Interview with Pär Sundström of Sabaton
by Carlos M. Llanas
Swedish Metalheads, Sabaton, have paid their dues, and have shown the world a glimpse of their style of music…power metal meets historical warfare. Their path to conquest has taken them all over the world by land, air, and sea. And giving fans exactly what they want; an explosive live show…Literally. Their latest release “Carolus Rex” has been in good standings since its release back in May of 2012. They were also recently nominated, and won, three Bandit Rock Awards this year: Best Swedish Album; Best Swedish Live Act; and Best Swedish Group/Artist. What more can these guys ask for? World domination perhaps? Led by the powerful vocals of Joakim Brodén, and the bass work of Pär Sundström, Sabaton are on their way to becoming power metal legends. Pär was kind enough to speak with me after a great live show in Houston, Texas. This is what he had to say.
This is Carlos with Metal-Rules.com and joining me here tonight in Houston, Texas, is Pär Sundström from power metal heavy hitters, Sabaton. First off, welcome back to Texas! How does it feel to be back, and how are you doing tonight?
Pär: Well, we just came off stage and it feels absolutely great to be back! I had a great night. It was super.
I want to congratulate you on the success of “Carolus Rex”. It sold over 20,000 copies, and hitting gold in your native country. You must be really excited! This is a huge step for you guys.
Pär: Yeah, it’s a great success so far and it has been going really well.
Last year, your headlining tour was recorded and filmed for an upcoming DVD/Blu-ray. Do you guys have a set date for the release?
Pär: We actually filmed four shows for this. We filmed one show in Poland, one in Great Britain, one in Germany and Sweden. We will put these together; we are still working on the material for this, and we are still filming more. There is no release date yet, but it’s likely to be late this year.
You are currently on your “Swedish Empire” tour. Tell me, how happy are you with the outcome so far, and what are you favorite moments of the tour?
Pär: We are very happy with it! It started in America, and now we are back here again after like a hundred shows in Europe. It has been absolutely great everywhere. We have just tons of good memories. It’s difficult to come up with just one!
You’ve visited a series of different countries during this tour. Where do you think Sabaton has received the most praise?
Pär: In our home country of Sweden. It’s unusual that you become kind of profitable in your own land, but we did it.
The direction of the band changed after watching the 1999 film “Saving Private Ryan”. What was it about the movie that captivated you, and motivated you to write such great songs and change the direction of the band completely from fantasy to more historic events?
Pär: Well, we’ve always wanted to write about something that was real, and that was more interesting than fantasy. We had seen the movie before when it first came out, but when we saw it in the studio we were like “Ah! Here is an idea!” and that’s how we followed it up.
So it was the more realistic aspect of it and the way it was captured?.
Pär: Yeah! and the idea of singing about real stuff.
You’ve made it a point to come back to the United States multiple times now. The first time was at ProgPower, then a year later you came back for South By Southwest. You came back again as a supporting act for Accept. A few months later you made your return once more as a headlining act with the support of Evergrey, and here you are again. Is it safe to assume that you guys will be visiting the United States on a yearly basis?
Pär: Well, I can’t say that we’re going to come on a yearly basis, but I can say that we’re going to try to push it. I mean, this is a really hard country to break for heavy metal, and a lot of our colleagues back in Europe just say “Give up, it’s no use to even go there.” They end up not coming here. We think that we’re going to give it a really good try, so we’re definitely going to push it, absolutely.
Have you seen an increase in fans, and show capacity each time you return? or has it been business as usual?
Pär: We do see an increase every time.
As we all know, last year you guys parted ways with Oskar, Rikard, Mullback, and Mÿhr. You recruited Chris, Thobbe, and Robban (now replaced by legendary drummer Snowy Shaw) into the ranks. Tell me, what was the recruiting process like for these guys? How well have they adapted to Sabaton thus far?
Pär: Well, since it was absolutely secret, nobody knew, so we couldn’t officialy search for anybody. We had to ask our closest friends “Do you know somebody that can do this?” and that’s how we found the two guitar players. The drummer, Robban, used to play with Sabaton before, so it was a simple call to him like “Hey, have you been practicing the Sabaton songs?” he replied “Yes!” It was actually three phone calls. We never tried out people or had auditions or anything like that. We met for a few hours, hung out and had beers. Those guys went back to northern Sweden to pick up their guitars and moved to our city. They quit their jobs in an instant.
Haha! Cool man. I follow Joakim on Facebook, and I read one of his posts in regards to a new album. Do we have a time frame for that? Also, how much do you have completed so far?
Pär: There is a time, a date, and a name of the album, there is a lot of things already confirmed, but it’s a long time in advance. This tour is still going to go on for a long time. We have a whole world to cover and a lot of shows left, so we can’t really focus too much on song writing. When we start focusing on song writing we’re going to need some time, because this has been a very intense tour. There will not be a new album this year. We won’t even start recording until next year. We are touring basically the whole year.
Will you be working with Peter Tägtgren again for this upcoming album?
Pär: Likely, yes. Definitely. It was absolutely great working with him.
What is it about Peter that keeps you going back and working with him?
Pär: Oh I mean he understands our visions, and he lives very close to us. He’s a good friend, so recording with him is not only very good, it’s fun, which is one thing you must never forget. You must always have fun when you do it. The moment you don’t have fun, then maybe consider doing something else. We are really enjoying recording with him because it’s relaxed and fun, and that means a lot. It brings out the best in us.
The increasingly popular “Rockstad: Falun” is growing near. It seems to get bigger and bigger each year. It sells out all the time. Sabaton puts on a crazy performance with pyro, lights, stage show, the works. You pull out all the stops. How tedious is the process of putting together your own open air festival?
Pär: It’s quite a lot of work. Planning it while being on tour can be complicated. Of course, we have people back home working on it as-well. This year we are adding a twist to the festival. It has always been called “Rockstad: Falun”, but in the future, it will also be called “Sabaton Open Air” because it will be more focused around Sabaton. We plan on building a museum of music with our band members, and other things like that on location. Also, more signing sessions and maybe prepare fans to prelude into songs and stuff like that. There will be a lot of things going on that will be based around Sabaton on the festival, and the show that we’re planning for this year is absolutely insane.
Will it be filmed?
Pär: We’re not going to film this one, no.
Aside from Sabaton, do you have any side projects that you’re currently working on? Or does Sabaton keep you busy all the time.
Pär: There is no time in my life right now to do anything else. I can’t even brush my teeth hahaha! Sabaton takes all my time.
You guys have such a loyal crew. Take Emil, for example, he’s proven to be a very valuable bass tech. So much that he stepped up on bass duties while you were out with a knee injury. He’s worked with you guys for a good while now. In your opinion, is having such a loyal and valuable team a big part of Sabaton?
Pär: Yeah, of course it means a lot that you have people around you that you like. We have toured with plenty of bands that have a really bad atmosphere in the tour buses and they don’t get along at all. We’ve seen that so many times, and we don’t want that in our bus, so we pick the crew to have the most fun with.
What do you do aside from Sabaton? Is there anything that you like to do? besides writing music and kicking ass on stage obviously.
Pär: I don’t have any other interests actually. Nothing. I’m the manager of the band, I work full time. It’s what I do always. I’ve been the manager of the band since day one. I’m a business man in one way, and I’m on stage the other.
Well Pär, I want to thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me today. I want to wish you good luck in the future, and I hope that your next album does even better than the previous.
Pär: Let’s hope so! Thank you!