Possessed 13 (Metal Blade)
An interview with rhythm guitarist Marko Tervonen
by Tim Den
Even from your early days as Crown of Thorns, you never seemed to be a part of any Swedish movement.
When we started out, we were heavily influenced by the Florida death metal scene. Deicide, Morbid Angel, all those bands. We never fit in with the Gothenburg sound/scene. We’re either too stubborn or too stupid. (laughs)
Have you shared bills with a lot of the current Swedish bands?
I think we’ve played with all of them. Some we know really well. We live only 40 minutes outside of Gothenburg, so it has been easy to play there.
Are there a lot of places to play in Gothenburg?
You’d be surprised and disappointed. The bizarre thing about Sweden is that we have a million quality bands, but… when In Flames play, there’s only about 300-400 people in the audience. All the bands want to play outside Sweden, like in Europe or the States. People think we play arenas when we play Sweden.
How strange, especially since your country is full of amazing bands, from death metal to pop, electronica to garage rock.
When bands start here, there’s a standard you need to meet very fast because of how many other great bands there are already. It’s a healthy competition.
If only the U.S. were more like that. Here, everyone’s preoccupied with genres’ fashion.
I agree. (chuckles) It’s sad, cuz in the end, there’s only good and bad music. Genres aren’t that important. When you turn 25, you stop caring about if it’s rock ‘n’ roll or metal, as long as the quality’s good. I remember when I was 15 or 16, the only band I listened to with “normal” vocals was Metallica. If a band played good metal but didn’t have death metal vocals, I couldn’t stand it. (laughs) Today, that sounds so ridiculous. We all grow up!
Tell me about the problems your old name got you into. Wasn’t there a NY hardcore band with the same name?
Yeah, but we didn’t have any problems with them cuz they spelled it differently (Crown of Thornz). It was a disgusting, adult-oriented band that gave us shit. (laughs) I remember when we signed our first record deal with Black Sun, we knew they existed, but we were naive and thought “we’re death metal, they’re Christian rock. Who would mix us up?” With mail order and such, it was funny getting letters from people saying “oh, I ordered the wrong album.” Then the shitty band started threatening us: “Change your name or we’ll sue you.” We ignored them at first, of course, but eventually, they started showing their muscles. They knew Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, and all them. We actually copyrighted the name before they did, and we could’ve taken them to court. But being on a small label, we didn’t even have enough money to hire a lawyer. It would’ve been a big mess. So we took the easy way out and just shortened the name. Luckily, the first two albums have gotten reissued with the new name since then.
Could you elaborate on what happened with Tomas Lindberg (ex-vocalist who lasted only one album, Crowned In Terror)?
We really wanted to keep everything quiet cuz, in the end, it’s only our business. But Janne (Saarenpää; drums) and Magnus did an interview with a Swedish magazine who just dug and dug and forced the answers out of them. It exploded on the Internet, and Janne had to write a very detailed explanation on our website (www.thecrownonline.com). So now I just always refer to that.
The fact is that we fired Tomas due to personal problems. In the end, we realized that The Crown’s machinery depended on the five original members. We’ve been doing this for 13 years, and like any relationship, it’s not easy to start over again with someone new.
After doing The Crown for 13 years, do you still need to work an outside job to support yourself?
Definitely. But we’re starting to do a lot of touring in November and everybody has to quit their jobs. Hopefully, everything will work out financially. We’re not making big money here. People see you on covers of magazines and think “oh, these guys are millionaires.” I still, to this day, have never paid rent with band money. It’s a very tough business. If you’re not 100% in love with the music, you won’t survive. Consider the sacrifices you have to make – not just financially – if you’re married and whatnot. Johan (Lindstrand) quit a while back because all the tours were disasters. We came home from tours and didn’t even have money to pay bills. He was fed up with it. But having that year off from the band made him realize that it’s more important to him than the bills. (laughs) Hopefully this time we won’t do any disastrous tours.
One thing that not many people know is that all the tours we were support acts on – Morbid Angel, The Haunted, Cannibal Corpse – we had to pay to play. The first European tour we did with Morbid Angel cost us $4000. You can look at it like “we’re reaching more people,” but there’s only so many tours like that you can do. The bands are always very honest, sincere, and have the best intentions, but all the promoters fuck you over. Somehow, it’s okay to fuck metal bands over. If we were a pop band, we would’ve never been treated the same way by promoters. Even cover bands that play in pubs fucking get paid!
Hey, you could always play as a Mötley Crüe cover band on the side to make money!
(laughs) That would be great!
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