Heart of Steel: Interviews


the crown
Interview With The Crown
Interview By Luxi Lahtinen

The Swedish relentless deathrace kings of thrashy Death Metal, The Crown, were on a mini-tour in a few cities in Finland some time ago. I got a good opportunity to sit with the bandīs Finnish drummer, Janne Saarenpaa, and talked about their forthcoming album in the works entitled POSSESSED 13, the bandīs previous and successful tours, and pirating in the music business.  The spokesman of The Crown, Janne, has all this to say, so just keep on reading in order to get some more info for your trivia questions about this fine Swedish extreme metal band.

 

First off, Iīm very keen on hearing how things are turning out with your new material for The Crownīs 6th full-length album, so please enlighten me.

I have to say that we have been rehearsing like maniacs with our new stuff for this forthcoming album - almost too much as right now it seems that we have lots of new songs for more than a full-length album. In other words, we are definitely in time with this new stuff. I have to say that we wonīt try to finish like 20 new songs - and then choose 10 best out of them for our forthcoming 6th album. I guess we will start concentrating on 11 or 12 songs and try to make them sound as killer as possible from now on. Also, I can confess you right now that our new stuff will be more straight forward stuff and less technical - I mean, overly technical stuff similar to our previous album CROWNED IN TERROR. Also, even if it will contain lots of fast parts, we try to make them sound interesting by changing tempos when needed. We had lots of very fast tempo songs on CROWNED IN TERROR, but for this new album we try to bring similar type of things that we had on DEATHRACE KING already as far as our songs structures are concerned. More unexpected tempo changes and stuff like that. I believe the result will be at least very good. Weīll record this new album at Studio Fredman around May, I believe.

 

 

I was checking through your homepage just a little while ago and noticed that you had named your new songs by such names as “No Tomorrow”, “Face of Destruction/Deep Hit of Death”, “Are You Morbid?”, “”Cold Is the Grave”, “Natashead Overdrive,” etc. Are these titles only some "working titles" for your new stuff that may be changed later on - at least some of them?

Nope, we wonīt be changing those titles any more as they will be the very final titles of our new songs on the new album. I especially recommend you to read the lyrics for “Natashead Overdrive.” Our bassist, Magnus Olsfelt, wrote the lyrics for it and itīs got some really twisted lyrics in it really. In my opinion itīs a perfect song, especially as far as it's lyrics are concerned. The lyrics for that particular song are really fuckinī sick and perverted, thatīs all I can say about it. When I read the lyrics for it, I was thinking myself that I have some really crazy fellow individuals with their sick minds in this band. But like I said earlier and I'm saying again - Iīm really pleased with everything how this album has been turning out for us so far. I really am…

 

 

What kind of things are you dealing with on this forthcoming album, if we are still talking about the lyrics for it? Is death as a concept still strongly present on the new output as well?

Well, when we did our debut album BURNING back in the day, we still were searching for our own style lyrically. On the 2nd album, we tried to write as dark lyrics for it as possible - our lyrics dealing around the topic of death very strongly indeed. From that album on, our bassist Magnus became more interested in life as the main inspiration for our lyrics because you can actually write about life - a very interesting yet exciting way if you have got at least a bit talent for that thing, yīknow. He has gone a couple of steps forward in that department on this forthcoming The Crown album, too. He can actually write a very exciting way about a normal every day life. Also, every one of us have progressed a lot as musicians since the days of our debut album, but thatīs only very natural, of course!

 

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So, itīs Magnus that is mainly responsible for all your lyrics on this new album?

Yeah, he has done most of the lyrics for it; maybe even too many of them. We have one song on the new album where one guy from some other band wrote the lyrics for, though. And Iīm really pleased with his lyrics for that particular song. Shit… was I supposed to reveal it to you already?! Well, never mind, so at least you know now! he-he!! Anyway, the vocalist of now defunct Swedish Thrash Metal act Swordmaster did those lyrics for that song for us. He was totally excited about it and contacted us in order to suggest the idea to us and we told him that: “Ok, whatever you can come up with for us.” Magnus also read his lyrics and thought that they are very good indeed and we ended up using them for one of our songs on this new album. He (Vinnie Whiplasher - ed. note!) is such an excellent lyric writer in my opinion.

 

 

Like you stated earlier already, you are going to concentrate on 11 songs from now on for this forthcoming album. Do you already know what those 11 songs will be, or are you still arguing about them inside the band?

We have thought that when we have done this mini-tour here in Finland and will go back to Sweden again, we try to borrow some cheap studio equipment and drag them to our rehearsal place so that we could record some demo songs for us off our new stuff. That way we are able to hear much better what songs are the most fitting ones for our forthcoming album. We probably donīt touch to the basic stems of these new songs that much any more, but try to figure out some interesting yet unexpected drum fills and that type of things basically. The funny thing about this band is that we are kind of over-productive band - have always been that way for many years already. Sometimes we have had material ready for like two full-length albums that sound even amazing to us. Also our bassist Magnus has all the ideas ready for even the next full-length album even if this album is yet to be recorded. But I tell you that we have never had any rush to get our albums done, because we have a bunch of very productive people in this band.

