Interview date

29 Avril 2010




Interview Joakim Brodén (by phone)

You released four albums in four years, even if "Metalizer" is more a re-edition of the first one. After "The Art Of War", you've waited two years to release "Coat of Arms". Was it necessary for you to take that time or has it been imposed to you?

Basically, it was the tour which forced us to do it. We did over hundred and sixty shows for The Art Of War tour. To be honest, we didn't have time to make another album so quickly than before. (Laughs)

"Art of War" has been really welcome by the press. Did it encouraged you for "Coat of Arms" or were afraid not to do such a good album?

In the beginning, especially when we were writing the album and composing it, we didn't want anybody to be disappointed, especially the fans. I mean, if somebody doesn't like Sabaton already, I don't care about it, but if a Sabatons' fan is disappointed, I won't be happy at all! (Laughs). But once we started to record the album, and everything was done, then we said "that's a good album, so let's do it!".

For the first time, you release an album with Nuclear Blast. Are you happy of their work on this album?

It didn't have an effect. We did our usual things, booked in studio, recorded the drums with Peter Tägtgren from Pain and Hypocrisy, then we recorded the rest of the material, bass, the guitars, vocals and keyboard in our studio.

On this cover, we can see a bird which makes think about the german eagle. Is it an idea you had before or after the writing process?

Well... (Laughs). It is a phoenix bird. It's more a polish eagle in that case. But I can understand that somebody looking at it could get this connection. Considering our proper history and the subjects of the songs on the album, which can be aggressive, it could increase problems.

Can you tell us which the subjects of each song are, a track by track?

Yeah, sure! The first song is called "Coat of Arms". It’s about Greco-Italian war. When Italians invaded Greece and it's about the ultimatum they gave to Metaxas.
The second song is "Midway". It’s talking about the battle Midway between the Japanese and American fighters in the Pacific Ocean.
The third song is "Uprising". It's about the war of uprising in 1944 in Warsaw. It's a history of betrayal and how civilians were fighting the Nazis.
The fourth one is "Screaming Eagles". It's about the battle of Bastogne and it's a story about how the German surrounded to the one hundred and first airborne regiment.
The fifth song is called "The Final Solution". That's about the Holocaust. It's a kind of oppressive song.
Then we have the song "Aces In Exhale" which is a tribute to the foreigners pilots fighting in the battle of Britain. They were Polish, Czech, Hungarian and even French, Canadians who didn't get any credits for their part in battle of Britain.
Then we have the song number seven, which is "Saboteurs". It's about a Norwegian commando raid. A couple of really brave Norwegian guys were training in Scotland, and then were plotting into an airplane patrol. It happened in winter and they had a quite hard trip but they overthrow the heavy water production so the Germany and Hitler could not produce an atomic bomb.
Now, we have "Wehrmacht" another controversial song (Laughs). In one way, it's about the true effectiveness of the Wehrmarcht in German war machine. At the same time, we are asking a question: Did the Wehrmarcht soldiers were a real part of it, or were they victims of the propaganda?
Then, we have "White Death", which is the song number nine. It's about Simo Häyhä a Finnish sniper. He did a lot of killed, seven hundred actually in less than a year during the Winter war, one of best snipper ever. He was giving the nickname white death by the Russians, because his snipers' coat was white, he kept a low profile and he had snow in his mouth so he couldn't be discover because of his breath.
And finally, the song number ten, "Metal Ripper" and it's not about war. We wrote the music ourselves, but all the lyrics are coming from other songs of heavy metal or hard-rock bands.

On this album, there are "The Final Solution" and "Wehrmacht" which can be a rude awakening, only with their titles. Aren't you afraid to "hurt" people with these two things in Germany for example but in other countries that lived this period too?

So far, the German have been quite cool with us even if we are singing about them on every album. (Laughs). They are some of course, no metalheads that would react to a title like these. I mean we always have Sabatons' work trails, we can see the lyrics and then people, nine out of ten, will say "oh !". But there will always be one out of ten that, no matter what you say, will stand in our way. But you know, especially from German people, we have a very, very few, almost none bad reactions. They know we are talking about history and we don't do political propaganda. We're not criticizing Germany at all, we are telling a story about facts that happened. Not many people in Germany, almost none approve what the Nazis did from 1939 to 1945.

The choruses are often very catchy. How do you do to have this effect?

Oh! I don't know. Whatever we feel gives us an adrenaline rush, whatever it gives us will to perform on stage. It's easier for us to give a part of engaging to the audience. When we play something we really like and something as catchier as possible and hopefully, the audience will feel that and walk with us.

Yeah, when I was listening to the album, I was living it like it was in live, imagining the audience reactions...

Oh! Yeah, it's really how, sometimes, we are writing songs. While I'm starting writing, I don't think about anything but doing a good melodic line and full of emotions. But once I'm in the middle of the song and get myself in all that work, I usually get pictures already how it's gonna look or sound in a live show.

On "Midway", your voice has been re-worked with a computer. Do you think the technology emphasize the music?

It can, because in the studio, there were too many options. We spent too much time in making choices, if we should do that with the guitars, if we should use that effect and if we still feel our creativity. But once you get through this, you eliminate your choices by a selective way. Then it's really great, because, that technology can be use for you. You know, when I'm writing a song, if I have a doubt on something, finally, I decide what to do, it's not the technology so that's not make any changes. If I have one idea, it's much quicker and easier for me to write music in that moment and not fucking around with technologies even though I'm using technology.

Despite or thanks to your accent, we understand easily the lyrics of the songs. Is it important for you to be understood by the listeners even if they don't read the lyrics?

Yeah. We try that as much as possible. I mean, as the lyrics are an equal part as the music... We don't write a really good song and then don't care about the lyrics. We put an extra investment when we are writing the lyrics, but also when I'm recording the vocals. My singing is usually over pronounced. It's the way for us to overact things and make the lyrics more logical.

