Tägtgren is an almost legendary profile in the death metal community,
known from his work with Hypocrisy and producer of well over 100 records. Starting
out as a hard boiled death metal man with drug propaganda tattooed on
his testicles, he’s now happy to live as a family man in his very own
village in the deepest part of the Dalarna region in Sweden.
At the time of
this interview, the new album "Dancing with the Dead" from his
most successful project Pain will soon come out in Sweden.
No light at the end of the tunnel
seems to be a really down to earth kind of guy with a lot of humour, and
he’s actually the one who comes to get me when I visit the label
he’s on, Stockholm Records. He’s sporting a cool two-piece
beard (look at the pictures to see what I'm talking about), long and dark
hair, sneakers, loose pants and a metal T-shirt. We grab a cup of tea and sit down in a business conference room.
The new album from his commercially successful, yet quite extreme project Pain "Dancing with the Dead" deals with a scary episode in a pub in Borlänge,
Sweden, a year ago when Peter suddenly fell to the floor, and his heart
stopped for two minutes.
– Yeah, this album is influenced by that event. It’s a little
bit like therapy, and I need to write it off. It’s just like when
you experience a trauma in your life, and talk about it with your friends.
You feel better afterwards. But to me it was just like falling asleep and then waking up.
It didn’t hurt at all. It was much worse for those around me; my
wife just screamed. It was just like waking up in the morning and
don’t remember what you were dreaming. No light at the end
of the tunnel, haha.
one knows why it happened, but a theory is that it was stress related.
Mr Pain won’t change his lifestyle though.
– No, you can’t go around worrying about dying. Living
becomes so boring then!
Peter is a workaholic, who sometimes falls asleep over the mixing desk in
his Abyss Studio, based in the small village he got for himself a couple of
years ago. I heard a rumour about it by that time, so I just had to ask
him if it was true that he owned an entire village.
– Yes it’s true actually. But it’s not as complicated
as it sounds. It’s a really small village, with about eight houses.
This is home for Peter.
– I grew up in the village next to it, so I know the area. I’m
not really an urban person either. I enjoy going to a big city, but I really
like coming home, putting it all aside and just be a father and spend time with
my family. It’s healthy to keep a distance to everything.
Peter's small village used to be a shelter for the poor until 1920 or so.
- Then it
became a psychiatric ward for elderly until the eighties, when it became
a fugitive shelter. After about two years they closed it down and it stood
empty for a long time. So they started to rent it out to the public and
I moved there. I soon found a house for my studio which I bought, and
I also bought the house I rented. After that there were only about five
or six houses left, so I got them too, he says laughing.
Booze and mopeds
up in rural Dalarna was a good experience, he feels. Being an adolescent
there, means lots of booze and mopeds as there wasn’t much to do.
Many young people wanted to get out of there, but not Peter.
I think it was great. It’s always easy when you're 14 to say
you want out, but when I’m looking back now, it was fantastic.
I’ve always lived out in the countryside. When I go on vacation, I go
to a big city, he says with a quirky smile.
Abyss Studio is home to a lot of musical productions, and Peter has produced
well over 100 records. The bands that come there enjoy the countryside, as it
means they can concentrate more on the music. The nightlife is not much a distraction in the middle of nowhere, but Peter hints that he’s no stranger to partying in the studio though…
Depeche Mode fan
that came as a bit of a shock to me is the fact that Peter is a big Depeche
Mode fan, and has listened to them for a very long time.
– I really got into them around “Black Celebration”
and “Music for the Masses”, when they started to make better
songs. Before that there was a bit too many “bleeps” for
me. I also grew up with Jean Michel Jarre, who my father was crazy about.
My older brother listened to metal so I have always had "both sides".
– I don’t really listen much to industrial though - mostly
metal and stuff you hear on the radio. There’s a lot of good stuff
to be inspired by from The Chemical Brothers and other dance music. The rhythms
and the cool techno sounds.
Peter would like to make a completely electronic album.
- But I’m
afraid I need someone to create all the sounds for me. That’s not my thing.
I know what I want, but I can never find the right sound. That’s
also a reason for the drums and guitars in Pain, as I wanted to make more
goa/techno/trance in the beginning, but couldn’t produce any usable
sounds. So I added guitars and other stuff, and suddenly Pain grew out
Piecing the puzzle together
The new album is a step away from previous efforts, in that it relies less on technology, and more on guitars. However, the songs are better and more worked through this time. Peter agrees.
– I’m very pleased with how it turned out, overall. I started
out with writing five or six tracks, and was starting to wonder how I
would puzzle it all together. I write different kinds of songs in different
periods, so to make it all fit together, that’s something I’m
proud of. I also dare to give more vocally, and I’m much more confident
with my voice now.
– I don’t know why, but I focused more on guitar based rock,
and then I added this techno/industrial production to it. This time there
aren’t as many electronic sounds fluttering about in the mix, it’s
more about rhythmical parts, like drum loops.
first single from the album is the catchy “Same Old Song”,
dealing with the media climate where you constantly hear the same song
over and over again on the radio, and see artists who are identical to
each other. It’s in short a big punch in the face to “all
this” as Peter says, gesticulating the label office we’re
– It’s about the entire music industry. I’m pretty sick
and tired of all this, and then it’s brilliant to have your own
village to hide in, haha.
– The label just laughed, they know where I come from. When I write
songs I do it from the heart and noone is going to tell me what type
of song I should make. I don’t do this for other people, I do it for
That way, you can always be content with the fact that you weren't pushed in a specific direction.
Crazy fans in South America
after Christmas, Pain went out on tour in Europe, to show the world Pain is
still alive, and to build anticipation for the new album.
– It was really great for us, as I have a new band with me. I both played
the guitar and sang for the first time, which I feared would be chaotic,
but it worked. I do that with Hypocrisy, but there it's more about growling
than singing. With Pain I have to focus a lot on the vocals compared to Hypocrisy,
where I’ve been doing it for ten years and do go on routine. We’re
playing a bunch of dates in Nordic countries now, and will go out in Europe
again when the album is released everywhere. It’s out on March 22
there’s not that big of a difference playing in Sweden or elsewhere, except
if you go to South America.
– Yeah, they’re totally crazy over there! Very uncivilized,
and we needed bodyguards. When you arrive with your plane, there are fans
outside with banners, totally mad. You have to run off stage
and you have to wait until security have cleared the building, push through
a huge crowd outside, drive to your hotel where you’re met by even
more fans! I don’t know how this happened, because we don’t
sell much records there, but they know a lot about music, and always go
to concerts. I love it, although it’s a bit scary because you never
know what will happen.
As if Peter doesn’t have enough on his plate right now he’s
recording a new album with Hypocrisy, due out in September. He describes
it as more complex compared to earlier albums. The fast songs are really
fast and the epic tracks are really epic. Before that he did vocals for
the band Bloodbath and the album “Nightmares Made Flesh”. Bloodbath is a
project with amongst others Dan Swanö from legendary Swedish death
metal band Edge of Sanity. Dan has made a remix for the upcoming Pain
single “Bye/Die”, which comes out soon. A possible third single
Seems like Peter really is too busy living to worry about dying anyway.