 

 

Your morale for working with new songs seems to be on a high level constantly then, agree?

thecrown-pic2.jpg (16041 bytes)Yeah, definitely!! We have really been pushing ourselves really hard as far as practicing new songs are concerned. I think we didnīt practice hard enough when we did the songs for our previous album CROWNED IN TERROR. I have to say that I wasnīt too pleased how the songs for that album turned out in the studio. It could have been much better, in my honest opinion. I hope that we can achieve a better sound and production for this forthcoming album this time. Also, now when we have been rehearsing our songs very intensively and determinedly in order to make the songs sound perfect or at least near perfect to us. It unfortunately didnīt happen that way with the songs on CROWNED IN TERROR. We should have practice them a bit harder than we did eventually. I donīt say it was any kind of "flop" from us or anything as I was relatively pleased with it all in all, but it could have been even better if we had re-thought the songs on it with more sharper ears, yīknow?

 

 

 

Do you have any working title for the album yet?

Yes, as a matter of fact we have. Or actually we donīt have any īnailedī 100% certain title yet, only just a bunch of ideas what it could be called. I donīt want to reveal about the possible album title nominees too much yet, as we might change it before we have even recorded the album. I think we have now like 2-3 totally killer ideas for the title right now and any of them could fit somewhat perfectly to the title of this new album. So, hold your breath a little bit longer there. (Well, the albumīs title has been chosen already; Itīs "POSSESSED 13" - Luxi notes!)

 

 

Have you been talking to your label (Metal Blade) and what kind of plans they have concerning the release date of the album?

Yes, there has been some talk about it already, and our label would like to release it around August/September, but Iīm very skeptical about that early release date because we are always late with everything except with our song writing thing. My rough guess is it will be released as late as November/December this year. Letīs see what will happen.

 

 

Are you going to have anything extra on it for your Japanese fans? Bonus tracks or anything?

Funny that you asked this because this is actually our first time when we decided that they are going to have a bonus song or two, and those songs will most probably be cover tunes that Iīm not going to reveal you right now either, he-he!! I can only reveal you that much that those particular songs fit into this bandīs aggressive and brutal sound very well. Anyway, this isnīt a 100% sure thing yet because it will depend on if we have got enough time to record those songs in the studio. It isnīt that cheap to spend some weeks in a studio as you know, and of course recording two extra songs will surely take its own time to get them done from start to finish, yīknow. Also, I want to point out that we donīt want to use any leftover material for the Japanese edition; that wonīt   happen, thatīs for sure.

 

 

You did your two first albums (THE BURNING in 1995 and ETERNAL DEATH in 1997) for a small Swedish metal label called Black Sun Records. Have any thoughts crossed your minds that it would be cool to re-record some of those songs again, even as bonuses for your forthcoming albums? Those two first albums of yours werenīt that good production-wise, although the songs on them were really good.

thecrownI donīt think so, even if we have gone through some discussions about it inside the band. Especially I would be interested in redoing a song called “The Black Heart” off our 2nd album, ETERNAL DEATH, as itīs almost a perfect song - at least in my own book. It would be cool to re-record that song again, but on the other hand the past is the past and we should never try to change it - if you know what I mean. Itīs very rare if some certain band could be able to make their old songs better sounding when re-recording them all over again than what their original ones could be already. I havenīt heard too many bands that could have been able to give their songs an extra kick and make them sound better than the original ones.

 

 

The German cult thrashers Destruction, for example, have done so with some of their old material as you probably may have heard.

Unfortunately I havenīt got a chance to hear them so far. So, did they sound any better than their original versions?

 

Well, some actually surprisingly did, but some not simply due to the fact that the first version is always the version out of something; the version you most probably have heard first from some certain band, yīknow?

See what I meant!! Thatīs the reason why we donīt wanna touch to our past material too much in terms of re-warming some of them again. Itīs really kind of a hard task to make them sound even better than the originals; sort of unleashing the beast in them all over again. I think only few bands have been able to make their new versions sound better out of the old classics songs they may have on their past albums.

 

 

I noticed when looking through the credits on your past albums that itīs your bassist Magnus that is the main songwriter in the band. I guess itīs always a pretty hard task for him to do such an enormous load of work for each of your album, so I was just wondering whether you have thought sometimes that you even could share your songwriting between the other band members, as well in order to ease up Magnus load just a bit?

He-he… Actually he emailed to the other band members a while ago and told us that we really should help him out a bit by participating in the song writing too, cause he wouldnīt like the entire job by himself from start to finish all the time. Our guitarist Marko Tervonen takes part of the song writing a little bit, but the rest of us have never raised a finger for it for some reason or the other. So after he had written most of the songs for our forthcoming album, he started to talk to us seriously whether there's something we could do - having basically only one songwriter in the band. We understood why he was so concerned about this issue and said to him that other guys have to participate more in this song writing thing from now on. Anyway, it feels kind of odd that someone else would write songs for us except Magnus himself, because we have already gotten used to this situation. Itīs been that way for many years already that Magnus has been our main songwriter. But I guess we just have to from now on, because itīs a lot work to come up with a great pile of songs for a full-length album. Besides, every one of us have felt that heīs such a gifted and talented song writer - better than any other member of us - so let him do the songs and everyone will be pleased, -he-he!!

