ďSuch a Sick BoyĒ - One Man Army and the Undead Quartet vocalist Johan Lindstrand observes humanity's inabilities


By Anthony Morgan

Johan Lindstrandís longtime position as vocalist in Trollhšttan group The Crown (or Crown of Thorns as older fans may still refer to them) assures the native Swede a note in the rich, varied history of Swedish Death Metal. While The Crown deserve more than just a mere reference, to devote this whole introduction to the split quintet would be disrespectful to Lindstrandís latter day musical efforts.

Nowadays Lindstrand has a new agenda which can be summed up in a few choice words: One Man Army and the Undead Quartet. While the other former members went down separate musical paths (most notably drummer Janne Saarenpšš and axeman Marko Tervonen forming Angel Blake), Johan went back to the drawing board. Not much later the six track demo When Hatred Comes to Life was committed to tape, later seeing a limited edition release in a truncated format. Not until January 2006 did full length effort 21st Century Killing Machine surface, a truly blistering effort that no hyperbole could do any justice. Roughly 70 live shows later and met with modest yet critical acclaim, One Man Army devised methods to follow up their inaugural full length. This was later christened Error in Evolution as a commentary on humanityís inability to learn.

Error in Evolution hit shelves in March 2007 with a scheduled US issue etched in for May. Ten tracks for the sophomore effort were laid down in Bohus Studios under the dutiful eyes of erstwhile One Man Army bassist Valle Adzic, better known as the guitarist of fellow Trollhšttan outfit Impious. Also returning amongst the personnel was Dragan, handling mixing duties for the second time. Complimenting the songs was a heavier interpretation of the Alice Cooper track ďHeís Back (The Man Behind the Mask)Ē which originally saw inclusion on the 1986 album Constrictor and became featured in the horror flick Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.

Johan Lindstrand kindly gave Lucem Fero a telephone interview discussing the various aspects of Error in Evolution and its gradual birth, not to mention his perspective on The Crownís demise and any reunion possibilities.

 

  • Could you tell me about how Error in Evolution came about?
  • Yeah. After the 21st Century Killing Machine album was recorded and released, we did a lot of touring. The band got to know each other very well, as weíve only been together for two years. I mainly wrote the debut albumís material, though on this new release the whole group is more or less involved, so the process has been very smooth from the beginning. We have written nine songs and laid down one cover interpretation for Error in Evolution, which I think has become a really good Metal record.
  • Is it difficult to deliver a second album then?
  • Oh I donít think so because now the whole band is writing as a unit, which makes it more easy. Who knows about the third album? Maybe it will be more difficult perhaps. Who knows?
  • How do you feel this one differs from 21st Century Killing Machine then?
  • Yeah, the difference is this new one has much shorter songs Ė theyíre roughly three to four minutes long. The song arrangements are more Classic Metal based, whereas the arrangements on the first one are more old school Death Metal. Error in Evolution is much more melodic and more catchy from my point of view.
  • How would you compare your vocal performance on this one compared to the first?
  • There are some new vocal approaches on this new one. The sound is more melodic and has some clean vocals to it, whereas the first one was pure old school Death Metal growls. I think the new style of singing, well itís not a new style of singing of course because itís roughly 99% growls anywayÖ But I think the songs gain from the clean vocal parts, and the sound has become much wider than previously.
  • What lyrical themes have you approached on this album?
  • The lyrical contents concern the many wars occurring around the world, as well as criminality which increases daily, even in Sweden. Thatís basically what the title Error in Evolution refers to as well, because there are many errors occurring around the globe. People should learn from past mistakes, but there are still a lot of errors and that kind of shit still going on in the world. Thatís basically what the lyrics are all about.
  • Is that related to the war in Iraq?
  • Yeah, though itís not straight up about the Iraqi war. The song ďKnights in Satanís ServiceĒ for instance is about children soldiers in these fanatically religious countries. You can see itís more or less about errors and everything.
  • Like suicide bombers?
