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Jon Schaffer Interview

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Iced Earth

Iced Earth

SPV Records
Chad Bowar: Were the songs on The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked Part 2) written as part of the same songwriting sessions as part one?
Jon Schaffer: All of this was recorded already except for the vocals and some of the lead guitar parts. I had written all of the music and all of the arrangements. All of the themes of the songs were done. Everything was very focused and very planned out from the beginning. All of that was recorded at the same time Framing Armageddon was. The original plan was, when I got back from doing the tour of Europe I would take a little down time for the holidays, then immediately go back and finish whatever lyrical stuff I had left to do and start doing the vocals.

Right before Christmas is when the change happened. Matt had a prior commitment to Pyramaze, so we had to put it off a little bit. The Crucible Of Man really should have been out in the Spring of this year. We’re about six months off. It came out great. I did have Matt contribute on some lyrics. I was getting pretty burned out. I had written 35 songs and had my head buried in this thing for two years solid. That’s all I did, and I did 90 percent of it by myself. It was really taking its toll on me. I asked him to contribute lyrics.

Matt knows the story. He’s always been a very cool lyricist. He did some of his best work on this. I just gave him bullet points: this is what the song is about, these are things you have to mention, these are timeline issues. There were a couple of adjustments that had to be made, but for the most part he nailed it and came up with some really good vocal melody ideas as well. There was something that sparked in him creatively, and I think it’s a new level of confidence that’s really helped us. I’m excited about what we’re going to be doing together in the future, because this was all basically done. From this point on, whatever we do Matt is going to be involved more.

You worked with a choir on this CD. How was that experience?
It was the first time. It was a tossup, because we didn’t have the budget to do both, on whether we’d do real orchestration parts again or have a real choir. I had to go with the choir. That’s something I’ve been wanting to do since “Angels Holocaust” on Night Of The Stormrider, but we never had the money for it. We got 16 people together. We did four passes of each part, so it sounds like a huge number of people. It worked out really well, and I’m very happy with it. I think “Sacred Flames” is one of the coolest pieces of music that I’ve written. It’s very theatrical, and that’s something that I’ve been trying to achieve for a long time.

You do most of your recording in your own studio. Did you have to find a bigger place to record the choir?
We did that at Morrisound. That was the only thing we recorded there. Everything else was recorded at my place. It was out of necessity. Howard Helm was the choir director, and he works at Morrisound and has his own room at the studio. He’s the one who had the contacts for the people, and I hired him to organize it and get the people and take the parts and put them into sheet music.

Are you leaving the door open for future Something Wicked CDs?
I’m not going to say it’s closed, but it’s very unlikely. I’ve told the story up to the point in the medium of music that I want to. This is as far as I want to go. I don’t see the point in going further musically. Now in the graphic novel area and the comic book series and all the other mediums that I want to use to tell the Something Wicked story, it’s going to go much farther. But I don’t see the point in carrying it on musically. That’s not to say we won’t ever do it, I just don’t have any desire to do it for the next album. I’ve been so deeply entrenched in this thing for the past couple of years that I would prefer to get away from it now.

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