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Interviews : “Can’t remember so much from the cruise because of the booze” – An Interview With Sabaton

By on March 10, 2018

Sabaton are a Swedish Power Metal band with an intense focus on military history. Having set sail on the very first 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise in 2011, as well as the 2013 edition, the band are absolute veterans. Bassist Pär Sundström and guitarist Chris Rorland discuss the cruise, as well as the intriguing historical figures and battles they’ve written about over the years.

Sabaton played what was arguably the most powerful set on the cruise when they absolutely dominated the pool deck, and from Sundstrom’s perspective, “It was fun.”

“Eye-melting,” Rorland emphasises.

“The thing is,” Sundstrom turns to Rorland, “we haven’t played a show for about a month.”

“Over a month,” Rorland agrees.

“Yeah, so we were hungry for playing shows, definitely. We were excited to be on the stage again. Thankfully, the crowd was great, and we had a good spot so people were in a good mood. Not too late, when people are too drunk.”

“Yeah, exactly,” Rorland grins.

“So I think that everything turned out very good for us. It was fully packed on the pool deck. We are excited that in a few hours we’re going to play the other set, on the stage indoors. I hope it’s going to be the same level. It was great. The 70,000 Tons of Metal has some kind of special atmosphere.”

“It was a little bit windy,” Rorland points out, “but besides that…”

“It was raining as well.” The two bandmates practically speak over each other to highlight the rain, with Rorland laughing.

“It didn’t really bother us,” Sundstrom continues, “and it didn’t seem like it was bothering the crowd.”

Rorland agrees wholeheartedly, with Sundstrom adding, “It was just bothering the technical crew, who had to dry off all the equipment constantly because everything was wet. So they only one who was a bit bothered by the weather was probably the technical crew.”

Sabaton are known for their well-researched and relevant lyrics, and the bandmates offer their thoughts on some of the more obscure figures and events they’ve covered.

“One of the most interesting stories would have to be the Inmate 4859 from the ‘Heroes’ album,” Sundstrom reflects. “It was kind of the leading star of the ‘Heroes’ album. It was the most interesting story, about a guy who volunteered to go to Auschwitz, which I’m like… ‘Can I go to Hell please?’”

“Came to try and get intel and everything. Then tried to escape,” Rorland adds.

“And succeeding,” Sundstrom points out, with Rorland quick to agree, chuckling. “So this was definitely an interesting character, and there was a lot to dig into and take in when you hear about that. Probably one of the most interesting stories we ever did.”

When it comes to historical events, there are a few that Sundstrom and Rorland would love to have witnessed or to hear about firsthand. “Actually, I’m pretty sure, what I would have seen,” Sundstrom begins, “what I would love to hear about and what I think is still, and it’s sad, historians would say that the most interesting and exciting charge in history would have been the one that we write about on the last album, the winged hussars. The charge of the winged hussars, a charge in Vienna, because it is such a majestic view, it should have been. The fearful sight of all these winged horsemen that would ride down from the mountain…”

“And the armour just shining with the sun,” Rorland puts in.

“It’s said by historians to be one of the most… It should have been, obviously no one wrote down what happened completely, but there are many citings about it. If somebody would have seen it, it would have been a very, very impressive sight.” Sundstrom pauses with the imagination of it. “It would be a place I’d like to see myself. Obviously it’s also been projected in more recent media, for example Lord of the Rings.”

“The battle of Helm’s Deep,” Rorland clarifies.

“Yeah, completely taken that. You have the Riders of Rohan which definitely cannot be anything else but inspired by this. So it’s an exact copy of what actually happened at the siege of Vienna. This would be interesting to see.”

“And the Spartans,” Rorland adds.

“Spartans would have been interesting, too,” Sundstrom agrees. “Definitely.”

