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Interview with Sabaton (Joakim Brodén) | "The War to End All Wars"

Joakim broden111

Joakim, how are you doing?

very good and you?

Very good, lot of cold here in Greece but uh believe it's not compared of that in Sweden, right?

No, but I mean we sort of, have the clothes for it (laughs)

(laughs) Okay, new studio instalment for Sabaton, the title “The War to End All Wars”. So, how's the morale in the sabaton barracks?

Uh well. Pretty happy about the new album, pretty pissed off that we haven't been able to play much for the last two years (laughs)

(laughs) Okay, that is uh reasonably enough we will say something afterwards about that you will understand why. So, “The War to End All Wars” is due to be released on March the 4th by Nuclear Blast. From the event that started the 1st World War in Sarajevo to the steep snowy slopes of the alps and the Christmas truce of 1914 on the trenches, what are the war stories that we are going to hear on this new album?

Oh well, we tried to get a big, big old mix in because this one is like, the second album we do about the first world war and already when we were doing “The Great War” the previous album, there were stories we wanted to tell but we didn't have the music, you know, that was right for it, and two of those stories - “Christmas Truce” but also “Hell Fighters” - And then, there are some stories that, we had never heard of until we did “The Great War”, where a lot of fans started giving us ideas on you know “oh have you thought about this have you thought about that, have you thought about this” so, yeah I think “White Friday” and what we do on “Soldier of Heaven” is an example or “The unkillable soldier” - Adrian Carton de Wiart and you know was a madman really – and it's a good mix of what we wanted to do we finally got to do everything we set out to. Even with “The Great War” we managed to plug those holes; I think. We also managed to cover the southern and Balkan side of things a little bit, better than we did on “The Great War”.


Something that I wanted to ask is what is the preparation of, you know, as you said before picking, selecting, and of course the research behind the stories throughout the history that we are hearing on Sabaton. What is the procedure in making a Sabaton song?

In many cases, it's all different, I can't really say it's always like this but I can give you an example which would be the most common thing and that is, that we have a conflict or an event in or a battle in mind when writing the music or most of the music. In a way sometimes it's just a musical Idea, that then gets completed with a topic in mind. At a certain point, there might be some words for the lyrics coming into our heads, but not certain, uh possibly, a word here and there. And then we write the lyrics afterwards. A few times we don't even know what the song is about it's just a song, and then we have to try and find the right story for that song which can be tricky. Sometimes we just have a story we really want to tell but we have no music for it.

Hearing the new album, I noticed more anthemic, maybe mid-tempo songs than his predecessors. what you believe is the most notable change in the new album in comparison to “The Great War”?

one of the things that strikes me is the production I mean it's not totally different but it's a better version in a way. I think Jonas has really outdone himself it's probably the best sound we ever had on an album. One thing, always go back in at some point and listen to our older albums before, and when we start a new one like what can we learn you know and one of the things I was really happy about. With “The Great War” was sort of the darker atmosphere and the songwriting and stuff like that, I mean, in some songs you never know when you're in the middle of things but a year later you realize “ah maybe that wasn't the greatest song” but that's stuff that's going to happen anyway, otherwise you'll end up doing “Chinese Democracy” like Guns or Roses in the next 20 years(laughs). So, you have to take some chances. But one thing I noted about “The Great War” that I didn't like was, you know, it wasn't the fault of one song but rather the whole production. At towards the end of the album, when you listened to the whole album from the beginning to the end your ears were tired, you know. what I mean, possibly because of the massive crazy last song before “In Flanders field” at the end of “The War to End All Wars”. And I think you don't think about it when you listen to one song or two songs or three songs but when you listen to the whole album, there was something, and I’m talking about, you know, a technical issue here in the production that mistake that we made that it becomes harsh to listened to, in the long run. And so, we managed somehow to get it harder but less harsh, on this album, which I think is a really cool thing about it.


About the new artwork, we see a dying soldier tangled on a barbed wire. From my perspective it seems like a bit Allegorical, the war ended as a newspaper mentioned beside him, but the losses are there, as the soldier symbolizes in all Europe back then. what made you said: “This is the artwork we want for the new album”. What it means for you guys.

