Primo Dominatus - Sabaton is conquering
I lot of water has passed under
the metal bridge since I made an interview with Sabaton's singer Joakim
Brodén at Sweden Rock Festival 2005. Then they had just made their
first larger gig at the same festival and were about to become known among
fellow hard rock fans. Primo Victoria had been out for a while but now
it suddenly started to sell more. Since then they have played two times
at Gates of Metal; the first time at the smallest stage (Stora Dans) and
a year later on the main stage. They've made several tours around both
Sweden and Europe and been warm up act for Lordi, Edguy and Dragonforce.
This summer their follow up album Attero Dominatus has meant renewed success.
At every metal concert you can se a lot of Sabaton-t-shirts walking around.
A greater break through is in the air. Recently at Växjö Metal
Festival, I met the band again to check out how they look at the latest
events. As usual most of the talking were handled by bass player Pär
Sundström and singer Joakim Brodén,
with guitarist Rikard Sundén and keyboard
player Daniel Mÿhr making comments here
and there. (If I have confused the latter two somewhere when interpreting
the conversation on my mp3-file I apologize beforehand.)
After some time of negotiations Sabaton has
finally got the rights to their first two albums.
Pär: - Right now we are planning a double
release of Metalizer and Fist For Fight in early 2007.
Joakim: - It will probably be a digibox or
something, two records for the price of one, with some old demo versions
as bonus tracks.
Pär: - It will be an exclusive release
with nice artwork and everything very well made in its finest detail
Mÿhr: - Except for the music of course
The band has made a lot of gigs the latest year.
First as support for Edguy and Dragonforce and then as a headline act.
That step is not always easy.
Pär: - It has both pros and cons. There
are higher demands, we have to deliver more. But if you look at the support
we've got it has worked well to headline. Although we have made quite
a lot of gigs we have managed to attract people to all of them, which
we are happy about.
Joakim: - But the warm up bands drink up
Pär: - That is one problem. Another
is that we like to go out and meet people after the gigs, sign things
at the merchandise and so on. As a headline there is no time for that.
After you have played people go home. Maybe there is some lonely alcoholic
But besides from this the band members are grateful
for this opportunity of course. They hope that the future will bring larger
tours, both by their own and as special guests.
Pär: - We would like to tour with some
bigger bands. They attract more people, and make it possible for many
more to discover us. But if we are about to play twenty gigs in Sweden,
it can not be a too large band, but one that are a little above ourselves.
Maybe The Poodles or something like that.
Next they are going out on a European tour with
Therion and Grave Digger. A package that they hope will attract a lot
of diverse people.
Pär: - That will be fun, since Grave
Digger is one of my personal favorites. It also means that we will meet
a new audience in Europe. Probably not the same as on the tour with Edguy
and Dragonforce. Unfortunately there will be no gigs in Sweden with this
package. Grave Digger don't think that they have a market for a tour here.
Joakim: - Sadly enough, I think that combination
would have worked in Sweden as well.
Pär: - But we have already played a
lot in Sweden, so for that matter it's not necessary for us.
Their third album (not counting unreleased Metalizer)
Attero Dominatus was released in July, following up the great success
with Primo Victoria. The albums should be seen as twins, with their similar
theme and disposition.
Pär: - Attero Dominatus has done pretty
well. It made the charts and stayed for five weeks or so. Then it returned
after another few weeks when we played with Lordi. Our record company
says that this is not supposed to happen, that our records sell over such
a long time. Usually metal albums sell at once or not at all. Primo Victoria
made the heavy metal charts one and a half year after its release, for
example. There are interests coming in from new countries all the time
to distribute our records.
Joakim: - We have not yet reached out to
all potential fans. People are still 'discovering' us. That is one explanation
for why Primo Victoria still sells as well.
One of the reasons that Sabaton has done so
well is hard work through tours, gigs
Pär: - It's our ambition to be out playing
as much as possible. After all that is the fun thing about all this.
Joakim: - There are also different people
in different places. Some of you travel around and see us everywhere,
but not all are 'Sweden Rock people'. Some just discover us when we visit
their town. They might have seen us with Lordi, heard about us from a
friend's friend who has downloaded the record
They might travel
at most fifty kilometers or so for a gig. There is a different music culture
in Germany for example. Here in Sweden you only go to a gig if you know
you like the band. There they go just to check out, simply because something
is happening in the town.
But there is a dark side of everything of course.
With all new fans also follow a lot of anti-fans, who like to heckle and
dismiss the band.
Pär: - We see it as a fun thing. That
people can be so annoyed of what you do, that they are engaging themselves
in hate mails and threats. It's bizarre to want to beat someone up because
they play music. I would never spend my time writing a two-page letter
to declare how much I hate a band.
Joakim: - I'm grateful. I think it's great.
It creates a debate about us. All publicity is good publicity. If someone
yells that we stink, well someone else might decide to check us up and
comes to another conclusion. So, just hate us! It's not fun to hear that
we are cocksucking dickheads perhaps, but in the end they do us a favor.
I come to think about a letter to a local paper in Stockholm, where a
mother was upset about how we were allowed to play before a universal
band like Lordi. She thought it awful that we sang about horrible stuff
That Lordi had bazookas and chainsaws and made out with
a dead figure on stage obviously did not matter.
Mÿhr: - But you poured water on stage
Rikard: - You actually hit me, and it was
Pär: - I think you have to go pretty
far to make a majority hate you. Then you have failed. But one out of
hundred is just good for you.
Sabaton is about to become a band that 'everyone'
can like. (Actually the only metal band I have been able to make my girlfriend
watch a live show with.) That may be one reason why 'true' metal fans
start to dislike the band.
