Sabaton’s Joakim Broden Talks ‘Heroes,’ Fascination With History + More
With their latest album Heroes out a year now, Swedish metal act Sabaton have been on tour with Nightwish in the States and have a long summer of playing festivals ahead of them. We had the chance to sit down with Sabaton frontman Joakim Brodén to talk about Heroes, as well as being on the road in support of this release. The singer also spoke about interest in history as well as even teaching it for a brief period of time. Check out our interview with Joakim Brodén of Sabaton below:
What is the biggest difference you see when you tour in the States versus touring Europe?
For us personally we are smaller in the U.S. audience wise. A good show for us here in the U.S. would probably be 500 to 600 people for a headlining show and in Europe it’s about 5 to 6,000. There’s also the cultural thing – even the smallest 200 person venue in Sweden will have a dressing room and shower and internet and over here it’s not like that. It’s a different culture.
The first time we were here we were pretty shocked especially supporting Accept, it was our first U.S. tour. On the second day it was like, “Where is the dressing room?” “Oh it’s over there by the loading area and there’s another by the stage but the bands keep their gear in there.” So we changed in the bus but where do you shower? Luckily it was in Florida so a bottle of water with a hole in it and you have a parking lot shower. [Laughs]
You have been on tour with so many different bands, if you could tour with any band that you haven’t been on the road with yet who would it be and why?
Oh, well Rainbow hasn’t reformed yet right? [Laughs] They would be my No. 1, it’s either them or I guess Metallica or AC/DC. We’ve toured with Scorpions, Accept, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, as well. Out of the ones we haven’t toured with yet, I’d probably say Metallica. At least Metallica are young enough to be around for a couple more years.
Heroes, what does this title mean to you personally?
That was the tricky part! Initially I do like the name Heroes and it’s easy to remember and it sends the right message in a way. But it is a big word, Hero – anyone who at a certain time in their life puts others ahead of his or her self. It could be as simple as helping an old lady across the street or it could be infiltrating Auschwitz on purpose – so we do have a bit of a spectrum to work with here!
Some tracks “To Hell and Back” and “Resist and Bite,” are a couple of my favorites. Have you always been interested in themes of war and battle?
The fascination has always been there as a kid growing up. I was always more interested in fact more than fiction in general. It all started in 2004 recording the Primo Victoria and we had written the music but me and Par [Sundstrom] usually write the lyrics and we said that this song has a big sound to it and we need a big subject so we decided to do a song about Doomsday. We did some research and all of a sudden writing lyrics wasn’t the necessary evil anymore. We decided maybe we should make an album about military history, we like it and luckily our fans like it.
Were you a good history student in school?
It depends, I would say yes actually, well in certain ways. I don’t care for questions about Kings and when they reigned, nobody cares. The rather important question is what did this King do and what impact did he have? I think its lazy teachers actually and they’re all over the world.
I think you should teach history when you’re not on the road.
I actually did once! I was a music teacher for one year back in 2000 before Sabaton. That school contacted me and they had an assignment that they couldn’t fit together it was for kids between 13-16 years old. Their headmaster gave teachers a challenge to teach something that teaches history, music and English in the same class…I know a guy. [Laughs]
When writing lyrics do you draw inspiration from books you’ve read or films, news etc.? Is it a combination of all of it?
Very much so - not so much news because we like to stay with history. We notice if we go too recent time-wise that it almost turns into politics, people can take offense which is not our point but people will take offense anyway. At least if we jump back 60 or 70 years we can be more certain that most of the facts are available and you will have both sides to take into account.
If you’re talking about World War II let’s say, what America reported, what Soviet Union reported and what Nazi Germany reported was quite different. It’s actually easier to wait a couple years until historians have dug into it.
It has been 10 years since Primo Victoria was released, what do you remember most about creating this album?
It makes me feel old. [Laughs] 12 years ago, I wrote that song and I’m still not tired of it. I think if I haven’t gotten sick of it already, I never will. Of course when you’re onstage, we’re having a good time so there are a lot of positive memories with that song. Even when we rehearse and we’re not in front a bunch of people, I don’t mind playing it.
There are other songs I’m not too fond of like “Panzer Battalion” from the same album. I’m really tired of it. I do enjoy it live because a lot of people sing along but rehearsing or listening to it, it’s like “Oh come on.”
Did you go to many shows when you were a kid? If so was there one you went to that had a big impact on you?
The first ones usually do and then the more shows you see, well the better they have to be to make an impact on you. Out of the ones I’ve seen, I would say back in the late ‘90s I saw Dee Snider solo before he re-formed Twisted Sister. It was a small town, about 20 minutes from where I lived about 50,000 citizens, about 250 paid.
It was him and AJ Pero, who recently passed away, he was the drummer for the show, it was Dee Snider, two guitarists and a bassist. They played in front of 250 people and every time I’ve seen him he’s done a great job as a frontman and as a singer. What pisses me off is that he is probably 60 and in better shape than I am. [Laughs]
[Writer’s Note: Dee Snider is in fact 60 and is in better shape than all of us.]
Check out the video for Sabaton's "To Hell and Back" Below: