BLIND GUARDIAN frontman Hansi Kürsch has quit his long-running project with ICED EARTH’s Jon Schaffer, DEMONS & WIZARDS.
Hansi announced his departure from DEMONS & WIZARDS two weeks after Schaffer was arrested for his involvement in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The 52-year-old ICED EARTH guitarist, 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.
Earlier today (Monday, February 1), Kürsch released the following statement:
“I notified Jon and Century Media [DEMONS & WIZARDS’ record label] on Monday that I was leaving the DEMONS & WIZARDS project with immediate effect. My collaboration with Jon in DEMONS & WIZARDS is over.”
Century Media removed both Demons & Wizards and Iced Earth from their current and former artist pages last month, but declined to officially comment on the matter. The fact that Kürsch informed the label of his departure from Demons & Wizards suggests they may not yet have been dropped from the roster after all.
Schaffer was still being held at Marion County Jail as of Friday morning (January 29), a week after U.S. Magistrate for the Southern District of Indiana judge Mark Dinsmore signed an order for the musician to appear in D.C.’s district court.
During the insurrection, Jon was photographed wearing an “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member” cap, holding a container of bear spray and “engaging in verbal altercations with Capitol Police inside the Capitol building,” according to a federal statement of facts in his case.
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.”
Two days after the insurrection, the members of BLIND GUARDIAN issued a statement distancing themselves from the violence and destruction of property at the U.S. Capitol building.
“We are deeply shocked and our thoughts are with the relatives of the deceased,” they wrote on January 8. “We expressly distance ourselves from any kind of violence irrespective if applied against institutions or persons. The incidents will be thoroughly investigated and the responsibles will be brought to justice. We ask for your understanding that in view of the hourly news situation we will not make any further comments at present.”
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 150 criminal cases have been filed so far. Charges include unauthorized access, theft, damage to government property and assault on law enforcement officers.