Nothing is better then having someone in a good mood on the other side of your phone. And that was Joacim - frontman of Hammerfall.
He told me that he and Oscar had been to Greece last Monday, then to Spain and Italy and afterwards straight to Germany. After a short small talk Joacim started to tell me about the new album, about tour plans and even some more.
First - without asking, Joacim told me some things about Renegade.
I think on Renegade we found our own identity, the Hammerfall sound. Before, it was Hammerfall, too, but now with Oscar and me writing most of the songs we also found our own identity - more or less.
Does the song Renegade have anything to do with the TV sequel Renegade?
Well, it has a little to do with it (smile). Yes, there are a lot of similarities with the TV sequel. Oscar loves it and Renegade is a cool name. But everything you find in the lyrics, you can make a connection to the TV sequel. You can also make a connection to our warrior. He is the Renegade warrior!
Why did you write a song about it?
I took the least words from the TV sequel, I don't naturally watch it. I have got other favourite ones. I wanted to talk about the warrior a bit closer. It's not a concept album, but you have some songs linked in between and Renegade is one of the songs with two different stories going on and one is how the warrior became the warrior.
Is anyone in the band driving a motorcycle?
Oscar bought a motorcycle a month ago, but he is the only one. We will have the release of Renegade on 8th October in Gothenburg late night and we all will come on motorcycle.
Like Manowar coming on stage with their motorcycles?
We won't have them on stage. This is nothing for us. I think it was cool when Rob Halford did it, but I haven't seen it.
I told Joacim that Rob Halford wanted to play with Iron Maiden here.
Didn't Iron Maiden play in Germany in the summer?
Yes, but they had to cancel, because Jannik had an accident on stage.
But they had three guitarists! It's ok, if you have an accident, but they could have managed without Jannik. Before they had played good shows with two guitarists too.
Who had the idea for the video of Renegade?
It came from my friend Roger who cut the home video. He actually made the whole script for the song Templars of Steel. I called him in the US and said, "Don't freak out - we changed the song." But there was a problem. I didn't know what to do, because the story for Templars Of Steel didn't work for Renegade. He came up with this story instead. And I think it's a brilliant story.
Why didn't you take Renegade or Living In Victory as an opener? Why Templars Of Steel?
Well, we didn't have to prove anything this time! On Glory To The Brave it was The Dragon Lies Bleeding and on Legacy Of Kings it was Heeding The Call - two very fast songs. The intro of Templars Of Steel is unbelievable and it creates many emotional feelings. First the drums, then one guitar, second guitar and then everything starts. It was very well thought out. We only had a fight about one song and that was The Way Of The Warrior. I wanted to have that song 4, but Oscar wanted to have it the last song.
The last song A Legend Reborn is very strong!
First we decided to put the instrumental song at last, but then Michael sad: "Well, shouldn't you leave the people with a strong melody? The last thing they hear they will go and sing." I thought about it and that makes sense!
Is Templars Of Steel about the fans?
Yes, absolutely! It's about the second story I'm talking about. And the whole thing starts out with a Legend reborn. It talks about the times, you know, they have been in the underground for such a long time being like irresistant against the mainstream music. And even though people thought the music was dead - they have always been there. The second song in this little story is Templars Of Steel. It's talking about today, the fans getting together and getting ready to start the Heavy Metal revolution. So it's a way to show appreciation to the fans. Another thing is we are also fans to this music, I think you know that!
I read somewhere that Always Will Be is written by Oscar and it's about his father's death!
No, it's not! This song is written as a letter, a good-bye letter. There is a lot of emotion from him in this song and as he told me, it's basically a love story in a shape of a love letter.
If you lose a person, your parents or someone you love with, it's in a way the same as writing a good-bye letter.
Yes, something like that. It's more towards a broken relationship. But as always it's very good, especially if you go back to Glory To The Brave - maybe you can adapt the song in a personal way, you listen to the song and you get something out of it. I remember when Danny of Pegazus told me that when his dog died he could get something personal out of this song. It made me very proud and honoured.
Is it your way to get over the loss of a person?
I think writing music is a way to cope with daily life sometimes It's a way to deal with things and a way to get rid of things that are bothering you deep inside.
Do you think there will be another life after death?
You should live your life now and not think about what will happen. I read something from an old French guy. It said: "How can you die, if you never lived?" Yes - that's right! Why should you bother about, if there will be an after life, if you don't live this one? I really hope that if I die, I will live again! For example that I die all of a sudden and enter a new life I'll become a Hammerfall fan.
Or maybe you will go back to the 17th century!
Maybe in another dimension. It could also be! I believe that you will go somewhere! They don't just turn up the life. That definitely wouldn't make sense in my opinion.
I read somewhere that people who were in a coma saw a white light...
The people don't know exactly where they were, but I think this is some kind of a dream state. Maybe that you have so much pain that your body takes you on an outer body experience. A friend of mine got seriously burnt in an accident last year and he also talked about this light. He was almost dead when they brought him back.
In I Believe you have the part 'after sunshine comes the rain' and in Always Will Be 'after darkness comes the light'. Do you think more positive now?
Of course, after rain comes the sunshine, but also you can't be carried away too much. That you always have to keep in mind that things won't be as they are for the rest of your life. You have to be prepared that everyone you love will die. I will die. You have to keep that in mind and also don't take people for granted. You have to show appreciation now, not when it's too late.
Which is your favourite song on Renegade?
Well, I love all the songs, but my favourite at the moment and for the past two month has been The Way Of The Warrior.
Why did you chose Michael Wagener for the recording of Renegade?
