SABATON: What Sabaton Says Interview

Photo by Tallee Savage

L-R: Joakim Brodén, Tommy Johansson, Pär Sundström, annes Van Dahl, Chris Rörland Photo Credit: Tallee Savage

On Friday, August 13, I connected with Sabaton frontman Joakim Broden via Skype. My intention is to transcribe and present this interview as a typical magazine article (aka a text version). However, as a sneak peek and a rare audio only listen to the interview itself, here is the audio that you can hear in a video browser (like YouTube). Note: this video premieres at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

Here is half of the transcription as it stands now in its unedited format:

Partial subtitles to half the video interview

Well, I imagine you are excited about the upcoming tour with Judas Priest. What was the first song you heard and what were your immediate impressions?

Oh, to be honest, I can’t remember exactly the first Judas Priest song I heard. I’m guessing, you know, it should have been “Breaking the Law” or “United,” or “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” or anything on the radio when I was a kid. Yeah. The first sort of album, when I really became a real fan and, you know, started to become aware of Judas Priest and the band was Painkiller, I believe.

Which one?


Painkiller. Gotcha. Cool. What are your thoughts on the upcoming tour with the Priest?

I’m looking forward to this for so many reasons. First of all, it hasn’t been a good year and a half. If you’re a musician to begin with … and we haven’t been allowed to do what we love to do, which is play live, which makes it extra exciting. And to play with Judas Priest, which is one of our all-time favorite bands. And we know a few of the people in the crew as well, Judas Priest and they’re really nice guys. So I’m really looking forward to it, yeah. More than I normally would for a tour, actually.

Awesome. Awesome. I’m looking forward to seeing you guys play in Austin, Texas in November. I think it is. Or maybe October (Oct. 13).

Oh yeah. Austin. That’s a great city.

Yeah, yeah, it is. Yes. Well, my next question is related. How did you guys handle the pandemic and how that impacted live touring?

Well, we did what we sort of had to do in a sense. We were still touring up until mid-late March, because Russia didn’t have any restrictions while Europe and the U.S. and a lot of other places were shutting down. We sort of came back quite late to the party. A lot of countries were locked down, but we basically decided pretty early that, ‘Yeah, this is not going to be over in a week. Let’s make sure we get (bleep) done.’ Our first order of business when things were still pretty new was, ‘Let’s make sure we do everything that has been left,’ you know? Stuff that was always like, ‘Oh, we’ll do that when we have time.’ So we sort of ran through a lot of things, you know, even if it’s as simple as singing on that song that has been waiting or cleaning out the HQ with, you know, all of the mess inside. So both on a personal and professional level we took care of that. And then we started making an album, which is done. It’s complete now. It’s recorded since several months and we are about to release it, well, next year, hopefully as it seems, but when things are opening, I guess.

Gotcha. Is the next album going to be made up of a lot of the singles you’ve released in the last several months in the last year?

Nope. Nothing. All new stuff.

What do you want to tell me about those songs?

The ones we released already?

No, the ones that are on the new album.

Ah, I can’t talk about that yet, I’m afraid. Sorry.

No worries.

I can tell you it’s about military history.

What a surprise. Surprise! What are some of the things you love most about heavy metal?

Wow. That’s a great question. That’s really hard to answer. I don’t know what it is. I became not a metal head, but the first time I strongly reacted to music was when I was three or four years old. And the music video to Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock” or “We’re Not Gonna Take it.” We don’t know which one it was, but my mom was in the kitchen and that video was on TV. So this is in 1984, I guess. And, uh, she heard me scream and she ran out from the kitchen into the living room and there I was freaking out and screaming and jumping in front of the TV.

And, well, thanks to my open-minded mom who thought, ‘Well, he looks like (bleep), but, uh, he’s got a great voice.’ She bought me the vinyl when it came out because that album, I think it was a single only. So I don’t think the whole album was out when I saw that. And ever since then, I mean, I like all kinds of different music, but I always kept coming back to hard rock and metal.

Wow. Thank God for your mom. That’s a really cool story.

Yeah, that’s uh, yeah, I’ve always been lucky in that department with parents being open-minded. “No mom, I’m going to jump. I’m going to, you know, drop off of university and do this and that.”


Wow. How do you come up with a stage setup for your tours and what are some fun stories, if any, about maneuvering around them, having them on stage with you and that gear?

Uh, well, they can be all kinds of things. It’s actually … obviously it’s a very well grateful topic for a stage designer. I mean, there’s a lot of cool (bleep) you can do if you’re doing military history. Pyro, explosions, and all of that. It’s sort of a given already, you know? And it’s a lot of, a lot of free real estate if you know what I mean.

I remember one very clearly. We had planned for the previous tour, The Great War, rehearsing and we were supposed to do the first show in December of 2019. And the album had been out for a little while and during the first show in Helsinki, Finland… We were rehearsing a couple of days before. A lot of the stage had been custom built. We had, you know, seven pillars on stage from Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and it’s all connected together with a bit of a World War I vibe going on.

And as we are rehearsing, we’re dealing with, you know, video walls. So there’s projecting live footage. So we, uh, you know, had pre-made video, but also had live video going up on the European run. Since we don’t have full-time video or live video, we have, you know, part-time. Sometimes it’s pre-made video, sometimes you’ll see the guitarist on a guitar solo or something like that. And then I found out that they were going on basically a closed specialized wifi system and I’m like, ‘Hmm, could anything connect to that?’

