Swedish Heavy Metal giants SABATON- who are well known for writing music based on wars, historical events and heroism. Their songs usually have a grand appeal that draws influences from classic Heavy Metal of the 80’s with a subject that strongly defines their music alone. We are interacting with Pär Sundström; the band’s bassist and the only other original member alongside Joakim Brodén. Excerpts:
MJM. Hello and first of all thank you for taking the time to chat with us. How are you doing today?
Pär: I am fantastic, we have had a few weeks of non touring which we have used wisely to work on future music. At the moment, we don’t have so much more to reveal but at least the songwriting started!
MJM. Your last album ‘The Last Stand’ came out 2016; how has the response been?
Pär: Fantastic, we are absolutely excited about how fans enjoyed our latest album. To be able to play more than half of the album every night and see that the fans love it is great. It means that we do not rely on songs we wrote in the past but still have the ability to write new songs that is great.
MJM. Being almost constantly on the road, touring; how do you balance time with your personal life?
Pär: We live very closely with the band and it’s a part of everything we do. We ensure that all members have a good life and we make the best of the free time we have. We are more away from our families than most people but still there are a lot who have it more harder than us.
MJM. Sabaton has quite a spread discography having put out as much as 10 full lengths so far with ‘The Last Stand’, how do you go about when it comes to choosing songs for a tour or live set list?
Pär: Its getting harder and harder to select songs for live sets. But we are happy as long as we can focus on a lot of songs from the latest release. We cannot play 4 hour sets every night so it is always a compromise which older songs fit in. We try to rotate and always get in some older and unexpected songs to vary also!
MJM. Sabaton is known for covering world war topics of various kinds; is there any war or happening in the world you haven’t yet covered?
Pär: There are many current wars that we are not covering for the reason that we like to stay away from current warfare. We tell about historical events and not about what is happening today. There is a chance we will in the future sing about conflicts that are happening today. But first they must be solved in one way or another, become history and then we can tell that story!
MJM. Being one of the leading and heavily touring bands in Europe; the life style must be quite hard with being on the road and stressful times as well; could that also be a reason perhaps for the line-up changes for Sabaton over the years?
Pär: The 2012 big lineup change was a result of no chance the previous 13 years of the band where we held together, but people grow and change priorities of their lives.
It is hard for people to imagine this life before they try it and it is definitively not for everyone. For me personally it is great since I am a very simple person without too tight connection to any place or anyone in the world.
SABATON – Sparta (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO)
MJM. Sabaton has been around for a long time what are your best moments in your career with Sabaton?
Pär: There are lots of fantastic times. And we have done great shows in our lives. But to see a number one chart position in our home country is something that is hard to deny as a fantastic feeling. When it comes to shows, I’m not so interested in numbers, I remember many sweaty tight club shows as well as the arena shows. But one thing that was a big highlight for me personally was after the big lineup change in 2012 when we did our first show and saw that it actually works great now!
MJM. How would you compare Carolus Rex with your last two albums- Heros And The Last stand; musically and lyrically?
Pär: Carolus Rex of course has a completely different lyrical theme, being a concept album about Swedish history. I would also say that it is one of the albums that I have something I would like to change afterwards. I think it is too much of everything. We overuse the might of choirs and mighty orchestral arrangements in every song. The album gives not much room to breathe. On the same time I hold the Swedish version of the album as the highest.
The other two albums you mentioned are both written where we started to include new members in songwriting and I think that was a big leap musically.
MJM. How does the writing process for each album start? Do all guys get together and share your ideas or is it mainly Jaoakim and Per who is known as being the main composer for Sabaton or does anyone in the band incorporate their ideas too?
Pär: An album starts with me and Joakim who sits and discusses the possible themes. Joakim is the main songwriter who would later go ahead and create the majority of the songs by himself or with other people. And finally me and Joakim would be writing the lyrics when we are close to recording times.
MJM. Which of the recent tracks would you say is your personal favourite?
Pär: Shiroyama, and Winged Hussars for sure!
MJM. Aside from playing at various European festivals you also have a festival in your own home town ‘Falun’ called ‘Sabaton Open Air’ how did that idea come to life?
Pär: I wanted to make something more than just a show. Its my way of doing things that I always wanna push everything to the max. So the festival started with a one day event with mainly local bands and evolved into what is now a 4 day open air event with 2 stages.
MJM. What sparked your interest to write about War?
Pär: We always were interested in war, history. And when we were looking for a theme for our music this seemed very close at heart. I personally think it fits great with the music and the lyrical theme.
MJM. Which era of the wars would you say is the most interesting? What provokes that idea in you?
Pär: World War two is my favorite since it involved so many different kind of warfare. Water, air and land plus it was a time of very quick inventions and since it was fought on several continents and with lots of countries there are many stories. But also it is the first really good documented war. Films, photos and stories are quite accurate compared to previous war stories.
MJM. Out of all stories you’ve read and researched, what was the hardest war to research about? Or rather found great fascination with?
Pär: Sometimes the themes only are a few local rumors in a part of the world and we have to do a lot of research and try to dig out what actually happened. It happens if we find a interesting idea without any information about it. Today, its much easier than when we started to write songs about war in 2004. Internet made it easier to seek the info and to connect with the necessary people!
MJM. Out of all festivals that you played how would you compare the European festivals vs the Swedish festivals as well as audiences?
Pär: I think the major festivals are many times similar no matter which country they are in. Only our own festival is something different since it gathers the most dedicated fans from all around the world.
MJM. It was great talking to you. Thank you for your time! All the best!
Pär: Thank you too!
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PS: All pictures belong to respective owners. No copyright infringements intended.
All b/w pics by Ryan Garrison; Photo credit by Tim Tonckoe; Severin Schweiger respectively.