An Interview With The Crown's Johan Lindstrand

Empty Lighthouse is a reader-supported site. This article may contain affiliate links to Amazon and other sites. We earn a commission on purchases made through these links.

Johan Lindstrand is the vocalist of Sweden's The Crown, who somehow went undervalued in the wake of their peers with higher name recognition (At the Gates, In Flames, etc.)

After fronting his own project, One Man Army and the Undead Quartet, after The Crown's initial disbandment in 2004 (the rest of the members reformed in 2009 with Johan Stalhammar handling vocal duties), Lindstrand is back in the fold to celebrate the band's 25th anniversary with the new album, Death is Not Dead.

Lindstrand spoke to Empty Lighthouse via e-mail about playing extreme metal in an age where nothing is extreme anymore, Death is Not Dead's interesting cover artwork, and some of the missteps the band has taken in their 20+ year career.

(Read the full exchange below.)

Q: I get the sense that the title "Death is Not Dead" has something to do with The Crown's resilience over the years and the reformation of your classic line-up. Is this accurate? If not, could you explain the title.

-Well, it?s not accurate in that sense because that classic line-up disbanded some time before the recording process started. But its safe to say that this title reflects what we believe in and that definitely the music on this new album is exactly what we strive for and want death metal to sound like. There?s millions of bands out there and bands more extreme than the other but we don?t really care about that. Don?t get me wrong. We love all the extreme stuff but we do what we've done all our lives.

We follow our hearts and write death metal as we believe it should be done. That?s a bit cocky to say but it?s 100% true. We have no guidelines.

It?s just us and the death metal we possess. Death Is Not Dead. It?s very much alive and lives inside the souls of all individuals in The Crown.

??Q: Can you tell me a little bit about the pinball themed cover?

-We really discussed different themes back and forth during a long period of time but then Magnus came up with the idea of having our own pinball machine.It sounded awesome and we discussed all kinds of stuff that should be included in this. What we would want to see in a game when we play it. We had some horror games in mind for sure to act as inspiration like Monster Bash but we took it a bit further and hired Bjorn Gossess of Killustrations to make it a reality. He did an amazing job and I think the title fits perfectly to this theme. I mean, we all love to play these kinds of games and you always try to get as much scores as possible and both the title and the pinball theme could be compared to what a lot of people feel in the real world.

The machine could be described as Death and just like in real life you try to get to new levels whether it's at work thinking about your career or somewhere else but for most people reality strikes them and all of a sudden some strong force pulls them right back in the dirt again. It?s an ongoing process for a lot of people.

The same as with our machine of death. It won?t let you win. Ever!!!!??

Q: The new album marks the second return of original vocalist Johan Lindstrand. How did this come about? Does the band still have a good relationship with Jonas Stalhammar?

-Well, I was actually asked to rejoin back when they reunited for the Doomsday King album but I was really occupied with launching my third album with One Man Army and the Undead Quartet at that time. I was also a bit afraid to rejoin because of what happened when I came back in 2002.

Back then we did a great album called Possessed 13 but the touring cycle on that album was total catastrophe and brought a lot of depression into the band that ultimately made us take the desicion to quit.

So I was a bit afraid that this would happen again, but after Doomsday King was released Marko asked me a second time and this time I had more time to consider it and luckily I made the right call this time.

The releationship with Jonas is pretty good I think.

There wasn?t any bad blood when the other guys parted ways with him and I also bought his PA system for the rehearsal room so I also spoke to him.

There?s no hard feelings at all and I guess he?s quite happy with playing with Bombs of Hades.

??Q: In 2004, after Lindstrand's original return, The Crown rerecorded 2002's Crowned in Terror, are there any plans to give Doomsday King the same treatment now that Lindstrand is back?

-Definitely not. I think that the re-recording of Crowned in Terror was a really bad idea. Ok, it was cool to let some old school fans have all albums with the original lineup but all in all, a poor decision in my eyes. I don?t count this one when I say to people which albums we?ve done.

