SABATON bassist Pär Sundström recently spoke with Australia's Heavy magazine. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the group's forthcoming World War I-inspired album, "The Great War":
Pär: "We just passed the century anniversary of Armistice Day, so the past four years, there has been a lot of talks about what was going on during World War I — a lot of celebrations, a lot of different books being published. There was [sic] all these topics constantly in the air. Every day, we are being bombarded by fans from all around the world with different topics and ideas that fans want us to sing about, and the past years, World War I has been very dominant in those kind of e-mails. We thought, 'Okay, there ain't going to be a better chance and shot in timing — at least, not in our lifetime — to do this concept album.'"
On how the band proceeds after choosing a topic to write about:
Pär: "We decide upon that with the knowledge that we have in our mind already about this four years in history. What we do then is start writing the musical parts. Meanwhile, I try to gather a lot of those ideas that are being sent into our inbox, and some of them that I stumble across here and there, and make kind of a shortcut library with topics that we could potentially cover on this album. A few months later, we sit together and look at what kind of musical pieces we've got — the demos that we have and what kind of mood does each and every song give us. Let's say we have a fast and aggressive song — then we look for a fast and aggressive topic, and so on. Somewhere around there, we will be able to pair the different topics with the different demos. There will be a few topics that we really want to write about but we have no music that fits to them, and vice versa. Then we have to go back and do a little bit of research. The research for this album was not that difficult, because there was so many things going on in the air with these anniversaries and things coming up, but also the recent cooperation thanks to the SABATON History Channel with Indiana [Neidell], who is a historian and expert [about] World War I."
On writing lyrics:
Pär: "Since the music is written before the actual lyrics, it's not completely planned what will turn out. If we have a really depressing and sad song, then a bit we get into that mood when writing it, because we will be researching about a sad story. The most commonly known SABATON song of all time must have been 'The Final Solution'. It was not a really amazing song to write, because it takes you to a very dark and horrible place. Meanwhile, 'The Red Baron' is a very uplifting and cheerful song, so it's way easier to write."
On the new album's so-called "history edition" variant, which includes narration:
Pär: "Our  album 'The Art Of War', there's a lot of people who really loved when there was a voice telling a little bit of information about each song. That's kind of where the idea came from. It's a bit of a tribute to fans of old SABATON, but it's also the way we thought about the album to be. It gives the listener the option. A lot of people today, they just have their favorite playlist, and they will take their favorite songs from our new album and put one or two or three inside of it. Then the standard edition works great, because you obviously don't want to be interrupted... But if you are really a fan of albums and you like to put on an album and disappear for a little while from time and space, then the history edition is way more interesting for you. It's the one we promote for anyone who really wants to experience the album at its best."
On how the band chose to commemorate its 20th anniversary:
Pär: "A lot of people were like, 'Oh, what are you going to do — are you going to tour with only old songs?' A lot of people were requesting that. A lot of people said, 'You should do a reissue of your old albums.' That was not really our idea. Our idea was to focus more on the future of the band, and also [to say] 'Thank you for 20 amazing years. We want to give something back to the fans.' We thought about what can we give. A lot of people request different topics — 'Sing about this,' 'Please sing about that' — so we decided to take the most famous, most known topic that people wanted us to sing about, which was 'Bismarck', and we recorded it. We didn't decide to put it on an album and say, 'Hey, buy it from us,' but instead, we just put it out there."
SABATON's ninth album, "The Great War", will be released on July 19 via Nuclear Blast Records.