  • Itís not straight up about suicide bombers, but itís about all that kind of shit - young people running around with Kalashnikovs and so forth. Itís the same with the track ďSuch A Sick BoyĒ, which is inspired by the school massacres of the United States. Young children are running around with guns and shooting their friends.
  • Like Columbine?
  • Yeah exactly.
  • How do you feel about music being blamed for school shootings then?
  • That is bullshit in my opinion - maybe people are being raised in a bad manner. In Sweden and all these other countries people listen to extreme music yet you donít see anybody go around and shoot people just because of extreme music. This stuff only happens in the United States for some strange reason, and I donít know why.
  • How is it recording with Valle now he isnít the bassist anymore?
  • I really like to work with him because heís an old friend of mine. Weíve still been on friendly terms since he decided to quit the band; he couldnít tour with us and had all his other obligations. Yeah itís working fine with him - he has this new studio happening. It was smooth working with Valle, and we got to be in the studio for a longer time with no pressure on ourselves. I think we will work with him on the next album as well.
  • Have you got anything planned for the third album then?
  • We havenít started to write any material yet, but maybe around the beginning of next year. We will definitely work with Valle again; maybe not completely in the studio, but we will work with him in one way or another.
  • You and Valle have been together in past bands havenít you?
  • Iím also the singer of Incapacity, though Iíve never rehearsed with them or anything. They released two albums already and half the band had left. I got in touch with the main guy from Incapacity and he asked me if I wanted to handle vocals for the third album, so that will probably happen later this year or maybe next year. And Valle is in Impious which is a very successful death metal band from this area as well.
  • You were in Impious a long time ago wasnít you?
  • Yeah that was 10 years ago. I only played drums for the first demo.
  • How was that?
  • Yeah it was pretty cool; they were old friends of mine who needed a drummer. I could play some drums Ė Iím not an expert on drumming, but I could do some beats here and there. I did the demo and two or three live shows with them back in 94í I think. Since then I havenít touched the drums - now Iím only a vocalist.
  • What was it like recording in Bohus Studios?
  • Bohus Studio is a great studio, and probably Swedenís best. Itís large and very expensive as well, and thatís mainly because we wanted to be able to record with Valle on a full scale this time. Weíd be there for a longer time and for less money, so it was a combination of both.
  • Are you going to work there again?
  • Yeah. Maybe we will record the drums or something at Bohus Studio next time. I donít know, as we havenít discussed it yet. We will definitely use Bohus Studios though because theyíre very near our homes and theyíre both very good. So why not?
  • Could you tell me about your favourite track on the album?
  • My favourite track is either ďSuch A Sick BoyĒ or ďMine For the TakingĒ. ďSuch A Sick BoyĒ is such a favourite.
  • Whyís that?
  • Well, because I wrote it (laughs). I think the vibes on this song are pretty cool, and there are very different elements in this song altogether. Itís good thrash metal with very intense riffing, and I like it; I like it when a song has a rollercoaster feeling to it.
  • Could you tell me why you chose to cover ďHeís BackĒ by Alice Cooper?
  • Itís mainly because I wanted to do this track for a long time, even back in my old band The Crown. For some strange reason we never did it, so now in my new band I got the chance to do it again. I think it became a real success on the album, as it doesnít feel like an outsider and feels like our own song - not many bands have covered that song.

    The main reason for covering ďHeís BackĒ in the first place was my love of the 1986 movie Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives; from that point the song has lived within my mind for all these years, so it was good to finally get it out of my system.
  • How would you describe One Man Armyís version of the song?
  • The original has a lot of synthesizers and drum machines, but our version is much more guitar based. We have some really heavy riffing there; Iím growling in the verses, and then our friend Christian ńlvestam from Scar Symmetry is doing the chorus on this song. Musically I think itís the same song of course - we havenít changed that much, though we have made it heavier than the original as we thought it would be stupid to change too much. Not a lot of bands have covered this song as far as I know, so it was good to do it as it was from the beginning and just make it heavier.
