By Andrew Bansal
Swedish songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer extraordinaire Peter Tägtgren is heralded as an extreme metal legend based on the strength of his work in Hypocrisy, a band he formed in 1990. While Hypocrisy continued to crush skulls and stages (and still does so), Tätgren also started an industrial metal project called Pain in ’96, and released albums under that name as regularly as he could, to present a different facet of his musical creativity. Five years after the previous effort ‘You Only Live Twice’, the eighth Pain full-length album ‘Coming Home’ is slated for release on September 9th 2016 via Nuclear Blast. Metal Assault recently spoke to Peter Tägtgren to discuss all things Pain. Enjoy the chat below and get a taste of the new music.
Peter, it’s good to have you again on Metal Assault. There’s a new Pain album coming out this week, and it’s been a while since the last one, which was about five years ago. First of all, what have you been up to during this time?
Yeah, the last Pain album came out in 2011, and after that of course, I went out on tour and played over 100 shows, and then it got to the new Hypocrisy album and started touring on that, doing around 150 shows. Then I did the Lindemann album, and that took a year-and-a-half, plus half a year of just doing promotion for it. So, in the end, five years go fast. And I also had a lot of production work, as always.
Right, of course, you’re really busy with all kinds of stuff. But when did you actually start working on this particular album and how long did that take you?
September last year, actually. I first started it in 2013, doing a little bit during the summer, but then of course Till Lindemann invited me to do some shows, so I started doing that and I put away all my ideas for Pain, at that time. But last year in September I went back to those ideas and started writing again.
It seems like you enjoy putting out this electronic/industrial type of music. How would you compare the creative process to Hypocrisy or something like that? Would you say Pain is easier in that sense?
It’s two different ways of writing music, I think. With Hypocrisy it is mainly built on riffs and melodies. There is a smaller role of melodies in Pain. With Pain it’s a lot about groove and a lot about the various sounds that really get things going.
You’ve always proclaimed to be a bit of a perfectionist. You really pay attention to detail. Do you do that more with this project because it’s like, you’re more under the hammer, so to speak. Hypocrisy already has a fan-base, so you don’t have that much pressure on you.
Well, there’s always pressure, and of course I don’t want to release a Hypocrisy album that’s semi-good. I want to do it as best as I can at that moment of my life. I write music for myself. If I’m happy with it, then it doesn’t really matter what people think. Usually when I release an album, I’m pretty much done with it and I just convince myself that it’s the best I could do at that point.
In this album, there’s quite a bit of orchestral arrangement, and an acoustic guitar intro as well, for the song ‘A Wannabe’. How did you put that together? Was there a guest musician involved?
I actually found an acoustic guitar lying around in my colleague’s studio, then I just started fucking around with it. The song that you hear with the acoustic guitar actually came from just sitting with it. I never picked up a guitar in my whole life and started jamming a new tune out of it like that, specially an acoustic guitar. The one and only other time I had an acoustic guitar on an album that I played on was probably on ‘The Fourth Dimension’, the intro of that song, and that was about it. So this gave me a real refreshment to start creating music in a different way than I’ve done with Pain in the past.
You’re also very busy as a producer and you’ve always produced your own bands as well. That must be also a big factor in getting everything right in your mind, because I don’t know if I can imagine this kind of an album or even Hypocrisy stuff with a different producer.
Well, I’m sure it could be different with another producer and it would be up to people to say if it’s better or worse, but in the way that I write and record the music, it’s impossible to bring in another person. He or she would have to sit beside me for a year until I’m done writing the album, and then I’ll have to redo everything again with a producer who might want to change things here and there. So the situation as it is for me as a songwriter and producer when I write a Pain song, I can’t have someone with me because they’re going to flip out for not being able to do anything (laughs). I mean, basically the demos I do turn into the albums. So, it’s a tricky situation.
Right, that makes sense. In terms of the song titles and lyrics on this album, I think it’s something people can easily relate to. It’s easy and catchy in that sense. But are there any serious meanings, messages or stories behind the songs on this particular album?
There’s a lot of songs that people can relate to, like for instance ‘Natural Born Idiot’ is really about that one person everybody has a friendship with, that person you’re trying to avoid (laughs). Every time you see them, either in a store or bar or whatever, you try to avoid them. So the song is a little bit about that, the annoying person who talks to you about nothing and just wastes your time. The track ‘Designed To Piss You Off’ is really about me when I was a young kid. I was really a wildchild. ‘Call Me’ has a little bit humor there, and it’s about this gigolo that tries to get women to pay to have sex with him. ‘A Wannabe’ is about people talking about trying to do everything better, save the world, blah blah, but in the end when it comes down to it, they disappear. Big mouth and nothing behind it. So I mean, all the songs are really different. ‘Absinthe Phoenix Rising’ is about drinking absinthe till you rise (laughs).
Right, there are some catchy concepts there for sure. In terms of the musical style, it is industrial or electronic based stuff. I think this type of music is on a resurgence. There’s a lot of bands doing it, even American bands. I see them even opening for metal bands here. Have you noticed that at all with industrial music lately?
I have no clue, because I just write and produce it in a way I’d like to hear it. I really don’t look around to see what’s hot and what’s not, you know. I just follow my heart, and hopefully there’s someone who has the same taste as me (laughs).
Do you at least feel that you can tour with metal bands, and play in front of people that know you more for the Hypocrisy stuff?
Yeah, with Pain we can easily tour with a lot of different things, definitely. It’s kind of wide-ranged. We opened up for Nightwish for example and the crowd took it very well. Nightwish is not exactly the same kind of music as we do, but somehow we adapt to the audience. We opened up for In Flames a long time ago and we tried to adapt to that as well. It all depends, and we adapt to whatever we need, to try to gain more people.
Alright, so after the release of this album what plans do you have with Pain in particular?
We have this European tour for five weeks that’s going to happen, then we’ll go to Scandinavia for a little bit and to Russia, and then it’s Christmas. In January we have the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise, and from then on, we’ll do 12-15 gigs in America, headlining. So we have some touring coming up, for sure.
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