Clint Switzer of the "Music Mania" podcast conducted an interview with guitarist Oscar Dronjak of Swedish melodic metallers HAMMERFALL prior to the band's October 25 concert at Riot Room in Kansas City, Missouri in support of SABATON. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether he feels American audiences have been slow to embrace HAMMERFALL:
Oscar: "We've been around for 22 years and heavy metal, the way we play it, the melodic stuff, at the end of the '90s and for a large part of the 2000s as well was…I don't know, it wasn't regarded [laughs] nicely. If you had a band that was singing with clean vocals, it was not worth a lot over here, unfortunately. That has changed now, for sure — in the last ten years or so, it's been a big change. When we do these tours, we are coming back again next year as well. It will be four tours in four years. That is because it's finally working over here for us."
On HAMMERFALL's formation in 1997 at a time when melodic metal was considered to be unhip:
Oscar: "The climate over here was much worse for much longer, but it was pretty bad first in Sweden as well in the early, mid-'90s for this type of music. I mean, it took actually the turn of the millennia where it started getting more recognition in Sweden as well. The reason I started HAMMERFALL is simple: I wanted to play the music that I love the most. That's what it was. I didn't have any aspirations. I didn't have any goals or anything, I just wanted to make great music that I enjoy with my friends who also enjoy the same type of music. That was the whole thing with HAMMERFALL."
On the reception to the band's new studio album, "Dominion":
Oscar: "It's been really good. This is our 11th album, so you'd think we'd get used to it somehow. It's always that way — you write songs, you invest time and effort and passion and everything you have into them, recordings and everything, and when that's done, you can't change anything, but you still don't know how other people are going to react to it when they hear it. I always think that we've done a good job, but I never know what other people are going to think. Once the album actually does come out, there's a couple of singles before and videos and stuff, you can sort of tell where we were headed. People have been very receptive to this album for sure. The great thing is that when we finish, I have certain feelings about it. Like, this, I think is good for that reason, and it seems like people have heard the same things I've heard in the album."
On why Sweden produces so many quality hard rock and heavy metal bands:
Oscar: "I don't really know why this is. I just know the facts and there are so many bands out of Sweden, and what I think is the most important thing about all these bands is their individuality. Because you can continue with the bands you mention, you can continue going with SABATON, or IN FLAMES, and DARK TRANQULLITY, AT THE GATES, HARDCORE SUPERSTAR, EVERGREY. It's a bunch of bands from different genres but they all sound unique in their own way. They don't sound like other bands coming from Sweden. I think individuality is what separates Swedish bands from the rest of the world."
On vocalist Joacim Cans:
Oscar: "The thing with Joacim is he's 49 now, and the last five years, his voice has only gotten better and better with every release. It's usually the other way around. They start really high and scream their lungs out for their whole career, and when they can't scream anymore, they're more or less done. Like I said, I'm the biggest JUDAS PRIEST fan in the whole world, but Rob Halford can't do what he could do 20 years ago or whatever. The thing is, with Joacim, he does take care of his voice a lot. He's been doing this since way before I met him. He went to MI, the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles in '93 or something like that, so he learned proper techniques, breathing, and all these warm-ups and cool-downs. He's doing that before every show, like taking care of his voice, making sure it's ready and also, he doesn't overexert. He doesn't do these screams that take a toll on his vocal cords. He had some problems with his vocal cords about 13 years ago, maybe, something like that, so he had to have an operation. It was fifty-fifty for him to be able to do the tour after that. But he pulled through and since then, he's only been taking more and more care of his voice. That was sort of a thing: If this could have gone the other way, he may not have had a lot of voice left. He got through on the other side and decided to take even better care of his voice. I think that's really nice. It's great because that means…like we said, how many bands have a singer that's closing in on 50 and it's getting better and better with each release? I don't think that's very common. For HAMMERFALL, Joacim has the perfect voice. There's no question about it."
"Dominion" was released in August via Napalm Records.
HAMMERFALL recently announced a fall 2020 North American headline tour. The tour starts September 14, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Florida and runs through October 19, 2020 in Silver Spring, Maryland. Support will come from BEAST IN BLACK and EDGE OF PARADISE.