Some time ago, yours truly and Miss Ery had the pleasure of sitting down and having an interview with none other than Pär Sundström, the bass player and manager of Sabaton. Our secret meeting location was at the Royal Museum of the Army and War History, which if you think about it, seems like the perfect location. After our initial chat about the museum and some of the history of the band (for that part go here) and extensively talking about their upcoming album ‘The Great War’ (for that part go here), we aimed our questions at their live shows (past and future) and their “History Channel”…
GRIMM: Festival season is coming and you told us you will play Fields Of Verdun at Graspop. But you are also bringing a choir this year. Why did you decide on a choir for this edition of Graspop?
We have worked with an orchestra in the past and it works, because in the Sabaton music you often find some orchestra in it. But we have even more vocals and it has a very prominent part in our music. Everybody sings a lot on stage; it was only natural to increase that. When we tried it out in Czech Republic we really liked it and got a positive feedback from the fans. We knew we would take it to a higher level with this. So that made me happy. Because with an orchestra you create something different. With a choir we enhance. With an orchestra we create something that people might not like. But with a choir we can’t do wrong.
GRIMM: It is also the 20th anniversary of the band, do you have special plans for Sabaton Open Air, your home festival?
For Sabaton Open Air not so much. It is more like a test crowd. And for the 20th anniversary people asked us to release the best of Sabaton, or do a tour and only play the old songs. Why would we do that? We want to play new stuff. But Bismarck was something of a story for a 20th anniversary, I felt like we had to give something to the people. And say thank you very much. It is easy to imagine for fans from Belgium, Sweden, Malta,… that the best thing to give is more songs. We did one of the most requested ideas. That was one about the battleship Bismarck. Another one was Star Wars but I did not want to do that. It is fiction.
GRIMM: Festival season is coming and you already released the American and Russian touring dates. But will the European tour be announced?
Well you’ll have to wait a little bit. I do not want to sound to evil or something like that. But it is a fact that Sabaton is getting more popular around the world. And 10 years ago: Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands had kind of the exclusivity of Sabaton. We wouldn’t play anywhere else. Now we can play everywhere. And we want to go everywhere. It is in my highest wish to go to the places that did not have the chance to see Sabaton yet. The last tour also took us longer than we would have thought, because we had more places to go. That is why it took 3 years to make the new album. But I do not think the next one will take 4 years. But the world is getting bigger for Sabaton.
GRIMM: You played your last gig in Malta recently. How was it to play in a new country?
Yeah indeed! But that was great! It was small but still I think it was one of the bigger buildings in the country. For a metal concert that is. But it was great, in one weeks time we did our biggest headline show and probably our smallest one on tour. I like the dynamics of playing at festivals and arenas. But playing club shows is amazing. To be able to connect with each and every person in the crowd that is great. So, I liked that feeling.
GRIMM: So, it brought you back to the old days.
Yes, it kinda did. I love the dynamics from a small club show. But I prefer to get everything on stage. It is so much cooler for the majority of the fans.
GRIMM: Like you said in the beginning and to Indy on the Sabaton History Channel, you have other ideas for albums. Could we be so curious as to what those ideas might be?
*Laughs* Well we won’t say. We keep these for the future. But there are constant ideas for new material. Unfortunately, it is in the human nature to kill each other for a few thousands of years. So, we won’t run out of stories. But we keep those for the future.
GRIMM: Will you cover every song you made on the History Channel?
That is the purpose indeed. I can tell you that “resist and bite” is not yet scheduled. But we definitely will cover it sooner or later. The Sabaton History Channel is definitely a super fun project to do. It is a lot of work though. You only see two people on screen but there are ten other people working on it. They need synchronization and guidance and I am the executive producer of the channel So I need to make sure that everything happens correctly.
GRIMM: There are rumors going around that “Coat of Arms” will be rearmed. Could you give us any information about it?
There was an idea. But I don’t see it happen now. We were talking about it and already had the art work. But we never discussed how it would be. It wasn’t thought through and we cancelled the whole thing. It is a great album. This was the first album being done completely by us except for the drums. But it was recorded in 4 different studios. We feel that there are a lot of things that were left out. There even were guitar riffs performed in the wrong way. There were things, choruses, harmonies, there are a lot of mistakes on it.
GRIMM: You say there are a lot of mistakes on it. But we cannot deny that it is a great album.
You are probably right it is a great album.
GRIMM: Is there anything else you’ll be doing with your time left here in Belgium?
No, I already leave again tonight for an interview tomorrow in Spain. I feel a little bit tired now. I have been out since 26th of April. There have been two shows but all the other days have been interviews. Aside from that there are a lot of problems with the airlines these days. Every single flight so far has been cancelled or delayed. I have some weird moments where I have to get into a taxi where I have to drive a whole day or night. And even not be able to sleep in a hotel. I am a little bit behind in sleep.
GRIMM: When will be your last interview?
I don’t have a week of rest for a long time but 29th of May is the last interview. And then I am back in my office again. I just hope now that the flight is not delayed and I can sleep in a hotel tonight. But it is ok. I am happy to do these interviews and it is contrary to what some people might think. They think it is 400 times the same interview but it is not. Everyone is different and that makes it fun to do. I also come to cool locations like this one. I did an interview today walking around in this museum but it is difficult to focus on two things at the same time.
GRIMM: Do you have a message for the fans?
There are a lot of people looking forward to the new album. And a lot of people think that it is going to change a lot or sound very different. But I think everybody just should be calm. Just like we are. We know that we do not need to be afraid after the feedback we received.
So, with this we finally conclude this 3 part interview. It was so much fun to interview such an open and kind person. To all the fans waiting eagerly for the new album, take his advice close to your heart: “stay calm and just enjoy it.”
People from Belgium feel free to look up the Belgium Fanclub on Facebook: Boar Battalion.
Photo credit: Jonna Verscheure (Sabaton @ Tuska 2017)