Interview: Joakim Broden (Sabaton)

While we get everything up and running, here is one of the interviews we carried out back in 2008 with Sweden’s Sabaton. At that time they were playing in small half empty venues in the UK, now they’re selling out much bigger rooms which is something special to see.

You wont find much Sabaton related news in the media in the UK. However Europe is a different story. The Swedish band topped the charts in their own country with war epic ‘Cliffs of Gallipoli’ and have been playing to steadily increasing crowds since. At the 2008 Graspop festival they played in front of over 35,000 people on the main stage. An impressive feat considering the year before they had played the same festival to barely a thousand people in one of the marquees. Also impressive is that they drew this crowd on Saturday morning as the first band on so there were no stragglers from previous band’s sets. Did I mention that 35,000 is the number of people who saw Iron Maiden there in 2007 and was the limit to how many people were allowed in?

Now approaching a decade together we met Sabaton’s frontman, Joakim Brodén, in Glasgow when the band passed through on The Art Of Live tour.

How’s the tour going?

So far it’s been great. We’ve visited quite a lot of countries so far. It’s been, lets see if I can get it right; Sweden, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Belgium so far.

What has been the best so far?

Best gig so far I must say was Krakow in Poland and Antwerp in Belgium, for this tour at least.

Is it true that you had your biggest audience ever at the Graspop festival this year?

Yeah, Graspop was by far the biggest attendance. We had 35,000 people watching the show there. On the other hand, festivals which were also really fun for us this year… we had 25,000 to 30,000 watching us at Masters of Rock in the Czech Republic then we had 20,000 at Wacken. Yeah, it’s been a good summer for us so far.

Do you enjoy life on the road?

Yeah, very much, it’s like a rollercoaster ride really. When your having fun your guaranteed to have the time your life because there’s a lot of crazy shit happening, and funny shit, but if you get sick its really hell, you really just want to get on a flight back home and be in your own bed. But the show must go on so just keep doing it.

How did the idea for Metal Machine and Metal Crüe come about?

*Laughs* to be honest, Metal Machine, I actually forgot to write lyrics for that. In the beginning I think it was when we were recording the Primo Victoria album everything was done and one of the guys in the band came bashing on the doorway and I was in the toilet doing a shit and it was;

Bang Bang Bang!

“Hey Joakim, are you ready to sing the last song?”

And I’m “damn I haven’t written the lyrics to this”

And he’s “they want you out there in 10 to 15 minutes”

And I’m like oh fuck “there’s a problem here, can I get 45 minutes or something?”

 “As soon as you come out of there you’re going to do the final vocals”

Shit I forgot to write them, we already decided it was going to be a fun track, not war themed, lucky I had a pen so I wrote on the toilet paper. So on the recording I had to read upside down. *cranes neck pretending to read* “I have a phobia, A fear of the dark”. So that’s how it started. I was having quite a fun time whilst writing I can tell you that. But later on when we came to Metal Crüe, well both albums, Primo Victoria and Attero Dominatus, were meant to be one release but we couldn’t afford it since we were recording Primo Victoria on our own so it was a really natural development to change the song names into band names

Will we be hearing more songs like them?

Yeah, probably. It didn’t fit the Art Of War, the theme of the album because it’s such a serious subject and we were keeping every track connecting to the corresponding chapter of the book so we decided to not do it on that album. But the song that was supposed to be on that is already written so there’s more coming.

How did Sabaton form?

It was in ’99 I think. I was a school mate of the old drummer and I met the guitarist at a party and they already had going on what would later become Sabaton but were called something else at that time. Well we met and they hired me as a keyboard player because I was originally a Hammond church organ keyboard player. And they were wondering if I had some songs and I showed them and they asked me if I had any vocal melodies and I’m like ‘yeah, I’ll show you’ so I made some noises so they could here were my melodies were, where I planned them to be and they said ‘okay you will sing until we find a singer’ and here we are like nine years later and still no singer *laughs*

Why did you start writing songs based on war?

Already without planning it we had the song Panzer Battalion, We were recording the demos for the Primo Victoria album but when we wrote the song Primo Victoria we were planning to write lyrics and we knew, ‘Damn we’ve got a song with a huge sound, we need something huge to sing about, so D-Day landings. And then we figured ‘Hey, we’ve got two songs with that sort of themes’ and it was much more fun to write those kinds of lyrics. More interesting for us and challenging as well without the regular ‘Okay, lets drink some beer and fuck the girl up the ass’ which can be fun but for us it was more rewarding to write about war so we decided to stick with it.

Will you be carrying on the war themes in the next album?

 Yeah, I think we will keep doing the war thing but I cannot say that every Sabaton album in the future will be about war. There might be a time where we think ‘let’s do an album with other sorts of lyrics or setup.’ And as it feels right now, the materials right there. There have been enough wars to make another 30 albums about war so I say why not?

 Why did you decide to make an album based on ‘The Art Of War’

 I read the book in 2006 for the first time and I kept coming back to it sometimes because I thought it was kind of cool and I realized that even though everything’s changed, it was two and a half thousand years ago that the book was written, we’ve got electricity, we’ve been to the moon, big changes but the funny part is that war has basically stayed the same. You change the chariots for tanks. So it was a manual then I figured it would be a cool idea to connect each chapter of the book to a song that really corresponds to what the chapter is about.

What are your plans for after the tour?

We’re going to keep on touring, trying to squeeze in as many gigs as possible until next autumn, I think we’ve been on tour for about a year now and when we’re not on the road we’re writing the new album. So the plan is to start recording in maybe October.

Are there plans for a DVD?

Yeah, we recorded the main act on the 14th of June this year in our home town and we got several other shows that we can include a few selected songs from. The thing that is taking so much time is that we’re really collecting all the material we had so you can see behind the scenes material. Because I really think that the best live DVD I ever saw, actually cassettes were Pantera’s road movies. It’s really much more fun if it’s more than just a show. It should have good behind the scenes footage, hopefully have a really funny road movie with crazy shit happening and on top of that maybe a few clips from Graspop, we have the show recorded there and clips from other shows.

Final question, where do you see the band in 5-10 years?

Five to ten years…unfortunately I lost my ability to see into the future in Vietnam but ill give it a shot, See if i can remember. Definitely bigger and very hopefully still liking each other as we do now and still like touring as much as we do. And if possible producing good metal albums and playing good shows for 20-30 years ahead.

So there we have it, in this time a lot has changed. As most of you know Sabaton suffered a huge split leading to Broden and bassist Par Sundström being the only remaining original members. The band eventually did release a DVD and live CD and at the moment are one of the bigger power metal bands touring at the moment, lets hope that continues!

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