Courtesy of Sabaton
The career of Sabaton (members: Joakim Brodén – Vocals, Pär Sundström – Bass, Chris Rörland – Guitar, Tommy Johansson – Guitar, and Hannes Van Dahl – Drummer) is a glorious tale spanning 22 years and 10 studio albums. Audiences around the world are enamored by their commanding presence and exhilarating stage performances. Many fans consider them to be the centerpiece of the Big Four of Power Metal, but their music defies narrow categorization and offers appeal to the broader audience of heavy metal. The scale of their success and the longevity of their career validates this.
With their legacy firmly in place, the band is moving forward at light speed to continue their extraordinary career. On March 4th, 2022, Sabaton released their 10th studio album entitled, “The War to End All Wars”. It’s a 45-minute masterwork that continues the tradition of the band showcasing the important people, moments, and events of the wars that have shaped human history. Drawing mostly from World War I, the themes of the album cover the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the 369th Infantry Regiment of the United States of America (also known as the Harlem Hellfighters), and many more.
To Sabaton, war is a powerful force that has shaped the course of civilization and they have chosen to be the messengers of the triumphant events and human fortitude that have come from it. They bring history to life in a unique and exciting way.
In this interview, Joakim Brodén and Hannes Van Dahl join the Whiskey Network to talk about the new record and give us a glimpse into their shared love of whiskey. We are proud and excited to welcome them to the Whiskey Network Magazine family. Read on to find out more!
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Photo credit: Tim Tronckoe
Joakim is the lead singer in the band. His trademark mohawk, facial hair, sunglasses, and stage vest make him the unmistakable figurehead of the band. With his powerful baritone voice and dynamic stage presence, he is a fan favorite. Watching him on stage is almost a physical workout in and of itself. During our discussion, he is calm, cool, and direct.
Hannes is the drummer in the band. He is a colorful figure with flowing locks of hair and colorful tattoo sleeves on both arms. Given that he is usually behind a kit of drums, it’s great to see him in this setting. As the heartbeat of the band, his drumming is the thundering voice of war in their catalog of music. The way he carries himself, he seems like he would be well at home skating and surfing in the West Coast sunshine. Make no mistake, he’s a true Viking.
They are both excited to speak about whiskey. There is a tangible feeling that they both are more than just casual fans. In our discussion, we talk about favorites, experiences, and flavors.
Mark Pruett – Do you recall your first experiences with whiskey, especially where you felt like you wanted to explore it more?
Joakim Brodén – Do you remember, Hannes?
Hannes Van Dahl – No, I barely remember the last one. (All of us are laughing)
I would say my first positive experience was with my wife (musician Floor Jansen) while she was on tour, because she’s really into it and so is her band. Before that, I’d had a lot of whiskey, but it was usually to just chug it down and not for enjoyment. I recall it being an Islay whisky and it made me stop and take notice because I’d never experienced anything like that before.
JB – My first experience was probably some cheap stuff from my teenage years. Since then, I’ve been drawn to different types. However, after trying many different varieties I am drawn to Islay whisky as well. To me, Lagavulin has always been more interesting than the others. Of course, I branched out into Ardbeg, as well.
MP – Have you crossed over into Bourbon, Irish, or any other types of whiskey?
HVD – We toured with a band where one of the members went into bourbon and blended whiskey. He brought a lot of those on the bus and tried them all. I have not explored further, but I did enjoy quite a few.
JB – Actually, I’ve had quite a few bourbons. Currently, I am currently enjoying single malts from the Highlands and Speyside. I still like whisky from Islay, though. In the beginning, I was going for the smokiest/peatiest thing I could find. Then, I found that it often comes with a headache the day after. These days, I like to mix it up and find more balance.
MP – It is becoming more common for bands to release a whiskey. Will we ever see a Sabaton whiskey? It would be a perfect fit.
JB – Why not!? Though, it’s not our priority now. We are focused on getting out on tour to support the new record. Maybe after the tour.
HVD – We must be careful that we don’t drink it all before it gets released to the public. There would need to be restrictions in place to keep us at bay.
