Jon Schaffer founding member of such iconic bands as Iced Earth and Demons & Wizards isn’t letting the pandemic slow him down. While in lockdown, his creative flame continues to burn bright. The result is Jon’s venture into publishing with a new company called Wicked Tales. The first project for the company is a combination of graphic art book and audio narrative. The book chronicles the vast set of lyrics that Jon Schaffer has written from 1984 until the most recent Demons & Wizards album. This new art book is called Wicked Words and Epic Tales.
Fresh from the studio working with Witherfall on their upcoming album (which Jon promises is killer), we had an opportunity to talk with Jon Schaffer. In addition to a little insight on the new Witherfall album, we talked about the Wicked Words and Epic Tales book, the musical narrative readings, and collectible metal cards.
We started our conversation with Jon by digging into the Wicked Words and Epic Tales Kickstarter project. The project fundraising ends in mid-July and it has already quadrupled the original funding target. I asked Jon if he was blown away by the outpouring of support. Jon replied “Yeah I was man! I got the idea around Christmas time. I don’t know man, sometimes these ideas come to me. I was just hanging out thinking, what if one of my favorite songwriters was to put out a book like this. I would definitely want it. If it was Neal Peart, or Geezer Butler, Steve Harris, whatever Roger Waters; some of my favorite lyricists. So the idea was to do an anthology of my lyrics throughout my whole career…I think the first song that’s in here goes back to 1984 up until the most recent Demons & Wizards lyrics that I wrote”
Jon continued “The way I was envisioning it was to make it a really beautiful art book that would have tons of artwork; and a lot of it Something Wicked related. And this is also a test into self-publishing because I do, and people know this who have been following the band for a long time, I want to go much deeper into the Something Wicked story and start telling it through graphic novels and maybe a monthly comic book at some point. And that’s been my plan when I got to the later to the end of my career in music, this is what I wanted to do.”
The concept of a graphic novel combined with a spoken word and an accompanying soundtrack is something that Jon Schaffer is calling a narrative soundscape. I wanted to know what differences or changes he had to make to create music that would fit with the narrative and how that varies from typical songwriting. Jon explained “When all this happened, I thought, maybe it’d be cool to do a spoken word through the lyrics, sort of like a poetry reading. Then I thought, man that’s not really creative enough. So then I just had the idea to grab sections of whatever songs that I was going to be reading and sort of orchestrating them a little bit. When I told Jim (Jim Morris – founder of Morrisound Recording in Tampa) about this idea; he’s the one that did the MIDI programming up here in my studio. Of course, I was giving him direction and we were going through and kinda, which parts would be coolest from this song. And then we just turned it into different string arrangements or keyboard pads or whatever.”
The sneak peeks at the artwork for the Wicked Words and Epic Tales book have been amazing. There are different covers created by Jonboy Meyers and Jim Balent and Roy Young. There is also a whole host of impressive artists contributing such as Todd McFarlane and Danny Miki whose Iced Earth album covers will be used. In addition, art from Monte Moore and Jamie Tyndall will bring new characters from the Something Wicked saga to life. Jon relayed that the art was less about the lyrics or songs and more an exploration into the characters of the Something Wicked saga. Jon added “Lucio Parillo did a really killer version of Set (Set Abominae). He’s never been painted like that.”
Our thanks to Jon Schaffer for giving us insight into the new Wicked Words and Epic Tales project. The entire concept is extremely intriguing. The final product should be a big hit with graphic novel and comic book fans as well as the metalheads into Iced Earth and Demons & Wizards.