Yes, I used “etc.” to describe Peter Tägtgren’s career. Given that he’s involved in a handful of bands as well as producing an incredible number of top-rated albums, I couldn’t really squeeze it all into the title. Most relevant at present is the upcoming release of the new Pain album, Coming Home, which is due out on September 9th. We’ve already got it – review soon – and it’s superb. Trust us and pre-order it now (digital download, CD, double CD special edition, vinyl)!
Typically Swedish, in my experience, Peter was incredibly relaxed, friendly, happy to chat and found it quite funny that I was managing to interview him whilst simultaneously preventing a four year old from cutting everything in the room to pieces with a pair of scissors.
Coming Home is out on September 9th. It’s your first album with Pain in five years. Why the delay since the last one?
In 2011 we did the last Pain album and over 100 shows on the back of that. It takes a while to work an album, and they we had to find time for Hypocrisy. That took time as well and we did 150 shows for that one. I started with Pain again in 2013, but then Till [Lindemann] invited me to see Rammstein and then write some music together, so I put it to one side again. We’d been trying to write music together for fifteen years, but one or the other of us has been out on tour or making an album. We had to wait for each other. I hadn’t gone that far with the Pain stuff so I shelved it and picked it back up in September.
I wrote ten songs up till April without lyrics – about a month per song. Then I took a break and did the Sabaton album [The Last Stand], but I managed to fit in doing some vocals while I was working on that. It was hard to get into the mood as you’re working ten hours a day producing a band and there’s little left when you get home. There’s no energy, your head is empty… you’re just exhausted. I think I managed to sing seven songs in my bedroom while producing that album.
I set up a recording studio in my own bedroom when the mood comes and when I can’t get the the main studio. I was laying in bed and looking at the microphone for a month before I even started! I had a block of paper next to the bed as well, but it was empty for that month. In the second month I started waking up and coming up with the lyrics.
You say you wrote the songs without vocals. Did you have any idea of what the lyrical themes would be when you wrote the music?
It’s 99% music first then the lyrics come after. It’s after the music is done, it’s mixed and it’s down that I start with the pen and paper. Sometimes you have something at the back of your head you want to sing about, so you start doing that. Sometimes it’s totally empty and things come out of the blue or you see something on TV that inspires you.
The first video released was “Black Knight Satellite”. I did a little googling and ran it past a friend who’s very much into space-related science. Are you a believer in the conspiracy theory, or just find this kind of thing interesting.
It is interesting, isn’t it? I think that what we see on TV and hear on the radio… don’t believe in it. There’s little truth in the news. There’s more than meets the eye. Secret space programs since the 30’s and so on – we only know about the NASA things.
Science fiction has been getting in the public eye recently with films like The Martian. Do you think we stand a chance of putting a person on Mars in the foreseeable future?
I think we did it fifty years ago. I think in the 20’s and 30’s the Nazis developed high technology and they became a breakaway civilisation, moving to Antarctica – the South Pole. The Nazis we know starting warring in 1938, 1939 while these guys were down there working on their bell-shaped saucers, flying everywhere while we thought it was UFOs. In 1952 there were UFOs flying over Washington DC, but it was Nazis. The Americans wanted their technology, but they wouldn’t give it to them… it’s a long story. You should look it up. Google “secret space program” – there’s a lot of crazy stuff.
You should also google “William Cooper”. He was really an insider guy. He wrote a book in the 70’s called Behold A Pale Horse. You should really read that. He blows the lid off everything! Which is why he got shot, unfortunately.
I’m not saying people should believe these things, just that they should have an open mind. Maybe things are not how you think they are.
Going back to the album, your son Sebastian tracked a lot of the drums. Is any of his work left on there or did you get Dave Wallin in to finish the drums off?
No, he did the whole album. It was easy and very convenient as we live in the same house. He’s a full blown drummer – he’s really good. To play this stuff is a walk in the park for him. He’s more into Meshuggah, Decapitated… he’s super-fast on the double-bass, at the blast-beats. More jazzy… technical, complex styles. But I think he added a younger feel to the album.
