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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Oscar Dronjak Hammerfall - Interview
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OSCAR DRONJAK

HAMMERFALL


Oscar Dronjak Hammerfall


Hammerfall are heading downunder for their very first show in Australia ever and if you are wondering why only one show, we find out the reasons as well as what to expect at the very exclusive show in Melbourne in October. We also discuss their latest album "(r)Evolution" and a little story about an unfortunate incident some years ago.
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Andrew: We should talk about the one show you have in Australia in October, I do have to ask why only one show and not a full blown tour?

Oscar: I understand a lot of people who ask this and wonder why and it makes sense to wonder, I don't blame anybody. For us we were going to do Loudpark in Japan on October 10th I believe and since we were already there and we've never been to Australia or outside of Asia basically, we decided if we could get some more shows to avoid just going to Japan and back so we can spend a little time there and do some shows in Asia since we are already in the same longitude, or latitude...I can never remember [laughs]. So our booking agency got in contact with a promoter from Australia and he suggested that we would do one show first and see if that's a success and if that is a success, then he will try to bring us back for a tour maybe further on next year or the year after that. So that's basically the reason why we're only doing 1 show, it's not like we go to Sweden to Australia and then back. We're already in the area more or less so that's why. I understand it might seem difficult for people to understand why we do it this way but like with almost any show, it's not the band that decides. It's the promoters that decide if they believe in booking more shows or not, that's basically what it is. I've never been to Australia so we trust the people that we work with.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely, that's fair enough. Obviously logistics and timing and that kind of stuff is a big part in your touring schedule. But still with only one show, we truly appreciate you guys making the trek over here and it's great that it's your first time in Australia as well. Do you have any expectations on this show at all?

Oscar: Lots! I've never been to Australia before, not on vacation or playing obviously so it should be really cool for me. It feels almost like when I went to the U.S. for the first time where we did a tour with Death in 1998 and I had never been there before and everybody else in the band had. So I didn't know what to expect, I had only seen stuff on movies and television and read abut it but never actually experienced it. And I feel the same way now, I know a lot about Australia from TV and all that stuff but I want to experience it too, I want to be there and see it for myself so I'm really looking forward to it.

Andrew: I know you're only doing the 1 show but do you have any spare days before or after the show to do any sightseeing and stuff like that?

Oscar: No unfortunately this is going to be a very difficult tour because even if we're in the same area, there's still a lot of space between Japan and Australia. And of course after those 2 shows we do Taiwan and Hong Kong so there's going to be a lot of flights and a lot of long hours at airports and on planes and no sightseeing unfortunately. But I'm hoping we can do this and hammer it out and have a successful show so that we can come back for a real tour and then of course we will have time for some sightseeing then.

Andrew: Yeah we would love to have you come back and hopefully the show will go really well for you. Now you are obviously touring on the back of your latest album which came out last year, "(r)Evolution", so how has the response been from the fans so far?

Oscar: It's been really good! When "(r)Evolution" was about to be released, we hadn't really done much in a couple of years. It was a publicised break for a while as well so I didn't know if people had forgotten about us or not but the interest was definitely there for the album and the subsequent tour we did. It's been super good, best tour we've done in years and I think that goes for the album too so we're really happy with how everything turned out.

Andrew: OK well you guys have been around for well over 20 years now so are you surprised by the kind of success that you get this late in your career?

Oscar: It depends, yes if you look at it like that like from outside or a business point of view, yeah maybe. But when you're living it like we are, I don't find myself looking at it from that point of view, I just experience everything. Of course as an artist when you do something new, you expect people to like it as much as the other stuff because it comes from your heart the same way as the other ones. So in one respect I kind of expect people to like what I do but I don't count on it if you know what I mean. As long as I'm happy with what I have done, that's basically all that really matters.




Andrew: Yeah definitely, there's a purist element to that where you create music that you love and not so much on what everyone else loves I guess.

Oscar: Yeah that's the point!. It all goes back to why Hammer fall exists in the first place which was because when I formed the band in 1993, there was really nothing else going on at that time like this. The 80's was out and looked down upon and if you had melodies in any way, people were laughing at you basically. So for us to do this and expect anything other than our own happiness out of it was ridiculous, we expected that we would be happy because we were doing it but we didn't expect anybody else to even pay attention to it. This is why Hammerfall exists and still to this day and of course if we're going to be able to exist on this level, we need some form of plan where we don't pay for shows and actually get paid to do them. But in the end what it really comes down to is the ability and the possibility to be able to play the music that you really want to do and I think that is what we have always done. I would find it very difficult to do it any other way.

