PETER TÄGTGREN Lets The Good Times Roll With New PAIN Album 'I Am'

May 28, 2024

By David E. Gehlke

PAIN, the "hobby" project of HYPOCRISY mainman and noted extreme metal producer Peter Tägtgren, issued an unintentional Covid anthem by way of the "Party In My Head" single in 2021. The song accurately summed up the isolation most of the general populace was feeling at the time, but also served as a reminder that Tägtgren can pen a catchy industrial metal tune better than most. It's been the red thread throughout PAIN's nearly three-decade career that started when Tägtgren wanted to mess around in his famed Abyss Studio with keyboards. Nine studio albums and several European and Scandinavian chart appearances later, PAIN, in some territories, has eclipsed the formidable HYPOCRISY.

Tägtgren is now back with a new PAIN studio album, "I Am", which serves as the fun, pulsating party-time record he needed to do after the David Bowie-inspired 2016 "Coming Home". In BLABBERMOUTH.NET's conversation with Tägtgren, it's clear that HYPOCRISY and PAIN now exist in perfect co-harmony, while his notable side ventures with RAMMSTEIN frontman Till Lindemann and ex-DEEP PURPLE and RAINBOW singer Joe Lynn Turner are just more excuses to write songs and learn something new. Whatever the approach, Tägtgren is convinced his best work is still in front of him.

Blabbermouth: By 1996, HYPOCRISY was full-speed ahead, as was your studio. Can you go back to your mindset when you started PAIN around that time?

Peter: "I think it was after 'The Fourth Dimension' in 1994 when I set up my studio and was recording bands. I don't know…for some reason, I had an itch to try different things. I still am a huge PINK FLOYD fan and what you hear on 'Abducted' with songs like 'Slipping Away' and 'Drained', were the start of PAIN. I wanted to explore what I could do. That is the most exciting thing. When you think, 'Could I do this?' or 'Could I do that?' I'm like, 'Fuck it. Let's try it because it's a challenge.' Anyhow, we were working on 'Abducted' and I was trying to see what I could do. In the end, yeah, these two songs ended up on 'Abducted' and they weren't supposed to. Michael [Hedlund, bass] and Lars [Szöke, drums] were also huge PINK FLOYD fans, so they were like, 'Let's do it anyway!' People flipped out when the album came out. Nobody was doing this shit in death metal. It's not like today. I kept on going. Around '95, I was so fascinated with keyboards that had distortion. If it was a song that was eight minutes long, I always wanted to know, 'How did they make it interesting?' First, it goes up, then goes down. I was trying to do that, but my keyboards stunk. [Laughs] Then I started adding guitars and real drums. That's the start of PAIN. After that, it's been a fucking adventure of writing where I'm trying to explore and do better things as a producer, but not only this concept of bass, drums, guitar and some vocals. I really wanted to get into the technical side and become a producer as well. I wanted to learn. I'm always open to learning things. That's how it started. After that, I tried to handle the technique better and better for every album. It's not really a big deal, to put it that way. I'm just searching for things and trying and trying. Sometimes, it turns out good; sometimes, it's horrible. You can't win them all. It's amateur hour, but somehow you get it together."

Blabbermouth: Was PAIN also a reaction to all the death and black metal you were recording at the time?

Peter: "When PAIN started to explode in Europe on the second album, I wasn't thrilled, to be honest. I was going, 'Fuck. I've been doing these albums with HYPOCRISY and no one gave a shit. Now I do this and people are all on me.' It became the opposite for me. Instead of going, 'Oh, that's great. I've had some success!' I was the opposite. I was like, 'Fuck you. Listen to HYPOCRISY!' I don't know what I was thinking. It blew up, and I hadn't expected it. I'd go to the local store and buy milk or whatever, and people would follow me around. They saw me on TV and then the neighborhood got weird. [Laughs] That's all good now. Everyone knows who I am. I'm sure they think it's cool I'm doing my thing. When you come from a small town, it gets a little weird when everyone knows everyone."

Blabbermouth: You also went to Florida in the early days of HYPOCRISY, then started to change your sound by "The Fourth Dimension". It appears that you stumbled into PAIN without intending to do so.

Peter: "If I didn't have PAIN, HYPOCRISY wouldn't sound the way it does today. We also explored a lot on the first three or four albums. We found our style. I'm not saying we're unique, but you can tell that it's us by the sound or melodies. Nowadays, we really take care of it. In the past, when we were exploring with HYPOCRISY, we did the 'Catch 22' album [in 2002]. People were like, 'What the fuck is this?' Some factors in there drive people insane. It was the snare sound that Lars Ulrich [METALLICA] stole. I'm kidding! [Laughs] It's pretty much the same as they used on 'St. Anger'. It doesn't matter. I thought it was funny. In the past, I was singing clean in the background in HYPOCRISY, but this time, it was more in your face. Some stuff was more 'nu-metal-ish.' I was exploring there, too. After that, people were not happy either. Nowadays, people really like it. We even re-recorded the vocals and remixed the album. It took away this 'tin can' snare shit. We released it just because people got upset, so I tried to form it closer to what they expected from HYPOCRISY. But after a few years, people said, 'Oh, I like the original better.' I was like, 'But you didn't like it then!' That's why it's so important that after 30 years, I write for myself and write from my heart. I try to trust myself. I'm the worst judge I could ever have. There are a lot of things that don't get past me and it takes forever. It was easier in the earlier days. You didn't think about it. You went crazy with all the riffs and everything. I guess it's been a development for over 30 years."