 

 

Did you have much time to start writing songs for this forthcoming album compared to the times when you did CROWNED IN TERROR? I mean, you have been doing lots of gigs during these last couple of years, so thereīs hardly any time for proper songwriting when you are on the road, traveling from coast to coast, from one city to another, etc.

thecrown-pic3.jpg (17903 bytes)When we were touring a lot for DEATHRACE KING, doing lots of gigs everywhere, it was really hard to find some time for anything else really, because this touring sucked lots of energy out of us. We did write CROWNED IN TERROR in-between all these tours, but when you have a break from songwriting, you kind of start the writing thing all over again, and thatīs not always the easiest thing to do, yīknow. When you tour a lot, itīs very difficult to concentrate on songwriting that devotedly and determinedly. I think because of our intense touring for DEATHRACE KING, I have to admit our follow-up album CROWNED IN TERROR suffered from it a little bit. We also had faced some setbacks with our previous vocalist Tomas Lindberg, so giving a birth to C.I.T. wasnīt that easy of a job to do as some of you may think. However, after touring for that particular album we luckily had more time to concentrate on writing this new album and that was really important to us.

 

 

I havenīt read or heard too much about why actually Tomas left the band in the first place. I guess you are supposedly going to stick to your basic, "no comments" reply to this particular question, he-he!!

[laughs] That answer always works out for the best way for us. he-he!!

 

 

I know that Tomas formed another band since his departure from The Crown: The Great Deceiver, which is very Hardcore-orientated metal musically. Did he try to bring out some of his own visions and ideas too much about The Crownīs musical direction, and how you should sound? Bringing more those sheer Hardcore-elements into the soundscapes of The Crown or something?

Nah, thatīs not the reason why he left this band. I can reveal you that much about his departure by not throwing shit to anyoneīs face unnecessarily and in vain that we were on the road together for a long time, we simply noticed how different person Tomas was compared to the rest of us. He just didnīt fit into this band too well as far as his personality was concerned. It was actually as simple as that.

 

 

I have met the guy a couple of times in Germany and remarked that he always seemed to be pretty heavily drunk constantly when I saw him at some certain places.

Well, you can draw your own conclusions out of your observations then, he-he!!

 

 

Ok, I guess the case is closed now.

He-heh… Thank you!

 

 

You recorded your previous album at Studio Mega and Chris Silver produced it. Do you have any intentions to use his skills on this new album as a producer as well, or have some new nominees stepped into the picture as suitable producer candidates?

No, we wonīt use him on this new album any more. The thing was that we were supposed to record CROWNED IN TERROR originally at Studio Fredman, but like I told you earlier, it was a rather painful process for us to get all those songs finished for this album because we started the song writing process for it kind of late and had many breaks from it because of the touring and stuff. And when we had almost got all the songs finished for the C.I.T. album and wanted to enter the studio and record the album within the next couple of months or so, Studio Fredman was already booked for many months to come - like for a year from the day we gave a call to them. So finally we decided to record it at Studio Mega with Chris Silver and thought that we could possibly at least mix the album at Studio Fredman. So we did, but despite of this great plan, the mixing didnīt turn out too well at Studio Fredman as we hoped for. So, we went back to Studio Mega and mixed it there all over again in order to get a better mixing for that album. Then quite surprisingly Fredrik Nordstrom from Studio Fredman gave me a phone call and asked me directly: “Whatīs up with you guys? What went wrong over here?” I was like, “Nothing against you or anyone over there, but we just wanted to try out Studio Mega again, so whatīs the big deal, man!” Fredrik obviously thought for some reason or the other that we were in some sort of a conspiracy against him or something because we ended up giving a final mixing for the album at Studio Mega eventually. That wasnīt the case at all. To say this whole hassle in some kind of a nutshell, it was actually Chris Silver that wanted us to mix the album from start to finish at his own studio in order to gain some name for the studio - and thatīs what he got, too, I guess. In fact, this was the very first attempt between these studio owners to do some cooperation, and it failed badly. In my opinion, Chris got the worst of it. He definitely lost lots of his credibility as a fair and honest guy in the eyes of both us and Fredrik Nordstrom at least. Chris basically played his own lilī ugly game all that time which was a very unfortunate attempt from him to try achieving some name for him and for his studio. He failed badly at that.

 

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So, Studio Mega must be a rather new studio on the map of Swedish recording studios?

Actually itīs been around for quite some time, but it has been kept under a relatively low profile all this time. Many demo bands have particularly been recording there their demos and stuff like that.

 

 

Thatīs kind of sad and a pity that he used your band in order to gain some name for his studio, but basically managed to get a bad blood flowing on the face of some people.

Yeah, I agree. Besides that, itīs not one of those cheapest studios around here in Sweden. If he had played his cards right, who knows, maybe he would have gained something good out of this all later on. But what is done, is done. However, I hope that all the false talk and rumors around us and Fredrik Nordstrom will disappear eventually as we proved to him that Studio Fredman is still the best alternative to record our next album there. Itīs funny that some people still think that Fredrik wasnīt able to mix a band like us there because the very final mixing for CROWNED IN TERROR was done at Studio Mega. Thatīs all bullshit. What - as a matter of fact - didnīt work out at all, was the cooperation between these studio owners, thanks to Chrisīs unprofessional way to work things out for us and others as well.

