Swedish Metal institution Hammerfall are practically synonymous with Power Metal, both in their home country and around the world. A major part of the band’s influence is the distinctive voice of Joacim Cans, who has performed on every Hammerfall album, and has been a member of the band for 23 years. He recently lent his voice to an interview rather than recording or performing, in order to shed some light on Hammerfall’s upcoming release, ‘Dominion.’
Cans begins, “I think that what we started with ‘Built to Last’ took us on a fantastic tour, first of all. During the three-year run we had on the road with ‘Built to Last,’ we got some sort of momentum going for the band. It one point we decided to go back to the US, a territory we gave up on back in 2011. And we’ve found people over there who truly believe in Hammerfall, so in 2017 we did a co-headline tour with Delain, and that was probably one of the greatest and best tours I’ve ever been on,” Cans enthuses. “That tour brought the band closer together on a personal level. Also, on stage, all of a sudden we had more fun together; and I think all this momentum, this energy, we directed into the song writing process of the new album. And also, we took this with us into the studio. That makes this album so alive, so vivid, so energetic! Everything comes from having fun together, as simple as that.
“But after we got done with the Delain tour,” Cans continues, “we got booked on our first headline tour in eight years for the US. That meant we had to postpone the recordings, and postpone the release of the ‘Dominion’ album. And,” he points out emphatically, “we had to be creative on tour, something that we’ve never been before, because we always composed and wrote music the same way: at home, in our own small, personal demo studios. Now we had to work on tour, so Oscar built a small mobile recording studio in the back of the bus, and I was sometimes sleeping in the front lounge of the bus, writing and thinking of melodies and all that. And you know, after some shows, sometimes Oscar just ran off stage, grabbed a beer, went back into the bus and started to be creative. So I think all the positive energy we have on stage, we now take with us into the song writing process, and later on, into the studio.”
On whether the band will continue with this approach in the future, Cans reveals, “Last year I took the whole band to California to spend time at NAMM, and just have some fun. And when we were at NAMM, we went down to visit our friend Sam Didier, who’s also doing the artwork for the new album, down at Blizzard Entertainment. He’s one of the main men behind World of Warcraft. He told Oscar, ‘It’s all about ABC. Always Be Creative.’ And that is something Oscar picked up, so wherever he goes he has a little travel guitar with him, his computer, sound card; so he can always play guitar. When you just play guitar or sing for fun, you come up with the cool stuff. When you force yourself to be creative, nothing’s going to happen. But if you’re always creative, it’s a natural thing.”
Further discussing the recording of ‘Dominion,’ Cans goes on, “What we started with ‘Infected,’ when we started working with James Michael, we moved into perfection on ‘(r)Evolution’ when we got Fredrik Nordstrom back to do the mixing, but we kept James Michael for the vocal parts, the vocal production. So from then on, since we had Pontus Norgren in the band, he’s our guitarist but also a great studio engineer and producer and sound engineer; Oscar is very determined with what he wants; and Fredrik Nordstrom is a god when it comes to drum sound and mix; and James Michael as my personal guru in the studio for the vocals; I think that team is a winning concept for Hammerfall. We kept that concept after three consecutive albums, so it feels like all this people are important for the overall Hammerfall sound, and also the performance. James, when it comes to vocals, really makes me perform at my best at all times, which is why you have a producer in the studio with you.”
Speaking of performing, the lead single from ‘Dominion,’ (We Make) Sweden Rock is a sensational track, and Cans gives some background on how the song came about. “It just came as a little thought, a little idea. I was thinking, ‘Why don’t we make a song, and we call it Sweden Rock, and we make the lyrical theme all based on references to Swedish hard rock and Heavy Metal bands?’ And then we make a video, and we take it even further and just put in a lot of photos of all these bands, and just try and get as many photos as possible. And I drafted this idea with Oscar, and he was in the grocery store at that time, and I sent him a text message I think; and he ran straight back home, he got so psyched about the whole idea, and started to riff around on the guitar. He sent an idea, and I instantly got a fantastic vocal line for the verse and pre-chorus. It didn’t write itself, but I think we both got so inspired by the fact that we loved this idea so much. And then of course, the lyrics weren’t easy, because I wanted to write something that made sense, but only by borrowing phrases, sentences or band names from other artists. I’m really happy with the outcome, and the video is killer!”
HAMMERFALL’S ‘DOMINION’ IS OUT AUGUST 16TH. PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY FROM NAPALM RECORDS HERE!