Intervjui

Joacim Cans, HAMMERFALL - 'Ostati veran sebi je duh heavy metala'
26.10.2016. | |

HammerFall je bend koji uživa veliko poštovanje usled činjenice da su 90-ih godina tradicionalni metal izvukli iz naftalina i vratili ga na festivalske bine. Sada, skoro 20 godina nakon legendarnog debi albuma "Glory to the Brave" bend svojim 10. albumom glasno poručuje 'heavy metal se vratio!' O predstojećem izdanju "Built to Last", napuštanju dugogodišnjeg izdavača, razlazu sa dugogodišnjim bubnjarom i o tome šta zapravo znači biti "metal" sa nama je pričao frontmen sastava, Joacim Cans.

Postava benda Hammerfall

Pozdrav i hvala ti što si odvojio vremena za ovaj intervju. Imamo dosta tema za razgovor, ali počnimo od najočiglednije. Napustili ste izdavačku kuću Nuclear Blast nakon skoro 20 godina i potpisali ugovor za Napalm Records, za koje ćete izdati svoj predstojeći album "Built To Last". Za mene lično HammerFall i Nuclar Blast su dugo bili sinonimni, u smislu da delite zajedničke skromne početke i da ste rasli jedni uz druge. Prema tome, šta je uzrokovalo ovu promenu, u kom trenutku ste prelomili?

Joacim Cans: Nekada je promena ono što vam je potrebno u životu da smognete snage i nastavite. Imali smo sjajan odnos sa ljudima iz Nuclear Blast i zajedno smo rasli proteklih 18 godina. Kada nam je ugovor istekao dali smo izdavaču Nuclear Blast prvu ponudu, ali nisu nam izneli dovoljno dobar marketinški plan sa kojim bi bend HammerFall nastavio dalje. Ljudi iz kuće Napalm Records su nas kontaktirali i ponudili marketinški plan koji je bio upravo ono što smo tražili.

Prelazimo na novi album, šta nam možeš reći o imenu - da li misliš da će ime "Built To Last" biti talično?

Joacim: "Built To Last" je album koji će izdržati test vremena. Kada se budu osvrnuli na ovaj album za 10 - 15 godina mislim da će fanovi smatrati ovaj album jednim od najboljih albuma u istoriji benda. "Built To Last" takođe označava fantastičnu karijeru benda HammerFall do sada. Izgradili smo veoma jaku karijeru koja će ostati jaka i nakon što prestanemo da se aktivno bavimo bendom.

Moram reći da album definitivno prirasta za srce, a neki od mojih favorita su himnična "Hammer High", "The Star of Home" i verovatno moja omiljena pesma na albumu, "Second To None". Ovu pesmu krase sjajne vokalne i gitarske melodije i jeziva atmosfera. Možeš li nam reći nešto više o ovoj pesmi, da li neka posebna priča stoji iza nje?

Joacim: Ta pesma govori o čoveku koji istražuje svetlu i tamnu stranu kako bi video da li se odgovori na sva njegova pitanja kriju tamo, ali ih ne nalazi ni na jednoj ni na drugoj strani. Ova pesma govori o tome koliko je bitno da slušate sebe, da budete svoje jedino božanstvo. Na tom putu će se naći mnogo prepreka, u ovom slučaju planina koje morate preći. I kada dođete do vrha, vidite da nema ničega, da su vas pogrešno naveli. Ova pesma mi je veoma lična i značajna, i definitivno jedna od mojih omiljenih na albumu.

Drago mi je da to čujem. To je jedna od onih pesama posle koje tražite još, i stoga je sjajan izbor da zatvori album. Pored nje, na koje pesme biste skrenuli pažnju fanova? Koje pesme ćemo sigurno imati prilike da čujemo uživo?

Joacim: Mislim da bend HammerFall uvek izdaje albume, i to je veoma izbalansiran i razmotren proces biranja pesama koje će se naći na albumu. Interesantna činjenica vezana za ovaj album je da nikada nismo imali toliko brzih pesama kao sada. Mislim da je dobar način da slušate albume benda HammerFall od početka do kraja. To je veoma temeljno razmotren proces kada biramo redosled pesama na albumu. Zato je "Second to None" poslednja pesma, zato što smo hteli da slušaoci pomisle "Sranje, šta to bi? Želim još!" Baš kao što si rekao.

