Loyal to their metal rendezvous, Sabaton are back with their brand new album. This time it is about “heroes”… those men who gave their lives and fought the good fight in the name of their homeland and their ideals! Pär Sundstrom, the band’s original member & bassist, was kind enough to talk about the new album, their touring plans and everything that has to do with metal music…
Sabaton band pic

Hey Pär. First of all, congrats on “Heroes” – it’s indeed a stunning epic metal album. I can’t believe it’s already been two years since we’ve talked about your previous work.
P: Big thanks. Time flies fast. We have been very busy doing around 100 shows every year and also managing to write and record a new album.
So, no concept album in the strict meaning of the word… but still you’re dealing with a theme that has a certain continuation. You’re dealing with some worldwide Heroes in general, right?
P: Well, I think this is a perfect concept for Sabaton. We decided to go for the idea to write about individuals instead of bigger battles. Individuals who we think basicly went beyond their call of duty, put themselves into harms way for the good of others. And we decided to focus around World War 2.
How did you come with up with the idea about “Heroes”? If I can recall, you said that you already had it in your mind even before you recorded “Carolus Rex’, isn’t it so?
P: Oh yea. We had this topic a long time. When we did “Coat of Arms” we really enjoyed to write the song “White Death” since it became more personal than the others. So I guess already then we decided that in the future we will do one such album. We like to be far in the future and we are already planning the next two Sabaton releases.
What are the differences and the similarities between “Carolus Rex” and “Heroes”?
P: The biggest difference except for the topics of the songs is possibly the production. On “Carolus Rex” everything is maxed out. Lots of choirs, harmonies and addons. “Heroes” is a bit more simple metal.
Since this is the first album with guitarists, Chris Rörland & Thobbe Englund and drummer Hannes van Dahl, were you afraid at some point that it might not appeal to your fans and especially to the die-hard ones?
P: Not so much. Since Joakim is anyway the main songwriter and did all songs in the past the sound was never in any of our old band members.
The songwriting part has always been a procedure between you & Joakim, if I may say so.
P: Sure it was Joakim who wrote the songs with the sidekick from me and together we wrote the lyrics. Now we are trying to involve more new guys. But without changing the sound. Fans must know what to expect.
I guess touring with the new members so much helped them acclimatize to the band’s philosophy & values right?
P: Of course. We have been on tour together basically since they joined now and we are extremely tight together. It’s a great team that goes on tour together now. I totally love to tour again.
Please give us a hint about each track’s heroic story…
P: “Night Witches”: The opening track, reminds a bit of our song “Ghost Division” which always opens our shows. That’s why it opens the album. It’s about Russian female bomber pilots.
“No Bullets Fly”: The story is about a German pilot who refuses to shoot down a wounded American plane due to his code of honor and instead escorts it safely out of Germany.
“Smoking Snakes”: The story of 3 Brazilians who helped save a lot of their comrades from an ambush by fighting until the very last bullet.
“Inmate 4859”: The title refers to the number a Polish soldier received after he volunteered to be put into Auschwitz to document and destroy the camp from within.
“To Hell and Back”: The song is about the most decorated American soldier of WW2.
“The Ballad of Bull”: Leslie “Bull” Allen was an Australian stretcher bearer who went straight into enemy fire time after time, all alone and carrying wounded soldiers to safety.
“Resist and Bite”: The story of basically the only force that defended Belgium and never got the order to retreat. They were basically 40 soldiers against the German army and held out for 18 days.
“Soldier of 3 Armies”: Lauri Törni was a Finnish soldier who later joined both Germany and America and raised to officer rank in 3 armies. He received many medals during his life and was a big inspiration to fellow soldiers.
“Far from the Fame”: Carel Janouzek was a Czechoslovak fighter pilot who helped to organize other pilots who were in exile so they could also join the war.
“Hearts of Iron”: This song is about the final battle of Berlin where the general Walter Wenck decides to use his army to save humans instead of foolishly trying to stop the invading Soviet forces. He went against direct orders from Hitler to do this.