 

 

What kind of memories do you still have about Black Sun Records as a label? Can you honestly say that they did everything for you they could at that time, or do you regret the day when you signed a contract with them for your two first albums?

Hmm… when we were recording those two albums, I would like to wipe away all those memories out of my mind totally. It was really terrible and traumatic for me. [laughs] I was about to enter a madhouse after the recordings for those albums were done. he-he!! But as a label, I was very pleased with them, all in all. They were kind of loyal to us during all that time. They didnīt rip us off too much; only a little, so thatīs very much from them as a little label, I think, ha! But I have to say we were kind of a lucky band on their label that they didnīt rip us off that much as they could have been able to. As you know, many labels have constantly been ripping off bands systemically and because of that many bands cease to exist for gaining nothing out of these terrible rip-off deals with some certain labels. Thatīs always fuckinī sad if bands get ripped off by their labels they have trusted since the very beginning. Black Sun Records never paid us all the royalties out of the selling of our two first albums that belonged rightfully to us, but it was still a relatively good label to us despite of that. We lost some money for sure, but didnīt go to bankrupt anyway.

 

 

I guess Black Sun Records, being a small label like they are, basically concentrated on releasing albums only back in the day - and hardly financed any tours for their bands or anything.

Yeah, you are right. We even thought sometimes that everything went down for us as far as these types of issues are concerned, but I still have to consider us a very lucky band after all due to some setbacks that have hit to us during all these past years. Hopefully some of that past luck will be still with us in the future as well.

 

 

After putting out two albums on Black Sun Records, you signed a deal with much bigger and known metal label Metal Blade Records and your first album for them titled HELL IS HERE was unleashed in 1999. How did you end up signing a deal with them?

thecrown-pic5.jpg (17755 bytes)We did our first tour that was sponsored financially by our previous label Black Sun Records, and it was a really badly organized tour, all in all. We had the Swedish deathsters Sacrilege on our European touring with us that did two albums for the same label, and they disbanded almost shortly after the tour was over. Tomas (in At the Gates at that time!) did the vocals for Sacrilege on that particular tour because the bandīs drummer Daniel Svensson couldnīt have been able to handle both vocals and drums properly at the very same time. Thatīs when I got to know Tomas as a person for the very first time, too. Anyway, we didn't get a bunch of people to our gigs because it was so badly promoted and no one really knew us beforehand by name in Germany. The last gig on this tour was in Strasbourg in Germany and that was the only big festival type of gig we did on that tour. We were the last band on the bill before the headlining act and one guy from Metal Blade Records was there, too, watching bands by the front of the stage. I remember us playing a song called “The Black Heart” when our vocalist kicked a mug of beer straight from the stage against the face of this poor fellow accidentally. And all that time he was standing there onstage and watching us playing and banging his head for us, so he was like: “What THE HELL…?!”. However, that "tiny accident" was probably a real kick-start for him as he really liked both our music and stage performance as well, he-he!!

 

 

How many albums do you have your deal with them for exactly?

Now this new album is going to be the last album of this contract with them. Naturally they would rather like to continue the contract even before weīll enter the studio and record this last album for them. But we donīt want to rush things too much. We really want to look around a bit after this album is done for them and what the future might hold for us. Doors will be open for us right after this album has been recorded for Metal Blade. This situation will of course serve us the best possible way as we may get a better opportunity to sign a better deal possibly with some other label. I donīt say or claim that Metal Blade has been a bad master to us - not at all. They have treated us well indeed, but we just want to keep every option available and open for us after finishing this forthcoming album for them first.

 

 

Also, if you decide to sign a contract with another big label that already has some big names, you may be one of those less promoted and even less noticed bands on the label.

Yeah, I know what you mean. Sometimes small labels can be a better alternative than bigger ones. But the good thing about these bigger and more known labels is that they at least should have more money behind them, and more professional people in the staff running things for both their label and their bands. Of course you canīt be totally aware of their priorities about smaller bands how they are gonna support and promote you, and whether they consider you as an equal band compared to some more known names they already have on the label. But sometimes, however, risks must be taken. On the other hand I also have to point out right away that it may well be possible that weīll continue under the name of Metal Blade. Time will tell, naturally.

 

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Letīs have a word or two about pirating that has been raising its ugly head stronger all the time. For example, the case concerning Stratovariousī new album ELEMENTS (PART ONE) was on the tabloids lately because the whole album was found from the Internet for a free download -  much before the album was released. Are you afraid that the very same type of a shitty thing might happen to your band - that all the curious people who are mainly using their computers to hunt down free music from the Internet - could find your new album from the Internet first, before itīs even officially been released?