It's hard to see what it is because I’m what you call visually challenged or impaired, I’m my talents really lie in the audio part of these things with music and with sound and music production and everything around it. I can express myself; I know what's right, what's wrong, what should be done with. the visual stuff no matter if it's an artwork or a music video I can say I like this because it feels right. But what makes it feel right I don't know and, in this case, when I saw that, that was not the final product but already when I saw the first draft, I really liked the atmosphere, and it felt like they represented the music we had planned very well. Other than that, I’m sorry I don't really know. I know there's a after a while there's a - I don't know if you have a small or a large version - but there's a lot of easter eggs and you know references to what's in the album there and we really love that kind of artwork. It gave us that opportunity to add those easter eggs and you know - “oh that's a representation of that song and that's a representation of that song” - and we can’t get all the album but almost all of it, in for references. But the thing what it represents to me I don't know, actually it just felt right.

did you had any difficulties making the album any particular song that was tricky making it or any fun story making the album?

Um tricky would be “Christmas Truce” because it was the first one written and it was one of the best stories we've ever heard, I mean obviously we've known about the Christmas truth since we were children basically. The pressure of it's going to be the first song to be written about the new album because we decided we were going to do another one, and one of the best stories deserves one of the best songs sorts of. So, pressure because also in a sense will set the standard for the rest of the songwriting process uh so really probably the one song, I spent the most time with working on actively you know.


the first videos for the promotion of the album were a lyric and a music video for “Christmas Truce” and “Soldier of Heaven” most recently. what made you choose those two and if I remember there is some animated videos right?

with the “Christmas Truce” and “Soldier of Heaven” we wanted to lead with that not because it was, you know, we released it in October it's not and it's not intentional to be a Christmas song but it talks about military history happens to take time in Christmas just like F**** D-day happened to take place on the 6th of June(laughs). but like we did on “Blood of Bannockburn” we put bagpipes to set the scene to associate the song with Scotland just like we had small bells and stuff in “Christmas Truce” to sort of make people connect this song with Christmas and when we made the video, we already decided pretty early that we didn't want it to be a regular music video but rather a sort of mini movie where our music might be the soundtrack instead. So, by far the biggest music video production we ever did and the guys who did it it's actually a Czech movie production team. They don't do music videos until now, but I think they did a really good job and it's really, really old school as well. I mean not like 1930s but more like 1970s or 80s possibly even 90s filming of because there's not too much computer-generated stuff all the explosions are explosions that we ran through when recording you know it's not added later in the computer. We were covered in dirt when we are firing guns, and you know, you see muzzle flashes, those are real muzzle flashes and not computer generated which adds a whole different filmic quality to it. It makes it feel older and look older. You know when you do computer generated graphics there's always, even at top level, a chance of things looking a mix of new and old and then it doesn't look real anymore.

can we expect any more videos promoting the album?

Yesssss…. two… two more… (laughs)

okay I was uh looking the Nuclear Blast web store and I saw a lot of versions for the album. Many editions, digipacks jewel cases many colorful vinyls. Something that I noticed was Cassettes.



Do you believe cassettes at least on a collector's perspective they’re back on the menu?

It's more of a fun thing you know, I’ve never released a cassette in my Life. That's the edition I’m most psyched about and I don't even own a cassette player anymore (Laughs) but I want them ALL!! It's not a secret vinyl is growing and you know, it's growing by a huge percentage rate. But still, it's only like 1.5 or 2.5 percent of the total music sales so it's not like vinyl is coming back big times but yes vinyl is coming back to music enthusiasts and collectors. I can see that keeping on going for vinyl for sure but for cassette I think that's something more as a funny memorabilia nostalgic thing for a laugh and that's what I would want to do you know.

As we said about cassettes, what is your opinion about streaming platforms more and more artists are not fond of streaming platforms at least heavy metal artists as I can see. what is your opinion about streaming platforms?

uh well it's different depending on the platform. what I don't like could be misconstrued as it's in my own interest but I think, in many cases the compensation for the artists is way too low. But that being said the whole idea of having access to so much music in your phone I love the idea of it. I just don't like maybe how they executed it in detail. I think they exist because of artists who have made music over the years and they should compensate them a little bit more. I’m not saying they shouldn't be able to make the money out of what they created as well, because it's a great thing and I really love. is that music has not gone the way of film and tv where you need to see tv. In the beginning it was great because you could pay for, I mean to one place what you call it a subscription and you get access to almost all the tv and all the movies out there, and now everybody is trying to protect their own eyepiece which I understand in a sense but then now if you want to watch tv or see films you need to be a subscriber to five different fucking platforms you know




while with music at least, thank God, it's still like yeah, it's going to be a little bit different. Not everything is on every platform but you don't have to choose based on the fact that you're a fan of Sabaton or Ramstein or Bon Jovi that is not forcing you to use Apple music, Amazon or you know YouTube music.



