METAL SUCKS WORLD EXCLUSIVE: THE CROWN INTERVIEWED
When picturing The Crown in my mind, I don’t see a hard-working death metal band quietly grinding out classic albums. Nah, it’s more like a sequence from The Wonder Years set to “You’re All I Need To Get By” where everything goes blurry except for five frowning Swedish dudes. Sometimes it’s closer to Beatlemania as the quintet presides over a rabid press corps at JFK. I also like to think that when eventually I am imprisoned by drug lords in the jungle, the guys in The Crown will grenade their way through the gates in a daring pre-dawn raid. One could say that they are the house band in the dive bar of my heart. Ahem. So you could see how the announcement of their reformation — plus singer Jonas Stålhammar and minus Johan Lindstrand (One Man Army & The Undead Quartet) — would cause me to do the journalist equivalent of lunging for their bra strap. I begged for an interview.
And so in a Metal Sucks Universe Exclusive after the jump, guitarist Marko Tervonen explains how most of the Crown became Dobermann, how Dobermann became The Crown, the making of their “stunning” seventh album, and of course, the past, present, and future of The Crown.
Was Johan Lindstrand approached to be a part of the reformation of The Crown? Does he support the new line-up?
He supports the new line-up. Actually when I talked to him about Dobermann, he asked me why we don’t use the name The Crown, so he’s cool with it.
Johan was asked to join us for the Dobermann ride, but he was too busy with his One Man Army band. So we started looking for other options. And when we discovered that Jonas was the man, we at that time decided to use the name The Crown. We kind of discovered how much like The Crown everything sounded, so in the end it would have been plain silly to call it something else.
Janne [Saarenpaa, drums] has been quoted as saying the members of The Crown “don’t know so much about” the business side of music. Is this accurate? Were you guys in some way neglected or deceived by your business partners?
We had a lot of bad luck when it came to the “business” side. Well, I guess “bad luck” isn’t the correct term, since the “bad” was that we didn’t know that much about contracts, money, obligations etc, etc. We had our share of fuck-ups, especially when it came to tour-managers. There’s still people out there doing tours who owe us money…it sucks. The fun in touring simply just died out, it became too serious!
I hope Metal Blade is interested. We always enjoyed working with them. Then again I don’t have the deepest insight in which labels are good nowadays. But we have help today with management to deal with the business side of things. We simply just want to create and perform the music, and let someone else deal with the business. Let’s see what happens…
The Crown’s last album, Possessed 13, is a milestone in modern metal. At the time of its creation, were you five guys all aware it would be the band’s final album? What was the mood of the band after the brief departure and fruitful return of Johan Lindstrand? Did the rules change once he returned? It seems like a 100% balls-out effort.
Thanx! I like the album too. We included basically all our old ideas into the album, together with new stuff of course. I remember we jokingly discussed that “What do we do now when we don’t have a single new riff?” We definitely emptied the riff banks. The mood was like it always was; we were set up to do the best album possible. The same mindset we always have.
At that time we didn’t know that it would be our last album, but in retrospect it was the best album to go out with; it was 100% Crown. We never made a final Cold Lake [Celtic Frost. -Ed.] sort of album. We actually stopped while we were at our peak. It’s a good feeling when I think back to it.
Please talk about Dobermann. I’m very curious about that band name, and how at first this wasn’t being described as the return of The Crown. Was there ever an intention to record and tour as Dobermann?
In about 2005 Magnus [Osfelt, The Crown bassist] got contacted by Andreas “Whiplasher” Bergh about creating a hard thrash-act under the name Dobermann. While the music slowly was taking form, one after another the old Crown musicians were being asked to help out. Finally the band consisted of all the old Crown musicians + Whiplasher. As it turned out Whiplasher was too busy singing and fronting Deathstars and so also the original name and idea of the band Dobermann was lost. Jonas Stålhammar (ex Utumno, Macabre End/God Macabre, currently in Bombs Of Hades) was asked and stepped in to be the new singer. After long hesitation we decided to pick up the name The Crown again.
