THOBBE ENGLUND: 'I Belong To SABATON. That's My Family, That's My Best Friends'

March 2, 2024

In early February, Swedish metallers SABATON announced that they had been rejoined by guitarist Thobbe Englund. This news came a month after Tommy Johansson revealed his departure from the group.

Thobbe originally joined SABATON in April 2012 and amicably parted ways with the band in July 2016 to focus on his personal life and expand his creativity. Eight years later, he's back and ready to hit the global stage once more.

Englund recorded two studio albums with SABATON, namely "Heroes" (2014) and "The Last Stand" (2016),and assisted with the songwriting of some very popular songs including "Shiroyama" and "Fields Of Verdun", among others.

Speaking to Brutal Planet Magazine about how return to SABATON came about, Thobbe said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It was quite funny, actually, because me and my wife and, of course, my son, we celebrated New Year's Eve together with [SABATON bassist and manager] Pär [Sundström] and his wife. They came here [to my house] like three minutes before midnight, so we were, like, 'Will they make it? Yeah. All right. Happy New Year.' Then we had had a couple of beers, and a couple of beers became a couple of more beers, and we kept on going like until five, six in the morning. Luckily, we had a babysitter. And it was in the air. I said this somewhere that we were listening to this song by SCORPIONS, 'The Best Is Yet To Come'. And the chorus goes something like… Well, I don't remember exactly, but I remember the line. We were kind of drunk, and it went something like this: 'How can I live without you?' And we were like looking into each other's eyes, and we knew."

He continued: "I didn't have to think about it that much, because my son is five now. His favorite band is SABATON. When I left the band, it looked completely different for me privately. It was, like, we wanted to have a kid. And then, you know how it is with kids when they're toddlers and all that. You wanna be home, you wanna be there. And during all these years, for me being home, being together with [my son] and the family, the band has grown immensely for eight years, which means that we won't be away that much anymore like we used to. One year — I think it was in '14 or '15 — we were away 270 days that year. I went to the wrong building when I came home from a tour, and [my wife] was standing on the balcony on the other one, 'Hey, this is where we live.' 'Ah, okay.' So, I mean, now it's a completely different thing, and everybody in the band has their own family. So, yeah, it's, like, let's do this until we're 85 years old now. It's just an open road."

Reflecting on when he was officially asked to rejoin SABATON, Thobbe said: "[New Year's Eve] was the moment when I realized that something inside of me has told me that if the question comes, yes, of course. I belong to SABATON. That's my family, that's my best friends. So it was just, everything kind of dawned on me. 'Of course, yes. If the question comes, I'll say yes.' And I think it was a week later, we had a birthday party for [my son], and me and Joakim [Brodén, SABATON singer] had been writing a song that's gonna be on this new album. And he just texted me a couple of days before. And he was, like, 'Are you gonna be at home Sunday? Because, yeah, I'm just coming by.' I was, 'Yeah, yeah, of course. Just come by. I'll put on some coffee,' and like that. I thought it was that we were going to go through some details in that song and just to [decide], do we change this or that? Because he usually always kind of writes or tells me what's gonna happen when he comes, if it's just, 'Let's drink coffee and talk bullshit' or if it's something [else]. And I was, like, 'Hmm, why didn't he say what his plans are? That's a little odd, for being him.' But I didn't think more about that. And then he came, and we sat there drinking coffee, and we talked about something. And then he was, like, 'By the way, how do you feel about putting those camo pants back on?' And I was, like, 'All right. So here is the question. It actually came, like one week later.'"

Englund admitted that he was "a little bit shocked" at being asked to return to SABATON. "I didn't think take anything for granted," he explained. "I mean, maybe they had somebody else, because I stepped away almost eight years ago. So I never took anything for granted that they would even ask me. I was, like, if they ask me, I'm gonna be super happy and I will say yes.' So but then the question came, and for me it was, like… We had a long talk about how things are today compared to back in '16, and all that. Where SABATON is today — a lot of stuff has happened during the eight years I've been away. So, yeah, I was, like… I told him, 'Let me think about it and I'll call you.' I just talked to my wife for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and I called him [and I told him], 'Hey, man. I'm in.' And that was it. And it was really emotional. And then Chris [Rörland, SABATON guitarist] and Hannes [Van Dahl, SABATON drummer] called. We were [giddy] like school girls."

