Sabaton recently kicked off their North American tour earlier this month, which has been one of the most anticipated tours of the year for American metal fans. The heavy metal icons are proof that not only is metal thriving in America, it’s in high demand. The band has finally made their return to American soil after a long hiatus due to the ongoing pandemic.
Last year, we did see them make a return, but unfortunately that tour was cut short, and the remaining dates were cancelled. I caught up with Pär to talk about how the shows had been going thus far, and what fans can expect to see. you can also check out a list of the remaining dates below.
Welcome back to America, how’s it been for you guys so far?
Thank you, we’ve been here a few days now and I think the jet lag alteration is now adjusting a little bit. So that’s great news, because we no longer feel exhausted at 6:00 o’clock in the evening but we’re now excited all the way up until showtime. So, the first few shows that we’ve done so far have all been fantastic. Everyone in the band is happy, and we don’t have much to complain about.
It sort of feels like a revenge tour because the last time we were here, we were playing with Judas Priest and that tour did not end well. Everyone had to go home, and we all felt really sad. Because that was the first real tour that we had in two years and it ended so quickly. So now we’re like, yes! Finally, we’re back.
You guys just wrapped up at extensive tour of Sweden, and now that the summer festival season has come to a close, and of course you’re back in the states, would you say things are starting to feel normal again?
Yes. It’s interesting how fast you forget that we had a long break where we didn’t tour. Now it feels like we never had a break. We’ve always toured a lot, but looking at it from another perspective here we are touring more than we did a few years ago. But it’s just that many tours get cramped into a small place, and we postpone so many tours, but it does feel like we are where we’re supposed to be.
Another band that we love has come along with you, Epica. I know they’ve played Sabaton Open Air a few times, but how did you connect with them for this tour?
Yeah, they did play Open Air a few years ago, and we’ve met them plenty of times through various shows all over the world. Though we never really toured together, and now it’s like yeah, touring resumes a lot of bands are wanting to go out there, and there were a lot of options. And it felt like Epica was a great match. And they were excited about the idea, and it wasn’t really any more complicated than that. We also had a chance to play with them in the summer, so there was also a connection before that or here in the US. They came to play with us in Athens, and there was also a show in Portugal.
Speaking of Sabaton Open Air, it just seems to be getting bigger and bigger every year. You guys showcase a lot of amazing and established acts, but something you’ve also been known for is bringing on newer bands. Can you tell us how this year’s festival went down?
It was really special this year for many reasons. Obviously because of having it postponed for so long, and the fact that we couldn’t do it. It also went really well, interesting enough even though we were lacking a lot of international acts that couldn’t travel. Normally the ticket sales to 40 different countries and people from all over the world come to see us, but even though we had fewer international travelers, we had more local travelers. Which was unique for this year, and it all went down extremely well.
Though we were suffering enormously to build it due to the lack of crew. Basically, all the summer festivals were lacking. We were lacking volunteers and we were lacking builders, which made it extremely exhausting during the festival this year. But we pulled it off, and it was successful and, in many ways, it was the best festival that we’ve ever done.
We had a lot of awesome bands this year such as Myrath. I remember I saw them at a show in Germany, and afterwards I was like wow, so I asked them if they would like to come and play in our hometown, and they were like yeah, we’d love to. Even though we had to wait two years to see them.
How great it must be to be able to invite some of the bands you enjoy to your festival.
It’s definitely been a perk!
Rock and metal are having a slow reemergence in America, and Sabaton are often cited as one of the bands that could come over here, and play sold out shows, and have a successful run here. Do you guys find that encouraging, that you’re sort of the modern polling point on how to tour in America, and all the hard work it takes to get to that point?
If we were listening to other people we wouldn’t be here. Originally, we were told to forget about America and just focus on Europe because your type of metal is not going to work with American audiences. Which I called that pretty quickly, that it was bullshit. So, we just ignore those people. I guess we went on a road in which people were surprised and it was unexpected with our choice to play here. We did a lot of support tours, a lot of them. We pretty much did, I think, 9 in total in the US.
And people would just say Sabaton are a permanent support band, you will never headline any shows. But we were just slowly building an audience, and it was all perfectly part of the plan, even though we had people believing that it wasn’t going to work, and then they were like oh, I guess it did work.
I just found it very hard to believe that when more than a decade ago, people said forget about America, they’re not going to like your metal, to which I said, of course they will. It’s not like they entirely follow one genre.
We love all metal!
Exactly. I knew it was going to be more difficult because it’s further away from home and it takes more effort to come here so we just had to work a little bit harder, but step by step we were getting there. We’ve already played some arenas, and sold out shows and it’s going great.
The new material has been playing really well overseas. With lots of audience participation, from the handclaps for Soldier of Heaven, to the sing along on Christmas Truce, and Dreadnought seems to becoming a crowd favorite. It almost seems like these songs were meant to be played live. How does it feel getting back out there and playing this new material?
