HammerFall are just about to unleash their upcoming issue Built to Last, probably one of their best records, since Legacy of Kings. There are lots of plans for 2017 in the team of HammerFall like new tour, promotion of the brand new album etc. We have made one interview with Oscar Dronjak so that one could learn something more about their latest issue, plans for the next year and touring dates or perhaps just to learn some moments from their glorious past.
First question is, obviously, about the new album, it’s going to be released in next 7 days from now. So, for the beginning, could you present the new record Built To Last from your point of view?
I think what we started on (r)Evolution is basically what we continue on this album. (r)Evolution was a mix of old, classic HammerFall and the new HammerFall. Those two albums are always going to go together, just like the first two albums, Glory to the Brave and Legacy of Kings.
Already with a first single and first music video, Hammer High, we can see that you kind of came back to what we call classic HammerFall, like the first two records. This is kind of an appetizer for the new HammerFall I believe. Could you tell us something more about other tracks? Are there any longer tracks, mid-tempo or faster tracks?
There is going to be a mix of everything. I think that is going to make Built To Last one of the strongest metal albums we have ever done. For me, I think every song is as strong as any other, so it was very difficult to choose our single for the new album. This album has more faster tracks than we’ve ever done. If somebody asked me, for example, what is your favourite Europe album, for me, it’s not going to be the one with the biggest hits on it, without a doubt I would say „Out Of This World“, because it’s, from start to finish, a bunch of great songs. And that’s how I feel about Built To Last, there is no song you will skip. I mean, when I listen to my favourite artists, I never skip any songs. Anyway, I don’t think there is going to be boring parts on this album. We try to do that with every album, but I’m very proud of this one. I don’t think I’ve been this proud on any other album in a last couple of years. Last ten years at least.
Why did you choose to turn back to these classic records? Also, the cover artwork really reminds me on the first record. Could you tell us something more about the visual side?
I think this whole „returning to a classic sound“, it’s not as simple as that, there was never any decision to do things that way. I think what happened to us is very organic. We took a break after the Infected tour for about a year and a half, just doing nothing. I wrote a book about HammerFall. It was kind of nostalgic, going through our history. I went through everything that we’ve done and I think that have helped a lot to recreate the mindset where we were when we recorded (r)Evolution. So, for me, Built To Last is only a second step on that ladder. It’s not a throwback to the old stuff. There’s a lot of old stuff, but there’s a lot of new stuff too. I mean, I could never wrote Hammer High 15 years ago, for example. So, it’s not the case of returning to anything, it’s about evolving our style.
And, the artwork. Well, people do listen a lot with their eyes. You know, when the Infected was about to come out, we still didn’t release any of the songs, but a few people have already decided that they are not going to like the album, only based on the artwork. This time is same, but reversed. We used the same cover artist who did the first three albums, Andreas Marschall, and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that people are talking about it this way. He also did (r)Evolution and that’s also why I think these albums are connected to each other. Also, for both albums, we have recorded the drums, guitars and bass in my studio, and then we went to L.A. to record vocals together with James Michael. And the overall production and mixing is done by the same guy who did the first two albums, Frederik Nordstrom. So, there’s a lot of stuff that’s going to make you feel like this is returning to the classic form.
Yes, of course. There is definetly something new when it comes to HammerFall. As a matter of facts you’ve changed the labels from Nuclear Blast (which you’ve been working with for many years) to Napalm Records. Could you tell us something more about it? I know, you can’t reveal some professional moments etc. but there is a change and HammerFall is not the first band to do it.
Well, I don’t know for other bands, but for us it’s a llittle bit different. Usually, you look for the best deal, so you can make the most money that you can. And I believe HammerFall is still a growing band, so it’s not enough to just release the albums the same way that we’ve always done. We wanted somebody who want to try some new ideas, some fresh ideas, and the label that believes HammerFall has not reached it’s peak yet. But we are still in good relationship with those people. We just wanted to change a few things so we can move forward, insted of standing still in the same spot. And it was hard. We’ve been with Nuclear Blast for 18 years. We didn’t know any other label. And what we saw in Napalm is the same thing we’ve seen in Nuclear Blast many years ago. They have the same hunger and the same desire to grow.