I think thereīs hardly anything you can do about it. I bet someone will put it there anyway for a download before itīs been released. But I hope, however, when itīs there and people will go to download it from the net, they could do it because they want to hear the album in advance first whether itīs worth buying or not. I know that both CDs and vinyls are quite expensive nowadays, so itīs kind of a natural reaction from some of these people that they want to hear albums in advance first and then make their final decisions if certain releases are worth of their hard-earned money. Hopefully as many people as possible could find our forthcoming album worth buying, however. The hard fact is that the less albums are being sold, the less we will have a chance to do a proper tour and play gigs as many different places as possible. The album sales are always helping bands out for tours. I donīt wanna point anyone with my finger and yell: “Youīre a criminal because you only download album from the Internet.” Iīm not any judge to do so. I just donīt want to do that because I believe that most people still want to have "the real thing" that they could hold in their hands. I remember when people started to record gigs with their tiny cassette players back in the day; many thought thatīs illegal by doing so, but itīs undeniable that everyone did that anyway. It was just nice and easy to record gigs for everyone who wanted them for their music collections. I openly admit that Iīm a criminal, too. I may go to the Internet and download some music from there, but I only do that because I want to check out beforehand if some albums are worth buying or not, as I cannot spend every of my well-earned cent for expensive music CDs/vinyls. If I find them good enough for my taste, then Iīll go and buy the real thing from a store. That makes me a "good criminal." he-he!!

 

 

At least I have always wanted to get the real thing in my hands. I simply hate to collect mp3s onto the hard drive of my computer or burn stuff from the net onto CD-R's.

Speaking of that, I know for sure the drummer for Lord Belial actually sold away all his CDs, vinyls, etc. and downloaded them all onto his computerīs hard drive. I can imagine that he is still regretting it nowadays.

 

 

Speaking of your gig at the Tuska festival last year: how did it feel to play there having your original vocalist back in the line-up again? As far as I can remember (much thanks to the īKing Alcoholī) those two days were really hot back then, and I bet it had to be a real hell for you onstage to torture your Marshalls there in that burning sunshine.

Luckily we were already quite used and experienced in playing in that type of weather, as it was exactly that hot in the States when we toured there recently. Also, I have to say that I was a bit "lucky" as far as our gig at Tuska was concerned. Namely, I had left my shorts back to my home in Sweden, so I was only wearing on my underwear during our set and it was cooler and more comfortable for me to play in that weather. As a gig, it was a really awesome experience for us. There was so much crowd watching our performance and both the crowd and us were all in very high spirits. It was a fantastic gig from us all in all really.

 

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Maybe you would like to come and play at the Tuska festival again?

Well, itīs kind of an unwritten law that we hardly have a chance to play at that festival two times in a row, but if the organizers of that particular festival (Wake up, Jouni Markkanen!!!) want to book us there this year again, we wonīt hesitate to say: “Yes, please… Thank you!!!"

 

 

However, right after you have played these few gigs here in Finland, youīll go to the central Europe and tour there a little bit, correct?

Yes, that is correct. Weīll play in such countries as Germany, Holland, Switzerland, England, etc. - just to name a few. I look forward to playing in those countries, too.

 

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Just out of my own curiosity: How did you manage to get these four gigs in Finland?

It was Bast Music that contacted and asked from us first whether we would be interested in doing this īmini-tourī in Finland. We said why not. We really would love to play in Finland if we didnīt have to take care of any gig agency stuff and shit ourselves. Therefore, it was a really cool thing for us that they were interested in organizing these four dates for us to Finland.

 

 

How well do you know cities like Helsinki, Turku, Tampere and Jyvaskyla anyway?

Out of these four Finnish cities, Turku is the most familiar to me because my sister used to live there for a long time. I used to hang around there quite much back in the day. Also, I have some relatives in Jyvaskyla, so I know that city rather well, too. Of course Helsinki is a familiar city to me, but I havenīt ever visited Tampere before, so I have no clue of it at all how it is like. However, I used to spend lots of time at Paavola - being mostly all the summers there, which is located near by Oulu.

 

 

You will also have two Finnish support acts at this gig of Tavastia, Helsinki: Babylon Whores and Sacrament. Are those familiar bands to you?

I know Babylon Whores and have heard some of their stuff and I am wondering why such a great band supports us, as I think it really should be just vice versa - we should support them. Hopefully the crowd here in Helsinki wonīt leave the house right after Babylon Whores have finished their set in order that we wouldnīt have to play for an empty hall, he-he!! As for Sacrament, I have no idea how they sound like, but look forward to see their set, too.

 

 

How familiar are you overall with the Finnish metal scene nowadays? Have you been able to follow what we Finns have been offering to the worldwide metal scene over the years?

I honestly have to say I havenīt had that good contact with it for some reason. I have some cousins, like I told you earlier, in the northern part of Finland, but none of them has ever been involved that much with the metal scene, yīknow. But my cousins, however, knew this Finnish Speed Metal act called Stone and introduced me to that awesome Finnish metal band back in the day. I became a huge fan of them eventually and even managed to see them last time at Tuska festival in 2000 when the guys had reformed the band for a few of gigs in order to play around Finland during that year. It was such a breathtaking, yet special experience for me to see them live at Tuska festival. They sounded just fantastic - like back in the old days. As for some other Finnish metal bands, I know, for example, Rotten Sound and Diablo off which especially Rotten Sound are really amazing!! Truly punishing yet outstanding metal they are, definitely!!

