Interview with Joakim Brodén of Sabaton


Interview by Krish Mistry

When Sabaton recently rolled through town, we took up the invite to talk with singer, Joakim Brodén.


Hi, well let’s kick off with finding out, how are you? (Have you had a relaxing day, or has it been busy?)

So far so good, I would say! At first I was kind of busy, but not as much as expected for our first time with a new production here in the UK. We expected it to be worse, but most of the kinks were worked out yesterday. It’s the second show tonight, so we’re looking forward to it.

How is the tour going so far? Positives and negatives?

It’s been great, I’ve only been home for two or three days since August 23rd and I don’t miss it at all! It’s been fun, every place we played we had more and more people; all I care about is having fun, having a good time and making the tour a success.

Do you have any crazy stories or encounters from touring/life on the road?

A shitload, but I don’t know which ones I am able to tell (laughs!) Sometimes you make stupid mistakes or make a fool of yourself, but in general we are not a Mötley Crüe party band! If after a show we have a day off, we can get drunk, get naked and wrestle on the tour bus, but there’s no sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, it’s only the rock ‘n’ roll part.

The band recently had a major change of lineup, how has it been adjusting to the changes?

Easier than I expected, because I was really nervous. It was me and Pär (Sundström, bassist) who remained in the band and we were most nervous when we did our first show in San Antonio in Texas, but the new boys did really well. After three or four shows in America, I know that not only was this going to work, it was going to be better. Looking back, it was like an energy injection from hell!

‘Carolus Rex’ is Sabaton’s seventh studio album, how did the recording process go? Was it different to what was expected/planned?

It turned out a bit better, we worked with Peter Tägtgren from Hypocrisy and PAIN, he’s worked with Children of Bodom and Dimmu Borgir before and he’s a friend of many years now. He asked us ‘Why haven’t you ever let me do a complete Sabaton album?’ and so we decided from start to end to go with him. I was there 99% of the time in the studio working with him, he’s a fucking king when it comes to music production.

How was the instrument setup?

Technically it was what I consider a normal recording. First I do pre production in the beginning as I write the music. I remove the drums and set up a click track in Pro Tools, then play drums to that. Bass is recorded clean, and then the guitars recorded clean as well. Most of the keyboards we add live, some is MIDI programmed but I prefer to record live to get some more human feel to it.

Most of your songs are about wars and events in history, but how do you generally come up with ideas for songs on the album? Does anybody have more influence over the writing?

Well it’s not like we’re going to run out of material! Sometimes I feel tempted to do something else but I always turn back into history. I’ve found out most of the major events that happened in World War Two, so if I look at a regular documentary, chances are there’s not going to be anything new for me. But usually it’s fans, saying ‘hey have you heard of this’ and there could be a whole lot that I didn’t know. It does get harder to find material I want to write music to now! It’s always been the case that I write the music but everybody has their say. It’s a very democratic dictatorship(!) and it’s worked out fine. We never plan things, we just write music and if it’s a good song, record it.

How do you see your sound progressing for future albums? Any interesting concepts/themes/ideas?

That’s the problem! We do have lots of plans, but where do we go from Carolus Rex? Production wise, Peter did such a good job, but I hope we can do the next one with Peter again. We’ve already had some talks about it, and when we isolate tracks we think ‘we could do that part better, guitars could be a little more Accept-like!’ all those kind of ideas.

Do you enjoy making videos and do you see them as being important nowadays?

I hate doing them! The only two things I really hate are music videos and photo sessions. If a fan comes up and wants a picture, no problem, but dressing up in uniforms and spending half a day in a photo studio is bullshit. Same with music videos. I don’t think it is as important any more. We have recorded some footage for later, but I’m not really enjoying myself.

Do you prefer smaller or larger venues? How about festivals?

I like them all but to be honest I think my favourite venues are of the size between 800-2500 people. You’re in this kinda size venue like Koko in London, and you can almost make out the faces of the people at the back, I love those places. You can have a good show anywhere, but when I look back those ‘magic moments’ are in places around that size.

The festivals on cruise ships seem to be becoming more popular nowadays. You guys are on the 70,000 Tons Of Metal lineup and also have your own Sabaton Cruise, what are your thoughts/experiences on this? I’m guessing you really enjoy them?

We’ve been doing that for three years now! 70,000 Tons of Metal is a totally different beast, it’s a Caribbean thing. The Sabaton cruise is between Sweden and Finland, there has been rock ‘n’ roll and music cruises there for ages. Alcohol tax is insanely high in Sweden, so you go out to international waters, taxes go down so it’s a big party boat for people! It’s a really good atmosphere, people take it as a mini holiday and if you live close to Stockholm you are only going to be away for 24 hours as getting to Stockholm isn’t hard. It’s not too much time off work, you can bring cheap alcohol back home and everybody on the ship is a metalhead!

Are there any songs you especially enjoy playing live?

In front of a crowd, a song like Panzer Battalion is fun, but in the rehearsal room we get tired of it. But live, that one works, and I can honestly say there is nothing I hate playing in front of a crowd. Some songs I’m tired of rehearsing because we play them too many times, but the funny thing is some songs we have played at every show since 2003/4 and still love it.

Any tricky ones?

The title track from Carolus Rex has some really high vocal parts, but unless I am unhealthy in any way there is nothing impossible. There are some songs that are a bit harder to sing but I guess this is more a question for instrumentalists. There are a few places in the show where if I am having a bad day or a cold, I know I may struggle and have to watch myself. But I have the luxury of writing the music to suit my own voice.

Do you have any bands who you would like to tour with in future?

Actually yes, Amon Amarth. Normally they are a bit heavy for my music tastes, but they are so insanely good. And a Swedish band called Bloodbound. They are really good, their new album is coming out soon and I listened to it when they mixed it and thought ‘damn that was good!’ It’s for anyone who likes stuff like Helloween and Dream Evil.

What sort of bands/albums are you listening to at the moment?

The Bloodbound album, I don’t know the name because I only have the preview! And I’m going back to a lot of my old Rainbow albums and Sabbath Dio Years. I do listen to a little bit of everything, not any hip hop or anything like that, but if anything else then classical music or Abba!

And finally, if you were trapped on a desert island, what five items would you take with you?

I guess the boring answer would be a boat to take me home! That’s a tough one actually! A solar panel, an iPad to write music on, an internet modem for access to porn and music (I’m good at this!) a hot chick for obvious reasons, and a couple of crates of beer!