Reaching Into the Abyss

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Peter Tägtgren is a man who is defined by his work, a body of music and ideas that is always morphing and pulling to and from the abyss. He has given life (and death) to fathomless classic albums and hardly needs an introduction, so one won’t be given here. The at one time one-man project Pain, and new album You Only Live Twice, is the man’s current focus, the details of which he divulges here. But fear not — the Hypocrisy mastermind also discusses that which put him on the metal map.

Jodi Michael: So let’s talk about the new album, You Only Live Twice, by Pain.  It’s coming out on Nuclear Blast in June.  How do you think that this one lines up against some of your other albums in terms of material and subject matter?

Peter T ägtgren: I don’t know.  I mean, I definitely think this album compared to the last one is definitely much more heavier and darker, you know, and it’s more guitar driven than ever before, I think, you know?

Yep, I would agree.  You also said in an interview that you felt like it was more organic than Cynic Paradise.  How do you feel that way?

Yeah, for sure, because now David [Wallin] is playing drums on the whole album.  He puts in his finesse in there, and normally on Pain albums, there’s 50% program and 50% me playing drums, but on this one, he puts his touch on it, I think, and it gives it an extra flavor.  And plus, you know, the bass I’ve put on there, sometimes there’s 50% keyboard bass, but now it’s 100% real bass that I played.  The whole thing just makes it more alive I think, not so stiff, you know?

I agree.  I would say that it has more of a straightforward kind of vibe than Cynic Paradise.  You’ve still got the electronic and industrial elements, but it seems a little more stripped down, I guess you could say.

Yeah.  I think it feels like it’s not taking over the song, it’s more, you know, guitars are taking over the song instead of the keyboards, which was the opposite maybe on the last album, or the last six albums, you know?  [Laughs]  So I mean, definitely the industrial sound and the techno keyboards are there, but not in that same way.  It’s more like a flavor.

Right.  Now, was that something that you did intentionally, or was that just kind of how it came out when you were writing?

It kind of came out like that, and also I kind of wanted to tone down the keyboards and just use the distortion and the craziness and [not] build the song around the keyboards.  You know, this time, the whole song is built around the guitars and the vocals.  I spent shitloads of time on the vocals, because I think every song has a different kind of vocal style in there.  It’s not the same style all the way through the album.  There’s always parts here and there that are different, or the whole songs are like, different kind of vocal styles.  I just wanted to put a lot of thought into it, and a lot of finesse, or whatever you want to say, also on the vocals, not just going in a straight line, you know?

Right.  And that was one thing I was going to comment on, that the vocal styles, they’re so much different, there’s so much variety between the songs.  It’s almost hard to believe that’s all you.  That’s really cool.

Oh, cool.  Thanks.

What’s the meaning behind the album title?

Well, there’s no meaning.  I mean, there’s an illusion.  The song is about envy of others, and also being disappointed about life, how it turned out to be, stuff like that.  And you’re kind of banging your head against the wall, you know, kind of regretting things, a few steps that went the wrong way.  So it’s more of a crying out for a second chance, you know, to redo your mistakes—not to redo your mistakes, but you know what I mean—to undo your mistakes on the past, growing up, kind of.

And since I’m a woman, let me ask you about “Dirty Woman.”  What was your inspiration behind that song?

Basically us men, you know.  I mean, when the blood goes from the one head down to the other, the IQ really shrinks, and we become these cattle that women just whip around.  In a sense, we become mongrels around good-looking women.  So it’s actually about guys; I’m just singing about how stupid we are.

[Laughs] Okay, cool.  Now I’m going to head back in time a little bit since I’m a little more familiar with Hypocrisy’s background than Pain’s.  The debut album, Pain, came out in ’97.


And around that same time, Hypocrisy’s sound was kind of shifting as well.  What was the cause for that?

A need of change in life and in patterns.  Sometimes when you get too comfortable with a certain pattern…you know, I think the Hypocrisy sound changed even before that, in, what was that, ’94, when The Fourth Dimension came out.  It changed there and then it changed a second time to Abducted, and I think it changed another time to Final Chapter as well, you know?  So it was constantly changing, and constantly progressing and really trying new things all the time.  But there were still things missing for me, I guess, in that period, you know, for me to try to sing clean and also to get more into recording with computers and recording with samplers and drum machines and all that shit.  For me, as a producer, it just came…I needed to do something else as well.  Back then I already recorded at least a hundred albums with the same formula, you know—guitar, bass and vocals.  I just needed to develop as a producer, but there was no bands around that I could really progress as a producer, so I had to create my own band.  And that’s really how Pain started.