Ne mogu reći poslušajte ovu ili onu pesmu. Mi smo bend koji izdaje albume i to ne na način na koji moderni pop izvođači izdaju pesme a ne albume. Mi izdajemo albume. Preslušajte album od početka do kraja, pa posle toga slušajte kako god želite da programirate svoj Spotify, ili kako već slušate muziku danas. Ali i pored toga, smatram da će "Hammer High" definitivno biti favorit uživo.

Kako ste komponovali materijal na albumu, da li ste svirali zajedno ili ste koristili moderne metode i delili i razvijali ideje preko interneta?

Joacim: Oscar i ja smo glavni kompozitori u bendu još od samog početka, uz pomoć ljudi oko nas. Ali nas dvojica nikada nismo sedeli zajedno, uvek smo komponovali zasebno. Oscar osmisli rifove i aranžmane i šalje to meni. Ja osmislim vokalne linije, i kada to završim pišem tekstove. To je veoma dobar način saradnje između nas dvojice. Ranije, na samom početku karijere smo slali kasete sa demo snimcima. Nakon toga smo slali diskove, a sada šaljemo fajlove. Ali to je način na koji radimo, napred - nazad. Kada završim rad na svojim stvarima šaljem njemu, zato što ponekada ne mogu sam da prosudim da li je melodija koju sam napisao dobra. Nemam pojma. Zato što se na neki način ubijate emotivno misleći "ovo je loše, potpuno užasno".  Sa druge strane potreban mi je neko da to posluša, i kada dobijem njegovo odobrenje znam da sam osmislio dobru pesmu ili vokalnu liniju.

HammerFall - Built to Last (2016)

Pre par godina, 2014. tačnije bend je napustio Anders Johansson, a u bend došao David Wallin. Internetom su kružile priče da ste otkrili da Anders napušta bend preko svog koncertnog agenta, mislim da je Oscar to izjavio. Da li ste imali vremena da izgladite odnose u međuvremenu?

Joacim: (smeh) Da, to je bilo zbunjujuće. Imali smo par konfuznih dana kada je otišao. Ali i dalje smo dobri prijatelji. Anders i ja smo baš sinoć bili na večeri na jugu Švedske, tako da nema nikakvih razmirica među nama. Mislim da mu je jednostavno bilo dosta svega pa je pomislio: "Napuštam bend i ne želim da sada pričam o tome. Ne želim da branim svoju odluku." Zato je došlo do takve zbrke par dana, zato što nismo znali šta se dešava. "Da li je Anders i dalje u bendu? Ali treba nam za turneju po Brazilu. Ko će svirati bubnjeve?" Bilo je dosta zabune, ali mislim da je to što smo doveli David-a u tom trenutku da svira na turneji i ovom albumu bila prava odluka i pozitivan podstrek za bend.

Upravo sam to hteo da pitam. Koliko je mlađi član sa drugačijom muzičkom podlogom za bubnjevima uticao na ishod albuma? Da li je revitalizovao ritam sekciju i ostatak benda?

Joacim: Da, dosta je doprineo našem zvuku. Veoma je pouzdan i svira ono što je najbolje za muziku, a ne za sebe. To je ono što mi se kod njega posebno sviđa.

Pred vama je dug put u okviru predstojeće turneje, počevši sa Evropom preko Južne i Severne Amerike. Imate dosta interesantnih gostiju na turneji, bendove Lancer i Gloryhammer u Evropi i Delain sa kojima delite poziciju zvezde večeri u SAD. Šta nam možeš reći o ovim aranžmanima, da li ste sami izabrali bendove ili su koncertne agencije to uradile za vas?

Joacim: Zapravo, Delain su prišli nama i pitali da li bismo bili zainteresovani za turneju po SAD. Planirali smo turneju po Severnoj Americi i kada su nas pitali odgovorili smo "hajde" iz stopa. Oni su mlađi bend koji svira nešto drugačiju vrstu muzike. Mi smo stariji i na sceni smo dosta, dosta duže. Ovo će biti naša peta turneja po SAD pa mislimo da je ovo sjajan paket. Privući ćemo različite tipove ljudi na nastupe.

