On The Rise with Alexander Strandell of Crowne and Art Nation
On The Rise with Alexander Strandell of Crowne and Art Nation
Crowne is a super group in the genre of melodic rock, featuring the massive talents of vocalist Alexander Strandell (Art Nation), keyboardist / producer Jona Tee (H.E.A.T.), bassist John Levén (Europe), drummer Christian Lundqvist (The Poodles), and new full-time member, guitarist Love Magnusson (Dynazty). Their second magnum opus is entitled Operation Phoenix, now available on Frontiers Music Srl, and it’s a grand magnum opus destined to enrapture music fans all around the world. Highwire Daze recently interviewed Alexander Strandell to the discuss the rise of Operation Phoenix and his involvement with the almighty Crowne, news on his other standout band Art Nation, his work within the ranks of Nitrate and The Darren Phillips Project, and other topics of intrigue. Read on…
How did you become with Crowne, and did you know Jona Tee of H.E.A.T. from before?
Sweden is not that big, so even if I had not worked with any one of the Crowne members – we had crossed (paths) at festivals and those kinds of things. Of course, I knew Jona a little bit, but we hadn’t worked (together) before Crowne. From the beginning, the whole Crowne thing was supposed to be a solo from Frontiers – they wanted to have my voice on an album, and they wanted Jona to produce that, but when me and Jona met up, we felt very quickly that we needed to do something more than just like a Frontiers album. After that, we started talking about what we could do with the whole thing. We started to reach out to the other guys. Because of the pandemic, no one had that much on the schedule. So we started to work from there, and we weren’t sure what we would expect for the first album. I wrote a lot of songs and Jona wrote a lot of songs – and it was both a little metal and a little melodic rock vibe. But when people were so excited about it and appreciated it so much, it became a little easier to start up the work on Operation Phoenix. It’s been really fun!
What does the album title and song Operation Phoenix mean to you?
In my opinion, if I compare it to Kings In The North. Kings In The North was like a statement where everything in the world was very upside down and crazy at the moment. Operation Phoenix became something like now we need to rise from the ashes and start to live our lives again – start to be human again and learn from everything that we needed to go through during the pandemic.
Let’s talk about one of the first songs you released from this new album. In The Name Of The Fallen – what is the story behind that song?
It’s actually one of Jona’s songs. I can’t answer 100 percent – I haven’t talked to him about what exactly the song means to him. It feels hard for me to answer that, because I didn’t write anything actually.
Let’s pick out another song you wrote and talk about the inspiration behind it.
We can take Juliette – it was actually one of my songs and it was very strange story about that song – because that song has been in my baggage for like 15 years since I was a kid. I wrote that chorus when I was very young but hadn’t fulfilled it. When we started to work on Operation Phoenix, it was just so many things that felt right about the chorus and it all came so natural when I finished the song. It’s feel so cool that have a song that I’ve been familiar with for so many years being on this album. That song means a lot to me just because of that. And I also have this song called Roar on the album that I wrote – and that’s also a song that means a lot to me – because the message of the song – someday we really need to wake up and see what’s happening around ourselves. Because it’s so many living their lives just thinking about themselves and their closest ones – and we’re forgetting that there’s a whole world out there, and we need to start to think a little deeper than we’re doing at the moment. So Roar is also a very important song for me, because it’s about how people need to do something more.
What has it been like working with John Levén of the legendary band Europe on these albums?
For myself, it’s so unreal in so many ways and I’m actually trying to stop myself sometimes and just think about all those cool and amazing things that I’m doing at the moment and that I’ve been doing for a couple of years now, because it’s so easy to forget. To think this is my daily routine now – this is my life now – and continue to push yourself. So I’m really trying to think about all those cool things, like playing with John Levén. One of my first albums when I was a kid was a Europe album, so it feels so strange when I’m sitting there eating dinner, and we’re on the same page at that moment when we’re doing a thing together. So yeah, it’s like so unreal actually.
