ICED EARTH guitarist Jake Dreyer has distanced himself from the band, saying he is now focused solely on his other group WITHERFALL.
Just hours after ICED EARTH singer Stu Block and bassist Luke Appleton announced their departures from the band, TMZ reached out to Dreyer to get an update on his status with the group.
Jake, whose Instagram profile no longer lists him as ICED EARTH's lead guitarist, told the web site that he was hired to play with the band from 2016 to 2018 but now he's focused solely on playing with WITHERFALL. Jake said that he enjoyed his time with ICED EARTH, but "it's unfortunate how this tragedy unfolded," referring to the fact that ICED EARTH guitarist and leader Jon Schaffer was arrested for his role in last month's riot at the U.S. Capitol. The 52-year-old musician, who resides in in Edinburgh, Indiana, is facing six federal criminal charges after he was accused of spraying a police officer with a pepper-based bear repellant during the January 6 insurrection.
In his statement announcing his exit from ICED EARTH, the Canadian-born Block, who has fronted the band since 2011, said that his leaving the group was "the best decision in many ways for my personal/ professional growth going forward. Time to move on, heal and prosper."
The British-born Appleton, who joined ICED EARTH in 2012 and played on the "Plagues Of Babylon" and "Incorruptible" albums, issued a separate statement saying that he was leaving the band "in response to recent events & circumstances."
Schaffer waived his preliminary hearing as well as his rights to an identity hearing and production of a warrant in late January in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, court documents state. He will soon be transported by a United States marshal to Washington, D.C. where government lawyers and Schaffer's legal team have mutually agreed to handle all proceedings.
Schaffer is entitled to a hearing on the issue of pretrial detention upon his arrival in D.C., court documents said.
Last month, government lawyers asked the judge to not offer Schaffer a bond when he goes in front of U.S. magistrate.
Schaffer must prove to the federal magistrate that he is not a threat to himself or the public before being released on bail. Others who have been charged for insurrection at the Capitol have been given bail but ordered to surrender their firearms, avoid contact with other alleged Capitol rioters and stay away from all state capitol buildings. Some other alleged rioters have been prohibited from using social media and participating in any political rallies.
Schaffer was photographed wearing an "Oath Keepers Lifetime Member" cap during the insurrection. The Oath Keepers describe themselves as an association of former law enforcement and military personnel dedicated to "support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic." But the Anti-Defamation League describes it as "a large but loosely organized collection of right-wing anti-government extremists who are part of the militia movement, which believes that the federal government has been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights."
Schaffer has been held in the Marion County Jail since surrendering to police on January 17. He made his first court appearance the following day.
Authorities say Schaffer was photographed and seen on surveillance video carrying a pepper-based bear repellant and arguing with Capitol Police officers inside the Capitol.
Just hours after the insurrection, ICED EARTH fans recognized Schaffer in a photo released by federal investigators in which he could be seen at the front of a mob, wearing black leather fingerless tactical gloves and pointing his finger while yelling at someone out of the frame.
Schaffer is believed to be one of at least 400 people who are being investigated by FBI officials over their roles in the insurrection.
More than 230 criminal cases have been filed so far. Charges include unauthorized access, theft, damage to government property and assault on law enforcement officers.
While Schaffer has not yet said anything publicly about his involvement in the riot, his ICED EARTH bandmates previously put out a statement on Instagram and Facebook opposing the insurrection.
"We absolutely DO NOT condone nor do we support riots or the acts of violence that the rioters were involved in on January 6th at the US Capitol building," they wrote. "We hope that all those involved that day are brought to justice to be investigated and answer for their actions."