Do you believe tours are now doable because we have vaccinations, people are getting vaccinated and the first heavy metal tours are starting to be announced. We're expecting you on the 21st of July here in Greece and some of us have these tickets for two years now.

Yes, trust me we are we are at least, as tired of waiting because we are used to doing over 100 concerts per year we did like 12 or 15 in the last two years(laughs)




I still remember the tank on stage you know (last tour)

Yeah… I think we should be able to go out and at this point in time now, and if we are not able to tour I certainly will blame all the politicians in all the countries necessary for this tour at least in that case because, in a situation here uh which is a luxury thing but everybody who wanted a vaccination has had the opportunity to get one of course we're not talking about other countries now but those are not countries we are planning into touring at this moment -there are in places where they have their access to the vaccine but that's a whole different discussion- but um at this point now if they needed more hospital beds the politicians had had two fucking years to sort that out. you know if they wanted more people to get vaccinated whatever they wanted to do uh we're at a certain point were the amount of population that needs to be protected it is better to sort of protect them than stop the rest of society because I’m not talking only about heavy metal or music, I’m talking about people having losing their livelihoods people sitting in lockdowns and uh not being able to go on with their lives you know.





One questions that I like to ask to many artists. Do you believe that the pandemic unintentionally made a new way for creativity for the artists? We saw many collaborations and “quarantine” songs throughout those two years.

No i don't think it brought on anything new but it might have accelerated a process that's already started. That whole thing I think where we are at the moment with no matter if it's streaming, collaborating, with other artists, doing more things online whatever you're thinking of here, I think it all would have happened at one point sooner or later but this pandemic didn't create it but it certainly accelerated that process that what now has come about in two years might have taken us five or six years otherwise.





I believe that in many countries that you go they have a Sabaton song that represents them. We Greeks have “Coat of Arms” for example. How do you feel when you play that song to them seeing the reactions of the people, singing the song for them?

that is one of the best things ever, I mean, especially playing in a song about a place a city or a country in that place city or country for the first time, it's always a sort of a memory that yeah, I can't say never forget, but I remember most of them you know. I remember the first time we played a lot of these songs and announced them on stage and seeing the reaction even before we started playing the song only by announcing the name of the song and seeing the crowd. and then I remember something I don't know if it's typical Greek but before I start singing, people are singing along to the guitar riffs and everything and that's like “what the FUUUCK” I can hear you guys over the monitors singing the theme or you know the melody or harmonies of the “Coat of Arms” and you know even if it's that we're playing “Winged Hussars” in Vienna or in Poland you know.




yeah, we are like that believe me… Okay some more generic questions. Which bands do you believe influenced Sabaton favorite bands that you have?

I think we're talking about well musically sabaton really has its roots in the classic 80’s hard rock in metal, catchy odd rock eighties hard rock in metal, maybe not so much the hair metal trend but for sure Judas Priest, Accept Yngwie Malmsteen. You know that school of hard rock to some certain extent yeah maybe even Bon Jovi. But yeah, I wouldn't say much of, maybe not Poison or Ratt you know but uh the more traditional 80s hard rocking metal.





What other bands are you listening to this time around?

Oh, at the moment I’m really everywhere. I just saw that Battle Beast release something new I heard for the first time the other day, and I thought it was fucking good great return to form, and at the same time I was listening to the new Abba album (laughs). And then also just the other day I was into some sort of Johann Sebastian Bach revival where I’ll try to listen to the whole saint john and saint Matthew passion and you know documentaries online. so, I’m really a spread-out music listener. I’m not much into hip-hop or jazz or that side of music obviously uh but you know everything from basically, classical music to 70s disco to yeah death metal is okay.





A tough one for you Joakim if you have to choose between keyboards and to be behind a mic what it should be?

Personally, and emotionally I feel more at home behind the keyboards and I’ve always identified myself that way. Until a few years ago when I realized that I don't play enough so I’m not so good anymore. So, it's a bit tricky from a sabaton perspective and you know thinking of it as a smart business decision, it would be stupid of me to sort of be behind the keyboard uh and not sing but yeah there comes a lot of sacrifices with being a singer that I don't enjoy so, I don't know what which one to choose actually. But uh my initial reaction I don't know if it's wrong or right is still keyboarder and composer, you know not singer that's something I became by accident but maybe I have to realize that front man of a band is more of what I do these days you know.





any memories from the first time you went on stage?

