Interview with Pär Sundström from SABATON
@ Electric Ballroom, Camden London
Interviewer: Danny Draper
Photos: Altercarnated Photography
On a cold October afternoon we made our way in to the back entrance of the Electric Ballroom, Camden London to a meet Sabaton’s Drummer Pär before tonight’s sold out show.
Setting up the interview wasn’t as easy as we expect as we were first ejected from the cupboard store room and then we were then planted in a comfy but rather odd smelling lounge that was also the main road between stage and dressing rooms!
Never the less, we battled on with pegs on our noses and got chatting with Par…
Hello, how are you doing?
Hello! I’m good; we had a day off yesterday, spent it here in London, just chilling, and didn’t do much. Didn’t do anything really, just eating!
Did you check out the Market?
No, we didn’t check out anything, just eat! HAHA!
Pär: That’s the only thing I did for the whole day! And had two beers in a pub and then I slept! So that’s all I did yesterday. I’m rested I guess for today…
Rested enough for the gig tonight! Are you looking forward to it?
Yeah of course! This is like the UK show that we are looking forward to the most. Everyone has sort of said this is the night where you make it or break it and that’s cool. It’ll give us a bit more energy to play a little bit better maybe! HAHAHA
Is it a big thing coming and playing London?
Apparently yes. Because here there is a lot more media, and a lot more attention around it. Normally I don’t make any change between a fan and another fan or people in one city or another, but the thing that can push the band forward is the media thing and there is a lot more media in the big cities. So because of that it’s a little bit bigger, normally we don’t have the media on our side, we are always fighting against the media! But we have to try at least to get them on our side! Here is our chance, so tonight we have a little bit more pressure on ourselves concerning that I guess.
How was playing Sonisphere this year, did you have a good time?
Yeah, Sonisphere. First of all, we were shocked because of the size of it. Everything was so far away! The check in was far away from everything else. It was ok, we had a dressing room but you almost have to take a car to get to the stage! So it was like, “Alright, this is huge!” But playing there was great; we had a good following of the people.
I was there and you had a fairly big crowd…
Yeah, and we were very happy with it. It meant a lot for the band to be on the festival. I’m really happy that we did it and it was a great show. It was a short show! And that’s also one of the things a lot of people complain that they only see Sabaton for thirty minutes or so. I think we’ve played like five times in England and have never played more than a thirty minute show until this tour! It’s the same for a lot of places that we have not been able to play. People in the UK have seen us before, first supporting Dragonforce in 2006, then Therion and then Hammerfall. And then Dragonforce again, then Bloodstock and then Hammerfest and then this Sonisphere! So we’ve been here a lot of times but people have only seen like twenty-thirty minutes. This is the tour when people will have the chance to see a bit more.
Because this is your first headlining tour…
Nah, it’s not our first headlining tour, absolutely not! But it’s the first one that’s a little bit bigger. This tour is actually quite huge, like sixty-five shows with the first run! So it’s quite a big tour. And it’s also the first tour where we’ve played venues of a bigger size, where people notice us a different way, ya’know? Playing the small clubs is extremely fun, sweaty as hell! But it doesn’t change the world. This will be fine with this tour now.
How has it been touring with Alestorm throughout this tour?
(Points at Dani Evans who is lurking about with a guitar!) Hahaha, those bastards!
Pär: Honestly, it’s so easy like a lot of the people in the crowd like both bands and we get along well even before the tour started. And it was a fairly easy thing to do and set up. A few talks and then its like, hahaha!
Dani: And then I passed out, gaffa taped to the bus!
Pär: Sorry! HAHAHA We can’t control all the alcohol that night!
So lot’s of drinking then?
Pär: I would say that we do have our parties but we also have to stay very focussed. Because we can’t fuck it up by being drunk! It wouldn’t make any sense for me at all to come to a show and disappoint people because before we simply didn’t give a fuck.
You’ve been touring a lot since the release of Coat of Arms, but you only have a few dates booked (at time of writing) for 2011, are you taking it easy next year or are you waiting for offers coming in?
