EMP Spain conducted an interview with guitarist Tommy Johansson and bassist Pär Sundström of Swedish metallers SABATON prior to their June 28 appearance at Download Spain in Madrid. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the significance of SABATON releasing its new studio album, "The Great War", 100 years after World War I, and 20 years after the band's formation:
Pär: "A new album of SABATON would have come anyway in 2019. That had nothing to do with any anniversary at all. We follow a kind of a… When we tour the world, we have to do another album, then we can tour the world again. So, we were anyway doing that. But, the topic to choose, yes, it had to do with the anniversary of the 100 years since World War I, so definitely."
On the evolution of SABATON's sound:
Tommy: "I would say, of course you mature with time, but if you release six or seven albums and every one sounds exactly the same, you have to change your sound. Not like going from heavy metal to black metal, but at least to show people, 'Yeah, we're trying new things. We're adding some new things. If there's something we like from that album, we want to use it in that album.'"
Pär: "It's important for SABATON that our fans feel that everything we release is a SABATON album. There's a new SABATON album, is it going to sound like SABATON? Yes, it's going to sound like SABATON. Do we evolve? Yes, naturally. We evolve as humans, we evolve as songwriters, we evolve as musicians. Of course, it will take little steps, but the core of SABATON will remain, as it has for all the years."
On whether they see any similarities in their approach to AC/DC's or MOTÖRHEAD's:
Pär: "Obviously, it worked for AC/DC. For me, at least, I like the bands that have stayed true to their original sound. Because that's the sound that I fell in love with. That's what I want them to do. And if there is another great album coming out with new songs that sounds similar as the songs that I used to love or I really love since before, for me personally, that is the perfect thing. For a band to change and suddenly put out something unexpected, then I don't like it."
On whether the climate of Sweden has an influence on its vast array of heavy metal bands:
Pär: "Sweden has a lot of music, not just in heavy metal. It has in general, a lot of music. And, when it comes to exporting music, Sweden is one of the leading countries in the world, even being so small. Why does this [matter]? Sure, we have a rich history of great music coming out of my country, but, also, the country generally is pretty good, allows people to express themselves through culture. This helps a lot and then I would say, also, that the average, so to say, the average atmosphere of the people allows for it. I think there's a general difference between Sweden and England or U.S. It's how people treat each other. So, there's the thing everybody has, especially when you are in a band, you're young and you start it, the first thing you want to do is you want to play a concert. That's your dream. Just any concert. The first concert you ever play will be awesome. No matter if there's just one person. Your parents will be there and say it's brilliant. Okay. If you're in Sweden and you come to your first concert, the circumstances will be pretty good. Everything will work, somebody will be helpful, you will get some food, even when you are 12-years-old. If you come to a venue and you're 12-years-old and you go to play your first show or something in England, you'll be treated absolutely like shit. Nothing will work. You will come home that night and think, 'This was not what I was dreaming about.' While the people in Sweden come home in the evening or in the day or whatever, they come home after their first show, they will say 'This was everything I ever thought it would be.' Then, one of them will fall off because a lot of people will not think, they will give up after that first time. Because it wasn't what they were dreaming about. People might discover later as well that it wasn't what they were dreaming about and change, but then they're already on the path. I think this one really changed a lot. I don't know exactly how it is in every country, but I know Sweden is one of the absolute best in treating people in general when it comes to this stuff. This helps."
Tommy: "Also in schools as well. We encourage people to play music. You don't even have to go to a music school to play. You're obligated to have music once a week from the first class. Then, when you go to high school you can study music. Once or twice a week, you can go study music. We always have performances in schools with people who play and form a band. It helps a lot."
Pär: "It's how we all started our first bands — through school. You start there."
SABATON's ninth full-length album, "The Great War", was released on July 19 via Nuclear Blast Records. The band started recording the disc exactly 100 years after the end of the First World War (November 11, 1918) and took three months of intensive work to complete the album with longtime producer and collaborator Jonas Kjellgren at Black Lounge studios. The effort was mastered by Maor Appelbaum and the artwork was once again created by Peter Sallaí.