The interview was held in Opatija on 19 August 2022, a few hours before the Sabaton concert was held at a beautiful Summer stage (Ljetna pozornica).
Please can you tell me what are your impressions of the venue, the stage and the city?
We came early this morning and my first goal was to get into the water as fast as possible and I had a long walk around and had an espresso…so I’m the happiest drummer alive at the moment. It’s great to be back in Croatia; it’s been a long time. People seem excited, so yeah…im looking forward to it.
So great to hear!
Hopefully the whole band is excited as this is a concert that is to be held before a smaller crowd a bit different from other tour dates? All hard core fans are here…it’s going to be great from the first sight to preparations, hopefully?
Absolutely! And also, what we notice now, after the pandemic, is that people are hungry for music…we are eager to play also. We’ve been waiting around for 2 years to do this. I think the appreciation is different also. Before, I think everybody took it for granted in a sense. It’s not for granted and we are so excited to be back and especially in a country like this after so many years. And we met a lot of people in the town today and it was sheer excitement! And it’s the same for us.
This is a small town and we were shocked to hear that Sabaton is coming to Opatija as this is the first time a metal band of your status is to play here.
Cool, it’s about time.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time but would like to recommend for your next visit to definitely visit the town Rijeka which is famous for inventing and manufacturing the first torpedo ever. There is also a museum dedicated to that.
Yeah, sure, sounds interesting.
Can you tell me something more about the main message you want to share with the audience regarding war and effects of violence?
First off, we are not a band that tells people what to think as they can think for themselves. I think that’s very important, not to put words into other people’s mouths. I never liked that and I know none of us likes that. This band comes from a genuine interest and passion in history. So that’s where it all started. When the band was founded, 20 years ago, they wanted to sing about something that matters. These themes were the ones they found to be very important and on that path it kinda let into becoming a conceptual band focused on history. The historians write about the events and we address those issues. We find it interesting and important: history; in any form. We have songs about Vikings, Spartans, Roman empire, world wars and other big historical events and eras.
Do you sometimes feel the pressure of being in a very influential band? For instance, as Rammstein could be named a band that makes kids decide to learn German; Sabaton is one of the stronger reasons kids get into history and want to learn more about it?
Hopefully, we inspire people to dig deeper into history. I know there are a lot of schools that use our music to teach history, which is a huge compliment. But in the end, in the first line: we are musicians- that is what we do and then there is the passion. So it’s nice if we inspire people to get the desire to learn more about something we are singing about. We have a Sabaton History channel, where you can really dig deeper or you can buy a book or maybe watch a movie. Great! I think inspiration is something that rubs off on you.
You have a special talent of transferring emotion and brutal human destinies, especially regarding effects that war has on human lives. That would be one of the main focus points of transferring the knowledge of effects war has on humanity, wouldn’t you agree?
Yeah exactly and it even goes deeper than that, as you have the album “Heroes” which has a stronger focus on the individuals. For instance, to tell the story about one person that did something extraordinary and you never heard of them. I’m surprised that no Hollywood movies have already been made about half of those stories. Some of those are really crazy tales and they happened for real. It has to be something that interests us and catches our attention. When we see an interesting story: we investigate how and why it happened and what were the consequences of that.
Can you tell me something about Sabaton Open Air?
Oh yeah, we just finishedSabaton Open Air two weekends ago. It is one of the events we look forward to the most. Now it has been on hold for 2 years so now people were super excited to travel all the way to the north of Sweden and come see us at the festival. It’s great as we have a chance to invite other bands that we like, who are our friends. It’s not huge, but it has a very family vibe all the way though. I had my daughter there also for the whole duration. So it was great. It was great to be there. We always prepare a great set list. It is a type of a show that happens only once a year.
You also had a Swedish tour and visited smaller towns…so how was it? It was kind of going back to the roots?
Yes totally! This is the tour we were talking about for I don’t know how many years now! We wanted for it to be smaller and scale everything down. No pyro, no big show, just music and for me as a drummer: I can see people! Sometimes I can’t even see the first row! Those 30 shows went very fast and we had a chance to travel the whole country, which is something we never have time for. We saw many cities I had never visited before…so… I loved it!
The smallest tour ever as you announced only 7 shows, ending in Switzerland. After that you will go to America. How come you did this small tour during this summer?
This correlates with the European tour scheduled for the next year as we couldn’t make it work the way it was supposed to in the beginning, due to a pandemic. We didn’t want to cancel stuff or postpone it for several years. So we decided to do it now, as simple as that. We rescheduled as we are not a band that cancels. We want to play and especially here, after so many years. It was about time we came back.
Last show in Croatia was with Accept in Zagreb in 2017 and you also had a concert in Zagreb with Battle Beast and Delain 2015.
Yes, I played with the band then. I joined the band 10 years ago. Or at least, it will be 10 years next year.
Last tour The Great War was very huge as you filled very big arenas and what are you expecting from the tour in America and the tour in Europe next year? In 2019 you have announced a European arena tour with Apocalyptica and Amaranthe.
Expectations are always hard, but I know what we’re gonna do. It’s a fun setlist, it’s a new show in that sense. We were touring the US with Judas Priest in September last year, which was cancelled as Richie got sick. And now we are coming back with our own tour. So for us it’s totally cool to think about the set list and how to change it, to make it the best show possible. We are excited to be back and doing it, to see friends and fans all over the world. That’s what we do.
Do you hang out with fans, have a drink with them?
Usually, there’s never enough time as we travel a lot and usually are in a hurry to get to the next town. But, when there’s an opportunity: then: yes of course!
How do you come to an agreement regarding the set lists? When you come to some country for the first time do you try to reward the fans with the biggest hits and how do you choose them?
It’s a great question! It’s the trickiest thing ever and it’s super hard and especially now when there are so many albums. The fact is that there’s always gonna be someone that gonna be disappointed as we also want to play the songs that we like- to keep it fun for us also and it’s super hard. There are quite some discussions! Let me put it that way.
Reports from the concerts are focused around the impressions and for those that adore the band: the concerts seem to always last too short, I believe it’s an impossible mission to pick out the best , the dearest songs as there are so many.
Yes, and for me personally I would like to play some songs that no one else likes. They’re like: “Where did you find this song? It sucks”;)))
So, yes. It’s always a tricky thing. And then; I can imagine the struggle of the bands that have been around for 50 years. Like Judas Priest, for instance. That’s tricky.
You have your own beer: Sabaton beer that was brewed for you. Other bands now go into promoting their wine, whiskey and other band branded merch. How did you decide to have your own beer? Do you like to drink beer?
Yes, we wanted to make beer and we wanted to make it good. You can sell something if you know that it is good as you stand behind it with your name. If you like the product: you want to share it with the world.
This summer we tasted a lot of beers from different breweries and then I think it was Joakim who said. We’re not the ones that are gonna drink it the most, so we invited a lot of fan clubs and we wanted their opinion on it, which was a great experience. It doesn’t matter if I like some beer if the majority is not gonna like it. I believe that what came out of it was a good lager.
Do you have it now on merchandise?
No, only on web shop.
Will you be issuing new beers or something new?
Can you tell us?
Interview conducted by:
Pavao Hodap and Kristina Hećimović