Iced Earth's new vocalist, Stu Block from Into Eternity
In the wake of vocalist Matt Barlow’s retirement, dozens of demos and resumes flooded ICED EARTH’s management team. But one name kept popping up – INTO ETERNITY vocalist Stu Block, who has been named the new lead singer for Iced Earth.
According to leader Jon Schaffer, Robert Kampf, CEO of Century Media, early on suggested Block, whose band Into Eternity was previously on the CM label. That reminded Schaffer of one night in September, 2008, when Into Eternity opened for Iced Earth.
“Iced Earth was backstage waiting to go on,” said Schaffer. “We heard one of Stu’s incredible wails. I remember turning to Matt and saying, ‘Damn, that dude has serious range.’”
So while Iced Earth’s management team sifted through the growing number of prospective vocalists, Schaffer got in touch with Block.
After several phone conversations with the then-prospective Iced Earth vocalist, Schaffer asked his manager to e-mail Block several key Iced Earth songs, with the vocals stripped. Block went into his studio and recorded himself singing, then sent the files back to the team.
The result landed Block an intense two days at Schaffer’s studio where the two musicians hit it off.
“I felt a lot of chemistry between us, we knocked out a couple of great original pieces of music in no time” said Schaffer. “He’s very good at coming up with catchy melodies, and will help with lyrical duties as well. There’s no doubt Stu has an amazing vocal range and a lot of energy, but he also has the touring experience, which is a big plus for our plans of performing in all corners of the world.”
In addition, Schaffer said Block has what Iced Earth needs in a front man: “stage presence that includes high energy, passion, and focused rage.”
“Stu is charismatic and understands the depth and varying emotions in Iced Earth’s music,” said Schaffer. “So he will embody not only the emotion of our songs, but he will be able to perform them in a dynamic way. I believe fans are in for some incredible records and live shows in the coming years.”
New Iced Earth vocalist Stu Block concurs: “Iced Earth fans are wonderful, wonderful people,” he said. “The music is so passionate. So they’re passionate, and very loyal to the band. I am, too. I’m a huge fan of Iced Earth myself. So I share that same passion, and I will show it on stage. I think the fans are really going to dig it.”
Block continues: “It’s a huge honor to be doing this, to be part of this team,” he said. “It’s a dream come true, for sure.”
Schaffer is totally stoked. “This is a new beginning,” he said. “It’s game-on time. Iced Earth is going to record and tour like it never has before. The band is really amped-up and ready to hit the ground running in November.”
And to prove it, Iced Earth has released the European leg of a world tour that will take the band to countries it has never previously played. All told, the 2011-2012 Iced Earth world tour will be the largest the band has undertaken since its inception.
NOTE: Retired Iced Earth vocalist Matt Barlow will perform with the band on all summer festival dates. New vocalist Stu Block will take over fromthere, starting with the European leg of Iced Earth’s world tour.
The band’s long-awaited 6-hour, three-concert live DVD Festivals of theWicked is scheduled for release this spring.
Iced Earth official web site: http://www.icedearth.com/
Iced Earth’s official Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/OfficialIcedEarth
Iced Earth’s official MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/icedearth
Long-time vocalist Matt Barlow has retired from ICED EARTH.
In his heartfelt statement, Barlow cites his commitment to his family and the need for Iced Earth to tour more as the reasons for his retirement; however, he has committed to perform with Iced Earth on all 2011 European festival dates, which will be his last with the band.
Matt Barlow’s official statement is as follows:
“Brothers and Sisters,
Let me begin by saying how much of an honor it has been to share my time in Iced Earth with Jon and the guys…and with all of you! Since my return to the band in 2007, it has truly been extraordinary. I have had the opportunity to travel the world and see old friends and meet new ones. Though we had originally thought that the Iced Earth touring schedule would be very limited, we were able to play our fair share of concerts.
During that time we were also able to have a live DVD produced (the forthcoming Festivals of the Wicked). However, due to the rapidly changing music industry, it has become increasingly clear to recording artists that the only way to keep a band viable and to truly reach its potential is through live performances. That means that a band must reach out to new regions of the globe and become pioneers for their own livelihood. Since 2007, Jon and I have always had the best intentions for the future of Iced Earth, and we still do. However, given the band’s projected touring schedule, Iced Earth’s future and mine must now take separate paths.
On my departure from Iced Earth in 2003, I made a commitment to my wife and to the idea that we would start, and raise, our family together. Two years later, my first child was born and two years after that, my second. My youngest son was born about a week before Jon asked me to return to Iced Earth. It was a very exciting and emotional time for all of us, but we were all clear on our intentions. It is apparent to us now that regardless of our belief at that time, time can change an intended outcome. In this instance, I hope that change will not be regarded as a bad thing, but rather as a necessary part of evolution.
