Sabaton – Vocalist Joakim Brodén
Interview by James Griffiths
Photography by Vicky Walden
In a hotel in central London we met up with Sabaton vocalist Joakim Brodén, to talk about all things Sabaton, the new album Carolous Rex and also to find out a lot more about the front man himself.
Hey and thanks for joining us today! So, How was it like winning Best breakthrough award at the Golden Gods?
It was really unexpected but we knew things were starting to happen in the UK for us but not at all on that level and I was happily surprised actually when we actually got it because everyone, on the European power metal scene if you will, told us don’t go to the UK, do a show in London and get out. I guess we proved them wrong I’m happy.
I’m a little bit ashamed of what we did though, (laughs) because when we went onstage everything went fine, I took the award from Alice Cooper, put it on the podium and then I said, well I think it was a nice thank you speech, and Par said some words and then there was a hobgoblin beer which represented the award so then, I took the keg of beer and walked off stage.
Then there were the media people backstage saying we had to go through the media run and talk to them – “where’s your award” erm, “I got beer – Par, did you get the award, no, I thought you had it,” Duude – I got a keg of beer here!” (erupts in laughter) Then I felt a tap on my shoulder from Alice Cooper, “You really are Scandinavian aren’t you”, “yeah, how do you know?” “You took the beer and not the award!”.
You have now been nominated for the Metal as Fuck Award this year how does that feel?
That is actually the probably coolest award I think, I mean “Metal as Fuck” doesn’t get any better than that, so I’m hoping for that one!
Having now completed the new album Carolous Rex, how did the recording go?
When we started out planning it, we didn’t know that we were going to do it in Swedish and English so we thought we take our time.
We started on the 3rd Jan and we were done in mid Feb so we don’t believe in long studio runs the thing was though since we had the same old choirs and we have quite a lot of those, my parts have to be in sync, sing in two languages now, that meant more stressful, but also in a good way because if there’s too much time and you never feel stressed, too much stress is bad, but a little of it makes you better, because you’re more effective and you work harder.
But I can honestly say when we just finished the album I was tired of the songs as we sung in 2 languages, I’ve been writing the songs for a year, a year and a half, i’ve been directing, you know, “ok, let’s do that line again… nee nee nee nee, ok, now we do it again, in Swedish, and now we do the next line so I got so tired of the sound of the chorus that I really didn’t want to hear the album at all, listening to it now though when I’ve had 2/3 weeks break, I’m good.
What was it like working with Peter Tagtgren while making the new album?
Ahh, I’d say he’s probably one of the best metal producers in the world. He’s not inhumane but he’s very challenging, everybody who records with him I think will, depending on what kinda person you are, will be better, or break and hate him. He doesn’t put the pressure that everyone should be up here… but he instantly recognises you are here… I wanna push this person there, just to the next level. He doesn’t want to make you Yngwie Malmsteen or a guitarist that can’t do that, but some people can’t handle being forced to do retakes when it already sounds good – but it could sound better and it’s not inhumane at all.
I think he’s a big part of why this album came together because he pushed the extra. He wasn’t happy with good I want this to be every element should be better than your best element before maybe that album had your best drum sound, so as long as you do better drumming you get better drum sound, and that one had the best guitar sound, now we gonna break that you have to play guitar better for me to be able to show that, I never say that it’s the best album we ever made as that’s up to the listener to decide but anything else is propaganda, but I can honestly say and I know that for a fact, that it’s by far the best produced Sabaton album.
Will you be playing many tracks from the new album on your next tour or will it only consist of a few choice tracks?
Me an Par were saying we believe in the album very much and I also think that if your new album is not as good that you should at least play at least half of it then you shouldn’t have realised that as an album and you should have taken more time and written better songs. The plan is 5 or 6 tracks from NEW ALBUM for at least each show.
War has been the main theme on most of your albums, what made you take that theme and just run with it for as long as you have?
Well we had the song Prima Victoria, and we wrote that song in 2003 I think and me and Par were sitting thinking about the lyrics and thought ok, before we were writing about all different kinds of stuff then this song sounds huge somehow, so now we needed to do some research. I mean obviously we knew the rough outlines of what happened, but doing that was a lot more work and took longer to write lyrics, but found that to be more interesting lyrics were no longer a necessary evil as it used to be and so much more rewarding, and also we found I think we found it without knowing it.
