Sabaton – Endless March to Glory

Tuesday, 30th August 2016

Dead Rhetoric: You’ll be touring North America again with Trivium and Huntress – another diverse package for the fans. Are you conscious of broadening the live landscape in the hopes of capturing all sorts of metal followers, young and old – even if you have to win them over?

Brodén: Yes, we are slowly but surely trying. That’s how we built up our following in Europe- when we come as a headliner to the United States we want to be able to bring at least a little bit of our stage set. We have to grow as a band, and if we get a little bit more people and noticed more there, we can play on a little bit of a bigger stage and that means we can squeeze a piece of a tank that we have in Europe. It’s a natural thing, we are a smaller band in the US. A good show for us in Europe is 10,000, a good show for us in the United States is 1,000- and that’s only going to be LA or NYC where we can pull those numbers.

It would be fun to be able to do a show where the stage actually looks Sabaton-ized. If we end up in a small bar with a tiny stage, there’s not much we can do and we can’t really deliver what we feel is Sabaton. We are trying to build up the name a little bit more so that we can actually do something that we feel is Sabaton when we come as a headliner.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you handle the tenuous balance between satisfying yourselves as musicians and being conscious of what the Sabaton fans expect from you with every release and live performance?

Brodén: Well, I’m lucky in that sense because they go 80% hand in hand for me. Being the main songwriter I write music that I love. Of course, the only compromise I have to do is choosing which songs go on the album. It could be that maybe with some songs are a bit too long, too extreme, too hard, too soft, it could be anything. I still write the music that I love, so for me that’s pretty much the same thing. I have to face the reality that the cool, experimental six and a half-minute song might not make it on the album- but I knew that when I was writing it anyways (laughs). It might be on the outtakes someday. When it comes to the live shows, we pretty much do things organically or naturally what the band’s personalities should reflect. Of course there is a bit of show business in there, Hannes on stage our drummer is like that naturally, of course he exaggerates it and I am pretty much the same guy on stage. I think it’s quite important for the feeling of wanting to do it and being on stage, you need to feel natural and be yourself, at least a steroid person of yourself on stage so you don’t lose yourself personally.

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve done keyboards for the band often- and at times had a live keyboardist in the group. Will you ever consider employing someone full-time to do it live- or is it more of a worry to get things right sound-wise that you choose to stick with backing tracks?

Brodén: Both reasons actually. We had a keyboard player for six years from 2006-2012. To that point it worked out fine, but in the end it was becoming a hassle. We didn’t know what we were going to do when it came to the album Carolus Rex, which was recorded still with Daniel on keyboards, I did the orchestrations. But at that point already recording the album when Daniel left the band, we were trying to figure out how are we going to do this, we need two and a half keyboardists to play all of this live. I sort of miss the days when there is no click track, no computer running the show at all. You could just turn around to the band, and keep things going, talk to the crowd in a middle of a song. I really miss that, these days we are stuck with this, because not only do you need the keyboards, but you are running the pyro and video production from that computer. So we would be stuck with that shit anyway! (laughs)

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve talked about doing an album based on conquerors of history in previous interviews – could that still be in the cards, if handled with the proper respect and tact?

Brodén: Yes, but I think our record label wouldn’t put it out. They basically told us that… it’s a good idea, and we said we are going to put Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin on there and they said then we can’t do it. That’s like making the greatest hits of AC/DC and not putting “Thunderstruck” and “Hells Bells” on there. Of course we could have Napoleon and Alexander the Great, there’s a whole lot of people but I’d rather not do it then do it censored.

Dead Rhetoric: In a recent interview I conducted with Martijn Westerholt of Delain, he mentioned the band’s creative and smart business practices while on tour with you. What types of things do you think about and put into practice that have helped in the long run in saving time and money?

