Pär Sundström, Sabaton interview, April 2014

Par sabatonAhead of the release of the band’s new album, Heroes, I spoke to Pär Sundström, Sabaton’s bass player to discuss the album.

Your new album, Heroes is due to be released in May.  First of all, why “Heroes” as the title?

We have to go back to 2010, to the “Coat of arms” album.  At that time we were doing an album focussing a lot on major conflicts during world war 2, and we had one song where we zoomed in on one individual person.That was the song “White death” which was about Simo Häyhä.  During that recording we also heard the story about  Witold Pilecki who on this album became the song “Inmate 4859”.  So we thought we had an idea for the future to do an album like this.  I guess in our minds, the idea of “Heroes” was already born then.  We wanted to write about individuals who gave more than was expected from them.

It’s noticeable that some of the songs are about people who aren’t well known.

That’s what we like to do, to tell the stories that aren’t known to people, it’s more interesting that way. This also means we have to do a little bit more research to make it interesting to write the songs.

Is there much research involved?

In some songs yes.  In some songs it’s easier because it’s easy to find the stories and the background behind the stories, but for some of the songs it was very difficult. FOr the song “Smoking snakes” for example, nothing was available in any language we possess so we needed a translator to help us find the information we needed to write that song.  Those songs are often inspired by fans, from their ideas, “Hey maybe you should write about this or about that”.  Later if we use these ideas then maybe we can reply to the person who suggested it and stay in contact and ask for more information, and several of the songs on the new album we have kind of worked out the story with the fans.

There were a couple of songs that really stood out to me when I listened to the album.  “Inmate 4859” is one I really enjoyed straight away.

There you go, that’s the story that started it all.

“The Ballad of bull” is a song that I think might surprise a lot of people as it’s a piano ballad.

Yes and it’s something different from what we’ve done before.  The song was quite exciting to write. Initially it was just a very quick demo.  Joakim our singer, played it to me when we were on the way back from the American tour.  He just played it back while we were sitting at the airport.  He said “Have a listen to this, I jsut wrote something and don’t know if its good”.  I listened to it and said it was really good and could definitely become something.  Then we went on and decided to record it for the album, but we didn’t have any idea what it was going to be, what kind of orchestration or would it be a heavy metal song, acoustic guitar or whatever.  So we just got down to writing the lyrics for it and then when we had the lyrics written we asked some friends of ours if they had ideas how to move on with the song and they helped us do the orchestration for it.  I never actually heard how it was built up, I only heard the quick demo and then I heard the final song because it was all done in a few days and I was away from the studio for those days, so for me it was very exciting to hear the song move from demo to finished song.

In hearts of Iron, is that a piece of classical music thats played as a guitar solo?  It sounds very familiar but I cant quite place it.

Yes it is, it’s “Air on a G string”.  We are inspired by Accept, there’s no need to say anything else.  Accept did “Für Elise” on the Metal heart song and we thought it was brilliant, and finally when we had the song “Hearts of Iron” we were listening to the chords of it and wow, this actually has the same chords as “Air on a G string”, so we can put that in here.  It was great fun to record that solo as well because Thobbe, our guitar player, was supposed to do it and he sometimes gets nervous in the studio when you press record.  So our producer Peter said “Ok I’ll press play and you can practice while I go to the bathroom” He pressed it and Thobbe played it and Peter came back and said “Ha ha I recorded it because I knew you’d nail it on the first try”, so it was recorded like that.

I suppose that’s the thing with a good producer – they know what to do to get the best results.

Exactly.  That’s the good thing and with Peter we’ve been good friends for many many years and he knows how to get the best out of us.

You’ve recorded the album with Peter Tagtren again.  Is it hard trying to schedule the recording as you tour a lot and he is always busy.

Not really, we arrange a time to record it when we know we are free.  We have to arrange it a long way ahead, well over a year.  We focus very hard in the recordings and don’t do anything else, so we go deeply into it.

With the last album you did Swedish and English versions of the album – are you doing that again this time?

No we are not.  It made a lot of sense to do it with the last album because Carolus Rex was about Swedish history.  With the new one it has nothing to do with Sweden so we don’t need to do it in Swedish.

You’ve got some live shows in Sweden during August.  What other tour plans have you got for later in the year?

We have plans for the next two years.  I guess around 200 shows booked already. Due to exclusivity of certain shows and festivals we can’t announce more than what is already out at the moment.

Your show at Rockstad Falun will see you perform the “Carolus rex” album in full in Swedish.  

That’s our own festival and it has grown over the years from a one day festival where we booked a few bands to play with us, now it’s a three day open air festival and we have fans from all sorts of places coming.  They know what to expect when they come – they know they’re going to get something special.  That’s why we decided to do the whole Carolus Rex in Swedish.

It must be a challenge because every year you have to come up with something new and special for it, that’s different from your normal shows.

Yes it is a challenge of course but on the other hand there are so many ways you can twist it around – guest artists, or special events of some sort, so I’m not really worried about it.

Thank you very much for your time

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.
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