 

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Yeah, I totally agree with you. To see them live is even more a breathtaking experience. And their drummer Kai Hahto is simply just phenomenal - like a robot behind his drum kit indeed!!

You tell me!! Heīs one of the best drummers I have ever heard in any bands really!! I cannot find the right words to describe how superb guy he really is playing drums. Jesus..!! Heīs just… heīs like a well-oiled machine!!

 

 

Are you going to tour in the States any time soon again since you are on Metal Blade and they obviously would like to see you playing on their ground to promote your forthcoming album?

In fact, we were supposed to play there in… but, but…well, I donīt remember those plans any longer, but anyway Iīm positive weīll go there sooner or later again. Eh… now I remember; we were supposed to play there around in January/February, but then something came up and we had to cancel that trip to the States due to some reasons I cannot specify right now.

 

 

You did your first long tour in the States in 2000. I bet you do have some pretty damn fine memories out of that tour, all in all, don’t you?

Yeah, it was a truly amazing experience for us to tour there and to play in so many different cities on that particular tour. We were the first band on that bill to play to the crowd. After we had finished our set, it was Krisiunīs turn to conquer the stage, then came Nile, and the headlining act of the whole tour was Cannibal Corpse. Especially Krisiun and Nile impressed me a hell of a lot live, and I honestly looked forward to see those two bands every night on this tour. Fuck, both Krisiun and Nile totally killed onstage. Also, it was interesting to see how diverse crowd they have in the States with different attitudes and so on.

 

 

Can you tell how diverse crowd you actually had there on your gigs? Did you manage to see any Punk rockers in the crowd?

At some venues, we saw a lot of them and most of them were in the middle of moshpit, kicking each others while the bands were playing. It seemed to be a lot of fun to them, he-he!! First someone comes and kicks you straight on your face and at the very same minute someone comes to you and pat on your shoulder and wants to be a friend with you. Thatīs some wacko shit indeed!! Itīs just crazy to see those kinds of things happening in the crowd at the same time while you are performing onstage. But I guess thatīs what they enjoy most there, he-he!!

 

 

How about Europe? How would you compare European metalheads to their fellow metalheads in the States? Do they have anything in common with each other?

I have noticed myself that especially in the States, they have many aged people amongst the crowd - both young and quite old indeed. Here in Europe the crowd mostly consists of a relatively young people basically. Besides there are many venues in the States that have license to sell alcoholic beverages where we have played, so naturally only more aged people are allowed to come to see us on gigs because of these liquor license of some certain venues, and younger fans unfortunately have to stay outside which isnīt too fair for me. Iīm definitely more into these all-ages shows when everyone who is interested in seeing us playing a show is allowed to come in. I think you have to be 21 or something in order to be accepted to come in to this type of places in the States. So, to answer your question, yes, there are some differences between both European and American metal maniacs.

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What have been some of your favorite cities in the U.S.A. for gigging then?

Of course, Los Angeles is very near by the very top of the list of my favorite cities in the States. Whiskey Club was such a great place to play at. When itīs fully packed, there can be about 900 to 1000 people at the same time. And when we played last time there on the tour with Nile and Cannibal Corpse, the whole place was really crowded. I remember when we played “Angels Die” off our ETERNAL DEATH album, George īCorpsegrinderī Fisher came to the stage and sang the song with us. It was a truly awesome feeling. George has told us that heīs a great fan of that particular album, so of course he simply had to use this opportunity at that night, he-he!! I felt that it was so perfect moment for us that I lost one of my drum sticks while we were playing the song. I was so thrilled over that fine moment during that night. It was just perfect, I can tell. Also Toronto in Canada was a great experience for us. When we played this solo part in a song called “Total Satan” off the DEATHRACE KING album, the crowd yelled so loud that I simply couldnīt hear a single note what our guitarist was playing. Those Canadian maniacs were just crazy at that night. I was so amazed by their reactions toward us and got really good vibes out of it all. As for some other cities besides the U.S.A. and Canada, you have excellent crowd here in Finland, too. Also, we are always greeted very warmly by the fans both in Austria and France where we have met some really crazy fans. Overall there are many cities European countries where we have been hailed by great reactions from the fans at our gigs.

 

 

So how was your second U.S. tour last April/May 2002? Was it as successful or nearly as successful as your first tour was?

The main difference compared to our previous tour there was that on this tour we were the headlining act. I have to say that we werenīt quite sure about ourselves at first whether we could pull enough people to our gigs for being the headlining band on that tour. But luckily all this skepticism was in vain because lots of people came to see us on this tour again and the whole tour was very well organized as well. Actually, it was even better organized tour for us than we originally expected in the beginning, so we have to be grateful to all the people behind that tour that made it happed for us. We played at many new venues on this tour that were slightly smaller by their sizes, but itīs quite understandable because on our first tour in the States, Nile was really that band that people wanted to see more than anything. Still, we managed to gather nearly 400   people to every show we did on the last tour there, so it was great, of course!!

 

 

Have you noticed any other significant differences between the gig organizers both in Europe and in the States? What I have heard from the mouth of some certain band members, they have told me that the European ones are mostly very well-organized, more skilled and more exact compared to their American brothers. Do you subscribe this statement as well, or at least partly?

