Heart of Steel: Interviews

Peter Tägtgren of PAIN

Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen
Interview pictures by Mirkka Tikkanen, Live pictures by Luxi Lahtinen

 

I guess Peter Tägtgren´s Death Metal heroes Hypocrisy are familiar to most of you at least by name if nothing else, but what ´bout his own metallic techno-driven ´solo´ thing called Pain, then; how many of you have become familiar with the brilliant realms of it?

The following chat I had with him for some time ago, hopefully enlightens your knowledge ´bout this great band a bit more and allows you an opportunity to check them out some day ´coz Pain definitely ain´t your every day rushed project that fades away after a while. Pain has come here to stay - just mark my words for that.

Let´s get to the interview now… 

 

Pete, how indeed did you first get into Techno - or should I rather say, ´a metal-driven Techno music´?

Well, in the ´70s when I was a kid, my father was totally into Jean Michael Jarre and stuff like that, so it kind of has always been around me, but I never thought I could do stuff like that, y´know. So it´s just been more like an experiment for me in the studio to try different things out and at the same time, just developing both as a producer and a song writer. So yeah, it is totally about me producing this thing, I think.

 

The very 1st time I got awakened by the realms of Pain was this video you had done for a song called "On and on" on your 2nd album titled REBIRTH - and which was constantly been running by MTVE. Do you think that by the help of this particular video - and especially by the help of MTVE (which unfortunately really isn´t that ´metal friendly´ orientated channel any longer nowadays…), you got loads of new fans for Pain?

Yeah, but the fact is that for this kind of music video is very important, I think. I also noticed that here in Sweden as we have this music program called "Vox Pop" in our national TV where people can vote videos and stuff like that; they make a list, y´know. And when we did "End of the Line" for the very first time - before the actual album (REBIRTH) came out, the whole thing just exploded - and they saw it. That particular video definitely had a huge impact on us and helped me to become more successful with Pain, cannot deny that.

 

Then you have a new video available for a song called "Shut your Mouth" on this recent birth of yours titled NOTHING REMAINS THE SAME. That clip has been directed by a guy, nicknamed as ´Mikeadelica´ who also directed the clip for your 1st single "End of the Line" out of your REBIRTH album…

He´s the guy who did "The End of the Line" and "Suicide Machine" - and this one, too - of course.

 

How did you get to find out about him in the first place?

Through the record company. I think in the beginning he was supposed to take only some promotional pictures for Pain, but besides he takes pictures, he also makes videos and I wanted to try him out. But anyway, like I said, I got to find about him through the record company and he´s a really cool guy. He had been working previously with all this commercial stuff, and as I agreed he´ll shoot my next video. It was like a totally cool thing for me personally ´coz that guy has got so much talent and is such a professional guy to work with. I think I just cannot praise him enough.

 

What ´bout Max Martin´s involvement on your new album; would you tell something about that, too?

It was cool for me to do something different for sure because f.ex. as far as that particular song goes, I just brought it into the studio and didn´t think of anything really and told him that he could do whatever he wants with it.

 

I find it kind of strange that he actually works for Pain ´coz he´s been working with such big names previously (like Def Leppard and Britney Spears, for example) and Pain probably cannot be considered to belong to that ´big league´ yet…? Anyway, do you think that you´ll co-operate with him in the future as well?

Yeah, I think so, yeah… Allowing him writing some songs for Pain and stuff like that. I´m gonna start writing songs with some other people, too - and different kind of music as well. I´m not gonna limit myself to any specific thing with Pain like what I´m doing right now. I´m trying to stretch Pain´s sound even wider, I think.

 

Talking ´bout this Mikaedelica a bit more… I was just wondering what kind of reputation does this guy have there in Sweden as a video director anyway? Could you say that he´s a really hard-working, determined and a goal-orientated dude who doesn´t leave anything for a half-way and you can kind of always trust his skills as far as the quality of his videos go?

Yeah, you could say so. He´s really good at what he´s doing. So far he has done videos for A Teens, E-Type and he has done many videos for some Swedish acts like Robin and - well, a bunch of stuff like that; more commercial orientated stuff, though.

 

Hmmm… I guess he´s also a bit known outside of Sweden as well, or is he?