Jon and the band must venture into new realms to continue to grow Iced Earth. I commend him for his ideals and wish nothing but to share in his vision. I know that this is not the last time Jon and I will work together, but it will be my last endeavor with Iced Earth. Iced Earth is a name and force of its own. It has been very good to me and has allowed me to live a dream that others would give most anything for. I have been truly blessed to share this experience with everyone. I will continue to support Jon and Iced Earth in every way. I will also continue to create and perform in my own capacity.
These next months will prove to be a very emotional time for me. I am extremely happy to be able to share the experience with Jon, Brent, Freddie, Troy and the Iced Earth family. I am proud to know them and honored that they consider me their friend. It is going to be phenomenal to share the love of this music during several summer festivals and I know that it will be a time we will never forget.
Please consider all that I have brought forth and all of Jon’s offerings before passing judgment on the future of Iced Earth. This band has always strived to give its listeners the very best and I know that Jon, as always, will continue to lead that charge.
“To Iced Earth and all of you…I wish you the very best!!!
Band founder and leader Jon Schaffer reacted to his friend’s decision with equal parts sadness and praise.
“I knew Matt wrestled with this for a long, long time,” said Schaffer. “It wasn’t an easy decision for him. But I love him dearly and I can’t fault his reasons.”
Schaffer continued: “Matt is one of the most sincere people I know, and one of the most talented. His departure deeply saddens me, but I hope all fans of Iced Earth will cut him some slack. I wish Matt well, respect him greatly, and I ask everyone else to do the same.”
With a new album in the works, and a world tour pending, Schaffer has already begun the search for a new vocalist.
“I have a few guys in mind,” said Schaffer. “And as you can imagine, it is a very important decision. One thing is for certain: we are not looking for a Matt Barlow ‘clone’ – we are looking for a front man that brings power and character of his own to the table. There’s only one Matt, and that era of the band’s history will always hold a special place in my heart.”
The band’s long-awaited six-hour, three-concert live DVD Festivals of the Wicked is scheduled for release this spring.
The band recently announced a new summer festival date: Dong Open Air in Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany, on July 15th.
With the Dong Open Air date confirmed, Iced Earth will play a total of six summer festivals, including: Wacken, Graspop, Rock am Härtsfeldsee, Ilosaarirock Festival in Joensuu, Finland on July 16th, and the Sweden Rock Festival on June 10th in Sölvesborg, Sweden.
More festival dates will be announced soon on the band’s official web site, MySpace, and Facebook pages.
Announcement of a new vocalist will be made through all social media outlets as soon as a decision is made.
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN (USA) – Iced Earth leader Jon Schaffer, hard at work in his studio, promises the next Iced Earth album will be “pretty fuckin’ heavy.”
“I can tell you from the riffs and the attitude behind it,” he said, “this is going to be a bad-ass record. This is inspired, focused, and to the point.”
The album – set for release later this year – will be Iced Earth’s 10th studio outing, and the first since 2008’s The Crucible of Man. Unlike Crucible and Framing Armageddon (which was released in 2007), the new album won’t be a concept. Instead, Schaffer promises a return to the raw-and-heavy sound of Iced Earth’s classic fan-favorite albums.
“This is really heavy stuff,” Schaffer said. “It’s a kick in the nuts.”
He added: “People probably think I don’t have it in me any more. But they’re going to be proved wrong about that. I can tell you this: we’re coming back with a vengeance. We’re out for blood.”
This promises to be a grand year for Schaffer and company. Not only will Iced Earth release a new album (followed by a world tour – which management promises will take the band to countries it hasn’t previously played), but the band will also release its long-awaited 6-hour, three-concert live DVD this Spring titled Festivals of the Wicked.
In addition, the band just announced two new summer festival dates: The Ilosaarirock Festival in Joensuu, Finland, on July 16th, and the Sweden Rock Festival, on June 10th, in Sölvesborg, Sweden.
With those two dates, Iced Earth has been confirmed to play a total of five summer festivals, including Wacken, Graspop, and Rock am Härtsfeldsee. More festival dates will be announced soon on the band’s official web site, MySpace, and Facebook pages.
Can Iced Earth fans handle nearly six hours of their favorite metal band?
They’ll soon find out.
An intense two-minute trailer from the long-awaited live DVD extravaganza Festivals of the Wicked has just been posted to the Iced Earth web site (http://www.icedearth.com).
