JON SCHAFFER Says New DEMONS & WIZARDS Album 'III' Will Be A 'Classic Record'

January 30, 2020

Alex Haber of Heavy New York recently conducted an interview with BLIND GUARDIAN frontman Hansi Kürsch and ICED EARTH mainman Jon Schaffer about their DEMONS & WIZARDS side project. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On whether first singles "Diabolic" and "Midas Disease" from DEMONS & WIZARDS' forthcoming "III" studio album represent the entire album or are the "tip of the iceberg":

Jon: "It's the tip of the iceberg because out of the 11 songs, all 11 songs are a different journey. It really is the tip of the iceberg. It's hard to put into words until you hear it and until you get some time to absorb it. There's every kind of element and journey with hard and heavy music that you could really think of is there. It's done in a very honest and authentic way. I feel in the cells of my existence that this will be a classic record. It's for the fans to decide that, but I really feel it's headed that way."

Hansi: "There's more than just a little potential. It's one of the albums you feel confident from the very first moment you start working on it. Being the 15-year span in between the two albums, making the excitement of working together with Jon, I have no idea, but, the things turn out exactly how you would wish for. We do not really have any plans, patterns of how the album should have come along, but at the very end, you have to live with what the outcome is, the very first output and you build up from that. It felt more than just natural. It was an enjoyable trip to work on this stuff. I still believe we're still talking about the first two songs, especially 'Diabolic', which was intended to be this statement and it had that impact when the video came out, you really could feel how amazed people were. That even increases my expectations for this album while 'Midas Disease' is so unusual that people might be a little confused about it, but if you hear the whole album, then you will see, that's one more journey into a completely different direction. For us, that is the most enjoyable trip of all of them because it's so rock and roll-ish and let your hair down. It's more or less just letting go, and I really love that about that song. I feel it matches our personalities so well, even though it's a completely different genre."

Jon: "It's something we never did together or independent with our main bands, that whole vibe. The thing is, we had talked about releasing 'Invincible' as the second single. We had such a strong reaction from 'Midas Disease' from people at our label and the press tour we did before Christmas in Europe. Like, every journalist was talking about that song. We had a discussion with the label and decided…all of these songs will be out before too long anyway, but maybe this was the way to go. It is what it is. We got another song dropping before too long that's going to take you into another direction. It's pretty cool, man. The whole thing is epic."

On whether the two had a preconceived plan during the songwriting for "III" or the songs came together organically:

Jon: "The music always happens organically, but the one thing we had talked about was to embrace the classic rock side of the things Hansi and I love and some of our influences. Some of my favorite parts of things that we scratched on the first two DEMONS records, there are some of those elements, the classic rock vibe in there, so we had that discussion beforehand to embrace that a little more. We certainly did with 'Timeless Spirit' and 'Children Of Cain', and I think even in a few other pieces of songs. You could even somehow lump 'Midas Disease' into that, though I feel like 'Children Of Cain' and 'Timeless Spirit' get more into the [LED] ZEPPELIN, [PINK] FLOYD, EAGLES, whatever, that '70s classic rock trip. Those songs are in that realm somehow. 'Midas Disease' is definitely more of an AC/DC, fist-in-the-air rock anthem kind of stuff. But those were really things we discussed, but everything just flowed. I sent Hansi the ideas and he liked them. Even with 'Midas Disease', probably the first half of that song was stuff from the 'Incorruptible' ICED EARTH writing sessions. Once that developed, I just put it off and I sent it to him and said, 'What do you think of this? It's different.' He liked it. I said, 'Okay. Let's go a little further.' We added a couple of more sections and we did it and we came up with it. It just happened. But it's all organic. It's all about if I send Hansi an idea and he's not vibing on it, which I don't know that's actually ever happened, but if it did and if he said 'no,' I'm not going to get my feelings hurt. I'm going to say, 'I got this idea.' I got ideas all the time. It's not a problem. He reacts to those and we make this cool thing happen."

On whether DEMONS & WIZARDS is unafraid to try new things and embrace different elements:

Hansi: "That is part of the whole attraction of DEMONS & WIZARDS, that there is so much different stuff, even on the first album. We, coincidentally, found out that we are able to write songs back in '97, '98 when we had a hangover day at my place and he played guitar and I was humming to it and we both felt attracted by it. We said let's go to the BLIND GUARDIAN studio and record that song. Even back then, we just didn't think about founding a band together. It happened a little later, but ever since it was like he throws whatever and I pick it up and I can relate to it and I can bring myself into it and that's a blend which is quite unusual already. I remember back in the day when people expected what 'ICED GUARDIAN' would look and sound like. They were still sometimes surprised that even in the very early beginnings it was something different than expected, 'Fiddler On The Green' is a perfect example. That, for sure, no one has had on their minds when they were thinking about DEMONS & WIZARDS musically. We progressed with regard to that. I don't think you can really pre-design the sound of a band. You, for sure, cannot plan a whole album according to plan. You really have to live with the moment you are in and you have to live with your expression and what your inner source of art is willing to get free for you and to work with. With regard to DEMONS & WIZARDS and I'm now getting to the point, it is a very wide universe. We are not afraid of touching different regions, neither lyrically, not musically. Whatever we feel most suitable with, we do. And sometimes you match the interests of fans one hundred percent and in the worst case, with regard to our art, 80 percent, 85 percent. We never have gone wrong completely, I would say. With this album, and I'll close the circle here, this is a hundred percent."

DEMONS & WIZARDS' third studio album, "III", is due February 21 via Century Media Records. The LP marks the band's first collection of new material in 15 years.

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