Blabbermouth: You've done a lot since 2016, including a LINDEMANN album, the Joe Lynn Turner project and a HYPOCRISY album. Why now for a new PAIN?

Peter: "Because I actually started writing a new PAIN album right after 'Coming Home', but then there were some ideas of doing some theatre stuff for Till's daughter in Berlin. Many of those songs went there and ended up on the second LINDEMANN album [2019's 'F & M'], so I had to start again from the beginning. I started to write for PAIN, then I met Joe and some songs went there. Time fucking flies. And you're thinking, 'What the fuck did I do? I didn't do anything.' Then you look around and it's like, 'Holy shit.' I did a handful of productions in between all the bands I worked with. Over eight years, it's a different part of me from all the bands I contribute to. When Covid was going wild in 2021, I think in March, my manager [Anna Yakina] told me, 'Hey, you better release some songs for your PAIN fans. In September, the HYPOCRISY album comes up and you'll be busy with that.' I said, 'Oh, you're right!' She's always right. [Laughs] I started doing the 'Party In My Head' song and 'Gimme Shelter' was lying around, which is more like the original because I like THE ROLLING STONES. It was a good song for me to jam to. Then I thought, 'Oh shit. I need more songs.' I hot-rodded it a little bit into PAIN vibes. When I was done with that, I was rolling my thumbs and going, 'What the fuck do I do now? It would be good to start writing now.' I listened to 'Coming Home' all the way through. After that, I thought, 'That was a sleepy album.' But I was so influenced by a lot of things. It's usually like that. Every PAIN album is always different from the last. It's the development of me that you hear and how I discovered writing songs in this way or that way. As soon as I was done listening to it, I wrote 'Push The Pusher'. I wanted more distortion and industrial feelings. I wanted to go a little back to the 'stomping' kind of beats. You can feel the beat with tongue-in-cheek lyrics on certain things and more theories on other things, but in the end, I wanted to create an album that you can put on before you go to the bar or you're hanging with your friends having a couple of brewskis. A happy album kind of feeling — no 'slit your wrists' kind of thing. It's meant to have a party kind of feeling."

Blabbermouth: Having "Party In My Head" out for a few years had to have helped. It's a very relatable song going back to the pandemic.

Peter: "They're simple lyrics, but it's hard to write simple lyrics. Writing a simple song is also hard, but I don't see myself as a good lyric writer for a second. Not even for a second. I'm pretty straightforward. Sometimes people go, 'What? Did he really say that?' It comes from either experience or whatever. It's kind of trippy. I'll do what I do, but I try to get better."

Blabbermouth: You've mentioned that your son, Sebastian, is a better musician than you. What's the level of his involvement in PAIN?

Peter: "He's on the lawn mower right now. I can see him outside. [Laughs] He's got to do something other than playing drums and writing music. This kid could have been on tour when he was 14. We were thinking about him auditioning for SABATON when they were looking for drummers, but he was too young. I said, 'No fucking way. He stays home until he's 18.' Then I took him out on the first PAIN tour for 'Coming Home', which was in 2016. He's been writing songs with me since [HYPOCRISY's] 'End Of Disclosure'. He and I wrote 'Soldier Of Fortune'. He was 14 years old then! He could have probably played guitar. Of course, then he did 'Mathematik' for LINDEMANN by himself. He also wrote 'Dead World' on the last HYPOCRISY album. He and I spent that whole summer writing songs together. We did something like 11 or 12 together. He'd jump on the drums and we'd do the riffs — everything was 50/50. Sometimes, I had to play the drums, and he was riffing just to get the feel. We'd program the drum machine and do the demos. We never did any vocals or lyrics on that. I asked him, 'Can I take that song?' It sounded modern. Maybe too modern for HYPOCRISY, but sometimes you got to stretch a little bit. People really like that one as well. Now he has 'Don't Wake The Dead' and 'Revolution' on the new PAIN record. He's amazing. He's a lazy motherfucker, but he's got it. He's got everything he needs, but he doesn't take care of it, although that's a dad's thought."

Blabbermouth: The LINDEMANN project ended on some interesting terms and the Joe Lynn Turner thing turned out great. Are you interested in any future collaborations?

Peter: "Yeah! Give me a call! [Laughs] I'd like to do Paul McCartney, although I wouldn't have a chance. You can always wish. No, other than that, I do not have anything. Sometimes, these things just happen. I'm definitely up for that. Every time I work with people, I get influenced by just looking at them. I'll spit up melodies and things like that. There's something with it that makes it so much easier than when I sit and write by myself and for myself. Even when they don't write the music, I just have to look at them and know I'm doing something with them. It changes my definition of writing. It's really strange. For sure, I haven't done the best song yet. I know it. I'm struggling and trying to do it."

Blabbermouth: You have hinted about bringing PAIN over here for a North American tour. What would that look like? Are you prepared to do the dirty work?

Peter: "I'll take anything. Trust me. I don't want to go out and do a headlining tour, to be honest, but I will do it. I know I will lose shitloads of money because of visas and buses. I have eight people on my payroll. I need to feed them as well and somehow, I need to survive when I get home. It's like starting from scratch, but I see no other way. We're looking like crazy to open up for other bands. I don't give a shit about the terms. We just want to go to America and fucking play. I think there's potential for people to get into it, but they don't know about it. People know HYPOCRISY and that's about it. People tell me, 'Yeah, I heard you have a side project that sounds like disco.' It's not for HYPOCRISY fans."

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