Pain – Shelter PartyThursday, 8th July 2021
Things have been quiet in the Pain world for a bit, as mastermind Peter Tägtgren is shifting gears from that to Hypocrisy once more. But not without leaving a few great breadcrumbs for fans in the forms of the recently released songs and videos for “Party in My Head” and a cover of “Gimme Shelter.” Always a productive force in metal, Tägtgren has a lot going on, from his own bands (including an as of yet to be announced new collaboration), to sitting behind the knobs on the other side as an engineer – all of which we were able to discuss with him, as well as some alien chat.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you say about new single, “Party in My Head?”
Peter Tägtgren: It’s a tribute to those people who felt they were in jail for a year and a half. I can relate to it, because that’s basically what I have felt too. I know a lot of people can relate to it as well.
Dead Rhetoric: With that in mind, what did you do with the quarantine time?
Tägtgren: I took a half a year off because I really needed to. I have been burned out since 2015, I would say. So it was good to take a half year, lay on the bed watching TV and not doing anything. Then the whole year after that, I finished up the new Hypocrisy album. It’s out of the way and done, mastered, and the photos and videos are done. Those sort of things. There’s another project that I’m working on is also done, but that won’t be announced for another month or so. It’ll be pretty interesting for people to hear! So I got a lot of shit done!
I took this “Gimme Shelter” song that I have had for five years. I actually recorded it exactly like the original because I wanted to sit and play blues with my telecaster. Then I figured last October or November that this song is pretty much the same as what happened 52 years ago when the song was written. It’s about chaos and being afraid. I was talking to my manager and wanted to do something with it. So I put more of a Pain feeling to it and we started to look for clips of the chaos going on around the world. Not just in one or two countries, but all around the world. We tried to get the demonstrations and chaos of the world.
Then I had this other song, “Party in My Head” too. I figured if I didn’t release anything with Pain now, it would be a long time. Hypocrisy is ready to get out there, and I really don’t want to shuffle in between. So I wanted to give the Pain fans something while the Hypocrisy album is coming out and we will be working more on that with touring and stuff. But now I am feeling like I should write a few more songs for Pain [laughs]! I still have time until they start crossing into each other.
Dead Rhetoric: It feels like between the two videos, you really nailed 2020 on the head.
Tägtgren: Yeah, and I’m not really a political kind of guy either. I’m not doing any science fiction here – it’s the truth. It’s how shit is. I’m just telling a story that I think everyone feels like. It’s just like the video for “Party in My Head.” It’s just the illusion of trying to be partying with your friends, but you are alone sitting with yourself.
Dead Rhetoric: “Gimme Shelter” isn’t the first cover you’ve done, what do you like about recording a cover song and putting your own spin on it?
Tägtgren: First of all, it needs to be something that means something to me. “Eleanor Rigby,” for example, is one of the first gothic songs ever written, I would say. It’s so dark and so depressing. That’s what really hit me when I was like 5-10 years old in the ‘70s. It always stuck with me. When I had time to figure out how to do it, then I did the cover of it.
It was the same with Kiss’ “Strange Ways” in ’96. The demo sounds so much better than what we released. When you start fixing it up, then you kind of fuck it up [laughs]. I couldn’t find the original demo or we would have released that. That’s how I learned how to solo for the first time when I was like 10-ish years old. It’s such an easy solo but it has a lot of feelings and bending and vibrations. All of the songs I do have some sort of personal meaning to me, in one way or another.
Dead Rhetoric: When you cover a song like that, do you feel it is important to give it a twist so that it’s not just doing the same thing with your vocals over it?
Tägtgren: Yeah – I have done a few covers where it’s pretty much the same, I just added heavy guitars and a little bit more of an industrial sound. Sometimes when I hear covers and people really redo them, most of the time I hear it, it doesn’t sound good. So I am learning myself from when people do covers.
Dead Rhetoric: You have two videos with a different vibe to each – what do you like about each video in particular?
Tägtgren: “Gimme Shelter” is just the truth – it’s more of a documentary than a video. It’s a no-brainer so to say. But for “Party in My Head,” we wanted to get the old alien back, which I couldn’t get in touch with the guy who made the original one. When I was finally able to get in contact with him, he didn’t have time. He wasn’t into it. Just to get the alien mask – there was nothing left to the old one because it’s over 20 years old. We had to get a new one, and come up with some cool ideas in the video. I don’t want to expand and go crazy like we did with Lindemann, because it doesn’t make sense to me. In the end, I think someone lost it…but that’s just my thoughts. I wanted to do something funny. I had some people writing a script for this one. First, one girl wrote it and then another girl wrote another one – then the director himself went in and changed a bit of both into it. So it’s in between 3 people and in the end we all corrected it.
Dead Rhetoric: In releasing these two songs, is the idea now that Pain is going to be on the backburner for a bit?
