On Track Magazine recently conducted an interview with ICED EARTH/DEMONS & WIZARDS guitarist Jon Schaffer. An excerpt from the chat follows:On Track Magazine: How are you doin' health-wise? Jon: "Well, I had another procedure this past November which is the third surgical procedure that I've had on my lower back in the past couple of years, and I think that we're on the right track here. It's been really frustrating, because it's just one of those things. It wasn't like with my neck. I mean, I had a lot of problems. I injured it in '96 onstage in Berlin and basically ignored it and didn't take care of it and went on stage and thrashed like an idiot every night, getting cortisone shots to get through the gigs, bla, bla, bla. By the year 2000, actually it was the DEMONS & WIZARDS headline tour of Europe, I had three epidurals just to get through the tour. The day after I got home from the tour I was on the operating table. But after that I was so much better, my neck was doing so much better; the relief was huge. And then a few years ago this lower back problem starts, and basically the first two procedures I had were just a f*ckin' waste of time and that was very frustrating because any time you have surgery it's a hassle, from the time it actually takes to do it to the recuperation period and everything. But I think we've finally pinpointed what the deal is and a lot of it actually stems from the years that I took martial arts. I was really into that stuff and I haven't been stretchin' in the last few years like I'm supposed to so I've got a lot of problems in my hips that are influencing the lower back. I used to do full splits and put my chest to the floor and all that stuff and I'm still very limber, but not like I used to be. I haven't been doin' that kind of stuff so my body's trying to go back to its normal position and some nerves are not and so they're gettin' pinched off in the hip areas and it's just creatin' a lot of problems; that's what we finally have come to determine from it. So basically I'm doin' physical therapy, too, and we've decided that ICED EARTH is not gonna tour again without a physical therapist. Even if we get this thing nailed and I'm feelin' great and I go six months with no problems, I'm still gonna take somebody out on the road because it's not the performing — that's the easy part — it's the traveling that really causes problems. You're livin' in a bus bouncin' around all day and you get from point A to point B but it's not very restful and it's tough on a person who has a bad back. It used to be brutal in the mid-to-late '90s with the neck problem because every bump, I felt; I never got any sleep until the tour bus would stop. And that's kind of how it was on this last one, when the bus was stopped would be the only time I could crash and that may be 10:00 the next day after the show. Anyway, I think we're on the road to recovery here. I'm feelin' better and I'm still workin' at it, and with everything that's goin' on and the big news that just came down for ICED EARTH and where we're headed, I feel more determined and pumped than ever before — more inspired. And I have my daughter to thank for a lot of that and I'm just like ready to come back with a f*ckin' vengeance. Man, I'm pumped! I'm very excited about what's comin' up and it's gonna be awhile because we're finally gonna do the 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' story on the most awesome concept record that we've ever done. So I'm gonna start writing that very soon and Tim's [Owens, vocals] excited about it and we're just gonna come back with a vengeance, man." On Track Magazine: Very cool, awesome. Jon: "Yeah, we're for sure gonna do that, and it wasn't that it was given to me, but it's been somethin' that I've been pitchin' to SPV that I had to have certain commitments from them in order to carry on with it. Believe it or not, after all these years, especially around the writing process for 'The Glorious Burden', I was thinkin', 'Man, you know, I've gotta finish the 'Something Wicked' thing one of these days.' And I wonder if, after all these years, if I'm still gonna be inspired enough to want to do it; to really get into it and to tell the story the way it needs to be told. And I think, because my daughter being born, I'm finally able to…. I don't know man, I feel psyched, I'm totally pumped and ready to attack this thing. And SPV's goin' along with my plan — the decision was made Friday that we're gonna do it. It's gonna be two albums: it's gonna be a Part I and then Part II will probably be released six months later. Part I will come out as we're finishing up Part II and then we'll probably kick off the world tour with the release of Part II. So it's gonna probably be three and a half hours of music and I mean, I'm tellin' a story that is sci-fi kind of horror, conspiracy theory, but it's based over twelve thousand years of human history; there's a lot to tackle in this thing. The trilogy was just a teaser to the whole story and what we're gonna be gettin' in to is so much bigger. And that's actually the big news, I know there have been a lot of people that have been wantin' that to happen for a long time." On Track Magazine: Yeah definitely, definitely sounds fantastic. Jon: "It has to be our 'Operation Mindcrime' or our 'The Wall'. This is it — this has got to destroy everything we've ever done. I'm feelin' the pressure, but it's a good thing, it's got me, like, energized and just ready to attack. I spent last week with Tim… I actually just got back from Sweden last night ‘cause we did the video for 'Terror Train' over there for the DEMONS album. But I spent last week with Tim because he just had a daughter too; she was born a month after mine was, and both families got together and spent the week together over there and just had a great time. Y'know, he's workin' on his side-project thing now, but he's really gettin' excited and ready to come back into this world and get on with it, so it should be very cool. Y'know, we're not gonna tour at all unless some big opportunity comes, and I mean big. It's gotta be like METALLICA big, IRON MAIDEN, that kind of a tour, and then we would go back out, it would be worth it. But otherwise, anything else is just gonna take away time from us gettin' the next record done." Read the entire interview at OnTrackMagazine.com.