Some may say that power metal is a genre that is beginning to die out, however Swedish power metal band Sabaton have played sold-out shows all over the world and proven time and time again that the genre it very much alive. Over almost two decades, Sabaton have built a solid backlog of music that features an all-round powerful sound accompanied by intense war inspired lyrics. Finally, after 5 years Sabaton are making their way back to Australia in 2018 and I got the chance to sit down with bassist and song writer, Pär Sundström, to talk about the upcoming tour.
You’re set to play the first ever Download Festival in Australia, alongside some pretty diverse bands. What was your initial reaction to being asked to play?
“The fact was that we actually were supposed to come to Australia already earlier, but we were asked to cancel that performance and instead be part of Download. We knew about Download a very long time ago and at first I was not so happy about the whole idea to play at the festival. I mean so many people waiting for Sabaton to come to Australia and that the only thing we were going to do was a short performance on a festival. But adding a couple of shows with Amon Amarth means that we can play a little bit longer, so now it feels good, now we are not just doing one show. But I was not positive about the idea after so many years we only come and play one single show in a festival.”
Your last world tour for “Heroes” missed Australia, so can Aussies fans look forward to a similar set-list from that tour, or will you be changing it up?
“We still don’t even think about that, what we’re gonna play, because we’ve only to Australia once. We’re definitely not gonna play the same songs because ever since we’ve written new ones which are very popular. So, I think that well… we will see.”
You guys have quite an elaborate stage set-up, especially with your drum rises, with yours being a tank and Amon Amarth’s being a big ship. Are there any challenges bringing such a large set up to Australia and could fan potentially see a cross of stage set-ups between Sabaton and Amon Amarth?
“We do bring a lot of stuff normally, I’m not even sure if we even can do it for these shows because of the sizes of the venues. That’s a later thing for us to discuss and seeing where we are on the billing for the festival. It’s something we will evaluate and see what the possibilities are because after all our tank rise weighs a lot and it’s a huge thing to set up. It’s normally a thing when we are higher up on the bill that we can bring that because it requires a lot from the local’s time.”
Some of your members – Tommy and Hannes – haven’t been to Australia yet. What’s something you’d tell them about Australian crowds compared to other crowds around the world?
“(laughs) They haven’t specifically asked anything about it yet. We just say it’s a very nice and friendly place to be. We have only good memories of the times we’ve been to Australia, I doubt anything will be different this time – we will have a great time for sure!”
Do you have any stand-out moments from your last tour here?
“I think the lasting memories are not from the actual shows, it’s from being around and meeting people. We spent a couple of days remaining in Australia afterwards, enjoying the country. We stayed at some friend’s place and just enjoyed a couple of days and that was the good times.”
Sabaton have previously covered an Amon Amarth song “Twilight of the Thunder God”. Could Australian fans potentially hope to see a live collaboration in March?
“That… We don’t know… Yet. I actually didn’t even think about it until now. I don’t close that idea, it would be fun. I think that normally when you have a quite unique event, you know Amon Amarth will be there and it’s one of their top highlight songs and a lot of fans would be angry if we have up and maybe destroy it by joining them on stage or performing it ourselves. I’m not sure that people would appreciate it actually, some will definitely some will think “wow this is unique, this was cool”, but some people will be just upset.”
Your album “Heroes” reached number one in Sweden in 2014. When you first released your first album “Fist for Fight” in 2000 did you ever expect to reach these kind of heights in your career?
“No, we did not expect it when we got “Fist for Fight” out, no no no. It’s something that grew with us later. When we released “Primo Victoria” we thought, well at least I thought, that it could be potentially possible in the future if we keep focused and if we do this right, we have a little chance. And the chance grew as we got along as we started to be more serious about the band and in 2008 I was convinced that it will happen someday. We have been self-managed since day 1, we don’t have anybody else’s input or output to do things. We’ve been doing all of this stuff ourselves since day 1 of the band. We also see the progress of the band, and that means we don’t really get surprised about a lot of things these days because we know that we are basically doing it ourselves. We do not have the support of big radio stations, international record labels, mainstream this, and mainstream that. We don’t get aired on a lot of radio and stuff like that. So we know that the progress that happens for the band, the success that happens, is a lot of hard work that lies behind it and many years. Now we are 18 years a band and we’ve been very focused all the way.”
I saw an interview that you did back in 2015, in it you mentioned you did push-ups before your shows. Do you still do your pre-show push-ups or do you have any pre show rituals that you use to prepare for a show or use to warm down afterwards?
“(laughs) The rituals have changed a little bit, but not that much. We still need to get warmed up before the show, definitely. It’s a lot of energy on the stage that’s being unleashed and if you are not warmed up you won’t (laughs) be feeling so good afterwards I think. Our pushups vary, it depends on what other stuff I do (laughs), it’s a whole bunch of things.”
A lot of your lyrics are war based and inspired, one even touching briefly on Australian war history. For humours sake, would you and Sabaton ever consider writing a song about about Australia’s Great Emu War?
“Hmm. We could… It’s part of history. I mean, we cover things that go back in history so I don’t see that we shouldn’t. When we have a topic for an album where that fits in (laughs) we’ll think about it.”
Sabaton will be bringing power metal back to Australia in March 2018, make sure to check them out. They are the perfect introduction to their genre, and definitely the most entertaining and metal way to catch up on some history.