A lot of focus on you in the press is about your political opinions. I’m just wondering if any of these lyrics on this album have that sort of social commentary on them?
“It’s never been my vehicle for political anything. I mean, people can say that – they can say whatever the fuck they want, it’s freedom of speech – but that doesn’t mean it’s my intention as the guy who leads the band and as a chief songwriter.
“Okay, we certainly identify with elements of the Viking and the pirate lifestyle – which we came up when we were really loaded one night – that’s our thing. And we came up with the ‘Virates’ and there’s a very small inner circle of hardcore warriors. That’s the band, and a few members of our crew, that are patched that way.
“If you read the lyrics to ‘Heathen’ or the ‘Black Flag,’ there’s definitely some rebellion, anti-establishment kind of stuff, but the intention wasn’t…
“You know, people know how they feel about the governments, and I’m very aware that we live in a world where it’s all clickbait, all these websites will take one thing – even change it – just to get clicks, knowing that the people won’t even read the article, and I don’t really care.
“This is a planet full of fucking dum-dumbs sometimes, so if they want to walk around with, like, 10% of info of facts and walk around and parrot things that they’ve heard, then go ahead, but it has nothing to do with reality.
“Since the beginning, it’s clear that we are anti-establishment, anti-religion, we’re very much free thinkers and that’s kind of the way it’s always been. I’ve been this way my whole life.”
People always ask you about your specific political opinions. To me, metal is this amazing sort of cross-section of humanity. I feel that you often get pushed into this sort of theme, like, right-wing. And you’re this guy and you’re on Alex Jones, and things like that.
“I feel that things in the last few years have become a little more intense than just conservative versus liberal. There are definitely unsavory elements that are now being lined with conservatism.
“I get it, it’s about clickbait, people want to do that so that they can get people to come to their site and click on it and they make capital that way. But no, this is not a popularity contest; even though you may think it is, it’s not.
“This is my life, my soul, my spirit. And I’m a songwriter. I’m not going to live in fear from the dumb shit that people say whether they get it or not – it doesn’t matter.
“If somebody cares enough about the facts, they would understand. They would look deep enough into what I actually stand for, which is really the ultimate freedom. I’m not a fan of government, I’m not a fan of the left – it’s just as ridiculous as the extreme right.
“And you follow the circle, and you end up meeting – both ends of the spectrum will end up at the same point. I don’t really care. If Iced Earth is to be alienated because of my personal view of things, I don’t think those are the kind of fans I want anyway.
“They’re not deep enough to be an Iced Earth fan, so go listen to fucking Britney Spears or whatever, the pop, which is the ultimate dum-dumb music. I know there’s plenty of metalheads out there that just buy into the clickbait and the headlines and don’t do any research, so whatever, I don’t care.
“I don’t need to please everybody, that’s not what I’m here to do.”
There is a lot of misinformation, but what I would ask you is – do you think that it’s even possible to get to the truth sometimes? Is there anything that you would want people to know?
“I’m not a right-wing extremist and I’m not left-wing. I don’t play the Republican-Democrat game; I don’t do it, have no interest in it. It’s shallow, stupid, it’s a game played by the establishment to keep people fighting.
“I’m an American first. That’s where I was born, that’s my country, I’m loyal to the Constitution and the Bill of rights, and if you really dig into that, those documents and people that wrote them are not perfect, but they were pretty fucking amazing. They understood history and they understood tyranny.”