Sabaton were aboard the first 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise, and it’s a memory that still stands out for Sundstrom. “2011, we first came. That was the first year of 70,000 Tons of Metal. A different ship, and I think everybody was excited because there were no pictures out before, nobody knew anything about what it was going to be like. Now most people are prepared, and they kind of know what to expect when they come here. Back then, it was something completely different. So even if it’s a nice experience now, I think somehow that the shock and the surprise when we first came here, that’s not happening any more.”

“Yeah, it’s the same for me,” Rorland agrees. “Even though I came into the band in 2012, and then my first time on the cruise was in 2013. I hadn’t seen any photos or anything, so it was like a new thing for me, and it was fantastic. Couldn’t really remember so much from the cruise…” He mimes indulgence in the alcoholic offerings, to the laughter of both. “Nah, just kidding! No, but it was fantastic.”

“Can’t remember so much from the cruise because of the booze,” Sundstrom murmurs wryly.

“Ooooh, nice. Very well done. It was a bit of a smaller ship back then. Now it’s,” he chuckles, “huge. But I love both. It’s really nice. And now we actually got a really good time to play, so it’s really fantastic.”

Rorland has a very clear idea of which member of Sabaton is mostly to get seasick.

Hannes [Van Dahl].”

“Maybe Hannes,” Sundstrom concedes, “But I don’t think anybody really has it.”


“We don’t, really. We have our own cruise, the Sabaton Cruise. We’ve been doing it for nine years, similar to this but it’s just for 24 hours, but we have quite a big boat as well. The Sabaton Cruise takes 2,000 people. We’ve been doing it for nine years, so we did it a long time before the 70,000 Tons already. We are at sea a lot with that boat, and we travel a lot between Sweden and Finland. I don’t think anybody ever had any problems with being on a boat.”

“Yeah, one time actually,” Rorland recalls. “I can’t remember which cruise that was, but it was a time on our cruise when it was really rocking,” he emphasises, “and we were playing a set, two sets, and in the middle of the break, everybody…” He mimes vomiting.

“Ah, that’s true. We were lying in the cabin. That’s true, I remember that.”

“That was…”

“A couple of years ago,” Sunstrom interjects.

“Cymbal stands just…” Rorland makes a crashing sound. “Falling down and, yep, that was horrible.”

Speaking of drinks on the cruise, what gets imbibed amongst Sabaton depends on the mood. “Cocktails,” are a firm favourite for Sundstrom, however.

“Depends on which mood I’m in,” Rorland admits with a laugh. “If I just want to have a relaxing time, I go for the beer, just hang out with friends. But if I go for the party, especially then, cocktails. Gin and tonic.”

“Same here,” Sundstrom agrees. “But I never go for relaxed, I always go for party.”

“Yeah, you always go full charge!” Rorland laughs heartily.

“So it’s no beer for me,” Sundstrom finishes, ironically sipping his water.

Sundstrom is just as firm in who, from the 70,000 Tons of Metal line-up, he would like to tour with in the future. “Battle Beast. Easy choice.”

“Yeah, we’ve done that already,” Rorland points out, “so I have to pick another band.”

“Why?” Sundstrom interrogates, just managing to hold back a grin.

“Because I want to choose a band that I haven’t toured with!” Both laugh. “That’s a hard one. So many cool bands. I want to tour with Meshuggah, but that’s totally different music styles. I don’t know, really.” He considers for a moment. “Rhapsody, maybe.”

Another clear choice is who is the most reclusive member of Sabaton on the cruise.

“Our singer,” Sundstrom says.

“Yep,” Rorland laughs. “I was about to say me,” he adds with even more laughter. “But definitely Joakim [Broden], yep. Because he can’t go out, people just…” He mimes pouncing.

“If he opens to the door to his cabin, it’s full with fans, so he can’t move around on the cruise. He doesn’t go anywhere, he can go five metres, that’s it. So, exciting.”

When it comes to karaoke, Rorland can’t resist the classics. “I would love to do some Iron Maiden, but I can’t do that vocal range, so I’m going to go for one song that I actually have done karaoke on, that’s Rebel Yell. That I can do really good! I tried Iron Maiden, but nah. Can’t do it. Tommy [Johansson]’s very good at karaoke,” Rorland points out sincerely.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Sundstrom agrees. “He even won the Swedish championship.”