  • Could you tell me about the studio diary you kept for this album?
  • I think itís cool to let the people and the diehard One Man Army fans know whatís happening daily concerning an albumís progress and so on. I think itís very important to keep that contact with the fans, and I know they appreciate it very much. Itís the same with this item I also have on our webpage which I write once a week on Sundays about my personal life more or less; itís cool for the fans.
  • Have you received positive feedback from that then?
  • Yeah, many people like it. Itís a way of connecting to the fans, and itís very cool. I will continue doing it.
  • Youíll keep a studio diary for the next album as well then?
  • Yeah definitely.
  • Iím not sure if you wish to discuss this, but is it ok if we talk about The Crown? Iím not too sure if you want to talk about it or not though.
  • Yeah, one or two questions maybe (laughs).
  • Ok. Could you tell me about the first time you left The Crown?
  • The first time? Well that was after the Deathrace King album. It was a very hard time for me to keep touring and returning home with empty pockets and so forth, as I had a lot of bills to pay. It was also personal problems with the leading of the band, but one year later when Tomas (Lindberg) got fired I got the question again from Marko (Tervonen, guitars) to join the band. By that time all my problems had vanished, so I said yes immediately. It was a great feeling; I came back with a lot of new energy etc., and we did one new album. All of a sudden though the band wanted to quit doing it, so I was very pissed off because I had quit my day job just to tour with The Crown - all of a sudden everything falls apart you know? Nowadays I donít think about it that much as I have a very good new band, though without The Crown this new band wouldnít exist. I have The Crown to thank for everything as it made me who I am today, so Iím very happy about the situation.
  • Did you consider leaving music for good the first time you left The Crown?
  • Yeah, well, no not really - I thought about doing music on a smaller scale. I contacted Valle at that time and recorded some demos at home together with a drum machine, messing around with some things. I didnít know where it would lead me or anything, though ironically when I devised One Man Army I brought back one or two riffs from that period from when I first left The Crown, which ended up on ďThe Sweetness of BlackĒ and ďBulldozer FrenzyĒ from the first One Man Army album. So itís pretty cool.
  • Do you speak to the old members much?
  • Yeah I talk to Marko sometimes because he lives in my town, and also meet up with Janne (Saarenpšš, drums) once in a while. Magnus (Olsfelt, bass) and Marcus (Sunesson, guitar) live in Gothenburg so I hardly see them anymore, but they were actually at the release party for Error in Evolution two weeks ago.
  • Did they like the album?
  • They didnít say anything about it, but I hope they like it. We had some really good discussions, some fun and drank some beer together, so I hope they like it.
  • Is there chance of a one off live gig with The Crown or something similar?
  • No I donít think so because we werenít that big in the first place. Itíd be too much work to do a one off show, as I think everybodyís doing a lot of work with their current bands. It would take a lot of strength from us to just do that.
  • Would you be up for it?
  • No I donít think so because as I said the other guys wanted to quit, and I was very disappointed at the other guys when they decided to quit.
  • So The Crown is definitely over now then?
  • Yeah because if they want to continue theyíll have to do it with another singer. Iím very happy with One Man Army now.
  • Is there any chance of a rarities disc with unreleased tracks by The Crown?
  • We donít have any unreleased tracks (laughs). We released everything on the bonus disc for Possessed 13, which I think was the old demos and so on. We donít have anything in store.
  • Do you have a favourite album by The Crown?
  • Deathrace King.
  • Is there a particular reason why that album is your favourite?
  • I think itís because the whole album has very intense, good songs; there are no ups and downs on that album, but all pure ten pointers every song. I know most of The Crown fans enjoy Deathrace King the most as well.
  • Is there an album you least like by The Crown?
  • Iím proud of everything we did.
  • So thereís none you dislike then?
  • No, definitely not.
  • Iím just wondering about the last album Crowned Unholy, because if Iím correct thatís a re-recording of tracks the band did while Tomas was vocalist?