Until we were actually dealing with the lyrics and actually writing for this album, once again, me and Par writing the lyrics and music and talking about it and I think we had had a question when a journalist from Finland came and did a studio report and we both realised its quite true that everything I can write musically in my head can be euphoria, anger, hatred, sadness despair, all those things are present in war and for me heavy metal isn’t about a cool guitar riff, although that helps and can sometimes be enough, but for me music is first and foremost showering and delivering emotions.
This subject gives us the entire spectrum of what we want to do.
Do you have any plans in the future to step away from the War theme and try something else?
Yes, we’ve been discussing this of course, and I mean I’ll be surprised if all Sabaton albums in the future will be about War but I also know that if we do something else it will be about 1 album and then back to War for a couple of albums, then onto something else so I know it’s our thing. It’s what we want to do and I think it’s one what the fans want to hear we’ve been discussing making an album and calling it something like ceasefire *laughter*
Apart from winning the Best Breakthrough award, what has been your best moment since being in Sabaton?
Tough question, good one actually. I don’t have a pre-rehersed answer for it. Several ones actually, I think it was when we recorded the choirs for the Primo Victoria demo back in 2003. I had this idea not to do the hockey or football choir where everybody sings the same, but let’s try it like this! Everyone was looking at me like I’m fucking insane, we’re gonna sing in church mode, hammer organist and church horns strangely. I’m not religious but I like the church horn, it’s a powerful instrument.
We did it though and when it was all mixed, I realised yes, this is Sabaton! I haven’t had a moment like that until the recording of the song Carolous Prayer on recording of this album, that I heard what Peter did to the choirs and I liked them. I quit singing during that part because the quires are so massive and I had the same euphoria and happiness that I haven’t felt in the studio since 2003.
What is your favourite Sabaton track?
Hmm, you know you’re really asking me to choose since I wrote them all? What is your favourite child? You might know this guy is a retard but you’re not going to love him any less, you know what I mean?!
I’d think it is the song Carollers Prayer of the new album. I’ve been working on it for 2 years and it’s nothing strange to it, nothing new to it it’s just everything turned out better than expected!
Who have been your main influences since the band started?
I grew up listening to Twisted Sister since I was about 3-4 years old. My mother heard me scream from the living room, she was in the kitchen, she thought I was dying she runs in and finds me freaking out in front of the TV, as they’re playing a video for “I wanna rock” or “were not going to take it” and she bought me the LP.
I’ve been listening to alot of music but I’ve always been listing to metal ever since actually. My cousin got me into Wasp, back in those days, Halloween. I was actually on a midnight sailing boat keeper of the seven keys part two on LP on the very night it was released. Ever since I’ve been listening to all sorts of music, I mean I even like prodigy! I still do, but always follow metal but somewhere around the time we started Saboton I was quite heavily into Halloween at that point and then started with new friends at a new school and then started to discover Blind Guardian, Rhapsody came along and at that moment I think influenced me in a symphonic way.
Even though we don’t do the same symphonic stuff, I’ve always heard Rainbow but I don’t think when I heard them…10years earlier, I was mature enough to enjoy it, so that point came Rainbow, Black Sabbath etc Everyone likes the first time they hear it but at that point I think I discovered so many new things and y’know absorbed that and started to write songs that weren’t shit anymore *laughts*
What bands would you love to play with that you haven’t already?
Hmm *damn* …Black Sabbath!
If you could have anyone play or sing on a Sabaton track who would it be (dead or alive)?
*laughs* Come again?!
That’s a really interesting question… hang on, I’ve gotta think!
Can I choose one for each instrument?
Yeah, if you want to! *haha*
Drums: Cozy Powell on Ghost Division
Singing: Dio on Cliffs of Gallipoli,
Guitars: Yngwie Malmsteen on Burn your Crosses from the Metalizer album.
Bass: Nobody cares about bass anyway *laughter* Steve Harris on the song, A Lifetime of War!
Thanks a lot!