There?s only one Crowned in Terror and that?s with Tomas Lindberg (Ed. note: of At the Gates).

So don?t go around and hope for the same treatment for Doomsday King. The past belongs to history for good and bad and you shouldn?t mess with it.

??Q: What have new members Robin Sorqvist and Henrik Axelsson brought to the table? Did they contribute to the writing of the new album?

-Robin has done an extremely good job when creating killer solos for the album. He is amazing on all levels. Musician and friendwise.

Couldn?t ask for any other. Henrik is still just a session member for us but who knows what the future will bring.

He is really really talented and understands our music really well and he played some really amazing drums on 4 bonus tracks on the new album. All other drums are played by Marko, believe it or not :-)??

Q: In a 2009 interview, you said that the "best thing" for The Crown would be to play "10-15" shows per year. Is this still the plan?

-Yeah, that?s still the plan. We?ve done our share of touring and to be quite honest. Since we don?t make a living out of this we can?t be out on the road more than just a couple of times per year. There?s families and dayjobs to have in mind all the time but you know what?, we are all happy about the current situation.

When we are out it?s more of a good old vacation with your best friends and we all have an awesome time together. This way we can survive as a band for 10 - 15 more years because we don?t get worn out.

We don?t get on each others' nerves.

We don?t get tired on doing quality death metal.

Now we have fun and that?s how you last in a business where hard work and even more hard work with no dollar in sight often can make you say 'Why the fuck am I doing this???????'

Q: The Crown recently celebrated 25 years together.

I'm curious to know your thoughts about navigating the music industry as an extreme metal band in 1989 compared to now, in 2014.

If you could, would you back to the way things were? Or is it a good thing to reach more fans through the internet...even if it means that they're stealing your albums?

-As we started in 1990 we really didn?t come out in the market until the mid 90?s.I guess that the older death metal bands like Entombed and Morbid Angel feels it to be more different than before. But record sales for us has been pretty much the same for the last 15 years so I guess that metal people still buys a lot of music compared to for example pop people. And extreme music has gotten to be more accepted today for good and bad.

I mean, the myth and the taboo of playing extreme music in the early 90?s was in a way much cooler because today I see a lot of wimps out there using the term growling like it?s just as usual as buying toilet paper .

I still prefer being an animal that just screams to a lot of noise than being taken for granted at the local kindergarten. But I guess that?s called evolution, hehe.

The Internet is a good thing except for illegal downloading. You have the chance to reach so much people nowadays but you also have more responsibility as a band.

You need to do a lot of promotion yourself on all the media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and so on.

The labels are doing what they can but people are just so focused on staring at their phones 24/7 so you as band need to take advantage of that and grab people when they are most vulnerable and interact with them on the best possible way, and by that I mean to shove up some kickass Swedish death metal right in their face.

??Q: Don't get me wrong, I'm really enjoying your cover of Paradise Lost's "Eternal," but why it is it featured so prominently on the album as opposed to being included as a bonus track?

- You are not the first one that has this opinion but it was actually meant to be a bonus track. But in the end we decided to switch place with "Eternal" and "We come in peace". Simply because we weren?t 100% satisfied with how "...Peace" worked with the other songs.

It?s a bit more playful compared to the other tracks. And "Eternal" felt more like our own song.

We have always loved that Paradise Lost era and we have been inspired by them for a long time so it felt natural to put it on the regular album.

Q: What are The Crown's plans for 2015?

-We will do some shows, handpicked to fit our needs and then hopefully start to work on a new album.

But don?t get me wrong, there?s no plans to record in the near future but as you all know, Death Is Not Dead took us many years to make so we might wanna start now if we wanna have the next album out before we reach 50;-)??

Q: Thanks so much for speaking to us today! Is there anything else you would like to add?

-Thank you so much. I think we managed to include most of it.