Tell us also about the bonus track “7734”. How did you decide to add it on the new album?
P: This is a very old song from Sabaton. We just wanted to re-record it since it’s a great song. (i.n.: The song is officially featured on “Metalizer”)
I have to admit I didn’t see that coming. How did you decide to make a tribute song to Manowar entitled “Man of War”? Using various track titles on your lyrics was brilliant and the final outcome was very good and Manowar-ish.
P: We have done the “Metal Crüe”, “Metal Machine” and “Metal Ripper” songs in the past. We just carried on the tradition and this time we did it for Manowar.
Can Sabaton be characterized as the “Manowar” of the 21st century? Or every band is better to make its own way without trying to be anything else rather than themselves?
P: I don’t wanna follow Manowar’s footsteps. Sabaton have always tried to find our own way and do it our way. We don’t have a management or so, we do all ourselves.
So, once again you cooperated with Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Dimmu Borgir, Amon Amarth, Pain, Celtic Frost among others). No surprises here. You know well each other and what needs to be done. The production is top-notch as always. I’m sure this cooperation is meant to last huh?
P: Well, Peter lives around the corner from our hometown and we are great friends. He does a great job so why go somewhere else? (i.n.: Yeap – not many bands are so lucky to have Peter as their neighbor!)
Sabaton band pic

Two videos, one for “To Hell and Back” and a lyric one for “Resist and Bite” have already been released. Are there any plans for a third one and if yes, for which track?
P: There are at the moment no more thoughts for videos. We will see if something happens with the videos we got now.
A new tour will start and you’ll be on the road for quite some time again. Do you feel homesick at any point of you love being on the road? I’m looking forward to seeing you in Greece again dude… have you planned to play here in early 2015?
P: I don’t feel homesick. I love to tour and I look forward to all the great shows we have ahead of us. And yes the answer to your question regarding Greece is that we are planning it for early next year! (i.n.: Hehe – my source is reliable!)
By the way who will be the band’s keyboardist during the tour? Any permanent member as yet?
P: We don’t have a keyboard player. We are not even looking for one since it works so great with pre-recorded keyboards.
What is that you wish to achieve with Sabaton at long run?
P: To live our entire lives playing metal.
Have you listened to Civil War’s debut album and what do you think of it?
P: I’ve listened of course. Its our old friends and we live in the same city. I think the album is good. (i.n.: Pär is one of the kindest musicians that I know!)
Time for our “weird questions”!!! Which are the top 3 epic metal albums of all time?
P: This always change but right now I would say Iron Maiden – “The Number of the Beast”, Savatage – “Streets” and Running Wild – “Pile of Skulls”
If you had the chance to be reborn, would you choose to be a musician again?
P: Yes, I have a great life.
How do you see the “free downloading issue” of our time? In a world where people easily download music for free and hardly pay for it what can we do in order to change things? Is it different now that you can see things on the inside?
P: Well, I love the legal things like Spotify. When people fight to be first to steal and upload albums before they are released I get really angry. It’s one of the biggest things we ever have to present the new songs. We don’t want anyone to steal that moment away from us. (i.n.: You’re so damn right dude…)
Do you think that funding platforms like Kicksatrter, Indiegogo etc. can give any kind of solution to the “legal downloading” matter? Can bands/artists only be supported by their fans in order to make music?
P: I’m sure it can be a good thing for some bands!
If Sabaton’s career was a movie… which movie would it be and why?
P: “300” since it’s full of epic battles!
Which character from “Game of Thrones” would you have been – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms? The other guys from the band?
P: I’ve never seen “Game of Thrones”. I hate series. If I start to watch I have to watch every episode and I would never have the time to do that. (i.n.: I didn’t see that coming!)
Which of the Seven Deadly Sins do you reckon is the one, that’s more likely to send you straight to Hell, in the afterlife?
P: Probably lying.
I think we’re done Pär. Thx for keeping the Epic Metal flag high dude! Any last words? Take care dude…
P: Well, look out for our dates when they are announced for our European tour and hope to see you on tour somewhere!