As you said in Stockholm, the title ‘Coming Home’ sounds as finding peace of mind after strenuous days and hard times. Is that right?
Yeah a little bit. Frustration of trying to be productive gets its toll. After a while, you run out of fuel and you need to go home to reload your batteries and empty your brain. My life has been a rollercoaster, almost for a year. First the Sabaton recordings and then Pain…
On the other hand one can still find a lot of longing and kind of rage in the lyrics. Like in ‘Starseed’ you sing about longing for the stars…
Yeah, but maybe that is home. It is just my thought about longing for getting off this planet somehow.
Yet I have the impression that this record has a more positive vibe than the ones before, or do I see that wrong?
No, not at all, I am really trying to keep it positive. Even though the songs might sound a little bit depressive, I still try to put some humour into the lyrics. A little bit sarcasm too, but not too much. You got to have both worlds I think: the black side of it and the white side of it. The album is a big rollercoaster of emotions.
We have a song about an incident in Leipzig on tour with Nightwish, called ‘Absinthe Phoenix Rising’. What happened exactly?
We were having a day off in Leipzig and we went to this absinthe bar and got really drunk. On our way home we were beaten up. It was more like we ran into a street gang or something like that. I haven’t got a clue, to be honest, because they were pulling me home, I wasn’t even kind of alive still, but a friend told me to write a song about absinthe. Actually, first I had my doubts. Then I got a vision for a song and started writing: it is really about a guy that gets a kick of being high on absinthe.
You sing about the green devil, but it is also known as the green fairy, isn’t it?
Yeah, that’s what I sing as well. I think some people can handle it and some people can’t. Of course, some people say you only have to drink one, six cl. to stay normal and other people are drinking a whole bottle and loose their control. Everything is very individual, it depends on what kind of person you are. Plus in absinthe you got that chemical that gives hallucinations. I don’t know, I just got drunk of it (laughs). I just read a lot of stories about it. It was the favourite stuff of writers and poets in Paris in the 1800’s, painters too. I guess it was their drug, instead of smoking grass or taking mushrooms.
’Finale Crusade’ sounds rather apocalyptic…
It is just my point of view about what’s going on in this world right now. In the whole world. In America for example, where cops are shot and people are beaten up by cops. It is just a madhouse. That’s why I am singing: “Are we the last generation now?” What the hell is going on? And I guess those higher staff on the pyramid; they just feed our misery, because that’s how they want us to be: feel like shit and anxious. Providing people with weapons and the working ants must be depressed. So they have full control. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that we don’t know. The news you hear on the radio here or see on TV is not the complete story; it is not what you think it is.
Thus they give us food for thought, but the wrong food for thought. But let’s go to the countryside now, because I was told you have a new Abyss studio. Did you move?
No, we rebuild everything. It is the same place, but I put a lot of money in my studio now, with top notch quality equipment. It is the same place, I need to be on my countryside. When I go on tour I see enough big cities and I like that, but when I am home I want nature around me.
Cities are stressful?
Not stressful, but the older I get the more I want to be left alone, you know. I want to escape and live my life.
Tell me about ‘Black Knight Satellite’, because that is a song with a special meaning for you…
Well, it is a special meaning for everybody, because there is something… even Tesla said in 1900 that something is up there, beeping…Nobody believed him, but then in the fifties, when they got better technology, they said they heard the same noises, like a signal of a satellite, but not from us, going in a polar orbit, from North to South, and from South to North, not like a normal satellite. They did some research about it and found out that people have been mentioning it for about 13.000 years. They are not spying on us, just keeping a close watch on us and see what the hell we are doing. So long ago there was nothing, it was then that the dinosaurs died and that stuff. Maybe someone erased everything on earth and tried to rebuild it again and then keeping a track on us with that satellite.
Yes, that is quite a fascinating story…
Just google ‘Black Knight Satellite’ and you see a lot of stories about it. I read about it for many years, but I never thought about writing about it, but now I finally did.
I have to admit, musically it is an amazing record. You go further with Pain than you have ever been…
Indeed, that is true. Like I said, it was hard work and I pushed myself to the limit this time. I sat down and worked until every part of a song was unique.
Clemens ‘Ardek’ Wijers of Carach Angren was involved for orchestral arrangements. Where does he come in sight and how did you get to know him?
I mixed their latest album (‘This Is No Fairytale’) and I heard the arrangements for the orchestra and I was really blown away. I asked him where he recorded it, because I wanted to go somewhere to record the orchestra myself. I wanted to know where he did it. He said he recorded it at home and I was really blown away. I asked him to pimp up my orchestral parts and he surely did. He is unbelievable. On the Lindemann album he did a really good job as well.