The DVD cover art – featuring Iced Earth “mascot” Set Abominae emerging from the fires of Hell, riffing on a Les Paul – has also been revealed.
Festivals of the Wicked boasts nearly six hours of Iced Earth – three full headliner shows (over 40 live tracks!), a photo gallery shot by famed rock photographer Ross Halfin, plus a 90-minute documentary. It will be released early in 2011.
“The last part of the DVD to be completed is the documentary,” said Iced Earth main man Jon Schaffer. “Thousands of hours were shot and edited down to 90 minutes. It’s very close to done. I have to say the footage of the band on stage is mind blowing. Those who have already seen us will love it. Those who haven’t yet seen Iced Earth will be amazed by what this band can do on stage.”
Drummer Brent Smedley concurs: “The three festivals featured on the DVD were all extremely remarkable and each one memorable in its own way,” he said. “All three were amazing nights where the Metal and the Magic were fully flowing. I think the release of this DVD truly proves my mantra and favorite saying: METAL LIVES!”
Indeed it does.
Festivals of the Wicked shows Iced Earth in its favorite element – facing tens of thousands of screaming fans – and playing songs that demonstrate why Iced Earth fans are some of the most loyal in metal.
The three soon-to-be-released festivals are:
Wacken Open Air (2007) with Tim Owens on lead vocals. The blistering 13-song set begins with a jaw-dropping rendition of “Burning Times” and closes with the band’s signature track, “Iced Earth.”
Rock Hard Festival (2008) with Matt Barlow on lead vocals. This festival, the first to feature Matt’s return, storms through 15 songs, with “Dark Saga” leading the charge.
Metal Camp (2008) with Matt Barlow on lead vocals. A not-to-be-missed 16-song face melter of a concert that proves why some say Iced Earth is one of the top live bands in the world.
“I’m very proud of this DVD, and I’m grateful to fans for their patience,” said Schaffer. “Getting this ready for release has been an enormous job, but a true labor of love. It will be worth the wait. I promise.”
Schaffer formed Iced Earth in Tampa, Florida, in 1984. Since then, he has released 10 studio albums, one live album, two compilations, and three boxed sets. With worldwide sales in the millions, Iced Earth has earned a seat in the pantheon of America’s most successful heavy-metal bands.
Iced Earth was recently confirmed to appear at Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel, Belgium, on June 24th, 2011. Additional festival dates will be announced soon on the band’s official web site, Facebook, and MySpace.
After extensive excursions on the North American West Coast, 70000TONS OF METAL, The World’s Biggest Floating Heavy Metal Festival sailed back South, crossed the Panama Canal once more and headed back to Tampa, Florida where it is hot like everywhere else these days. It seems what they need to find is an ICED EARTH! 21 out of 40 bands on board… who will be next?
The confirmed 21 out of 40 bands are:
Uli Jon Roth
70000TONS OF METAL will sail Monday, January 24, 2011 aboard the Royal Caribbean “Majesty of the Seas” from Miami FL to Cozumel, Mexico and will not return you to the real world for four days until Friday, January 28, 2011.
Make no mistake, 70000TONS OF METAL is not your grandma’s cruise. It’s also not one of the cruises that share the ship with normal cruise guests. This is an all heavy metal cruise! Can you imagine that? A whole luxury cruise ship full of metalheads? And since there is no backstage area you will have the opportunity to mingle side-by-side with the artists in this incredibly fan-friendly scenario that has no comparison. It’s like everyone has a backstage pass!
Ticket prices start at US$666 plus US$249 taxes and fees per person and include all on-board entertainment, all meals, non-alcoholic and non-carbonated beverages at the dining rooms, most on-board restaurants and 24 room service!
What are you waiting for? You might even need a vacation from this vacation when all is said and done! Check out http://www.70000tons.com/ for more information and book your cabin NOW!
ICED EARTH mastermind, Jon Schaffer, has developed a new project, SONS OF LIBERTY, with the purpose of spreading awareness about the current state of affairs worldwide. Schaffer’s goal for this project is not to sell records, t-shirts or tickets, but rather wake people up and to get them to start researching and talking with each other. The album hits stores today and features a lengthy and very detailed booklet with stellar content. The brand new website www.sons-of-liberty.net is now active, so be sure to head over now to find out what this message is all about.
Schaffer further states: “I’m proud to finally see the physical release of Brush-Fires of The Mind happen. This is all about the message, so please spread the word!”
