Sabaton are currently gearing up to release their eighth studio album The Last Stand on Nuclear Blast Records. Before their show in Denmark at Smukfest, Joakim very kindly gave me call to discuss the upcoming album amongst other things.
Huge thanks to Sarah at Nuclear Blast for organising and to Joakim for his time and being a lovely guy :)
Joakim: I’m actually calling you from Denmark and not Sweden today. We’re playing a pretty major festival and it’s the first time we’re sort of playing an outdoor festival here. Denmark isn’t really a heavy metal country at the moment sadly but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless. The weather is shitty though, kind of like the UK!
It’s actually not raining at this moment in time surprisingly…
Oh! That makes a change, but it will probably rain later!
That’s definitely going to happen. It’s been just under a year since I last spoke to you at Bloodstock. I gather the band has been rather busy since then.
We usually are! We’ve done about 150, 160 shows since then. It’s not that crazy to do that amount of shows but trying to fit in writing and recording an album in between those was rather challenging.
And obviously, you’re gearing up to release The Last Stand. How do you feel the response has been to the songs you’ve released so far?
Pretty good actually! Obviously when we released “Blood Of Bannockburn” there was a few people who were surprised and had a negative first reaction. I mean it was a bit different for us as it’s a song in major key but after a few days those people who seemed to not like it where digging it. So I’m not too worried now!
Will you be playing that song when you come back to Scotland?
Oh yes. They’d kill us if we didn’t!
You worked with Peter Tägtgren again for this album. What made you decide to work with him again?
He’s been with us almost since the beginning. The first demo we recorded in 2001 was with his brother, Tommy. Over the years we recorded: Metalizer, Primo Victoria and Attero Dominatus with Tommy and Peter came in to help out. Then for Art of War where Tommy did the recording and Peter mixed. Then for Coat of Arms, Peter recorded the drums and the stuff was sent somewhere else and from Carolus Rex it’s just been Peter. So he’s sorta been around for 15 years now! My philosophy is “If it’s not broke don’t fix it” so that’s the main reason why we’re still with him. If the day comes when he’s not challenging us or him anymore then we’ll change it up but that days not come yet!
Thobbe is going to be leaving the band after the show in Falun. Do you have anyone in mind to replace him long term, or have you got someone lined up to cover the tours and you’ll then hold auditions later on?
We have a guy coming in for sure, but for now we’d like to keep him a secret. If it works out then of course he’ll be a member of the band, if it doesn’t work out then he won’t be a member of the band. It’s a simple as that really. I don’t really like holding auditions as you get a lot of fame and fortune seekers.
Getting onto the topic of live shows, are Audie and Walter still around or have they been replaced with something new?
Oh no no no no! They’re not getting replaced anytime soon. We’ve got Audie with us today in Denmark and Walter is on a boat now heading over to Montreal for our show when we play there. So they are still with us but we’re going to expand on what we have with our stage show but if it’s not broken why fix it? I love tanks man! It’s a boyhood dream come true to have proper tanks on stage that shoot pyros and everything. We like it and the crowd likes it so we’ll be keeping them!
Now, What would you say your favourite place to play is?
On the stage actually! No, I mean it’s hard to really say where my favourite place is but places that have a historical connection to our songs we are playing is always rather emotional and special. There was one show where we played on the battlefield on the 70th anniversary of the battle. These things are hard to beat emotionally, not just for us but also for the people being there. Sometimes you get to meet survivors from the battle but in most cases these days it’s more children and grandchildren. So you get a great show where emotions are flying wild and you also get to meet the people and or kids from the battle and that to me matters more than what country we are playing in.
I might have asked you this before, but is there a reason other than for aesthetic, why you wear sunglasses on stage?
The obvious reason is because we use some much light on stage I almost got blind and couldn’t effectively communicate with the crowd. It kind of became a things after that so that when I didn’t use them for one tour, photographers asked me to put the sunglasses back on!
They’re also handy for when the stage goes black and we’re to come off stage and then come back on after a cool intro. It can be pretty fucking dark so the guys who have had all the light in their eyes sort of fumble their way off stage whereas I can take the sunglasses off and just walk off stage normally!
You’ll be touring the UK and Europe with Accept at the start of next year. Are you looking forward to that?
Oh hell yes! I mean, we’re playing with one of my favourite bands of all time so I’m excited. I can also happily say that, not only were they good but they are still good I mean they are still putting out great albums and playing great shows. We supported them in America in 2011 and of all the tours I’ve done, I think that one was the band I saw the most shows of.
And finally, what advice would you give to a young band that is just starting out and playing shows?
Don’t fucking do it, man!
I would actually say, stick to what you believe in and keep doing it. Trust me, these days there is not going to be someone to discover you and make everything happen. I mean, I obviously thought the same thing and thought “Oh when we get signed everything will happen for us”. No. That’s when the work starts. Everything you do up until then is play. Don’t think that someone is going to see your show at a club or a festival and make stuff happen. I’ve heard a lot of young bands, not saying anything negative about it but they’re like: “Oh man we’ve got this great show at a festival in 8 months and it’s going to be awesome and there’s going to be this awesome guy there”. Then if something goes wrong of that guy doesn’t show up then they’ve had it. I’d say for the important shows, you need to do at least 20 or 30 to get to get lucky.
So don’t sit around and wait for the chance, just get out there and play and play and play. I guess we proved the point that you don’t need to be discovered, I mean we were selling several thousand tickets in Europe before we got signed to Nuclear Blast back in 2007. We kind of did it backwards as media would barely review and if they did it was usually bad, and as we grew when the people discovered us they couldn’t really remain ignorant.
If there would be any advice then I’d say don’t fucking give up if you really love it. Also make sure it’s something you’ll end up loving 20 or 40 years down the line.
Joakim it’s been an absolute pleasure to chat with you with again. I wish you the best of luck with your show tonight and the rest of the tour!
Thank you very much man!
The Last Stand will be released on 19th August via Nuclear Blast Records.