Since their creation about one year and a half ago, Colmar based french duo CROWN have experienced a meteoric ascencion in the Sludge/Industrial/Doom sphere. Their debut EP "The One" opened them quickly a lot of doors, including most notably the ones of Roadburn festival and Candlelight records ... and now the guys are justifying all those promises and expectations with their stunning debut album "Psychurgy" !
A masterpiece of 10 songs, composed with heart, sensibility, pain and dark anger, not to forget an amazing apocalyptic-driven sense of urgency. Brilliant songs like 'Abyss', "Blood Runs", 'Psychurgy' and "Alpha Omega" still have that abrasive and unrelenting tone - while more refined and/or introspective ones like 'Telepath', 'Serpent and Fire" or 'We Will Crush the Open sk' provide at times a welcome contrast to the rest of the album's sheer power and heaviness with audacious explorations in Post HC, drone or Post Punk territories.
Beyond this, what differentiates Crown from many of their contemporaries is not their special french touch (!) but rather the fact that all those mixed ingredients are being enveloped in a very personal shattering mood which bring them to another level of disturbing lines... I've asked the very friendly Stéphane Azam some questions about all those cool events and perpectives, to my great surprise he was joined by other member Pascal which makes this one even more complete and interesting, thanx a lot mates !
Hi Steph… 13 months after the 1st one, thanx for accepting a new interview in Temple of Perdition ! Well, lots of things happened during this rather short period, I think that simply everything got linked perfectly well after the release of the EP : positive reviews, album of the day at Roadburn.com, gigs+ tour in Switzerland and Germany with Zatokrev, announcement for Roadburn 2013… how did you enjoy all those successive good happenings ?
Stephane : You're welcome Stephane ! Yeah 2012 was really a sucessful year for CROWN, we put a lot of efforts and finally we didn't expect such a good feedback, it's incredible as we're a really young band ! So we're now very excited to release Psychurgy and spread the disease hehe.
Pascal : It was a pretty good surprise, and it really started to get faster after The Roadburn review. Gigs, Schecter endorsement, tour, then Candlelight. By the way, it brings more work, but it's so exciting, to work on concrete things, because you know that things will happen. It's not the same when you work, on sending stuff and get no answer.
As I said, all this happened in about 8 or 9 months, a busy period of time where yet you composed and recorded your 1st full length “Psychurgy” which seems pretty incredible… were a part of the songs from the album already composed before or have you been very productive in terms of composition in a short period of time ?
Stephane : yeah we got 2-3 demo songs on the work but nothing was finalised, in fact Psyhurgy was written in 2 weeks, so it was a very instinctive and spontaneous process.
Pascal : Only two songs, where composed before, and played sometimes on stage.
Reviewers and fans (including me) often use superlatives, you know like “they are more this” or “sound more that”, but rarely use “less” at least in a non-negative way… I’d say that for me “psychurgy” is less crushing than “the one”, this is not a reproach at all and naturally I’ve got a wagon of positive “more” to put in front of this appreciation, what do you think of this and most importantly what’s the main difference for you between the album and the ep ?
Stephane : I think you're right ! It's maybe less rough but heaviness is still here, there's more electronic stuff on psychurgy and it's maybe more industrial. Psychurgy is more mature than the 2 Eps , I think we found the real dark side of the crown's dark side hehehe, including the music, the design and the lyrics.
Pascal : I think that with the first EP, we had the idea to really kick asses. We wanted to do something short but intense. But there are some hypnotics and sweet ambiances on the EP too and one electronic tracks “100 ashes”. With Psychurgy and a long play album, you get more time to told a really story.
When you announced the deal with Candlelight rds, you thanked people/fans for all their support, moments of joy and accomplishment but also of pain and hard suffering, were you refering to the recording of the album which has been short and intense , or maybe this was refering to other hard moments that the band has had to live… ?
