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The new album of the Crown, entitled "Possessed 13", marks the 13th anniversary of the band as well as the return of the original vocalist Johan Lindstrand - I had a chance to chat with drummer Janne Saarenpää about it all.
Aren't you tired of answering pretty much the same questions for the 4th day in a row?
No, it's not like that. It's both me and Marco working this time, so it's not too intense.
The promo poster states that this new album is the "Return of The Crown". This means that "Crowned In Terror" was not the 100% The Crown album or is it just your label's promo trick?
It's little of both. "The Return Of The Crown" is typical for an old horror movie, there's always the "return of something". And at the same time it's the return of the original lineup, that was there for 11 years, Johan came back and it's the real Crown, we can't lie about that. It's little of both.
What's up with not showing the cover picture of the album? I mean, your site and site of the guys who did the cover shows nothing.
Oh, I guess they're waiting for the album to come out, and the day it will be released they will release it too. It still feels like there's something new, people won't be used to it when it comes out.
And I heard this time you got a pretty big budget for an album from your label?
Yeah we got more, they helped us out. This time we had a lot of trouble without jobs, saving money for a studio, we were actually facing a bit of trouble and we told our company that the album could sound very much better if they could help us out. We made this deal with them and that worked everything out, this album sounds excellent and we're very happy with it.
And this time you did a video for the album...
Well, we wanted to continue on a horror theme of the album, it's been a long time since we did a video last time and now with the internet it's pretty interesting to have one. You know, it's kind of a cliché, the old warehouse, it's dark, blood here and there, you know this horror movies thing. We saw a rough cut of it and it's very intense, and it gives a pretty good description for a whole album, both packaging and a horror movie thing, and also the music.
Do you think there is a point in making metal videos these days because they won't be shown on any TV or something like that anyway?
Well, it's very difficult to get some air time on TV but now that we have the internet we're going to add it to downloadable web sites and that way we at least reach more people. Of course it's very sad that metal shows get so little attention on TV.
Do you have any unreleased demo recordings left that you can put on next albums as bonus material?
No, after this we have emptied everything, we have emptied all our vaults. That's all a bit of this 13 years anniversary... We have always been using old riffs mixing with some new riffs for a long time. And now all that old stuff, all that demo stuff and old riffs are gone, we wrapped all the thirteen years in that double disc edition as a treat for the fans and celebrating our thirteen years anniversary. And that also makes the future very interesting because we won't be able to make our music based on mixing old and new riffs anymore.
At which point after Johan had returned you realised that you're a five piece band again, not just one guy helping out his four old friends?
After we had parted ways with Tomas we had still two shows booked, one of them was Party San in Germany, and another was Finnish festival Tuska. At first Johan was joking, he sent us an email "what do you think guys, do you need any help?". And we told him "Of course!". He was the guy who started all this trouble, he better help us. So "Okay, let's do it". We all realised when we did these two shows that there was something there again, you know, something in the air, I don't know what. The friends were gathered again. At this point there were no reasons anymore why Johan left, he was having problems economically and, you know, his personal life wasn't that good. He had almost two years of working things out in his personal life. So the question came naturally later on. A couple weeks after the Tuska festival Marco asked Johan and Johan was very interested and he's back with full force.
How much time did he need to get back into working process of a band?
When Johan came back it was ok again, no hesitation, we went into rehearsal room and started working just like we always do. The lyrics of course are always hard for Magnus because he's almost alone writing lyrics, there was lot of pressure and Johan had no time to contribute for this album but he will for sure contribute lyrics for the next album.
Speaking of lyrics.. I don't mean to offend with the next question but when I listen to The Crown I'm always reminded of Manowar. In my opinion Manowar are overusing that true metal thing in their lyrics, and so do you with that evil and satanic thing in The Crown lyrics.
Well... haha... I see your point. It's pretty funny because none of us is a Manowar fan at all. But we are very serious with our music, and when Magnus writes his lyrics it's very sincere, but always with a grin on a face also. When you are digging deep into the concept of death metal lyrics, Satan is always very close to the whole cliché thing. So I do understand your reference to Manowar but it's interesting because we aren't fans of them at all. It's good when a music is played with an attitude. Satan is about rock'n'roll and personal freedom, and we're going to make lyrics that suit the music as much as possible.
How does Magnus write the lyrics for Marco's songs? Does he come to rehearsal with complete lyrics to try them for different songs or does he write them for an already finished song?
That's one way of doing it, and they do that very much. And sometimes Marco has a topic or idea for a vocal line. So sometimes they work together, sometimes Magnus has finished lyrics that need a little modification to suit the song. We have all ways of making it. The most usual way for Magnus is of course when he makes his music and lyircs at the same time, and it's bigger work when he does it for other's songs.