I unfortunately have to say, yes. I can tell it by experience that I have met many organizers of these tours especially in some places of the U.S.A. that they really donīt care a shit about any needs of bands that much as they do here in Europe. Thatīs the cold fact. I donīt know why it is like that way, but seriously when you do tours in Europe, you can at least be certain most of the time that everything goes as planned; you donīt have to face too many surprises as far as PA, soundchecks, etc are concerned. Like here in Finland: you always get a feel that they even consider you as a musician of some band, and that particular feeling is something special that warms your heart quite much as a matter of speaking. Thereīs a huge difference indeed. The European gig organizers are always loyal and devoted people to do their jobs as well as possible. Iīm sorry, but I cannot say the same positive things about many of those American fellows. Some of them are really nice and cool toward us, and on the other hand, we pretty much used to tour there in different circumstances as we know quite well what to expect from them already. I just donīt want to complain too much. Thereīs always a danger that some people might start considering us as a bunch of whining assholes only if we complained about every single thing when touring, yīknow. So we wonīt do it, he-he!!

 

 

Have you had any intentions to try to tour in such countries as Japan, Korea and Australia, where metal music is doing really well these days?

We were supposed to go to Japan in last December as there was one festival that was interested in having us there. But as things have this bad tendency to change, we had to skip that opportunity over this time around. Now we have another possibility to play there in the future again, but I donīt want to talk about it too much, because nothing is confirmed yet. However, I think weīll go there sooner or later, but touring in Australia can be considered as a distant dream for us yet. You just never know what the future holds for you.

 

 

Since you started The Crown (Crown of Thorns in the very beginning - Luxiīs note) I bet you had some favorite bands that you considered as inspiration for the band, and hoped that it would be neat to tour with. Correct? So, tell me whether you still might have some band names in your mind youīd eagerly like to do a tour with sometime?

I have to say that a "dream tour" for me personally would be to tour with Slayer, of course!! Also to tour with the NWOBHM legends Judas Priest would be totally cool, knowing that these guys have been around for ages and their metal hearts are still pumping strongly and effortlessly. Itīs always cool to dream about a tour with any band that you have been digging since you were only a little kid. But to make a tour with Slayer would be definitely on the very top of that list, most definitely!!

 

 

What about touring with the true Metal God himself - Rob Halford? Itīs already a written fact he has admitted to dig newer metal bands like Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, Children of Bodom, etc. Children of Bodom just toured with the Halfordīs band in Japan during mid February?

He obviously likes "younger boys..." he-he!! Well, a bit, seriously again… But yeah, of course it would be really damn awesome to make a tour with a true Heavy Metal icon like him, because I grew up with bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Saxon, etc. We were also supposed to tour with Danzig. Namely they were interested in taking us on their US tour. When I heard that, I was totally blown away by the news. Their guitarist came to talk to us when we were in Los Angeles and he said that he really liked our music and wanted to have us on tour with them. We told him that, “Why not? Maybe we would like to tour with you.” But in all honestly, we were very interested in touring with them and we still are, but unfortunately this tour with them never happened for us. But maybe with a better time sometimes in the future.

 

 

So, what do have on menu for tonightīs gig?

Weīll play at least four or five songs off CROWNED IN TERROR.

 

What about any stuff from your forthcoming album; like some sort of īteasersī for the crowd?

No, I donīt think that we will play any of those songs yet. Of course, Iīd personally like to play them already in order to see how they sound like played live and all that, but we still want to keep those songs in the shadows a bit longer. I bet the crowd would love a song called “Face of Destruction” because itīs pretty much in the vein of our older songs. Very intense, brutal and aggressive and all that. Would be fun to see the crowdīs reactions to that song, though. Weīll play basically at least one song off each of our older albums.

 

Like “Angels Die” off ETERNAL DEATH?

Of course!!! Thatīs one of our īmust-playī songs anyway in our set. Also we were discussing about a song called “The Serpent Garden” (on ETERNAL DEATH, too!) and eventually decided to add the song onto our set list, too. It felt just right to take that song back to our set list, yīknow? And then we are going to wipe the dust off from a song titled “Forget the Light” that was the last song on our debut album, THE BURNING. Itīs been a really long time since we played that song. We noticed just recently that itīs really cool to perform it in a live situation, so we simply took it back to our set list again.

 

 

Will you play exactly the same set in each city here in Finland on this tour, or does your set consist of a few extra numbers that you may replace to some other songs off the set list and play them instead?

No, we wonīt necessarily change the songs during this tour here in Finland. If this new album was out already, then we might try out as many different songs off it as possible in order to find out how they would sound like in a live situation. Most often the original set list is always the best set list that you have planned with time. But never say never - you just never know for sure if you end up replacing some songs off your original set list with some other songs for some reason or the other.

 

 

What kind of expectations do you have about the crowd here in Helsinki? Hopefully you can expect more than a bunch of drunken assholes, jerks, idiots,  who may be too drunk to see, hear, or remember a thing about your gig the next day.

[laughs] I can only hope that they could like us - thumbs up for them anyway. The more we get people to see us, the better for the atmosphere, of course!