Stephane : Yeah, if we can compare a band as a human being, fans are like the blood running in your veins and you have to do it with your heart and your soul, without fans you won't even exist. The recording of the album was a real painful process for me, intense, lot of hard moments not refering to the band itself, i've put my blood and tears in it hehe, really.
Yet, you were recording without any deal in hands, even if you certainly knew that something great will naturally happen, did you still feel a certain pressure on your shoulders ?
Stephane : We had many really cool reviews but we never expected such a cool thing to be a part of Candlelight Rec, it's exciting to have good reviews but on the other way you're under pressure unfortunately because of that, anyway it's a good thing to be under pressure when you're writing an album.
Pascal : The pressure came more, because of the “superlatives” words of the EP reviews. All people say, we are waiting for the LP ! All recording, mixing and master was done by Stephane in his studio. So it's not the same when you have to pay for that and have no deal. That was the problem with our bands before.
On “Psychurgy” , Freddy from Zatokrev appears as guest vocalist on two songs , the title one and “alpha omega”, why did you place them successively at the end of the album ? Was the order of the songs something hard to work on ?
Stephane : Yeah it was an honour to have Freddy on these 2 tracks, I'm a big fan of Zatokrev and I love so much his voice ! So intense !! He did a great job and he has also written all the lyrics of Alpha/Omega ! In fact the order of the tracks was really natural.
The song featured on it was an unreleased recording of “the one” session, so it was easy to achieve for Crown but was the split EP with S.t. Valley something planed and logical in the band’s schedule, or was it also a good opportunity to present your ambient side-project ? Is S:t Valley an outlet for you too, different but maybe necessary…?
Stephane : The split was not really planned but we talked about that many times with Pascal since the release of The One as we got 2 tracks left from “the one” session. We thought it would be a good idea to release a split with my solo project STValley, it's very calm and ambient and contrasting with the heaviness of CROWN. STValley is my little outlet exactly, it's calm really different but I need that as a real balance between heavyness and calm.
Pascal : When we released “The one”, we had to choose the songs, and indeed we had 2 more. After a while, we decided to release something new and different, and always loved the idea of a Split Ep
How is a new song usually composed in Crown ? Do you rehearse often with Pascal ?
Pascal : Stephane is working hard at home, programming stuff and riffing crazy on it, put some nasty deep & dark samples ! Then we listen each song, drink beer, talk about arrangements, structures, and that's the process !
Until now it’s you who took care of the band’s promotion but now that you gonna have more interviews to give and promotional duties, will Pascal take part and duties be shared then ? Does this increasing demand towards the band imply a special training in English and a work on yourself ?
Stephane : Pascal and me were involved on all promotion for both EPS, it takes so much time, now Candlelight is taking care of the promo and it's a good thing so we can be focused on music only . I'm not really excellent in English but I do my best, I certainly have to improve my english for sure hehe but it's a good things and anyway it's exciting and also answering questions in english is the best training way !!
Pascal : No I never answer to questions ...hahaha. I'm not sure everything will be clear for everyone, but I didn't have a special training. It sucks ! In fact I was more working on design, webdesign, and some mailing for gigs and promoter.
After a couple of months of inactivity, new exciting live performances are coming… starting with the Roadburn next month, of course you’re not the first but you certainly feel something pretty special at the idea of playing there after both last years as fan ?
Stephane : As a real fan of this festival i'm truly honoured to play at Roadburn with CROWN and also looking forward to see a ton of performances of bands I like !
Pascal : We are excited as hell for sure. But we have never known months of inactivity, we were working hard on deals, on recording. For sure for Stephane it will be something different. He told me since many years that I have to come with him there, thanks to Walter, his dream is now reality.
Then in May the release party in your hometown with your fellows of Zatokrev and your first date in Paris with Dopethrone and Huata… sounds exciting !?
Stephane : Yeah we will party as hell with our good friends from Zatokrev, we have also invited AsideFromADay , really excellent band and their new album Chasing shadows is absolutely killer !! It will be our first gig in Paris with CROWN and i'm exciting to play with Huata and Dopethrone, I love so much these two bands !
