Chris Akin of "The Classic Metal Show" recently conducted an interview with frontman Joacim Cans of Swedish metallers HAMMERFALL. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On HAMMERFALL being the "AC/DC of power metal":
Joacim: "You should never actually change the content of anything. Imagine you go and buy a can of beer; your favorite beer is Budweiser or Coors Light — I'm just joking. You buy Coors Light and you open up the can, and it's tonic water in there. You're going to be really disappointed. That's exactly why you should not change a winning concept."
On whether he still gets excited about the creative process with HAMMERFALL:
Joacim: "I would say it's more exciting than ever before at this point. I think with HAMMERFALL, we are at the perfect place. I think what we're doing now, we realized we need to be friends also offstage. We need to get along in between the shows. I think we learned that…the main difference was on the previous tour, on 'Built To Last'. We decided to focus a lot on North America. We did two consecutive tours within a period of 12 or 13 months. Being on tour in the U.S. is so much different than being on tour in Europe. The tour buses over there are bigger because of the streets — everything is bigger in the U.S., and the roads and the buses. We spend so much time together, and we realized a market that we thought was totally dead was actually starting to simmer a little bit. We decided to go back a year later, then it was starting to boil a little bit. I think those two tours made a very big difference for us as a band. We also realized, like I said, we needed to do things outside of the stage, so if we had a day off, one day we just took a rental car. We drove from Phoenix up to Las Vegas, and met the JOURNEY guys. We saw their shows. We flew back the next day to Dallas for the next show. Hungover, but it worked, and we had a lot of fun. I think we are really at a very, very good place. What we also did for this album, we started to be creative on tour. The artist who did the artwork for this album, Samwise Didier of Blizzard Entertainment, he told Oscar [Dronjak, guitar] at one point, it's 'ABC,' 'always be creative.' He picked that up. He built a little mobile studio in the back of the bus and I was sitting in the front of the bus being creative while on tour. This never happened before. We, as a band, we found momentum, so to speak. We have so much energy. I think we were able to direct this positive energy from the stage into the tour bus. Sometimes Oscar just ran off stage, gave the backline [tech] his guitar and grabbed a beer, and went back into his little studio, picked up his traveling guitar, and started to riff. He had so much energy. This energy boost from the audience. I think that is something you can hear from the album. There is a lot of vitality. There is so much power, so much energy, and we're close to 50 years old."
On why HAMMERFALL excels in the live arena:
Joacim: "That's the meaning with the music that we write. HAMMERFALL's music and the songs we write are meant to be performed live. We also try to write songs that we can play live. We don't make it too complicated and add too many weird things where we're standing there 'This song is impossible to play live.' Of course, there are some songs that are so high pitched, I wouldn't last more than two days on tour without losing my voice, but that's a different story. Of course, it's very contagious. We invite the audience to be part of the live show, and I think that's important. You come up onstage, people scream, they give us something when we start to play, then we give them something. We balance this energy back and forth. We did a big show in Sweden a couple of days ago, and I read a review. The journalist was a little upset or disappointed that it was way too much singalong parts. 'This is a metal show — this is not a singalong,' she said. Well, HAMMERFALL has been a singalong metal show for 22 years. That is what we do. 'No, that was too much singalong.' Every chorus, every melody is like a singalong part in our music."
On the idea that a lot of newer and/or modern bands don't embrace the idea of crowd participation:
Joacim: "I think what we do, we write the music that we would buy ourselves if someone else wrote the songs. I'm behaving the way onstage the way I would like my heroes or whatever band is coming to town, the way I want them to interact with the audience and interact with me. Not only singing is an artform but also being a frontman is an artform. And you have to work on that, a lot. That has to be one of my really biggest missions in our live performances, to have something to say in between the songs. Not only like 'Hey, how are you doing? You want to hear some more?' 'Cheers!' Or whatever bullshit. Also, with the grunge era, that is what I hated the most. No offense to any of the bands, but coming up onstage and they kind of have this indivisible wall, like a theater wall. When I did theater, of course that wall was nice to have because you're not supposed to interact with the audience. At a live show, I want to see the people. I want to see the expressions. You never saw that [in grunge]. That will never work with me."
HAMMERFALL's new studio album, "Dominion", will be released August 16 via Napalm Records. For "Dominion", HAMMERFALL re-teamed with James Michael to do vocals at Red Level Three studios, and Fredrik Nordström of Studio Fredman at Castle Black Studios for the instruments on the powerful 12-song collection.