HAMMERFALL vocalist Joacim Cans and guitarist Oscar Dronjak recently spoke with Janne Vuorela. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the band's recently released single, "(We Make) Sweden Rock", which pays tribute to notable hard rock and metal bands:
Oscar: "I remember Joacim sent me something saying the idea — basically laying out the idea, 'How about this? We call it '(We Make) Sweden Rock',' [and] the whole imagining behind the song. I was in the store, just doing grocery shopping, but I read that and I remember that I [responded], 'I'm just in the store, but this is a great idea. I'm going to go back home and finish it.' Then the next day, I went out into the studio and tried to write something. It was very inspirational. I was working on a song then, but his energy came through the mail and I got inspired by that, so it went pretty quickly. It was a cool idea. You had to do it the right way in the end, but I think we definitely [did]."
Joacim: "I already had the lyrical concept ready that it should be all built by references from other bands. The whole story of the song is references from songtitles or band names or phrases. It's pretty funny, and it will be very, very clear when you see the video that comes out in June for that song, because then all the references to the bands will be there. It's really cool."
On the lasting influence of Swedish hard rock and heavy metal:
Joacim: "Many bands that are not included in the video or the song were bands that I grew up with that never made it out of their territories — the small cities of Sweden or where I grew up. But a band like HEAVY LOAD, for instance, meant a lot to me when I grew up. They didn't really make it outside [of] Sweden. They had a little commotion going on in Japan, but nothing that big. Of course, then EUROPE came. They were touring around the world, making fans interested to see what's going on in Sweden. But the biggest, the most important time, I would say, was the beginning of the '90s with the Gothenburg sound, because that had such an impact on the metal scene worldwide."
On the group's forthcoming album, "Dominion":
Oscar: "The HAMMERFALL sound is pretty refined by this time. I think people know what to expect from a HAMMERFALL album, but the challenge for us is, how do we make it even better when we write it? That's not always something you can control, but you can always put as much effort as you can into it. This album feels very energized. I think it sounds like not the eleventh studio album from a band, but maybe the first, [in regard to] the level of energy. It's a great album, I think. It's an album that we worked so hard on making every little detail as good as it possibly can."
Joacim: "We had a motto for this album — 'Good is not good enough. It has to be great.' I think that's also why it took so long. We allowed ourselves to invest a lot of time in the songwriting process to be able to let the songs mature, and go back and listen to them so we can make changes in time before the actual production. Sometimes, you're so rushed in the studio — when you're done writing, you record and then you're done, and then maybe you realize afterwards, 'Shit. This would have worked better.' That's why sometimes songs sound a little different live, especially in the vocal department. But 'Dominion', to me, is like a well-balanced dish where every song is like an ingredient to make, like, the perfect dish. The variety of songs, it's fantastic. We have really fast tracks down to a piano ballad, but every song is needed in order to make this album. I'm really proud."
On the album's recording process:
Oscar: "We didn't rush anything or stress. We just let everything take its time... It made for a very relaxed atmosphere in the studio, and it also [meant] we could invest all the time that we needed into the songs."
Joacim: "This was the first time I was done writing all the vocal parts before I entered the studio... I could focus more on getting all the lyrics perfectly fitted into the songs, maybe do some changes here and there. Then I went to Los Angeles to do the vocals. It was really relaxed."
On the group's upcoming U.S. tour supporting SABATON:
Joacim: "I'm really looking to this tour. It's [been] 10 years since we did the opposite tour in Europe, when they were special guests for HAMMERFALL. Now we get the chance to be special guests to them. I love the package. I think for the U.S., this is one hell of a package to show that Sweden truly rocks."
On how the group has changed in the quarter-century since it was founded:
Oscar: "The one thing that hasn't changed, I think, is the energy level. If anything, it's gone up for the live shows. That's something I feel really good about — being able to present an exciting live show even if we are approaching 50. Most bands are taking it easier, going slower, but we are pushing it further instead."
Joacim: "For me, I'm enjoying this way more than I did in the beginning. I think I put way too much pressure on myself, not allowing myself to have fun, because I took it too serious in the beginning. Now, of course I take it serious — this is such a big part of my life – but in the meantime, I also need to let myself enjoy the moment, not putting too much pressure on myself."
Oscar: "As a result of that, HAMMERFALL sounds better than ever live. That also makes me feel really proud. This is the best-sounding live band that we've ever been."
"Dominion", HAMMERFALL's eleventh studio album, will be released on August 16 via Napalm Records. The record was co-produced by Dronjak, guitarist Pontus Norgren and SIXX:A.M. vocalist James Michael.