Exclusive Interview with HammerFall
Consistency is the key to creating a legacy. It’s one thing to get to the top, but it’s a completely different challenge to keep yourself there, so what’s the secret?
One band you can ask are HammerFall. Formed in 1993 out of Gothenburg, Sweden, they released their first studio album in 1997 and nearly thirty years later, they’re still going strong.
2019 saw the release of their 11th studio album, Dominion, and they just finished touring it last year. The album reached top ten in multiple countries, a testament to their longevity and creative quality. One thing that has been consistent throughout all that time is their love for the music. Nearly three decades on, and they are still fans of the genre they have helped to develop.
Joacim Cans, lead vocalist with the band since their debut album Glory to the Brave, says it’s this love for music that helps keep their material fresh “We started out as heavy metal fans and have remained heavy metal fans throughout our career,” he muses “HammerFall is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. As long as there are new, great songs that want to come out [of us], we’ll continue on our crusade for the music we love. Our careers were born out of a passion for Heavy Metal music, and all that comes with it.” The same goes for the tours, “We’re continuing to grow the band and offer something fresh every time we tour; that’s the carrot, so to speak.”
Of course, live performances have become more difficult during the pandemic, with many countries stopping them altogether. The music industry has been hit harder than most, as concerts are an essential part of the music scene. Many have had to become creative with how they connect with their fans.
This led to the band creating HammerFallTV, a series of Livestream videos where the band could interact with fans, giving them some personal insight. It also kept the band busy during a period of enforced semi-hiatus: “It was a means to keep ourselves occupied and give our fans something special since we couldn’t do any shows. We have used it to look back at our previous releases, as well as a means to promote upcoming ones. It’s a great tool and a lot of fun to produce!”
Consistency isn’t just about doing the same thing over and over; indeed, one of the reasons HammerFall have remained so successful is their ability to learn and adapt over the years while still keeping that same spirit that brought them to prominence. Looking back over their career, the band believes they have developed in many ways since the 90s, without losing what was important, “We’ve certainly become a lot better at putting together a varied album, and I’d like to think we have improved a lot. But in essence, it’s the same kind of Heavy Metal we have always dealt in. If you listen to our albums in succession, you can see (hear) the progression from a young and very green band to seasoned veterans who have toured the world many times over.”. But, it’s the same thing that keeps them (and the fans) coming back for more, “the thing that has been a constant is the energy and passion we have for this form of music. That’s the driving force; that’s what makes us keep moving forward and upwards.”
Moving forwards also means trying new things. Their latest venture is a slot game, created in collaboration with Play’n GO, themselves rock stars of the iGaming world. Reaching out to fans in this new way meant it was important that the game represented them in the right way and gave the fans something they could love. “The most important for us was that the fans of the band would recognise themselves while playing the game.” Says Joacim, “The overall look and feel of the game had to stay true to what HammerFall stands for, both visually and conceptually”.
Now that the game has been completed, the band are more than happy that Play’n GO have achieved that mission “…[we] believe this was realised to a tee; this is something we can stand by 100%. Fantastic work!”.
The game features the band’s iconic mascot Hector the Paladin, a fearless knight who wields a hammer as his weapon of choice. Hector has been around almost as long as the band, featuring on nearly every album cover since.
“We wanted to have our own Eddie (the Iron Maiden mascot),” Joacim remembers fondly, “a powerful warrior who would instantly be recognisable as HammerFall’s even if you couldn’t see the logo.” This aim has certainly been achieved with their mascot becoming synonymous with the band, even developing his look over the years as they have; “The original Hector was conceived by Andreas Marshall, who has done five album covers for us over the years. But it was really Samwise Didier who took the character to new heights with each album cover and created the Hector we know today.”
As they sit back and lock over nearly three decades of success, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing; consistency can only come with conviction. During the early days of HammerFall, the band weren’t as well-received as they are now, with their music taste and sense of dress prompting negative response from fans of the genre. But, when asked, the band reveal they were never swayed from realising their vision for themselves. “Nah, that ain’t us.” Joacim insists, “We have known since day one what HammerFall was supposed to be, and that has prevented us from having the identity crisis that is pretty common among other bands. HammerFall has never had to search for the right path; we have been on it since the beginning. It all goes back to what I said earlier: we do this because we love it.”
He circles back to his original point of what it is that keeps them going: “We do this because we love it. That desire and dedication to play exactly the music we loved brought us to the dance in the first place and has fuelled us during the following decades and beyond.”
Ultimately, the longevity, the success and, indeed, the band itself have been borne out of the same thing, passion, and Joacim believes this firmly, “There is no limit to Heavy Metal passion, and I believe HammerFall is evidence of this.”
HammerFall will be available to play in multiple jurisdictions from 6 May.