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Interview with Joakim Brodén, Sabaton | FESTIVALPHOTO
 

Interview with Joakim Brodén, Sabaton

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I spoke to Joakim Brodén, lead singer of Sabaton a couple of hours before they took to the stage for their show in London - the only show on the UK tour to get the full stage show with flames and pyros.


Festivalphoto: Your new album, Carolus Rex was released in May. It's a change from your usual subjects of the 1st and 2nd world wars, and instead covers Swedish military history. Can you tell us a bit about that as I suspect most fans don't know much Swedish history.

Joakim: As you say we normally cover the world wars or more modern conflicts, but many fans asked us why we don't sing about our own history, because in modern times Sweden hasn't been in war much. The album spans from the early sixteen hundreds to the early seventeen hundreds. It starts out with Gustav Adolphus the second, who was seen as the protector of the Lutheran faith at that time, fighting against the holy roman empire. It goes on from his daughter, Queen Christina up to Carolus Rex, Charles the twelfth who was a madman really. You could probably put him almost the same level as Adolf Hitler - he's only one notch below. He didn't drink alcohol, he didn't have anything to do with women, he left Stockholm when he was 17, something like that, and he returned in a casket twenty years later.


Festivalphoto: With the new album being available in Swedish and English versions, when you play live in Sweden which versions of the songs do you sing?

Joakim: Swedish. We've had so many requests actually from fans all over the world asking us to play a song in Swedish, so we're going to do it on the whole tour. It's kind of cool that so many people wanted to hear it in Swedish as well. In Sweden we actually had a vote on our facebook page, and of the people from Sweden that voted, 90% preferred the Swedish version.


Festivalphoto: Have you started planning what to sing about on your next album?

Joakim: Yes we haven't settled on it totally yet though. It will of course keep a military history concept to it, but it's not going to be in the same way it was with Carolus Rex.


Festivalphoto: What's the song writing process in the band - is it a collaborative thing or are there one or two main song writers?

Joakim: Historically in the band I've been the only one writing the music. Obviously if I write a song and nobody in the band likes it then we don't record it. About ten years ago there was a chance that some of the old band members would be join in writing some of the lyrics but ever since 2002 or 2003 it's only been me and Pär writing the lyrics.

Festivalphoto: Carolus rex was recorded with producer Peter Tägtgren as were your last couple of albums. What's it like working with him?

Joakim: Yeah, but this is the first time he did it all. With "The Art of War" it was mixed by him but recorded by his brother in another studio, and then we had "Coat of Arms". On that he only recorded the drums and some instruments, then we had to record on our own because he had to go on tour. Fredrik Nordström from Dream Evil mixed that. We talked with Peter - he's a friend and only lives four or five minutes away, and said we were looking for a producer for our next album, and he said "Let me do it, I haven't done one yet", and we were saying "you've done them all", and he said we hadn't given him the chance to start out with the drum recording and be there for the whole process right through till the mixing was done, and we realised it was true, so I said we'd see how it worked out - if we'd get along or if we'd kill each other because we know each other. I'd say quite a big part of the success of the album is due to Peter's ability to translate production-wise the emotions of each song.

Festivalphoto: It must be quite difficult to find a time when you're free to record the album and he is also free and not on tour or doing other work

Joakim: Oh yes. We've already discussed because we're hoping to do the next album with him as well but to make it fit we have to book a year and a half in advance to make sure both schedules fit.


Festivalphoto: Between the album being recorded and released you had a major lineup change - what was the reason for this?

Joakim: Everybody wants to be a rock star at any price when they're 18, then when you're around 30 some people are getting a family or kids. We had a massive tour in 2010/2011, then we had a break, not for me though because I was writing songs and stuff like that, but it turned out during the recording that some people had lost the interest to keep going at that level any more. We were discussing it, that we have this tour coming up then this and this, making an album and playing over a hundred shows - we're musicians, that's what we do, play. At that point quite a few of the guys in the band were thinking "Oh shit, do we really want to do all this" and we were at a point where "If he's not staying then I'm not staying".


Festivalphoto: Looking at your tour dates you've been on tour almost non stop stince the album was released with very little time off before the end of March. Thats a very busy tour schedule - how hard is it to protect your voice on tour so you can perform every night?

Joakim: I do take care of it - making sure I don't go out naked when its cold, basic stuff like that. I don't believe in hypochondriac stuff, not meeting people. We've got signing sessions and stuff like that and of course I want to be there for that, so I don't want to cancel that. I keep in shape by exercising on show days usually then I don't drink much alcohol when I have a show the following day. If the day after is a day off then sure there can be a party, but if there is a show the day after, sure we might have a few beers but I won't get myself shitfaced drunk.


Festivalphoto: You've announced a few festival appearances including Wacken for next year, are there likely to be any appearances at UK festivals ?

Joakim: We're hoping for it. We're actually talking to them right now (our booking agent is). We were supposed to be on Sonisphere but it got cancelled which is a shame. We only did 2 festivals in the UK - we did Sonisphere in 2009 or 2010 then we did Bloodstock as well - those are the only two we've had the chance to do which is a shame. I'd really like to do Download, Sonisphere, Reading or return to Bloodstock - a very cosy festival, I like that one.

Festivalphoto: Festivals are good because you get to play to a different audience including people who might not buy a ticket for one of your shows, so hopefully you get new fans that way.

Joakim: Yeah that's what we want. We want to grow as much as any other band. We want more people at the shows because it's more fun.


Festivalphoto: You're filming tonights show for a DVD release and using Pyrotechnics. Will the setlist be the same as the rest of the UK dates or are there some changes ?

Joakim: There is something extra in there. We're filming tonight, Oberhausen in Germany, and Gothenburg. All three of these will be recorded and we'll make sure we play different songs as much as possible. Obviously we'll play the obvious choices on all the nights, but also we thought it was time to bring the full production to the UK because we've never had the chance to do a full production show here with the full stage set and the pyros that we usually get on European festivals. We had a lot of people asking about this in the UK so we decided that if we could we would do it for the whole tour but this is the only venue that is big enough and has high enough clearance to the roof for it to be possible. if we'd tried it in Sheffield even though it takes a thousand people, we'd burn the place down with this production. It's better to do it once in London and let people know well in advance so they can get to London and we do it full scale all in, rather than deciding day by day "oh today maybe we can only use the small flame-throwers".


Festivalphoto: On your last tour here, you played a special show where the fans decided the setlist by shouting out what they wanted to hear. Was that a challenge for you?

Joakim: No not crazy. Obviously we couldnt play every song, but we have a rule in the band that there should always be a minimum of 25 songs that we can perform, and for the audience to choose from. I think of the last three or four albums we could probably play at least half the albums or more. Since the pyros are programed for tonight we can't have too much requests going on. We actually had it on the whole UK tour except unfortunately for tonight, where we have to follow the program, but I think on the whole UK tour there were three times during the set where we let the crowd choose - not freely, but we're going to play something from Coat of Arms, do you want Midway or Uprising.
Festivalphoto: It's fun for the crowd as they get to feel more involved.

Joakim: It's fun for us as well. It keeps us on our toes and it gets boring if you play the same set every night.

Festivalphoto: Thank you for your time.

Joakim: Thanks.

Writer: Anthony May
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