Well, not really. Maybe for only these things that go outside of Sweden, I guess. Stuff like A Teens and E-Type. He has mostly done these Swedish artists; Swedish Hip Hop and Rap bands that are mainly famous here in our country only.

 

On REBIRTH you have an uncut video clip available for "End of the Line", so why did you have to erase some scenes out of it before getting it air played thru MTVE?

I have no idea. I mean, maybe they just thought it was too heavy for their channel or something. They thought the music was too heavy and looked like a devil, so they didn´t wanna show it.

 

Was there possibly something on the script of that particular video clip why they didn´t wanna show it or…?

No, there was nothing that was bad in it. It was just way too heavy thing for their channel and that´s basically all, I think.

 

Seems like MTVE´s policy is kinda fucked-up nowadays as far as that as a "something-for-everybody" music channel is concerned…?

Yeah, I agree, it is. They just do exactly what they want. If they don´t wanna show some certain videos, they come up with some stupid excuses.

 

It´s kind of sad as they used to be a bit more ´metal-friendly´ channel in the past, having "Headbanger´s Ball" with all those great metal videos there, but nowadays they really don´t show any metal videos who knows why. Have you been able to find any other channels for your kind of music where they actually could even show your videos - and without censoring them first?

We have a Set TV in Sweden where they show videos a lot. I mean, they even show Pain now, our new videos. A problem, however, is that when you try to do a video, you just cannot put everything into them that may crawl in the depths of your mind even if you like a certain idea a lot. If you invest, f.ex., like $6000-$8000 for making a video - and they don´t show it on any channel, it´s just a waste of money. That´s always a pity. So, whatever you may come up with for any video, it sort of has to be a limited thing to the certain point in order to avoid any kind of threat for censorship.

So, do you think they will play "Shut Your Mouth" on MTVE?

They are already doing so actually…

Where did the idea for it come from indeed?

That was just an idea I always kind of wanted to do. I wanted to do this "thing" that´s seen in that particular video and doing a movie has always fascinated me as well. So we did a 5min. long movie, too, - and with the same clips like it´s seen on "Shut…", but put only talking and stuff into it without any music. That was actually pretty funny thing to do.

 

I personally liked that video shot a lot, I mean, the music video thing; especially the final ending of it ´coz I considered it very funny indeed and kind of clever at the same time as well - this alien guy talking to you in your own house by using his strange language and generally messing around there and acting like a good friend of yours…

Yeah, exactly. It was supposed to have this humorous aspect to it and that´s one of the reasons why I like it very much myself, too.

 

You came up with the concept for that video or…?

No, it was all Mikaedelica´s idea, all of it…

 

Coming up with a new album is always kind of challenging task for everybody, I think. Would you let us know how this album was different to make compared to your previous album, REBIRTH?

I think the REBIRTH album was more like, let´s just say "Euro-Metal"; y´know, Euro techno/disco with a mix of metal. This new one, NOTHING REMAINS THE SAME, is more like, hmm… sometimes Rock - sometimes more metal, sometimes it´s musically a little bit wider musically than what REBIRTH was content-wise.

Also I think your new album has got somehow more deeper and emotional elements into it as well…

Yeah, that also, definitely!!

… and I can tell ya that before I came here, I was going thru the promo of that disc song by song and noticed there´s really not any bad song on N.R.T.S. - or should I rather say, you really cannot find any so-called ´leftover´ material from this album in my opinion as the all the songs have something very catchy on them and basically they all stand out as single songs alone, so obviously you wanted to get the best-of-the-very-best songs for N.R.T.S., correct?

Yeah, you could say so, namely I threw away a half of the songs that I wrote for this particular album. I wrote over 20 songs and decided to save these songs for N.R.T.S. . They just weren´t good enough for this album, I think.

 

So what will happen to those abandoned songs; have you any intentions to use them for B-sides of some singles or anything…?

Yeah, you are right. We are actually putting some of them to the B-sides of some singles out of the album as bonus songs. Every single that we will release - like these maxi singles, will contain 2-4 extra songs on them. And we have quite a bit of this leftover material; some demo versions of some of the songs and stuff.

