PAIN – Peter Tägtgren

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Written by Simon Lukic
Transcribed by Mike ‘Fucking Hostile’ Holmes

Peter Tägtgren is a well known figure amongst Metal circles. From his work as a producer and his many releases with Hypocrisy, without forgetting Bloodbath, Lock Up, The Abyss and War amongst others, one can say that he is certainly a busy man. Peter’s “other” musical outlet – Pain has recently released a new disc titled PSALMS OF EXTINCTION – their fifth overall and first for Roadrunner Records. Peter and I spoke about a number of things from songwriting to producing and in between.  

You’re keen to make ‘Pain’ the biggest band in the genre. What makes you think that this is the right time?

Oh, I don’t know. That really wasn’t what I was saying – I don’t know what they wrote in this ‘bio’ shit. The only thing I wanted to do was…I mean, what genre, my own genre? I want to be the best at what I do, because I don’t know if there are too many bands that play the same music that I do, with this mix of all kinds of stuff. For me it’s just trying to be the best I can be.

So, what is it about the latest album, PSALMS OF EXTINCTION that you believe will make you the best in the genre that you’ve created?

I don’t know. I am really happy with the album – it’s got a lot of different types of songs. To me it’s just a big experiment when I’m writing an album as I don’t know which way it’s going to turn or what kind of music style I want to focus on. I just keep on writing shit and if the song is good, then I keep it and it doesn’t matter what kind of song it is.

So you basically let the music take you where it wants to go?

Yeah, exactly. For me, I can really just go anywhere. Of course, if it doesn’t sound too good in my ears then I just throw it in the garbage. I really just want to have a good variety of songs on the album and it doesn’t have to have the same beat throughout the whole album.

What about the material you’ve thrown away? There could have been something there that may have developed into something given time.

If it doesn’t do anything to me and inspire me when I am writing the song, then I will just keep on going. I will take a long break from the song and then I listen to the song after a couple weeks and I don’t really like it, then it’s no good.

Are you someone who likes to tinker with arrangements? Or are you happy to let things rest?

Some songs are easy to write, it just turns out the way it does and some songs are harder to arrange and make good. It all depends on what kind of song it is.

A lot is being said about Pain being a fusion of industrial and metal, but I hear a very huge pop influence as well. Am I wrong?

No, not really, I mean its catchy music. You got some gothic element in there, some industrial and you got metal as well. You got all kinds of stuff. It’s more or less my guts telling me to put this sound on the song, it’s just the feeling that I have at the time.

Covering Bjork’s “Play Dead” is really interesting, how did that come about?

It’s a 15 year old song and I’ve liked it since the first day I heard it. I felt that if I did that song as a cover that it would be a big challenge and I’m always up for a challenge.

Were there any other covers in mind or did this one just stand out for you?

No, I’ve got a few more covers lying around. I have Electric Light Orchestra, I’ve got Depeche Mode and some other shit.

You began your career as a death metal artist. How did you come to explore this type of music?

It was more from a producer’s aspect, to try and get into computers and samplers. Since I didn’t have any band to record at the time, I had to create my own band to produce and that’s how it came up.

Are you thankful for the freedom it offers you? It must be a great outlet.

Yeah, definitely. Hypocrisy is just getting more and more brutal. With Pain I just go in different directions all the time. I learn a lot by doing every Pain album.

How does it work for you when you’re writing for Hypocrisy or Pain. Do you separate them or can you write for both bands at the same time?

I can write simultaneously with both bands – that’s no problem. But I do love to just sit down and plan for the next half year or year that I am only going to write Hypocrisy stuff. I then try to change my brain a little bit to get into more brutal stuff and write more riff oriented music.

You’re involved in every aspect of an album from the producing to the writing and in most cases even the performing. How do you keep all of those aspects in check and be able to keep a workable balance?

It’s pretty hard when you do everything yourself, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You learn so much by doing everything yourself, but it does take longer in the studio.

What are the benefits of working alone?

You win by learning, I think.

Does it get lonely?

Yeah, but it’s nice. I can sit all night long, fucking around with a part of a song. People would puke at me if I had three more members sitting behind me waiting for me to be done. It’s really nice to take things at my own pace.

You’re also known for your work as a producer (Celtic Frost, Dark Funeral, Destruction, Dimmu Borgir, Immortal), what have you enjoyed about working with so many great artists?

I’ve had a lot of good times. When you are a producer, it’s so much easier for me. It gets tough when I produce, perform and write songs on my own, so when I only do producing it feels a little bit more relaxing, I can see things from a different point of view with bands.

I can understand it’s difficult, but which artist stands out?

I don’t know. I’ve had such a good time and it’s been such a pleasure to work with all of these big bands. It’s really hard to say which one is the most fun, or which one I am the most happiest with. It’s impossible to say.

Fair enough. You’ve also had the chance to work with Celtic Frost and Destruction who I would imagine you were a fan of when you were younger. What’s it been like to work with people of that caliber?

Oh, it was great – it was totally great. It’s a big honor to work with bands that were such a big inspiration to me when I was like 13 years old. Yeah, it was a ride that I thought was going to never happen when I was young.

Was it a little daunting?

It was pretty scary the first time around, but after a couple of days, you got into it and you just let your emotions go and follow your own instincts. Some parts we agreed on, some parts we didn’t agree on but overall I knew that we would make a great album.

Have you been able to branch out beyond the metal genre as a producer yet?

I am very open-minded about all kinds of stuff. Whatever comes around and I feel like I can contribute to, I will.

Who would you like to work with?

Oh, I don’t know. There’s so much good stuff out there. I would like to do a Dio album or something like that. That would be killer.

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