Interview Sabaton: Pär Sundström

Artiest: Sabaton

Geïnterviewde: Pär Sundström

Interview afgenomen op: Fortarock

Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Tussen al de optredens op Fortarock door, hadden we een interview met Sabaton bassist Pär Sundström na hun optreden eerder op de dag. Relaxed kwam hij ons aan een tafeltje vergezellen in de VIP ruimte terwijl Alter Bridge hun optreden aan het afronden was met een laatste nummer. We sloegen alvast aan het babbelen voor de concrete vragenronde.

Hi Pär, nice to meet you!

Hi, nice to meet you, too! How are you doing? Who's that band that is playing now over there?

That's Alter Bridge, an alternative rock band with Myles Kennedy as singer and the musicians from former Creed.

I don't know them, it's the first time I hear them. It doesn't sound too bad, we're playing with them on many festivals. Isn't that the singer that performed with Slash?

Yes indeed. So are you feeling up for some questions?

Yes, let's go!

So, how are you today?

I’m fine today, we had a good show and now we are still here for a while, so we can relax a bit, maybe even watch some bands, that doesn’t happen a lot.

Did you have a nice trip to this place?

Actually not so much, we were here only 30 minutes before the show, so we had to rush everything. We came here by plane but then we were stuck, nobody was there to pick us up and bring us to the festival, so we had to figure that out ourselves.

Really? That doesn’t sound so good!

Yeah, that’s also why the show wasn’t as good as we would have wanted it to be, with us being here only 30 minutes before the show and having a fast soundcheck.

This is actually the very first show of the European tour, how does it feel?

Being on tour always feels great. We did already some crazy stuff, like playing in a gym, doing some acoustic shows and such. We also just came back from a tour in America which was good, but we were only a support act so it was too short for us. We like to play big Sabaton shows and we couldn’t do that enough there, you know. This is the first big festival for us here in Europe and actually the first time that we are on such a big stage here in the Netherlands.

So how did you experience today’s performance? Was it good for you?

Yes it was, but it could have been much better. Like I said, we arrived here only 30 minutes before the show, so we had to rush everything, therefore the sounds was not that good as well, especially in the beginning.

You started with Ghost Division again. Is this ever going to change?

I don’t think so. Often during the first song the sound is bad and we don’t hear each other. Luckily this gets better after the first song, after some fine-tuning. Ghost Division is just an easy song for all of us to play, we don’t need to hear each other to play it. Especially on a festival where we can do only a short soundcheck. That’s why we always start with that, it’s a safe and easy song, also very energetic for the crowd. We just don’t see us starting with another song than that one.

Isn’t it sometimes tiring to be on tour so much?

No, absolutely not, I love touring! I mean, that’s what we do, next to writing the music. We go to many places and have so many shows.

Now let’s talk about the new album! Heroes is finally out. Do you think it’s ready to conquer the world?

I think it is or already is doing that, yes. With the new album, we really tried to do our very best, we didn’t really have this same feeling with Carolus Rex.

How so? Does it have to do with the line-up change, that you wanted to make the new album the best you could do because of the new guys?

It’s me and Joakim that write everything, so if it would be bad, there is actually nobody else to blame except him and me. The others have nothing to do with that, but that’s how it goes. But I think we really made a very good record, I thought that upfront and now the fans seem to confirm it.

We really notice a more evolved Sabaton, some songs sound really fresh and new, like To Hell and Back.

Well yeah, we always try to do something new, explore a bit what we can do. It’s like a circle, where Sabaton is in the middle, at the center of the circle and we explore each time an outer part of the circle. If it works out good, then it was worth it and if it’s bad, well then we know we shouldn’t do that anymore and we go back to the center and go to another side. You know, with a Sabaton record, we can always make nine good songs. So for the tenth song, we can experiment a bit. If fans like it, that’s great and if they don’t they still have those nine other good tracks and we learn from it.

Also for example The Ballad of Bull. That was a total experiment, but I actually had nothing to do with it. Joakim recorded some keyboard lines with just his phone and when I listened to it, I said that it was kind of catchy and that we could do something with it, but I had no idea what. For the recording process of it, I wasn’t even there, I was in Spain or something for other business and when I came back, to my surprise the entire song was already done. That’s unique, a Sabaton song done without me even ever hearing it upfront. And I must say I was very surprised about it, it sounded really good.

But you guys made a lot of songs for this album I read, but only ten songs made it on the album?

Yeah, we always make more songs that don’t end up on the album. But it’s not like we throw those away, we reuse them if we can, maybe for a later album. Sometimes they just aren’t good enough yet or don’t fit on the album. Sometimes it’s because we don’t feel good about it yet, that it isn’t good enough yet. Certain parts need to be reworked a bit and stuff like that. So we keep those songs and then maybe we can come back to them later.

