P: Well, actually just returned and have done a few things here in Europe but thanks a lot. We are proud of our new album.
First of all… How’s the US tour so far? What are your first impressions? Is the American audience as enthusiastic as the European one?
P: Our audience in America is a new audience for Sabaton since they basically discovered Sabaton on the “Coat of Arms” album which was the first album to be released in America. So when we play some old songs which are very popular in Europe many Americans do not know it.
It seems that it will be a tough two-year-period on the road for you… but as I can imagine you do enjoy it eventually right?
P: Of course, if I did not enjoy what I did I would quit. I love every little part of the band. I love most to be on stage but I actually do not mind anything from handling the economics, cleaning the bus or just sitting waiting at an airport somewhere in the world. I never regret my choice to go all in for the band.
Please tell us something that all the fans wanna know… What happened and the guitarists Oskar Montelius & Rikard Sunden, the drummer Daniel Mulback and the keyboardist Daniel Myhr left the band? It makes no sense at all to leave you only 1 and a half month before the official release of the new album they also took part in.
P: It appears to be sudden, but it was actually started years ago when some members already got tired of constant touring. And with wives and kids back home it does not get any easier. During the recordings of “Carolus Rex” I drew a map of what the band will be doing the coming 3 years and for some that was too much commitment. (i.n.: I see…)
How were things during the recordings? Did you have any issues that led to the departure of 4 members out of 6?
P: It was good times and not so good times. The last part of the period in the studio was a lot by me and even more Joakim who went through an insane pressure and stress with this album. I am happy he is still alive, and I am happy that I am too. (i.n.: and we’re happy as well…)
How good are the relationships between Joakim & you with the band’s ex-members nowadays?
P: We still have some details to discuss and that takes a while since we are constantly away and touring and they focus on their new band.
How fast did you find the new members… and how hard was it to cooperate so as to go on tour? Is this the new permanent line-up of Sabaton?
P: Since we needed to seek in secret it should have been hard but we asked some of our most trusted colleagues in Swedish metal scene and we got some tips. After that it was basically 3 phone calls. We did not do any auditions or so, we knew they were superior musically to any member, new or old of Sabaton. We just needed to check the social part so we had some beers and talked about just crazy stuff. The drummer has already played in Sabaton a few shows in the past and we know what he is capable of.
OK, let’s focus on the new album… how did you decide to deal with the Swedish Empire in the new album? How did you come up with the title “Carolus Rex”?
P: Lots of people have asked us why we sing about all other nations’ history and never Swedish history. When we found the historian Bengt Liljegren we knew we could do it and it worked out great. The title was just cool since King Charles XII had a Latin title which was Carolus Rex. And since Sabaton before had Latin album titles we thought it would be great.
The album is also available in both the English and Swedish language. Isn’t that kind of risky especially in our time? Did you think it was important it be in Swedish since the concept is about the Swedish Empire?
P: It was not important for anyone else than us to do this. We initially planned to have some parts of a song sung in Swedish but later we made the decision to have the whole album in Swedish also since it sounded so great when Joakim sang in Swedish. (i.n.: that’s true…)
There’s also a limited edition of the album featuring a double CD with both language versions plus a different cover artwork. Why’s that? Which is your beloved cover artwork between those two?
P: When I knew what the album title would be I ordered the artwork from two different designers. We loved them both and decided to use them both. Personally I love the one with the Swedish warrior on the front, the double CD. (i.n.: me too…)
Please give us a hint about each one of the songs…
P: “Dominium Maris Baltici”: Intro to the album and to the song Lion from the North, a short instrumental piece.
“The Lion From the North”: Fast and heavy song, quite traditional Sabaton song.
“Gott Mit Uns”: Kinda inspired by Irish folksongs, a very uplifting song.
“A Lifetime of War”: A more classic ballad, very unusual for Sabaton.
“1648”: Fast song about the battle of Prague in the year... 1648
“The Carolean’s Prayer”: Slow and very epic song about how the soldiers of the Swedish army would act in war.
“Carolus Rex”: Title track, very powerful song that will stick into our setlist kinda forever.
“Killing Ground”: More of a classic metalsong a´la Iron Maiden.
“Poltava”: One of the songs where you can hear quite clear that Peter Tägtgren produced the album.
“Long Live the King”: This song goes back to the roots of our metal and has many classical elements.
“Ruina Imperii”: A song only available in Swedish, not actually a song. It’s more of a outro where the story of what happens in the end of the Swedish Empire.
How did you choose to include the covers of “Twilight Of The Thundergod” (Amon Amarth - EU Digipak Bonus Track), “In The Army Now” (Status Quo - EU Mail-Order Edtn Bonus Track - U.S. Bonus Track) & “Feuer Frei” (Rammstein - EU Mail-Order Edtn Bonus Track) as bonus tracks in the abovementioned various editions?
P: Amon song was chosen since we are great friends and fans of their music and the fact that they are Swedish. When it comes to the song “In the Army Now” we decided that with the title of the song. We just made it more metal and more party. The final song “Feuer Frei” was a cool and much unexpected song to make. Joakim once sang that song live in Netherlands together with an orchestra and it sounded great.
Once again you decided to cooperate with Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Dimmu Borgir, Amon Amarth, Pain, Celtic Frost among others) who has also delivered some guest vocals on the song “Gott Mit Uns”. Are you totally satisfied with the production? Is there anything you would change… if you had the chance again?
P: I am totally happy with Peter’s work, first album that really sounds amazing of all Sabaton albums. He does not accept less than 110% of everyone and he is great of getting the little extra out of everyone. (i.n.: That’s why Peter is one of the best producers out there…)
How’s the press and fans’ reaction for the new album so far? What do you see especially on the live shows?
