Latest release: Coming Home (Nuclear Blast)Website: www.painworldwide.com
Swedish musical mastermind, Peter Tägtgren has always done things his own way. Founding death metal band Hypocrisy in the very early nineties was a natural progression for his extreme music influences. However, a creative mind needs further outlets and aside from becoming a highly regarded producer with a staggering list of credits to his name, Tägtgren also took his interest in keyboards and harsh synthesiser music to heart by creating another musical project with industrial metal band PAIN in the late nineties. He is also involved in numerous other projects including working alongside Rammstein vocalist Till Lindemann. Now with eight PAIN studio albums under his belt and intent on exploring new sounds with every release, Australia will finally get a dose of pure PAIN as Tägtgren brings his project in a live format down under. Loud Online took the opportunity to chat with the extremely busy man shortly before he makes his way to Australia.
You’re a very well established producer and the list of artists is impressive. Was Dark Funeral’s debut album The Secrets of the Black Arts where you felt that it really started to kick off?
No, it started three years before that. I started to produce my own shit with the first two Hypocrisy albums in ‘92 and ‘93 [Penetralia and Osculum Obscenum] plus I was working in the studio that I eventually ended up buying and that became The Abyss studio, in the end. For me, there was more demo stuff and not so many album things so for me, it was a start. Then bands after each other just kept on coming or calling and booking so it was a good ride. It was insane but it was good – a lot of work.
How do you find the time between producing, being in Hypocrisy and doing PAIN plus tours?
Well, you just make your time. First of all, of course, you have to really plan it ahead otherwise you’re going to end up with double bookings and bullshit stuff like that. So, that is something that you learn. In the beginning it was chaos but after a while you definitely learn how not to do things, I would say.
How have you developed The Abyss studio since you acquired it?
I bought this studio from a friend of mine that I worked with for demo bands and my first album for like three thousand dollars. From there on I just invested every fucking dime I got doing the trip and I am still investing. So it is a never ending story, you know, because you want better stuff all of the time.
Did Pro-Tools change it substantially? It has been around for a long time now though.
Yeah, I was pretty late on it. I started on it in about 2000, almost twenty years ago. It helped a lot definitely but the way that I use it is more like a recording device. Of course, it is helpful when you have to do editing and stuff like that. Some people want their drums edited really hard so it sounds almost like a drum machine. I don’t understand why but that is up to the artist to decide how much they want because when you start editing and then you start hearing everything that is not tight and it all falls under becoming a drum machine. There are different people for different things but some other bands don’t want to edit at all. They want to leave it as it is. They do the best they can during the recording.
Does that job impact on your own music?
I don’t know, sometimes but when it is with PAIN, it should be kind of with a static kind of feeling to it. You really want this more of industrial kind of feeling going into it. When it comes to Hypocrisy, it should be looser, I would say. So it all depends on what kind of music you are recording.
PAIN probably requires a bit of work to get that compressed and gated, distorted sound. Playing it live must be an interesting challenge. How do you do it?
You will find out. Ha ha. Yeah, I mean, it took twenty years to figure out how to recreate things live with a lot of help from backing tracks on keyboards as even if we were to have a keyboard player we would have three or four keyboard players to play these things so it makes no sense. All of the keyboards are on backing tracks of course but the rest we do ourselves.
Coming Home is a great album and you’ve obviously had a couple of years to perform tracks from it. How has the material grown in that time since the release  and how you think Australian audiences will react to it?
The new songs actually came out really well, both with the audience and with the way that we perform it. I think that we did at least one hundred shows for this album so far so we are a well-oiled machine.
For the song ‘Call Me’, you had Joakim Brodén [Sabaton vocalist] as a guest vocalist on the track. Is it challenging presenting material when another vocalist sings on it?
Ah, in the past we used to have this Joakim doll that was singing and we had his voice on backing tracks. If you see the video for ‘Call Me’ it will make sense. He is one of the dolls in the clip and so we used to have his doll onstage together with the vocals from the album. You will see.
How did working with Till Lindemann from Rammstein for the Lindemann project come about?
We have been friends for a long time, you know, for like twenty years. It was great, we have the same stupid humour and we feed each other ideas and there is no limit to what we can create together.
Do you have to be careful or tactful when wearing your producer hat when you’re working with him?
Not really. We’ve known each other for so long so we can tell each other whatever we want. That is how it is with friendship; you’ve got to be honest with one another. We give a lot of crap to each other but we do it with a good sense of humour.
What led you to start the PAIN project initially?
I don’t know, I think I just wanted to try something different. Every band that I was doing up to 1996 was just pure metal. I wanted to combine keyboards and stuff like that to do something different so I had to invent my own band to be able to do that. I wanted to get into the more computerised things in the mid-nineties but all of the bands I did were more death, black or thrash metal. So, it was just something that I needed to do. I just felt like I was doing the same thing too much so I started to develop the whole shit and it became PAIN.
Do you get any references from other bands that might be influenced by PAIN? For example, has anyone noticed that your vocals can sometimes sound like Corey Taylor? It’s just such a long, ongoing project.
