Rene Trujillo of ThrashHead recently conducted an interview with ICED EARTH guitarist/mainman Jon Schaffer. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
ThrashHead: This latest release, how did you come to call it Dystopia, it’s such an appropriate name for our time.
Jon: Yeah, seeing where the world is headed is pretty disturbing, and the things that our governments are up to, all the governments around the world. There is some really bad shit going on, and when you really start to analyze and learn about it, it’s clear that if we aren’t living in Dystopia already, we’re damn close; it’s just around the corner… it’s people, good people will raise up and stop this shit. You know, the wars, the out of control spending; it’s the debt slaves they’ve made us…it’s really kind of out of control, there’s some dark stuff going on. But you know, I wanted to make sure that the whole album wasn’t doom and gloom and we put out a message of hope on the album that inspire people, to feel empowered because people have power, the system wants people to feel helpless and lost and weak and we’re not, every individual has an incredible amount of strength and that’s what songs like “Anthem” and “Iron Will”, “Tragedy And Triumph” are about…that’s what we’re trying to convey. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, I believe that, underneath all the really heavy, heavy bad stuff that’s going on, there is something bubbling that’s going to come up and become pissed off and motivated enough to get involved. Is it going to be easy? Hell no, there is a hell of a struggle ahead of us.
ThrashHead: Why do you think people confuse patriotism with being faithful to a government rather than the Bill of Rights and that criticism of American government is unpatriotic?
Jon: Well, I think that’s because there is such an intense level of propaganda and that people use the television as a weapon while others spend far too much time sitting in front of them being brainwashed and manipulated; you can’t trust any of the corporate media, they are all fucking media whores they’re not going to ever cover anything real, they spend time talking about who Britney Spears is fucking or whatever, it’s ridiculous, it’s just a circus. Meanwhile, people are getting robbed, raped and the things which really matter are being destroyed; this is real shit that is happening and people are in a spell, the American people are largely walking around, whether it’s a mixture from the effects of vaccines, all the pharmaceuticals, all the brainwashing on television, people have become so completely unhinged from reality and from their humanity that this thing, this beast, has been allowed to grow and grow and grow in the shadows and now it’s emerging.
ThrashHead: What are your thoughts about this National Defense Authorization Act?
Jon: It’s treason, this whole gang of criminals with the exception of Ron Paul; he’s the only guy I trust. I mean there are a couple good people in Congress, but not that many… obviously; it’s treason, that’s the way I view it. I think politicians in Congress are largely all treasonous, traitorous pieces of shit. I know that’s harsh rhetoric, but I’m sick of it, tired of this shit.
ThrashHead: You said you were really into the history of the American Civil War, and just continuing this line of discussion, do you think Europe is in a similar situation now as the U.S. just prior to the Civil War? Not so much as there being a risk of conflict, the Southern Nations are going to war with the Nations of the North, but rather because there are calls for a powerful central government to exert more control over the sovereignty of individual member states? The banks have already shown that they can force governments to be replaced by technocrats.
Jon: I think It’s possible, when we were just on tour in Europe you could see in Italy and Spain were definitely suffering, and Greece, too, big time… We could see it directly in Italy and Spain in our ticket sales — they were way down — but the fans who were there were passionate as hell and they were great. The thing is with the Greeks is that they won’t show how bad things are, they’ll scrape the money together. I mean you could see it around the city… the difference from when I was last there just a few years ago, businesses are closed everywhere and graffiti all over the place, it’s really sad, those people are suffering. So at some point the people are going to snap, and the Greeks are hot-blooded as hell, you don’t fuck with them, and they’re being made out to be that it’s all their fault, which is bullshit. The problem is, people get sucked into this “the state will take care of you” trap, I think it’s against human nature, but it’s easy to get sucked into it…it’s the bait. If you do, which I think they did to some degree, it’s never going to turn out well. We should be self-reliant, especially here in the United States, the whole idea was to be self-reliant, rugged individualism was the idea behind it; it’s certainly become a collectivist society and that’s always the step towards full blown tyranny. I don’t know, yeah Europe is in trouble, the currency, I think we are going to see some big things happen in February or March probably with the euro.
ThrashHead: It’s clear there is a message of awareness and defiance on “Dystopia”, as we’ve been discussing, especially on tracks like “Days of Rage”. Before you went into the studio, did you have a clear vision of what you wanted this album to be…or did it simply evolve?
Jon: No, I had a very clear vision about it. You know, the goals I set out was to… I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the SONS OF LIBERTY stuff, it’s like a roundhouse kick in the face, it’s obvious what it’s about, there’s no question. This is a little more veiled, I don’t really like to get political with ICED EARTH, I never have…at the end of the day it’s about entertainment, it’s a metal band, and I always wanted to keep it down that road to give people an avenue of escape. But things are getting so serious, I thought we could still get the important message out there and make it about certain movies, literature, even “Something Wicked”, my own story, there’s a couple songs related to that also, it was really important for me to put some positive stuff in there and that was also decided very early on that I didn’t want the whole thing to seem completely hopeless, so we had songs like “Anthem”, “Tragedy And Triumph”, “Iron Will” and those I hope are inspiring and somewhat empowering to people, because people are powerful, we really are, the human spirit is amazing, it’s like it’s being oppressed big time and people don’t feel powerful and they need to because we are in trouble and it’s only the human spirit which is going to save this whole situation.
Read the entire interview from ThrashHead.