By Tyler Crooks
May 7th 2010, Los Angeles CA
Tyler: You played drums on the infamous King Diamond album "The Eye". What was it like working with King Diamond?
Tyler: You joined Mercyful Fate in 1993 and played on two of their albums, "In the Shadows", and "Time". How do you feel having been part of such an influential and legendary band?
Tyler: You seem to be a jack of all trades when it comes to music. You play a multitude of instruments and do work behind the scenes as a photographer and designer. Is it safe to say that art is an important aspect of your life?
Tyler: We heard you were asked to join Manowar, but turned them down. Tell us a little about that.
Tyler: Tell us a little bit about Notre Dame, why did you guys decide to disband?
After about 7 years and a tremendous roller coaster hell ride of ups and downs with internal turmoil and everlasting vicious conflicts with our incapable French record label who failed so severely and miserably to live up to our agreement and as a consequence eventually sucked all the joy, enthusiasm and lifeblood out of it and led to its demise.
Anyway, were was I, yeah, initially Osmose did a great job and I signed a worldwide deal with them, which soon turned out to be a major mistake, as their American office was totally dysfunctional and collapsed within weeks after I'd inked the deal. Consequently there were no distribution or promotion in North America, or South America either for that matter, or in Asia, and well, basically the only territory they could handle was on their home turf of France. and still the debut full length “Vol. 1: Le theatre du Vampire” would sell over 25.000 copies within the first 3 months all by itself, and with no touring whatsoever during this time, instead we were focusing on making a trilogy of short horror movie/videos named THRILLOGY, a promotional tool on an extremely limited budget intended to bring the concept across in the best possible context. At the time it seemed like a good idea but I literally went to hell and back and got burned out in the drawn out 2 and half year process of trying to create magic relying merely on my own will of iron and favors and the goodwill of friends and amateur directors/editors with a budget below zero. So, to sum it up, if I knew then what I know now, there is no way in hell I would ever have gone through with the whole idea and making of Thrillogy. Adding fuel to the fire, Osmose had no clue how to distribute it and practically no promotion was done for it, and, as if the disaster wasn't bad enough, they refused to release it on DVD and accidently manufactured all the VHS copies in mono,..
After this incident my patience, tolerance and respect with them was completely damaged and beyond repair so over the course of the next few years I did all in my power to get out of that fucking contract. As reluctant I'd be to have my next-door neighbor who's an alcoholic pedophile babysit my child, I wouldn't let Osmose handle another great Notre Dame album.
It was now 2002 and the rot had set in and things had rapidly started to detoriate. Vampirella had a kid and quite understandably her priorities changed a bit and Jean-Pierre De Sade got deeper into the swamp of his heroin addiction and I had other guys masquerading as him on stage. Luckily the De Sade bros had been wearing masks since 1999 which made it a lot easier to have stand in replacements whenever they were not in shape or condition to perform.
I had every intention to continue with my band and move on to sign with one of the bigger and better record label with good world wide distribution that had shown interest. I know more than well that bands often are at odds with their labels, but this was just bloody ridiculous. I offered Osmose the live album Creepshow Freakshow Peepshow to fulfill my part of the deal and get the whole thing and our differences overwith, but they insisted on a studio album, so finally I had it and said Fine, you'll have a brand new album on your desk in two-three months and sat right down and wrote with anger and hatred as inspiration. Without boring you with further details I delivered within the time frame Demi Monde Bizarros, with songs like My Ride Into Afterlife, Bon Voyage Mutherfukker, Hit music for Hitmen, suffice to say directed straight at them.
In one constellation or another Notre Dame went on to play a string of festival shows and gigs and I was now free to sign and make the anticipated Vol II: Vaudeville Le Devil with another label, but unfortunately the rotting in the Notre Dame camp had gone to far, and the years of fighting had taken its toll and I was too fucked up and burnt out and needed a well deserved break from it, indefinitely.
After one last Halloween show in Gothenburg in 2004, I nailed the coffin shut. Then in 2005 I released the live album Creepshow Freakshow Peepshow as a farewell gift to our fans on my own label White Trash Records.
Tyler: You do some behind the scenes work for Therion, we understand. Tell us about that.
It's rock n' roll theatre for sure, but still it gotta be an extension of your own personality, and one gotta be able to convincingly carry the outfit without feeling like a complete moron or going to a masquerade. Personally I never wanna get out of my stage outfit, it's so me.
Tyler: Do you think IllWill will ever release another album, or perhaps tour?
To be perfectly honest with you, to this day, this still bugs the hell out of me whenever someone or something reminds me of it, because I had all this fantastic plans and ideas that were totally groundbreaking and years ahead of the time back then in 1993-97. No use crying over spilled milk as we say in Sweden, but for years I really worked my ass off with Illwill, and as so many times before and after not all the people around me were as committed and dedicated and were incapable of sharing my visions. Try imagine how utterly annoying it was seeing bands like Marilyn Manson, Rammstein and Meshuggah years later realizing my exact same visions and getting extremely successful with it, on top of it. I hate to sound bitter, but I can't see how not to, and that's what happens once one start stirring in old shit, the smell comes back and that's why I avoid thinking about it.
Tyler: You have quite an extensive and impressive catalogue of both music and photography, how did you first discover your passion for art?
Tyler: You seem to be incredibly fearless in terms of what kind of music you play; do you enjoy playing an eclectic array of music?
Although I am and will always be a rock/metal musician first and foremost I think I'm a fairly all round musician and have generally a pretty good understanding and appreciation of the very fundaments and essentials as for musical structures, rhythms, chords and harmonies. Of course it may differ massively in approach and scope but underneath it all it's just notes and rhythm in various different combinations. So for instance the music of King Diamond and Dream Evil is not that different at all. Within the confinement of a band one can't freak out too much and suddenly deliver a 70s disco album if your previous one was Death Metal, but as a private person I allow myself to be free and do whatever the fuck I want. It's my life and I need no one's approval but my own.
Tyler: What made you decide to be a part of XXX, and do you think the US will ever see an XXX tour?
To answer your question, as much as I'm proud and love the album “Heaven, Hell or Hollywood?” and the whole XXX concept, sadly I must acknowledge it falls under the category of "I curse myself for having wasted so much time, energy and money and getting myself involved with loser idiots" like I've done on countless occasions in my life, and unfortunately XXX turned out to be no exception. I could definitely have picked members and partners more carefully when forming the glam/glitter rock vehicle where I could finally have an outlet and dive head first into my big love, passion and fascination for the early 70s era with Sweet, Ziggy Stardust era Bowie, T-Rex, Kiss and so on. I'm certainly not saying it's over yet by any means but we're supposed to be a three piece in XXX, and as for now in way it still is: me, myself and I.
Tyler: Do you have any new projects in the works?
Tyler: Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans?
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