More than a quarter century has passed since guitarist John Schaffer formed his progressive power-metal gauntlet,Iced Earth. Over the course of those 27 years the Florida-based band has released 10 albums, seen more than 25 members come and go, and performed several hundred shows. Yet oddly enough the group never made it to Boise until Friday, July 6, 2012.
Earlier in the week rock ‘n roll icons Motörhead made their first visit to Boise after 37 years. Ten years less than Iced Earth, then again Motörhead is a European band and Iced Earth is American-made. Regardless this is proven to be an exceptional week for Boise rock ‘n roll fans.
The band tore threw a tight set of eight songs including; “Dystopia“, “V”, “Dracula”, “Anthem”, “Iced Earth”, “Melancholy”, “Burning Times” and “Declaration Day”. Two of the songs were played for only the second time on the current tour.
Schaffer and company are currently out on the road in support of their newest album “Dystopia”. Prior to the band’s performance at The Knitting Factory, I sat down with Schaffer to talk about the new album, the current tour, his thoughts on the Randy Blythe situation, as well as his personal take on the state of the nation.
Nearly two weeks have passed since Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe was arrested in Prague on manslaughter charges. Despite the court setting bail for the singer, it has been another week since the Czech judicial system refused to honor its own bail commitment. Blythe remains imprisoned on some of the most bogus charges the metal community has ever seen.
Schaffer is among those incensed by the situation:
“I like Randy a lot. He’s a great guy, and I really feel bad for what he is going through. I saw some video tape and I am not convinced that there was any wrongdoing. You can’t f–king charge a stage and keep doing that kind of stuff after what happened to Dime [referring to late Pantera and Damageplan guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darell Abbott, who was killed onstage in 2004 by a crazed fan) and expect people to not… And it’s not even that anybody really overreacted; it’s just normal… This stuff happens at shows all the time. It sucks.”
Metal shows are often very physical with mosh pits, crowd surfing, stage diving and such. Fans have to begin taking some personal accountability for what can happen to them if they engage in such activities.
“There are consequences,” stated Schaffer. ” I’ve seen so many times where I’m like, ‘Oh my God…’ Bodies just come flying over the barricade. And okay, the security guys usually catch them, but if there is a hole and somebody, you know– [snaps his fingers to indicate impact] I see it a lot. And a lot of these guys are so wasted, they get up and they’re like, ‘Yeah!’ And they still keep coming, and I’m like, ‘You’re gonna feel that tomorrow, dude.'”
The band will also be recording a live DVD this summer.
“We’re gonna film August 19 in Cyprus. We are playing an old ancient theater. It’s really cool. It’s been witness to gladiatorial events and theater from the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine empires. It’s been there for 1000 years. And I think it’s gonna be nice and intimate, and the Cypriots crowd is awesome. We played there for the first time, I think it was in December of last year, and it was amazing.”
Schaffer expects the live DVD to be available sometime early next spring.
Joining Schaffer on this leg of the Iced Earth journey are longtime drummer Brent Smedley, lead guitarist Troy Seele, and new additions bassist Luke Appleton, and Into Eternity vocalist Stu Block.
You can watch the full video at left and pick up your copy of “Dystopia” at your local music store or online retailers.
All photos © 2012 Rustyn Rose