Oh yes definitely, some songs are written with the idea that they should be fun to play live. And we’ve just been super excited to come out and play them. I’m just so thankful, and happy, and proud that whenever we do new albums and release new music, it sticks with the fans. Whenever we go out on the road, there’s not some huge demand to play the songs from older albums. When fans come to a Sabaton concert, they want to hear new songs.
And that’s very encouraging for us because it shows us that we still haven’t done our Magnum Opus album. And it lets us know that we still got it, and we’re not going to be forced to go back and play a best of set list for quite some time.
And that’s something that’s really great. As I mentioned earlier, metal is growing exponentially here in America, and you also have this new generation along to hear these songs. My daughter for example, she’s eight and I take her to rock shows, and it not an age specific genre.
It’s definitely not an age specific genre. We see bands on their 50th anniversary tour and are doing fine transcending into new generations. And every night we’re playing shows, we see that age group that you just described. Eight, nine, ten years old. We see a lot of them in the audience, we see how excited they are to go to their first metal show, and certainly not their last.
That makes me happy. And I’m not really worried about the rock dying out. We do know that there’s going to be a lot of bands retiring in the next decade, but we do know that there’s shitloads of good bands out there who are still actively touring, actively releasing new music, and now having an easier time to communicate to a brand-new audience. So, it’s definitely going good for rock music, and I’m not worried at all.
With the new album, you’ve also released a symphonic version, and in history edition, as you did with your previous release. This is something that fans seemed to really enjoy. Let’s say you have an anniversary coming up of one of your older albums, have you ever considered going back and doing either a symphonic or history additional previous material?
Yeah, we potentially could do something like that. We’re just so active at the moment, and when it comes to Sabaton you never have to wait long to get new music. I’ll tell you that, without revealing too much, you can start counting down the days! We have so much new stuff to focus on. And it’s been suggested before that we do stuff with the older albums, but we just have so much new stuff.
We do pay close attention to the past catalog of Sabaton as well, in terms of storytelling and getting new videos to them. And maybe getting new touring items creating the Sabaton history episodes, going back and forth. We do a lot of stuff with the previous songs, but we like to put our main focus into the new stuff. That’s the most exciting thing for us.
Speaking of merch, you guys are known for coming up with cool ideas in making really unique items. Such as the tabletop game, and soon a full-length film. Could you tell us a little bit more about that?
The news about that just came out, and it’s been hard knowing and keeping our mouth shut about it. Though I’m not going to speak too much about the movie at the moment, as there will be time for that. But it is coming out in 2023 and we’ve been working on it for quite some time, and I think people are going to be quite surprised when they see it. But for now, we do have some other things to focus on until we beat on the big drum and reveal more details about the movie.
There were a lot of areas that missed out on the Great War tour. A lot of the material from that album still feels fresh for them, and do you feel like you have a chance to make up those missed shows? Places like Japan and Latin America?
Yeah. We felt bad for the fans that they were unable to see The Great Tour shows. We’re working to see what we can still do; Japan is still basically not open for shows yet Latin America seems to work very well at the moment, we’re excited to find the right timing and the right spot and the right tour to get down there. But The Tour to end all Tours will definitely reach all the way around the world this time.
I know a lot of you guys grew up with Detroit rock city, and Kiss, and soon you’ll be making your return to Detroit, where I’ll be! When touring in America, you guys will often check out some historical locations and such. Do you plan on making any other stops while you’re here or doing some sightseeing?
We will soon be making our way to Detroit, and we’ve been there a few times now. I took my time to check out some places in Detroit and I saw a few famous historical places. I find that that city is super interesting and I do have a lot of good friends there. From the first time we played a small club, we already had some fans that were super dedicated and kind of kidnapped us in the early mornings and showed us around. And we became friends and every time I go to America, I know I’m in good company and get to go out and see something new.
The last stand recently hit over 100 million plays on Spotify which is a massive milestone. Congratulations on that, and how does it feel having another song that hit that many plays?
It’s great and its proof that songs we did a few years ago are still doing well. It’s always fun to see the numbers continue to grow. The 100 million is super cool. But I think the coolest part is knowing how many people listen to that song on a daily basis, which is more exciting than the big number. I know there are some bands who received the 100 million very quickly, and then the song doesn’t grow that much anymore. Because either it was a one hit wonder, or they had a huge media hype surrounding it. We know that this song grows steadily without any kind of external help. It’s just because fans like it, and that’s why they’re listening to it.
For example, The Last Stand came out and never had any media attention, it’s just a song that people like. And for me, that’s the interesting thing.
That’s awesome. Well thanks again for speaking with me, and we can’t wait to catch a show. Is there anything else you would like to say to the fans or anything else you’d like to add about the tour?
We just finished our first set of shows and they were great, and were excited and were so happy to see everyone come out and we’re looking forward to seeing everybody out there.
The Tour To End All Tours – Remaining U.S. Dates –
South Side Ballroom
Bayou Music Center
Silver Spring, MD
The Andrew J Brady Music Center
Grand Rapids, MI
GLC Live at 20 Monroe
MGM Music Hall at Fenway
New York, NY