Joakim Brodén (vocals) of Sabaton
SABATON released their seventh studio album ‘Carolus Rex’ in May. This LP is the first conceptual work of the Swedes, dedicated to the Thirty Years' War and the Swedish King Charles XII. Release of the plate was marked changes in the composition of the team. Four musicians had left the band. On why the sudden change is occurred and about new album we talked with the SABATON front man Joakim Broden.
Reflections of Darkness (RoD): Let's start with the most relevant questions. What happened? Why had 4 musicians left SABATON at once?
Joakim Brodén (Joakim): Hello there! Well, let’s just say that everybody wants to be a rock star when you’re a teenager (who wouldn’t) and at that point you think you’re willing to pay any price to achieve that, but when you’re around 30 years old there might be other priorities in life and another view on how much you’re willing to sacrifice to get there.
RoD: Who was the initiator of such a radical change?
Joakim: Everyone and no-one I would say. It came to a point where it was quite noticeable that some people had their priorities elsewhere and no will/ energy to go further with SABATON at the pace we’re going at. At that point we all talked it over and this situation we have now is what we ended up with.
RoD: Creative disagreements emerged during the recording of ‘Carolus Rex’ or were accumulating quite a long time?
Joakim: There were basically no creative disagreements during the ‘Carolus Rex’ recording, just some kind of apathy that obviously doesn’t belong on an album recording session. I had seen things changing over 2010 and 2011 with some ex-members commitment and willingness to ”pay that price” as TWISTED SISTER so nicely put it, and if there’s something that I believe in myself it is: ”If your heart’s not into it, don’t do it at all”
RoD: New musicians joined a week after the announcement of the change in composition. Does this mean that you have long started to look for a replacement?
Joakim: We obviously knew about the line-up change before we announced it, and by the time it was made official that we would part ways with the old band members we already had the new band rehearsing together. Of course there wasn’t much time to get new musicians together, but we made it and we got the ones we wanted, so in the end a quite long and tedious process was made short.
RoD: You have found the new keyboardist?
Joakim: Nope, no new keyboardist has been found, we’ve been on tour ever since early April and have barely had time to get home yet, so the keyboarder issue will have to wait until we have the time to actually go through all the applications and meet the people applying.
RoD: What was your criterion when searching for new musicians?
Joakim: They had to want this more than anything else. They had to be willing to ”pay the price”. They could not be divas or assholes. They must be able to rock the shit out of any audience, be it 20 people or 20,000 people
RoD: You went on tour almost immediately after the change of the musicians. How fans have taken a new SABATON?
Joakim: The new guys have for the most part been received with open arms by our fans (by all means deserved, they kick ass both musically and show-wise). I still have not seen any asshole giving Robban, Chris or Thobbe a hard time at a show, everybody has been coming with an open mind and have been giving the new boys a chance to show what they’ve got! :)
RoD: How new musicians could to learn the repertoire of SABATON in such a short time?
Joakim: They’re awesome musicians.
RoD: How did was the North American tour with new musicians in emotional terms?
Joakim: At first it was strange of course, but now I’ve gotten used to it and can look at things from a more objective point of view and can honestly say that this is a better line-up musically, and also better emotionally than for quite some time with the old crew.
RoD: Let's return to the ‘Carolus Rex’ album. Why did you decide to shift on music the history of Thirty Years' War and Charles XII of Sweden?
Joakim: It’s actually a concept album about the rise and fall of the Swedish Empire and the idea in itself came both from us, but also from our fans. When enough people ask ”You keep singing about all other countries wars, when are you gonna sing about your own?” You think twice and then realize that there probably is something to it. It was also a chance for us to tell the story of how a tiny country in the north could rise and become one of the bigger military powers of that age. Quite interesting, wouldn’t you agree?
RoD: ‘Carolus Rex’ is your first concept album. It can be called a metal-opera or metal-musical (maybe)?
Joakim: I wouldn’t call it a metal opera, or musical since that would need some kind of more intimate storytelling and even dialogue from time to time.
RoD: What kind of epic events of world history you would like to shift on to music?
Joakim: There are several stories, wars and events that we haven’t touched on yet, but I don’t really want to give away any of our secret future plans for world domination now would I? ;)
RoD: Why did you decide to release ‘Carolus Rex’ in two languages, English and Swedish?
Joakim: In SABATON we never ask why, we ask why not. As this album is about Swedish history and our native language is Swedish the leap wasn’t really that big and it felt like a natural thing to do.
RoD: Do you think what the language more emotionally conveys the grandeur events described in ‘Carolus Rex’?
Joakim: That I do, no matter how good we believe we are in English, Swedish is always gonna be our mother-tongue and it’s quite a bit easier to express yourself emotionally in your own language. Not only when writing the lyrics, but also when recording the vocals there’s an ”extra edge” on the Swedish version.... Quite a few people who can’t understand a word of Swedish have noticed this.
RoD: When you the writing of texts for the songs, you have further deepened in the history of the time of Charles XII?
Joakim: Of course we have, we actually worked together with a history professor called Bengt Liljegren to help us, not only to sort out the facts, but also to inspire us and help us find what we needed to make this album as good as it turned out. We ALWAYS spend a lot of time doing research in the way of books, documentaries and of course the internet.
RoD: You write music or lyrics first?
Joakim: 90% of the time I write the music first and the other 10% is music and lyrics come together at the same time.
RoD: You first visited Russia in 2011 with THE SCORPIONS. Which you had impressions from this tour?
Joakim: Some of my fondest memories of heavy metal touring is from that tour, not only because it was a big tour with the Scorpions with a private plane and big venues, but also because it was my first contact with Russia and the people there. I made some good friends and noticed that there is one place in the world that has more beautiful women than Scandinavia: Siberia, OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!
RoD: Thank you for your time!
Spasiba! / Joakim
Thanks for arranging an interview Maxim Bylkin and “Soyuz Music”.
The interview is published in Russian language at km.ru.