First of all, if we wanted to have an album sounding exactly the same as Legacy Of Kings we had to go back to the studio here in Gothenburg. But I think Frederick really did everything he was able to do with the last album and we wanted to have a producer that helps us to reach the next level. I felt I needed a guide, guiding me into the right direction in the studio - same for the others. Someone who can coach us, more like a coach for the band. And after listening to his previous work, I felt he was the right guy especially when I heard that he worked with Accept. And he pre-produced backing vocals like that, something like that... On the Legacy Of Kings album the backing vocals are pretty good, but they are too compact. I wanted to have a more opening sound... a more open sound. And I believe that he was absolutely the right guy. And the way we recorded the album, he had different ideas how to record an album and after we had done, I said "Why didn't we do this in the first place? The first and the second album?"
I now had the time and focused more on each and every song. I didn't have to think about three songs in one day and this is the first time I can say that I can't do this better. On the first and second album I knew I could do much better, but I didn't know how.
I think on Nostradamus you sing the lyrics of One For All, All For One and that was an insight into how your voice can sound like!
I'm very satisfied with that song, but if I had chosen the track list, I would have put that song first. It's the strongest song. They came to me when they had the final master and it was really hard for me to tell them that I didn't like the album, because it was not personal. It was too close to early Helloween. I think they need time to develop.
Would you record with Michael again?
I would look forward to - yes! But it all depends on the song writing for that album, how it will sound. At least, if produced by someone else I want to work the same way that Michael did. Michael became a close friend in a couple of days. He was the sixth member of the band. It was so relaxed. We met Wolf Hoffmann in the studio there, we became close friends of Wolf and Gaby. And now Gaby is working for us in the US. And every day I want to go back and see them. I was the cook in the studio. And Michael loved my cooking. I don't think he trusted me at first, but when he actually tasted the food, he was convinced! He had the same taste, a lot of cream and sauces.
Was it a difference that Jesper of In Flames was not so much involved in Renegade?
Yes, his input is lesser now than on Legacy Of Kings, also much less than on Glory To The Brave. He was only involved in five songs on the new album, but it was more like guitars here, guitars there maybe. Oscar put all the songs together structures and the arrangements. And from there I took the songs and made the vocal lines. It gave Oscar and me the chance to make it more into the identity of Hammerfall, to make it more personal. And also a way to prove that we can do this ourselves. It’s not a matter without Jesper we are nothing. There is a lot of attention towards Jesper all the time.
You played with Mrs Hippy, write pop songs and mainly you are the singer in a heavy metal Band. It's all different. How do all these fit together?
First of all Mrs.Hippy... This is a little bit strange. They asked me, if I would join the band and I said no. I got a tape and I listened to it and I said I couldn't sing like this, this is not my style. And if I would, I would ruin my voice. But they gave me the chance to do whatever I wanted with the vocals. And now I get the opportunity to prove to people that you can combine this stoner rock with melodic vocals. So for me this is just a heavy metal band meets a stoner rock band or heavy metal singer meets a stoner rock band. The melody is still very powerful and it's not so far from what I'm doing with Hammerfall with the vocal lines.
It's very different. I don't play or perform pop songs I'm writing them. I have something inside of me that I need to get out. And also one of the pop songs is actually available now on an album from a Swedish pop singer. And he came back to me and asked if I would cooperate on the next album. And I said: "Well, I'm not so good in writing music. What I can do, I know what I'm at, that is the vocal melody." So we worked a little bit and Oscar helped him out in the studio producing the vocals.
It's just the way to get things out of this, a good melody, a difficult good melody, even if it's a pop song or a metal song. I mean, if you take away the music in a lot of melodic metal acts and you put something like acoustic guitars in, you have a good pop song.
Are there any plans for Mrs Hippy in the future?
No, absolutely not!
Will you have any specials in your stage performance?
This will be big this time! We will take all the show to the next level. I think, you know what a Hammerfall show can be! Everything on stage, all the pyros and so on. But this time we'll do everything on the next level.
We couldn't use anything like we wanted it. The places were too small, but now it looks like we play bigger halls, trying to reach the next level even there and also being able to take our own production with us. So, every night we will have the same sound and it'll sound very good. We need a little more space, so that everyone can perform the best! You know, Magnus is everywhere. And everyone is really working hard, this time we can really show everyone what Hammerfall is all about live.
You have a new tattoo. What is it?
Well, I have a couple of them actually.
You told me about a new one that you wanted to have!
Yes, but I always wanted to have more tattoos. When I went to the US in 1993, I decided to do, but then it became a fashion. Everyone had it and I said: "No - I don't want to have it right now." And now a lot of people have it, but it's not that same hype anymore. I felt now I want to start. Actually I make something from Hammerfall, it's the bell buckles. And the big dragon on the shoulder. I want to do the left arm and something on my lower back!
At the beginning of 1998 your tour manager disappeared. Do you now know what happened to him?
No, still nothing! The thing is that the guy who was accused is in jail for life for a triple murder. And so I believe that this guy who was accused was guilty. They couldn't prove anything, if the guy did it. And that freaked me out, because I met this guy and talked to him on the phone, and he was pretty nice, but little weird! But now he is in jail for life. Well, it would be very nice to know what exactly happened.
Which changed in your life since you released of Glory To The Brave?
You live a totally different life. I don't have to have a regular job any more that is very good, because I can work full-time for Hammerfall. On the other hand you lose a little of social security. Also you have more freedom in your life, on the other hand you lose contact with a lot of your friends, because your are not at home that much.
Is there anything you have never been asked before and you want to tell your fans?
I'm not gay (haha)!
Hope, you learnt something new about Hammerfall and that you come to see their new show!