Kada je reč o predgrupama u Švedskoj, Lancer je predlog benda HammerFall. Oscar je bio veoma zagrejan da nam se pridruže. Bili su izuzetno srećni kada smo im ponudili da krenu sa nama na turneju, i naravno da su bili za to. Oni su mladi, sveži i bend u usponu sa novim albumom, te bi ovo mogla da bude velika prekretnica za njih. Kada je u pitanju bend Gloryhammer, njih je predložila izdavačka kuća. Kada sam ih preslušao bio sam totalno zapanjen. Nikada pre nisam čuo za ovaj bend. Pomislio sam "sranje, kako su mi ovi momci promakli?" Smešni su, energični, imaju sjajan vokal i mislim da su sjajan paket. Odabrali smo bendove koji se nama sviđaju i za koje verujemo da će se svideti našim fanovima.

To se pokazalo kao sjajna praksa u prošlosti, kako su bendovi koji danas uživaju ogromnu popularnost dobili priliku da sviraju kao predgrupa vama, kao na primer bend Sabaton.

Joacim: Kao što naša nova pesma "New Breed" kaže: "New breed, old breed, we are all the same breed" (engl. "nova vrsta, stara vrsta, svi smo ista vrsta"). Tu smo da pomognemo jedni drugima.

Od samog nastanka ste identifikovali sebe i svoje fanove sa tematikom Templara. Odakle potiče ova fascinacija i zašto misliš da toliko dobro paše uz ovu muziku?

Joacim: Nisam baš siguran. Mislim da sam prvi put čuo za Templare iz filmova uz koje sam odrastao, kao i na albumu "Crusader" benda Saxon. Uvek sam mislio da predstavljaju nešto dobro, ali sada kada znam njihovu prošlost mislim da su bili prilično loši ljudi. Išli su na krstaške pohode u ime hrišćanstva što je prilično neobično, ali tada za bolje nisu ni znali. Ono što smo mi uradili je pripisali to muzici benda HammerFall, predstavljajući sebe kao krstaše heavy metal zvuka. Svaka turneja je bila krstaški pohod da preobratimo nevernike i nateramo ih da slušaju heavy metal. Upravo tako smo iskoristili ovu tematiku. Templari benda HammerFall su naši fanovi, zato što su na svom pohodu da skrenu pažnju celom svetu na bend HammerFall. Mislim da smo iskoristili ovu tematiku na dobar, zabavan i kul način.

Da, bilo je kul u 90-im. Sada sa svom političkom korektnošću mogli biste se naći na nečijoj meti zbog toga.

Joacim: Da, s tim što se ja nikada ne bih trudio da budem korektan zato što je to danas... Mislim, recite ono što želite. Morate da se borite za ono u šta verujete. Nikada ne bih opravdao ono što su Templari činili tada, zato što je čudno. Mislim, kada pišemo pesme kao što su "Steel Meets Steel" ljudi su u fazonu "podržavate ono što su Templari činili". Ne, ne podržavamo. Pesma je napisana iz perspektive viteza tog reda. Ne podržavamo ništa slično i ja to lično nikada ne bih podržavao.

Postava benda Hammerfall

Bavite se ovim već 20 godina i oduvek me zanimalo kako uspevate da održite stvari interesantnim za vas same, kada znate da odstupanje od norme može dovesti do loših reakcija fanova kao što je bio slučaj sa albumom "Infected"? 

Joacim: Naša najveća nagrada, bonus i dobitak na lutriji je kada smo na bini. Svake večeri kada upoznate ljude i vidite u njihovim očima da se zabavljaju kao nikada do tada i koliko vole ono što radite. Tada sam presrećan. Pisanje pesama je na neki način emotivno samoubistvo. Rad u studiju je zabavan, ali ume da bude dosta stresan. Ali na bini možete da se opustite i zajedno sa fanovima dobro provedete.

Radimo ono što želimo i pišemo pesme kakve želimo da pišemo. Ako se ljudi žale "sve je potpuno isto" možda ova muzika nije za njih. Zato što postoje ljudi koji to cene i koji vide dalje od prvog preslušavanja. "To zvuči kao HammerFall". Odlično, zato što mi jesmo HammerFall. Nemamo nameru da se menjamo previše drastično. Kada je album "Infected" u pitanju, mislim da su ljudi sudili album po omotu. Čim su videli omot rekli su "ne, ovo mi se neće svideti" i nije im se ni svidelo na kraju. Ali ako preslušate album na njemu ima sjajnih pesama, bar po meni.