MP – Yes, you shouldn’t drink it all. If it comes to pass, please save some for the fans!
Our readers love to hear stories that involve whiskey. Given your time on the road, I’m sure that you might have a few to tell. Care to share one?
HVD – I would love to share the story of how I met my wife. While on tour, Joakim and I bought a bottle of Laphroaig Quarter Cask to share. I had not met her yet, but Floor was with one of the bands on the tour. She’s a classically trained opera singer and is amazing to watch.
One day, I was in our dressing room enjoying Laphroaig and listening to Pantera. She walked by our dressing room and quickly came back, asking me if I was listening to the “Vulgar Display of Power” album. It blew me away that she knew what it was.
Then, she asked what I was drinking. I showed her the bottle and she said that she had some on her bus. She invited me to have a cigar with her later. All I could think was, “WHO IS THIS WOMAN?!?!” She likes Islay whisky, Pantera, and cigars! Of course, I was intrigued and interested.
As they say, the rest is history and I’m very happy she is my wife.
JB – Continuing the story, we played in Spokane, WA on the same tour. A group of us, including Floor and Hannes, went to a whiskey bar in the area. There were cigars and whiskey. It was a great evening.
HVD – I had to let Joakim and Floor smoke the cigars, because I didn’t care for it at the time. I still don’t like it. At the same time, I had to be cool in front of her. I tried my best but just didn’t keep up with it.
Courtesy of Sabaton
Exploring “The War to End All Wars”
With the creation and release of “The War to End All Wars”, Sabaton weaves together powerful stories from war and adds their ferocious style of music. As the two come together, they create a powerful experience for their fans. The vocals are powerful and poetic. The guitars are soaring and intricate in their delivery. The bass pulses like a heartbeat. Finally, the drums thunder and shake the ground beneath you. All of this comes together to create a vivid and powerful theater of the mind. It’s nothing short of remarkable.
Joakim and Hannes are excited to talk about their process for the new record.
MP – Let’s talk about the new album. It’s an epic journey from start to finish. Your music has a very cinematic quality; my imagination is filled with strong visuals as you tell these stories. Was there anything different about the making of this record?
JB – When I was listening back to the “Great War” (the previous album), I had this feeling that the volume was a bit loud. My ears were a bit tired and shocked, and we wanted to rectify that. In addition, there is a total reworking of the guitar sound. We tried to make it a lot heavier and have less distortion.
As far as the process itself, this is one of the smoothest so far. Everyone has been asking how the pandemic changed our process, and the answer is: there was no change. It changed a lot of other things, but the way we go about making the record didn’t change at all.
MP – I would agree that there are some exciting changes to the sound of “The War to End All Wars”. I’m curious to know, how does the band go about choosing the events or persons to write songs about?
JB – It is a fluid process. When we begin the writing process there are many stories that we want to tell. In fact, some of them are likely carried over from the previous album. For example, “Christmas Truce” was something that we wanted to record for “The Great War” but we didn’t have the right music for it. There are always about 50 or 60 stories in play, but then we need to consider what we’ve already recorded and how it may relate to what has been previously released. We want the stories to be fresh and unique to our fans.
MP – How do you go about transforming these songs and their related stories into a stage show for the fans on tour?
HVD – That is one of the biggest challenges for us as a band. Perhaps I could also say it is an aspect of the process that is the most fun. It usually starts with the group thinking about set lists and then goes from there. It’s a different problem when you have too many songs to choose from, and then you must consider what you want to play versus what you have to play.
Additionally, we’ve been trying to level up our stage show. We want to bring the songs to life and make the performances more theatrical.
JB – We want to give the fans what they expect from our music, but also throw in something to surprise them. It’s important for us to build a proper stage show and roll it out for the tour. There is a complex effort in play to coordinate all the lasers, smoke machines, pyrotechnics, props, wardrobe changes, guitar tuning, or people in an effective way. If things are going well, then it runs smoothly. If we decide to make a change to the set list to get things flowing better, that has an impact on all those show mechanics.
MP – I was at your show in Los Angeles in late 2019 and you told a humorous story about getting the stage prop that looked like a tank from Sweden to America.