Really? Well, he can sing, I can’t, you know. I think that is the difference. Ha ha. I don’t know who is influenced by me or not. I really don’t give a shit, to be honest. If there are, I’m flattered, if they’re not, whatever, I mean, for me it is just that I walk my own path and I always did. I always try to do what my taste of music is really.
Were you into bands ranging from Ministry to Kraftwerk and Einstürzende Neubauten?
Nope, I was never into any of this, ever. I was more in Goa trance in nineties, you know, real pure electronic shit with real angry keyboards, synthesisers and stuff. The [Roland] 303, the TB line and shit like that and that is what really influenced me. I wanted to do Goa trance but I couldn’t. So I started mixing these sounds together with guitars, drums and bass so then all of sudden it became this PAIN stuff that I am still doing today.
Is there an album of the back catalogue that you’re most proud of in creating your own music?
Oh shit, that is impossible to say but I am really proud of the new album. It is a little bit more grown up, it is a little bit more wide and experimental but I don’t think that the next album will sound like it. But, it was something good to get out of my system, I would say.
Your son [Sebastian Tägtgren] played drums on the album. Also, you had Clemens ‘Ardek’ Wijers [Carach Angren’s keyboardist] assisting on it. How did he contribute?
Clemens helps a lot because he is doing a lot of movie scores and stuff like that so he has a computer from hell. It is like a symphony orchestra in his computer, you know, it is as big as a refrigerator. I send my sketches to him with MIDI and we re-do it with his sound. Plus he adds some extra shit on there so it is perfect and it works out really nicely. He comes out with new colours in there as well. I believe it is a really cool thing to do.
Who do you have in the touring lineup?
It is me [vocals], my son [Sebastian Tägtgren – drums] and Greger [Andersson –guitars] who has been around for almost two years now. André [Skaug – bassist] from Clawfinger has been around since 2007 but has to sit this one out. So we borrowed Jonathan [Olsson – bass] from Dynazty in Sweden. So we have a really good fucking team right now.
What was the main aim with the latest album? The space theme is intriguing.
Yeah, as far as the space theme goes I don’t know, it is hard to say. For me, the most important thing is that all of the songs don’t sound the same as each other. There are always different feelings on different songs on the same album instead of going with the same kind of frame with everything. I really wanted to do a little bit more of a schizophrenic album that was mixing all kinds of stuff from this very dark, slow, not ballads but slice your wrists kind of songs to the more industrial, typical stuff. So there is a big mix of stuff in there.
The song ‘Starseed’ sounds like there was a bit of ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ melody line influence in there? Would you agree with that?
No, not really. Well, that was not my intention. I would say that is more like the old David Bowie sort of Ziggy Stardust kind of feeling to it. But I even took it a little bit further.
What were your influences in the early years when Hypocrisy started?
That was more Deicide, Morbid Angel, Entombed and things like that because that was really what I wanted to do. I’ve listened to brutal music since the early days, you know, since the first Venom album, Welcome to Hell came out in 1981 I bought it. From then on, the more brutal music got the crazier it got for me. I was just eleven years old when that album came out so it influenced me a lot. Also, Possessed, Celtic Frost, Hellhammer and shit like that in the early eighties. That is really what formed me into doing the Hypocrisy stuff.
Your early EP Inferior Devoties included a cover of Slayer’s ‘Black Magic’ and you covered the Kiss song ‘Strangeways’ on the Maximum Abduction EP, which is different for Hypocrisy.
Yeah, I am a big Kiss collector so I have a room where I have all of my Kiss stuff. Kiss has been with me since I was five years old in the middle of the seventies. I really don’t like them after eighties that much but you know, there’s a few good albums on there but at that time I was more into Hellhammer, Celtic Frost and black metal than listening to ‘Heaven’s On Fire’. What am I going to listen to? I am going to listen to black metal. The seventies were really good with Kiss for me and it still is an influence.
They’ve worked with some pretty big name producers. I’m curious how you view them now as an adult and with the vast amount of producer experience you’ve gained.
I would say that Bob Ezrin did a good job with Destroyer in 1976. He didn’t just put in the heaviest songs that Kiss had ever done like ‘God of Thunder’ or ‘Detroit Rock City’ but he also put in weird songs like ‘Flaming Youth’ or ‘Great Expectations’ with choirs, orchestras and shit like that. That is my cup of tea, when you’re not only doing one straight thing. As a producer aspect, in my kind of world, I really like the Destroyer album because it has the same kind of feeling that I think I have with the last PAIN album in that you mix heavy songs with some orchestra shit but in a different way.
How about covering Slayer’s song ‘Black Magic’?
Well, that was another thing that I was growing up on in the eighties. We got this VHS video that Combat [Records] released [Combat Tour Live: The Ultimate Revenge] with Slayer, Exodus and Venom on it. We were sitting there drinking beers and watching that every weekend. So all of this old stuff has all been very influential. They asked us to do a tribute to Slayer as well so we did it at the same time.