Were there any issues with re-announcing this project as The Crown? Once you were set to announce that this is the new version of The Crown, did you four seek approval (so to speak) from Johan? Are you guys the sole owners of The Crown name?
We hesitated a lot. First we wanted to have a completely different name. But when the album started to take form, everything just sounded so Crown. First we thought, “Well, maybe we should call us something Crown-related after a song or album,” until someone said “Fuck it, let’s do this as The Crown”. When we decided to go that way, it all just felt great. And scary too, to be honest… We’re all determined to do this our way this time. No bullshit, just good Death Metal albums and shows.
Since the name “Dobermann” was Andreas’ idea, it felt natural to change it after his departure. So I guess if Andreas would have stayed, we would have never considered the “return.” Well, you never know…He managed to contribute with some lyrics to one song.
Recently on MetalSucks.net, I described The Crown as a “criminally underrated band”. What followed was a moderate number of passionate comments (there and on Blabbermouth, et al.) that seem to suggest that, while too few people know The Crown’s music, the present fans are rabidly dedicated. Does that sound accurate from your point of view? To you guys, is this evidence that your music is awesome but undermined by other circumstances?
The Crown was always the underdog. We were never involved in a Death Metal hype era. So we really toured our asses off to get attention.
People who discovered us really, really liked us, and they became real die-hard fans. It’s pretty funny when you read Crown reviews; they are either top-notch, or totally shit. It’s never “They are an OK band”. I’m not sure what that means but that seems to be the case.
What part does caution and uncertainty play in your decision-making for this new endeavor? Are you guys putting a lot of pressure on yourselves to succeed?
We put a lot of effort into making the best album possible!!! That is priority number one.
Everything else we decide as we go along. The absolute best thing with The Crown is the creative + studio process, we simply love it. We also love playing live, but the biggest caution is that we will not make the live situation a necessary thing to do. We don’t want to be “forced” to do 200 shows a year to pay our bills and keep the band alive. We all have jobs to take care of that part; we want The Crown to give us an entertaining life on the side. As long as we can keep the band as “fun” as possible, we can keep on doing this for years…
What’s your ideal touring scenario? This has been a problem in the past for The Crown. Would the band benefit from enlisting heavyweight booking agents in each region? Are any of your peers — for example, fellow Swedes — stepping up to support The Crown?
There have been some talks about doing special stuff. As I mentioned before, we really don’t need to tour to survive. So we want the live shows to be exclusive and fun. I guess the best thing would be to do maybe 10-15 shows per year in different parts of the world. And announce them early on. So if you wanna see us you will know that we’ll come to certain places year after year. Let’s see how everything evolves… We’re still in the early stages of planning everything.
What has changed musically for the members of the Crown? Each record came with a slightly different tint, be it a rock n’ roll attitude, savagely heavy melodic death-thrash, or horror movie theatrics; what can we expect for the next album?
This album must have the best collection of riffs that has ever been on a Crown album. It’s really intense and pretty catchy at the same time. For me this sounds like the bastard son of Deathrace King and Possessed 13. We have strong songs and the performance has been tweaked up a few notches. I really must mention Janne’s effort on this album, it’s by far his best performance. It’s really incredible that after a few years of “resting,” he comes back and plays everything better, faster and more accurately. Plus that he decided to learn all the songs switching his right and left hands…It’s insane…he’s a monster!
Crowned In Terror was marred by production and post-production problems. What did you guys learn from that when approaching this new album?
To do everything by ourselves… hahaha. I have run a pro studio for a few years now, so we decided to record the album there. We have really adapted the recording sessions to everybody’s schedules. When we were in the studio we could have the best focus on just doing the best job. We’ve put a lot of hours into this one, and to be honest the result is stunning.
Are you guys as fired up as I am? Metal is hot right now and the two samples you’ve released sound killer; does it feel like The Crown is primed to explode? The fucking CROWN, dude!
Cool to hear that you’re fired up!! So are we!!!! This hiatus we’ve had has really made us stronger! The Death Metal is strong in us again!!!! We’ll put out some more samples soon on http://www.thecrownofficial.com and on http://www.myspace.com/thecrownonlineswe. Stay tuned!