As a Belgian I must ask about Resist and Bite. Why exactly did you make a song about that?

Well, we have a lot of fans in Belgium and we asked people a while ago to send in ideas for songs. And this topic came up a few times, so we thought why not. But it was really hard for us, to find information about it. There isn’t a lot to find about it and what we found on the internet was always in French and we don’t understand that. But we managed and we like the result.

How about Soldier of 3 Armies, isn’t there some commotion about it in general or in your home country because of that specific soldier fighting for the different armies? Why make a song about that?

It’s just also one of the topics or historic events that we came up with for this album. We got a book about it from a friend and that told about his time in Finland. He rose up so quickly in the army and that’s quite an achievement. But yes, he was also in the Nazi army, but still.

Why do you have so much success in Belgium, compared to for example the Netherlands or France?

It’s all about performing. It you do a lot of shows in a country, you get a lot of people and the time after that even more people show up. That’s the case in Belgium, we played Graspop many times, even two times after each other. So 2007, 2008, then 2010, 2012 and soon again. That really helps a lot, many people were already there for those first shows, but so many more were there the years after. But here in The Netherlands we haven’t played on a big stage yet up until now.

Really? That’s surprising to me! Also, you are not so high on the line-up, that also amazed me.

We played on festivals, sure, but always on a small stage. So you have less people that see you and you don’t grow that fast then. It’s the same in France, we haven’t played there as much or at big festivals. But if you take Germany then for example, there we are also very big. We play a lot of shows there on big festivals. Germany is a big country and has a lot of festivals spread out over the country, so that helps as well. We play big concerts there with many people like on Wacken so the word spreads if it was a good show and next time even more people come. But if we play a bad show for example in some place or some country, then we won’t come back there for a long time.

In America it’s different. It’s really spread out and the cities are totally different, you can’t do big promotion over there to reach everyone. If for example we play a big show in California, we can have many people from over there but if we go then to let’s say Baltimore, we could have only a hundred people, just because they don’t know us so well over there, or those are the only fans in that area, you know. Then we got all the fans in that area and it stops. It’s very difficult in America.

Is there a club tour coming up after the festival season?

Right now we’ll do the summer festivals and after that we go back to America. Near the end of the year we will do club shows in Europe and that will continue next year, a part in 2014 and a part in 2015.

There isn’t a Belgian date yet! Will it still come?

Belgium will also come but in 2015, it’s too early to do it already this year, it’s just too early.

We would also like to know what the role of a keyboard player will be in future Sabaton. Are you looking for someone new?

We are doing fine as we are now. Well, it is Joakim that makes all the keyboard melodies now anyway. Sometimes it’s even easier with the keyboard recorded, because it doesn’t make mistakes. Also a lot of times it’s multiple keyboard melodies, so live with only one keyboard it often isn’t enough, mostly with all those orchestral parts like in ‘The Lion from the North’, it’s just not the same with one keyboard. So no, we are not looking for someone. But we don’t shut out that possibility, we don’t shut the doors and lock us up. We are not actively searching for someone, but maybe someone will come along that we think is good enough. But he will have to be really good and dedicate himself fully to Sabaton and give his own input. We don’t want someone who just can play all the Sabaton songs that we made, not like that. But no, we’re not looking for anyone at the moment, it stays this way.

End of this month you are coming back to Graspop. You guys are even a headliner!

Yes, since our first show in Biebob in Belgium, we had good contact with the organizers of Graspop. They asked us so many years and now again and each time, we had a bigger show with more people. It just works and we get along so well. So this was just the next step.

How does that feel to accomplish that on such a festival? Your name is next to a band like Black Sabbath.

Oh that feels great, really. But we have worked hard all the years and we’ve always been in good contact with Graspop.

What’s the craziest thing that ever happened off stage?

Nothing really crazy happens in Sabaton. I don’t know.

Like Joakim jumping through on-stage flamethrowers?

Well yeah, but we are always very careful. It isn’t the first time, mostly it isn’t painful... But crazy stuff… No, we’re not really that kind of band that does really crazy stuff. I don’t know.

How are bands that perform on your own festival chosen?

It are bands that we ourselves like, that we have good contacts with mostly. We also look for some newcomers that people like. That’s how it goes.

Great! Thanks a lot for answering these questions. So, what are you going to do now, are you going to enjoy the festival?

Maybe see a couple of bands yes, or just chill out. But what I'm going to do now is take a shower!

Haha, ok! See you later, enjoy the rest of this festival! And your shower!

See you, thanks, bye!