After twenty years, Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian) has announced his departure from Demons & Wizards, his side project with Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer.
In a statement released to Rock Hard, Kürsch says:
“I told Jon and Century Media on Monday that I was leaving the Demons & Wizards project with immediate effect. My collaboration with Jon in Demons & Wizards is over.”
Interestingly, 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 arrested in Columbus, IN on January 17 for participating in the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol last month.
Following his arrest, The New York Times reported that authorities believed Schaffer to be a member of the Oath Keepers, an organized, far-right militia group known as the Oath Keepers who planned the invasion of the building in advance. Schaffer was wearing an Oath Keepers hat in a widely circulated photo taken inside the Capitol and has expressed similar views in several interviews over the years.
Days later, however, the Indiana chapter of the Oath Keepers released a statement in which they asserted that Schaffer is not a member of their organization.
After Schaffer turned himself in, the FBI Indianapolis Field Office indicated he faces 6 charges, including spraying Capitol police with ‘bear spray.’ ”
Schaffer was also charged with “unlawful entry into restricted buildings or grounds,” which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison that could rise to a maximum of 10 years if injuries or weapons were involved.
The full list of charges is as follows:
- “Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority”
- “Disrupting the Orderly Conduct of Government Business”
- “Knowingly Engages in an Act of Physical Violence Against any Person or Property in any Restricted Building or Grounds”
- “Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building”
- “Engage in an Act of Physical Violence in a Capitol Building”
- “Parade, Demonstrate, or Picket in a Capitol Building”
When word of his involvement in the Capitol riots spread, his bandmates issued a collective statement distancing themselves from the violence but stopped short of publicly disagreeing with his political views. Vocalist Stu Block indicated he supported the protests until they turned violent, and later deleted comments and banned fans who pointed that out.
A number of folks who donated to the Kickstarter campaign for an upcoming Iced Earth book publicly renounced their fandom and demanded refunds, posting angry comments on the book’s crowdfunding page. Others, however, continue to support Schaffer.
Both Iced Earth and Schaffer’s other project, Demons & Wizards, no longer appear on the current or former artist pages of Schaffer’s longtime label, Century Media. The label has yet to issue a formal statement as to whether or not they’ve dropped the two acts.
The guitarist has been quite open about his far-right political views for years, openly discussing his mistrust of government (with a special emphasis on the federal reserve), asserting his belief that Trump’s loss in the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election was tipped by illegal immigrants, speaking out in favor of arming teachers to prevent school shootings, and claiming that COVID-19 is a hoax.
As of Friday, January 29, Schaffer was being held in Marion County Jail in Indianapolis, IN, awaiting extradition to Washington, D.C.
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