Sweden seems to crank out metal bands like the Chinese crank out, well, everything.  Hell, Wikipedia alone has a listing of 85 bands that hail from Sweden, a country that is roughly the size of California, and we know that’s just scratching the surface.  One Swedish metal band not listed on Wikipedia though is Törnekrona (or “Crown of Thorns” in English), whose members may be Swedish, but whose approach to metal is strikingly global.  Whether it’s thrash, death or doom metal these Swedes know how to bring it and it’s no coincidence that their album “The Sound of Malevolence” hit #1 on the Figment Hot Albums chart not long ago.  Their latest album “Q.C.I.C.”, a concept album about surveillance and technocratic oppression, also spent several weeks on the Figment charts and has the band contemplating a tour Down Under.  We caught up with them at a recording studio owned by their bassist Oskar Bergqvist in their hometown of Gothenburg to talk about just how they managed not to be “just another metal band from Sweden.”

Figment News:  How and where did Törnekrona get started?

Johan Kjellgren: We, I mean Oskar, Lars and me, met at Chalmers University, wannabe engineers.. For Odin sake didn’t happen. (laughs).

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: At that time I was.. probably working for my uncle in his farm in Sigtuna.

Oskar Bergqvist: And Hans is my second cousin, so he was always around when he could.

FN:  You guys are from Sweden.  A lot of great metal comes out of Sweden.  Bands like yours, Amon Amarth, Hammerfall, Sabaton, etc.  Is there something in the water?

Lars Laarsson: Probably in the snow.. or in the beer. (laughs)

Johan Kjellgren: When you grow up with all this bands around, you know, one of the guys was your neighbour or  studied in the same high school.. You just follow the tide.

FN:  Was it hard breaking out of such a competitive metal environment?

Johan Kjellgren: Not really.. We’re always looking for new bands to hear and you can find things like “Viking Metal band from Peru”.  Many people just ignore their sound. I believe this awful reality helped us, like, someone in Japan “Hey, new band from Gothenburg, must be awesome!”.

Oskar Bergqvist: In the beginning we are anxious to have an identity, to sound some sort of unique.. and this is not that difficult.  You just have to believe.

FN:  You describe your sound as Extreme Metal which is really an umbrella term for a number of metal subgenres that are less commercial and more abrasive.  You’ve tackled everything from death metal to thrash and now doom.  Why the subtle changes to your sound on every album?

Lars Laarson: I love many bands really attached to a genre like ‘Raw Black Metal’, ‘Symphonic Black Metal’, ‘Brutal Death Metal’ and so on.. Our sound is always heavy, and heavier than the so-called ‘Heavy Metal’. The changes follow our inspiration in each record.

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: I remember one of our first jams before writing ‘Cinder’.. I’ve arrived humming  Sodom’s ‘Agent Orange’. Than Oskar started to play some Sodom basslines and we felt that their sound, their mood, is pretty close to the things we’re writing.

Oskar Bergqvist: Exactly.. in a way or another, this kind of thing happened with Krisiun just before ‘Tartarus’ and with Candlemass in ‘.Q.C.I.C.’. At some level is spontaneous and than we thought ‘It will be great to try some slower riffs this time’.

FN:  Despite the less commercial nature of your music you’ve enjoyed strong sales for almost all of your releases.  Are you concerned with sales or are you more focused on making music purely for the music’s sake?

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: When you are on the stage and you hear the crowd singing at the top of their lungs.. you can be sure that they feel the connection between the writer and the reader. Imagine that we want to direct a short movie, with characters, scenarios, cinematography.. but we just have our voices, instruments and lyrics to show this movie to our public. That’s the way I see our work.

Johan Kjellgren: That was profound, man.. (laughs)  But he said it all. When we are proud of our work the sales just happen.

FN:  What’s your artistic process like?  Do all the members of the band contribute to the music & lyrics or is there a primary songwriter for the band?