Andrew: Yeah definitely, you got to love what you are doing and hopefully the fans will jump on board with you. The other thing I wanted to ask you regarding the album and tour is that you had the drummer (Anders Johansson) leave the band just after the album release, was that difficult to deal with right after an album release like that?

Oscar: In a way yeah it was very difficult. For me personally it was more difficult because a week after the album release, I had my first baby.

Andrew: Congratulations!

Oscar: Thank you! So that was my whole world at that point, then this drummer thing came up in the middle of everything and it was very difficult. I think I would of thought more about it and had more problems with everything if I didn't have this baby which was all new and everything. So looking back on it, it was difficult enough in that we had an album out and suddenly no drummer but on the other hand if you look at the result of everything and how everything turned out, of course hindsight is 20/20, but if you look at the drummer we have now (David Wallin) and listen to how well he fits in and how his playing style fits in with Hammerfall's music, it gave us a sort of vitamin injection. Just to have the drums played the same as they were on the album and the same way every night, I think that's what it is. I mean Anders was a fantastic drummer but he was also from a different era, his playing style was much more fluent and spur of the moment type of thing whereas David plays much more deliberate in that way.

Andrew: So with that kind of problem that you have experienced and being in a band for so long with the trials and tribulations of what you have to go through, what do you think has been the worst thing or most difficult thing you have gone through as a band and what have you learned from that experience?

Oscar: I think the most difficult thing we ever went through as a band was when Joacim (Cans, vocals) was attacked and assaulted in a pub here in Gothenburg in 2002, he was bashed in the head from behind with a beer glass and nearly lost his sight in of his eyes. I wasn't there so I wasn't privy to first hand information but I heard from many people who were there and also from Joacim's own account that the only reason this happened was that this guy didn't like the music of Hammerfall and it escalated into him attacking Joacim from behind with a beer glass. So I think that was one of the more difficult events that we ever had happen to us.

Andrew: Wow that's pretty extreme! It's one thing to not like your music but to be actively taking it out on the band like that is pretty rough.

Oscar: Yeah I know it's kinda unbelievable but we got a lot of new fans with the album "Renegade" in Sweden, a lot of younger fans who never experienced metal before. But the people who "know best" so to speak, the ones who want to be metalheads and have that as their own thing and nobody else are allowed to touch it if you are not pure or whatever it is, the "true" fans, have taken it upon themselves to decide what other people should listen to which is the diametrical opposite of what heavy metal is all about, for me. There was a movement in Sweden back then with people wearing the Hammerfall logo and one of those crossed out signs,like a no parking sign or something and this was a culmination of that and when that happened, many people just jumped on the band wagon for this 'hate Hammerfall' thing without really thinking about it. And when Joacim actually got assaulted, the feeling I got was people realized that, 'Woah, I wasn't really serious about this, I was just I hate Hammerfall, haha'. But when they realized that some people couldn't control their emotions like that, I think we came through that a bit stronger as well because of course with any adversity like that, you bond together much more.




Andrew: Yeah unfortunate incidences happen in life and I guess you can only learn from those experiences and take the most positive thing out of it and move on.

Oscar: Exactly, that's the way I look at it with basically everything. Every cloud has a silver lining, there's nothing more true than that and if you want to, you can find something good with everything. If you want to, you can find something bad with everything too but if you live your life like that, I feel sorry for you. I would rather live my life believing in positive things than negative things.

Andrew: Exactly! And speaking of positive and getting back to your show in Australia coming up in October, because it's your first time in Australia and it's the one show only, is there anything special planned for the Australian audiences at all?

Oscar: Well considering you have never seen us before, I think we can do anything we want and it will still be new for you! [laughs]

Andrew: [laughs]

Oscar: The way I look at it, right now we have a show with a setlist and everything that is as close to perfect as I think we have ever had. It feels so good and I gotta tell you, whenever we do a tour, after a little while I always feel the need to replace one song here and there because it's so boring playing the same songs over and over again. But this is the first tour ever that I never felt the need for it, it's equally as fun to go out and play the songs every night so I don't see the need to change anything because we do have a winning team here. That's what it feels like to me anyway. So I think the most special thing you're going to get is Hammerfall on stage and I hope that's enough!

Andrew: Yeah definitely! I hope the show does very well not only for the Australian audiences but for yourself as well and hopefully if it's successful, we can see you guys come back again.

Oscar: Yeah fingers crossed!


Hammerfall in Australia for one show only!
October 13th - Melbourne: 170 Russell

Tickets and tour info can be found at MetalObsession.net and Oztix


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Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on September 1st 2015