There was surprising news in the last summer which conclusion was that Thobbe Englund is leaving band Sabaton. Shortly after he stated he would continue in his solo career and results came really fast. At the end of February he released album called „Sold My Soul“ that changes his music style a lot. How he get there, why he did such a big change and about fakt that solo career is consuming his free time much more than being in Sabaton – that was one of many topics we hit in interview with Thobbe Englund.
Your first song of post-Sabaton era „Sold My Soul“ is out there and I think it sounds really cool. Can you say us a little closer what do you want to say by this song?
The song is basically about how you choose your path to make a music. You know most of the teenagers go to school, they get higher education and then they get job, get married, have kids and all that. As a teenager I chose the way of music and it always been more like of a struggle and it doesn´t really look much like if you have regular income and stuff. The song is basically about crossroads and selling your soul to the devil because you have that need to make music and say something to people. And of course, there is payment in the end – you don´t get pension or anything like that. (Laugh) In the end, for a lot of people, it wasn´t really worth it.
I don´t know if it´s only me but I hear a lot of Judas Priest influence ...
Yeah, definitely! You know on this album I wanted to go to the roots of heavy metal. I was thinking a lot about what I really want to say and I realised I don´t want to make another guitar shredding oriented album. And I really didn´t want to go modern way because I am pretty tired of nowadays modern metal bands and as they are synthetic and so produced that everything sounds kind of perfect. I had to sit for a while and think about what got me as a kid to heavy metal. I came to conclusion that it was the dirt and kind of the evil and its sound. And it is not supposed to be perfect. It should be a little dangerous and unpolished and I got back to the roots basically and when the album was done I realised that I have everything from Judas Priest to Black Sabbath to Manowar, Iron Maiden, you name it. But it is exactly what inspired me, you know.
Sounds good to me. So we can wait some pretty cool classic heavy metal, right?
Definitely and absolutely. That´s what this whole album is about. It´s all based on stuff like Deep Purple and Motorhead. But you can´t say hey this is Motorhead. No, you can´t just pick it but you feel it is there somewhere. It´s just too deep inside of me. For now I didn´t focus on great guitars or what ... I focused on writing good songs.
Other than your previous albums, now you have band. Before, everything was played by you and you only. Can you introduce us your band?
Yeah! Well the drummer he is a long term friend of mine actually – Johan Grandin and he is actually together with my wife´s sister so I know him for five years or so. He is really good drummer and he has that great style and classic swing. And it is cool that he is that kind of drummer because it works pretty cool with songs I did. Then we have the keyboard player Elon Andersson – he is playing with local bands – some small bands, nothing big. The last piece is Roland Westborn who is playing with band from neighbour city and they are playing some power metal stuff. So we are four members and nothing is on tape. Nothing is pre-recorded – nothing. We want to do it correct way, you know.
I understand and I like it. You have a big change in front of you because before you were touring in a little bigger scale and right now you are doing special guest band for Bloodbound. What do you see as thing that changes the most for you?
Well, obviously it´s gonna be lot smaller places than I used to do for last few years. But on the other hand I am going back to times when I came to Sabaton. I am just going back couple of years. But it is also so rewarding and nice to be playing these smaller stages because you have that contact with the crowd and it is much more intimate. You are not 15 meters from the first person. I like those smaller stages to be honest. It´s gonna be really cool. I am sooooo looking forward to this!
On tour – would be able to hear some songs from previous albums as well? Because you know, it is much different from upcoming album ...
Yep! Definitely. I am gonna play two songs from two albums. I am gonna play one song from „From the Wilderness“ released in 2015 and one song from the album „Before the Storm“ so we would have two old songs .. at least.
What has changed for you in last, something like half a year, since you left Sabaton. You´ve had a lot of free time .. or at least I supposed you did.