He’s in a band and they’re working on their first demo at the moment. They’re called Tried of Mendes [I may have the spelling wrong – Mosh], but I’m not sure if they have anything online yet. I’m going to help them get the demo together.
Will Dave be back for live dates?
Actually he’s taking the rest of 2016 off as he has family things to attend to. He’ll be back in 2017 for sure. Sebastian will be jumping in to cover this European tour. It’s going to be good for him, but weird for me! At least I know where he’s at and that he’s in good company! I don’t want to make it a family thing, but it’s good in a bad way that David can’t do it. Sebastian gets some experience on the road and a chance to see what it’s all about.
Someone else making an appearance on the album is Joakim from Sabaton. You managed to get him singing about something other than war, death and destruction.
(laughs) Yeah! They love all that stuff! He’s on the song “Call Me” and the video is out soon [you can enjoy it below – Mosh]. I girl from Finland made the dolls you see in it. The director did a bunch of videos for me in the past. He just had this idea – “lets do puppets and lots of crazy shit!” I had nothing to do with it, but see what you think! I’m saying nothing!
So we have a song about a satellite conspiracy, one about a gigolo… What else do we have on there?
There’s a track called “Absinthe Phoenix Rising” which is about a guy who likes the kick of the drug that’s in absinthe and he becomes the phoenix. There’s a song called “Starseed” that’s a bit more Bowie, a Ziggy Stardust feel to it. There’s a lot of different elements on the album and I tried to develop for my own enjoyment. Not to try to sell fewer or more albums. Everything I do is for my own heart. If other people like it then great. If not, there will be more albums. If I’m happy, that’s all that matters.
The cover is great. It looks very sci-fi at first, then you spot the car in the background. Who came up with that concept?
The one with the spacesuit was my idea. I wanted some desert, and then let the artist go crazy with it. I suggested some humour and he really made it something special.
Looking at your Wikipedia page, you’ve been involved with a staggering number of albums from a lot of well-known bands. Are there any artists you’ve not worked with who you’d really like to?
You always want to work with really famous people, but you never know how they are personally. Maybe they’re assholes! Anything from The Stones to… you name it. I want to try everything! It doesn’t just have to be metal – I’m open to anything. As long as it sounds interesting and I can add something to it.
Being a producer do you find it difficult to listen to new music? Do you sit there thinking “I would have done something different with this bit”?
No. It’s only myself I criticise. When someone else is playing something, I accept it as it is. When I hear my own shit, I never accept it. That’s the weird part. Even if the playing is crappy or the production is crappy, it doesn’t matter, I don’t criticise other people’s work.
Going back quite a bit, I actually have a Hypocrisy album on a shaped CD. I know it’s going back a long time, but what was the thinking about using that format?
The chicken one? Man… I think what was the second metal album ever on a shaped CD. I think the idea came from Nuclear Blast. They came to us and said “hey, we can make shapes out of CDs now, and they’ll still play!” I thought this was great, what one should we take and I think they just went into the book and picked the chicken! There’s a Death compilation that’s a skull, Green Day did a brain… we had a chicken!
Are there any Hypocrisy plans on the horizon?
Somewhere, sure. But I want to work this Pain album as much as I can first. We’ve got a big tour coming up with Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia… Playing places we didn’t cover on the last tour. We’re also hoping to come back and play some places further north in the UK. We’re going to really worth this shit – America, South America.
But while we’re doing that I’ll be playing with the guitar and whatever pops out will be the next thing. I just don’t know what it’ll be yet!
If you met a young band about to record their first demo, like you’re son’s band, what advice would you give them?
For me it’s always been learning by doing. I’ve done shitloads of recordings of my own stuff, and it’s been half-good, it’s been shitty… but you’re learning constantly. Keep practising and follow your heart.