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Interview conducted August 29 2016
Interview published September 27 2016

"I put a lot of pressure on myself. It's kind of brutal."

Metal Covenant recently talked with multi-instrumentalist and producer, etc, Peter Tägtgren in a downtown hotel when he visited Stockholm for a promotion day for his new Pain effort Coming Home [Street date September 9th].

Tobbe: OK, Peter. Yet another Pain record to add to the collection, so what do you present this time?

Peter: Well, I think there are more different sides to it, but you can still identify it as Pain. It's written in a little bit different way to some extent. It's kind of the continuation of where Lindemann and old Pain ended. It's quite easy to end up in a pattern when you write, but this time I tried to avoid that as much as possible.

If I come up with a melody or a riff or something like that, I put it down on the computer and then build with synthesizers, bass and everything. I usually build it part by part. And the next thing that comes usually should be like "this", but there I tried to do the opposite instead. So it took a long time; to think in a different way. I started writing in September last year and wrote until April and it's just how long it takes. It's the way it is.

You know, you can surely write an album quicker, yet this was pretty quick for me to write this one. I can work with a record for two years, but this time I felt that I wasn't gonna change stuff all the time back and forth. And that's probably what was most important, because it gets more genuine, I think, and the way it was supposed to be in the beginning.

Tobbe: So were you able to work in a relaxed way or did you put a lot of pressure on yourself?

Peter: I put a lot of pressure on myself. It's kind of brutal. I actually put pressure on myself with stuff all the time. It's not something that I would recommend; to make a record on your own. It helps if you have a producer and coworkers, but when you're sitting all alone it's a little brutal, really.

Tobbe: About the artwork. What made you choose a front cover like this?

Peter: I felt that I wanted to do something with a spacesuit and then I was thinking about a desert too. But that was all I had. And then Heile [Stefan Heilemann], who did the previous Pain record [You Only Live Twice [2011]] and also the Lindemann [Skills In Pills [2015]] record, began brainstorming. We rented that thing and then we went to a place for the photo shoot. We used a lot of suits and a lot of strange things.

Well, I don't know, it felt like a cover. It's a little bit different and pretty unique, you might say. It's hard when you always should be on the cover personally, you know, so with the last couple of records I have tried to avoid that. In the beginning it was kind of standard. Stockholm Records wanted that, so I tried to follow their will. But then I got tired of seeing my face on T-shirts and so. It's different if you're a band, you know, where all four guys are on the back cover. But now that I'm completely solo it feels a little too pretentious.

Tobbe: But do you have to do pretty much all the work personally, really?

Peter: Both yes and no. The problem is the way I write. When I write I record at the same time and if I would hire a producer, he would want to have what I have delivered now, before he begins, because he can't see what I mean when I say that a specific riff will work in a particular way together with something else. I must record everything to begin with before someone has something to produce and I feel that it would take twice the time to go through with this. And I don't feel like playing stuff over again, when I'm already done, you know.

Tobbe: No, but that's something you push other guys to do when you're sitting in the chair, right?

Peter: Yes, but that's a little bit different. They enter with complete songs and have hopefully practiced or have some pre-production or something like that, so that they know what they're doing. So that's much easier and fewer things to keep track of.

Tobbe: And does the economical side also weigh in? You don't have to pay someone, really, besides using your own time, so to speak.

Peter: Yes, exactly, and the sweetness of it is that I get to kind of sit with my own little ego and write and I don't have to care about other people, like "I have to go home now", or "Blah, blah, blah". I just keep going for as long as I can.

Tobbe: You can quite easily hear that this is a Pain album, but what do you try to do to find new stuff today, within the framework of Pain, really? I mean, it's the 8th album.

Peter: You know what? With Pain it's so good, because there are kind of no frames to stay within and I've tried to put that forward all the way from the beginning, you know. It might turn in any direction and I believe that all Pain albums sound a bit different, at least production-wise and sound-wise and so, so it maybe becomes at least a little more interesting to listen to. But with songs and so, I blend different stuff and it's basically just what comes from my heart.

I don't think about what it is, like with the first song [Designed To Piss You Off], people think it sounds a little country-ish, but it's just regular slide guitars with something punk-ish to it. But everybody perceives stuff in different ways, you know.

Tobbe: So what becomes easier over the years, as you gain more experience?

Peter: Well, it's never easy to make a record. You're just like "How will I do this? How will I make this record become better than the last one?". There are no shortcuts, unfortunately, but you have to fight like hell. And this, I think, is the most interesting, both song-wise and production-wise, record that I've ever done.

