Hansi Kürsch states about Jon Schaffer: “He certainly deserves a second chance”

Author Benedetta Baldin - 31.5.2024

Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth “deserves a second chance,” according to Hansi Kürsch, more than three years after the frontman of Blind Guardian left their cooperative side project, Demons & Wizards. After two weeks, Kürsch announced that he was leaving Demons & Wizards. Schaffer had been detained for his role in the attempted coup at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Since then, the 56-year-old guitarist for Iced Earth has admitted guilt to his involvement in the Capitol riot and, while awaiting sentencing, has been cooperating with the authorities.

When Hansi was asked if he had heard from Jon recently, on a recent episode of “The Jasta Show,” the podcast hosted by Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta, Jasta responded that “everyone deserves a second chance.” 

Well, I agree. He certainly deserves a second chance. That is the main message which should be spread out in general. And other than that, he’s facing his trials. So, it’s a very open situation he’s in. And, yeah, let him express himself first before anyone else is saying anything about it. That’s my opinion, and this is how I treat it.

Hansi Kürsch

When asked if he believed Schaffer would be able to secure tours in the future and whether European promoters would be willing to book him, Hansi responded as follows.

Um, I have no idea. I really have no idea. I haven’t spoken to anyone, and that basically is not my business. Hansi Kürsch

The Blind Guardian vocalist didn’t want to talk about Demons & Wizards as of December 2022. In an interview, he stated:

It’s an open case. I believe [Jon] deserves the right to express himself, to explain his side, and we wouldn’t want to interfere with that.

In February 2020, Demons & Wizards’ third studio album, “III,” was made available through Century Media Records. The album was the group’s first new material release in fifteen years. Hansi shared how the band was formed:

It started with a friendship. [Jon and I] met each other for the first time in 1991 when we toured together with Iced Earth and Blind Guardian, and an immediate friendship came to happen because we were alike — in many ways, spiritual brothers from the beginning. And that goes for the two of us, but also for the two bands in general. We had a blast, and ever since, we established a very close friendship. We were not even talking about making music together. By whatsoever reason, more or less seven years later, Jon came to visit me, and we had a hangover morning he started playing guitar. I started humming to it, and we thought, ‘Well, that might be the creepy melody to work on. Let’s go to the Blind Guardian rehearsal room and try to do something with it.’ Then we called it a song within a short amount of time; it was maybe three, or four hours. That song was ‘My Last Sunrise’ which ended up on the very first album. When doing this song, we just recognized that there’s not only a friendship but a strong spiritual, creative chemistry between the two of us. We said, ‘We may want to use that later on for whatever reason or purpose.’ We thought about it for a while, and then we said, ‘Well, let’s use that creativity and do an album.’ Then we started working on Demons & Wizards. Hansi Kürsch

Schaffer also provided his point of view.

This is an exercise in brotherhood first and foremost. Hansi and I were very dear friends before we realized that we could write songs together. Writing together actually happened by accident. When it happened, the next question was, what are we going to do with it? The first song we wrote was ‘My Last Sunrise’ and it was the last song on the first Demons album. Initially, we talked about Blind Guardian and Iced Earth, each doing a version, but at some point, I just said to Hansi, ‘Let’s just do our own thing and write a bunch more together.’ It has always been about having fun and spending time together, but we do hold pressure to ourselves in delivering something we are happy with. Nine times out of ten, the fans will be right on board. It’s all about satisfying yourself as an artist first; then we let the dice roll. Jon Schaffer

Schaffer’s sentencing hearing was originally scheduled for April 5th, but a federal judge agreed to move it to July 19 this past March. The date was originally pushed back from February 20 by U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta because the guitarist for Iced Earth was due to have an undisclosed medical procedure “with the need for a recovery afterwards.” Mehta approved the United States government’s request in January 2022 to provide sealed documents related to Schaffer’s involvement in the Capitol riot case as discovery for the three primary Oath Keepers cases. Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, received an 18-year prison sentence from Mehta in May 2023 for his attempts to rig the 2020 election, which resulted in the violent attack on the capital.

Jon agreed to cooperate with the government as part of his plea agreement in April 2021. During the sentencing phase, the government consented to refrain from objecting to Schaffer’s release. Schaffer only entered guilty pleas to two charges after being originally charged with six crimes, including using bear spray to target police and committing physical violence. These two counts were obstruction of a congressional proceeding and trespassing on Capitol property while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon. The maximum sentence for the first charge is 20 years in prison, while the maximum sentence for the second charge is 10 years in prison. There are fines of up to $250,000 for each of the charges. According to the Department of Justice, a sentence of between 41 and 51 months in prison and fines between $15,000 and $250,000.