First time on stage as a singer I was fucking almost pissing and shitting myself because I was so nervous (Laughs). Uh took me years to get past that. Also, because I knew I was shit you know I was a singer until they found a singer. so, um of course, I wasn't musically stupid I mean we weren't the best band, but I mean I was an okay keyboard player at the time, and I could be proud of what I could do at keyboard at the time, but even I knew at that time that my singing was shit. But I was the one who was least shit at it in the band so I guess I was stuck with it so yeah, it's hard to go out and uh perform well and be ashamed of your capabilities.





Any memories from the worst best show you had? any funny moments?

for the first couple of shows you mean?




yes yes…

uh well yeah well, there were some really spinal tap moments in the early days you know because obviously you didn't have that many concerts so, when you had a concert, it was a party I mean if you do 150 concerts in a year and if you drink crazy every time, you’re going to be an alcoholic or dead. But when you do you know 8 to 15 shows a year then it's a party because it's great and of course, with those parties came, you know strange situations we've had everything from. Well, nothing bad really just funny and stupid you know. I remember also one book, I’m not going to name the city or the place, while we were playing at the community house once and the guy who booked the show he was a Sabaton fan and he had a bunch of some friends who were fans and he had some girls he was trying to hit on who were also Sabaton fans so he booked us to that show, I don't know how many people came 100 maybe you know, and um after we were done, they had a few beers with us and then, they just said “bye we're going to the after party” and then they locked the door (laughs) because they didn't want us to take the girls, and there we are sitting in some kind of community house somewhere in Sweden in I don't know 2003 or 2000 something like 4 maybe and there is no food I mean obviously we have water in the taps you know, so we're not going to die but we're fucking locked in and they're going to a party and we're not fucking invited. That was like “this is not what I expected” (laughs)





any memories that you had uh visiting Greece any funny moments there? We are a little bit crazy bastards you know that by now.

Yes, uh actually it's not a funny moment but rather a profound moment for me I was the first time we played Athens I guess it's 2008 or nine, and I remember this because it was such a surreal situation for me. We came there I think something was missing we had to borrow a base guitar and borrow guitars because our equipment got lost I can't remember but at least some rental or borrowed instruments were there, were playing in the middle of the show and I remember us playing “Ghost Division”, and in the middle of that song everything sort of went into slow motion and this is something I mean, it takes a long time for me to tell this now, but this is something that happened, a thought process that happened in my head over the course of a few seconds, but still it's like everything goes almost into slow motion I’m like: “oh wait what's happening here” I’m here, I’m in Greece in Athens - obviously I’ve heard about the city - but I’ve never been here before, we've never played here before, we are here and there's, I don't know how many people were there but I mean the maximum capacity of the place can't be more than 300 and I’m it wasn't full so I mean we're talking less than that, but I’m here in Greece and a lot of people still came to listen to a Swedish band and I’ve never been here before, and how did I end up here and “Oh shit I haven't had another job in two years, wow I guess I’m a professional musician” and then “all right I’m having fun I can live with that” and then boom my mind goes back to the song you know.




Okay, something that you regret throughout your career?

Uh well yeah, I mean some mistakes we did uh of course surprisingly little actually because a lot of the mistakes we learned from you know. And coming to where we are has taken us a long time, I mean we've been doing this for over 20 years and some bands started five years ago who are sort of larger than us you some of that was felt like regret at the time, but you know to be honest we couldn't get proper management or a proper booking agency in the beginning but I know why now, we weren't fucking good enough you know we were shit. Why the fuck were they working with us? we were at the same time smart enough not to sign these crazy asshole deals you know. So, we had to do things on our own and learn the hard way. So, we did a lot of mistakes that we wouldn't have done you know if we would have had you know proper management or you know a normal management deal and stuff like that. By doing so much ourselves we did a lot of stupid shit, but we also did a lot of shit that wasn't supposed to work but somehow worked for us, that we might have not done if we had those other opportunities so, uh yeah in general, quite a few regrets actually.





Last message to your fans Joakim?

well very simple, thank you for the good times it's one country it's always good to play in. it's Greece fucking hell even if the venue might not be the largest of the state muscle, might not be the most impressive we've seen, the fucking crowd’s reaction always kills what we get up north you know (laughs).





Joakim thank you for your time, see you in July in the trenches.

I hope so. Take care man



Thank you very much, my friend, have a nice day.










Chris Mouskos, Tasos Zervoudakis

Black Velvet Radio

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