ICED EARTH mainman Jon Schaffer has confirmed that he will spend some time later this year working on material for the long-awaited third album from DEMONS & WIZARDS, his side project with BLIND GUARDIAN frontman Hansi Kürsch.
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.
Schaffer touched upon DEMONS & WIZARDS' future plans while speaking to Capital Chaos TV about ICED EARTH's current record-label situation, having completed the latter band's deal with Century Media with the release of last year's "Incorruptible" album.
Asked how ICED EARTH intends to release its next disc, Schaffer said: "I haven't made a decision on that yet. There's a lot of labels that are interested, and we're looking at different business models, but there's no hurry for ICED EARTH to rush into anything. It's gonna be a while before we do a new record, 'cause this is so new. And the next thing on my docket is DEMONS & WIZARDS anyway, so that's coming later in the year — that's gonna be the focus of the creative energy this year. So we've got plenty of time. We're talking to some labels and looking at different options, but there's nothing set in stone yet."
Last summer, Kürsch told That Drummer Guy that songwriting sessions for the follow-up to "Touched By The Crimson King" had already begun, but that he and Jon had to take a break while they were both busy with their main acts. "Once he's finished with his touring for ICED EARTH, I'm pretty sure we will spend some very realistic and very valuable time together either finishing the songwriting of DEMONS & WIZARDS or even doing the whole production," Hansi said. "That depends. Usually we're very quick once we're together. And it's just great to work with such a gifted person which I call a very, very close friend of mine."
As for what fans can expect from the next DEMONS & WIZARDS album, Hansi told That Drummer Guy: "You will be surprised, I'm sure. These first two [songs] we've worked on, they are quite interesting. I'm really looking forward to spend some more time and getting deeper into the subject. Because even though ICED EARTH and BLIND GUARDIAN are quite similar in many ways, Jon and I are, songwriting-wise, different persons and by coincidence and pure luck and probably by friendship, the chemistry is pretty good once we are together. And what comes out is a blend of these two bands, which [one] would expect, but there's something more. And I like to go for this something more."
Hansi also sounded very optimistic about the possibility of DEMONS & WIZARDS live performances in support of the upcoming album. He said: "That really depends on how fast we are with BLIND GUARDIAN, obviously, and how the schedules will be worked out. But it would be a shame not to do so, at least being on the road for a festival season and doing some smaller club shows, for example, just in between… There should be a gap, and we are working on this gap. It would be a waste not to do so."
According to Kürsch, the main motivation for him and Schaffer to work on new DEMONS & WIZARDS material and prepare for possible live shows is "the need to do so and for the fun to do so. And this is always a very good starting point. We don't have to do it, there is no pressure behind us in doing so," he said. "Obviously, there can't be any pressure, because the last album is, I think, twelve years old already. And we just did some minimal touring for the first album and did not even do any proper touring for the second album. So I could imagine that just the performance will be so different from what either BLIND GUARDIAN or ICED EARTH is doing that this might attract a lot of people. I'm curious myself to figure out what we would come up with this time, because there's a long time between our last show which we played together, which is probably seventeen years ago, eighteen years. And we have to find the right people and the right moment, but the whole thing, once it is built up, will be, I think, very skillful."
"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."