A Last Stand History Lesson: An Interview with Pär Sundström

Sabaton are one of the best metal war story tellers in the entire history of heavy metal! They could teach a history lesson about war hero’s through their music better than someone on the history channel because their lyrics are so well-researched when it comes to lyrical war themes. Sabaton’s “The Last Stand” proves the band has enough life to continue as a band in the next thirty years! All of Sweden and Europe should be proud of Sabaton for all the hard work they do as a band on the daily.

By Chad Thomas Carsten 
From May/June Vandala 2017

Define Metal in your own words and how the genre reflects you as your own person?

Pär: I always wanted to play Heavy Metal. It’s affected a lot of my life of course. As some other people call themselves musicians, I call myself a Heavy Metal guy in a Heavy Metal band. I think that speaks for itself. For me it’s not about playing music, it’s about playing Heavy Metal! That’s the thing I wanted most when I was young. What I did at first was I did a few classes in school and they told me I had to learn the basics. I told them I wasn’t interested because I would never do that, because I only wanted to play Heavy Metal. It’s my life. I don’t want to play anything else

How did the local bands and favorite musicians you grew up listening to influence you as a musician today?

Pär: I’ve met a lot of awesome musicians. I’ve toured with a lot of them and I’ve played with a lot of them. All the bands I grew up listening to that is. I’ve met most people that I’ve admired when I started to play music. There’ s still bands that I admire and there’s a couple of them that I don’t admire anymore because they aren’t the same person anymore. I still love Maiden. As a perfect example I’ve toured with Iron Maiden a lot of times. The first thing I learned to play was an Iron Maiden tune. I’m still very inspired by them. What they do and how they sound, they’re such a great band!

Most influential Sweden Metal band for you as a Heavy Metal guy?

Pär: I would have to say HammerFall because “Glory to the Brave” came out about the time when a lot of Heavy Metal was absolutely dead in Sweden and even I was playing Death Metal, even though I didn’t enjoy it because it was the only thing people liked. Then HammerFall came with a lot of melodic heavy metal and I was like, “Wow! If they can do it then I want to do it too!” That’s when things changed and that’s why it’s a very important band/album for me.

Why should a fan attend a Sabaton show? Those who’ve never been lucky to attend one.

Pär: We are great live band! Often around the globe we’ve been awarded with “Best Live Show”/”Best Live Act”, it shows that a lot of promoters go there and are like, “Whoa! Sabaton! you are really entertaining!” Also fans from all regions come to see our shows. Some bands only pull a certain demographic and a certain age of people, but we have a lot of kids in the crowds and a lot of older people too. Everybody is there to listen to their favorite Sabaton song. In America we are limited to where we are and the pubs we play. In Europe we play a lot more! Also we try to visualize what we sing about in a completely different way. We bring stuff to the stage which relates to our music and its pretty impressive. A lot of pyros!

How did your latest record “The Last Stand” challenge you as a musician?

Pär: Music wise I don’t think that it’s changed so much. As a fan if you pick up a Sabaton album, it’s a Sabaton album. It won’t change so much. It’s the same when it comes to song writing an performing. We are not really trying to evolve that much. We’re trying to do great songs in the kind of style that we have. We don’t really think about too much that we need to evolve.

You guys do a lot history research. Are you able to break down a few of the tracks from “The Last Stand’?

Pär: “Shiroyama” was one those obvious ones. It was the last stand of the Samurai. It’s one of those themes that popped into our heads and we really didn’t need to think about it so much, just research. It’s just something that came natural. It was a simple choice for us to do that. For me the most interesting one to write and to make was the song about the Winged Hussars about the Battle of Vienna, because before I wrote it, I watched a lot of documentaries about it and it was so inspiring, especially the Winged Hussars, because they made the most impressive charge of human history in all times! The entire battle is also reflected like how much for example, JRR Tolkien must have found inspiration when he wrote the Lord of the Rings. It’s exactly that same battle! So for me that was exciting and the most exciting to write and to read about. “Hill 3234” was one of the later ones we decided to add to the album. Pretty much the second to last song we wrote. We were looking for something that was little bit more modern than the other stuff. We found it there in the Soviet Afghan War. Maybe it’s too current, but then we thought on the other hand that pretty much what happened there has become history and changed the Country into something else. It has become history, it’s not political anymore.

Which war movie inspired you the most as a musician?

“Band of Brothers. It’s not really a movie, but it’s a TV series. That one was very inspiring. But “Saving Private Ryan” was the one that inspired the whole Sabaton thing. When we were watching it and we were trying to find inspiration of what to write about and we found it inside that movie. We thought, “This is more exciting and inspiring than to write our previous lyrics, so we should continue this down the road!” and that’s what we did!” Now we’ve been continuing this path for seven albums about war history. It doesn’t seem like we’re going to stop! When you have Soldiers that approach you in real life to tell you that you’ve impacted their lives for the better, how do you react to that situation?

I always get inspired always when we inspire somebody. We show appreciation in mostly in a way that I could not do by myself. That is the most inspiring to me. I don’t care if there is fifty or only five thousand people in the crowd, I’m only interested in one person and that is one person that is doing something that I myself could not or would not do to see a show. What it took for them to get there I’m inspired by it. This is what drives me when I do the show. Usually I try to figure out if there is somebody in the crowd who has done something kind of extraordinary to be at the show and that is the one person I think about when I get up on stage. I feel proud to be on stage when I find out a person went to such an extraordinary length to be at a Sabaton show!

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment thus far in your career with Sabaton?

Pär: There are plenty of those. I don’t know what they would be called in terms of greatest accomplishment. I have found a way and I’m very proud that everybody in the band can live solely as musicians and don’t need to bother about anything else! Ever since we reached that point its now my main goal to have it remain like this. We never really need to think about something else. When it comes to a show I’ve already done the biggest show of my life. When I started Sabaton it was seventeen years earlier and it was the same year as the Sweden Rock Festival and I was there the first year it was formed with a demo of Sabaton. I messaged one of the organizers and I said, “One day I will headline the main stage!” and he said, “There’s no chance you will.” and since that seventeen years when a lot of people said, “You can’t do this or you can’t do that” and when it turned fifteen we were the biggest main headliner at the festival in Sweden! So I kind of reached the most, for me, the most impressive show I’ve done and emotionally the one I wanted to do most. It’s not the biggest crowd wise. We’ve played for a half a million people, but the Swedish Rock Festival was the most emotional. But I would say that I have a lot more to accomplish in the future and our plan is to work hard so we can maintain this great life we have forever!

Sabaton’s Open Air is August 16th to 19th in Falun, Sweden which will be one amazing event. Until then they will be performing at many different festivals and events; details www.sabaton.net/tour. Plus their latest release “The Last Stand” Is out NOW be sure to grab a copy today.

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One response to “A Last Stand History Lesson: An Interview with Pär Sundström

  1. Pingback: Week in Review Highlights July 16th-22nd,2007 | Vandala Magazine·

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