Was there any specific reason that on "Crowned In Terror" Tomas did lyrics only for Marco's songs?
Tomas is a very talented lyrics writer, it was very helpful for Magnus, he was very happy with it. This time he could relax more and concentrate on his songs, and Marco.. Marco writes some lyrics but it isn't that much, so this was only because Tomas is such a productive lyrics writer, so Magnus can relax... it suited us good.
How do Magnus and Marco write songs? Do they bring basic riffs to rehearsal or do they come with complete arrangements?
Marco uses his portable studio and drum machine and does a very rough version of a song, and we all are working, come with ideas, little changes, changing choruses, adding drum fills here and there, all kinds of stuff. Magnus is more primitive, he comes to rehearsal with a complete song in his head and he shows me with his mouth and his hands how I should play it on drums. They come to rehearsal with their songs but they're pretty much done but still very rough, so all five of us do serious work on them.
About the drums... how much time per day do you practice?
It's very much work. I actually got rid of my job in June and since then I play from 1,5 to 2,5 hours every day, and it's really not enough. I work hard and it's really good to hear that people appreciate my drumming.
There are rumours (or maybe not rumours) that "Possessed 13" may be the last album of The Crown.
You know, that's a way of putting it. As I said before we have emptied all the vaults of old riffs so this is kind of a closure, we feel that we can't make this kind of death metal better. This is our best so you know we have to change, we can't make "Possessed 13" part 2 or something like that. It's kind of a closure now but I don't see any reason for us quitting as long as we having as much fun as we do now.
So you're gonna change your style probably? Do you expect something at this point?
I have no idea. But at the same time I think we have had quite some differences between our albums. I think the biggest change is just for us when we start working on the new material... we've been the same guys for 13 years so I don't think Crownheads will notice anything too different. I'm pretty sure it will be very much The Crown.
You also plan to re-record vocals and bass parts on "Crowned in Terror". It's pretty cool to sell one album two times, isn't it?
Well, you know, you can always start discussing that. Our record company came with that idea and first we felt it was ok. It's a bit weird but at the same time... I myself am a Crown freak, I love our band and having all our albums with Johan on vocals, I would really love that because I collect all our stuff. So this will be of course only for Crown freaks. And people who think it's a bad idea shouldn't buy it. And of course our record company is interested in making money but for us, it's just a collector's item and people who don't like it - please don't buy it. It's very simple.
Don't you fear that some fans may see it as a sign of disrespect towards Tomas?
Well, of course they will see that and as always lots of stuff happens within the band that is personal but when someone shows disrespect to someone else there most often is disrespect the other way also. So you know, people can draw their own conclusions but this is what we want to do, we are Crownheads, we want to make our collection complete.
But you'll keep Tomas' lyrics?
Yeah, he did a good job doing the lyrics and we're going to use them, so that's a share for him also.
And what's up with the bass lines that you also plan to re-record? You're not happy with the production?
The whole thing with "Crowned In Terror" is that we wanted to record it in Studio Fredman and it didn't happen because we were too late booking the studio, they were full and we had to take another solution. It's not certain that we will re-record bass tracks, we're gonna try the whole thing in a new studio. Maybe we will make bass sound work again but vocals will be replaced and we'll try to make the sound completely different, but we'll see how we do it.
In my -and not only my- opinion, the music of The Crown has very strong influence of hardcore... have you ever thought of doing one or two covers of hardcore classics?
Oh, that would be great. I myself am a primitive DRI fan. We have been very often discussing doing cover songs, but the thing is that when we start recording our albums we feel that all time that is used not to make the album as good as possible, is kinda wasted. And if we will do these cover songs we should do this after a tour before we start working on new material... But yeah, we are very interested in making covers of music from different genres.
What will be the balance between the songs from all albums on your upcoming tour?
Well, since we did a European tour pretty recently, in March we are going to put very much of the new material on the setlist, eight or ten songs or something from the new album and then the best songs from the previous albums. This tour is going to be promoting the new album heavily.
Wow, almost the whole album, ten from eleven non-instrumental songs of the album.
Yes, almost all.
Speaking of tours I have this question... since you got rid of your job you don't have that problem, but other guys in a band, how do they combine their dayjobs and touring?
I did that because of touring. Some jobs won't accept that you need a time off and then there is no other way than quitting. It creates much trouble, cause being on tour is great, nice and everything, but towards the end of it you start thinking more and more about how you will solve things at home. It's always like a serious game, you're playing a game with your life.
Ok, thanks for the interview and good luck on your tour.
Thank you and bye!
submitted by Alex 15.12.2003