Tägtgren: I will definitely try to write one or two more songs and get it out. Then once Hypocrisy comes out and we don’t have any gigs or tours, then I’ll sit and write a Pain album. Hopefully when Hypocrisy has been around the world and we have gone wherever we need to go, then it’s time for the Pain album to come out. Instead of starting the writing after that – then it takes even longer.
Dead Rhetoric: I got into Pain back with the Rebirth album. What do you recall about that particular time period of the band?
Tägtgren: I had no clue what I was doing [laughs]! But at least something came out of it. In the way of producing, it was chaos, because I had no clue what I was doing. I wanted to give it a lot of distortion and make it very industrial. The songs themselves I think are pretty good! With the gear I had at the time – I had a computer that would hang up all the time and needed to restart it all the time. I actually threw it at the wall once, and it’s a desktop one. That’s how angry I was! But eventually I got it together and it sounds pretty brutal when I listen to it today. It’s a wall of sound, that’s for sure.
Dead Rhetoric: That’s what I took away from it myself. Being more into Hypocrisy at the time, it was still heavy but in a different direction.
Tägtgren: Yeah, I don’t know remember what was out around that time but maybe a Rob Zombie or something but with even more distortion. Maybe a little Nine Inch Nails in there, but still just overproduced and overcompressed [laughs]! It was just something I needed to do. I wanted to develop as a producer, and I only had one genre of bands – guitars, drums, bass, vocals, and some keyboards. I wanted to learn how to work with computers, samplers, and keyboards in general. I used to have a small room with I don’t know how many keyboards. It was a huge interest. Every time I bought a keyboard I would go through the sounds. There would always be one or two sounds that inspired me to write a new song.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel you’ve taken away from producing others music into your own?
Tägtgren: I think I am like a jukebox. There’s so much music in my brain and body, ever since I was one or two years old. Whatever I do, I think all of these inputs influence me in one way or another. If it’s a band I recorded a long time ago, or music I heard, it all inspires you. I have always had a wide variety of listening – it was never in one niche. Everything from Abba to Shania Twain to Deicide – everything in between. I think that helps you have a wider ear when you create something yourself.
Dead Rhetoric: In being in different bands over the years, do you feel that also helps you fine-tune or hone in on a particular sound for one specific band?
Tägtgren: When I was working with Sabaton, they had a certain sound, I would say. Everybody expected that as well. When I work with Hypocrisy, I definitely look for Hypocrisy guitar sounds and then the rest around it. With Pain, there is no limit. I can take it anywhere. That’s how I set it up in 1996. I will write anything I want that I like, and I will put it on the album. That’s what I have been doing for 25 years. I don’t look around to see if someone thinks its good or shit, or that the music style is too weird. I just write.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you find that to be more exciting than having to stick to a bit of a script?
Tägtgren: Yes, sometimes. But on the other hand, it was nice to come back with Hypocrisy and start writing again. As always, I did like 95% of the music, except my son wrote a song, and Horgh and Mike wrote a few riffs as well. But other than that, it’s the same as always I would say.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you hope your legacy in heavy music will be?
Tägtgren: From the beginning, when I started recording I was lucky to get all of these bands that nobody knew about. I didn’t even know when Nuclear Blast asked me to record Dimmu Borgir and they sent me a single. So I said, “Ok, let’s see what I can do with this.” Then suddenly you have the first album we had together and it was a huge success. It was the same with Amon Amarth. They came to me from Sunlight because they aborted their recording and they needed help with their mini album. I just see myself as a helper for newcomers.
Of course, I had a few reunion albums I helped out with, like Celtic Frost and Destruction, but I was just lucky to be the right person at the right time. The only thing I ever did was just try to get the best out of the musicians on tape or computers, nowadays. That was my main concern. I didn’t really have a script, I just try to get the drummer to play as good as they could for the songs. When you start getting into arrangements and you look to take things away and rearrange. Amon Amarth came back to me for their last album to help them do pre-production and help shape the songs, it’s great!
Dead Rhetoric: What’s inspiring about aliens to you?
Tägtgren: It’s like, “Is this for real or is it not?” If you know the answer, then it would be boring. This is a cool storyline that you can do a lot of things with. I have my theories and other people have their theories about alien life, but c’mon seriously – there’s so many galaxies with suns like ours. There’s trillions, so somewhere there has to be life. But can they travel here? I don’t know. But if they are more advanced than us, I’m sure that they have cracked the code.
Dead Rhetoric: I’m a science teacher, so I always say that there has to be something out there, somewhere at least.
Tägtgren: Yeah. Then its up to them to figure out if you can go from point A to point B in an instant. There’s a lot of theories and I like to think about them. I like to have them in my mind when I write lyrics and stuff.
Dead Rhetoric: Plans for the rest of the year outside of the Hypocrisy album?
Tägtgren: I have this other project to be announced that will make some waves. I would say that priority number one would be to get that project mastered because it’s all mixed and done. That will probably take a half-year to get it done, but I think we will announce it in a month or so. Then in between I will write Pain songs.