According to you, what will surprise the most the listeners on this album?

The biggest surprise?! Oh !! That's hard! I will probably say the song "The Final Solution". It's a deliberate choice to make a little bit controversial song with the lyrics. The songs in this album are heavy, and this one is not so heavy and it's not about a battle. It's the first song, for a very long time, that doesn't really talk about a battle. I really think it's "The Final Solution".

Today, you have shot a video for the single. Can you talk to us about it?

Today, we are shooting a video for the title track, "Coat of Arms". It's going to be done in our living town, in our studio there. We will film the band parts, and then we will have old school animations, which will be integrate into that. Then we will have another video which is planning for Asia and it's for the song "Uprising". It will feature Polish actors who are supposed to interpret warriors and also Peter Stormare, a Hollywood actor. We had it plan in April, but there was this accident with the Polish president and his cabinet, so we decided to not record it in that mourning period, because it would have been really rude for the Polish guys. And then, we were supposed to do it the week after, but this fucking Island volcano decided to stand in our way. So due to the volcanic ashes we had to move it again.

Everything was against you for this video!

Oh yeah! Sometimes we were thinking: "we are not supposed to do that video!" (Laughs).

Does your reasoning have changed from the first Sabatons' album to "Coat of Arms"?

In a sense, yes. I remember the first album, "Metalizer", even if it was not release as our first album, when we recorded it, we wanted everything to be perfect. It was our first album, and we've never been in a studio before, we were really inexperienced. We wanted people think it was perfectly tied. We took a lot of time in making things proper, and make sure we were singing tune and things like that. Today, when we were recording "Coat of Arms", our secret was already out, people already know can do all this things. (Laughs). So we don't have to worry about that anymore. Of course, we have more hindsight now, there is a matter of time to have it, but, we always let the performance aspects go in first hand. I mean, who cares? If it's a good song or a good song vocal line, we don't really care if it's perfectly tied or tune. If the song is very good and emotionally strong, then we will keep it.

There are a lot of release parties for this album and not only in Sweden. Why do you do so many parties?

Because it's a chance for us to perform and present the album, have reactions, make sure all fans can meet us and get autographs. We can perform and relax in easier way, because, when we are on tour, after a show, we have to do another show to do. And even if we can drink one or two beers after the show, we can't be really drunk because we're gonna have a hangover the day after. (Laughs). So we have the chance to meet fans, sign autographs, and get drunk!

Excepting in Hellfest, you will do only one show in France whereas you will give few shows in each countries you are going to. How do you explain this only date?

That's easy. Because we gave a booking date to our booking agent, they booked the tour and there was only one in France, none in Spain, and one in Italy so we get angry with it and told him "no, no, no!". So the plan is we are going to do extra dates in France, in Italy and in Spain, in early 2011, I think in January. We are gonna cooperate the shows, because there is a limited amount of time there. And we want to do shows everywhere, we don't want people to travel far away to see a Sabatons' show. It's better to go there and do what we are supposed to do, all over the fucking places!

And you will tour with Alestorm. What do you think about this band?

Crazy Scottish guys! (Laughs). We met a several time in festivals, and they actually come in few Sabatons' shows, some are Sabatons' fans. They are good guys to party with, even thought, you can never compete with them because they will drink you under the table. These guys can drink an insane number of beers, and they do. So it's gonna be a crazy tour I think. At least, the after parties, when we are going to have a day off, I will have such a headache.

I hope you won't be drunk during the shows!

I don't think! And they will drink after the gig. But the difference is, when we might drink five beers, they will drink fifteen! (Laughs).

And what will be your next step after the release of "Coat of Arms" and the tour?

After the tour, we will have more dates in France, in Spain and in Italy. Then we will maybe have a quick run to America. We went there already twice, for few shows, but not for a proper tour over there. After that, it will be the time to read again, think about wars. At that time, we will be touring for a year. So I think, some of the guys will be in vacations for two weeks, and I'm gonna start working on the new album. We will play in festival summer in 2011, and when I will not jump to the festivals, I will be working on the new songs. Hopefully, we will have a new album out in early 2012.

Writing about wars and battles seems to be an endless subject, but aren't you afraid to be, one day, fed up with all this stories?

No. They are so different. They are sad stories to be told, but it's also, and it's sad to say that, but they are also happy stories about war. They are also good stories. I mean wars revealed the good and worst side of a person. And actually, for instance, we are looking for to write about somebody who did something amazingly and unselfishly. But I would be surprise if every Sabatons' album will be about war. We will probably make one or two albums not about war, but which are related. War is our thing, and we like to write about it and what our fans seem to enjoy, so I will say that the majority of the albums will speak about war and we are really interested in it and engaging about it, and also to read about it, to hear about it.

It's a kind of passion...

Yeah! It's a morbid and sick interest! (Laughs).

To your mind, what is the biggest event that changed Sabaton's career?

Oh, I don't really know. At our career point, I will say it would be our album "The Art Of War" and what we did on it. Because, we had a lot of fans, a lot of people discovered the band with the album and during the tour. But on a personal level, it was more during the night between the 7th and the 8th of September, last year. We had opportunity to play in Wizna on the battlefield and we sing about it in the song "40 1" on the album "The Art of War". That was the seventieth anniversary, so it was seventy years ago that the battle was, and we were standing there. We were in this battlefield, between 8 and 10 000 Polish people shouting along. That was an amazing night.

Have you something else to say to our readers who are looking forward to listen to this album?

You know, this is the hardest question. I always try to say something in the local language, if you know what I mean and I"m pretty bad in French, so I have to go with a "merci beaucoup"! (Laughs)