Interview by: Brian Cross
As Hypocrisy’s guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, founder, and record producer, Peter Tägtgren has done it all. Before playing to a packed crowd at the Worcester Palladium on May 28, 2010, we were lucky enough to have the legendary frontman field a few questions for us. (Would you believe that Peter even owns a village?)
MPJ — You’re currently touring in support of “A Taste of Extreme Divinity.” How’s the tour going so far?
PETER — It’s been going up and down. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster; some places good, some places bad. Maybe that’s normal, I don’t know. (laughs) It’s too bad we couldn’t come in November [on the Ensiferum tour] when the album was hot, you know? We just have to take it like this, otherwise, we would’ve had to wait until the next album!
MPJ — Do you prefer playing arena shows, or smaller club venues?
PETER — Club shows are good! I mean, I’d rather play at the bigger place [downstairs], but it’s not going to happen right now. (laughs)
MPJ — Extreme metal has been growing in popularity lately. Are you seeing more young fans getting into your music for the first time?
PETER — Yeah, I think the crowd stays the same age, I think. I’m the only one who gets older! (laughs) You get both sides, younger and older, it’s cool.
MPJ — In the past, Hypocrisy has experimented with different tempos and styles; was this always the plan, or did it evolve naturally from album to album?
PETER — For me and Mikael [Hedlund, bassist], who are writing the stuff, we just write what came out of our hearts, and that’s about it. If it sounds different, then that’s just natural, I think.
MPJ — “A Taste of Extreme Divinity” has been hailed as a “return to form” for Hypocrisy. A lot of other bands have also been releasing new albums lately that are considered their best in a decade or more; why do you think that is?
PETER — I don’t know. (laughs) For us, we’ve been doing this for a long time, so the influences we had…it’s not the same today as it was then. I think today, we’ve really found our formula. We just try to write better and better songs. That’s the biggest thing; we don’t have to “develop” anything anymore, we just have to write better songs.
MPJ — Hypocrisy has been around for twenty years; how do you keep it together?
PETER — Hmm, I don’t know…
(Someone shouts from the back of the tour bus) — They kiss and hug a lot! (everyone laughs)
PETER — Exactly! (laughs) No, me and Mikael are like [Jeff] Hanneman and [Kerry] King [from Slayer], we write a lot of stuff together and we think alike.
MPJ — What can you tell us about your experience as a producer? You’ve produced albums by Dimmu Borgir, Dark Funeral, Immortal, and many others. How does that compare to songwriting and playing your own music?
PETER — It’s definitely much easier to sit and tell other people what to do than tell yourself what to do. (laughs) It’s easier to produce other bands, because when you do your own stuff, you’ve got so many things to take care of: playing the instrument, checking sound, and everything.
MPJ — Do you prefer producing over playing?
PETER — Nah, I like both. It’s nice to do an album, though every time I do one, I say, “Never again!” (everyone laughs) When I’m producing, it’s so much easier and relaxing for me, but I don’t know how it is for the band I’m producing.
MPJ — Are you still devoting a lot of time to Pain, your industrial metal side project?
PETER — Yeah, I do. I try to divide my time. I constantly write. If I’m recording with one band, Hypocrisy or Pain, I’m still writing stuff for the other band.
MPJ — Have you ever written a song for Hypocrisy, but then decided it would be a better fit with Pain, or vice versa?
PETER — Yeah, a few songs have fit better with Pain instead of Hypocrisy on some albums. You don’t really know; you’re just trying things. You just go in blind, and when it’s done, it’s done. Then you know.
MPJ — I have to ask: what’s it like “owning” a village? (Peter is the owner and mayor of the village of Pärlby in Sweden.)
PETER — Pfffff. (laughs) It’s so small, but it’s cool, it’s nice to have your own place.
MPJ — Do people there know who you are?
PETER — Yes, of course.
MPJ — I’m sure it’s not filled with metalheads, but are there any Hypocrisy fans?
PETER — Not really, we live far out in the middle of nowhere to begin with, so it’s just people that I grew up with.
MPJ — Any final words for the fans?
PETER — Enjoy the album, and hopefully the next one will come soon!