Pain interview (Peter Tägtgren)
Interview by Davide Sciaky
Puoi leggere l’intervista in italiano qui.
Welcome to TrueMetal. How are you doing and how is the tour going?
It’s going great. I heard today might be very slow, but you got to go to all the countries. And maybe they wake up and we´ll be back again, of course. This is more a warm up for saying Pain is back. Then the new album will come and all that shit.
Yeah, I´m gonna ask you about that in a second. But first of all, you just released a new single, Revolution. And I know you wrote it with Sebastian. I know you already worked with some songs with him, I think in the past for Hypocrisy. But I read that he did all the music, you did all the lyrics. I was wondering if this is the first time you worked like this leaving all the music to him.
Well, actually me and Sebastian did one song together, Soldier of Fortune, in 2013 with Hypocrisy. So, he did like half of the song, I did half of the song and then I did the lyrics, of course. And with Lindemann, Mathematik, he wrote that song. And Dead World, he did with Hypocrisy on the new album. And so he has two songs on the new album as well with Pain, Revolution and another called Don´t Wake the Dead. Yeah, it’s going well. I just have to kick his ass. I know he has a lot of talent, but yeah, try to motivate your kids.
Right, so I know that the lyrics are about false information, social media, the news. Is this a topic that you feel particularly close?
I think we all feel it very close. It’s something that happens all the time, they say one thing and they do another thing. You´ve seen it everywhere in the world. I´m glad for social media, because you can find a lot of truth in there, but you can also find a lot of false stuff. But the positive side is that you can see things are not correct as what people say, for example. And you can do your own research and just use your common sense. I´m not telling people to do a revolution, I´m just saying like, you know, keep your eyes open and wake up.
And especially with the internet today, everything you say can be twisted.
Yeah, for sure.
It can be made into a huge headline when you say something.
I wonder if you ever felt like you had to be careful of what you said in interviews or in anything you say.
Yeah. You never know what’s going to happen. Sometimes they twist things and then they put it as a headline, you know. And you´re like, I didn’t say that! You know, it happens all the time. But people have common sense, I think they believe what they believe.
So you never felt like you had to be careful?
I don’t give a shit what people think. I think over 30 years people know I´m a pretty honest person, I don´t give a fuck what people think. I do it my way, that’s how it is.
We mentioned a new song, you released Party in My Head, a couple of years ago. So, a new album, you already mentioned it, can you tell me a bit more about when it’s gonna be released?
Yeah, I think in mid of January we´re gonna start releasing singles, like every four weeks. Three more and then the album should be out. Somewhere in March I believe it will be out. But before that there will be three more songs out.
As we said, Sebastian has been playing with you for some time, since 2016, I think. And also in Lindemann. I was wondering, how is it to include him in your touring life? Have you ever felt like you had to behave differently than before, because your son would be with you?
Yeah, in the beginning, I mean on the first tours, but I just saw he just went the same way I did when I started touring [laughs]. So, yeah, to hell with that. I mean, he’s his own person, when he´s 18 he can do what he wants. But, of course, I pull the brakes if there´s something really bad. It never really happens.
Of course now your main bands are Pain and Hypocrisy and you did a lot of touring with both over the years. How do you decide how to allocate time, both in the studio and live, between one band and the other?
That is the problem. It was even worse when we had three bands touring, you know. It was insane. I mean, what happens is, you know, these things to set up tours and things around it take so much energy. So, I can’t think about music, that’s why it takes so long in between albums. Because, yeah, not only to write music and stand on stage, I have to be involved in everything. I guess that’s by choice, I believe. But I hope now, when we have only two bands, that it’s gonna go a little bit faster in between albums. I really hope so.
And, yeah, we mentioned Lindemann. You left the band three years ago, I think.
Was it over creative differences, personal differences or was time also an issue?
It was so many things I can’t even start. Put it that way.
Beside your work as a playing musician, of course, you´re well known as a producer. You have your own studio.
And you started that in 1995, so quite very early in your career. Can you tell me a bit how that started? Like, why did you decide to have a studio back then?
