The Metal heroes of Sabaton are about to release their first live-DVD “Swedish Empire Live”, with live footage from four different live shows. The main part of the material consists of a registration of the band’s hugely successful performance at the massive Przystanek Woodstock festival in Poland, where over half a million fans saw Sabaton perform live. We had the chance to speak with frontman Joakim Brodén about “Swedish Empire Live”.
SR: First of all I would like to thank you for taking the time to call me, it doesn’t happen everyday that a rockstar like you calls our office. So the first question I’d like to ask is: Can you talk to us about how you got into Power Metal music?
JB: My background is kind strange when it comes to music since I actually started out as a Hammond Organ player. I became a metalhead at an early age; It happened when I was three or four years old, and I saw Twisted Sister’s music video for “We’re Not Gona Take It”, or possibly “I Wanna Rock” on tv. It went on from there, I started playing Hammond Organ when I was ten, and playing everything I could get my hands on, like Deep Purple stuff. And although I am not a religious person, I don’t care about religion at all actually, I have always liked the church organ. Hammond Organ and church organs are similar instruments really, so I was playing in church quite a lot. And that is one of the parts of the Sabaton-sound, since choir-arrangements are very similar to church music.
SR: Why does Sabaton choose lyrics themed around World Wars and other historical wars?
JB: It didn’t start out that way, but I think it happened around 2004 when we were doing the Primo Victoria Album. Me and Pär had the song Primo Victoria, but we didn’t have the lyrics. We had a song with a big sound, so we needed a big subject. That’s why we thought about D-Day. Of course we knew this happened on the 6th of June ’44, but we had to do some research about what happened that day. Up to that point writing lyrics was boring, but all of a sudden it became fun because it meant something. It gave a whole new dimension to the music. so then we said: “Hey, let’s make an album about war”. And I guess we’re still doing that.
SR: However, on your newest album Carolus Rex you actually focused more on the Swedish military history.
JB: That’s mostly because of fan requests. We’ve been singing about all kinds of wars for so long, and especially World War II we covered a lot, so fans asked: “Why don’t you sing about your own history?” And we had never thought of that to be of interest to anyone besides Swedish people, but obviously that worked too. And to be honest, I think the Germans were tired of being the bad guys on all of our albums, haha.
SR: Now you guys are about to launch your first live-DVD, I can imagine you must be quite excited for that. So what can you tell us about the process that led to this DVD?
JB: For me it is strange to make a live DVD, because it is something that has already happened. We don’t believe in reworking or re-recording stuff, so we don’t do a lot of studio overdubs on our live recordings. Only if there is a technical issue with a guitar or if I totally fuck up one note then we may sort that out. This is actually something we have been wanting to do for quite some time, since all of our previous efforts of making a DVD have failed completely, due to technical issues, or equipment not arriving in time, so we thought: our fans have been waiting long enough, so if we make a DVD let’s make the motherfucker roll!
SR: Of course! And speaking of your Live DVD, which is your favourite song to perform live and why?
JB: It’s different all the time… On one tour you’re ready to pick up a song again that you haven’t played live in a long time, and then that one is fun, and on the next tour a new song is your favourite because you were getting tired of that other one. But I think I can never get tired of Primo Victoria. Of course I don’t get goosebumps when I hear it anymore because I played it so many times, but I got so many good memories, people jumping, being happy, it’s usually towards the end of the encore, so people know the shows is almost over, I’d have to pick that song just because of all the good memories.
SR: Speaking about live performances, what is the biggest show you ever played and what is your favourite Sabaton-show ever?
JB: Beyond comparison the biggest show we ever did was without a doubt the Woodstock show, since there were six hundred thousand people there. I wouldn’t necessarily say that one was the most fun, even though I had a lot fun doing it, but if you know you’re being recording that destroys the fun; I’m then constantly thinking what to say in between songs. The most fun shows happen when you don’t expect it; it can be at a big festival, it can be in a club somewhere with not many people. You never know when these things happen and to be honest it’s hard to say which one is my favourite.
