Following on from our Anarchadia intervew last week, MetalTalk.net have been lucky enough to catch up with Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth and Sons Of Liberty.
Where are you just now and what are you up to?
"Hi there MetalTalk. It's good to catch up with you. I am in Uruguay just now and doing just great. We are in the final stages of our world tour and will be leaving soon to start the European tour and the last date of the tour is 21st December, just in time for the holidays.
"This tour has been massive – 165 shows and it's been amazing. We have focussed on getting to as many as our fans as possible and now they are all fired up 'cos they know we will have a new album out soon – the live album we recorded in Cyprus. Then we will settle down and write and record our new studio album April/May 2013. And then - guess what – we will get on the road again and go back to see all our fans, and I mean all, of our fans. I love it! So that's right – a new tour for us after the summer 2013 is already being planned!
"We are not the kind of band that takes much down time. Our down time just now is actually working on the final stages of the live album and preparation for the next and final leg of this current tour. Luckily my daughter, who is in school is happy to fly with her mother during school holidays to join me where ever I am in the world. It's nice for her to see the world."
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We notice you will be in London on the 20th December at the Electric Ballroom - are you looking forward to this gig?
"Well, I haven't been in London since November last year. It's always a great show, great fans. Yes I am looking forward to it."
Many of your fans in the UK are looking forward to seeing Luke Appleton. Is your current band line-up settled now - will Luke be staying on with you and how has he integrated into the band so far?
"The band just now is really good, it feels like a new band, straight from the beginning, that's what it feels like just now. The energy is amazing and I love it. Luke joined us three or four months ago and he's doing great, settled right in with us and I can tell you he is one hell of a player – you guys in the UK should feel very proud of him. Great chemistry, great passion – it's good."
What are your interest in and opinions of the Metal creativity coming from the Middle East?
"Well now, that is interesting as I have been working with a band based in Syria called Anarchadia who contacted me and invited me to guest on their new album. I was intrigued and got involved, had a listen to their stuff and man, it was good. I respect what they are trying to do; liked their message; loved 'Occupy' and their whole energy so I contributed vocals to their album. I support them and find their passion powerful. These are very hard times, brutal times in Syria; the whole Middle East so good luck to them.
"The power of music and the music community is amazing and the point most of us are trying to make is that we are all humans and we all need to recognise and respect all of us, as humans have the right to liberty."
You have been quite vocal in the past about observing an 'Awakening' of sorts; that people now seem to be more aware of their physical and cultural environments and their own sense of self within this. Do you still see this happening, if so can you tell us a bit about this?
"As an American I have to say I am really disgusted about the consumerism we are sold, the slavery we blindly enter into and that is what I am seeing move on somewhat. Obama hasn't changed anything or improved anything from Bush, not that we should've expected him to though as they were both worthless puppets for the Wall Street aim and the ultimate banker aim of a world bank dominating the global flow of money.
"Under Obama dissent has accelerated faster than under his predecessors. You can see this intent, of using Obama as a puppet for those with a private agenda, I think, when he won the Nobel Peace prize without actually taking office proved its a conspiracy. Can you believe he won that – he hadn't even done anything; it proves my point and concern."
At this point I ask Jon if he was aware of who won the Nobel Peace Prize this year – he says no, not yet. When I tell him it was the European Union for its collaborative support and ability to work together under financial duress he snorts in disbelief.
"Yeah, I am sure the people of Greece share that opinion on financial fairness and feel that solidarity. Unbelievable and again, proving my point. It's all globalist bullshit and they have created more client slaves to feed the monetary system. The Federal Reserve hijacked the US government in 1913 and they have not since been able to shake it off.
"I just hope for this awakening to bring us new inspiration following the leaders of old, such as Thomas Jefferson and Ghandi. We need to look back to these leaders, remember them, to move forward. I do feel people are waking up to this now in the States but I am frightened it might become a violent battle."
What were the high points of 2012 for you personally?
"The highs this year are easy – the tour, the amount of touring, really working on making sure we visit countries where we've got fans but we haven't visited before. Cyprus, Istanbul, South America have all been amazing. Our fan base is really fired up 'cos they know we do notice them where ever they are and we WILL tour to their country.
"Also when we were on tour in America and Canda with Volbeat – Michael (Poulsen) dressed up as me and came on stage, it was great, I was on my knees laughing, so much - tears of laughter. A great tour; a great moment. They are a great band and Micheal and I had so much fun with that.
"I have to say also that the crew we have right now is a high point, its a great crew, really tight, the best."
What is your top five playlist and why?
"Oh MAN! I have difficulty with these as there is so much good music out there. Wait while I just check what I'm listening to just now. Gotta say Maiden, Maiden, anything Maiden. Lets go with...
'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner' - Iron Maiden
Anything Judas Priest...
"Its the passion in the music that gets me, man. Anything where there is passion and originality – you've gotta go with it."
And here's Jon's spotify list...
Steve Goldby - the owner and creator of MetalTalk.net is a big fan of yours - do you have a message for him and the ethos he has actualised in creating MetalTalk.net - the UK's free online Metal mag?
"That is what I love to hear about, someone with a passion and a determination to do something original. The ethos and the passion for that are the same as what I did with releasing 'Sons Of Liberty' as a free download too.
You can find out more about Sons Of Liberty at these links...
"The business model in music is changing, lots of mid-level bands like mine are finding it difficult as some people will only report the top layers such as Metallica. Did you see what they did with setting up their own label? We would love to do that but there just isn't the money for us there to set up such an undertaking.
"That is why it is important if you are a fan of any kind of music at all that you make sure you pay for the music you listen to. Where artists can they will make offerings available for free, as we did with 'Sons' but if you listen to music in a way that means you haven't paid for it that means the artist isn't able to recoup necessary finance to pay the bills that result from the music making process. We have people to pay - sound engineers and so on. So please pay for the music you listen to and we will all be able to go on making music longer. It's not a free business, its expensive and there just isn't the revenue there for the artists any more. We rely on our fans' honesty and integrity.
"But that's what MetalTalk's guy Steve has done - good luck to him and you all working with him there. It's great as more and more mid-level bands and new just starting out bands don't get media attention to help develop their profile. Good to know MetalTalk.net is there for everyone."
At this point Skype is loosing reliable connectivity so I thank Jon for his time. He is a thoughtful and easy person to interview. He wears his heart on his sleeve and has some fascinating points of view gathered from the ability to and love of travelling globally, seeing his own country from an external point of view, and considerig it in real time with the countries he visits.
MetalTalk.net wishes Jon and his Iced Earth colleagues an excellent rest of tour and are looking forward to the Electric Ballroom on the 20th December - we will be at the front! See you there.