Holland's FaceCulture recently conducted an interview with ICED EARTH mainman Jon Schaffer. You can watch the full interview below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether his love of history coincided with him getting into music:
Jon: "No, [I was into history] actually way before music, even. I shouldn't say [that]; I loved music as a kid, too. I remember hearing SABBATH as early as three-years-old because my older sister listened to it and I was into it. I got into KISS and all that and MAIDEN later, just the whole thing. I was always into music, but not as far as playing. That came later as a freshman in high school. I wanted to do it when I saw KISS in 1979, that's when I decided. It took me a few years to convince my dad to get me a guitar."
On his early years in ICED EARTH:
Jon: "It was a lot of hard work, man. It's still hard work today. It never stops and it transforms into something else. I worked a full-time day job and many jobs I'd quit to go on tour in Europe or whatever up through the 'Dark Saga' cycle. We were selling a lot of records, but we had a really terrible contract so there wasn't any money to be made from selling records. It had to be earned to get what we could out on the road, which also wasn't very much. That's the realities of the business when you're young and hungry and you really want to do something because you love it, and believe it, trust me when I say this: There are plenty of people out there that will take advantage of something you're doing because you have the kind of commitment to something that's pure and they're fucking parasites. There's a lot of them in this business."
On whether ICED EARTH went through managerial changes between 2014's "The Plagues Of Babylon" and their new "Incorruptible" album:
Jon: "Yeah, we went through a pretty big change. I'm not going to get into the details of everything, but it definitely shook things up for us."
On whether ICED EARTH's managerial change affected his creative output:
Jon: "What it does to me is, I can't say what it does for everybody else, but for me, I just am not a quitter. It kind of drives me even harder to face the challenge and beat it and move on. I think that's ultimately the outcome and if you can calm down and get some peace. That's why I took some time and I bought the buildings, built the headquarters' building [in Indiana] and focused on all that stuff and then went to work then. I had about a year of time to heal my body from the surgery and from the other stuff and train and focus on the building and work on that stuff and that got me to a point where I was calm and peaceful and ready to open up to whatever it is the music comes from."
On how recent lineup changes have affected the chemistry within ICED EARTH:
Jon: "No doubt it changes the chemistry because we're all energy. There's always going to be some kind of a shift in things, but Brent's [Smedley, drums] been in and out of the band several times in the last 20 years or so, but it was sad [with former guitarist] Troy [Steele]. He's a brother, [and] he always will be. He was a good friend before he joined the band. It's just personal stuff in his life going on that he's got to deal with. It's part of it. We definitely miss his dark sense of humor. He's a very twisted individual. [Laughs] He lives in Indiana and he lives really close to me. We text each other almost every day."
On whether he's excited to begin touring in support of "Incorruptible":
Jon: "Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to the reaction of the fans and playing the festivals are always a different kind of a situation because you have different set lengths. It's one of those things that it's a completely different experience. I'm looking forward to the headline tour and then knowing which songs are hitting the audience the right way and which ones the fans are reacting to. I'm looking forward to playing a good chunk of them live. I think this album, they'll want that, but 12 albums, it's getting harder to make a setlist. It's a challenge. You got to find the balance of playing the new stuff but not playing so much new stuff because people don't know it that well. It's a little bit tricky."
On where he sees himself fitting in the grand musical landscape:
Jon: "I'm pretty proud of the fact that we have one of the most loyal fanbases in the world. They're up with the loyalty of the MAIDEN and KISS fans, just on a smaller scale, but their passion is every bit as strong and powerful. That's a great thing. I don't know how to describe what I've done with it or how it will be looked at. That's for other people to decide. Through my career, I've been completely devoted to the vision; the vision is 'incorruptible,' completely. It's something that ICED EARTH can't be corrupted; it's not possible. It would have happened a long time ago. It's a pure commitment to heavy metal and to try to do authentic songwriting that hopefully touches people."
"Incorruptible", ICED EARTH's twelfth album, was released on June 16. The production duties were overseen by Schaffer, with the mix and mastering handled by Chris "Zeuss" Harris (HATEBREED, QUEENSRŸCHE). The fiery cover artwork and layout was created by David Newman-Stump and Roy Young. "Incorruptible" is also the first ICED EARTH album to feature new guitarist Jake Dreyer (WITHERFALL).