Slažem se. Nakon objavljivanja albuma "Infected" napravili ste pauzu sa bendom HammerFall. Čitao sam u brojnim intervjuima sa raznim članovima benda kako je ta pauza preporodila bend. Šta je ovu pauzu učinilo tako značajnim trenutkom u vašoj karijeri, kako je album "(r)Evoluton" koji je usledio nakon nje pokupio sjajne kritike?

Joacim: Kada smo odlučili da odmorimo od svega, radost sviranja muzike, rada sa bendom i turneja je nestala. Trebalo nam je da se posvetimo drugim stvarima, da se malo izgladnimo od svega toga ili pokušamo da ponovo nađemo tu radost. Onog dana kada me bavljenje muzikom i sviranje u bendu ne bude ispunjavalo neću se više time baviti. Bio bih budala da zavaravam i sebe i fanove. Slava i novac nisu ono što me vodi, već strast koju osećam prema muzici. A kada strast više ne bude tu, vreme je da se bavite drugim stvarima. To smo i učinili. Ubrzo su pisanje pesama, turneje i sviranje pesme "Hears on Fire" svake večeri počeli da nam nedostaju. Tada smo odlučili da želimo da snimimo novi album, odredili datum izdavanja i bacili se na rad. Taj album je bilo toliko lako napisati zato što je rad na njemu bio izuzetno zabavan. Volim svaki trenutak, svaku sekundu tog albuma. Tako da je ova pauza bila najpametniji potez u našoj karijeri.

Tokom pomenute pauze snimio si solo album čije ime se neću ni truditi da izgovorim (smeh). Album je pun sjajnih pesama i neke od njih imaju sjajnu, mračnu skandinavsku atmosferu pomešanu sa malo country i tradicionalne muzike. Da li je to nešto što si želeo da izbaciš iz sebe ili je to muzika u kojoj lično uživaš?

Joacim: Hvala ti puno. Dok sam odrastao stalno sam slušao švedske kantautore, sve te folk muzičare. Zaista volim izražaj koji neguju, tu priču koju kroz tu vrstu muzike pričaju. Nemojte me pogrešno shvatiti. Heavy metal je moj žanr. Imam preko hiljadu heavy metal ploča u svojoj kolekciji. To je moj fah. Ali u isto vreme volim dobru muziku. I umesto pisanja knjige, tipa autobiografije želeo sam da uradim muzičku autobiografiju. Takođe sam hteo da malo šokiram ljude, pokažem im drugu stranu sebe. Seo sam sa gitarom i počeo rad na ovom albumu. Sve pesme sam napisao sam, osim njih dve. Dodao sam sve te čudne instrumente kao što su harmonike, nikelharpa, sve što sam želeo da imam. Na albumu je gostovalo preko 28 muzičara kako bi materijal zvučao onako kako sam ga zamislio. I veoma mi je drago što ti se dopada zato što je to veoma emotivan i veoma ličan album. Nažalost, namenjen je pretežno skandinavskom tržištu i Švedskoj, zbog švedskog jezika, ali tako je kako je.

Da, ali mislim da to više ne predstavlja prepreku. Znaš za sve te silne islandske bendove kao što je Sólstafir, koji su izuzetno popularni uprkos činjenici da pevaju na maternjem jeziku. Zaista mi se svidela ta strana tebe, a posebno vokali! Vokali su fantastični i potpuno drugačiji. A i pored toga, većina metal bendova bi ubilo da imaju pesmu kao što je "Svart" sa takvom mračnom atmosferom.

Joacim: Da, to je poslednja pesma koju sam napisao. Nisam bio siguran da li da je ubacim na album, ali na kraju ipak jesam.

Da li si dobijao negativnih komentara od metal zajednice, pošto znamo kako fanovi ovog zvuka znaju da budu prilično strogi prema metal muzičarima koji se oprobavaju u drugim vodama? Pored toga si učestvovao i na festivalu Melodifestivalen i takmičio se da predstavljaš svoju zemlju na Evroviziji, a znamo kakav stav ljubitelji heavy metala imaju prema tom događaju.

