With a new album out “The Last Stand” plus a tour to Australia coming that includes Download Festival, there was much to talk about as we speak to Sabaton frontman Joakim Broden.
Lukas: Alright, so I am sitting here with Jokaim from Sabaton. How are you doing this evening, mate?
Jokaim: Very good, thanks! Even though it’s not really evening here, it’s 10 and the sun is just starting to rise in Scandinavia, so yeah. Lovely Scandinavian winter.
Lukas: Oh yeah, great. Time zones are a thing, I forgot about that. Anyway, so, you guys released your latest album The Last Stand last year. How did you guys go about wiring it?
Jokaim: Oh, well, the usual way, I suppose. For us, the usual way is, we start with music. Obviously we sing about military history, so we have a lot of those ideas we’ve had in the past in the back of our heads when we’re writing music. Most of the time as you’re writing the song you kind of figure out what it’s about lyrically. On the other hand, sometimes, you just have a piece of music you really like but you have no fucking clue what it’s about (laughs). So it’s a bit weird, so at that point obviously, the starting point will be Google or Wikipedia to start finding info. And then if you find something you like or a couple of options, then going into books or documentaries about it, see if it fits the song.
Lukas: Alright, beautiful. I wanted to ask about that, actually, you guys are well-known for using historical war themes. Where does the interest in all that come from?
Jokaim: Well, I don’t know. But I always found fact more fascinating than fiction. I mean, there are enough bands singing about killing dragons and fucking women already… Nothing wrong with that, well killing dragons I wouldn’t know about… But not to say that in a diminishing kind of way but for us it felt like, there are so many good stories, true stories about sacrifice that are being forgotten, so why the hell should we make up new ones.
Lukas: No, of course, of course. It makes for very interesting, very recognisable songs.
Jokaim: Yeah, I mean, it was never a plan to do it as a career move. For us it was just… When we were writing the album Primo Victoria, we kind of decided that maybe we should do an album about military warfare, or military history. And then it worked out great, we liked it and the few fans we had at the time really liked it, so we stuck with it. There was never a plan, that, “oh, we’re going to have these clothes, we’re going to be a band singing about military history”. It just kind of happened along the way.
Lukas: Oh, that’s so cool! Alright, just going back to the new album real quick, what was the recording process like?
Jokaim: We went to Studio Abyss. Peter Tägtgren, who has PAIN and Hypocrisy as his main bands… He lives only 45 minutes away from us anyway. It’s one of Europe’s best heavy metal producers, right around the corner, a good friend that we’ve known for many years, so the choice was pretty damn easy. We’ve been working with him on and off, his brother Tommy recorded Primo Victoria for us back in 2004, and his brother recorded Attero Dominatus and mixed that one as well. The Art of War was recorded by Peter’s brother Tommy and mixed by Peter, then [for] Coat of Arms the drums were recorded at Peter’s place, and then Frederik Nordstrom mixed the album and we recorded it ourselves. From Carolus Rex onward, we’ve basically only been working with Peter. He really understands what we want as musicians and what we want out of the production. And he’s kind of a power Nazi (laughs) when it comes to music delivering power. So many producers are so into “it has to be very nice according to our audio engineering books”, and yadda yadda. Peter, he doesn’t give a fuck about any of those things. He needs it to sound powerful. He listens to us and says “A lot of your music is adrenaline power, the punch. You sing about bombastic, explosive subjects so why shouldn’t the production represent your music that way?” That’s why I love him, he doesn’t care about the rules, about “this has to sound like this because this is how you make a great guitar sound”. He will do it the way he thinks sounds most powerful for Sabaton.
Lukas: Okay, fantastic. I would say that’s been very effective so far.
Jokaim: We’ll probably use him again for the next album. It’s possible.
Lukas: Alright. So what would you say are some of your favourite songs off of the new album?
Jokaim: Aw, man, you’re asking me to choose between my children! (laughs) I don’t know actually. It switches from time to time, but at this moment, maybe Winged Hussars.
Lukas: Nice, very good choice. So, big announcement recently, you guys are coming back in March for Download festival. Can you tell us a bit about the kind of show you guys are bringing out for us?
Jokaim: Well, there’s going to be five middle-aged men looking like the Village People in camo pants, first of all. (laughs) Then when it comes to the physical production, obviously we have an array of stuff. Everything from a big stage set with tanks, we have pyros and video walls. We’ll bring as much as we’re allowed, however we don’t know how much loading area we’ll be given. How much time is the changeover? Are there any headliners who have in the contract that no other bands can use production, for… Well, there are different erases they could have that, it could be ego reasons, it could be logistical reasons. We already decided that we’ll bring everything we can, no matter if we lose money on the thing. But I can’t promise you, because we don’t know how much we are allowed.
Lukas: Totally fair but it sounds extremely exciting nonetheless. As far as I know, you guys have only come here one other time, is that right?
Jokaim: Yeah, by the time we come back it will have been five years, man. 2013, last time.
Lukas: Oh damn. Okay so what would you say is your favourite memory of touring in Australia last time you were here?
Jokaim: Well, the climate and the people. I mean, obviously the shows were fun, but what really sticks out as memorable was people were genuinely nice, not pretend nice, you know. Some research says Australians are among the happiest people on the planet, and after being there I do believe it.
Lukas: Well I’m very glad we made such a good impression!
Jokaim: Well it’s just the combo. I mean, obviously your climate is probably going to make happier people than the Scandinavian climate to start with (laughs). Seeing as right now we get about three and a half hours of sunlight and if you go up to our friends in the North where some of our bandmates come from, there is no sun at all for a month this time of year.
Lukas: Oh boy. Yeah that sounds pretty out-there. So when you guys do play Download, who are some of the bands you’re looking forward to seeing the most?
Jokaim: Happily enough, we’re doing a couple of shows with them, it’s Amon Amarth. Swedish Vikings and great guys. We’re doing a couple of sideshows with them, Sydney and Brisbane, after Download. I like them both personally and musically as well, so I’m looking forward to that a lot. We’ve toured with them before so it’s going to be good to see some good friends again.
Lukas: Fantastic. Such a great band, right?
Jokaim: Yeah I love them.
Lukas: Yeah. So obviously we love Amon Amarth, everyone does, but who are some of your favourite up- and-coming metal bands?
Jokaim: I would say Battle Beast and Beast in Black if you’ve heard of them.
Lukas: Yeah I know Battle Beast, they’re great.
Jokaim: Yeah. And their old guitar player, Anton, started a new band, Beast in Black. He was the main songwriter for Battle Beast. And some people are trying to take sides here, they’re like “oh, I like that, I like that”, I just think “hell, Battle Beast did a good album without him, and he just released an album with Beast in Black that’s fantastic”. So now we’ve got two bands putting out good music, so I’m just happy!
Lukas: Yeah of course, I mean what more do you want, right?
Jokaim: Yeah! Easy.
Lukas: Okay, so just to wrap it up, do you have any parting words for the Aussie fans who are all so excited to see you guys?
Jokaim: Well, thank you for the last time. Seriously one of my favourite countries I’ve ever visited and I’ve seen a few over my years. I can’t wait to get back, honestly.
Lukas: Well we can’t wait for you to get here. And that about finishes it up. Thank you so much for your time, mate.
Jokaim: Thank you very much man.
Lukas: Alright, have a lovely evening. Or morning for you.
Jokaim: (laughs) Take care, man!
Lukas: You too, bye.
Interview Date: 2017-12-13