Written by Jessica Santiago Lopez at 2015-03-01 16:32:33
Interviews :: Interview with Sabaton
Sabaton released their latest record 'Heroes' about 10 months ago. They have their tourschedule and sold-out shows as proof that it's going great with the guys. Sabaton is ending their European 'Heroes on Tour' tonight in The Melkweg in Amsterdam. Before these Swedish guys go on conquering the rest of the world, I sat down for a chat with the enthousiastic guitarist Chris Rörland.
Interview by Laura Velthuis
Q: Obviously the Swedish version of ‘Carolus Rex’ was a big success. During shows you let the audience choose between the English or Swedish version of a song. Most of the times the audience chooses the Swedish version over the English…
Chris: Yeah it’s super weird! I hate my own language, especially when you sing in Swedish. But actually they got away with it since I joined the band after the ‘Carolus Rex’ album. When they told me it was a Swedish album I was like “nooo nooo, why?”. The first time I heard it I was overwhelmed and it sounded pretty good. I think it’s the first album in Swedish that I like.
Q: And do you prefer the English of Swedish version yourself?
Chris: It depends on which song, but nowadays I mostly prefer the Swedish version.
Q: Sometimes the audience chooses the Swedish version of a song, the other night the English one. Isn’t it hard to switch all the time?
Chris: Yeah it is. It happens a lot of times that I start to sing in Swedish when it supposed to be English and vice versa. Especially during “Gott Mit Uns”, when Joakim forgets to say which version we are going to play. I’m the one that has to start singing and then I’m like fuck which one is it?! Sometimes it is even more confusing when Joakim starts to sing in English en then swaps to Swedish.
Q: ‘Carolus Rex’ is an album about the history of the Swedish empire, so using the Swedish language suits it really well. Are you planning to do more in your own language?
Chris: It would be weird to sing about the Polish or German history in Swedish. Maybe if we find something about the Swedish history we might consider doing it again.
Q: Your bass player Par recently spoke to the Croatian press. The interviewer stated something about the venue security having baseball bats in order to keep the band safe from an insane crowd.
Chris: What?! Where? On the last tour, or this one?
Q: I’m not sure, probably the previous tour or even before.
Chris: I don’t know, I can’t remember that. Usually our shows are fun with an easy crowd. Sometimes I see a crowd surfer coming up and then a security kicking his ass, to prevent him from doing it again. I mean that’s insane; people are there to have fun. I don’t like that. The security is there for a reason, to make sure that everyone is okay.
Q: That brings me to the next question. In 2012 Sabaton played in de Melkweg. During Eluveitie someone in the audience was doing the Nazi salute. A couple of minutes after that the security removed him from the venue. Since you’re singing about historic wars, some people might misunderstand the lyrics and like Sabaton for the wrong reason. Ever since that happened I’m wondering whether its venue- or Sabaton policy to remove people like that from the venue?
Chris: It is our policy; we don’t like that at all. We don’t take any political or religious stands, we just sing about what happened during the war. We’ve got a lot of shit happening because of the lyrical themes. People thinking we’re Nazis, and then I always wonder if people read the lyrics. Because we have an album cover with an American soldier hitting a Nazi in the face makes us Nazis?! We try to ignore that bullshit, but when we see someone doing a Nazi salute in the audience we obviously try to get that person out of the venue.
Q: Recently a video appeared on the internet in where a Polish interviewer calls Joakim and Par Nazis. Obviously this interview was set up and Joakim and Par acted along. But do you still need to defend yourselves a lot nowadays?
Chris: Yes sometimes. Especially when we released ‘Carolus Rex’ in Sweden. We can’t even wave our flag in public. In Sweden it is a very difficult situation and we can’t have the Swedish flag on our house anymore. For example when we play in Sweden we could not wave our flag because people are thinking we are a bunch of Nazis. It’s super weird.
Q: On the latest record you sing about heroes in war. Obviously your hero might not be another ones hero. Have you got any critics back on some of the lyrics?
No actually not. For example the song “No Bullets Fly”: A German soldier had a mission to shoot out a plane but he saw that it was already been hit. So he decided to actually escort the plane out of the danger zone. For a German soldier to do such thing is heroic. Or the song about Inmate 4859: A Polish guy willing to go to Auschwitz to gather information and escaped from the concentration camp. I’m seriously wondering why Hollywood never made a movie about some of these stories.
But yes there are two sides of the story. These things happened such a long time ago and there is plenty of information about these stories. If we feel that there isn’t enough information about a subject, we don’t use it for our songs. We don’t want to send out the wrong message. We double-check everything!
We have never got any negative critics about the songs on ‘Heroes’. Another example is “Smoking Snakes”, which is about Brazilian soldiers who fought in the Second World War. We went to South America on tour and one of the guys actually came to the show. We had the opportunity to meet this old soldier who could not see anymore. But he had super nice humour!