Joacim: Sam znaš kakvi metalci umeju da budu. Uvek će biti ljudi sa negativnim komentarima. Bez obzira šta radim, šta radimo sa bendom HammerFall, uvek će biti onih koji se žale, žale u vezi ovoga ili onoga. "Zvučite potpuno isto" ili "Ne, opet pišete pesme o čekićima", bla bla bla... U redu, izvinite ali ako je sve što radimo pogrešno zašto ne osnujete bend i radite stvari na pravi način? Zašto sami ne pišete pesme? Ali ja radim ovo zbog sebe. Radim u pozorištima, glumim u mjuziklu, pišem scenario. Radim ono što želim. Po meni, ostati veran sebi je duh heavy metala.

Slažem se. Pomalo je ironično da su fanovi metala tako strogi prema drugačijim stilovima muzike kao što je pop, a opet su bendovi krcati pop uticajima kao što su Ghost ili Amaranthe popularni među istom tom publikom.

Joacim: Istina. Ali ljudi se uvek žale. A izuzetno je lako žaliti se putem društvenih mreža. Ne morate da pokažete svoje lice, mogu anonimno da izgovore toliko gadne stvari da bi ih trebalo zatvoriti i oduzeti im internet zbog toga (smeh).

Nažalost na ovoj turneji nema datuma na Balkanu, a najbliži koncert nama je u Mađarskoj. Da li misliš da ćete organizovati još jedan deo turneje tokom koga ćete posetiti i zemlje istočne Evrope?

Joacim: Otpočinjemo ovu turneju sa zapadnim delom Evrope zato što ćemo imati ogromnu produkciju i sa njom ne možemo posetiti određene zemlje zato što su bine premale. Tako da sada radimo na tome, a nakon festivalske sezone ćemo planirati dodatne datume. Ali i dalje je prerano reći. Nadam se da ćemo posetiti i vaše krajeve.

Imaš li nekih dragih sećanja vezanih za Srbiju? Bili ste ovde u više navrata, održavali koncerte ali i snimali spotove.

Joacim: Da, umalo nismo i spot za "Hammer High" snimili u Srbiji ali nismo imali vremena. Nažalost utrošili bismo previše vremena. Svaki koncert i svaka poseta Beogradu su bili fantastični. Zaista mi se dopada grad, a tu je i jedan sjajan rock bar koji posećujemo. Naši fanovi u Srbiji su sjajni i zaista se radujemo ponovnom dolasku.

Mi takođe. To bi bilo sve za ovaj intervju, da li imaš neku poruku za fanove u Srbiji i čitaoce Nocturne magazina?

Joacim: Kao i uvek, hvala vam na neizmernoj podršci. Bez fanova bend je niko i ništa. I dalje bismo svirali ovu muziku, ali kada niko ne bi kupovao albume ili dolazio na koncerte bend bi nestao. Gajim dosta poštovanja prema našim fanovima, i nadam se da će biti sa nama dugo, dugo vremena.

Joacim Cans, HAMMERFALL - 'Staying true to yourself is the Heavy Metal Spirit'
26.10.2016. | |

HammerFall is a band hailed for dusting off the traditional metal sound and taking it back to the big stages back in the 90's. Now, almost 20 years after their legendary debut "Glory to the Brave" the band returns with their 10th release that screams "heavy metal is back!" Lead singer Joacim Cans spoke to us about their upcoming album "Built to Last", leaving their long-time record label and parting with their long-time drummer, as well as what exactly being "metal" means.

Postava benda Hammerfall

Hello Joacim, and thank you for taking the time for this interview. There’s a lot to talk about, but let’s start with the most obvious question. You’ve parted ways with Nuclear Blast after almost 20 years and signed to Napalm Records, who are going to release your upcoming album "Built to Last". For me personally, HammerFall and Nuclear Blast were synonymous for a long time, in a sense that you both started out small and basically grew side by side. So what prompted the change, what was the breaking point?