When Thobbe's return to SABATON was first announced, Pär said in a statement: "This is a full-circle moment for SABATON and we are beyond excited to have Thobbe rejoin the band. He's a talented guitarist, songwriter and a kind guy who we have a lot of fun with. We didn't even need to hold auditions with other guitar players. All that was needed was to spend New Year's Eve together to know that the time was right for Thobbe's return."

Echoing Pär's sentiments, Joakim stated: "This decision was a no-brainer for us as a band and for Thobbe. He knows the drill and is the perfect fit. This is a great outcome, and we think everyone is going to be psyched about the news! The time is right. Welcome back, brother!"

Meanwhile, Van Dahl added: "Who? Thobbe f***ng Englund, that's who! The man is back! I'm happy to once again share the stage with one of my best friends! Welcome back, brother!"

And finally, Rörland said: "I'm beyond excited and happy for the return of the king! We've had so many good times together, both on stage and off stage. It's gonna be great to share the stage again. Welcome back and welcome home my brother! Love ya!"

SABATON is currently preparing for a 19-show U.S. tour with heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST, which kicks off on April 18 in Wallingford, Connecticut and wraps up on May 22 in Syracuse, New York. The five-piece band is also currently in the studio working on its 11th studio album.

SABATON 2024 is:

Joakim Brodén - vocals
Pär Sundström - bass
Chris Rörland - guitars
Thobbe Englund - guitars
Hannes Van Dahl - drums

When Johansson announced his exit from SABATON on January 20, the band said in a statement: "After 7 amazing years in the band, our guitarist, Tommy, has decided to leave SABATON to pursue his own path. We wish him nothing but the best on his journey. We have been a close family and we will continue to support him in the adventures that await him in the future.

"Tommy joined the band in 2016 but he has been a close friend of SABATON ever since our first meeting at the end of a concert in 2005. As a valued member of the band, he has contributed to countless immortal memories.

"Tommy's departure from SABATON will not be effective immediately. He will stay on to ensure that all goes smoothly with the handover to our next guitarist.

"While a small part of his large heart will always remain within SABATON, we all know that he must follow his dreams.

"Even though we will not wake up daily in the tour bus next to him, we are sure that our paths will cross again many times in the future, both on and off the stage.

"Fly on your wings and strings brother!"

Tommy added in a separate statement: My dear friends! After 7 glorious years of Heavy Metal, I have decided to step down as the guitarist of SABATON.

"This has been the hardest decision I've ever made in my entire life.

"As many of you may know, I do a lot of things outside of SABATON. I play with another band, perform with various artists, and have a career as a singer that I've put aside for years to focus on SABATON. After doing this for seven years, I feel it's time to start following my heart. This means I will no longer tour with my brothers in SABATON and will not meet all you lovely SABATON supporters on the upcoming tours with the band.

"I will never quit playing music. I'll still be touring with MAJESTICA and other projects, but not on the same level as SABATON of course. I am sure I will meet you lovely fans on the road again in the future.

"My brothers in SABATON and the best crew in the world will forever be my second family and I will miss spending time with all these wonderful people. We had so much fun together every day. I've come to learn so much about life, about music and about touring that I wouldn't have learned anywhere else.

"A massive thank you to all you lovely SABATON fans for accepting me as the new guitarist in 2016. I am certain you will accept the person who takes over after me.

"All the best to you all and I'll see you again soon!"

SABATON's follow-up to 2022's "The War To End All Wars" album is tentatively due later this year via Nuclear Blast Records.

SABATON recently released the animated movie "The War To End All Wars", which tells the stories from the "The War To End All Wars" album. It begins with "Sarajevo", a song about the assassination of Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand, which sparked World War I. It ends with "Versailles", about the 1918 Treaty Of Versailles that ended the war. SABATON also has the Sabaton History channel on YouTube, which includes historical looks at World War II, Swedish military history and even the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, among others.

In September 2022, SABATON announced a new EP trilogy titled "Echoes Of The Great War". The trilogy features new songs specifically about World War I, coupled with topically related catalog music.

The last EP in the "Echoes Of The Great War" EP trilogy, "Stories From The Western Front", was made available in April 2023 on all platforms. It features a never-heard-before cover of MOTÖRHEAD's well-known track "1916".

SABATON climbed the international charts with its tenth studio album, "The War To End All Wars", securing No. 1 positions in Germany, Austria, Sweden, Poland, Hungary and Finland. Having achieved the top position for the second time in Germany, Sweden and Finland, the album peaked at No. 1 in Poland, Hungary and Austria for the first time in the band’s career. This and additional outstanding results in other territories have made "The War To End All Wars" SABATON's most successful album so far.

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