P: The songs are still fresh and many people have not yet heard it but that time will come when they know the lyrics. From media we got very mixed feelings, seems like many thinks it’s too epic and too much.
What’s your personal opinion for “Carolus Rex”? Is it an album close to “Coat of Arms” which is considered, by most of your fans, as your best work so far?
P: This is by far the best album we made.
I’ve written: “Carolus Rex” is among the top epic, heavy/power metal albums of 2012… in my review. Do you agree with that?
P: Actually I could honestly say that, I agree.
I’ve also noted: “Carolus Rex” also has those elements that made the band beloved to its fans all those years. It’s heavy, powerful, symphonic and epic… with imposing keys and beautiful choirs… do you believe that this album will satisfy even the most demanding fans of the band… and make a break to new audiences as well?
P: We will see, this is something that time will tell. But I am quite comfortable with the thought that the album will reach new fans.
Are you planning to release any video clips?
P: We have recently recorded 2 videos, the “Carolus Rex” and also one more song. I hate to promise when they will be released when it’s not up to me to finish them. They will be released when they are ready!
How do you see the future of metal music? Many bands are reuniting again, touring and releasing new material… we also need the old bands and the new ones as well in order for heavy metal to gain its old glory… do you think that’s possible nowadays? Why things have gone so wrong all these years?
P: I still see many bands do well. Metal is doing great, at least here in Sweden I think metal has never been bigger. But also it’s a big competition where many bands get lost amongst the bigger ones. But I suppose that is the nature of anything. Those bands that have the endurance to stay active and keep doing great songs usually lives long.
I believe that quality is what our music is missing this time period. Everything is so similar and so easy-going that most of the fans are truly confused. Which is this “force” that will bring back things to what they used to be… to a time period that music was art…?
P: Might be that most great guitar riffs already has been written and many metal-fans has their own favorite songs a long time back. But we must never forget the young generation of metal-fans. They are the future of metal and for them Hammerfall might be a lot more important than bands like Judas Priest. Young people might think that Judas Priest are old farts and their albums sounds outdated while they dig Hammerfall. This is a generation thing and will always be, I think in most genres.
I see that we are on a terminal point... where especially the younger music fans have to re-consider their way of getting their music… Downloading a band’s music instead of buying it will cause a huge problem in the end… no one will record and release music anymore and that will be a total music destruction. So, how do you see the future of this so called “free music” culture? What shall the musicians (and the labels) do if they want to keep producing music without losing their money and time?
P: It’s a dark future we are facing. Many artists will stop making good sounding music, use cheap equipment and home studios to record and then some small labels will help them print a few hundred physical CDs. I am worried but I also think that Sabaton is big enough to be able to keep going and we have enough really die-hard fans that still want physical albums so we will sell a few more.
And some weird Questions now!!! Why did you named the band Sabaton in the first place?
P: We named the band Aeon, but there were already several ones called that. Sabaton sounded cool. A lot of people thought we were a Black Sabbath cover band. At least they thought we were something. It’s a great name.
How did you come up with the lyrics for the Greek Epos of 1940 and wrote that very epic song? Were you inspired by the chronicles of World War II? You must know that you became much more popular in Greece after the release of that song/album.
P: We have some great friends and fans in Greece and they were really pushing us hard to make a song about this. And we loved the idea of this, it’s a perfect topic for a Sabaton song. We try to spread out the topics of the songs. (i.n.: amazing song indeed!)
Choose which army would you like to be part of and why? From any time-period of history.
P: The Swedish army today, because we do not fight. I do not like fighting, I hate wars and I wish there never had been any wars even if it would mean that Sabaton would be nothing and I would be picking potatoes for survival. (i.n.: hehe I didn’t see that coming…)
What would you do, if you had a supernatural power?
P: Depends on the power. But I would probably fight injustice and prevent rapes.
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
P: Best of Abba…
How difficult is it to survive and succeed in a music world that is ruled by irrelevant people that promote shit-wannabe-good pop music all the time… without caring about music quality?
P: True that all major media closed their eyes for metal. But we can only blame ourselves. All metal bands work alone. Look at all the hip hop acts that do duets all the time. Their community is united, and united are stronger.
Do you believe that it is easy for a band to differ in today’s music industry than in the past? And if yes, what shall it do in order to achieve it?
P: It’s a complicated world and industry. Nobody has any answers. I only think that the future of music is to play live and to give away the music for free.
What is missing from today’s music industry? Are most heavy metal albums missing that quality they used to have back in the 80’s?
P: The thing with the 80’s is that many bands had a long time to write songs. Today everything goes faster. The fans demand and consume music a lot faster than ever. Even our album is just a few weeks old a lot of fans already wants new songs. Many bands hurry their releases too much. (i.n.: I prefer someone to take their time when it comes to music and deliver something really strong… than hurry things up with so-so results…)
What would you do if you were not afraid to fail?
P: The same. To try to survive from doing metal is crazy.
If you could go back in time in any time-period where would you go and why?
P: There are some shows I wanted to see in the 80’s. But I definitively would not want to live in another age.
What is your favorite place in the world?
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
P: Since I cannot be angry… I probably be very sad and ask her why. Then I would buy it back.
Thank you very much for this wonderful interview Pär… Thx for the music...! The last words of this interview belong to you… Take care!
P: Thanks to all fans out there and please do not fear anything cuz’ we have a new line-up, give it a chance and you be happily surprised.