Interview with bassist Magnus Olsfelt
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: August 18, 2014
After breaking up in 2004, Swedish Death/Thrash Metal champions The Crown pulled their troops back together in December 2009, re-armed with a new stratagem and determined to kill again, at least sonically. The Crown spent the spring and summer of 2014 recording the band's new album, Death Is Not Dead, which is set to be released in early 2015. According to bassist Magnus Olsfelt, expect no less than the band's best album to date.
Magnus, the Devil himself, was kind enough to shed some light on the recording of Death Is Not Dead and revealed what's in The Crown's future. Hell is here again, for sure...
Luxi: Sweden rules, right? ;o)
Magnus: Yeah, you're so right about that! Especially when it comes down to some deathrashing Metal, bands like Bathory, Entombed, Merciless, Grotesque, At The Gates, Dissection and Anti Cimex...
Luxi: What I meant by my opening was that it's nice to have The Crown back and making music again. What made you decide to dig up the old bones and resurrect The Crown in the first place? Did you believe you had some unfinished business with the band?
Magnus: Yeah we really tried our best to quit, die and never look back, you know? But it was impossible! All these riffs and songs and lyrics kept coming. So we just decided to stop fighting it and give it another go. I have heard a couple of bands doing covers of our songs but I don't think there are any bands out there doing better at what we do. If we were out-battled in our own backyard, so to speak, by a lot of new bands, then it would not have made a lot of sense, but I don't think that is the case. Still unfinished business, yea...
Luxi: How important was it to have former The Crown band members in place instead of having a lineup with only one or two original members left from the old days? Your second guitarist is the only one who has no previous history with either Crown of Thorns or The Crown...
Magnus: Yeah, that's kind of important. But what is even more important is to still be able to rule and kick ass!
Luxi: Talking about Robin (Sörqvist, second guitar), what convinced you he's the perfect match for The Crown? Did his previous history with bands like Power Supreme and especially Impious, help him earn his position in the band?
Magnus: He is from our hometown and we've known him as a friend and a stand up guy for a really long time. We thought he'd be the perfect match but he has actually surprised us by being a true guitar hero on this album. Just amazing guitar solos! Just wait 'til you hear the album...
Luxi: Death Is Not Dead is a tentative title for this latest The Crown album, which has been just been mastered. What more can you reveal about this new opus, other than the fact it undoubtedly WILL NOT leave any fans of the band cold, right?
Magnus: Yeah I absolutely "löööve" this new album! It has a little bit of everything; great songs, great sound and production and great guitar work. Johan sings better than ever. As a whole, I think it has the potential to be our best album yet. It is still hard but more accessible, in a way.
Luxi: How different from previous experiences was it getting this new The Crown album together? Did you face any challenges that made you question if this particular album would ever get finished?
Magnus: Yeah, the songwriting process was split between me and Marko, as it was in the good ol' days. I worked long and hard on these songs and I tried to make the best songs as I could, which always is a challenge because, as a musician, I am not at all professional and kinda suck, to be honest with you, he he! But I know a good song when I hear one and it just takes some time and work to get it done. The recording process started in the rehearsal room when we first tried out the songs. Then we went to the studio and recorded our parts as we had time, which wasn't too often, so the studio bit took over a year, I think. The biggest challenge was that Janne moved to California and Marko had to play the drums. It was amazing that he made it. He actually has a style quite similar to Janne's, but a little simpler, more Lars Ulrich, if you know what I mean. Marko played drums previously on Impious' second demo and on both Angel Blake albums.
Luxi: Do you believe this album lives up to The Crown's legacy by offering all of the trademark elements the fans expect of a The Crown record?
Magnus: Yes, very much so. It is the most professional sounding release yet, I believe.
Luxi: Did you go back to your old albums before you started writing the new songs, just to make sure you were on the same track with your past musical legacy?
Magnus: No, not really, we have that in our spines! But we did a tour of Japan shortly before recording and played some old forgotten songs like "Death by My Side." That kind of re-started the melancholic side that has always been a part of our sound but probably not what we're most known for.
