Jon Schaffer, founder and creative force behind American metal icons Iced Earth, today released this statement about the Internet music-listening service Spotify:
“A lot of fans have contacted us regarding Century Media’s decision to pull all of its bands from Spotify,” Schaffer said regarding the 9 August statement from the metal label. “I want our fans to know that we had nothing to do with that decision. We understand Century Media’s position. The music industry has been deeply and irrevocably affected by illegal downloading on the Internet. I understand that all too well. In fact, all professional musicians today understand that.
“But Spotify is one of the most important developments in music I’ve seen in quite awhile. It allows fans to search for music from bands all over the world – sometimes rare, impossible to find, or out-of-print music. They hear it, decide they like it, and seek it out to buy it from a variety of sources – legal sources like iTunes, Amazon, or Amazon Marketplace.
“That’s a good thing. Stealing music is not. But sampling it on Spotify – which is legal and highly regarded worldwide – is not stealing it.
“If it were up to me, I’d put Iced Earth’s music back on Spotify. But I also have to respect the wishes of Century Media, our record label. They’re only trying to protect the best interests of their bands. So, I ask fans of Iced Earth to be respectful as well. Maybe additional dialogue with Century Media will change their minds. In the meantime, let’s all just agree to disagree on this one and wait to see what the future holds.”
For Iced Earth, the future holds the release of Dystopia, the band’s 10th studio album, scheduled for release in Europe on October 17th, and in the U.S. on October 18th both via Century Media. Two bonus tracks are also being recording for inclusion on special editions of the album.
The release of Dystopia will be followed by the most extensive world tour Iced Earth has ever undertaken.
The European leg of the 2011-2012 World Dystopia Tour has been posted here, as well as on all official social-media sites. The tour begins October 30th in Bochum, Germany.
Although Dystopia, Iced Earth’s 10th studio offering, is not a concept album, founder Jon Schaffer admits there are unifying themes to several of the songs – and even an appearance by band mascot “Set Abominae.”
“I’ve always been fascinated by the darker side of life,” Schaffer said during a break from master tracking Iced Earth’s forthcoming album. “Movies like Metropolis, Brazil, and The Matrixresonate with me. The same for albums like 2112, The Wall, and of course Operation:Mindcrime. Their images of a soulless, repressive society stuck with me over the years. It must be the sci-fi fan in me.”
In much the same way Horror Show (Iced Earth’s tribute to classic characters from literature and movies) was born, Schaffer said his interest in dystopian themes in music and movies led him to try his hand at that genre as well – even paying homage on the new album to the movies Dark City, V For Vendetta, and Soylent Green. The end result is Iced Earth meets the nightmarish offspring of Brave New Worldand Blade Runner.
Of special interest to long-time fans are two songs on Dystopia (the title track and “Tragedy and Triumph”) that feature the return of the “Something Wicked” storyline and “Set Abominae” – who, when last seen in The Crucible of Man , had taken his position as ruler of the world.
“The opening song is a step back timeline-wise from the ‘Come What May’ track,” said Schaffer. “‘Come What May’ [the last track on Crucible] sets the scenario that it’s up to us and the decisions we make that will determine the future of the human race. These two songs [on Dystopia] take place at a time when people are in highly controlled prison-like city states, and their eventual emancipation in the closer, ‘Tragedy and Triumph’.”
In an uncanny case of art imitating life, Schaffer said Set Abominae fit perfectly with the general theme of Dystopia.
“I remember it hit me like a ton of bricks in ’97, the whole Something Wicked story did,” Schaffer said. “I thought, ‘Man, this is going to be so cool.’ Many years later, we were on tour for Crucibleand we were doing an interview over in Eastern Europe. A buddy of mine said, ‘You know, Jon, this whole Something Wicked thing could be true.’ I thought about it a moment and said, ‘Well, I don’t know about that. But there are some creepy parallels in contemporary life.’”
“So as I was thinking about all of the great...
All is well here as we are pushing forward with master tracking the new album "Dystopia."
We have finished drums and rhythm guitars and are right on schedule. I'll be heading to Europe tomorrow for a few festival dates and then right back to work in the studio on Monday. Jim Morris and I are having a great time, as usual, and are very much looking forward to starting vocal tracks with "Stucifer" next week!
Stu has contributed a lot to the vocal parts on this record, with co-writing credits on 10 out of 12 songs, and I'm very happy with our chemistry and what we've accomplished together so far. And we're just getting started.
Here are a few titles for you to ponder...
- Days of Rage
- Soylent Green
- Boiling Point
- Tragedy and Triumph
- Anguish of Youth
- Iron Will
Just a little update for you guys. It's a crazy-busy summer. But I'll try to update you as often as I can!
