Joakim Brodén explains why Sabaton is a self-managed group

During an appearance on “The Back Lounge” podcast, singer Joakim Broden Swedish steelworkers SABATON explained why he and his bandmates continue to exist as a self-governing entity – a rarity among bands operating at their level. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “We tried twice to involve people for very short periods of time, but it never worked, really. At first it wasn’t by choice, it was by necessity. We wanted a manager who had relationships that could get us to where we wanted to be faster, I guess at the time. But right now, no, we’re happy where we are. No one will care that much SABATON like we will do. But it would be unfair to say that it is only us in the group who do it. We kind of built an organization that would do some of the management. So we have people, of course, who help us and advise us.”

Joakim also talked about the fact that SABATON runs its own merchandising operation, which is also extremely unusual for a group of its size. He said: “I understand why other bands don’t, because it’s a crap job. [laughs], but at the same time, we tried to have other people at some point, but we weren’t happy with the results. We kind of had the same thing as the management there; we weren’t happy with what we were getting, in a way, so we had to build our own infrastructure and get things done on that part as well. Which now, looking back, is really good…”

He continued, “It’s lucky to have someone like By [Sundström, SABATON bassist] in the group [laughs], who… I remember a few years ago—I think it was probably a few years ago—he called me and he said, “Man, we have to do something. Can I book a show somewhere?’ Because we were [in the middle of] a period of songwriting. So I had my hands full because I usually handle most of the musical stuff and he handles most of the business. And he called me and said, ‘I’m understimulated. I need to do something. Can we book a show? Can we do something? And me [was], like, ‘Yeah. We can do something. I’m doing pretty well with songwriting. And then I asked him, ‘So, what did you do today?’ “Oh, I went up at seven o’clock. I ate breakfast, watched the news. Then I worked. Then I had lunch in town, then I went back to work, and now it’s five o’clock and I have nothing to do. And I’m like, ‘You’ve basically described a nine-hour workday and you’re under-stimulated. What’s wrong with you? [Laughs]”

last september, Sundstrom address SABATONthe decision to work without an external manager during an interview with Music connection. He said: “You start a band because you like to play. That’s how you start a band – you want to play your instrument in a band. And there was no difference to me. And that’s the first thing you do as a band – you get together, you walk into a rehearsal room and you start playing songs. After that, you have to develop, you have to grow, you have to do something. You have to call someone to get a gig, and someone in the band has to pick up the phone and call someone to get a gig. And then someone has to make a poster. And then someone has to arrange for us to get there or for there to be some technical stuff there. So somebody has to do this. And I can’t stand and watch while nothing’s happening. So I just jump straight in and do It doesn’t matter if it became the design of a tour poster, the cover of an a lbum or organizing a recording session… And finally, these things change, and suddenly you’re dealing with the economy, you’re dealing with the logistics, you’re dealing with the legal aspects. So I started getting into it. I have no training, but suddenly I needed to know how to sell myself, I needed to know how to present something in a good way, I needed to know how to sell it, how to charge for it , how to account for it, and how to get the show on the road. And over the years, I think I’ve done just about everything, whether it’s fixing the tour bus or fixing it, whether it’s damage or being a technician for the guitar. I am also a graduate artificer. I hung lights in the roof. I built my own festival and cruise, and promoted tours, festivals, shows, other bands, marketing. And that’s because I have an interest in learning things, and I don’t want to sit and watch nothing happen; I can not do that. I just have to shake things up. And that’s why I jump on things, and eventually it grows and grows and grows.”

He continued: “I think I’m pretty demanding. And I like this group so much that I don’t want too many others… I don’t mind other people coming to help – of course not – but this would be hard for another manager to step in and do this better than I would. SABATON the team is growing. So everything we do in-house. Today we run the inside label business. We do the management entirely by ourselves. We take care of all the logistics of the visits. We reserve everything. We book anything – from a hundred crew members, 10 trucks and whatever we need we have it in-house. We have huge warehouses. We have so many things it’s crazy. I was actually browsing it two days ago in our main warehouse for one of the projects, and just looking at the costumes. And I realized that we could equip entire armies with Vikings, Crusaders, Spartans, Greek warriors, World War I soldiers from France or Belgium or World War II soldiers from the States United, modern armies… We have pile after pile after pile, or case after case with clothes, just because of different projects. And we still think we’re taking control of things. We don’t rent it, we don’t outsource it – we control it, we own it, we set it up and we do it ourselves. It’s the same with a lot of photoshoots, music videos – we produce them, we direct them, we’re involved in all the production. The albums, we are the main producers of our albums. We do things our way. And it’s demanding, but we have a big team. And we are constantly growing. And even during the pandemic, we did pretty well. Even though we couldn’t tour, and we have a lot of people who depend on touring, but we still did well. We run our own mail order; he has several people. We have also developed this further. We [do it] completely by ourselves. We do not use any merchandising company. We develop things ourselves. We design it, we buy it, we market it and we have it in our own mail order.”

Seven months ago, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported that Broden and Sundstrom were ordered by the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in surcharges.

the Swedish Tax Agencywhich manages the civil status of natural persons and collects taxes such as personal income tax, corporation tax, VAT and excise duty, believed that Broden and Sundstrom had not correctly reported their US touring income in 2016-2018. As a result, the musicians were told they would have to shell out a substantial sum to settle their debt.

Brodenwho writes all the music SABATONwas the one who took the biggest tax hit, having been ordered to repay more than two million Swedish kronor (over $233,000).

Broden and Sundstrom claimed at the time to have followed the tax treaty between the United States and Sweden, which covers double taxation with respect to income tax, corporation tax and tax on capital gains capital, and insisted that they had hired experts to make sure the paperwork was completed correctly. Despite this, the Swedish Tax Agency says the accounting was not handled accurately.

Broden and Sundstrom had the opportunity to appeal the decision.

SABATON are considered one of the most important bands in the Swedish modern metal scene, having been honored with five Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards (including “Best Live Band” three different years) and nominated several times for the Swedish equivalent of Grammy Awardsthe Grammis. In 2016, SABATONit’s “The last Stand” album debuted at No. 1 in three different European countries and cracked the Top 3 in four others. Broden, Sundstrom, Chris Rörland (guitar), Hannes Van Dahl (battery) and Tommy Johansson (guitar) organize their own festival, Sabaton in the open airwhich started in 2008, as well as their own avant-garde Sabaton Cruise which has been going on since 2009.

Last month, SABATON announcement “The Tour to End All Touring – North America 2022”, a 25-date US tour that will include a special show at Montreal’s Place Bell, the band’s first-ever headline concert in Canada. The tour, produced by CPD livewill begin on Thursday, September 15 at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, Washington, and conclude at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York on October 23. SABATON on all dates will be the special guest EPICthe famous Dutch symphonic metal band.

Evelyn C. Tobin