Former ICED EARTH singer Tim "Ripper" Owens says that Jon Schaffer will "pay for a long time" for his role in the January 6 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 "The Loaded Radio Podcast".
Asked if he was surprised to see Schaffer involved in the Capitol riot, Owens said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I really lost contact [with him]. I didn't leave on good terms. We weren't friends when I left. I never burn bridges, but the way he fired me, the way he let me go, we never were on good terms.
"We never talked politics when I was in the band," he continued. "I know when I was in ICED EARTH, I was a Democrat and he was a Republican at that time. And we never talked politics. He never talked politics — ever, ever — did he. But I just noticed when I did leave and seeing things that people talked about, I could see that something had changed with him from when I was in the band. But we never talked about things.
"I didn't know what was going on with him and his personal life and his political stuff, so I didn't follow him too much because we didn't run in the same circles.
"Listen, he messed up," Owens added. "In my opinion, you mess up… He'll be paying for it for a long time. But I'm certain for Jon, I'm certain there's still a lot of people out there buying his records, so he's probably still paying the bills."
Owens previously discussed Schaffer's involvement in the Capitol riot a couple of days after the insurrection. Asked by a fan on Instagram what it was like "working with a terrorist," Owens said: "crazy what he did wasn't if. All I can say is wow. See we never talked politics while I was in ICED EARTH because at that time we where on totally opposite sides. LOL. But I gotta say could of been way worse for me I could of been in a Band with Sebastian Bach".
When the fan expressed his incredulity over the fact that Owens and Schaffer never talked politics, especially considering the fact that Tim's first album with ICED EARTH, "The Glorious Burden", was a concept album exploring various moments in military history, the ex-JUDAS PRIEST frontman replied: "yea that was more of history and I actually learned a lot More then I did in school. Taking about politics at the time wasn't something I would get into. Opposite sides of the fence and I was working! I got fired anyways so it didn't matter. Haha".
In a 2012 interview with Australia's Loud, Owens said that his departure from ICED EARTH wasn't executed properly. "It was handled poorly, I think, the situation," he said. "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 discussed Owens's exit from ICED EARTH in a 2008 interview with Metal Exiles. At the time, he 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, Schaffer pleaded guilty to his role in the 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, the Century Media artist roster page did not list either band.
Although Schaffer was initially charged with six crimes, including engaging in an act of physical violence and targeting police with bear spray, he pleaded guilty to only two charges: obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress; and trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon. The first charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while the second carries up to a 10-year prison term.
According to CNN, prosecutors and Schaffer's attorneys agreed to recommend that he get between three and a half and four and a half years in prison, based on how fruitful his cooperation is with the government.
The government agreed not to oppose Schaffer's release during the sentencing phase.
As part of the plea deal, Schaffer agreed to cooperate with investigators and potentially testify in related criminal cases, according to CNN. In return for Schaffer's assistance, the Justice Department might later urge the judge to show leniency during his sentencing.
As part of the agreement, the Justice Department has offered to sponsor Schaffer for the witness protection program.