 

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Your bassist Magnus was involved in the live line-up of Witchery, both US and Japan tours. Does he still have any connections to their direction as far as playing live in that band is concerned?

The thing was that they asked him to join to their US tour and Magnus agreed just because he had never been in the States before. And then they asked whether he would also be interested in doing this Japan tour with them and he agreed to do it with them, again because he has never had a chance to go there before. They even asked at first whether he would have liked to do some gigs in Sweden. Magnus had replied to them that if thereīs any chance to do some gigs in some other countries where he has never visited before, they could count him in right away. Later they got both these US and Japan tours, so he went there with Witchery. In fact, Magnus was the first guy off The Crown that was borrowed by some other band. When he came back from those tours, he said to us that it was a learning experience for him to understand respecting his own band, The Crown, more and more. The very same thing happened to me when I was a part of some other line-up for quite some time ago. I started to respect our own band a lot of more than I had done earlier. Itīs sort of an experience for yourself that really should open your eyes both to see and understand things a different way, yīknow? Kind of a funny thing was that when Magnus toured with Witchery in the States, we received a couple of postcards from some fans from the U.S.A. where they told that we really should try to keep Magnus in The Crown as heīs such a popular and liked guy in their country. Then we started to be a bit worried about him whether he could leave us eventually in order to join to Witchery permanently. We have been playing 13 years together with him, so itīs very unlikely that he would join to some other band after being so many years as a part of The Crownīs line-up.

 

 

Will your label put out any limited special editions of your new album or anything in order to sell a bit more?

Of course they would want to release something special for our true fans because of this ever-growing impudent pirating these days. Also, in my opinion, if the fans of this band will buy our new album for 20 euros/dollars, I hope that they would at least get something extra for their money, because CDs are so fuckinī expensive nowadays.

 

 

As for some facts, Nuclear Blast has their own ways to protect their releases from the pirating. I remember when I got the latest Immortal CD in my hands back in the day, it only contained 3 full tracks and the rest of the songs were just 1-minute clips out of the songs on it. Thatīs of course one rather clever way to fight against pirating, even if obviously itīs not the best way.

Yeah, I think itīs a relatively good way to fight against it, too, but unfortunately this particular coin has its other side as well. Namely some music journalists can be, if they want, rather malicious and ugly with their sayings in some certain reviews if they only get a chance to review some 1-minute music clips off songs instead of full songs, and they may rate some albums low and bless them with less points than they actually would have deserved if there had been full songs on albums, yīknow? So, I donīt think thatīs that good way to fight against all these illegal copies in a long run either.

 

 

How many copies of each of your albums have been sold worldwide so far? Are you allowed to give any specific details out of the selling for your albums?

Well, all I can say that we have almost doubled the selling for each of our latest album compared to the previous albums. Thatīs all I can reveal to you selling-wise. I donīt want to publish any selling numbers for them, but our label has been very pleased anyway. Itīs kind of a taboo thing for us, as it seems to be for some other bands as well, and Iīd like to tell you more about them with some really accurate details as I know very well how many copies our CROWNED IN TERROR album has been sold thus far. But as many other bands are very silent about the selling numbers of their own albums, I donīt wanna go into any specific details either. But like I said, our record company Metal Blade is extremely pleased with us selling-wise at least; as for us, we are quite happy how many The Crown albums have been sold all over the world so far. I can reveal you that much that our debut album THE BURNING was sold maybe 4000-5000 copies worldwide only. I expected that it could have been sold about 10.000 copies, so we are indeed quite far away from that amount as far as the selling for it is concerned.

 

 

As I believe due to success of your latest albums, your fans have started to be interested in your back catalogue as well. Has Black Sun Records - your first label - re-released either THE BURNING or ETERNAL DEATH as I believe the first editions for them have been long sold out?

thecrown-pic10.jpg (17055 bytes)Century Media U.S.A. actually bought the copyrights for both these albums off Black Sun. Both have been reissued through them in the States and both of them have a video as a bonus. I heard that one of these video clips, however, has some sort of a technical error, so hopefully it will be fixed when/or if they decide to release a second edition of it in the future. But itīs cool that the videos are there as a bonus now; something extra for the fans for sure, anyway.

 

 

What kind of expectations do you have toward this forthcoming album? Well, letīs say selling-wise at least? Do you honestly believe it will be a better selling item than any of your previous albums? I bet that your label Metal Blade is already running pretty huge expectations toward it, selling-wise at least?

My honest wish is that as many people as possible would buy it even if they might download t from the Internet first. By buying our albums people have a better chance to see us in their home cities. I can guarantee that people wonīt be disappointed when they get a chance to hear it.

 

 

Alright, I think you are free to go now because that was the last question that I had. If you have any specific messages, greetings, īevil chantsī, or just anything to say for the readers of Metal-Rules.com, then go ahead Janne…

Buy our albums and come to see our gigs!! [laughs] Thatīs it in a nutshell, he-he!!

 

 

Thank you for sharing some of your precious time with me and all the best for your tonightīs gig…

Thank you for the cool interview. Se ya later & kippis!!

 


Band Website:  www.thecrownonline.com

Label Website: www.metalblade.com