INTERVIEW WITH SABATON’S JOAKIM BRODEN1st September 2016
On August 19th 2016, Swedish, military inspired metalheads; Sabaton released their 8th Studio album ‘The Last Stand’. Hot on the heals of that release, AATR had a opportunity to have a quick, relaxed and hilarious chat with their charismatic frontman ‘Joakim Broden’.
So, you have a new album out. It’s an exciting time. Did you approach ‘The Last Stand’ any differently from your previous 7 albums?
I don’t know if we did anything different. Over the years we’ve developed our own way of doing it but I don’t think it’s much of a difference from ‘Carolus Rex’ or ‘Heroes’. It starts out with pretty much with us writing songs, or usually, mostly me writing stuff over the year when we’re touring and then we take a short break for three or four months. After that we start the proper writing period, then I want to kill myself because it sounds like shit! Then it goes better again, then it’s fun again.
You’re pretty critical of your own writing then?
Yeah, very very very! There are always two points before an album that I want to quit. Just when we’re starting and putting ideas together, three or four months before we start recording. It’s not until we get the first real good song going, when I think “Yeah! I can still do this shit!”. Then right at the end of the writing process when your listening to the songs, even the ones that didn’t make it to the album. You’ve heard everything 300 times and it’s one week before the recording starts, that’s when I start to hate everything again.
That leads nicely into my next question. 8 studio albums is an incredible achievement for any band. What drives you to, after your 3 to 4 month break to return to the studio each time?
That three month break is a break for the rest of the band, for me it means that I start in the studio, then we just move to another studio to record.
So you’re constantly busy?
Yeah pretty much. It’s been me and Pär (Sundström) as the driving force behind the band ever since we started. In the downtime between festivals and tours, he (Pär) has a slower period. He’s still working on booking and planning but has more time off. He has one longer break where as I have more micro breaks.
Do you have a personal highlight of recording ‘The Last Stand’? Is there anything that stand out in your mind, when recording a vocal or when all the music was coming together that made you buzz?
JB: It could be some of the guitars solos that Chris (Rörland) did or some of the drums. On ‘Hill 3242’, near the end of the song, Hannes (van Dahl) really changes the drums and hits 3 0r 4 different time signatures without losing time. I don’t know how the fuck he got back into the beat. We were stood there saying “What the fuck did he do? How the fuck did he do it? …and that was fucking awesome!”
Do you write new material with your live shows in mind or do you write specifically for the album than integrate them into the live environment?
It could be both ways. Sometime we have it in mind but in general I think it’s just about writing the song as best as we possible can. Sometimes we change stuff for live, like extending a section or adding a break. Instead of repeating a chorus four times on an album so we can do a sing along live, we just extend the live version so the album track doesn’t get boring to listen to.
You’re renowned for your flamboyant live shows and more lighthearted tone than a lot of metal bands. How do keep your live show fresh and fun for both yourselves and your fans?
Well, I can honestly say that almost nothing is choreographed. We have some spaces where everyone will hold their guitars up at the same time but that’s only maybe once or twice in a show. Most of our jokes are based on a feeling that someone will have or they just want to fuck around with each other. I can safely say that no one sits at home planning anything, it all happens organically on stage and if we like it, we’ll include it for the rest of the tour. Sometimes we may have an idea or a guideline of what we’ll talk about between songs but we never do anything verbatim.
When you’re recording new music can you ever predict what songs will go down best live and which songs from ‘The Last Stand’ do you think will get the crowd rocking hardest?
Yeah, I’m always right when I predict live songs and the rest of the band are sometimes like “Nah I don’t see it”. For example on ‘Heroes’ it was ‘To Hell and Back’. When I said I wanted to mix Spaghetti Western with Heavy Metal and put whistling in it, the band said “You’re fucking stupid!” and didn’t believe it would work. I said “Maybe I am fucking stupid, but it’s gonna work”. It turned out to be a fan favorite live. We Played ‘Sparta’ from ‘The Last Stand’ live, last weekend and it went across even better that I imagined. We played it a home town festival, the album had only been out one day but the crowd could really get behind the “Oooh Ahhh” chanting.
This is a bit of a tricky question. In less that 10 words, can your describe ‘The Last Stand’ to a non Sabaton fan?
That is a tricky question, I fucking hate you. “Classic Heavy Metal about military history”.
What is your favorite historical last Stand.
It’s going to sound cheesy since the movie (300) came out in 2009 but the battle of Thermopylae has always been my favorite. Most of what we know is based on myth and legend, the hard facts we know are very few but it’s still the archetype of all last stands. Those guys chose to fight, they didn’t have to die, unlike many other famous last stands where solders were under orders. The Spartans could have surrendered but the chose not to. They would have rather died than lose their Freedom. I know a lot of people these days who would rather lose their freedom than lose their fucking iPhone.
Great answer, thank you. If you could choose a cover version of a metal song that’s not from Sabaton’s genre, to include in your live set, what would it be?
I couldn’t sing a lot of stuff because my voice isn’t in that range but I can do ‘Dio, Holy Diver‘ and ‘Alice Cooper, Poison‘. I can’t sing like ‘Dio‘ but the cover would have to be something from the ‘Black Sabbath’ Dio years or the ‘Rainbow’ Dio years. The most mystical song I can think of is ‘Gates Of Babylon’ by Rainbow, it’s a bit groovy and it has that Middle Eastern tonality to it, and we could metal it up so it would sit in a Sabaton set. We’d never be able to do it better. Who the fuck could compete with a Dio and Richie Blackmore combintion?
Picture this. The world is coming to an end and Sabaton are playing mankind’s last ever metal show. Where would Sabaton make their last stand and what would be your battle cry as you face oblivion?
I know for sure where it would be, it’s a place we’ve always wanted to play and that’s the shores of Normandy beach. As for a battle cry, if I was facing oblivion and knew it was coming , it would probably be something like “FUCK THIS SHIT”, Why not?
Finally. When can we see you guy in the UK next?
JB: I thinks it’s January. I don’t know the exact dates but we are doing 5 shows with ‘Accept’ and one other band.
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