Has Crowne ever performed live, or is that something you’d like to do in the future?
We are actually trying to set some live shows this year and everything is depending on our other bands. We are going to be releasing a new album with Art Nation and we are going to be touring in both Sweden and Europe this year. And Europe has their anniversary tour. And I know both H.E.A.T. and Dynazty have a lot of shows this year. So, we are trying to see if we could fit something in. If we could do that, it would be amazing to be out and doing some shows with Crowne.
Let’s talk about some of your other bands. How did you become involved with Nitrate, and is that another project you’ll continue to pursue?
It’s so fun that you mentioned Nitrate, because it started out as Nick Hogg, who is in charge of Nitrate – he reached out to me years ago and told me he loved my voice and loved Art Nation. And I liked his vibe – he was so humble and had this passion for music – and I could feel his passion in the way he wrote to me. And then he reached out to me because he wanted to have a singer that he could really connect to and believed in – and he was a little frustrated with the last singer that he worked with. He just reached out to me and his messages were so honest and humble in a very nice way, so I said yes and listened to the songs. And even if it’s not my dream in music taste at the moment, I really enjoyed the 80’s and am inspired by the 80’s hard rock/melodic AOR thing. But it was his energy and vibe that made me jump onboard.
When the first album was released, I had no expectation on where this was going. When he told me this had been the best release with Nitrate and everyone was thrilled with it, he reached out again and I was like “Yeah, why not?” We are living in a crazy world these days, and it’s not like how it was 20 years ago, when you would be doing one band and doing it 100 percent. It’s so many artists and bands these days, and everyone is fighting for the attention to be number one. And it’s so hard doing just one thing, so for me, it’s very fun and I’m grateful that people love my voice and the things I do and want me onboard on several things. So yeah, I don’t know what life will involve, but if there could be any chance to go out and tour it would be so cool – but right now I need to prioritize Art Nation and of course Crowne – because at the moment, it’s happening more in the Art Nation and Crowne camp.
How did you become involved with The Darren Phillips Project? He’s located out of Australia.
Yeah, that’s the cool thing about social media these days. It’s easier to reach out to people. So he actually reached out to me, like Nick did with Nitrate, and sent me a very humbling message and wanted me onboard. I’m very optimistic to work with other people and I think that’s evolving myself as a singer as well. I’m trying to see everything as a possibility to evolve and fulfil my dream as a singer – as long as I feel it’s something I can stand behind and I like.
Now let’s talk about Art Nation. What are you looking forward to the most about your upcoming shows with HammerFall?
Yeah! I mean that’s amazing, and we have so many shows that are taking aim right now – and we’re going to announce it a little later this Spring when we have all the release dates of the singles and the album. But we got the master of the album today actually, and it’s like we’re very close at the moment. So, I’m actually very (excited) about everything that’s happening, because during the pandemic I did almost anything about music because everything was so upside down – and it was just very hard without having the possibility of being out playing and doing the things that I usually did. So, it feels like everything I was supposed to be doing during the pandemic I’m doing at the moment, so it’s been like three albums last autumn and winter plus some guest appearances that will pop up very soon. But yeah, it’s been crazy actually!
Would you like to bring Art Nation or Crowne to the States to do some shows?
Yeah, that would be amazing! And we know that we’re going to relaunch Art Nation in a bigger way than we’ve done before. We have a very big plan and a very good vision at the moment to let Art Nation grow. So hopefully we will do that in the near future.
Do you have any messages for fans of your various bands here in the States?
I’m just so grateful that so many people are enjoying the things that I’m onboard with and I’m so thankful for all the pre-ordering with Crowne and Operation Phoenix. I’m just so grateful and I want to say thank you to everyone out there that believes in the music I’m in.
(Interview by Ken Morton)
Alexander Strandell – Lead Vocals
Love Magnusson – Guitar
Jona Tee – Guitar/Keyboards/Backing Vocals
John Levén – Bass
Christian “Kicken” Lundqvist – Drums
Crowne on Instagram