Pär: - It is fun that we have reached
a broader crowd. We never thought that our average fan would be about
30 years old, but rater 16-20. But when we are booked to a place with
an age limit of 21 and we still sell out, you see that it works in all
Joakim: - Today we play a bit different music.
I the beginning it was heavier, today it is more of sing-along metal.
It is a bit easier to take in. Maybe that's what's bothering some people
as well. Some don't like when a guy in his 30s in a regular shirt is standing
beside the teenager in Iron Maiden-shirt and listening to a band. It's
like it's not fun anymore to see a band that 'everyone' can like. Hammerfall
experienced the same thing a couple of years ago. Other bands hate you
because they are jealous, other people hate just
because it's a
trend to hate a certain band.
There is a story that tells about a teacher
who banned Sabaton-t-shirts in her class because she connected them to
Pär: - That is quite fun, since if you
read the lyrics you understand that we definitely not propagate fore anything
like that, quite the contrary. We are a non-political band who just writes
about historical events. So it's a bit funny that you can go so far without
really checking for correct information.
Joakim: - The kids will just want to wear
the shirts even more, so I guess it's just good for us. But it is worse
in Germany, for obvious reasons. When they hear the word 'nazi' they go
crazy. But it is promoters and arrangers that care, not the kids in the
crowd. They sing along
"the Reich will rise"
Pär: - When we were about to release
Primo Victoria the distributor listened for one minute and then called
and said that he could not release this neo nazi music. "What?",
our record company replied. "Yes, I listened to this song Primo Victoria
yes?" He might not been so good at English, I don't
know, but when we had sent him the lyrics he understood and it was ok.
Rikard: - We got that as an order for the
next album, "try to avoid the word 'Nazi' at least the first fifteen
Joakim: - Tobias Sammet wondered why we hated
the Germans, but it was more of a joke.
Pär: - Actually it works quite well
in Germany. But it is quite funny to sing "Berlin is burning"
and the people are singing along. We like irony like that.
Rikard: - Those songs are actually the most
Joakim: - It was a Syrian man who was totally
crazy about the line "Israelis rule the heaven" (Counterstrike).
I tried to explain that it was about them controlling the air during the
war, not some kind of religious metaphor.
Pär: - But Syria may not be our first
And the conversation goes over to misheard lyrics
Joakim: - The guys in Bullet heard us sing
"bollen i mål" instead of "fallen in war".
Mÿhr: - When we recorded Purple Heart
the choir could not get the lyrics. They sang "falling in love"
over and over again.
Joakim: - So we gave up, and thought that
we can use it somewhere low in the background anyway.
Sabaton has reached quite far the past year.
But they have even higher goals than this.
Joakim: - We will aim really high. If you
fight for a higher goal than you actually can reach you will most probably
get a few steps further than you thought. If we do our best and have some
luck, we might be able to go on a European tour and attract a couple of
thousands every night.
Pär: - That is not unrealistic. But
to reach arena status today is almost impossible. There will be no room
for a new band to do that in another twenty years or so. Anyway, we have
a good foundation to stand on when we release the new album in 2008. Early
next year we will release the Metalizer/Fist For Fight album and tour
on that over the summer. Then we will focus on the new recordings. We
are booked until over a year ahead from now
Joakim: - Unfortunately we don't get paid.
Pär: - Because the support gigs cost
so much, we have to spend our money there rather than to pay ourselves.
It's an investment. We live scarce right now, but hopefully it will pay
After the Latin twins, Primo Victoria and Attero
Dominatus, the band must take their concept to the next level. Joakim
has already some stuff written for the next album.
Joakim: - I never know how it will turn out
before it is done. When I started with Attero Dominatus I thought it was
going to be a much faster, heavier, rawer record. But I always end up
messing with details into the last minute. As for now the next one seems
to be heavier again, more aggressive. But also more varied. The hardest
songs will be the hardest ever, and the soft ones the softest. There will
not be another 'copy' with title in Latin and so on.
Pär: - We have not really set our concept
yet. The war theme will be there, but maybe not in the same form as today.
We have some different plans. Maybe a cooperation with one of our sources
of inspiration. I cannot tell more before we have made a final deal, but
that would be a great thing.
Nowadays you can see Sabaton-shirts here and
everywhere around in Sweden. At concerts, in schools, in the city streets
Pär: - The t-shirts sell very well.
They make the whole thing going actually. Without them we should not be
able to cover up all the costs of our tours. We are very thankful for
this. There are bigger bands than us who do not sell as many t-shirts.
Thanks to the fans!
Joakim: - But we invest half of the incomes
on tours and the other half on new shirts.
The band has just returned from a European tour
with Bullet as support act. They have traveled in the same bus together,
which could be a source of conflict sometimes. But this time it seems
to have worked splendid.
Pär: - We had a great time touring with
Bullet. We made a perfect match as touring bands. We were at an amusement
park in Germany on a day off. All attractions, food and beer for about
three hundred SEK. Challenges between the bands and a lot of beer
Mÿhr: - We are bad at resting on our
Pär: - All the bands we have shared
bus with on tour have been on our level, young and easy to deal with.
We have heard some horror stories of bands who don't want to have parties
in the bus, only want to take it easy, have it quiet and go to bed right
after the gig. We have also heard stories about bands that don't speak
to each other during the tour but just sit in their own lounges and give
each other angry looks.
Finally, some anecdote from the last tour?
Pär: - The last night in Germany Joakim
had such bad cold that he could not sing at all. Instead of canceling
the gig, we let our background singer, Idol-Christian, do all the leads.
That will be a unique gig, the only one without Joakim. Everyone was actually
pleased with the solution. It was a fun place by the way. A sort of hippie
collective in Lübeck.