DEMONS & WIZARDS, the side project of ICED EARTH mainman Jon Schaffer and BLIND GUARDIAN singer Hansi Kürsch, is one of the confirmed acts for the 30th-anniversary edition of the Wacken Open Air festival, set to take place August 1-3, 2019 in Wacken, Germany. Also scheduled to appear are PARKWAY DRIVE, POWERWOLF, AIRBOURNE, ROSE TATTOO, WITHIN TEMPTATION, MESHUGGAH, KROKUS, DARK FUNERAL and AVATAR, with many more bands to be announced soon.
Jon told Wacken TV about DEMONS & WIZARDS' return: "It has been a while. It's been about… well, since our last record came out, that was 2005. And since the last time we performed, that was 2000."
Schaffer added that he and Kürsch are "very honored" to be performing at the 30th-anniversary installment of the festival. "It's a good pressure for Hansi and I, it's a good kind — it's the kind we like," he said. "We're very excited about it.
"The thing is we wanted to continue the DEMONS & WIZARDS thing, but with ICED EARTH and BLIND GUARDIAN, we're very busy people," Jon continued. "And our schedules, it's just one of those times right now where the holes are lining up in the right way for us to be able to commit to shows next summer. So it's cool."
This past spring, Schaffer told Metal Wani that he would be "really focused" on the songwriting process for DEMONS & WIZARDS' long-awaited third album "from August on through the rest of the year." He added: "I really need to be off and in that meditative state where I'm left alone and focused completely on music. If I've got all this stuff going on with the new [ICED EARTH] album cycle, which we are in, then it makes it hard for me to be productive in the best way for the product. I've talked to Hansi. He's, like, 'No pressure, dude.' The perfect timing for me is going to be at the end of this year. I expect that we will because once I get focused on something, it goes pretty quick. Hansi has his schedule opened up pretty much, so I think 2019 is realistic [for a new DEMONS & WIZARDS album]."
Asked how he separates the writing process between ICED EARTH and DEMONS & WIZARDS, Jon said: "It's different because in ICED EARTH, when I'm writing a song by myself, I'm writing it with Stu [Block] or with Matt [Barlow] in the past, or whatever, it's worked in different ways. For me, when I'm working on a song with my lyrics, then I know at least what the theme or the title of the song is going to be, so that leads me in a direction in how I craft the music. I always want to make it so, that even without the vocals, somebody can close their eyes and really feel like they're on a journey of whatever that song might be about.,, With Hansi, it's a little different because a lot of that stuff gets decided later. It's really just about trying and coming up with cool musical arrangements that are what they are, then he adds his thing in."
He continued: "It's just different because I don't write as much in DEMONS & WIZARDS as I do in ICED EARTH; it's a different thing. If we end up talking early in the process and he says, 'Hey, I've got this theme of a song.' That always helps me for sure. I can go 'Okay, I know where my target is.' I have to be passionate about whatever subject it is that we're going to write about in order to create the soundscape that is convincing for people, whether there's vocals or not. That's the icing on the cake, but the music still has to speak. It's a big deal. It's like the soundtrack of a movie. If you turn that off, you're not going to cry and you're not going to get scared. It's a giant thing when watching any kind of movies. It's the movements that happen at a subconscious level that people sometimes don't really understand. To me, if we're going for a specific subject matter, we got to try to put the listener on a journey that's as emotive and powerful as possible from an instrumental standpoint, then the lyrics and melodies are the icing on the cake."
DEMONS & WIZARDS was launched in 1997 and has released two full-length albums so far: 2000's self-titled effort and 2005's "Touched By The Crimson King". The latter was partially based on the "The Dark Tower" series of books (written by Stephen King) in which the Crimson King is the main antagonist.
"Touched By The Crimson King" was released in Japan in September 2005 with the following bonus tracks: "Lunar Lament", "Wicked Witch" (slow version) and "Spatial Architects". The CD also included the "Terror Train" video. The disc featured an appearance by HALFORD and SEBASTIAN BACH drummer Bobby Jarzombek.
Schaffer said in a 2009 interview that he felt "Touched By The Crimson King" was a bit rushed and he was determined to do things differently next time around. "We had this window of opportunity where we had to get it done and we kind of let time dictate the schedule instead of our feelings, and that was probably a mistake," he explained. "I mean, I'm proud of that record and it sold killer and it's a good album, but I think Hansi and I are capable of a lot more, especially when we get back to the root reasons of why we did this thing together."