin will increase significantly over what has been happening. That's going to be more healthy for the band because it's tough out there. There are a lot of negatives, but being in this position… 2018 is the 30th anniversary of ICED EARTH from the time I changed the name to ICED EARTH. PURGATORY was around for a while before that. It's been a long journey, dude. It's really time, finally, for us to be in the kind of position we are to where we can forge our future in a way that I think is pretty exciting, actually, because there's so much potential. It's a little bit like the Wild West. I think as more bands move into the position that we're in, you're going to see a lot of different models start to develop. Because when there's more freedom for the artists, a lot more ideas get put out there. It's pretty cool. I'm very excited about it. 'Incorruptible' was our last album with Century Media. We're taking our time and we're discussing a lot of different options with management and they're starting to field some of those discussions with some of the labels out there. We're not in any kind of rush. We'll just see how it goes. One thing that is killer is that we can pretty much do everything in-house in one location now. It's been quite a while since that's been the case."

On whether he thought ICED EARTH would maintain such a long career:

Jon: "Man, the funny thing is I kind of did. [Laughs] I was driven like hell [as a kid]. Completely. From the very beginning. Failure was never an option. I kind of left home as a teenager. I didn't have any safety net. Failure wasn't an option. That's just always been my attitude, like 'Whatever it takes.' I'm grateful, don't get me wrong, but I really did believe all along that we were going to do something. ICED EARTH, we have a very loyal fanbase. It's a challenging position to be in because we're always kind of, and for many, many years, have been bubbling below the surface of being able to break big. You don't have the resources to pay for a staff to handle the workload, so that falls on me a lot and management, of course, but there's a tremendous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to make all of this happen. That's the part that makes it difficult. It takes its toll on you at some point. Sometimes you need to step back and take a little breather. It can be overwhelming, the workload and it's the challenge in the middle leagues, it really is and bouncing around there. When you break through, then all of the sudden you got enough finance to hire a staff to deal with a workload. That's one of the reasons to get in the position that's happening at headquarters at this stage."

On why ICED EARTH hasn't gotten to the "next level":

Jon: "I think it's a combination of all those things [label and lineup changes]. I think if you go back to just the very raw beginnings and the brutal beginnings of the band, with the type of contractual obligation that we were under, it's a miracle that I even kept it going, to be quite honest with you. It was brutal, really complete slavery. Those early years of turmoil definitely, I'm sure, affected that to a degree. Also, I do believe it's timing. I think if the band would have been out, maybe, eight years before we were, ten years, we would have been part of the scene. When our first album ['Iced Earth'] came out in 1990, you got to remember, that was the big death metal era of Tampa, down there. In the indie world, that's what all the labels were signing. It's kind of weird that a melodic metal band, whatever you want to call us: speed, thrash, power, I've heard it all, we're just metal. That's what we are. When you get into that part of the history of the band, it's a struggle. It's always been a struggle. I just feel like it's a combination of all those things, but I don't regret any of it because we had a hell of an impact. We have a very, very loyal following. And big. It's a big following. I didn't know what to expect when we went to China. I was like 'What's this going to be like?' But it was actually really cool. It certainly isn't over yet. We have a lot more to say and to do. And we'll see where it goes, but I'm happy with the success we have. There's a lot of bands who would give their left nut to be able to do what we've done."

ICED EARTH will embark on the North American leg of the "Incorruptible" tour in late February. Support on the trek will come from KILL RITUAL.

"Incorruptible" was released on June 16 via Century Media. The cover artwork for the disc (as well as additional illustrations to every song) was created by David Newman-Stump from Skeleton Crew Tattoo (pencil illustrations) and Roy Young (colors).

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