Brodén: Well, actually caring about doing it and doing it yourself saves a lot of money because nobody is going to care about your band big or small which band you are in if you give things to somebody who has been in the business for several years- their connections they have are going to cost you money. Yeah, they can build you a stage set- cool. And then you end up with somebody who has built a stage set and made it really good, but it costs you ten times more than you expected it to. That is trying, no matter if it’s building a stage set or recording stuff, you can save a lot of money and time as well by doing it on your own. Don’t think you are a rock star and don’t have to do anything else but play the guitar, I think you are in the wrong business. There’s nothing these days that… if you are starting a new band, you have to be really lucky and you probably have the best management in the world and probably the best songs, and there’s not too many bands that can walk on stage starting new these days and have everything sorted out for them. There isn’t going to be enough money left to pay the rent.

Dead Rhetoric: Touring together in close quarters for so many dates of the year, how do you maintain sanity and perspective while not getting on each other’s nerves? Do you think as bandmates you respect each other’s private space and private time to make for a stronger impact when it’s showtime?

Brodén: Yes, and no. There is not so much privacy as you think. It’s making sure that people get along, and if people don’t love each other let’s make sure at least that people respect each other. That doesn’t go only for the band but also the crew, you know? Don’t let things stay under the surface, as that will kill things. It’s better for people get angry and shout at each other for a couple of minutes, then sort it out. Get things out in the open and you are done with that. I see problems arising on tour all the time with bands and crew members, somebody just clenches their fists, gets angry and then walks away. At some point, usually when there is alcohol involved, they snap.

Dead Rhetoric: In another recent interview when asked about advice for younger bands, you mentioned not waiting around for chances, and just rolling up your sleeves to do the work yourselves. Do you believe the work ethic is different for younger musicians versus veterans, especially given the changing business model of music?

Brodén: Yeah, I think the business hasn’t caught up with it yet. Musicians haven’t really… the myth of the rock star is still there. But that rock star hasn’t existed for many years! (laughs). I do believe it goes for everything. Look at the internet, it’s still a bit of the Wild, Wild West out there, slowly but surely it’s cleaning itself out. Think about the rock and roll business- it’s not really that old. The major, big concerts started in the late 60’s to early 70’s. It’s just that the business has matured a bit into what other people have to do today to make their money. Music back then you could make a shitload of money on the albums, on the shows, and you only had to do drugs and play the songs- it wasn’t that way for everyone, but trust me I’ve met enough of the old guard to hear the stories. Some of them can barely believe themselves what they got away with and how little they could do for that amount of money.

Dead Rhetoric: By now adding tanks to the stage show, is the sky the limit for future Sabaton performances – depending on the size of the venue? Have you always been a fan of that visual aspect to performances?

Brodén: Oh yes. I guess we are only limited by our budget and the size of the venue more than by our imagination. What got me into metal was Twisted Sister- and the music videos to “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. I was three years old when that was released. That knocked me over, and that was my first album Stay Hungry. Ever since hard rock and heavy metal.

Dead Rhetoric: Would you ever consider putting together a memoir of the life and times of Sabaton?

Brodén: Oh yeah, but I still think we need ten more years before we start thinking about that. We can never compete with (Mötley Crüe) The Dirt. We never destroyed stuff on purpose or threw televisions out the window. It would rather be stupid, drunk stories involving nakedness and getting hurt. Or actually what could be interesting is how we did it since we have no management and how we started from the beginning and did everything ourselves. That could be interesting for younger bands to learn- it wouldn’t be a sex, drugs, and rock and roll blockbuster, I can tell you that! (laughs).

Dead Rhetoric: Have you ever had any dangerous situations that the band has had to face on the road?

Brodén: Yeah, we’ve had some dodgy plane rides in Russia. I’ve had a gun to my head in Canada at an after party. There’s a whole bunch of these strange situations but I wouldn’t say we were in any extreme danger in that way. The amount of people we meet and the amount of hours that we spend on airplanes and airports, things are bound to happen.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s the game plan for the next year or so, as I’d imagine it involves a lot of touring- any special places that you may hit that you haven’t been able to as of yet?

Brodén: As it looks right now, the first thing we are going to do is…visiting you guys in September and October. Then a quick run to South America, home for 10 days then Russia. Home for two weeks, then major tour with Accept in Europe. That’s the usual thing… a couple of weeks home, festivals in the summer. Hopefully we should squeeze something in America during the summer, but we don’t have anything booked for that part yet. One year from now we are looking into the possibility of touring Australia and Asia.

Sabaton official website

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