Since you see HammerFall is still a growing band now, there is a lot of focus when it comes to upcoming tour dates. Could you tell us something about the songs you’re preparing for the upcoming shows etc. Of course, you will choose a few songs from the new record, a few from the rich HammerFall legacy. But if it’s ok for you, could you unveal some titles that you would like to play?
Well, I would like to play every song from every album if you ask me (laugh). But no, we haven’t got this far. We still didn’t discuss that and I would like it to be a suprise for people. I can just tell you that, old stuff, of course we’re gonna play Hearts On Fire, Glory To The Brave, Last Man Standing, you know, all those songs. And of course some new stuff. But there’s gonna be some nice suprises for people who have entire HammerFall discography.
You know, when we speak about those tour dates and live shows when it comes to HammerFall, but not only HammerFall, the other bands as well. Many bands now celebrate 20 years of some of their records, very succesful records. Do you prepare some kind of a smaller tour for Glory to the Brave when it comes out for 20 years or Legacy of Kings? Do you have anything about that in mind?
Well, the year we would be touring the 20 years of Glory to the Brave is 2017, and that is the year we’ll be touring Built To Last, so we’re not gonna do anything like that for now. I don’t feel we’re that kind of band that has to rely on this nostalgia either, like I’ve said before, we’re moving forward. But it’s nice to look back, and I’m not saying we’re not gonna do anything like that. Legacy of Kings came out in 1998, so we would probably have a tour in 2018. But for now we want to focus on Built To Last.
Ok, one relaxing question. Since, you have done an artwork with Andreas Marschall, was it harder to do things now or before? Have you actually made some changes during the process of making cover artwork?
Well actually, he does it on his free will. This time, we have only given a few instructions. The pose of Hector on the artwork was something that Joacim seen in a movie, or whatever he’s been watching, and we thought it would be a cool thing to do. And, that’s the only instruction we gave him.
When you were writing Building To Last, were you writing the music for yourself, or were you aslo thinking about the people and the reaction of your fans as well?
Mostly I write all the songs for myself. What I do think about a lot when I write songs is how they would translate into a live setting, you know, how they’re gonna sound live and how people are gonna react. That is one of the reasons. We also have a lot of sing-along parts, and I love when the crowd is singing with us. That is the goal we have, to have a big party with everybody, and to get everybody singing along and having fun together. So, I do think about that a little bit. But usually, these are the songs I want to write.
Could you compare HammerFall nowdays, all the things that are going on, recording the album, publishing the album etc. you know, doing the shows. Is it easier now, or is it harder now comparing to almost twenty years back? HammerFall was already popular at that time but the things have changed. And what is your personal reaction to these times?
It’s definetly more controlled now. There is more planning. But it’s difficult because, now I have a family. I can’t write songs in the middle of the night or whenever I want to anymore. That means I have to work more, pushing myself harder and be more disciplined I guess. But it also works in the way that I’ve learned so much for these 20 years of writing songs with HammerFall. These things helped a lot too. I mean, I don’t think I would be able to do things like that 20 years ago, cause I was a completely different person 20 years ago. Of course, my life is gonna be different, and the way I approach songwriting is gonna be different. The way everything works is gonna be different. I just think it’s neither easier or difficult, just the feeling when you finish a song and you know that it’s a great song, that’s exactly the same as it’s always been.
Do you have anything to say to the fans of HammerFall in Serbia, since you have fans here for so many years, decades as well? Many people sent greetings to you when they heard I’m going to do this interview, so, do you have any greetings for them?
You know, I’m always smiling when I hear that, since my father was born in Yugoslavia. We’re definetly planing to come back, we just don’t know when it’s gonna happen. It’s not gonna happen during this tour, but we are definetly going to come back to do something in Serbia. Being in Belgrade is fun, because that’s where my dad grew up. You know, when I’m walking through the city I’m thinking, maybe he was here at one point of his life, so, that makes it very special for me. I think one of the greatest moments in my career is when we played in Belgrade for the first time, you know, as a half-sweedish half-serbian, so thank you guys for that, and thank you for your support. And I really hope you’ll like the new album as well.
Also, many foreign Serbs send greetings as well. Thank you so much for this interview and I wish you all best.
Thank you very much!
- Answers by Oscar Dronjak
- Interview by Marko Miranovic
- Typed by Darko Panic