DATE OF INTERVIEW:
16th February 2013
Assiduously hardworking producer/musician Peter Tägtgren has not only notched up a seriously impressive list of production credits over the past two decades (Children of Bodom; Dimmu Borgir; Amon Amarth; Sabaton; Destruction; Enslaved; Therion; Borknagar; Immortal; Enslaved et al) but the zealous Swede has also fronted death metal legends Hypocrisy for over twenty years, had relatively brief stints as vocalist for both Lock Up and Bloodbath, as well as exercising his industrial metal proclivities through longstanding side-project PAIN. An autonomous studio-based venture, Peter, along with a trio of talented session players, has also transformed PAIN into a formidable live beast, as anyone who has witnessed them in action will testify, and as evidenced on the 'We Come In Peace' DVD that was released towards the end of last year. Last in the UK November 2012 for a series of shows with Nightwish (their third stint in tow as the symphonic metallers support act in just four years), PAIN returned to these shores for a short run of dates four months on which would be the band's first ever headline gigs over here. Metal Discovery met up with Peter for a chat a few hours before the penultimate show in Derby...
METAL DISCOVERY: It makes a nice change to see PAIN over here without Nightwish!
PETER: Yeah! We’ve been their house band for a while now!
(Peter Tägtgren on squalid conditions backstage in Leeds)
"It looked like GG Allin’s home! I was very impressed how crazy it was, you know!"
Peter Tägtgren outside The Hairy Dog, Derby, UK, 16th February 2013
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2013 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
PAIN Official Website:
Thanks to Lisa Cope for arranging the interview
PAIN Official Facebook:
Nothing Remains the Same (2002)
Dancing with the Dead (2005)
Psalms of Extinction (2007)
Cynic Paradise (2008)
You Only Live Twice (2011)
MD: These are obviously your first UK headline shows so did you have any expectations before or did you come here open-minded?
PETER: Yeah, we were open-minded. I mean, we didn’t know what to expect at all but London was sold out, Leeds was sold out, yesterday was almost sold out and today looks like it’s gonna be sold out. It’s small venues but the point is that we have to see what we’re capable to do. So, hopefully, we can come back to bigger venues and bring all our shit with us as well; it’s big stuff, you know.
MD: Well, if you’re selling ‘em out then it’s a good sign.
PETER: Yeah, it’ll be a jump up next time.
MD: Do you find it easier to get in the zone at very intimate venues like these or is it much the same as playing the much bigger venues?
PETER: Ah, I think it’s pretty cool when it’s sweaty and warm and people are close to you and stuff like that. Festivals can be kind of lame because, first, it’s windy, you don’t sweat and the crowd is so far away. It’s really good; I like it like that… but, of course, I want a bigger stage so we can put all our shit up. Now we can’t even put a backdrop up. It’s only a drum kit and that’s it! [laughs]
MD: So would you say the Nightwish shows have helped raise PAIN’s profile in the UK based on any feedback you’ve had from this run of gigs?
PETER: Yeah, definitely, I think so because when I do a lot of interviews, then the people tell me, “we are here to see you because you played with Nightwish the previous time”… and that’s why they want to check you out again, so that’s really cool.
MD: So that’s got you a lot of new fans would you say?
PETER: Yeah, definitely.
MD: There’s a photo Michael [Bohlin] posted in his tour blog of the backstage area in Leeds and it looks like a movie set from ‘Saw’ or something like that…
PETER: Yeah! [laughs]
MD: Is that the worst dressing room you’ve ever had in your career?!
PETER: Probably, yeah! It looked like GG Allin’s home! I was very impressed how crazy it was, you know!
MD: GG Allin… there wasn’t some shit in the corner as well, was there?!
PETER: No. There was some piss after we left though!
MD: The ‘We Come In Peace’ DVD was released at the end of last year and the festival and club show footage both look really good but do you feel any extra pressure when you know a show’s being filmed?
PETER: Well, you kind of forget it when you get up on stage actually. I usually do that and totally forget about it and then, when you’re done, you’re like, “oh shit, we were filming”… or if you see some cameras or shit like that. If you think too much it’s gonna go to hell, you know.
MD: So when you watch the footage back yourself, do you watch it quite objectively or is it more subjective in terms of thinking if there’s anything you could’ve done better?
PETER: Yeah, it’s always like that… “oh shit, I look lame on stage, what the fuck am I doing?” Things like that, you know. I always do that, yeah.
MD: A lot of bands seem to bias their live sets towards new material for a new album but I gather you have no more than three songs from ‘You Only Live Twice’ in your shows. So do you always like to keep your sets balanced between all the PAIN albums?
PETER: Yeah. Also, when you’re out playing, you see which songs work and what doesn’t work. We go for that more, you know, what is working and what is not working and not from which album and blah, blah, blah. So it’s mainly good to see what the fans want and that’s how we pick it.
MD: So have you found you’ve been getting a lot of older fans at these shows from any feedback you’ve had after the gigs; people who’ve been with PAIN for a long time?
