Anthony Morgan of Metal Forces recently conducted an interview with HAMMERFALL guitarist Oscar Dronjak. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
On beginning the writing process in late 2014 for latest album "Built To Last":
Oscar: "That was just because I had some inspiration. It wasn't like I sat down and tried to write some stuff. That started much later, probably about a year later, so I guess it's fair to say that we started working on this album in September of 2015. Normally, we have six months that we dedicate to songwriting, only so that I can be home and work on the songs as much as I can do in that period. This time, however, we did not have that luxury. We were doing a couple of tours up until almost at least two months before we started recording I think or something like that, which is highly unusual. It's not something that I'm very comfortable with, because when I write songs, I wanna be at home — I wanna be in my controlled environment. I wanna be able to think about the songs not only when I'm working on them, but also afterwards like when I'm in the shower, or having dinner, or whatever. I let the songs grow in my mind a little bit. I did not have that luxury or the chance to get that done this time around, but it worked out anyway. It wasn't the best way of writing to make me feel calm because it was kind of stressful at times, but I think I'm super-satisfied with the results. You trust your gut feeling as you go along, and it worked out really well in the end."
On "Built To Last" compared to previous albums:
Oscar: "I would say that we started with '(r)Evolution' , which was a good mix of the old HAMMERFALL and the new HAMMERFALL. I think this is a good continuation of that. Another factor that I think has to do with the fact that those two albums are similar is how they came about, because we recorded this album — 'Built To Last' — in exactly the same way as we did '(r)Evolution'. We used my studios, Castle Black Studios, for drums, guitar, and bass. Then we moved onto James Michael's studio in Los Angeles to do the vocals with Joacim [Cans], and Fredrik Nordström did the mix in the end, so it was exactly the same way of doing it. We felt 'Why change a winning team?' It worked really well on '(r)Evolution'. We all worked very fast and the result turned out great, so we figured to do it the same way now, and it turned out even better this time."
On whether a verbal altercation occurred between the band and former drummer Anders Johansson:
Oscar: "No, no. I mean, I still haven't talked to him, believe it or not. [Laughs] He didn't answer any calls at that time. The thing is with Anders, he's a very unique person, and the way he went about doing this thing was he didn't tell anybody what he was doing. He told our booking agency, because we had a tour booked for Latin America which included visas for Brazil. I know we had a show in Russia before that, and I think it had a name and everything. He told our booking agency that he wasn't going to be doing the tour, so they didn't have to book anything for him. Our booking agency came back to us and said 'Okay, so Anders isn't going to do the tour. He's out of the band. Who's going to be your drummer? So I know what name to put down on everything.' We were like 'Wait, what? What are you saying?' So, that's how he informed us. He didn't inform us, really. He just let us find out from a third party, which I think was a bullshit way of doing it. I told him this many times. It felt like after 15 years, we deserved better than we got. I think 15 years is something you don't just throw away like that, so I was really angry with him, or upset rather for a long time. The thing is, when this happened, the same day that I got the e-mail from our booking agency, I had just had my first child. We were at the hospital. I think this was the day after, actually, so I was a little bit preoccupied. My main focus was on my kid, obviously, my family, at that time."
On leaving Nuclear Blast and signing with Napalm:
Oscar: "The thing was, we had been with Nuclear Blast for 18 years. When we signed with them, through the next ten to 15 years, we were one of the bigger bands that they had. We had helped to build the label, but then they started signing a lot of bands, and a lot of bands that had had success. We felt that HAMMERFALL wasn't as big of a priority as we were before. They said we were, but you could tell — you could feel it. So, we started thinking 'Okay, the safe choice is obviously Nuclear Blast because they know how to promote a HAMMERFALL album.' There was no question about that, and again, there was never anything where we said 'That sucks. We wanna get out of here.' That was never the case. It was more a case of trying something new after 18 years. With Napalm Records, we found a label that actually really believed in HAMMERFALL. That wanted to make the band bigger and wanted to look forward, instead of just playing safe and doing the same things we've always done and have worked in the past. I guess that's what it was for us. It was a way for us to keep things fresh and feel like we're moving forward, basically."
Read the entire interview at Metal Forces.