Another surprise is the acoustic guitar parts, they are really refreshing…
Yeah, that’s what I felt also. I actually took out the acoustic guitar by accident and started to play on it. It just grew out in one song, in another song… yeah, it is very refreshing indeed.
It goes in the direction of singer-songwriter material…
The best way to describe it is: I got brainwashed by David Bowie for four or five years now. I am very intensively listening to ‘Hunky Dory’ and ‘Ziggy Stardust’. Of course I have always been hearing these songs since I was a kid – I was born in 1970 - so I was brought up on ‘Life On Mars’ and all these songs. I just thought they were good songs, but I never really got into it until four years ago when I bought the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ songs on Itunes and I put it on my phone. I can tell you, since four years, I am addicted to it. I have been listening to it at least twice a week or more. Still. I really brainwashed myself. And I think that was one of the things that pushed me to do something more in that direction, because these songs on these albums are just an enigma. Just the way he built songs, nobody else built songs. Unbelievable. That is really unique. When starting the Pain album, I was like: “I will never be like him on those albums.” I was almost depressed, because I wanted to write like he did at the beginning of the seventies, but it kind of pushed me to do better than I ever did before.
We can hear your 17 year old son Sebastian on drums on the record. Is he going to stay and go on tour with Pain? Did David Wallin leave the band?
No, David is not away. It was just: when I needed to put drums on songs, David did not have the time to do it and my son lived in the same house, so I asked him to do it, because he is such a killer drummer as well. He is one of the hardest hitting drummers I ever recorded. Him and Mikkey Dee I would say. Those guys are the heaviest ones, there’s no bullshit around. They smack the shit out of the drums and that makes the drum sound really good. David is also really good, don’t get me wrong. David has more experience. How many gigs did he do? More than thousand? I don’t know. So he has the experience. But Sebastian has been playing drums for four years and he’s been teaching people how to play drums. That is his job nowadays. He learns fast and is very talented. He is going to jump in on the European tour now, because David cannot do it for some personal reasons.
We have another guest on the album, a famous one in ‘Call Me’. It makes sense, because you know Joakim Brodén (Sabaton) for a long time and just spent months in the studio with him to create their album ‘The Last Stand’…
I returned a favour since they asked me to sing on the ‘Carolus Rex’ album. It was fun to put him on the song ‘Call Me’. Instead of singing about war, he is singing about being a gigolo. I thought we need to bring some humour in this dark world right now.
Are that female vocals on ‘Natural Born Idiot’?
Yeah, but it is programming. A lot of people think it is Floor Jansen, but it isn’t. She was here in the studio putting vocals on the Sabaton album, but we do not want to make it too much incestuous. (laughs). But she is a lovely girl and she knows how to sing.
The artwork is amazing, it creates a feeling of loneliness in space and on this planet…
Stefan (Heilemann – Vera) surpassed himself this time. He did Epica and the Lindemann stuff as well.
How are you looking back at this Lindemann project at this moment in time?
Great. I am really happy that we could do this together. We were talking about it for so many years and finally did it. We are bonded like brothers after this. There is nothing that can stop us.
Thus there will be a second album?
Yes, I think so. We still have songs that we did not release, plus we have more ideas for new songs, so… We are constantly thinking about it, we just have to find the time.
How was last weekend, because you went to Ukraine and Germany for festivals…
Oh it was great, really good! I mean, the crowd was unbelievable! I guess we waited too long to get back to Ukraine. We were surprised and happy at the same time. We headlined the festival in Ukraine for 15 to 20.000 people and they were still yelling ‘Pain’ half an hour after we left the stage. There was a cover band after us and they were still yelling ‘Pain’ (laughs). We hadn’t played in Ukraine for a while. I cannot wait to get out on tour again and we are going to bring a fucking nice stage show. It is going to be special! We bring The Vision Bleak with us and the tour will happen in October/November.
What are the plans for the rest of the Summer?
I am going to write a couple of songs with a friend of mine. You will probably hear about it later on. I will not say any names. No, not Lindemann. I’m going to try to relax a little bit. Try to start working on the stage show. Our stage manager is already working on it, but now that the album is done, I can get more into it. We are going to try to develop the most impressive shit we can do for our capacity, 800 to 1500 people. Hopefully in September we are going to the States and do a couple of showcases and see what happens. If people like it, we come back again.