Well, actually, it started in ‘92. My friend had a studio when I got back from America. I lived there for a while. And he had a studio. And I started to renting it for recording my ideas I had from America when I came back. And then he asked me if I wanted to record demo bands and I started doing that. And then, of course, we did Hypocrisy’s first album in that studio and then we did the second one. And then he said, okay, I´m gonna close it down. Do you wanna buy the studio? And I said, yeah. And that was at the same time as we did Fourth Dimension. So, we went to Stockholm to do that. And that turned into a disaster. So, I just wanted to… In the beginning, I think, just to get a clearer sound than what normal Death Metal production was those days. You know, you could hardly ever hear the bass, for example, and things. It was just guitars, drums and vocals, kind of. So, I just wanted to give it some more balls. And then, I guess, people contacted me, hey, can you produce our album and record it? And then it just kept on going like that. By hearing people hear an album they like the sound, so they contact you. But nowadays, I don’t have time. Once in a while I do one here and one there. It has to be interesting.
Have you had a formal education in producing or was it just trial and error?
I was just turning the knobs and seeing what was happening. I was like, oh, that sounds good. I had no clue what I was doing. I was just following my ears.
Even though you are focused on producing, I’d say it’s probably more on the extreme bands. You also produce some bands in different genres. The extreme metal scene is probably very conservative in a way.
It’s hard to go in and change things there.
But I think also in the approach towards other bands, have you ever felt unsure whether to produce a band or not because it could tarnish your reputation, so to say?
Oh, no, no. I record anything except bands with weird political views. But other than that, I don’t care if it’s disco, pop, rock, whatever. Everything I do, I did in the past, not dance music, but more like folk, for elderly people and things like that. And you learn so much by doing different kinds of stuff. So, if you want to grow as a mixer or a producer, I think you should touch on all kinds of different things. Anything from blues to pop to extreme metal. Because it helps you by doing all these things.
Is it something that you still do to this day? Listening to different things to have ideas on how to produce better?
I listen to a lot of different things and try to get some ideas. Especially for Pain, because it’s such an open book. I can do anything with Pain. It doesn’t really matter what it is. So, for me it’s kind of important to feel a little bit updated. But also I like to put my foot in 80s and 90s synth stuff together with brutal guitars and stuff.
With all those different bands you played in and produced, have you ever felt like music had become a job? Or have you managed to keep it mostly a passion?
It’s always been a huge passion. I don’t know if anyone with the right mind goes out on tour a lot. It depends on the circumstances, of course. I live, I breathe music. That’s the only thing I know. So, that is still my passion. But I try to take long breaks in between things to get hungry again.
This is something I was wondering about. If it’s a thought that you have, like, ok, I’ve done enough touring now. Maybe you switch to something else just because you need to take a break.
Yeah, but I like this balance between touring and then… Because backstage people playing different music, things you never heard before. You hear new stuff. So, you take that with you. And then next time you go into the studio it’s in here somewhere and it kind of influences you. So, I think it’s very important to have your ears open all the time. And when you go home you sit and screw around a little bit with recording and melodies and things like that. So, all of a sudden something weird comes up.
So, the next question is, to some extent it’s an impossible question. But with all those albums that you worked on, do you have a favourite one? Between the ones that you played on and between the ones that you produced.
I mean, in the 90s there were a lot of classic albums. That was super good. It’s like, choose your kids, which one is your favourite. I’m really happy that I got the opportunity to work with all these bands. Bands that I grew up with, looking up to when I was 15. Like Celtic Frost or Possessed. And Destruction and things like that. So, that was amazing. But also seeing small bands grow. Like anything from Amon Amarth coming and doing mini albums. To Dimmu Borgir. Yeah, all these bands. And you see how they grow. That makes you proud. To be a part of it.
You did the first EP by Amon Amarth, didn’t you?
Yeah, I did two full lengths also.
It’s crazy to see where they’ve gotten to now. I remember the first time I saw them it was like 15 years ago. And Johan was saying, “Scream! People are not going to understand your lyrics anyway!”. And the last time I saw them everyone was singing the lyrics. People know and sing the lyrics even though they are growl vocals.
They got really hardcore fans. Really good ones.
So, my final question is, is there a style of music that, even with all that you’ve played, you still haven’t had the chance to play. A different direction that you would like to explore in the future.
I would say never say never. I mean I’m open for everything. I really feel that I can do whatever I desire. It doesn’t matter what kind of music style. I mean on the new Pain album there will be some surprises.
Some blues stuff, maybe?
No blues but some weird stuff. But cool stuff I think.