PETER: Yeah, there’s actually quite a few. I didn’t really know that… they’re crawling out from under the rocks! [laughs] They’re like, “yeah, I like that…” and blah, blah, blah. In the past it was so weird when I released the first album because people were going, “what the fuck, is he selling out?” But, nowadays, it’s really good and cool.
MD: Last time we spoke it was when you were doing press for the ‘You Only Live Twice’ album and you were talking about having a giant, inflatable Painhead character on stage, like your version of Maiden’s Eddie. Did that materialise at all? I know you said you’d already gone over budget.
PETER: No, it actually didn’t but with backdrops and TV screens and stuff like that, yeah, the budget just went.
MD: That’s something for the future then, maybe?
PETER: Yeah, definitely, because we were thinking about… we had some people who make dolls, like huge ones, and we were gonna bring with us but it was just like no room in the bus for that, plus how long it’s gonna take to make it and shit like that. So we decided, okay, let’s take it next time.
MD: You also said about how much you pressure yourself in the studio when working on your own stuff but looking back at the experience now of making ‘You Only Live Twice’, two years on, are those happy memories or do you still look back at what a pressurised time it was?
PETER: Yeah, it’s pressure and I’m glad it’s over kind of thing. I’m glad of the result so I guess that’s a good thing but it’s just when you’re doing it, it’s insane. That’s how it’s been, you know… for the last twenty years when you do an album so it’s just a thing you have to do I guess.
MD: Obviously your focus switches to Hypocrisy right after these shows because you have a new album coming out and European tour as well, so what can fans expect from Hypocrisy this time around?
PETER: I would say very traditional Hypocrisy, you know, classic. And, hopefully, really good songs. I’ve seen some feedback from the press and it looks really good.
MD: What kind of era of Hypocrisy are we talking about when you say classic Hypocrisy?
PETER: I don’t know… mid-nineties or something like that. More simplified riffs and more catchy I would say.
MD: Will you be sad to leave PAIN behind for now or are you itching to get back on the road with Hypocrisy?
PETER: Yeah. I mean, we worked hard on ‘You Only Live Twice’ so I think it’s time to slow down. Maybe we’ll try to fix some festivals this summer… a few, you know, especially in England if we can get anything. Then I’m gonna start concentrating on what I’m gonna do next with PAIN and start writing stuff. Hopefully when the Hypocrisy stuff is over I’ll have some material.
MD: Do you know if your booking agent’s been in touch with any of the UK festivals, like Bloodstock for example?
PETER: I hope they are because I told them I’d really like to push for the summer festivals here and come back again, then maybe come back one year later and step up venues.
MD: Would you do double shifts, like PAIN and Hypocrisy at the same festival?
PETER: Yeah. I mean, I’ve done it before. On a Friday you do one band, on a Saturday you do the other band. That’s no problem at all.
MD: What do you find the biggest challenge and strain on your voice – a Hypocrisy tour with all the death growls or a PAIN tour with more varied vocal styles?
PETER: I think PAIN kills the vocals more than Hypocrisy actually… in a weird way. I don’t know why but there’s more range as you’re probably gonna see tonight. I mean, it’s anything from death metal to clean vocals to really high-pitched screams and stuff. It goes like this all the time…
MD: Do you find Hypocrisy and PAIN generally share the same fanbase?
PETER: I’d say maybe thirty/forty per cent the same and then the rest are new, I think. A lot of women like PAIN.
MD: What with PAIN, Hypocrisy and all the production stuff you do, you seem to be one of the hardest working people in the industry so can you ever see yourself slowing down at all?
PETER: No! This is what I do. I enjoy it and life’s too short to sit down. If I take a break I’m fifty coming back again, you know! So I’ll just keep on going as long as it’s fun. That’s the most important thing, you know.
MD: There seem to be discussions all over the internet about people thinking you look like Johnny Depp… I presume you’ve seen these discussions?
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
MD: Do you see that yourself when you look in the mirror?
MD: What’s your reaction to those people?
PETER: Well, it could’ve been worse!
MD: You see it as a compliment though?
PETER: Yeah, of course!
MD: You’ll have to get Johnny Depp in a PAIN video in the future!
PETER: Oh, that’d be nice. I guess we’d have to sell a few more tickets first!
MD: On the subject of actors, Sir Christopher Lee is about to release his second metal album at the age of ninety; which actor or actress would you like to see transformed into an unlikely metal star?
PETER: Erm… I don’t know… probably Johnny Depp! I know he’s played a little bit.
MD: Okay, a final random question - if an alien actually came into your house, would you offer it a glass of milk and worry about the state of your garden, or would you run out the door screaming?
PETER: Oh, I don’t know… I’d probably drop my jaw… [laughs] I’d give him some milk, I guess… [laughs]
MD: True to the ‘Shut Your Mouth’ video then.
PETER: Yeah, exactly.
MD: Marvellous! Okay, thanks so much for your time.
PETER: Alright, thank you.