But maybe that's because it's so fresh and new to me right now and it's really hard to say what other people might think of it. You're on different chairs, so to speak. I'm right in the middle of it and you tend to become very deaf and blind when you're doing it and it's easier for someone from the outside to come in and say what it sounds like.

Tobbe: As a musician, do you really always have to think that the new album is the best you've ever done? Do you at least have to have that mindset?

Peter: Well, but you preferably should think so. Honestly, you know. For the most part it might be, if you think so personally, that you're so blind from it so that you see it in a different way than everybody else, like I said, you know. And then I don't know if this one is better than the last couple of records. It's hard to say, but I feel that the songs are better and that there's something more to the songs now.

Tobbe: As you now release a new album, besides doing a few interviews and so, what can you do to make Pain take yet another step on the stairs to fame?

Peter: If I knew what to do, I would be the biggest in the world. [Laughs] I think, like many other people you keep fighting. The right momentum, the right place, the right band, maybe a void in people that you can fill. You know, if all the record companies knew what to do, they would bring forth hits all the time. I think nobody knows and it just runs its course. The right place, the right style.

I mean, there's so many bands that have become successful with a specific album, but everybody thinks that the previous records were much better than that record. And when they have worked their way up, they can release crap and it will work anyway because they have worked so hard.

Tobbe: About the music style; the Pain concept, which is kind of melodic electronic industrial metal. Do you have an idea what the market looks like for this type of music today?

Peter: I have no idea. I mean, if you look at Sabaton, who plays power metal. No one would have said that it would work today. So you never know. And they are a good example of hard work. They really have a goal and they keep going so hard that people are falling off in every direction. [Laughs] So they have to change members, because no one can cope with it.

Tobbe: About Sabaton. Jocke [Brodén] is laying down some vocals on the album [on the song Call Me], just like you did on their Carolus Rex album, and is exchanging vocal efforts just something you do for fun, or is it to help each other, or can it be essential for the song's outcome?

Peter: Well, this was more an act of revenge from my side, because they forced me to sing in Swedish. No, I asked Jocke if he wanted to make a guest appearance on one of the songs and he said "No problem. Which song?" and I told him "I don't know. I haven't written any lyrics yet.". So I didn't know, but when I had written the record we just sat down and listened and "This one could work. Let's try it.".

Tobbe: You have worked with Sabaton quite a lot over the years and without sounding cocky, could you take some credit for what they've achieved?

Peter: Well, no, I wouldn't say so. You know, production and sound are maybe not so important in the long run, in comparison to what's on the record. You know, music-wise and song material and so on. I think that is probably more important. But it's always nice if it sounds good.

Tobbe: But you're also a skilled songwriter and you're able to put things to the records that are not credited in the liner notes. Things that people don't know about.

Peter: Well, occasionally I have written some stuff, but no big deal, you know. But it's not much. Just some things here or there.

Tobbe: OK, not to be mean, but on economic terms, wouldn't you earn more if you would only work with other bands than your own?

Peter: Yes, but that's not so fun. I did that for 10-15 years, just working all the time. But I had no time for myself either. I had to book my own studio since there was a waiting time for about 12-14 months. So I really had to plan everything. It was fun when we were right in the middle of it, but then I just felt that it had to stop because my head was going to explode. It was hard to come up with new ideas and new sounds and so. So it was pretty nice to just relax and start to tour more; to come out and see things.

To me, it feels like: if I'm in the studio for too long my body kind of starts to itch and I want to come and play. And when you've been out playing for some time you get new influences; from everywhere, like people in the bus play new music that you've never heard before, or you hear stuff if you're hanging out at a bar. You get new inspiration, simply, and then it's nice to come back to the studio again. But, it's absolutely fun to record bands as well, but not 20 bands a year. 2 or 3 makes you stay focused, you know.

Tobbe: You know, Pain had a few hits when you kind of had your breakthrough around the millennium change and, in hindsight, should you have put more time and effort into Pain when the ball started to roll?

Peter: Well, don't want to. No, it was a fucking nightmare, all that. To be some kind of celebrity, I don't want that. And especially for a person who has been brought up in the woods, in a tiny village and so. No, it's nothing that I would recommend. But I mean, people see this differently. I like to keep a low profile and do my stuff. Of course we could have put together a real band back in the days and made something really good out of it, but I had no desire to do so.

It came out wrong, how things came out, because it almost became a video hit band, or a single band, and I come from death metal, you know, where you're going from underground and up. Everything came out completely wrong and for me it was pretty far-fetched.

Tobbe: When working with music, like you do, having a lot to do and working with other bands as well, do the thoughts about music constantly fill your head up and you can't really take a few weeks off sometime?

