Published on February 1st, 2007 | by admin0
Oscar Dronjak talks about HammerFall’s new record, their upcoming tour, Zack Wylde’s hype and his disdain for the term ‘power metal’. For a heavy metal band that’s been around for as long as HammerFall, having people misinterpret your music is a definite pet peeve. Not that this’ll bring the band down in any way.
“First of all I don’t like the term ‘power metal’, I think what we’ve done is heavy metal and that’s the way it always has been,” guitarist and backup vocalist Oscar Dronjak told me from his bedroom in Göteborg on the West Coast of Sweden.
“One thing you have to realise is that when we started in the middle of the 90s, heavy metal was the most uncool thing you could do, even within the metal community. To play heavy metal was uncool and we were proud of what we were doing – like ‘this is heavy metal that we’re doing and if you don’t like it you can fuck off’.”
On the verge of a new tour to support their new album, At The Threshold, their fourth recording since 2002 which included a live album/DVD, One Crimson Night (2003), the members of HammerFall are ready to expand on their current success in Europe and the US, with trips planned for South America, Japan and Australia – though Oscar is cautious.
“The chance of us going over there has never been better than it has now – what we’re trying to do is combine Japan and Australia since you’re in the same time zone – but things have fallen through previously and I don’t want to get my hopes up until it’s actually happening.”
Started by Oscar in 1993, and influenced by great metal pioneer Judas Priest, HammerFall went through some initial band member changes before finding a perfect symmetry in the current line-up of Oscar, lead singer Joacim Cans, guitarist Stefan Elmgren, drummer Anders Johansson and bass player Magnus Rosen, cemented in 1999. While Oscar says the band had a lot of fun recording At the Threshold, he admits it was quite tough going.
“It was not as relaxing and not as comfortable as some of the other albums we’ve recorded, we were constantly lagging behind on schedule, and we had to work hard to keep it up.”
“We had some real difficulties, so working in the studio was not always a picnic, but in the end I think that helped bring out the energy in the playing and put some sort of anger or attitude into the performance.” But despite the problems HammerFall may have encountered during their time in the studio, the ultimate goal is to get out on the stage and wreak havoc on their audience, who according to Oscar have changed a little over the past 13 years.
“The first two years actually, even before we released the first album, Glory to the Brave (1997), I thought we’d have people like in our own position, 20-something or maybe even older, the real die-hards, the ones that stuck with heavy metal. But we realised quite early on that we had reached a new generation.”
“When a lot of kids come up saying ‘I never knew about metal until I heard you, and now I’ve discovered this and this and this”, who are basically all our heroes, that really makes me feel proud that we’ve done something good.”
I mentioned to Oscar that I had just watched the Ozzy Osbourne live in Japan DVD, and wondered: would HammerFall being play into their 50s?
“I don’t know to be honest, it depends on what happens before that. I mean this is something I have been doing all my life so if you look at it that way of course we’ll still be going on into our 50s, but it’s not just my decision, everybody has to be involved.” Perhaps it pays to be able to take as many drugs as Ozzy and have a guitarist like Zack Wylde?
“Yeah I mean he (Zack) is a weird guy too, I mean I don’t know him, I don’t know what he’s like apart from the interviews… he’s a good guitar player but he wants so desperately to be cool, like he’s not cool anymore with his beard and motorcycle gang attitude. I don’t approve of that all. I think it’s one thing to believe in yourself and stand up for what you believe in, but it’s another thing to force everybody to like what you do and think you’re cool.”
With their electrifying sound likened to Iron Maiden, and a typical ‘don’t give a shit’ metal attitude, there’s no reason why HammerFall won’t conquer the world and burn a few stages along the way.
HammerFall’s new album At the Threshold is available through Nuclear Blast Records.