Swedish power metallers Sabaton have just come through one of the most testing chapters in their history, ending up with perhaps their best album to date (in your scribe’s humble opinion) but an almost entirely different line-up. Bassist and founding member Pär Sundström kindly took the time to discuss these changes, the new album and its inspiration, and how hard a place is the UK for a power metal act to play?
First of all thanks a lot for taking the time for these questions.
Thanks for having an interest in us!
From what I have seen the new album “Carolus Rex” has been received really well, would you guys agree?
Totally, even if many journalists in Sweden decided to deny it good reviews the fans love it. It has already became our best selling and best received album so far.
Whilst previous albums mostly centred around WW1 and WW2 lyrically, “Carolus Rex” mostly focuses on the war history of your native Sweden, such as during the Thirty Years War and of Charles XII. What was the inspiration to talk of these particular subjects now?
We have since long thought about it and also that our fans asked us why we sing about all other nations but never Sweden. The timing was right and we could now get in contact with historian Bengt Liljegren who is an expert at this subject.
Am I correct in thinking that some of the subject matter for this album was suggested by your fans?
We do get lots and lots of suggestions from fans. Probably one every day around the year, which we are very thankful for. Often they are about something we already knew or do not want to write about for various reasons but sometimes there is a story worth telling in there. But this time we came up with all ideas ourselves or together with Bengt.
Whilst not straying away from your sound, there are points in “Carolus Rex” where it seems like you are trying to push things forward and make it sound even bigger. Was there a conscious effort to do this in the song-writing process?
This was a lot due to the help of Peter Tägtgren. He wanted Sabaton to sound more epic and bigger then we ever done before and for sure he managed that.
The special edition version of the album features a cover of Amon Amarth’s “Twilight Of The Thunder Gods”. Why did you decide to cover this particular song?
There are several reasons, first we are good friends with Amon Amarth but we are also big fans of their music. And it was a very unexpected song to record.
Of course the band went under a huge line-up change prior to the album’s release, from the outside very suddenly as well. What were the reasons behind the departures?
There were many reasons. Mainly it had to do with the fact that some members had other priorities after 12 years in a band that tours more then 75% of the year. Which makes it hard if you have families, kids, wives.
Although it appeared to be very sudden from outside the group, were there problems for some time or did it happen as quickly as it appeared to?
Some members had lost the inspiration a few years ago already. It may seem sudden but it was a long time of talks before we came up with the final changes.
Now Chris Rörland, Thobbe Englund and Robban Bäck have joined the ranks. What was it about these guys in particular that was right for the band?
They are all musicians that do nothing else and have always had music as number 1 priority in their lives. Me and Joakim said that this would be the most important. We do not want people who are musically super but maybe do not want to tour all the time and keep doing this forever. Now, it does no harm that the new guys are really amazing musicians.
I imagine it was such a stressful and lengthy process?
The whole recording which took place during all talks with the old members was crazy and me and Joakim often thought we would commit suicide but we kept looking forward all the time. We did not have much time to search for new members once it was clear who would stay and who would not in the original lineup. We had a tour in the US waiting. But with the new guys we did not even needed an audition, everything just worked out.
And is the search for a permanent keyboard player still ongoing?
Yes and no, at the moment it works fine without. Lots of bands have pre recorded keyboards. We will do this tour and after we will evaluate.
You played at the Metal Hammer Golden God awards in London a few days ago, how did that show go?
I was suffering from pneumonia so it was one of the hardest gigs I have ever done even if it was just 3 songs. The show worked fine and we had a great response from the fans.
And you also just announced a new headline UK tour, your largest to date. Is the UK a particular favourite place for you to play?
UK was the scourge of power metal bands. So many colleagues said that we should not go there since our music will never work there. I love a challenge and after many shows done in UK it works for us now.
What can we expect from these upcoming shows? Will there be many new songs in the setlist?
Yes, we plan to have lots of new songs. The new album is amazing in many fans eyes and ears. But also we can now do a lot of stuff we never done before. There will definitely be surprises on the setlist on the upcoming tour.
Finally, once again thank you for talking to ThisIsNotAScene, and all the best of luck with the tours and the future.
Thank you too and see you when we come to UK.