SR: We saw you guys not too long ago with Nightwish here in Sydney and you guys were amazing! I wonder what you remember about that night at the Enmore.
JB: That’s the one I remember most of the shows in Australia, because that’s the first one we did. When you play with new people it’s usually the first show you remember the most. I remember it went well, I thoroughly enjoyed those shows. We did have some serious technical issues on the Melbourne shows, but Sydney went pretty fine. In general I can say you guys, you Australians, you are a bunch of happy motherfuckers and I like that!
SR: So that means you guys are coming back soon?
JB: I want to get back there as soon as possible! To be honest I want to fucking move to Australia!
SR: Coming back soon might be for Soundwave, have you been in talks for Soundwave? Your name is mentioned a lot when it comes to the second line-up announcement.
JB: I don’t know actually. I’d be happy to play there if that means I can come to Australia! The plan is – if it’s at all possible – that we’ll be touring between February and May.
SR: We’ll follow it up and turn it into a campaign to get you guys here. To finish we always ask these two questions to our guests. The first one is: What’s the craziest or funniest request you had while out on the road?
JB: Oh there have been many! It’s usually the innocent ones that are the craziest. I think it was a signing session at a festival. We do a lot of those and we always go on until we had everybody. So we had this one signing session that went on for five hours!
We planned for two hours, and that’s what we announced on stage. So we sign for two hours, and there’s still a huge line so we keep signing. And we have a day off the next day so we are drinking beer. So after about two and a half hours have passed, I hit the road in the middle of the signing because I was going to sing on stage with Doro on the song “All We Are”. I go on stage with Doro, I go back and arrive backstage, and there’s no one there. So I ask “Where’s the rest of the guys” and they tell me they’re still signing! So I go back and I see there’s still a huge line! By that point all kinds of things are being signed, everything from tits to asses!
Another hour and a half later, so now we’ve been signing for almost four hours, and I have to run again, because I have to go on stage to sing the song “Rebellion” with Grave Digger, and what happens when I come back: still no band backstage! And I think “What The Fuck? Seriously there has to be something wrong with this?” I run back to the signing where I find the rest of the band, and by now they’re quite drunk! And by now they closed the line but there are still about a hundred people left. It took an hour or more to sign those last hundred autographs because everybody was so drunk! Everybody was taking pictures, and singing and dancing, it was the most fucked up signing session ever, it was like a crazy show!
SR: It was like a mosh pit signing session, that’s unreal!
JB: Yeah, I had band members dancing, Snowy (Shaw, the drummer) was dancing on the table you know, it was unreal!
SR: That’s awesome! Now for a more serious question: Do you have any advice for young Australian musicians that want to make it in the industry?
JB: Yeah: you don’t make it in the rehearsal room. You make it by playing, and playing, and playing, and becoming better.
Of course you got to rehearse, but I can imagine it really must be hell to figure out how to reach the outside world and how to reach a new market with your music in a business sense, which is something I don’t have to do; for us, as a Swedish band we can get on a tour-bus and go into Germany and play for gas money, a few crates of beer and some food. I think the biggest obstacle for an Australian band would be getting outside of Australia. It is really really hard for a band to go outside of your home country for the first time, and you really have to save up a lot of money for that. I don’t know this for a fact, but I think there’s probably a lot of really good Australian bands that the rest of the world is missing out on, or that just quit because they’re stuck in Australia and don’t have the money to go out and make people discover their music. It is such a different situation from what we had.
SR: Just to finish, I would like to invite you to ask all your Australian fans in your own way to get your live DVD
JB: Alright! That actually makes me feel a bit like a salesman.
SR: Then just make it a greeting for your Australian fans
JB: Have a look at some of our live stuff on Youtube, if you like what you see then buy the stuff. If you don’t like it then don’t buy it – I don’t want to force people into anything. If you like it, come to a live show and it will be even more fun
SR: It’s been an honour and hope to see you soon here in Australia
JB: I can’t wait, much better weather down there!
“Swedish Empire Live” hits stores September 20, 2013