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The Crown – Upwards

Discussion in 'Metal Interviews' started by Perkele, Nov 27, 2003.

  1. Perkele

    Perkele Myself

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    Interview with Marko Tervonen

    Since their formation, the Swedish The Crown have made quite a name for themselves in the world of metal. Their stable line-up provided reliable productions from time to time till 2001 when their singer, Johan Lindstrand decided to leave in order to focus on his personal life. The band continued with another great death metal singer, Tomas Lindberg, and made another successfull album, ’Crowned in Terror’. But in the case of a band like The Crown many wished for the original singer to return. I'm sure most of their fans were happy to hear the news about Johan Lindstrand returning to The Crown replacing Tomas. Just after a relatively short break, the original hard-working line up of this extremely popular Swedish band was together once again.

    Their newest work, Possessed 13 was released October 20th. That was the occasion for speaking with guitarist Marko Tervonen.


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    - What can you tell us about the new album?

    - This is the return of the true line up of The Crown. Comparing to the previous album we cut down a bit on the melodic and the technical part, concentrated more on straight forward pounding metal. There is a lot of power in it. The good and powerful production gives a rough edge to the music. It sounds pretty energetic. We do have a couple of songs that are very melodic, like the instrumentals and 'Bolt To None' but in general the songs are more focused on normal guitar rhythm stuff. In Crowned In Terror we added melodies to almost every chorus in every song. This time we tried to do a bit differently. And as long as people like it, I'm fine : )

    We also worked very hard on the graphical concept. When we figured out the cover we just exploded with ideas. The whole booklet is amazing, a serious attempt to approach the atmosphere of the 70s horror movies. It's a unique thing, not a typical metal cover. Magnus found the pic we used on the cover and we also liked it. The girl looks pretty cool as she is scared ha-ha

    - Is it a concpet album?

    - Not lyrically. After we decided to follow this movie thing it became a bit more concept, we added a horror like intro, also the instrumentals have more of this atmoshpere but mostly just the graphical layout has the concept.

    - Why are the songs on the album sorted into three parts?

    - We came up with this idea after we decided to go on with the movie thing. We thought we should borrow something from the theater world as well. So we divided it into three acts. It's more a cool thing than having a deep meaning behind it. The songs were pretty much done when we made the cover concept and all that stuff. The songs are 13 different stories. Magnus actually said there are some read thread between the sogns but I haven't found it. ha-ha

    - What are the lyrics about on 'Possessed 13'? Are they horror related?

    - They are written in the typical The Crown vein. Magnus has a very unique way of writing. His stlye is a bit different than the normal metal lyrics'. He just continued with his normal approach, with a very black sense of humour here and there.

    - You've had a guest writer to "Deliverance", Andreas Bergh. Who is he?

    - He used to be the singer of Swordmaster and today he is singing in Deathstars. He is a bit of a friend of Magnus, they both used to live in Gothenburg and met often. When we were in between singers Andreas was a possible future member. We got a very good tour offer in the States, we were supposed to go on tour with Kreator but we didn't have a singer then. Unfortunately he said ok to that tour one day too late, so we didn't have the chance to do that.

    The band, Deathstars, he sings in now plays Rammstein like music. I guess he missed the death metal part. He and Magnus has almost the equal style of writing lyrics. The lyrics has been always the biggest problem for us because it's very time consuming and usually Magnus is the one who takes care of it. For him it takes a year to write lyrics for 10 songs, so he just embraced every help he could have got in it. He has no boundaries, he can write about whatever he wants because whatever he does, it always turns out good.
    In the beginning I wrote the lyrics to my songs, 50% of the album, but this time the simple fact is that Magnus does it much better.

    - Three of the songs title's seem to be taken from other metal albums' title.

    - 'Kill 'em all' was only the working title because it sounded so much alike 'Hit the lights', so we called it 'Kill 'em all'. When it turned serious we didn't see a reason to hide it, so we just left its title. 'Deliverance' has nothing do with Opeth, as you know we had a guest writer on that lyrics. At 'Are you more' there is a weird twist with Celtic Frost definitely but honestly I don't know why Magnus decided to call it 'Are you morbid'. By the way, he is a Celtic Frost freak … ha-ha.

    - Why 'Possesed 13' as the album title?

