Peter Tägtgren, The Man Behind PAIN, Lyrics, Music and More
Sweden has given us many things: the Volvo, IKEA, bikini teams, and meatballs. But nothing is more disturbing than PAIN. And Peter Tägtgren, the mad genius behind PAIN lyrics and music, couldn’t be happier about it.
Although James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, was always called “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” an argument could be made that the title should now go to Tägtgren. Since 1990, Tägtgren has been assaulting audiences with his own brand of industrial metal, death metal, black metal and grindcore. Yeah, he’s a fun guy at a party. But he doesn’t have much time to party because he’s always making more music.
And with PAIN, that’s a big job. You see, Tägtgren is not just the founder of PAIN, he’s also its only member. Oh sure, when PAIN is touring, then he’s joined by David Wallin on drums, Michael Bohlin on guitar and Johan Husgafvel on bass, but when he’s in the studio, it’s all Tägtgren all the time.
Tägtgren was born June 3, 1970 in Sweden. In a move that his parents no doubt regretted, he began playing the drums at age 9. He later learned the keyboard, guitar and bass, setting the foundation for his career as an in-studio one-man band. He moved to the United States after his first band, Conquest, disbanded. In the U.S., he got to know Phil Fasciana, the guitarist for Malevolent Creation, and began jamming with him. Peter Tägtgren became part of the death metal scene and took it with him when he returned to Sweden.
A lot of musicians have a tough time handling one band. Not Peter — the more the merrier! He formed his own death metal band, Hypocrisy, which began with him playing all the instruments. As Hypocrisy began playing live, he picked up bandmates, while he stayed on as vocalist and guitarist. All that work must have gotten to him because as a “hobby,” he formed PAIN, the industrial metal band. He wanted to create a metal band with influences from techno and ‘80s style electro-industrial music.
Peter not only performs all the instruments on PAIN recordings, he also does all the vocals, and of course all PAIN lyrics and music are written and composed by him. There is one track on the latest album, You Only Live Twice, that’s not composed by Peter – it is PAIN doing a cover of the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby recorded live at the Sundown Festival in 2008. It is as subversive a track as you will ever find. With a driving beat and Peter exhorting the crowd to sing along, when they hit the chorus, “Ahh, look at all the lonely people,” it feels as though Hell’s demon chorus has just spotted a lot of tasty human snacks that better run for their lives. The track is, in a word, brilliant.
While Hypocrisy has developed a worldwide following with regular tours (including the U.S.), Peter still works at his other projects. PAIN of course just released its seventh album in June of 2011, You Only Live Twice. Peter is the vocalist for the grindcore/death metal group Lock Up, and vocalist for the death metal band Bloodbath. His forays into black metal include playing drums, bass and singing vocals for The Abyss, and performing vocals for War, another black metal group. Peter is also a respected and much sought after record producer. He owns his own studio, The Abyss, where he has produced such bands as Dimmu Borgir, Amon Amoarth, Celtic Frost and Immortal, among others.
It is always fascinating to see what Peter Tägtgren is up to. He is a man obsessed by music, but his obsession is a lucky thing for the rest of us.