Oskar Bergqvist: I was the main lyricist before Hans joining us.. you know, it’s easier to sing what you wrote. But we always discussed the undertone, the focus. Now, it’s really a collective process.. the final lyrics are written by Hans and me, but Lars and Oskar always come up with something.

FN:  How do your song ideas originate?  Do you work on material alone and then bring it to the group?

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: We don’t have any agreement like ‘What happens in the studio stays in the studio’.. I’m always recording weird hummings in my cell phone.. I’m driving and I have a good riff idea, I pick up the phone and record that rakkatakka.. It’s funny, many good riffs came out like that.

Lars Laarson: Yeah, “many” (laughs)..

FN:  In your band bio you list a number of themes that your lyrics are based on – H.P. Lovecraft, Occultism, Misanthropy, the Human Condition, and Society.  Are these themes something you use purely for the imagery they evoke or are you interested in them personally?

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: Our music is always true to its inspiration. For example, we watch movies together to share impressions, to sintonize ideas, making the sum greater than its parts.. The imagery is pretty important, it help us to communicate different layers of emotions and empathy..

FN:  Hans you joined the band as lead vocalist a little over a year ago after Oskar ruptured his vocal cords.  What’s it like being the new guy in the band?  Do you feel settled in now?

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: You must have noticed the way they’re always trolling me in this very interview.. This is their way to make me feel part of the family.. Neil Peart said in ‘Beyond The Lighted Stage’ that after 30 years touring with Geddy and Alex, he continues to be the new guy, so..

Oskar Bergqvist: C’mon, you are a Swedish redneck.. (laughs)

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: See?

FN:  Your latest album “Q.C.I.C.” has sold well since its release last month.  Do you think it will hit #1 on the Figment Hot Albums chart like your last album “The Sound of Malevolence” did?

Lars Laarson: Well, a lightning bolt never strikes twice at the same place.. We’re always happy with our sales, considering the kind of music we create.

FN:  How did it feel to top the charts with your last album?

Johan Kjellgren: Well, first we thought ‘Someone just shut down the Internet and nobody is able to download it’ (laughs). But it was really awesome, because we know how unconventional our record is, so it was really surprising.

FN:  “Q.C.I.C” is a concept album of sorts.  Can you tell us a little about it and where the concept originated?

Oskar Bergqvist: Some months ago I saw this series pilot ‘3percent’ on YouTube.. and then I read about this building in Manhattan, the former Western Union headquarters, that is a giant physical node of the Web..

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: ..and I’m a big fan of Muse and Matthew Bellamy’s dystopian lyrics.. all this we’re a perfect match for our album. Like that 80’s role-playing game ‘Paranoia’.

FN:  Any plans to tour on this album?

Johan Kjellgren: We’re talking with some other bands, trying to share some costs.. It’s not easy to tour outside Europe.. We never played in Australia and New Zealand, it’s something we’re really trying to do, bringing 3 or 4 other bands with us…

FN:  What’s next for Törnekrona?

Lars Laarson: Vacation…

Oskar Bergqvist: We’re considering a very awkward collaborative album with David Bowie called ‘Lily’ to ruin our career.. (laughs) Seriously, nothing planned yet.

FN:  Teach us a little Swedish.  How would you say “you guys rock”?

Johan Kjellgren: Nunstruck git und Slotermeyer?

Lars Laarson: Ja, oder gersput!

Whole band: Oder Gersput!

Editor’s Note:  They may be metal gods from Sweden, but that doesn’t mean the members of Törnekrona don’t have a sense of humor.  While transcribing our interview I realized that their answer to my final question was clearly not Swedish.  I contacted the band to clarify that this was the case, and was reminded that it’s origin was actually, of all things, English.

2 Responses to “Törnekrona – Not Your Average Metal Band From Sweden”

  1. theHoseman Says:

    Great interview. Love the guy’s sense of humor. It really shines through in their responses. Keep up the great work boys!

  2. ChildofAlma Says:

    Astoundingly realistic and compelling interview!

Leave a Reply