    - This year we celebrate the 13th year as a band and 13 is a very 'luck'n'roll' number. We wanted to use the number 13 on this album. We went on with Possesed 13 because that's what we are doing for 13 years. Then we decided to put 13 songs on the album and 13 bonus tracks.

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    - How long did the songwriting for Possessed 13 take?

    - On this album we used a lot of old riffs and combined them with new ones. Some riffs come from back in 92-93. We kind of recycled some of our older riffs and blended with new riffs. But the main writing began after the US tour of 'Crowned in Terror'. Usually it's a pretty smooth proccess as we write and for the studio we just rehearsed like hell so we were prepared when we started the recording.

    Up till now we have been blessed in a way that ever since, we have had too many songs. After every album we have started from were we just left off and continued on the next set of songs that were left. But now, after 'Possessed 13' we have a problem, we emptied our riff bags and we don't have anything new to come out now. Anything after this album will be completely fresh. There are a lot of songs on 'Crowned in terror', on 'Deathrace King' where we used older ideas but now we are out of them. We need to start from scratch again.

    - So, that's the explanation for this news I read some time ago: 'The Crown have also hinted that their forthcoming album will possibly be the group's last to feature the high-energy thrash sound that has become the band's trandmark'.

    - In a way that's true, in a way not. I can't predict how will we sound since we don't have any written songs at the moment. But that's how we work, we never forced ourselfes like ' we need to write 5 fast songs', we always just wrote whatever came out of us. Actually I already have two songs for the next album. They are very heavy, mid-tempo ones but I can't say more about the rest now. That would be impossible to answer at this point.

    -What was your working process in the studio?

    - We spent four weeks with the recording and one week with mixing. We arrived to the studio around 8-9am. Started to work on the songs with an engineer and when he left home, around 4pm, we stayed there by ourselves and recorded each other's tracks. Studio Fredman is a very cool enviremont. A nice place with a big relaxing room, we've got Playstation there and all that stuff ha-ha. We almost lived there, many times we did recording all night long.

    On the last couple of albums we have been working more and more by ourselves. We actually don't need a producer, just a sound engineer to set up the sounds and then we record the rest. Once I took a sound engineering course so I'm a sound engineer as well. I've produced some demo bands and that's definitely something I want to work more with. Later this year I will focuse more on producing.

    - Making music and producing bands

    - That would be the dream situation.

    - Was the five week enough for the albm recording?

    - Time is never enough. We worked pretty much around the clock. We were just in time when we finished. It's always like that. I mean when we made the first alabum, we had 2 weeks in the studio. It was the same then, we managed to do it but we were working around the clock. Now we have got 5 weeks but we again worked around the clock to make it in time. I don't know what's going on, it's a weird thing.

    - You've shot a video to 'Face of destruction/Deep Hit Of Death'. Does it have a storyline?

    - I just saw it yesterday and it looks pretty damn cool. I didn't see the final version because they will add a lot of digital effect to it but it is very basic, we are just in a warehouse, kicking ass with some images here and there It looks very pro. One thing I was amazed how they managed to capture the energy of the song. When you watch the video you wanna headbang, there is very high energy in the clip all long.

    - On the promo cd I saw the official promo, press pictures. Whose idea was to take them in a graveyard? The colours seem a bit weird, like something went wrong with the photo-shoot.

    - That idea came up when we were at studio Fredman. We saw some very nice pictures, band photos and it turned out they were done by Snowy Shaw, the drummer of King Diamond, so we were like 'What? He's a photographer? Call him!' We contacted him for the photos and did this graveyard session in one day. I think this was the first time we've used some more organized photos and graphics for the album ha-ha. I think he did a pretty cool job with the pictures.

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    - This is your last album on Metal Blade. What comes next?

    - I don't know. We don't have to hurry till next spring/summer. After the release we will tour as hell. We don't rely on any contract now, we can easily be without a contract for a while. Then, let's see what happens. Of course Metal Blade is an option because they treated us very well.

    - I've read that probably you will re-issue 'Crowned In Terror' with Johan on vocals. Is that true?

    - Yes, we are going to do that. We start working on that in a couple of weeks. Beside the vocals, we will change tha bass parts because they sound pretty bad. It's going to be mixed a bit better also. The goal is to sound the same but a bit better. And I don't know when will it be released at the moment.

    - When Johan left the band one of the explanations was: 'he never liked touring' but now you are preparing for a tour. Has he changed?