 

What´s actually the most challenging or most demanding and yet most time-consuming thing for yourself personally when you are penning down a new Pain song - knowing the fact you do and record every single instrument by yourself?

Well, to have to time to do it all. That´s the biggest problem for me at the moment for sure. It takes a lot of time to make a Pain song from start to finish. Or to record it; it´s not like, y´know, 2 guitars, drums and a bass. I have to think a lot and maybe even to record a single song 3-4 times all over in order to be absolutely happy with it.

 

You also recorded this The Beatles -cover song titled "Eleanor Ribgy" for this album - having a sixteen piece full orchestra recording the strings for this particular song. How did the idea for using a full string orchestra come in your mind indeed?

That was pretty amazing, I can tell…

Was it your idea to get a whole string orchestra for that particular song…?

No, it was actually one of the guys from Stockholm Records who suggested that. Because lots of the songs have strings on them, so she said why don´t we put real strings for one of the songs on the album - and I was first skeptically thinking: "Should we do that really…?!". Then later on, I was like: "OK, let´s do it then…", so that´s the story there.

 

Have you ever considered using a full string orchestra in a live situation sometimes, too?

It would be nice to do it. Maybe if we could play at some outdoor festival or some other special place, then it would be cool to have it there.

 

I saw Therion doing that thing with a full-sized orchestra at Wacken last year and that was really amazing, I have to admit that…

Yeah, I know how they are for having such a big orchestra behind them for a live situation. It´s really cool, I think.

 

As for playing live is concerned, when you started Pain, did you already have this idea playing live right from the very start that Pain will also appear as a live band some day - or has this idea been growing in your mind just as of lately?

No, I didn´t think I would do any live gigs with Pain sometimes in the future. It was just getting different kind of music out of my system without changing Hypocrisy. So in the beginning we said that we are supposed to play live, I was like how the hell am I gonna do that? But I worked a lot on it, y´know, and it works out just fine nowadays, I guess.

 

So what can your audience expect from a Pain live set then ´coz people really don´t know yet how Pain are as a live act?

Yeah, that´s true. The live thing definitely is heavier than the songs on the albums for sure.

 

Do you have any special elements involved with your live gig?

No, not for a moment. Because on this tour we just do promotion for this new album. So it´s not really, let´s just say ´thought-out package´ yet from our point of view. It´s just to get Pain through Scandinavia as it´s really easy for us to do this Scandinavian tour now. And just to work with promotion for Finland, Norway and Sweden. And right after that, when shit starts happening a bigger way, we will come back and do a bigger and better tour for sure. These gigs are only meant to promote the new album.

 

When will this album be released elsewhere, too - like in the Central Europe, for example?

Well, in Europe it should be coming out maybe in August 2002 or something like that. We just have to be working with every country now to get our record released in as many countries as it´s just possible.

Like moving on step by step…

Yeah, exactly - that´s what I meant.

What ´bout getting your album out for the bigger markets, like both in the U.S.A. and Canada?

It´s the same there. We´ll be moving on step by step and hopefully NOTHING REMAINS THE SAME will be released sometime there as well - we´ll see…

 

What ´bout some live requests; have you already been offered to play there for some festivals and stuff like that?

We already played there actually. We did New Jersey Metalfest a while ago.

 

So, how did the audience there respond to you?

Actually it was a pretty cool show. I mean, when you play in America, it´s always nice to go there even if they unfortunately don´t have the same tradition and experience to organize gigs and stuff. Sometimes they are just fuckin´ so badly organized, y´know.

 

Not to offend any American extreme metal fans, but I still think European metalheads seem to be a bit more open-minded for new things than our fellow American brothers - meaning it´s also pretty hard for all these ´odd- sounding (?)´ bands (like Pain, maybe?) to get there and play gigs unless you don´t have a big enough fanbase built over there already?

Yeah, I guess that´s very true. But on the other hand, you just have to get in front of the right crowd and make an impact that way.

 

Then I was just wondering whether you are going to keep this Pain as your own project only or is there any possibilities that you could share the song writing process for Pain possibly with some other guys who are involved with the live line-up that you have now on this tour?

