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JON SCHAFFER's longtime friend and bandmate HANSI KÜRSCH quits DEMONS & WIZARDS project


BLIND GUARDIAN frontman Hansi Kürsch has quit his long-running project with ICED EARTH‘s Jon SchafferDEMONS & 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.

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.

While Schaffer has not yet said anything publicly about his involvement in the riot, his ICED EARTH bandmates put out a statement on Instagram and Facebook opposing the insurrection.

“We absolutely DO NOT condone nor do we support riots or the acts of violence that the rioters were involved in on January 6th at the US Capitol building,” they wrote. “We hope that all those involved that day are brought to justice to be investigated and answer for their actions.”

Earlier last month, German daily newspaper Die Welt uploaded a video interview it conducted with Schaffer last November at a Washington, D.C. demonstration supporting Trump and protesting the 2020 presidential election results. In the chat, the guitarist said that “a group of thugs and criminals hijacked this country a long time ago” and warned that “they’re messing with the wrong people here. Because now we see you, and you’re going down. Mark my words.”

Schaffer also seemingly threw his support behind Trump, saying “he’s not your typical Republican” and claiming that America’s 45th president is “dealing with a criminal mafia that has been in the shadows running the world, frankly, for a very long time. They wanna destroy all of our sovereignty and bring about global government,” he added. “We’re not having it… It will not happen. There will be a lot of blood shed, if it comes down to that — trust me. The American people will not go for that bullshit — once they understand what’s actually happening. So, that’s where we’re at. Nobody wants this, but they’re pushing us to a point where we have no choice.”

DEMONS & WIZARDS released its third studio album, “III”, in February 2020 via Century Media Records. The LP marked the band’s first collection of new material in 15 years.

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