Actually I think I have less free time now than I had when I was with Sabaton because in Sabaton I only had to play guitar and maybe learn some new songs here and there. Being on stage mostly. Interviews, signing sessions, etc. But it wasn´t really anything more than that. I had really plenty of time. Right now, since I left Sabaton and I am focusing on my own career I am suddenly in the spot where I need myself as a guitar player and I am also doing what Jocke did – I am a frontman and I am also Pär doing .. well all the stuff. Thus I would say I have way less free time now than I had before.
What would you prefer and why – electric or acoustic guitar?
Electric guitar! Every day of the week! You just have more possibilities to express yourself with electric guitar. You can do so much more with electric guitar, you can make it sound in so many different ways. And when you are playing acoustic guitar you should play with your fingers which I am not really good at. So definitely electric guitar. And electric guitar is something that really represents heavy metal which is kind of what I am doing so .. therefore.
Can you tell us your biggest dreams and your biggest fears?
I would say that my biggest dream would be to succeed with my own stuff. Make a living from it and stuff. I am not asking for a moon, I am just asking for people coming to my shows and having a great time because that is somehow what I live for. That is basically my dream and I am actually living my dream right now since I joined Sabaton basically. So it´s basically continuing doing the music, having people coming to my shows and buying my albums. Playing guitar and doing music. That is my dream.
My biggest fear? That would be .. hm .. there of course are a lot of things, but if you take away all those obvious things like if something would happen to people I love and stuff like that than my biggest fear is that something would happen to my hands. That is my biggest fear.
You´ve been through a lot of things, mainly on tour, but what are you most thankful and what are you most ashamed of?
Most thankful .. uhm .. I would say .. you know some nights are just magic – when you are up there it doesn´t really matters if it is in small club or stadium, some nights there is something in the air – you can feel it – and you don´t know what it is. Probably .. well .. definitely it´s some kind of magic. And I reaaaaaly love that! I would say that those magic moments are something I am most thankful for. That I could experience those moments and I am so looking forward to feel that again to feel it from the crowd and to see that everybody is having fun.
And what I am most ashamed of .. I don´t know what that would be. Probably something that I did when I was drunk. But then again – I probably don´t remember what I should be most ashamed of because I was so drunk so ..
There are videorecordings of like everything nowadays. There has to be something like that ..
I am pretty sure that Chris or Pär or Jocke or Hannes have tons of material of me doing things I should be ashamed of so it definitely is out there somewhere. (Laugh) Luckily I am that kind of guy who is doing things for laugh and stuff when he is shitfaced and wasted. I am not doing anything really stupid. I am never a bad person when I am wasted. I am just going at it fullforce and end up on the floor. (Laugh)
There are still a lot of people who don´t have a clue about what you are doing right now, what is Thobbe Englund band all about. How would you advertise your band?
I would say that first of all they need to check out the album because a lot of fans probably don´t know what to expect because in past before the Sabaton I did mainly power metal and then in Sabaton I did power metal things and on the side I did guitar power metal things. So they need to check out the new album because things are changing because I am going back to the roots of heavy metal as they were in 70s and 80s. So checking out the album is a good start so people are gonna hear what it´s all about and then of course they have to come to our shows because what I have right now is something that I think a lot of fans don´t expect. It´s organic, it´s real and it´s so honest. I think that you can actually feel this. It´s not something overproduced and plastic sounding and all that. It´s just heavy fucking metal!
In those few moments you´ve been talking a lot about your roots. What made you listening to this kind of music?
When I was around five or something I heard „We´re Not Gonna Take It“ on radio. Yeah, it must have been five. It was in ´84. And me and my brother were in my room building Lego and we just went bananas. Something in that music was so energetic that it pushed me into it. You know because I have that character of energetic person and that is probably why that kind of music attracted me. Then I heard some other heavy metal and hard rock music and it make me even more infected and I realised „Wow this have agression and melody ..“ because melody is very important „.. and then you have the attitude for something, you know, not evil but serious and dangerous .. and wild! All at the same time. And I guess this was mainly what drew me into heavy metal and hard rock basically.
Added: Samuel Sámel
Photo: Michal Roháč