The guy went to Hannes, our drum player, tapped him on the shoulder and said to him: ‘’you would not survive in war, you would get shot immediately because you’re so tall’’. He actually stayed during the whole show and obviously we dedicated the song to him. It was really nice to meet this guy!
Q: Have you had the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank museum here in Amsterdam?
Chris: I actually wanted to go this morning, and take a look. Unfortunately I overslept so I had no time left.
Q: You sing about heroes, but for some people you are heroes…
Chris: Haha yeah that’s strange. I joined the band when they were already at a high level. They were a band for such a long time already. When I joined the band I was expecting more evil feedback, but pretty much everyone welcomed me with open arms. In general the Sabaton fans and audience are super open minded. I love that!
Q: I even saw a photo of a woman with Joakim’s face tattooed on her leg. It seems like more people are getting a Sabaton tattoo, what do you think of that?
Chris: Haha, wow really? I think its super awesome. I don’t have tattoos or piercings myself. I have thought about it but I never came up with something that I wanted to get tattooed. But yeah it’s really cool to see people with Sabaton tattoos!
Q: How is your ‘hair’ fanpage doing?
Chris: I don’t know, I haven’t checked it for a while, but I think it’s going well, haha! It was in the beginning when Thobbe and me joined the band, a girl from Poland made a hair fanpage because she liked my hair. Since then it became pretty popular. I don’t really get why, but it’s funny.
Q: On the last couple of shows you invited kids on stage and let them play the guitar, or let them hit the stings on your guitar.
Chris: It’s so nice to see young kids in the audience joining the show. If someone would invite me to join the stage when I was young… wow… I think I would remember it for life. So it’s really cool to have those youngsters on stage.
Q: You seem to be a spontaneous band, but some elements come back many times. Some jokes and even some moves seem to come back frequently. Do you plan on what move you’re going to make beforehand?
Chris: We just go with it. Sometimes we figure out some things, like when swing our guitars during “To Hell and Back”, but it started spontaneously. It would be silly to have special moves or choreography during the whole show. Obviously the guitar battle is something we made up, but furthermore we just go with the flow. Everything we do on stage, including the jokes, is honest. I still get goose bumps pretty much every show.
Some people find the contrast between our lyrics and the live shows pretty big. Obviously they’re right because we sing about serious subjects, but it would boring if you’d visit a concert where everyone is serious and stands still. When we get on stage we give 110%, we are energetic and we love what we’re doing. We smile a lot on stage and we want people to go home with the same feeling. If I could choose between a show in where everything is totally correct or running around having fun and giving the audience a good feeling. I’d choose the last one.
Q: I tried to avoid the subject of old line-up and new line-up. However I assume that those guys left because they had different priorities in life (woman and children), what if your priorities change?
Chris: I have a girlfriend, but I’m not planning to get married or having kids soon. I have been honest to my girlfriend about my plans with Sabaton and that there’s nothing that would stop me from doing that. What if? It worked in the eighties haha. If I get kids in the future, there is going to be a mom back home taking care of the kids and I will go back as soon as I can. My father was away when I was a kid. He worked a lot and was away a lot, but he always came back and I was super happy for that.
Everybody in the band has the same opinion about our future goals. That’s why it works out so well. But there is no weird tension between the former band members and us. The band Civil War will play on our festival in Germany, which is called Noch Ein Bier fest. We hope that they play at Sabaton Open Air as well.
It was so funny when we played at Graspop Metal Meeting 2014 because we were both there. Civil War was sitting in the catering area and we walked in a little nervous because we didn’t knew what was going to happen. They were very nice and shouted ‘helloooo’ to us and welcomed us like we were old friend.
Q: What happened at Dreamhack?
Q: There is a full concert video on YouTube where you can see something hanging out of Thobbe his pants…
*Chris started laughing so hard that he lost his voice for a couple of seconds*.
Chris: Haha, yeah that’s a funny story! Obviously after a couple of 100 shows the stage clothing will break at some point. Thobbe is never using his underwear, so we tried to warn him. What happens if your pants break? But he didn’t care. And of course it happened during a live stream and it got straight to YouTube. When I noticed his dick was hanging out, I laughed so hard.
Q: During Sabaton shows there is always something happening in the crowd. In Germany everyone starts to shout Noch Ein Bier, people start to sing songs like Bier en Tieten (beer and tits) or like the last time in Holland; Broek uit op je hoofd (pants of on your head); what do you expect to happen tonight?
Chris: Because of the rumours I’ve heard, I’m actually scared of what will happen tonight. I’m afraid of what the Finish guys will to tonight. We always pull pranks at the last show of the tour, so you will see what happens tonight!