And they were like, ‘Yeah, technically. So an iPhone, which has a decent camera can be built into a bazooka and that bazooka could be used. So, I could aim at the drummer and then we could have a pyro charge going off in the bazooka and then a timed pyro charge at the tank with a delay of, let’s say, half a second. And the pyro guy is like, “I like how you’re thinking.” And you know, we did that one show in two weeks later when we started up the European tour, he had built the set up.

Wow. That sounds pretty cool. What do you think of Jesus Christ?

I don’t know. I didn’t know him. (laughs)

Never met a man. Huh? Nope.
What do you think about his claims to be “the way the truth and the life? No one comes to the father, but by me?”

I don’t know. You’ll have to ask somebody smarter than me.

Growing up in Sweden. Were you exposed to bands like Leviticus and Jerusalem?

Uh, no, not really. Actually.

What do you really like about history?

What I really like about history? Um, I don’t know. Uh, it’s always that fascination of, you know, finding out new stories and discovering things. It’s like, uh, I’ve never been a hardcore fan of, you know, getting into the nitty gritty details, knowing everything about an event, but discovering about a fun, fantastic event and stuff like that.

So I think it’s like, I like stories, as all people do. I think that human thing, we all like stories and connect through stories. Uh, I mean, if you go to any party or meet people in the end, how you connect is going to tell you stories about your life or about something funny or so. And I think there are so many fantastic stories in our past that are being forgotten, unfortunately. So that’s why we decided to sort of think about military history.

That’s really cool. What is the decision-making process like for you guys and choosing a topic and the lyrics for a song?

Oh, um, well, it’s a bit of a mixed thing actually, because it has to be both, well … emotionally we have to be sort of in love with the discovery phase. You know, we’re discovering that at the moment or rekindling that somehow, but at the same time, is it relevant to this album? Is it relevant for the the theme of the album for the theme of the song.

And it’s always a battle with that. You know, we have, let’s say when we did The Great War, we obviously knew we were going to be in the sphere of, you know, the first World War. But the tricky part was there were so many stories that we had to leave, because we didn’t have this song that fit that theme, or we’d already sort of covered that aspect of the war already in a way.

Okay. Heroism. You know, one person’s hero can be another person’s villain. How does that impact you and how do you decide whether to take a stand one way or another?

Well, that’s the great thing about being in Sabaton. We never take a stand on that. We’re storytellers. We don’t tell people what’s right or wrong. We don’t tell them who’s the hero. Technically we sort of did in the album Heroes in a way. Yes. Uh, but in most cases, I mean, we don’t want to be the band who… I think it’s kind of refreshing to not be the band, to tell people what to eat, what to vote, what to pray, what to… You know? Whatever it is.

I don’t feel the need to impart my views on other people. And I, I really love it when people respect that it goes the other way, you know?

That’s cool. It’s just, it shows a level of restraint. It’s kind of nice to see you back off. I guess that’s a, a noble decision.

No, we’re controversial enough without doing all those other things. Yeah.

Uh, what’s the scariest war story you’ve ever heard.

Oh, there are so many – so many. Okay. A lot of them are obviously, I mean, it’s scary with the amount of people who died, how they died. Is it scary, because of everything, but a story that’s always stuck with me and we actually sang about was the story of Witold Pilecki, the Polish resistance fighter. Uh, when Germany invaded, he sort of was trying to report to the government in exile, the Polish government in exile, who was based in London, I believe at that time about the atrocities that’s going on, you know, both with death camps and everything happening, and nobody believed him.

So he had fake papers with Jewish blood in him or something. So he would get taken to Auschwitz and go there on purpose, spend a half a year or something. I can’t remember how many months he was there. And then he escaped and they still didn’t believe him. So he went back to fight in the Warsaw uprising. And when the Nazis finally, well, pretty much destroyed Warsaw, so, and you know, everything and they’d retreat and the Russians come in, there’s a, you know, government, a communist regime coming in and the least thing, uh, the, the last thing that the Communist regime would want is a national hero that could sort of fight for the freedom of Poland or something similar.
So he was actually executed for treason.

Within context. Who do you think is the fiercest army ever?

Oh, that’s a great question. I never think of it positively that, I mean, you know, in a way it has to be, I mean, at least on the top list, we have to talk about the Mongols there.
Uh, Genghis Khan, I guess. Uh,.

But other than that, I don’t know, fiercest army Liberty, several contenders to the throne, but I guess I’m going to put my, my knowledge to use on the Gingiss calm actually. And is Manuel Lord.

Nice. A great thinker. Kemper Crabb was quoted as saying if it weren’t for the crusades, we’d all be Muslim. What are your thoughts on that statement?

Once again, you’re going to have to ask somebody smarter than me, but, uh, I’m not sure, actually, I don’t know.

I read somewhere that you guys, uh, were inspired by the movie saving private Ryan, which I think was epic. And I loved that. Uh, what did you think about Tarantino’s Inglorious bastards movie?

Actually, I, I don’t know because I, I, I don’t know if it was bad or if I was just super tired because I fell asleep during it and then I never really watched it. So I haven’t seen the whole movie actually, which is kind of weird now that I think about it because I like war movies and I normally like Quentin Tarantino. So…

(To be continued)…

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