Did Pain ever become an inspiration for Hypocrisy material, or to you, have they always been completely separate?

It’s hard to separate things since you’re the same person, you know, and do both things.  But nowadays, I really try to separate them.  Even though the new Pain album sounds a little, yeah, it’s got some Hypocrisy in there, that doesn’t mean that Hypocrisy is going to stay the same way as it did on the last album.  I don’t know.  I just can’t stand in one place and do the same thing twice.  That’s impossible for me.  I don’t care.  Even if it would make me rich, you know, to just do new songs with the same kind of formula, I would say fuck no, I can’t, because I would hate myself.  So I’m constantly trying to come up with new things all the time, and you win some and you lose some, I guess.  But that’s how I am, and I can’t really help it.

You know, I reviewed A Taste of Extreme Divinity when it came out in 2009, and that was one of the things that I mentioned in the review, that Hypocrisy’s sound has always been changing and evolving, and really everything you’ve done, it’s always evolving and growing, yet there’s always something that kind of pulls back to the beginning.  I mean, you always know it’s going to be Hypocrisy or it’s going to be Pain.

Yeah.  You try to go forward even though, you know, I guess you come back to old stuff, but at the moment when you do it, it was a long time ago since you did something from the past, kind of, and so you mix your back catalogue Herron:   in your head with new stuff, I think, and that’s how I think you can progress.  I mean, I don’t want to make Hypocrisy sound like Meshuggah the next album.  That would be totally weird, you know?  [Laughs]  Even if we could play that kind of music, I don’t think we could, or change it into something else, do a totally 180 thing, you know?  It’s always going to have a foot in what you’re doing, I think, [but you] still want to go forward.

Sure.  So keeping on the topic of Hypocrisy, what’s going on with Hypocrisy right now?  Are you guys working on a new album?

No, not right now.  We have no plans.  I don’t even know if Mikael [Hedlund] wrote anything.  I definitely have [some things] stored away in the computer, stuff like that, you know, but it’s not enough to start booking the studio and start putting the songs together.  That’s way too early.  I mean, I only have a few festivals this summer and a few productions, so there will be some time to sit and write, and I don’t know if it’s going to be Pain songs I’m writing or Hypocrisy songs I’m writing.  The day will tell, you know, when I’m sitting there, what it’s going to be.

I see.  Well, you’re obviously a workhorse when it comes to your projects, and it seems like you’ve always got something going on with a project, or you’re in the studio, so what are you currently working on right now, and what do you see coming up in the future?

Nothing [laughs].  It’s like Seinfeld; it’s a show about nothing.  No, but right now, it’s just been full power on promoting it, and I’ve been doing over a hundred interviews so far.  And I’m just really preparing for the shows with Pain right now, and that takes a while to get everything worked out, and also with the tour we’re going to do in Europe, we’re setting out this really cool stage set and stuff like that, and it takes a lot of time and planning and shit.  I’ve basically been really involved in that stuff right now.  But it’s going to cool down a little bit, and then I have a few things that I’m going to mix and one thing that I’m going to produce, and then in September, the tour starts.  It’s not going to end until mid-November, and hopefully after that, we can have a tour in America, you know.  But we’ve got to find a band that would fit for us, you know, because we can’t really go out on and headline, because we’re too small for that.  Then we’re going to have to play pizzerias and gas stations, you know?

[Laughs]  Okay.  So I have to ask this inevitable question: What kind of music are you listening to nowadays?

Shit, that’s a good question.  All kinds of stuff.  Anything from Shania Twain to, ooh…it’s really hard to say.  I don’t know.  I usually always go back to the ‘60s and ‘50s and stuff like that.  I don’t know.  Right now, what’s in my car?  I’ve got to think here.  Fuck, that’s really tricky.  AC/DC, I’m listening to right now. T he old shit.

The old shit.

With Bon Scott.

Right on.  I know you’re a busy man, so thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

Yeah, no problem at all.


  1. Commented by: Sara

    Thank you for the interview.

    Would love to see Pain tour with with DevilDriver and/or Lamb of God. Would be an amazing show.

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