Pascal : We are always happy to share the stage with Zatokrev, we know us since à couple of years, we also invite Asidefromaday, they have released a fucking good new LP. The gig in Paris sounds good too, the two bands are very great, and we are excited to meet them.
But what should we say then about the perspective to play this same month again as opener of GODFLESH on 3 french dates, they’re a very influential band for Crown, even a reference ?
Stephane : having the opportunity to support Godflesh is really amazing, thanx to our booker Charly at Hibooking ! Of course it's a reference but it's not the only one, we're often compared to Godflesh because both bands have the same set up on stage I think, 2 guys and a machine, even if I think our music is a bit different , anyway it's exciting and I can't believe it will happen for real, never thought one day I will have the possibility to share the stage with such a great band.
Pascal : For sure, I saw them 2 times yet, first time in the venue where Stephane and I work, and some weeks later in Geneva, when I was recording an album with my old band. We have now à great booker, HIBOOKING, and he make that tour possible.
On your fb page after those dates announced, you wrote “and maybe more who knows …?”, this was about two weeks ago and needs some precisions now, don’t you think !?
If not practically concrete yet, there’s maybe some other perspectives of long touring, are you ready for this and have already taken all necessary dispositions towards work obligations especially ?
Stephane : Yeah you're right ! Let's make it clear haha ! In fact Charly from Hibooking was looking for more support shows with Godflesh but it's not that easy so we'll see , maybe another show supporting the mighty Godflesh or maybe not. Of course we're ready to tour as hell but because of our jobs we cannot tour more than 2-3 weeks in one time, we're actually preparing a european tour for fall 2013. I'm a sound engineer and Pascal is working in the same venue where i'm doing the sound so it's not a problem for us to take dispositions towards work obligations.
Pascal : We will play some more gigs this summer, but you have to wait for announcement. End of this year, we are planned to be on tour, in Europe.
When we met at Roadburn last year, I remember you telling me that you sometimes were doing special drugs when composing and/or recording, do you think they push your limits further and have virtues that transcend particularly well with your sonic experimentations ?
Stephane : hehe I remember, for me it's more absynth, i'm not really into drugs that much hehe, but let's keep it secret and ask Pascal about that hehe. Of course I think drugs and alcohol are increasing some visions or pushing some limits but you have to be really careful with that shit hehe.
With the way things have evolved in the past months, did this still leave you some time as you’d liked for SuperStrong rds or do in fact each band make its own business for its current release under the banner of Superstrong and then your lack of time isn’t really a serious problem ?
Stephane : Each bands in Superstrong are doing their own business and it's a good thing because actually with the release of Psychurgy we are really really busy but that's a good things.
Pascal : When we started Superstrong, the agency was created by the guys of the 3 bands. CROWN-JIZZLOBBER-SIX IN LINE, and everyone has to work on his own band. But when it's possible we try to help us all. We just received this morning a Beer called SUPERSTRONG, that we did together with a friend who is beer manufacturer TONTONS BRASSEURS. It will kick your ass with 9,99% alcoohol : SUPERSTRONG, MORE THAN MUSIC, MORE THAN BEER. I make the design of the bottle stickers ! With SUPERSTRONg we produce some gigs to work like our release party for Psychurgy, and many other gigs in our hometown for end of this year.
Well, thanx a lot Steph, all the best to you and Crown for the future, have good times ! Of course, it’s now time to give all necessary infos about the release of the album and eventually new merchandising, etc… cheers
PASCAL : Thanx, new merchandising will be ready for the next shows, with new design and new products.
Stephane : Thanx a lot Steph too ! Psychurgy will be available through Candlelight Records in Europe on april 22nd ( and we will have some cds for Roadburn and new merch of course hehe ) in North America June 11th . See you on the road guys !! And by the way, let's make some promo for a good friend of us who's doing custom pedals : Arts In Bloodshed, he's actually creating special distortion pedals for us and it's just killer stuff !!!