ICED EARTH mainman Jon Schaffer spoke to Bandbond about how the rise of grunge in the early 1990s forced most hard rock bands off the radio and MTV, with album and tour sales plummeting. Asked if the popularity of bands like NIRVANA affected ICED EARTH when they first emerged, Schaffer said: "Well, I think the whole heavy music industry was, so I'm sure on some small level that we were.
"You know, trends are a thing in the music business — whether it's trends that are pushed by the major labels or whether it's trends that are pushed by the indie labels, which, I mean, how many indie labels are there now, really? It's all Sony and Universal buying up everything."
He continued: "I think that more of our battle was being from Florida and being a melodic, straight-up heavy metal band where everybody around us was playing death metal. And I think that was a difficult hurdle for us to cross, because every band from Florida was getting pigeonholed, even though you had SAVATAGE and CRIMSON GLORY and ICED EARTH, and I think that we were probably about it in terms of melodic bands. NASTY SAVAGE also was still doing stuff then, even though they were probably more active in the '80s. And they were more in the thrash direction, but they still had melody. We were good friends with them in the '80s, and I still am, if I see 'em. I saw Dave Austin not that long ago. But I would say that was a bigger hurdle than anything to do with NIRVANA, because ICED EARTH was never in the mainstream; we were always — and even still to this day — are more of a strong, independent, underground brand. I mean, we're not really underground, but we're certainly not in IRON MAIDEN/METALLICA league."
The 30th-anniversary edition of ICED EARTH's self-titled debut album will arrive on December 18 via Century Media Records. The new version of the 1990 LP features a remix by Chris "Zeuss" Harris, who previously worked with ICED EARTH on the group's latest effort, 2017's "Incorruptible", and brand new artwork.
"Iced Earth (30th Anniversary Edition)" is available as 180-gram vinyl, limited CD digipak and digital album.
This past July, Schaffer said that there were no plans for ICED EARTH to work on the follow-up to "Incorruptible". "There is no way we can plan," he said during a Facebook Live chat. "You guys should be able to understand that, if you watch the news. I have an international band, and I can't even travel to Europe right now [because of coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions]. There's no point in trying to put together a plan, because I guarantee you they're gonna launch the second wave of this shit and lock us all down again. To what degree, nobody really knows yet, but they were fielding that as soon as all this nonsense started, so it's definitely expected to be the case. So making plans for touring and putting all that together just to have it all derailed is costly and naïve at best. So I don't know.
"I'm gonna definitely plan on working on some new material later this year, early next year," he explained. "But again, that depends on how things roll out. So that's the way it is. We're just gonna have to see what happens with the global situation. There are several things that could take place. Hopefully some good things will happen to turn this mess around, but I'm not feeling super confident about that at the moment."
More than two years ago, Schaffer teamed up with his old pals in PURGATORY, the band that he originally founded in 1985, then later became ICED EARTH, to record five tracks that were written between 1985 and 1987. The resulting "Purgatory" EP was released in December 2018 through Century Media. The EP includes liner notes and comments by Schaffer, Gene Adam, Greg Seymour and Bill Owen, and fitting cover artwork by David Newman Stump and Roy Young, known from their excellent work on "Incorruptible".