Joacim Cans: Sometimes a change is what you need in life to find new strength to move on. We had a great relationship with Nuclear Blast and we both grew bigger together during the 18 years together. When the contract ended we of course gave Nuclear Blast the first option but they didn’t really come up with a good enough marketing plan to take HammerFall into the future. We got contacted by Napalm and they gave us a marketing plan that really was what we were looking for. 

Going on to the new record, what can you tell us about the name – do you think it’s going to be a good omen?

Joacim: "Built to Last" stands for an album that will stand the test of time. When looking back at this album 10-15 years from now I really think people will consider this to be one of the most solid albums in the history of the band. "Built to Last" is also referring to the fantastic career we had with HammerFall so far. We have built something very strong that will remain strong also after the active career of the band is over. 

I have to say, the album is definitely a grower, and some of my favorites include the anthemic "Hammer High", "The Star of Home" and probably my favorite track on the album, "Second to None". It has these great vocal and guitar harmonies, and an eerie feel. Can you tell us more about this song, is there a special story behind it?

Joacim: The song is about a man who goes both to the light and the dark side to see if the answers to his questions lie there, but they don’t. This song is about the importance of listening to yourself, you should be your own God. There are so many obstacles out there, in this case all the mountains you have to climb. And when you come to the top you see there’s nothing up there, you have been falsely led. To me it is a very important song and this is definitely my favorite song on the album as well.

Great to hear it. It’s the kind of song that leaves you asking for more. And it’s a great choice to close the album. But apart from that song, what other songs would you advise fans to pay special attention to? Which songs are we bound to hear live?

Joacim: I think HammerFall always releases albums, and it’s a very well-balanced, thought process when it comes to what songs we are going to write for the album. Funny thing with this album is that we never had as many fast songs as we do on this one. I think a good way to listen to HammerFall is to start with the first song and listen through. It’s a very though-out process when we choose the order of the songs. That’s why "Second to None" is the last song, because we wanted to leave the listener thinking "Wow, shit, what was this. I want more". Just like you said.

I can’t really say this or that song. We are an album band and we release albums and not in the way modern pop artists who release songs do. We release albums. Listen from the first to the last song, and then you can listen to however you want to program your Spotify or however you listen to music these days. But I do think that "Hammer High" will be a live favorite, definitely.

How did you compose the album, do you get together and jam or do you use the modern methods and just upload and develop ideas through the internet?

Joacim: Oscar and I are the main writers for the band. We have been writing everything since day one, with some input from people around us. But we never sat down together, we’ve always done this by ourselves. Oscar comes up with the guitar riffs and the arrangements, then he sends the stuff to me. I do the vocal melodies, and when I’m done we finalize the lyrics. It’s a very good cooperation between me and Oscar. Back in the early days we sent cassettes, tapes to each other with demos. Then we sent CDs, and now we’re sending files. But that’s the way we do it, back and forth. When I’m done with my stuff I send it to him, because sometimes I can’t really judge if it’s a good melody I came up with. I have no idea. Because you’re kind of killing yourself emotionally when you say "it’s bad, it’s horrible". But then again I just need someone to listen to it and when I get his approval I know that it’s a good song or a vocal melody.

HammerFall - Built to Last (2016)

Back in 2014 you’ve parted ways with Anders Johansson and replaced him with David Wallin. There was a story on the internet that you’ve found out he left the band through your booking agency, I think it was Oscar who said it. Did you get the chance to sort things out with him in the meantime?

Joacim: (Laughs) Yeah, that was confusing. That was a very confusing couple of days when he left. But we are very good friends. I’ve had dinner with Anders just last night in the south of Sweden, so there are no hard feelings whatsoever. I think he was just so fed up with everything he just decided "I’m leaving the band and I don’t want to talk about it at this point. I don’t want to defend my decision". That’s why it became such a mess for a couple of days, because we didn’t know what was going on, "is Anders not in the band anymore. But we need him for Brasil. Who’s gonna play the drums". It was confuising, but I think bringing David on board at that point and have him play on the tour and this album was a positive injection.

That was actually going to be the next question. How did having a younger, differently oriented drummer affect the new album? Did the reinvigorate the rhythm section or energize the rest of the band?

Joacim: Yeah, he improved the overall sound. He’s so solid, and his playing what’s best for the music and not what’s best for him. That’s what I like about him.

