Message from Jon (read second)
Posted by Jon Schaffer on Monday, June 02, 2003 at 9:16AM :

If you haven't seen Matt's message, please go read that first.


Hello All,

As you can see from Matt's post a very difficult decision has been made.
The events of 9-11 have affected us all in very different ways. I think it
made most people step back, take a look at their lives and change their
priorities. I certainly did and so did most of the people I know. In fact, I would bet
that the whole reason I chose the theme of "The Glorious Burden" for the next
CD was probably because my sub-conscious is dealing with what happened that
day. I realize that some of you don't care about what happened, and actually
that's your problem, but I know that most of you do. We have never been afraid
to show our loyalty and love of country way before 9-11, and anyone who has
paid attention knows that. The reason that I'm explaining all of this is so that
you know how close Iced Earth came to being a memory. After the attacks I was
also questioning what I had done with my life and if there was some way that I
could help people and do something that really mattered instead of this
"illusion" called the music business. When something this real and tragic happens
it has a huge effect on guys like Matt and I, who come from families who have
served, and who have a fierce dedication to our republic.

The music business is a big lie, plain and simple. It's an illusion that's
marketed and sold. It's the big production, photos, videos, promotion and image
building and all the other shit that makes you the fans think and feel a
certain way about whatever band or style it is that you're into, and you don't even
know it, that's the amazing thing. However, what happens behind the scenes in
the real world is often very different from the fantasies that the fans
create in their own minds about their favorite artists. Fans base these fantasies
on the images they are fed.

The point to all of this is that it's pretty hard to stay positive and take
it seriously when you figure out what a huge lie it is. After 9-11 I nearly
dissolved the band because I thought that what I do with my band is pretty
insignificant in the big picture, and it is. However, after months and months of
very heavy thought I realized that it doesn't really matter that the music
business is a big fucking lie because my songs are not, and my songs are the only
reason that I do this. I've said it before, I don't care about the rock star or
guitar hero bullshit, this thing called Iced Earth from the very beginning has
been a vehicle for my songs and that's it. If some fans have created another
"reality" about I.E. in their own minds, I can't help them with that, that's
the "illusion" that's getting them. Iced Earth is and always has been my band
and my vehicle to get my songs out, no matter the members that are involved.
It's entertaining to see and hear some of things people come up with when they
have absolutely no facts. Some people get it and some don't and that's ok
because in the end the only person that I need to please is me, and usually if I am
pleased then the majority of the fans will be as well. I have no need or
desire for Iced Earth to have fair weather fans. I realize that comments like this
make people think I must be a real prick, and maybe they're right, but I know
who I am and what I stand for and that scares some people.

I hope that this long and wordy post will help you all make sense of the
changes that are taking place.

Matt called me a few weeks before we started pre-production and said that he
wanted to quit the band and pursue a career doing administrative work for the
Department of Homeland Security. He feels that because he is not a songwriter
he'd have a more secure future and would be happier doing some good in the
real world rather than living the illusion of something as shallow as a "rock
star." I asked him to not do something he would live to regret, we have a new
label and I've written by far the strongest and most compelling material ever and
we basically have a new beginning. In hindsight I should not have pressured
him into staying but there was no way I could have predicted what would happen,
Matt had already quit in his heart, yet out of loyalty he was willing to give
it a shot. The recording of the vocals did not go smoothly. It was obvious to
Jim Morris (producer) and me that something was very wrong. However, we
pushed forward and Jim felt that we may have to change the way we mixed the vocals
but that we'd basically be ok. After tracking was done we proceeded with the
mix. I was becoming more and more disturbed with the way things were sounding
and by the time we started the mix on the 32 minute Gettysburg (1863) epic I
knew I had to make a serious decision. It was not a decision that I ever wanted
to make; I always expected Matt and I to jam together until we were grumpy old
men.

Here's the not so glorious burden of being the guy who makes tough decisions:
I decided to stop production and shelve the album until I find a new singer.
Matt's heart was not in it and it showed in his performance. I'm sure that's
hard for some of you to believe but it's simply a fact. There are a lot of
things you can do with today's technology to make a singer sound better but you
can't add feeling with a computer. And we all know from past recordings that Matt
has never had a problem delivering feeling, so it was obvious that it was
over and he just didn't have it in his heart to really feel the album.
The Glorious Burden is without a doubt the best album I have ever written. It
is the first time that I've written about such serious and important events.
It's also the first time that I've written about something as near and dear to
my heart as the history of our country. It probably sounds corny to some of
you but I've often used the American Revolution as inspiration to give me the
strength to carry on in this constant uphill battle. My love and passion for
the study of the Civil War is being translated to music for the first time in
the history of the band and that's what makes this album so special. I spent
countless hours creating what is most definitely my masterpiece as a songwriter.
This is not just another album about dark fantasy/sci-fi/horror material.
After Horror Show, which is a good record but the personal touch is missing on a
lot of it; I felt this would be the best way to bring that personal passion
back into the music in a new and fresh way.

So it really comes down to the fact that I still feel like I've got something
to say as a song writer, so I'm going to keep going. I would have rather
continued the way things were but I can't make someone want to do something, no
one can. This has been a very hard decision, and a costly one, but I would
rather not release an album at all than to have it haunt me for the rest of my life
because I knew it wasn't the way it should be. Also, I will carry on because
I can't see flushing nearly 20 years of hard work down the toilet because a
member has had a change of heart. I don't think real Iced Earth fans would want
that either.

I have spent some of the best times of my life with Matt. We have been able
to experience many things in our travels together and I hope he finds what he
seeks for his future, I truly wish him the best for his life.

And so another chapter in the struggle for Iced Earth and my love of metal
begins. I have to say I feel great and completely energized and am very
optimistic for our future. A strange thing considering the uncertainty that lies
ahead, but if you know me, you know I love a challenge.

The Glorious Burden will come out in all it's glory when I find the right guy
to redo the vocals. If it takes 2 months, 6 months, a year; whatever it takes
to do it right we will get it out the way it's meant to be. The true and
dedicated fans should not be concerned that this is the end; it most definitely is
not, before you know it the album will be out and it will be the best thing
you've heard from Iced Earth.

I hope most of you will understand the situation that I'm in and will be
confident that I will carry on in the same I.E. tradition as I always have;
quality, honesty and integrity...

Stay Metal!

Jon Schaffer