Sabaton’s new record is out! Pär gave us some details about “Heroes”!
Hello Pär, how are you?
Pär Sundström (bass): I’m great, I’m very happy to be here especially since this is our first ever promo trip to France. For the last album, I was asking because Sabaton has been one step behind in France compared to a lot of other countries and I really wanted to change that so I told to the record label “please do anything you can to make sure I can go to France” and they tried but said that nobody wanted to interview Sabaton in France. I was really sad but since you asked, I’m happy because this time both I and Joakim are here and for two days! It’s amazing. So it shows that something happened. I like challenges.
Ready for war with your new album “Heroes”?
P: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to it, it’s really exciting because it’s going to be a lot of fun to tour with it. Since the release of “Carolus Rex”, we have three new band members and this is the first time they’re on an album with us. They can feel more contributing to the music this time, not only playing someone else’s music. After recording it, we sat down and we asked each other which was their favourite track and everybody said “all of them”! So we’re pretty open and there is a lot of space for many tracks. We’ll play some of the new album and some of previous ones, switching them if we want, that’s pretty uncommon. I’m sure we did a very strong album and those who heard it so far said it was a great album. We’ll see in the future if it’s our best album or not but for now we feel very proud of it.
After Swedish Empire, what were the guidelines for this record?
P: In 2010, we were writing the album “Cult Of Arms” and by then we asked the fans to send us new ideas and we got lot of ideas. After that album, we had a song we really wanted to write, it was about Vito P. which became later “Inmate 4859” on the record. We kept this one for four years knowing that we’ll do an album with those topics, not about the big battles anymore but about individuals/people. So that story kind of became the backbone, the inspiration to the entire album, so… we already knew four years ago that we’ll made an album called “Heroes”.
Why did you choose this period of time?
P: To work around WW2, I mean, there are a lot of stories but some of them aren’t so well documented. If we’d to write something, for example with “Carolus Rex” album, there’s not so much documentation, we needed an historian who guided us where to find the inspiration. When it comes to things around WW2, most of them are very well documented and we can find the information. Sometime, what we were looking for wasn’t available in any language that we speak, so we asked for translations and assistants. Many of these ideas were sent out by fans and this is great because then we can ask them again “hey, you asked us to write about this, but what’s the story behind?”. For several songs, we kept dialogue with some fans to find out details helping us to write the songs.
Was it a more team effort regarding “Carolux Rex” following the line-up changes?
P: Well, first of all, I’m glad that we have people in the band that don’t possess such big egos, that’s a blessing for any band. Because there are so many bands out there, that have childish approach to what they say. It’s going against what we are and what we should do so this way they have any problems to play the old songs. They’re very happy to be in the band and it’s the same for me and Joakim. We have to focus on the fans and not on ourselves. When the crowd is having fun, we’re too, even more! As you said, it’s great that these songs are their too. Thobbe co-writed and it’s the first time in 15 years that another band member has done it, that was new and even with other influences, when Joakim sat down next to him, he was like “if you play it like that, it’ll sound like Sabaton” so a song not sounding like Sabaton, sounded after that, like Sabaton. To be able to use all of this, we recently build three new studios so every band member has their own studio. We just got fully functional now and we’re going to be very very busy for the next two years and then we’ll work on a new album. I’m sure we’ll have a lot more ideas in the future. You already can hear that there’s new energy and inspiration for “Heroes”.
A word about “To Hell And Back”? It reminds me disco beats.
P: Yeah, it is disco beat! And I love it! We had a replacement drummer for a while and he made disco beats out of every song because we loved that. And we thought, ok sometimes it sounds good, sometimes it shouldn’t be like that (laughs) and this particular song was written on a Friday or something, and we had a party at Chris’ place, our guitar player. Joakim didn’t want to come because “I have an idea! I’ll join you maybe later”. We were having drinks, some food and Joakim called me “hey, either you think that I’m really stupid now or you’re gonna like this, there’s two options” so he sent it over and we turned it on the stereo and when it started we were all like “WHAT?” but then we felt the groove of it and nobody could sit still and we called him back “hey, it’s genius! This is the single of the new album”.
What is the story behind “Soldier Of 3 Armies”?
P: It’s about Larry Thorne or Lauri Törni, a Finnish guy who served in three different armies and made it to the officer rank. There are many stories about him and he was always inspiring people around him. We thought that was quite extraordinary and also that he got officer rank in three armies.
Do you always have in mind, during recording and writing, the live approach of your music?
