Mark Holmes of Metal Discovery conducted an interview with bassist Pär Sundström of Swedish metallers SABATON before the band’s November 3 concert in Manchester, England. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Metal Discovery: I interviewed Joakim [Brodén, vocals] on theDRAGONFORCE tour back in 2009 and I think you’d just left your old label,Black Lodge, and it was announced during that tour you’d signed toNuclear Blast. During those last three years your popularity seems to have soared so do you think the label had a big part in that or do you think SABATON would have naturally become bigger anyway?

Pär: Well, actually, Nuclear Blast has done a lot for us, especially in territories where we couldn’t do so much else ourselves. When we were with Black Lodge, we could do Sweden very well and we could do a little bit in Germany because we had good connections and good people working with us. But the rest were basically nothing. Of course, changing toNuclear Blast with their international working promotional machine changed a lot, definitely, directly. For the U.K., we have done step by step over time and we’re still growing. We still have a long way to go, but we’re doing well.

Metal Discovery: The latest album went gold in Sweden recently so is there a sense you’ve yet to peak with your popularity and you’re still growing the whole time?

Pär: Oh yeah, yeah. We see that it’s growing all the time and the tour’s a very good example of that because everywhere, wherever we go, it’s better results than on the last tour. We see so many bands, and we’re told by promoters in everywhere we come that this band goes down, this band goes down and times are so hard now, times are shit, but for us, it’s growing.

Metal Discovery: Obviously four members left earlier this year and three new ones have joined so do you see this as a fresh start and a new chapter for SABATON or just business as usual with some new guys?

Pär: No, no, it was a big thing for us. We didn’t know if it was gonna work but we’re like, “Okay, will it work?” Then we went off to America and played our first show and we’re like, “It will work”. And now it works better than ever and it’s so fresh, as you said, and it feels really good. The spirit in the band is higher than ever.

Metal Discovery: So have the new guys brought a renewed energy that was maybe lacking with the guys that left?

Pär: Yeah, that’s the reason why the people left because of the lack of…sometimes motivation or not wanting to be away on such long tours. And, of course, when you have people on the stage who are not there for one hundred and ten percent, the whole thing goes down. Now we have only people there on the stage who are there for this.

Metal Discovery: The new musicians seem to have been greeted with open arms by your fanbase but were you initially apprehensive that such a big change in the band with four members leaving might be received negatively by your fanbase?

Pär: Yeah, of course we were afraid in the beginning but after people saw reviews and YouTube clips of the first shows, people calmed down. And a lot of promoters were afraid, especially in the U.K.… “Ohhh, it’s never gonna be the same, it’s gonna suck now, the new SABATON‘s gonna be shitty” and people were like that but you can see on the stage, it’s better than ever.

Metal Discovery: You’re embarking on a two-day SABATON cruise in December and it’s completely sold out, so did the level of interest in that surprise you?

Pär: It’s the third year we’re doing it and the two previous ones were sold out and this one was sold out in two weeks or something. So it’s a big success. People do a lot of metal cruises around the world — there are some metal cruises in Germany, there are several in America and some in Sweden — but everybody who goes to a lot of them say it’s nothing like going on the SABATON cruise because the atmosphere is the best. There are two thousand SABATON fans on one cruise ship and the atmosphere when we play is we have the most diehard fans from around the world. The atmosphere when we go on stage is unbeatable. People say that there is nothing like that. Our fans are very loyal and when you see them all connected, some of them, as a unit in one place, that’s amazing. So that is special. The atmosphere, you cannot think of it, you have to be there to experience it.

Read the entire interview from Metal Discovery.