Pär: Oh no no no! In 2010 we announced the big sixty-five date tour of Europe, everybody thought, this is it and there won’t be any more tours next year. But the fact is that we are missing so much on this tour. Even though we are covering what most people say is the big part. We still believe that there are a lot of places in Europe which we haven’t been able to go to. And we have a completely new European tour from next spring, which will focus on the areas where Sabaton didn’t tour too much in the past. And also to try and build a name in areas where Sabaton means nothing. We’ll go there and probably play the smallest places they have, but that’s the way we have to do it. That’s the way we did it everywhere and that’s the way we have to do it now. So that’s the plan, I suppose we could play two festivals everyday, if there was enough time and if they invented tele-porters and made it possible! But at this time, we’ll have to settle for one everyday. So we have enough offers to make a summer very difficult logistically! But it’s really fun and we love what we’re doing and we’re going to go on with a whole new summer. It’ll be announced in a little while. A lot of festivals wait releasing what bands they’ve booked.
But you enjoy touring?
Pär: Oh, hell yeah! That’s what we’re here for, that’s what we live for.
How do you feel the new album Coat of Arms has been received by the fans, have you had a lot of positive response?
Pär: Yeah, of course. At the beginning when it was just recorded we had no idea how good it sounded. Because we focussed so hard on it, we didn’t know if it was good when we had recorded it. So, we kind of asked our friends “Is this a good album?” Of course they say “Yeah, this is your best so far” So we said “Thank you very much, but criticise it a little!” But that is what we had to go with, we sent it to the record label and they said “It is your best!” So ok, cool! And we still didn’t know until it was on Pirate Bay and we could get the reactions from the fans. And then we realised that, Ok, people are happy so apparently it was a good album! And now we can listen to the album again and really appreciate it. But there was a while after just finishing recording where for a few months where we weren’t tired of it but we needed to shut it out in order to appreciate it fully. And it was worth it and now we like the songs! Hehe!
Pär: And we love to play them live…
How is all the new material going down live?
Pär: That was kind of a problem we had for the new album when we recorded it. The songs were supposed to be meant to be played live. That was the plan and we didn’t want to make any songs that we didn’t feel that were not connected to a live show. So we did and on the album before, The Art of War album, we focussed very hard on the concept of the album and everything around the songs was very important. On this album we didn’t focus anything on like that, we just focussed on the songs, make them good and possible to be played live and even better live. And I think we succeeded with that because people seem to be happy hearing those songs live.
Are you guys writing a lot on tour?
Pär: Music is constantly written anyway. A guitar riff can be born during sleep! And you don’t need to being singing to be making up melodies for the vocals. Yeah, we are sort of in a writing process but not in a planning process for what we are going to do with the next album. Because a lot of people are asking us are we going to continue with writing about WW2 or… and we haven’t really thought about what exactly we want to do, but we have several plans. And we will not move away too far from what we are and what the fans sort of require from us. We won’t change completely the set-up or the theme of the band but we might go on a little bit of a different path than what we have already done on the other albums. And that is what we are looking for, a way to still remain the same but maybe have a little bit of a new outlet. So we’re going to see if we succeed. It’s still going to be a long time because of the tour now that we’ve just started, the whole of next year is already planned and we will have to visit every continent before we are happy! Then we can start working on another album.
So is it’s going to be a long time, maybe another two/three years?
Pär: Woooooooooah no! We have already planned the release date, May 2012.
Not a deadline but a date…
Pär: Oh, we have a pure deadline on when the album has to be ready. So we know when we’re going to stop touring and start recording on the next album. And it’s necessary; some things need to be decided a long time in advance. And to get everything together as good as possible so we can stay well ahead of the plan.
How was the recording for the new video Uprising?
Pär: It was interesting to say the least. We are normally used to low budget, do it ourselves, music videos. And go into a room where there are some lights and play the song over and over until our ears fall off and we die or something and then we hate the song for a very long time afterwards! This was something different, there was a scripted story, with two-hundred actors working for three days and nights to make it happen. Because we always wanted to make a music video where you can see what happens in the song. And it’s not an easy thing to do, both all the things that are required to do it and the money needed for it, but now we had the possibility to do it on this one.
And on a big scale…
Pär: Yeah. And we were able to do it and we were very happy with the outcome. It was really funny, having Peter Stormare in the video was really cool starring as one of the main characters, because he’s such a cool guy and he likes heavy metal and Sabaton so, it wasn’t hard to convince him actually! It was harder to get him there because of schedules. First of all we are six people in a band who have a lot of shows to do and he has a lot of things to do, obviously being an actor. So it wasn’t so easy getting everything together but we finally did and the outcome of the video was really cool.
Did you get a lot of good press from the fans about the video?
Pär: Yeah, the fans love it! And they were totally happy with it.
Well, I’ve run out of questions now.
But thank you very much and good luck!
Pär: Thank you, it was good. Enjoy the show!