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Heavy Metal And The Coup Attempt-- The Kids Are Not Alright... Nor Are They Kids

Most of the musicians I worked with were very much left of center, from the Red Rockers, Translator and the Pop'O'Pies during my indie label days to Green Day, Madonna and Ice-T/Body Count during the time I worked for Warner Bros. Personally, I never heard any right wing tendencies from Eric Clapton, Sammy Hagar or Morrissey and I had lively, friendly, respectful debates about politics with Johnny Ramone. As for Ted Nugent... well that was a step too far. One of the very first things I accomplished when I became general manager at Sire was to release Patti Smith's Piss Factory (as the b-side of the "hey Joe" single) and one of the very first things I accomplished years later when I became president of Reprise was to drop Nugent's band Damn Yankees. I felt like I did a service to my country-- and music lovers-- with both acts. Had I inherited Iced Earth or Jon Schaffer's spin off band, Sons of Liberty, they would have gotten the Damn Yankees treatment.

Jon Ryan Schaffer is have his 10 minutes of quasi-fame right now, not because of his musical endeavors-- like the Iced Earth song above or the Sons of Liberty song below-- but because his part in the Trumpist insurrection was threatening police officers and spraying bear spray into their eyes during the attempted coup and he's now in police custody... unless someone bailed him out.

Schaffer, in his fifties and looking like someone's unkempt, disgruntled grandfather, is from Indiana and he's based there again, although he formed Iced Earth, originally called Purgatory, in Florida. He's the main songwriter for the band and plays guitar, though not lead. His father was a member or admirer of the John Birch Society who filled Jon's head with a lot of neo-fascist bullshit and crackpot conspiracy theories... as well as heavy metal music. Schaffer says his dad took him to his first concert when he was 11-- Kiss, always more a theatrical vaudeville act than anything to do-- sorry Kiss Nation-- with actual musicians.

Schaffer recruited musicians for his overtly right-wing political side project, Sons of Liberty, in 2009 and released provocatively-named songs like Tree of Liberty, We The People, False Flag and Our Dying Republic meant to appeal to dabblers in the faux patriotism of those addicted to Hate Talk Radio. I imagine Iced Earth wanted nothing to do with those songs.

On Monday, USA Today reported that Schaffer was arrested by the FBI for his involvement with the coup attempt. He had been photographed inside the Capitol and recognized by metal fans who informed the police. This is from the offical Justice Department statement:

Schaffer was among the rioters who sprayed United States Capitol Police officers with "bear spray," a form of capsaicin pepper spray sold by many outdoors retailers, as part of their efforts to push the officers back inside the Capitol and breach the Capitol Building themselves. Schaffer was photographed and captured on surveillance video carrying "bear spray" and engaging in verbal altercations with Capitol Police officers inside the Capitol Building. Schaffer is seen holding a clear sunglasses in one photograph, and bear spray in other photographs.

The photographs show Schaffer in a blue hooded sweatshirt under a tactical vest with a baseball cap that reads "Oath Keepers Lifetime Member." The "Oath Keepers" is an organization that characterizes itself as a militia of former law enforcement and military personnel and has often, as a group, urged President Trump to declare Martial Law in order to prevent the Congress from certifying the Electoral College Results.
Schaffer, who is the front man of the heavy metal band "Iced Earth," has long held far-right extremist views. During an interview in 2017, Schaffer identified himself as an “anarchist” and referred to the federal government as a “criminal enterprise.” During that same interview, Schaffer stated that the 2016 Presidential election was "rigged."
On November 14, 2020, Schaffer participated in the "Million MAGA March" in Washington, D.C. with other Oath Keepers members. Schaffer was photographed wearing the same blue hooded sweatshirt and clear plastic sunglasses that he wore on January 6, 2021.
Schaffer was approached by a member of the press during the March, and made numerous statements indicating his intent to join others in fighting the election results-- with violence if necessary. Specifically, Schaffer stated the following:
"My name's Jon Schaffer; I'm from Indiana. A group of thugs and criminals hijacked this country a long time ago. And now they’re making their big move, and it’s not gonna happen. . . People need to wake up and snap out of the Matrix, because they’re going down. They made the move, they’re messing with the wrong people here, trust me on that. And we needed it to be open like this. Open fraud. Open theft. Because now we see you, and you’re going down, mark my words."
When asked if he expected the protest to involve violence, Schaffer stated "if somebody wants to bring violence, I think there’s a lot of us here that are ready for it. We don’t want that, but if they bring it we’re going to respond to that, trust me." Schaffer went on to state:

"We’re not going to merge into some globalist, communist system, it will not happen. There will be a lot of bloodshed 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."

Based on the foregoing, your affiant submits that there is probable cause to believe that Jon Ryan Schaffer violated 18 U.S.C. §§ 1752(a)(1), (2), and (4), which make it a crime to (1) knowingly enter or remain in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so; and (2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions; and (4) knowingly engage in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds, or attempt to do so.

USA Today reported that "Schaffer has previously attended Trump rallies and propagated conspiracy theories. He was once a guest on the far-right radio show of Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and he told a German news station last November that a shadowy criminal enterprise is attempting to run a world government under a Communist agenda. He and other Americans, he said, were prepared for bloodshed to prevent that.

The other members of Iced Earth issued a statement saying they "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. We hope that all those involved that day are brought to justice to be investigated and answer for their actions."

The Atlantic published this epitaph on a tyrant by James Parker this morning:

You came in to the sound of oligarch chuckles

and bullies at gas stations cracking their knuckles.

And now, now that every trigger finger is itchy,

you’re going out like an exorcised Liberace.

Hectic, comedic, toxic, alone, a flaming meringue on a tide of brimstone.

How we adored your escapades.

We swallowed your words like ghosts swallowing grenades.

The dusty construction guy made common cause

with the lawyer licking his paws

and the bearded militiaman with a maggot in his brainstem.

A riot of their own, that’s what you gave them.

Your outrageousness beggared our lexicon.

Unprecedented, norm-shattering, on and on.

You abused and transgressed with the greatest of ease

to a chorus of flustered pieties.

And no comeuppance. Never a bolt from above.

You made kindness countercultural

although you were remarkably free with the word love.

O, lazy, lazy demagogue. Incitement? It sounded so tired.

How ever did your drooping-scrotum cadences,

your mushy syntax, get that multitude so wired?

But the spell worked, dark Dumbledore,

and in your most necromantic hour

you watched your legions puncture the halls of power

with horns and guns and hats so red,

dizzy with release, escaped from the hole in your head.

Wanting more, feeling less,

roaming the aisles of CVS,

now each in his bubble braces for trouble.

Trickster king with your bag of bullion,

beloved of the baron, beloved of the scullion,

Orifice in Chief, father of grief, we’ve drifted into a starless dream with you,

you godlike liar. You made this America come true.

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