P: Yes, Sabaton is a live band, definitively, it should be experienced live and he always listen to how it will be live. But on the new album, we did something we never done before, because we don’t have a keyboard player, we have pre-recorded keyboards so we thought “lets not limit ourselves for the song writing” before it was more “ok, we have to able to play the exact thing”. Now, we’ll just make great songs and we’ll sort out how to make it happen live. Two keyboards, three guitars, two seven-string guitars? That’s no longer a problem. But I think we’re really open to how we approach the songs now, we make a lot of improvements when we take them live. We can have different versions of “The Ballad Of Bull” for example, like on the album or acoustic way, so it’s very open.
Are there any thing that you still didn’t achieved musically?
P: Oh yes, I’m quite sure. Musically, I mean, we’re evolving all the time and we’re always learning but I don’t think we have a specific goal where we want our music to be. We have goals where Sabaton should be but musically, I think, it’s just what ever happen. There’re so much influences in our music that it doesn’t really matter. Every song on this new album has a true meaning behind it and I think that represents the heart of Sabaton, how much it stands out over the years we’ve made thrash metal songs, progressives songs, fast songs, slow songs and… Disco songs. (laughs)
Last time in Paris, you played a little venue but in Eastern Europe, you play in front of full packed arenas, how would you explain this differences?
P: The thing is, Sabaton started with a very little record company in Sweden who couldn’t push the band outside of Sweden so we had to rely and fight for ourselves to get into a festival or something like that. If you go back to 2005/2006 even 2008, during this time, there was not so much festivals and our music wasn’t popular in France. It was very difficult to build a new fan base or get shows. In Germany, there are many festivals how support this kind of music so we got an easier way in. And since, France has always been one step behind for Sabaton. We fought against it, tried but it’s really tough but I feel there’s a change in the air. We won’t be on the same level on next tour but maybe the tour after that. I think it’s about, because we’re not featured on radio, tv or whatever, we can’t have a worldwide hit so our only way is to reach people by playing for them and the more we play, the more fans we get.
Do you think nowadays, a band has to create a conceptual universe/look to keep attention from fans and music companies?
P: It definitely helps but it’s always been like that. I think that when you create something, it’s because you want to look unite and not five individuals with different stuff or whatever. People will get it “ok, they belong together, stick together” for me it’s very important, for some it’s not. Also, if you have a song topic, you’ll always have someone who’ll relate to, they’ll know what to expect. In this business, if fans can relate to you for something, it’ll be easier to promote it and that’ll be great for the band.
But sometimes, the look is one thing, but the music quality is another…
P: True and it can be. For a lot of people, there are bands who are followed rather for the image than the music. I think the ultimate way of doing that is those bands/girl bands/boys band where if you turn the music down, you can watch it. (laughs) Heavy metal fans will pick you on the music, they care more and they see through, they’re not buying a lie. Heavy metal fans are very dedicated and they know what they want.
What bands did you listen lately?
P: There’s Battle Beast, a Finnish band. We do a cover of them on the album. I remember, I got the CD, played it for the other guys after a concert we made and they were all like “wow, this sounds great”. We wanted to see them live. When we had the Sabaton cruise, we invited them for it as a secret guest. In the program, usually we detail who is playing etc. but this time we presented it on a different way, instead of booking a band the fans like, we’re going to book a band that’ll force you to love. (laughs) We invited all the fans to get into the main room showing the new DVD of Sabaton, so there was a lot of people and after that, we opened the gates of the stage and we just wanted to see what was going to happen. Their show was great and people enjoyed it. After that, we decided to do a cover, it’s a young band, we can help them getting more attention, and we want them to succeed.
And finally, we are “RockUrLife” so what rocks your life Pär?
P: Sabaton of course. It’s what I do in life, when I go up to when I go to bed. Since day one, I’ve been the manager of the band so whatever I do is related to Sabaton. I don’t have any other hobbies or anything because what would you do as a hobby? What you love, so. I love Sabaton it rocks my life.
Don’t you get vacations sometimes?
P: I thought I wanted it. For the first time in 15 years, I was supposed to have vacations after the tour we finished with Iron Maiden, in California. I said to the others “ok, everybody can go where he wants and have 2 weeks off”. Some went to Hawaii, some to Las Vegas, some stayed in LA and I had an absolute beautiful place in Mexico. I thought “ok, I won’t bring my computer, my phone.” I was sitting there for one day and then I got so much ideas so the day after, it didn’t mean anything to stay there having ideas, I had to do something so I took my computer and started to work. (laughs)