Check out the new video at the link below where Schaffer discusses the concept behind the song “Jekyll Island”, and the book it’s based on – a core principle to the topics covered in the band’s lyrical content. Also, catch a special interview with Schaffer and G. Edward Griffin (author of The Creature From Jekyll Island). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WAyUdgOEOA
Schaffer handles all vocals and instrumentation for SONS OF LIBERTY, but the effort also features guest solos by legendary producer Jim Morris, ICED EARTH guitarist Troy Seele and world-class bassist, Ruben Drake. Born from Schaffer’s desire to stimulate curiosity about a pattern of global banking corruption that is undermining the independence of people and their countries, SONS OF LIBERTY aims to spearhead a multi-faceted and peaceful resistance of the tyranny being wrought every day on regular people
ICED EARTH has confirmed four special North American shows this fall. Meant as an “Escape From The Studio,” these exclusive dates will also get fans the chance to experience SONS OF LIBERTY on stage for their first-ever live performances.
VIP packages via www.icedearth.com are still available on a very limited basis. Regular tickets sales via Ticketmaster and all other outlets have begun and will be subject to local service fees.
ICED EARTH w/SONS OF LIBERTY Fri/Sep-10 – Washington DC — 9:30 Club
Tue/Sep-21 – Chicago IL — House of Blues
Thu/Sep-23 – New York NY — Nokia Theater Times Square
Sat/Sep-25 – West Hollywood CA — House of Blues
Metal-Rules.com recently interviewed Jon and here is what he had to say about the upcoming live dates:
Metal-Rules.com: I know you are doing 4 live dates in September with Iced Earth and Sons of Liberty on the same bill. I can imagine a full tour where you had to play in both bands might be a bit tiring, but do you think it might happen or maybe Sons of Liberty might go out on their own tour?
Jon: Well if Sons of Liberty grows to the point where we can sell some tickets, then yeah I can see that happening. I can see something happening with Iced Earth, it would be very tiring for me but we may do that. The problem is, here’s the situation – I would love to get Sons of Liberty out on the road to do something like on a cool tour to do an opening so the message can get out to more people. But the problem is, even though I am the founder of Iced Earth, that doesn’t mean that Sons of Liberty automatically translates into ticket sales or into album sales. It’s a brand new thing; it’s like a baby band starting off with maybe a little bit more of a kick because I’m involved in it. But to go out on the road as a support band, if a bigger band comes along and understood we were a baby band and offered say $500 a show…well you know it’s $1000 a day for a tour bus and you’ve got all these other costs. I can’t do that and go into a proverbial black hole of debt. It’s got to be the right situation. Maybe that is sucking it up and doing it with Iced Earth because if some of the guys in Iced Earth play live with Sons of Liberty which is what we are going to do now at least. At least for now the costs are already there because Iced Earth is on tour and the guys in the band are into it. They like it, and they like the message. So I would love to do it. We have some financial challenges facing us with that and that will probably be the biggest obstacle. Metal-Rules.com: I was going to ask you, for the shows in September 2010, who will be playing with you exactly?
Yeah it’s going to be Brent Smedley (drums), Freddie Vidales (bass), and Troy Seele (guitars). Then a guitarist named Matt O’Rourke from Vegas will be playing my parts because I’m just gonna do vocals, I’m not going to play guitar and sing. I don’t want to be trapped behind a mic stand and not be able to walk around in between the songs and talk to the people.
Metal-Rules.com: Do you think that will feel kind of strange to not have your little shield in front of you when performing live?
Jon: Absolutely dude! I’m a little nervous about it; I have to admit, because I’m not a singer. But I feel like I have to do it and especially September 10th is the night before the gigantic march on Washington D.C. And that’s the reason why we are doing that as the first show. So it’s a while different world for me.
When I read up on what Jon Schaffer’s new project, Sons of Liberty, was about, I was interested in talking to Jon about the message. Often with interviews, the focus is on the music, the upcoming tour, etc, and while that is covered here, the main things we discuss are the ideas that Jon is getting out with Sons of Liberty. Rather than editorialize, let’s step into the mind of Jon and hear firsthand the important issues that has been occupying the thoughts of the Iced Earth mastermind over the past 1-1.5 yrs.
ICED EARTH brainchild, Jon Schaffer, has developed a new project, SONS OF LIBERTY, for the purpose of spreading awareness about the current state of affairs worldwide. Schaffer’s goal for this project is not to sell records, t-shirts or tickets, but rather wake people up and to get them to start researching and talking with each other. Check out the new video below where Schaffer discusses the concept behind the song “Jeckyll Island”, and the book it’s based on – a core principle to the topics covered in the band’s lyrical content. Also, catch a special interview with Schaffer and G. Edward Griffin (author of The Creature From Jekyll Island).