No, I don´t think so. I mean, the whole idea since the beginning was just to bring out everything by myself; different kind of stuff, y´know - and not being limited to any certain kind of style. So it´s entirely my thing and that´s the way how it´s gonna be in the future as well. I may spend a long time in my own studio just for coming up with different ideas for Pain and going just crazy for them.

 

Is it easy to keep this Pain separated from Hypocrisy? I mean, if you have come up with some certain melody line that you´d like to use, do you always know for which of these bands you might use it?

Sometimes it´s really tough because, y´know, everything has to be a little bit planned before it works out, I think.

 

So which of these two bands do you consider as your main band now; Hypocrisy or Pain?

Both… Definitely both!! Everything has its own time, y´know.

 

But when you are coming up with some music for these bands, do you always know that this riff must be used for Hypocrisy - or that drum fill fits for Pain exclusively and so on…?

Sometimes I do - sometimes I just don´t. You think you do this song and then it starts slipping to the other side musically. You really don´t know until the whole song is finished.

 

Is it like when a certain song turns out be kind of ´heavy´ and more ´brutal´, then at that point you may know that this song will be used for Hypocrisy, f.ex.?

Yeah, probably. And because Pain is more melodic thing anyway, I always somehow know what kind of things fit better to this band more than Hypocrisy.

 

Where does your strong fascination towards U.F.O.s, aliens and paranormal things in general come from ´coz you´ve basically been using these concepts both in Hypocrisy and Pain, too?

I have always been fascinated by these things a little bit. But this alien stuff in our new video isn´t my idea at all. It´s kind of ´typical´ as a matter of speaking, but on the other hand, it was a cool idea to stick to that concept even if it has nothing to do with the song itself really, y´know. I always think about it whether these so-called ´aliens´ really do exist even if I have never seen anything. Still, I think there´s something out there although you really can´t be so sure, y´know. Of course some people claim they have seen them (i.e. these ´little green men´ from outer space) - and you really don´t know what they have seen. It´s just cool ´coz you don´t know whether they exist or not unless you haven´t seen them in your own eyes. That´s what fascinates me in them. You haven´t got any answers ´til you really can prove it to yourself by seeing them somewhere.

 

Yeah, you´re so right. I just believe in my own eyes only - what my eyes can see before believing in nothing really. Oh well, let´s move on next to films - and especially let´s talk ´bout your own interest towards some roles in different type of films as some of us already know, so far you´ve appeared on such films as SLEEPWALKER and GREETINGS. Wasn´t that GREETINGS some sort of a short film or something like that…?

Yeah, that was a video where we did some music for and talked on that video and stuff like that. So, like you said it by yourself, it´s like a movie even if it´s only 5min. long. We have these plans to put it out on our own homepage, I think, so anyone who´s interested in seeing it, can check it out right from there.

 

Is that the only way to become familiar with that clip?

…uh? Honestly I have no idea yet. But I guess it´s really up to the guy who did it ´coz he always wanted to do a movie and then he had this chance to do it while we were doing the video for "Shut Your Mouth".

 

Could one of your ultimate dreams be to do a script for a whole film by yourself and even direct it from beginning to end?

Hmmm… not really, but it would be fun to be in one for sure. It would be really cool to try acting in some film, y´know. It would be nice to learn some acting ´coz it´s always a challenge to think how to do it right way, I guess.

And you feel absolutely comfortable to be in the front of cameras… ?

I didn´t before, but nowadays it´s getting better for me all the time. To be really honest with you, I used to be a bit afraid of being in the front of the cameras, but luckily it´s got easier for me these days really.

 

And you don´t have any new offers for some roles coming up in some other films possibly…?

Not that I know of…

Well, if you think of any film you´d like to be a part of somehow, what kind of concept would that film hold inside then? About aliens and those kind of creatures possibly or…?

Not necessarily, but about anything really, y´know. An every day comedy thing would be nice to be a part of ´coz I overall like comedies very much.

Would you like to be abducted by aliens sometime in your life - let´s just say, to get one more experience in your life, -eh?!

He-he… nah, not really. I would rather watch if someone else got abducted by them. It´s a scary thought, however…

 

Ok, I´m done. Thank you for your time and all the best for tonight´s gig.

You´re welcome. Thank you…

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