INTERVIEW: Peter Tägtgren – PAIN

In every moment and scene, there are key players. With a career spanning over two decades, Peter Tägtgren‘s influence on the metal scene is monstrous in size. Whether it’s through his death metal assault with HYPOCRISY or his extensive work as a producer, Peter Tägtgren is one of the scene’s biggest players. 2016 sees the return of his industrial metal project, PAIN. Five years have passed since his last record, and now Coming Home is nearly here. We caught up with Peter to talk about the new album, it’s influences, messages and style, alongside reflecting on the career of one of heavy music’s most decorated figures.

It’s been five years since your last record, You Only Live Twice, how has the band/project progressed in that time?

Peter: It feels like it is a new approach in the music, I mean five years is a long time in my world. I started to like things and dislike things and so on, things change really fast. Also I was busy when the PAIN album came out, I did like 150 shows and then when the HYPOCRISY record came out it was another 150 gigs and then suddenly it is 2016. Of course with the two years of promotion and making the record, time flies when you are having fun!

So I guess all your projects act as an influence?

Peter: Yeah, but with this album I was determined to not go back to anything I had done before. If I write a part and my brain goes “okay it should sound like this on the next part” then I scrap that right away because I don’t want to be predictable, not even to myself. Sometimes you fall into your comfort zone and you write in a certain way because it is easy but this time I was really trying not to take any shortcuts. I think it pays off in the end, it makes the album a little bit different and a bit more fresh. Plus, with all the orchestra parts and shit like that it adds another dimension to it!

When you have a project on the horizon, do you have a pre-existing idea of where you want to go with it or do you see where it takes you?

Peter: It’s a bit of both, if you have a favourite band or a favourite song and you go “oh I would like to write this kind of song” so you start thinking about it and then you start writing a little bit like that but you kind of lose track of it because you get influenced by what you started and you start to move in a different way. There are so many ways to get influenced by writing songs, sometimes for me it is rhythms in my head. I get a good grove in my head and then I just try to, either with a guitar or a keyboard, figure out a melody or riff. But it is so different from song to song in how it happens. Sometimes also, if you get a new keyboard that can influence you to write new music, to find new sounds and then you start fucking around with it and you come up with a part and then you build on that.

With it being five years since your last record, I can imagine the writing process was fairly long. Can you explain the writing and recording process?

Peter: Yeah, I mean I started in 2013 in August or September but then Till [Lindemann, RAMMSTEIN] invited me to a RAMMSTEIN concert and said “yeah I’m on a break for two years now, lets write some music together” so of course I dropped the PAIN stuff! We started getting on with the LINDEMANN stuff that was only supposed to be one or two songs but it ended up being an album. So yeah, time flies and you get distracted, and then September last year when I knew we weren’t going to do any gigs or festivals because RAMMSTEIN was coming around the bend so I picked up where I stopped when he called me. From there on, I wrote all the music until the beginning of April, from September to April. It takes a while!

What themes and concepts are present on the record?

Peter: Everything! A lot of humour, I guess I got that from the LINDEMANN project, to open up a little bit more and be more sarcastic. But also there is everyday shit, some songs are about this and that, it’s so hard to say but I think everybody can relate to it.

In terms of your influence for the themes, did these come from personal experiences or outside influences?

Peter: A lot of it is from personal experiences or personal thoughts, sometimes you can get inspired, like for Black Knight Satellite, it was something I Googled and came across and I thought it was fascinating so I really got into it and I had to write something about it. Different things for different days and different moods I guess.

You worked with Clemens [Wijers] from CARACH ANGREN for this record, what skills and components did he add to this record?

Peter: For the orchestra parts, he works with movies and stuff and he does scores for that so he is really good on bringing out the orchestra. So I sent him my files on the orchestra parts and he kind of picked it up to make it a bigger and more like how a orchestra should work.

How did you get involved with him?

Peter: I mixed their last album and I heard the orchestra arrangements that he did and I was like “WOW where did you go and record this?!” I thought he went to Prague or something, and he was like “no I did it myself in my house” and then I asked him if he wanted to do a couple of things and he sent it back and I thought it was just so much better! So that is how it started.

There is also a plethora of guests on the record, from your son Sebastian Tägtgren to Joakim Brodén of SABATON, what do these guests bring to the overall sound of the album?

Peter: I think Sebastian, my kid, the drumming just brings new blood, a new generation of playing and with Joakim, it was more like a payback as he made me sing in Swedish! It was comedic because he was there and I thought maybe I should get someone to guest and I thought why not, lets see what happens.

Do you find it weird bringing other people to your projects?

Peter: It depends, if you start writing a song with someone in mind then it is much easier but then it a little bit of cloning of what they are doing, in your brain you are going to go that way. If you bring in people after you are done with the thing, the only thing it is going to add if it’s a solo guitar you are going to hear it is this guy playing the solo or vocals, it doesn’t influence that much unless you start writing for that purpose.

What are your hopes and aspirations for Coming Home?

Peter: I quit hoping ten years ago! I work hard and see if it pays off!

The project is very much different to your main band, HYPOCRISY, what is your aim for PAIN?

Peter: My aims, I don’t know! Exploring music! It is just a big experiment, to find out how far I can go with different things, it is very hard to say. I have no master plan. Just pushing yourself, making it better and better over time.

I guess you can’t really do that with HYPOCRISY?

Peter: Yeah, you have to stick to the recipe of death metal.

Your career as a musician spans over 20 years now, what has been some of your stand out moments?

Peter: I think mainly you can still live off it after 20 years, to be able to record with all these fantastic bands, to follow them and see how they grow, that’s rewarding! To be able to get on stage and see fans go crazy to your songs too! There’s been so many good moments, when we did Dynamo and have 50,000 people screaming I couldn’t even talk in between the songs because they wouldn’t stop cheering! Going to Colombia and the whole place falls down because people are going fucking crazy! There’s always moments that you can remember!

What would be a stand out moment producer wise? A record you are really proud of?

Peter: The CELTIC FROST album I did was a milestone, the DIMMU BORGIR albums, AMON AMARTH, SABATON are doing really well. There are a lot of bands.

Throughout your career the metal scene has evolved considerably, do you think the metal scene today is healthy and in a good place?

Peter: Yeah! Of course, a lot of people are working their asses off to get out there, the competition is insane! So, they work really hard to do something. I only see my own things and the stuff I produce, overall I think it is good!

With Coming Home set for release in September, what can fans expect from the record?

Peter: A little bit different, but different can be good some times. I think there are cool surprises there in the album, it’s very wide, people just have to figure it out themselves! It is a wide album, it’s got something for everybody!

Finally, we will offer you the floor, do you have anything to say to the readers of Distorted Sound?

Peter: Just check out the album and check out the gigs we are doing in October, we hope to see you everywhere and I hope you enjoy the album!

Coming Home is set for release on September 9th via Nuclear Blast Records.

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