Peter: No, that would be impossible. If I'm away for a week I almost break into pieces. It's not possible and I must go home. I already now feel that my body is starting to burn. We've been doing promotion on and off since June, so I feel that it's time to do something, you know, in the studio.

Tobbe: Are you ever worried about the pace is getting too high? You're not old at this point, but I mean, we're all aging.

Peter: Yes, that's true. It will probably take longer and longer time between each record, because you want to do it in a little bit more comfortable way, but when I feel my body is kind of starting to quiver, I can't help it. It's not worse than that and all the shit must be let out, because I know that there's something within me that must be let out. What it is, I don't know, but I feel that things start to happen.

Tobbe: You're touring Europe in October and November and what does your schedule look like later on?

Peter: Oh, man. It will probably be rather hectic, I think. First the European tour, and then we're going to Finland for 6 gigs, and then we're going to Russia, and then it's Christmas. On February the 1st we're going to the US for the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise. I've never done that before, so it will be great fun. And then we will probably tour the US for a couple of weeks too. Then we will go back home for a European tour again, but in the countries that we didn't visit on the first run. Because else we have to be out 7-8 weeks in a row and I don't want that, you know. 3-4 is just perfect.

Tobbe: And festivals next summer?

Peter: Yes, probably that too.

Tobbe: The record comes out in the right time to first tour and then follow up with festivals.

Peter: Yes, exactly. I think it will turn out well. I don't dare saying anything, because I don't know, really. It also depends on how many people that will come to the shows and what kind of offers you will get. And you want to bring the entire production to Europe and then bring it to the festivals, with big screens and all that shit and that's not cheap, so we got to get paid for it. I don't want to end up with a negative result and it would be nice to at least get a few bucks left. If you're going to do something, you should do it properly.

Tobbe: Of course, no matter what you work with, you got to get paid for it.

Peter: Yes, exactly. But I feel that I spend a lot of money on stage stuff on the European tour just to work up the band.

Tobbe: Will you be touring with the same guys that you've been doing for the last 10 years or so?

Peter: Well, almost. David (Wallin, drums] will throw in the towel now, since he's got some other things to take care of during 2016 and then he will be back for 2017 again. So my son [Sebastian] will jump in and play the drums for the tour. He also plays on the record, my son.

Tobbe: And that won't be a problem, out on the road?

Peter: We will see what kind of mentality he has. You never know. Touring is not for everyone. It's just the way it is. Some people can do it and some people can't. We will see. But I will try to make it as good as possible for him.

Tobbe: Even if this is probably not the right time for this question, considering you have an album with Pain now, but do you have any stuff for a new Hypocrisy record right now?

Peter: Well, I don't know. Maybe that's what's in the pipeline? I really have no idea. I know that Reidar [Horghagen, drums. A.K.A. Horgh] will start with Immortal pretty soon and I don't know if Micke [Mikael Hedlund] has started to put together any songs yet. The last record [End Of Disclosure] I pretty much wrote all by myself, since the other guys weren't there at the moment, unfortunately. So we will see. But for my part, I don't know if there's Pain stuff in my body, or if it's Lindemann, or Hypocrisy. I just know that something is in any case about to happen.

Tobbe: So what will happen with Lindemann in a little bit longer terms? Do you have any plans?

Peter: Well, it's hard to know what they [Rammstein] are doing. That's probably the biggest problem. I don't think they really know either what to do and so. I mean, it's the best live band in the world, absolutely, so that's not a problem for them, but maybe they will come up with new songs. I don't know what they have planned. But when we get the time we will try to put together another record and we have plenty of material for it already, because when we were doing it the last time we couldn't stop writing and we just kept going and going.

Tobbe: The first record has only been out for a year, so it's not like you have to put another record out today.

Peter: Exactly. It would have been great to play some festivals and stuff. But it's really difficult. We must respect Rammstein of course, because that's where he has his feet, you know. And I have my Pain, so it's hard to say. But I think the record has sold gold in both Germany and Russia and it's going really well in a lot of other places too.

Tobbe: Seems like you have nothing to complain about.

Peter: No, there's absolutely nothing to complain about. It's just a question of how we should manage it and how to get the time for it, since we both have other bands too.

Tobbe: It's pretty common that musicians play in a couple of bands these days.

Peter: Yes, exactly. But it has to stay genuine too, you know. It just can't be the same guy in 14 different bands and I'm a little bit over the top already, but I don't really know what to back down from.

Tobbe: So what's in the pipeline right now in life within the music? Besides Pain of course. And how do you see the future at this point?

Peter: I have nothing planned. For the first time I have nothing planned. It's just the tours that are coming up. I have nothing booked in the studio. I try to keep everything open for something. I don't know what, but something will probably come.

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