    - Definitely. His life was completely different back then. Retrospectively he did very much need that one year off from the band to sort out his personal stuff. Now he has the most and highest energy. 'Let's go on tour, tour, tour, tour' and we say 'Naaah, we've done this all long'. It definitely was a good thing for him to stay away from everything for a year. I think everybody should need a break like that sometimes.

    - In the last couple of weeks there were a lot of talking and speculating about Tomas Lindber and his leaving from The Crown before you made that statement on your website. What have you learned from this?

    - We've learned that The Crown are very depended on the five of us, the original members. That's the conclusion of everything. This machinery can't work withouth any of us. That's how we are connected to each other. We know each other so damn well. We are doing this for 13 years, we know each other in and out and having a different member in the band fucks everything up, it simply doesn't work. That's the biggest lesson we've learned. Whatever Tomas contributed musically that was good and the shows and all this with him were also good but chemistrywise we are decent to continue with only this line up.

    I know it's a rare thing to have the same line up for such a long time and that's why we are very careful with it. If it has been working this long, it shall last for even a longer time for the five of us. We are a democratic band and it's not like I'm in charge of everything. I do decide a lot about tours, take care a lot of band business all the time but of course everybody is included when we have to make a decision. That's our goal. Like if we have to go on tour, and four of us says yes but somebody says he does want to stay at home, we are not going till the five of us says it's ok. Everyone of us has a very strong, equal saying in everything. That's how it is.

    - Internet can help unknown, newcomber bands. How important is it for you, for a band like The Crown?

    - Extremely important. I can just point to this Tomas thing lately. It was like an explosion on the Internet and people started to post their opinions and their questions regarding to it. We wrote a statement on our website so when people asked what happened we answered 'just check the website for the correct story'. That kind of things and sharing information with the fans are important. It's interesting and fun reading when they speculate about things, but sometimes very frustrating when people say the so called truth about the band when they have no idea what has really happened. Sharing opnions is fun but it's not fun when they are stating lies, when they intentially try to hurt someone.

    - How do you feel about when The Crown is mentioned among the top bands of the genre?

    - That's amazing. Because we've been slowly growning by every album. Every album took us on a higher level, selling more and became more and more known. It's still going in the same direction and of course I'm happy that people consider us as one of the 'cream of
    Sweden'. That's cool. ; )

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    - What is your motivation to do The Crown?

    - I think it must be that fact that it still goes upwards. With every album we do more and it's a good motivator. I mean it would be terrible if since the first album we would have just gone downhill. So far, everything is fun, we are going up and that keeps me alive.

    - During the summer you've played at a few open air fetivals. I saw you at Wacken and Summer Breeze this year…

    - Wacken was unbelievable! Something like 10-15 thousand people were there and the support from the audience was amazing. We played a new song and people seemed to like that. It was one of those killer shows I will remember for a long time. Summer Breeze was a different story for us. That was the same day we shot the video. We were busy with the video whole morning and then went to the festival and up on stage we were damn tired. But people didn't seem to notice that. We convinced them anyway. : )

    We even had one big fuck-up problem there and I am to blame. I went up on stage and after half a song I realized I tuned my guitar completely wrong. That was heartbreaking I can tell you … ha-ha But do you know what was amazing? People in the audience didn't notice it. I just don't get it. I was expecting 100 post in our guestbook blaming me for being an idiot because I totally tuned my guitar wrong. On this album we tuned the guitars down to C and before that we had it in D so I just changed the strings and I checked the tuning machine and it said D, I went up on stage and it sounded terrible. I was in panic haha. All I could hear from my monitor was my guitar and the drums. Then Marcus came running to me 'it sounds wrong'. I told him it was the bass or something like that, he went back and came back to me again 'no, you are too high'. Then I noticed we were playing C and I was like 'ok, I'm sorry'. : ))) But after that song everything went fine on.

    - Not to mention, that Johan looks like Elvis…

    - Yes, he is the evil version of Elvis. He is a fucked up man, but totally metal.

    - Thank you for the interview. Have fun on the tour!

    - Just recenlty we've changed booking agency and told them that the high priority is to book gigs in countries we've never played. Now they are working on countries like Australia, Japan. We played a lot of shows in Central-Europe but not in Hungary yet, we haven't been to Spain nor Greece either. From now on there is a higher chance to tour countries we haven't toured before. See u all out there!


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