  • Yeah.
  • Do you think it was the right decision to re-record old tracks?
  • Well when I look back at it now I think it was the wrong decision. Having said that, it was also a chance for the diehard fans to have all the albums with me the original singer on all of them.
  • Do you think that contributed to the break up then?
  • No it didnít. We had some lost ties during the last year of touring, so it was definitely nothing to do with that album. I donít know if what they did with Tomas during the one year he was in the band contributed to the end as well - I know it was a hard time for them.
  • They had difficulties with Tomas?
  • Yeah, extreme difficulties. I wasnít in the band at the time, as Iíve only heard what they said. Things didnít work out and he got fired.
  • He seems to hop from band to band doesnít he?
  • Yeah, but Iím not a guy who wants to throw shit at him or anything. Heís done a good job on several albums.
  • Yeah heís a good singer isnít he?
  • Yeah, so I donít want to throw any shit at him. Obviously though he didnít work out with The Crown, but I canít say more about it really.
  • Could you tell me if you think Metal Blade got fully behind the band?
  • Yeah, I think Metal Blade is a very good label though Nuclear Blast of course is much bigger. Metal Blade did what they could, and we sold pretty much average. I was very pleased with Metal Blade. The only reason for One Man Army signing to Nuclear Blast was basically because I wished to try out new people and work with new people. Nuclear Blast is also a big label, though I have no hard feelings towards Metal Blade; the reason for the split up is purely our own faults.
  • How would you like The Crown to be remembered?
  • As a good, fresh Metal band. We did a lot of good albums, and built up a pretty good fanbase. The Crown made us who we are today, and everybodyís happy with what theyíre doing today. I think our fans will remember all those five or six albums with great feeling.
  • Do you think those albums contributed to Swedish metal?
  • Maybe, We were mostly influenced by American bands, but I think we have influenced a lot of Swedish bands as well.
  • Are there any particular bands you hear the influence in?
  • That weíve influenced?
  • Yeah.
  • I donít listen that much to new bands to be honest, though yes Iíve heard enough people saying ďYouíve contributed to our sound, we appreciate The Crown and thatís why weíre playing todayĒ and so on. There have been a couple of bands, so Iím sure we have inspired people.
  • Could you tell me about your personal feelings on touring?
  • I love touring, though the life on tour is rough sometimes because you often get sick due to the fact youíre traveling with fifteen people on a bus, and if one guy gets sick then everybody gets sick. You have to do like twenty gigs, and often itís a pretty hard job but at the same time itís much fun. Thatís the biggest chance for you to spread your name, and Iím much looking forward to doing a lot more touring with this new album.
  • I got the impression you didnít like touring based on the press.
  • Oh no, I love touring. Sometimes its rough but itís a necessary evil. When youíre touring with great people then you donít have anything to worry about, so all is good.
  • Is it ok if I ask some questions related to Incapacity?
  • Sure.
  • You and Christian (ńlvestam, Incapacity / Scar Symmetry guitarist) did military service years ago?
  • Yeah thatís right.
  • Could you tell me about that?
  • I think it was back in 96í. I was a cook, while he was.. I donít know what he did, but we met at the military facilities. We saw each other every day, and thatís how we began to know each other and that we both played music. It was only later that he began to write extreme music because at that time he wrote music in a band called Unmoored, and they were not that extreme from the beginning. It was the right choice to say yes the day he asked me to join Incapacity as we had proposed working together for awhile. As concerns recording the third (Incapacity) album, we havenít rehearsed or anything yet. I think weíll write some songs and record the new album maybe at the end of this year or next year.
  • Did you enjoy military service then?
  • I hated it.
  • Did it change your personality in any way?
  • No not really. There are two kinds of cooks at the military facilities; the ones making food at the facilities, and the also the ones hiding, battling and going out to war in the woods which I did. I canít do any food or anything though, itís basically just out in the wilderness. Several months go by and you just get on with your life really.
