ICED EARTH mainman Jon Schaffer and BLIND GUARDIAN singer Hansi Kürsch spoke to Heavy New York about their DEMONS & WIZARDS side project prior to the latter band's September 5 show at PlayStation Theater in New York. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On what fans can expect from the band's as-yet-untitled studio album, which is due in early 2020:
Jon: "It's totally different."
Hansi: "It will stand out completely. It's 14 years in between and you can feel that. And we're not even intending to go back and do something which will build on what we did in the past. Still, the roots are there. It's the definition of Jon and me. This cannot be denied, not one single second on this album. But it has a very intense, modern, new feeling to it. It goes away from what we've done in the past."
Jon: "Like he said, it's very honest. It's us. There's no question about who it is, but we've grown as individuals and as artists. I think you can hear that. There's a lot of big, huge dynamic range on this album, and it's going to take people on a journey, man. For sure."
On whether Kürsch needs music beforehand to write lyrics:
Hansi: "That differs a lot. Sometimes it's Jon who comes up with the title. That was the beautiful thing about this songwriting period. He just named every song individually. So, I had a first impression, not only by the music but also by the title, which my pattern has been when Jon has been writing. That, of course, had me coming up with ideas. Sometimes we just discussed and decided to go into a certain direction. We went from fiction and fantasy to philosophical, ideological ideas, which, were flying around and seem to comfort the song in general. It's always very important to have a topic which comforts the song, because the song always is the origin, and already holds a spirit. You need to find this spirit. If both come along very well, then you succeed. I have the feeling we did very well on that one.
Jon: "For me, it really was a matter of trying to be able to know what file I was going to open and work on. Years ago, and it's something I started doing in maybe the last ten years, but when Hansi and I did stuff together, I'd just come up with goofy titles and you end up with 12, 15 songs and it's, like, 'Wait a minute. What is that?' This time, I was coming up with titles that I felt matched the music. Sometimes the title may have even come first in a couple of cases. But the music felt that way to me. It was never the intention, like, 'This is what it's got to be,' because when he comes into it, it can go in any direction; I'm open to that, but I still need to be able to look at the files and go 'Okay, I'm going to work on this session. If I call it 'Bill' or 'Fred' and I don't call it 'Timeless Spirit' or 'Wolves Of Winter'. Those titles speak to me. The music spoke to me in a certain way, so I just called them working titles and we ended up keeping a lot of that. I'm not ever married to those initial ideas unless it's an ICED EARTH song and I'm definitely going to write the lyrics and vocal melodies and all the music and stuff, then I'm going to stick with that, but the DEMONS & WIZARDS thing, the way we work is different."
On whether the original goal of DEMONS & WIZARDS was to combine BLIND GUARDIAN and ICED EARTH or make it stand on its own:
Hansi: "I would say we do. Of course, we carry the legacy and the definition of the two bands along with us. We are essential parts of these two bands. So, they are also a natural source for DEMONS & WIZARDS, but all in all, the goal was to go completely freestyle. I believe we did very well. It naturally happens almost as a result of the combination of these two things. It's like chocolate and milk."
Jon: "For sure. What we bring creates a monster. The things we bring together as Hansi said, you hear the ICED EARTH/BLIND GUARDIAN thing, but it is another thing and creates something else, our chemistry together creates a new beast. It's obvious we're blessed in that way to not have been active. We haven't done a live show until this summer for 19 years; we only did 10 back in the day. Our last album was 15 years ago and people have not forgotten. You can tell by the passion from the audiences in Europe and in the States and Canada, it's been killer. It says something that we really have something special. We're blessed for that."
DEMONS & WIZARDS recently released remastered versions of its first two albums on all digital platforms. Remastered by Chris "Zeuss" Harris (ICED EARTH, QUEENSRŸCHE, SANCTUARY), "Demons & Wizards" (2000) and "Touched By The Crimson King" (2005) were also released as expanded deluxe editions on June 7. The expanded editions feature liner notes by Kürsch and Schaffer as well as bonus material and were released as a limited-edition digipak, deluxe 2LP with etching and LP booklet as well as digital deluxe editions.