Iced Earth has been around for 27 years now and has been producing great metal albums for all of those years. Incorruptible was just released and is no exception to the Iced Earth legacy. In fact, it is one of the best Iced Earth albums to date. I had the chance to review the album and had this to say about it: “Incorruptible is not an album for the weak of heart, or someone looking for sappy lyrics with a couple of power ballads mixed in as fillers. This is a serious metal album from start to finish with no filler in the middle. If you start at the salad bar in the buffet line, you will probably not care for Incorruptible. If you skip right to the meat, you will love Incorruptible.” After reviewing it I had the chance to connect with Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth to ask him a few questions about Incorruptible.
Shockwave Magazine: Thanks Jon, for taking time out of your day to talk to me about the new album. How has the fans’ response been to the songs that you have released?
Jon Schaffer: It has been great, the fans really seem to be connecting to the songs, and we have received a lot of great feedback. The journalists have also been very supportive of the album, so it is looking like it could be a very successful album.
There are some great tracks on Incorruptible; one that sticks out to me is “The Veil.” I love this track; it is so dark and melodic. It sounds to me like a slower darker version of Loverboy’s “When its Over.” I was wondering if you could tell me the inspiration behind the song?
It’s a dark, tragic, love story. The husband gets killed in a car accident. We don’t get into those details in the song but that’s where it came from. He dies tragically, and the wife goes on and ends up dying of cancer, and the whole time he is there with her waiting for a crossover. That’s really what the veil concept is describing. We think that when our loved ones die that they are up there, way far away. But, what if they’re right next to us the whole time? I am going to have to go back and listen to that Loverboy song again. Didn’t that song come out in the 80’s? Wow, that really has me interested now.
I really like “Black Flag” too. Was that song historically inspired or did you just want to do a song about pirates?
No, it’s actually a very accurate telling of some pirate history. It’s a pretty big piece of history. I had the challenge of writing those lyrics coming up with a song that’s five minutes long but the history of pirates is huge. It was difficult, but I didn’t want to write a song and have it be cheesy and yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum. I wanted this to be a vicious fuck you to the empires that employed them. This song was really to show that the pirates were actually employed by the empires to stir up trouble for the other empires. If it was the British empire against the Dutch and Spanish or whatever, they would hire what they call privateers or mercenaries to go out and steal their shit, create problems for them, and create havoc. It was just a game that empires played and still play to this day to a degree. So this song is essentially the pirates’ side of the story.
That is a very interesting take on history, one you don’t hear much about at all. Another song that is really historical, and I looked it up after listening to the song is “Clear the Way.” I didn’t know that the North used Irish immigrants to fight the civil war like they did.
It is really its tragic as hell. It’s a tribute to the Irish Brigade. I didn’t want to make a 30-minute song. I wanted to make a tribute and an epic song that was to the point. I feel like the Irish were used as cannon fodder several times for the North, but at Fredericksburg they were slaughtered. I’ve always had a very strong connection to Ireland. We’ve rocked that place. I love the people. I’ve been wanting to write this song for 15 years and it finally happened.
You guys just played the Swedish rock festival. How did the Swedes take to the new tracks off the Incorruptible?
They were into it. We did “Great Heathen Army” and “Seven Headed Whore.” That’s all we’re going to do this summer because the album is new, and especially at a festival. I don’t like to bombard people with too much new stuff. We have so many records and so many classic songs; we want to keep the energy flowing. When we go out there and do our headline tour then, we’ll be definitely bringing in more of the new album.
You mentioned a headline tour. When do you think that you will start that up?
We are looking October for America and probably later in the year for some select dates in Europe. Definitely next summer we will be hitting the festival circuit harder.
You had cervical surgery a couple years ago. Are you all healed up from that and ready to go again?
Yep. I am feeling great and we are doing it.
Last, I wanted to ask you if you have anything you want to give Iced Earth fans a tease about? Anything cool coming with the new album we can look forward to?
We’re looking forward to getting into a groove on tour with our band and crew. We are looking forward to playing more of the record because it’s a strong album. We are doing a proper video for Black Flag. So look forward to that. It’s really pretty brutal I can tell you. That will come out this summer. So there is a lot of cool stuff coming down the road.
Jon, I want to thank you again for the time and congratulations on the new album and I look forward to seeing you on tour.
Thank you and I look forward to getting out on tour.