“Yeah!” Rorland laughs. “He won the Swedish championship in karaoke.”

“Singing the Heart song, right?”

“Yeah, the Heart song. Can’t remember which one it was.”

If there’s one thing Sundstrom and Rorland agree on, it’s the best thing on 70,000 Tons of Metal so far. “Battle Beast,” they both answer.

“They were the best,” Sundstrom adds.

“So much power. And little Noora [Louhimo], who is so shy and cuddly and everything, and then she goes on stage and everybody adores her. So cool to see.”

Sundstrom and Rorland have some interesting insights into Swedish cousine to offer, after first sharing their preferred victuals onboard.

“Burger,” Sundstrom says.

Ben & Jerry’s,” is Rorland’s laughing rebuttal. “No, I go for the burgers.”

“Burgers, we eat every day. A good pizza has guts. Swedish pizza.”

Rorland agrees as Sundstrom continues. “Now we’re not in Sweden. But Swedish pizza would win.”

“Absolutely,” Rorland speaks firmly. “Otherwise, burgers. We got ice cream on it, bananas…” he laughs.

“But we do have bananas on it,” Sundstrom puts in seriously.

“We do have bananas, and curry and stuff. We’ve got a bunch of different stuff. Italians would go crazy if they see what we do with the pizza.”

“ You go into a standard pizza place and you find about 80 different varieties. So Sweden’s proud of their pizzas. It’s the national dish of Sweden.”

“We took a winning concept, and we made it better. Oooh sorry, I shouldn’t say that!” Rorland laughs, then adds a deadpan, “But it’s true.”

Reflecting on where they would sail the ship to if they could take control, Sundstrom and Rorland muse, “Interesting.”

“That’s a good question.”

“I think somewhere in the Carribean,” Sundstrom offers.

“Yeah, I think I wouldn’t change anything,” Rorland agrees. “This is amazing.”

“It goes to a very good place now. Grand Turk is a lovely place to go to, so I wouldn’t want to change that.”

“If it were a real thing, I would go to Skull Island,” Rorland states, adopting a mad look in his eyes.

“Treasure Island,” Sundstrom suggests, with Rorland agreeing. “Treasure Island we go to, somewhere around here.”

“Yeah, that would be so cool.”

“Or we go and we sink the ship, and we look for Atlantis. That would also be an option.”

“Oh, there’s Jack Sparrow out there,” Rorland points out the window. “Cool.”

“But yes, if there is a place otherwise I would like to go to, maybe it would be possible in a couple of years, that would be Cuba. Interesting place to visit.”

“I would love to go to Bahamas.”

While the cruise offers some time to relax, it’ll be back to business for Sabaton when they return. “Right after when we get ashore,” Sundstrom says, “we start our North American run. And then home quickly, and then we do Australia and Asia. But when that is done, we’re kind of slowing down, and time for starting to write songs. It’s going to take a while to have a new album out. It’s going to take quite some time, because we have been very active, touring a lot, so we kind of need some time to write the new album. But song writing will start then.”

On the topic of the Australian tour, Sundstrom adds, “Obviously we haven’t been touring Australia that much. We’ve only been there once, but now we’re coming back, and we are excited to see you guys. Very excited about it, and thank you for staying with us all along. Sorry for being absent, sorry for staying away from your beautiful country too long. But don’t blame us, because we are the ones who are suffering the most when we are sitting up in Sweden, and you have a nice, beautiful, warm country.”

“Yeah. We’re freezing our asses off,” Rorland adds dryly.

“But we’ll change it. We’re coming soon. So hope to see you over there.”

Head to the official Insomnium website:

To find out more about the 70,000 Tons Of Metal Crusie, head to the official website:

Catch Sabaton in Australia in March for the inaugural Download Melbourne Festival. Click here to secure your tickets.