It has just been confirmed that Iced Earth's 2011-2012 World Tour will now kick off in Bochum, Germany, on October 30th!
Ticket information will be posted on the Tour page as soon as it is available.
This will be the first date with Stu Block as lead vocalist.
Current vocalist Matt Barlow will finish his career with Iced Earth at the Wacken Open Air festival on August 6th.
Just a quick update for you from the road. We had a great weekend playing at Sweden Rock Friday and the Rock Hard festival in Germany on Saturday. The band’s having a lot of fun, and today we begin rehearsing the new songs for the forthcoming CD, titled Dystopia. We begin master tracking in Florida in 2 weeks and will be traveling between Europe and the US this summer to play festivals and finish the new album. I can honestly say that I haven’t had this many songs give me goose bumps since we recorded Something Wicked This Way Comes, way back in 1998, so this is also very exciting.
As you can imagine, it’s a very busy time for us. I think we’re all having emotional ups and downs as we’re coming to the end of an era with Matt’s retirement, and we’re also very excited about the future with Stu coming onboard, so it’s a little bit of a roller coaster ride for us. However, we are having a killer time, and Matt is performing at his absolute best and going out with pure class and style, which is always the way he rolls.
We also had a great time hanging out with the guys in Down last night at the Rock Hard festival. Freddie and my manager joined them onstage for a nice jam at the end of the show. It was brilliant and a lot of fun.
We’ll be keeping you posted on updates as things move along through the summer.
Best to you all!!
Festivals of the Wicked, the six-hour DVD extravaganza -- comprised of three full-length concerts (Wacken, Rock Hard, and Metal Camp), a 60-minute documentary, photo galleries, and video clips -- will be released in Europe later this month (June 27th) and America shortly thereafter (July 12th).
Pre-orders are now being taken on Amazon and CM Distro, and anywhere real metal DVDs are sold.
Make sure you place your order today!
For special VIP treatment, click on the appropriate link on the right. For UK dates, click on the VIP banner above. For VIP tickets for concerts in the Rest of Europe, click on the banner below.
These special VIP packages are limited, and going fast. So please don't delay. Order your VIP tickets TODAY!
Rock Hard Festival will once again feel the thunder of the mighty Iced Earth! The band has just been confirmed to play Rock Hard on June 11, in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
For more information, visit the official Rock Hard Festival web site.
NOTE: Retiring vocalist Matt Barlow will perform with the band on this and all European summer festival dates.
In the wake of vocalist Matt Barlow’s retirement, dozens of demos and resumes flooded Iced Earth’s management team. But one name kept popping up – Into Eternity vocalist Stu Block, who has been named the new lead singer for Iced Earth.
According to Schaffer, Robert Kampf, CEO of Century Media, early on suggested Block, whose band Into Eternity was previously on the CM label. That reminded Schaffer of one night in September, 2008, when Into Eternity opened for Iced Earth.
“Iced Earth was backstage waiting to go on,” said Schaffer. “We heard one of Stu’s incredible wails. I remember turning to Matt and saying, ‘Damn, that dude has serious range.’”
So while Iced Earth’s management team sifted through the growing number of prospective vocalists, Schaffer got in touch with Block.
After several phone conversations with the then-prospective Iced Earth vocalist, Schaffer asked his manager to e-mail Block several key Iced Earth songs, with the vocals stripped. Block went into his studio and recorded himself singing, then sent the files back to the team.
The result landed Block an intense two days at Schaffer’s studio where the two musicians hit it off.
“I felt a lot of chemistry between us, we knocked out a couple of great original pieces of music in no time” said Schaffer. “He’s very good at coming up with catchy melodies, and will help with lyrical duties as well. There’s no doubt Stu has an amazing vocal range and a lot of energy, but he also has the touring experience, which is a big plus for our plans of performing in all corners of the world.”
In addition, Schaffer said Block has what Iced Earth needs in a front man: “stage presence that includes high energy, passion, and focused rage.”
“Stu is charismatic and understands the depth and varying emotions in Iced Earth’s music,” said Schaffer. “So he will embody not only the emotion of our songs, but he will be able to perform them in a dynamic way. I believe fans are in for some incredible records and live shows in the coming years.”
New Iced Earth vocalist Stu Block concurs: “Iced Earth fans are wonderful, wonderful people,” he said. “The music is so passionate. So they’re passionate, and very loyal to the band. I am, too. I’m a huge fan of Iced Earth myself. So I share that same passion, and I will show it on stage. I think the fans are really going to dig it.”
Block continues: “It’s a huge honor to be doing this, to be part of this team,” he said. “It’s a dream come true, for sure.”
Schaffer is totally stoked. “This is a new beginning,” he said. “It’s game-on time. Iced Earth is going to record and tour like it never has before....