  • Could you tell me what it was like growing up in Sweden?
  • I think itís pretty good because you have access to almost everything. A lot of people can learn how to play music because at schools they have these rooms where you can borrow instruments for free just to learn, and without paying any money. Thatís a very good thing for the Swedish community. I had a very good childhood.
  • Could you tell me why you chose to become a musician?
  • It was basically because of my old pals in The Crown, Magnus and Janne. We met up in high school, and we started to listen to more and more extreme music - we began with Metallica, and then it came to Slayer, and then Morbid Angel, and everything started to gel. All of a sudden we said ďletís start a bandĒ, though nobody could play anything.
  • What did your family think of you wanting to be a musician?
  • They didnít say anything about it. They werenít that supportive when I was younger, but now they understand and are very happy about my current situation. Itís cool.
  • Were you hurt that they werenít initially supportive?
  • Yeah of course, in some way. The reason is because my parents have never been into music that much, so they didnít understand. They were happy for me when I got my record deal and so forth, but they never understood the musician thing as they didnít listen to music themselves. Iím happy though as I had a good childhood and got everything I wanted; my parents have been very good to me for all these years, and I have nothing to complain about. With some other kids their parents are buying them instruments etc. but I never got anything, though it doesnít matter. Iím still here today, and I did what I had to do on my own.
  • Which singers do you look up to and why?
  • I really look up to David Vincent (Morbid Angel) because he has the most complete Death Metal voice in my opinion. I also like Glen Benton (Deicide) on some albums like Serpent of the Light, and I also like Chuck Schuldiner as Death is one of my all time favourite bands. They all have different styles of singing and I have tried to take something from all of them to create my own sound. Itís hard to say why, but they are all very good singers.
  • Could you tell me about some of the guest appearances youíve made, such as Decomposed Cranium and Legen Beltza?
  • Theyíve only been in email connections with me. I have never met them in real life, though I suppose it was pretty thing to do..
  • Which one is that?
  • Legen Beltza. It was roughly 2004 when I did some vocals for that album, but I havenít heard anything from them so I donít even know if the album is out. Guest appearances are always a cool thing to do though if you have the right people.
  • Have you got any other guest appearances planned at the moment?
  • No. Nothing.
  • My last question is where would you like to take your career in the coming years?
  • Iíd like to climb even higher on the ladder. There are a lot of bands out there, but I know we have some very good qualities in One Man Army and the Undead Quartet. I really hope we will tour a lot and take the whole year out for this new album, make some new music and I hope that people will open their eyes for us. I hope for the best, but who knows?
  • Do you think people will open their eyes to One Man Army?
  • Yeah I hope so. The album has been out since March 9th, but I donít know how itís faring. It will be released in the US in May, and then the whole world will have it. Hopefully people will like it.
  • Do you have anything to say to the US fans whoíll be hearing this album in May?
  • I know Swedish bands are often welcome in the United States, and I really hope we will go there and play as well. We have done Europe this past year, and I really hope America will get the chance to see us as well.
  • Is One Man Army coming to the United Kingdom?
  • Yeah I hope so. We did a couple of shows there last year, and I extremely hope we will play there more this year. We have some touring in France being planned but nothing is confirmed yet, though I hope the UK will be a part of it.
  • Well thatís my last question. I hope you come to Cardiff in Wales.
  • Iíve been there (laughs).
  • Youíve been there?
  • Yeah Iíve been in Cardiff.
  • What did you think of Cardiff?
  • Yeah I think it was a cool show.
  • You did a Cardiff show with The Crown?
  • Yeah I think we did, and it was Cardiff. Do you have two different languages there?
  • Yeah, Welsh and English.
  • Yeah, I remember the menus - it was pretty funny reading it (laughs).
  • Are you going to come back to Cardiff with One Man Army?
  • Yeah I hope so.
  • I hope so too because I want to see the band.
  • Yeah cool.
  • Iíll leave you go now, and thanks for the interview.
  • Yeah no problem. Bye.