The entire album can be heard now at www.sons-of-liberty.net, so head over now to check it out. Schaffer setup the very informative resource website as a think-tank containing lots of interesting web-links, book and movie recommendations, and much more. SONS OF LIBERTY: Brush-Fires of The Mind is set for a July 13th release.
Schaffer handles all vocals and instrumentation for SONS OF LIBERTY, but the effort also features guest solos by legendary producer Jim Morris, ICED EARTH guitarist Troy Seele and world-class bassist, Ruben Drake. Born from Schaffer’s desire to stimulate curiosity about a pattern of global banking corruption that is undermining the independence of people and their countries, SONS OF LIBERTY aims to spearhead a multi-faceted and peaceful resistance of the tyranny being wrought every day on regular people.
Newly signed to Metal Blade Records with his band CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED, most of you will remember Richard as the former drummer for Death, Iced Earth, Control Denied, Leash Law, or Burning Inside. Then there are those who came to learn of Richard’s other "talents" on the Howard Stern show. We catch up with Richard to see what he’s been up to recently.
Some eighteen years, and another eight albums, since the release of ICED EARTH’s eponymous debut album, it’s still band leader and guitarist Jon Schaffer’s unique vision and rule by iron hand that define every aspect of the band. After two albums, THE GLORIOUS BURDEN in 2004 and FRAMING ARMAGEDDON in 2007, with Tim "Ripper" Owens of JUDAS PRIEST fame, Jon has again, on the latest album, CRUCIBLE OF MAN in 2008, been rejoined by returning Matt Barlow on vocals. Matt originally appeared on some of the bands most classic albums such as BURNT OFFERINGS in 1995, THE DARG SAGA in 1996, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES in 1998 and HORROR SHOW in 2001.
In addition to his work with ICED EARTH, Jon and his good friend Hansi Kürsch of BLIND GUARDIAN, released two albums under the name of DEMONS & WIZARDS. ICED EARTH has currently just finished a co-headlining tour of Europe with SAXON. We had to opportunity to sit down with Jon to catch up about some of the recent developments in his band and learn some interesting things concerning his plans for the future.
For an introduction to what Bloodstock Open Air is all about, check out my preview of it here. Suffice it to say that BOA is the only proper UK outdoor metal festival that is devoted to true metal of all genres. This would be the first time I was making the trip up to the Midlands to cover this amazing festival.
Reaching there late Thursday night, we set up camp and went off to explore. BOA has one of the most random things I’d expect at a metal festival: a shisha tent! Armed with a 1.5 litre bottle of JD and two bongs of shisha, we spent the night there meeting weird and crazy people (Frida from Sweden, if you’re reading this, get in touch!). After a disgusting fry-up at the All-Day Breakfast bar, I went off to bed to catch some shut-eye before Friday’s bands. Good start to BOA!
One of the highlights of this year’s Bloodstock Open Air festival in England was the opportunity to see Iced Earth with Matt Barlow. Along with many other Iced Earth fans, I consider Matt Barlow to be the definitive voice of Iced Earth; and while Ripper Owens is a fine vocalist in his own right, the Iced Earth sound is pretty much incomplete without Matt’s soulful and emotional croon. When I was offered the chance to interview the man himself, I jumped at it, although I only had ten minutes.
The Iced Earth camp turned up late (stuck in traffic), and immediately Jon and Matt jumped off the bus to fulfil their publicity obligations, as true pros – even though they were due to be onstage in about two hours’ time. Matt looked pretty tired and flustered, but was anything but cold and distant, answering my somewhat inane questions with thoughtfulness and depth. Here’s the nine-minute interview…
Wacken is a blessed mecca of the whole metal world. Again this year it was entirely sold out when ten thousands of metal manics travelled from all around the world to gather and witness plenty of ass kicking bands. The weather forecast for Wacken didn’t look that promising. The chaotic and muddy mess caused by long and heavy rains rampaged the ground during the whole summer. The festival often provides a survival test to every visitor with its mud and crap. But but gods of metal had seen the light and blessed the whole three day metal inferno with tremendous extreme heat and a sunny weekend. Things could not be better…sun, metal and beer. That combination is nothing but an utter perfect way to enjoy the metallic mayhem at Wacken.
As usual, the true metal commando team from Metal-Rules.Com was there again witnessing a helluva lot of great bands and above all an unexpected huge fire in the main area. Feel, see and enjoy this article.