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Interviews : Sabaton – “We have been labelled as communists to nazi sympathizers” (An interview with Pär Sundström)

By on December 20, 2012

Sabaton 2012

Sabaton – Pär Sundström

Grammis nominated Swedish power metallers SABATON are set to bring their artillery hardened heavy metal anthems to Australian shores for the first time next month. SABATON will be supporting NIGHTWISH in Sydney and Melbourne on their up coming Australian and New Zealand tour with an additional SABATON headline show in Melbourne only.

Metal talks to bassist and original member, Pär Sundström.

Metal Obsession: I take it you’re more than excited to be touring Australia for the first time next year?

Pär Sundström: Very much! We’re having a small little break for a couple of days before the tour starts again, so we will do a final push next weekend.

MO: Has there been much discussion on the setlist for Australia?

PS: We haven’t really talked to each other about what songs we will be playing in Australia yet. I mean we sent out some small requests on Facebook and in forums to see what people want to hear. We still haven’t decided what we will play. However, we do improvise before each show to make things interesting.

MO: On the subject of tours. Sabaton recently finished up the Sabatoncruise. How did that go?

PS: The Sabatoncruise was a great success. This is actually the third year we have done it and probably the best one we have done so far. This year we did a double show in one night, similar to last year, but it worked a little better this year. We were a little bit more prepared. [laughs]

It wasn’t as exhausting as we once thought. We did the first part of the show like a regular Sabaton show, but a little bit shorter. Then we did a second one with an acoustic set and improvised the setlist a little bit. The crowd were very pleased which is always good.


MO: Earlier this year Sabaton announced the departure of its previous members and soon after announced its new line-up. However, Sabaton’s drummer, Robban has recently become a father and has now been temporarily replaced by Snowy Shaw (DREAM EVIL, MERCYFUL FATE, DIMMU BORGIR). Is there a possibility that Snowy Shaw will now become a permanent member of Sabaton since fatherhood is never certain?

PS: Ahh! At the moment it’s still Snowy Shaw the replacement. Obviously, Robban had to leave because he recently became a father and cannot be away from his family for to long. I guess we will see what happens when we get closer to the spring. When we come to Australia, we will definitely bring Snowy.

MO: Now that the new members have had time to settle in and play some pretty big shows. Where would you like to see the band go from here?

PS: I feel a lot more comfortable on stage now than I ever have with these guys. It’s great when you can rely on new guys. They have really put a lot of effort into Sabaton. It feels good to be back where we’re suppose to be. Everyone really pushes it 110% and all love to be on stage with one another. Having that in mind, I believe we’re kicking more ass than we have ever done before. [laughs] I feel very confident with all these guys around me.

MO Judging from all the recent live Sabaton videos on Youtube it is quite obvious the band is kicking a lot of ass.

PS: Yeah, of course! You will see that there is a lot of energy in the band when we come to Australia. Of course there is going to be a lot of people in Australia who have nothing to compare us to, since this is our first visit to Australia. But I can promise everyone that its going to be a great experience.

We’re all super excited to be coming to a new continent and show the fans who we are and what we can do.

MO: Does Sabaton have any intentions to bring a live keyboardist on board in the near future?

PS: Well, the thing with the keyboard player was when we originally had the departure of the previous band members, Daniel Mÿhr our original keyboardist wanted to stay with us. However, he changed his mind at the last minute and decided not to be apart of the band. During this time we were in a bit of an emergency to find a replacement, so we decided to put the keyboards on backing tracks until we found a replacement. We play with a backing keyboard track now and it feels really good.

We aren’t really missing a keyboard player. I mean there are times when a keyboard player would definitely come in handy, but we are not going to look for just any keyboard player. If we come across the right person, we will definitely hire them. But if we don’t find one, there isn’t really a reason to have one because it works really well now.

As foolish as this may sound, not having a live keyboardist has given us the chance to play songs that we have never been able to play before.  We can put in big orchestral parts and just have a bigger sound. Personally, I think it sounds better with pre-recorded keyboard tracks.

There has been a few times on this tour where Joakim has been playing the piano which is fun for us and the fans.

MO: Sabaton’s new album, ‘Carolus Rex’ was given a historian to ensure an accurate depiction of Swedish history. Since history is always written by the victor. Did you experience a moment of doubt regarding your country’s history during the writing process of ‘Carolus Rex’. Whether social or political?