You have a lot of touring ahead of you, starting out with Europe and through South and North America. You have a lot of interesting guests on the tour, Lancer and Gloryhammer for Europe and co-headlining with Delain in the US. What can you tell us about this package, did you pick out the bands or did the booking agency do that for you?

Joacim: Actually, it was Delain who asked us if we would be interested in doing a co-headliner tour of the US. We were looking at a possible US tour, and when they asked us we said "Let’s do it". They are a young band playing a little different type of music. We are older and have been around for much, much longer. This will be our fifth US tour so it’s a very good mix. We will pull different types of people to the show.

When it comes to the support bands in Sweden, Lancer was a suggestion from HammerFall. Oscar was really into having them. They were happy when we asked them if they wanted to do the tour, and of course they were eager to do the tour. They are still young, fresh and coming up with a new album, and it could really be a big break for them. When it comes to Gloryhammer, this was suggested by the record label. We listened to them, and I got totally blown away. I’ve never heard the band before. I thought "Shit, how could I have missed these guys". They are funny, energetic, great vocals and I think that this is the ultimate package. We picked bands that we like and we picked bands that we believe our fans will like.

Well, that did prove to be a good practice in the past, as bands who are immensely popular now started out playing as support, like Sabaton.

Joacim: Like our song "New Breed" says: "New breed, old breed, we are all the same breed". We are here to help each other out.

Ever since your inception you’ve often identified yourself and your fans with the Templar imagery. Where did this fascination come from in the first place and why do you think it translates into the metal scene so well?

I’m not really sure. I think the first time I came across the Templars was movies I grew up with, and also Saxon and their "Crusader" album. I always thought of them as something good, but now when I know the history they were kind of bad people. They went out on crusades for Christianity which was kind of a weird thing to do, but back then they did not know any better. So what we did is apply that to our music with HammerFall being the crusaders for heavy metal music. Every tour was a crusade to convert the infidels to start listening to heavy metal. That was exactly why we applied the Templar theme. The Templars of HammerFall were our fans, because they were on a crusade to tell the rest of the world about HammerFall. I think that we applied in a proper, funny and a cool way.

Yeah, it was cool in the 90’s, however with all the political correctness of today, some might attack a band for doing so.

Joacim: Yeah, but I would never try and be correct because today it is a… I mean, say what you want to say. You have to stand up and fight for who you are. I would never justify the way Templars did things back then because that’s weird. I mean, sometimes we do songs like "Steel Meets Steel" and people are like "Oh, you are glorifying the Templars". No, we are not. That song was written from a Templar knight’s point of view. We are not glorifying anything, I would never glorify that myself.

Postava benda Hammerfall

You’ve been at this for 20 years and I was wondering what do you do to keep yourself enterntained when you know there’s a potential backlash with the fans lurking around the corner if you try to do something different, like we’ve seen with the "Infected" album?

Joacim: The big reward for us, when we hit the bonus and lottery win is when we go up on stage. Every night when you meet the people and see in their eyes that they are having the time of their life and they love what we do. Then I’m so happy. Writing songs is kind of an emotional suicide. Being in the studio is fun, but is also a lot of pressure on you. But on stage you can just relax and have fun with the fans.

We just do what we do and write the songs we want to write. And if people complain "Oh, it’s all exactly the same" then maybe this music is not for you. Because there are people out there who appreciate this and they can see through the first listen. "This sounds like HammerFall". Good, because we are HammerFall. I don’t want to change too drastically. I think, with "Infected" people judged the album by the cover. Already when they saw the cover they said "No, I’m not going to like this". And they didn’t like it. But if you listen to the album, there are great fucking songs on the album, in my opinion.

Yeah, definitely. After the release of "Infected" you guys took a break from HammerFall, and I’ve read a number of interviews with different members of the band, and all of them stated that the break invigorated the band. What is it that made this break such a milestone moment in the band’s career and it has since "(r)Evolution", the album that came after it was met with critical acclaim everywhere?