JB – When you are touring in another country, there is a lot of paperwork involved. We need to account for everything we are traveling with. On the first go around, we wrote the description of the item as “tank”, and that presented us with problems. We figured it was obvious that it wasn’t a real tank but that wasn’t the case.
These days, we label things as “stage prop in the shape of a tank” and “stage prop in the shape of artillery”. Consider that a lesson learned.
MP – For the “War to End All Wars” the tour of the United States starts on September 15th and continues through October 23rd. Have you decided on the set list?
JB – We will be playing many festivals over the Summer and fine tuning the show and set list. In addition, we will be touring Sweden in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Carolus Rex album. It’s about 100 years of history of the Swedish Empire. For those shows, the set list will be focused on that record.
For the US tour, we will have some special things in store for the fans. They can visit our website (www.sabaton.net) for all the details for tickets and other information.
MP – Just out of curiosity, what music do you personally listen to?
HVD – The new Udo song has been on my playlist. In the video, he is dancing around as a cleaning guy, and it’s the best thing I’ve seen in a long time. Other than that, with my wife being influenced by one type of music and me coming from another direction, there is always a great selection in our household. It can be more traditional like Judas Priest, Metallica, and Iron Maiden. There are times when I listen to death metal like Dark Funeral. Other times, you’ll hear Fleetwood Mac which is something we both enjoy. Basically, my philosophy is to listen to a good song no matter what genre it might be in.
JB – I go from A to B: Amon Amarth to Bach (laughs). My other favorites include Alan Moore, Van Halen, Accept, Rainbow, and then Johann Sebastian Bach. There is always a wide selection of different music playing for me on a daily basis.
Courtesy of Sabaton
The Mashbill: Whiskey Network Wants to Know Your Recipe
It is our tradition at the Whiskey Network to ask our guests the same final 5 questions, also known as the Mashbill.
MP – Question 1: What was the last whiskey, bourbon, or scotch in your glass?
HVD – The Caol Ila Distillers Edition. I happened to have my 4 favorite bottles here with me (shows the Caol Ila bottle on screen).
JB – The Highland Park Viking Scars. It isn’t my favorite Highland Park, but I enjoyed it.
Question 2: Do you prefer to drink your whiskey from a specific type of glass?
HVD – A glencairn.
JB – Yes, a glencairn.
MP – Question 3: Do you have a Unicorn bottle?
JB – I managed to get a sample of the Port Ellen 1979 and it was fantastic. I’d like to get my hands on some more of that!
HVD – For me, it would be The Dalmore Valour. In Sweden, you can’t get this in liquor stores, so I am always looking in the airports. It has not been on my shelf due to the pandemic. Now that my wife and I are both traveling again, I have more. It’s not rare, just tricky to get here.
MP – Question 4: I’m looking for a gift for a friend. My budget is around $50 to $75. What would you recommend I buy?
HVD – For me, I’d say Lagavulin 16. I’m not a professional like you, but I’ve never tasted a better bottle of whisky. It’s not very expensive in comparison to other things you could go after.
JB – I would agree. It’s easy to get just about anywhere for anyone who wants to buy a gift. It’s a great choice. Compared to some of the limited editions or harder to find bottles, this is a tremendous value.
MP – Question 5: What is your favorite toast?
JB – My toast does not translate to English very well. There are little songs in Sweden that you sing before you take a drink, and they are called snaps.
HVD – I will go with the traditional Viking toast, skoal (skål).
MP – Again, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. There are many fans of your music in our audience. I look forward to seeing you on tour in the US in September and October.
JB – Thank you!
HVD – Thank you!
We are proud and honored to welcome Joakim and Hannes to the Whiskey Network Magazine family. Be sure to check out “The War to End All Wars” on your favorite platforms to stream, acquire, and appreciate music. They are very active on social media and always post fresh content. Be sure to visit their web site (www.sabaton.net) for tour information, merchandise, and other content. Sabaton will be touring North America in September and October of 2022. Be sure to check if they will be visiting your city. It is a live experience you do not want to miss!
As they continue their whiskey journey and music endeavors, we will keep in touch and look forward to hearing more from them.