PS: Well, there was a lot of things we didn’t know about when we wrote the new album. That is why we included a historian to accurately tell Sweden’s history. To help us and make it correct. This was the first time we worked with a historian and we definitely needed it. It’s not so easy to find facts about something which happened 700 years ago, as it is to find something that happened 70 years ago. War is a devastating thing, no matter what way you look at it, or when the battle was fought. It never brings anything positive, that’s for sure.

MO: Do you believe the lack of a historian on previous Sabaton albums has affected the band on a more personal level. Perhaps giving critics fuel to make assumptions and labeling Sabaton as fascists, communists or something of a negative nature?

PS: We have been labelled as communists to nazi sympathizers and everything in between. Its something we just ignore now because the people who label us, or judge us without knowing what we sing about, or knowing the full reason behind every song we sing are just crazy. We choose not to pay attention to these people because we know in our hearts that we’re singing about history. We have enough fans to support us, so it doesn’t really matter what these people say, no matter who judges us. Sabaton is not a political band. We are definitely not here to spread any propaganda of any kind. We just love to write music about history.

MO: War plays a large role in Sabaton’s lyrical backdrop. Is there  a concept you and the others wish to write about which isn’t so heavily influenced around war?

PS: Well in one way, if you make an album about history. What in history can you make heavy metal about? Heavy metal is aggressive music, so it has to be kind of aggressive in what you sing about as well. It doesn’t really work if you sing about some prolonged negotiation about where to draw the boarder. It’s more engaging to sing about a battalion of tanks crossing the boarder, as an example. That seems to fit better into the all round concept of our themes and heavy metal in general.

In the end, Sabaton is firstly a heavy metal band, and secondly, we enjoy writing lyrics about history. The reason we choose to write lyrics about history is because its more interesting to us to write something from the real world perspective, as appose to the fictional world.

MO: I think most Australians would relate to the Gallipoli campaign which is something Sabaton sing about on ‘The Cliffs of Gallipoli’.  I’m unsure if you’re familiar with Australia’s history of war, but a lot of Australians travel to Turkey each year to pay respects to fallen soldiers.

PS: Personally, the Gallipoli story was the most interesting we ever did. It was inspired by a Turkish guy who shared his story with us and helped us understand what really happened. He gave us some great influence and a list of great books to read. The story isn’t really taking sides. Its more of a general view about soldiers who lost their lives in battle. It was obviously a big turning point of the war, but sadly unheard of to many Europeans as it happened outside of Europe during WWII. The British and Australians were involved, but I think its important that people knew about the Gallipoli campaign.

MO: We seem to be running short of time, Pär. Do you have any famous last words?

PS: Me and the others are super excited about coming to Australia for the first time. Not only from the musical side, but also to see the fans and the country itself.  Experiencing Australia is something we have been looking forward to for a very long time. We will surely be very happy when we arrive and that will surely come through in the music and when we meet our Australian fans. I mean its been like 20 shows since Snowy Shaw has joined the band and he’s connecting with us really well and he sounds amazing.

People should be prepared for a really great Sabaton show when we tour Australia. I think we have done about 120 shows since the tour started. We will have a little break before we leave for Australia. We are a little bit exhausted. During the last couple of days on tour we all seem to have been taking turns in being sick. But now everyone is recovering and we will be ready for Australia next month.

This is one trip I have been looking forward to for sometime.

SABATON will be supporting NIGHTWISH on their upcoming Australian tour this Febuary. Make sure to also check out Sabaton at their Melbourne headline show. Full tour details below.

Sabaton Australian Tour 2013

Friday 11th January – The Enmore Theatre, SYDNEY (All Ages)
Tickets from /

Sunday 13th January – Corner Hotel, MELBOURNE (18+) Exclusive headline show (Tickets pre-purchased from The Prague and will still be valid for this show)
Tickets from /

Monday 14th January – The Palace Theatre, MELBOURNE (18+) – SOLD OUT!!!

Tuesday 15th January – The Palace Theatre, MELBOURNE (18+)
Tickets from /


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Anwar is the editor-in-chief of Metal When Anwar isn't busy promoting tours, interviewing bands and reviewing awesome music, he loves to collect metal vinyl and play video games. Follow Metal Obsession on Twitter and Facebook