Joacim: When we decided to take a break from everything, the joy of playing music, being in a band and on tour was gone. We just needed to do something else, to build up that hunger or at least try to find it again. The day I don’t have fun and joy playing in a band anymore, I won’t do it. Because that would be to fool myself and also to fool the fans. It’s not the money or the fame that drives me, it’s the passion for music. And when the passion is not there anymore you need to try something different. And that’s what we did. After a while we started to miss writing songs, being on a tour bus and playing "Hearts on Fire". And when we decided to do an album again, we had a release date and we stated writing. And that album was pretty easy to write because it’s just so much fun. I just love every moment, every second of it. So this break was probably the smartest thing we’ve ever done in our career.

During the break you released a solo album, and I will not try to pronounce its name as I will probably butcher it (laugh). It’s full of great tracks and some of them have this great, dark Scandinavian vibe mixed with a bit of country and traditional music. Was this something you wanted to get out of your system, is this music you enjoy listening to personally?

Joacim: Wow, thank you. Growing up I always listened to Swedish singer-songwriters, these folk singers. I really love the expression they have, the storytelling in this type of music. Don’t get me wrong. Heavy metal is my cup of tea. I have a vinyl collection of over 1000 heavy metal albums alone. That is my thing. But I like good music. And instead of writing a book, like an autobiography I wanted to do an autobiography in  a musical way. But I also wanted to shock people a little bit, to show them a different side of myself. So I sat down with a guitar and started writing for this album. And I wrote it all by myself except for two songs. I got weird instruments like accordions, key fiddles, everything I wanted to have. I had 28 people playing on the album, just to make it exactly the way I wanted it. And I’m happy you like it because it’s a very emotional album, very personal album. Unfortunately it was meant for Scandinavia and Sweden only, because of the Swedish language, that’s the way it is.

Yeah, but I think that’s no longer a barrier. You know all those bands from Iceland like Sólstafir are extremely popular while still singing in their native language. I really liked that side of you, and the vocals! The vocals are incredible, and totally different. And still, most metal bands would kill to have a song like "Svart", with its dark atmosphere.

Joacim: That’s the last song I wrote. I was not sure I should include it on the album, but I decided to in the end.

Did you get any negative comments from the metal community, as we know metalheads can be extremely judgmental of metal musicians trying out different styles? You also participated in the Melodifestivalen, competing to represent Sweden in the Eurovision song contest, and we know how metalheads can be opinionated about that.

Joacim: You know how metal fans can be. There’s always people saying negative things. No matter what I do, what we do with HammerFall, there’s always these people complaining, complaining about this and that. "Oh, It sounds exactly the same" or "Oh, now they are writing a song about hammers again", bla bla bla… Ok, I’m sorry but if everything we do is wrong why don’t you form a band and do it the right way. Why don’t you write songs? But, I’m doing this to amuse myself. I’m working theaters, I did a musical, and I’m writing scripts. I’m just doing the things I do. I think that staying true to yourself is the heavy metal spirit to me.

It’s a bit ironic metalheads are so harsh on different styles of music, for example pop, and still bands like Ghost or Amaranthe with a lot of pop influences are still so popular today with the exact same people.

Joacim: It’s true. But people will always complain. IT’s easy to complain now with social media. You don’t have to show your face, you can do it anonymously and you can say so many bad things they should be put in jail and have their internet access taken away from them for that (smeh).

Sadly, you don’t have any dates on the Balkans except for Hungary on this tour. Do you think you will have another leg of the tour visiting the Eastern European countries as well?

Joacim: We are starting the tour with this part of Europe because we are bringing a big production, and we can’t really come down to play certain countries with this production because the stages are too small. So we are looking into doing this now, and after the summer festival season we are planning additional dates. But it’s too early to say. Hopefully we will.

Any fond memories of Serbia? You’ve been here a couple of times, doing shows as well as recording videos.

Joacim: Yeah, we almost recorded the video for "Hammer High" in Serbia again, but we didn’t have the time. It would take too much time unfortunately. Every show and every visit to Belgrade has been fantastic. I really like the city and there’s a nice rock bar we go to. We have great fans there and we are really looking to coming back.

We hope so too. That’s all for this interview. Do you have any messages for your fans in Serbia and the readers of Nocturne Magazine?

Joacim: As always, thank you for the great support. Without the fans we are nothing. We could still play our music, but if nobody bought the albums or came to the shows, the band would disappear. I have a lot of respect for our fans, and I hope they will be with us for a long, long time.

Autor: Jovan Ristić

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