Luxi: Besides the "normal" Metal instruments you have also used some more unusual instruments on this record to spice things up a little bit. Would you kindly enlighten us about why you ended up using them and if you think some of the die-hard fans of the band will find them too disturbing and possibly prevent them from buying the album?
Magnus: Yeah, we have an instrumental track called "Meduseld," which features Niklas Rimmerfors on traditional Swedish key fiddle. It turned out great! I am sure that some will not like it, and they can just skip that song. I think most can enjoy this song as it feels really heavy and reminiscent of old Metallica instrumentals, like "Orion," but with a Nordic touch. I see this as perfectly natural, kind of like when Sepultura used Brazilian elements in their music. But this was a one-off thing and we won't change our sound radically.
Luxi: When the news of The Crown's "second coming" was officially announced, Century Media saw their opportunity and snapped up the band right away. I was wondering if there was any other label interest back then or was the deal with Century Media pretty easy to accept, knowing their reputation as a reliable Metal label? Plus, of course, you have worked with them before...
Magnus: Yeah there were some other labels but CM made the best offer. They have been great to work with.
Luxi: What about a release date for Death Is Not Dead? Have you discussed this with the label?
Magnus: Yeah, they want to release it in early 2015, I think. There are too many big releases scheduled for the autumn/winter of 2014 like At The Gates, The Haunted, Entombed, etc. But we will conquer them all! :) Damn, I really want to hear that new ATG album. It's the only one I think of that can rival the greatness of Death Is Not Dead.
Luxi: Do you have any plans to shoot a professional video for one of the songs off this new record?
Magnus: I would love to do it! I have plans for 4-5 videos! But, nowadays, there is no Headbangers Ball, only Youtube. But I guess that can be to your advantage, if you're great anyway. Let's see what happens. Hopefully the label sees the potential of this album and realizes that we can do well with great videos.
Luxi: Any touring plans after the album is out? Without question, there will be demand from the fans to see The Crown live...
Magnus: There are some plans to go to Japan, New Zealand and Australia, plus some local shows. There are no big tour plans but maybe some festivals instead.
Luxi: Do you see a long future for The Crown this time around or will you take one step at a time, to make sure it is going to be worth it?
Magnus: Hopefully, we can keep doing what we do best; great albums! The extensive touring is what can kill us so just a few killer shows will keep us going.
Luxi: Are you concerned that people may be setting their expectations too high for the new album?
Magnus: No, I welcome it. I dare any band to make a better album than Death is not Dead. New or old, big or small - I double dare you motherfuckers!!!
Luxi: What makes you happy nowadays regarding this band? Is it creating something that will receive unconditional support from the fans and show everyone that your songwriting pencils have stayed sharp despite the "break" the band took or something else?
Magnus: To still be doing this is amazing thing after 24 years and to still be able to kick our own asses and crack some skulls. The fans we have are also amazing! We should be long forgotten and have had tons of new bands surpass us, but that hasn't happened yet.
Luxi: As you are aware, Metal is again a huge thing these days. There seems to be thousands and thousands of Metal bands nowadays, both old and new, some more original, some less, etc. Picking the "true gems" from the masses is much tougher than, say, 15-20 years ago. As both a musician and a fan you must have indeed noticed this a long time ago. How do you pick the pearls out of the shit?
Magnus: I listen to same ol' shit. I try to listen to friends opinions about some bands, though.
Luxi: How do you believe 2015 will shape up for you guys? Tough, tougher and even painfully tougher (read: lots of serious touring ahead of you)? :oP
Magnus: Some great reviews of our new album. A multi-platinum seller. We will become the rock stars that we wanted to be 25 years ago and earn billions of dollars, of course, ha!
Luxi: I think that is it Magnus so thanks a lot for taking some time to do this chat with me. Whether or not the Gods of Metal are with you this time or not, it's still a great thing to know the hell is here again, or something along those lines. Any sweet and smart closing comments, perhaps?
Magnus: Yeah, I am smart... and sweet...or, at least, that's what I try to be. Thanks for the interview and your support for The Crown! No fun, I mean! ;)
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