Interview with Joacim Cans

Sweden has it's fair shares of excellent music, raging from such as like: Yngwie Malmsteen, Tad Morose, Soil Work, Entombed, The Haunted, Treat, and so on... and now comes Hammerfall, with their powerful Euro Metal sound mixing the likes of Accept, Grave Digger, Saxon, Judas Priest seems to be a big trend right now and with Hammerfall producing several album the future is looking bright for Sweden's metaller's. The band are set to play some major festivals this year and a headlining show at the UK's 'Bloodstock' sees the band ready to take on any nation!! I managed to have a chat with frontman Joacim Cans about the new album and what the future holds for the band. In the meantime check out their new album titled 'Chapter V', a classic blend of powerful music that is worth a listen. Here is what Joacim had to say to the following question and many more to follow. 'Looking back at the bands debut album how do you see it as a success for the band & what good memories do you have for that album?'

"Well first all of recording that album back in 1996 was just a big dream come true for the band. Looking back at it, it was like the whole Power Metal scene was almost dead and nobody believed that any band playing metal could have any success. I would say the whole thing was a overwhelming success and in a couple of months we sold 40.000 copies in Germany. For me I was just happy to record the album and I aimed for 5000 copies worldwide and the label ended up calling us for interviews. At that point I had no idea what I was going to say...I didn't know who to handle it at that time, so things did happen really fast. We ended up going on tour with Gamma Ray and we learnt a lot on how to behave on tour from them and how to survive. The album right now has sold 200.000 copies worldwide."

The debut album also had members of  'In Flames', but they soon decided to leave and stay with 'In Flames', at this point you really got a steady line-up together rather quickly didn't you?

"Yeah we did, we were signed to a small label in Holland but Nuclear Blast bought the rights to the album and we realized that we needed full time members for the band. So we asked Jasper, Glenn and the bass player if they wanted to join the band as we were asked to go on tour, but they stayed true to their band & I respect them for that. I think some of the fans were confused about the whole thing, because Stephan looked like Glenn and when we toured a lot of fans thought he was Glenn and they called him Glenn (laughing)."

The label re-released that album with bonus and re-mastered sound, am I right in say so??

"Yes you are, it comes with a different cover with a silver border and bonus trax."

Didn't that album take you to play Dynamo? I was there and it was a great year!! That year also took you on tour with 'Death', how did you feel when you heard of Chuck's death? It was a great lose!!

"Yes you are right, we were in the stage for recording the 'Legacy Of The Kings' and we took a break to play Dynamo festival in 98. Yes we did tour with 'Death' in the U.S. and when we heard of Chuck's Death it did numb us all!! I heard so many band things about Chuck before we went on tour with him and  I was a little scared to tour with him because of what I had heard. So been on a tour bus with him for 5 weeks made me kind of feel on edge, but he really did turn out to be a nice guy. He had the operation and I spoke to him on the phone and he seemed to be doing well and he was so happy to be alive and then he died."

In the short time that the band has been together, you have recorded 3 DVD's I believe. Tell me more please!!

"Well the first DVD was more of a home video which we put out for the true fans. Some people really do judge harshly because it's not in 5.1 quality and it's not pro filmed. (ED: I like the bootleg stuff best, it captures the quality & rawness) I agree with you Jason totally!! That was just to show the fans what had happened from day one. The 2nd DVD was 'Temple Of Renegade Crusades' and the 3rd one was the live DVD. We have plans to do a documentary DVD in the future (ED: Like Metallica's 'Some Kind Of Monster'?). I have not seen it yet, but we intend on doing something for the future- yes!!"

Moving on Jacoim, what is the biggest festival you have played and what memories do you have of that?

"I think it was in Spain a year & half ago and we played with Iron Maiden, Nightwish, Slayer, and some other bands. it was so hot on stage, and I was wearing my leathers and trying to perform I almost fainted."

Moving away from Hammerfall for a moment, let's talk about the Cains project, I love that record as it reminds me of the U.S. Power Metal. Please tell me more about it!! Were there any songs from that album that stood out for you & why? This album also featuresome great musicians, like James Murphy (ex Testament), Jeff Waters (Annihilator), Dave Chastain... just to name a few.

"Well thanx for your comments. I had some ideas and feelings that I knew could not be played in Hammerfall. I love all types of Metal except for the Nu-Metal thing. I love Progressive Metal, but Hammerfall would never do anything like that so I decided to record my own project which was semi harder and Progressive too. I think in the end I played it safe and I didn't take it all the way and maybe I was scared that I wanted the Hammerfall fans to buy it as well. I think it was a stepping stone which will lead to other things in the future. I think my favourite song has to be 'The Key', & 'Beyond The Gates'. It was hard for me to choose musicians for this record. I really thought about it and I didn't want guest musicians, so I wanted to build a band around my solo album. Everybody I asked agreed to do it, which made me feel even more happier. (ED: Will you use the same line-up for the next solo CD?). Probably not!! Sanctuary/ Noise have the offer to do the 2nd album, but I don't think I will use the same musicians again, as it cost me too much money with the way it was recorded and having to pay the musicians. Some of the guys who recorded the album couldn't tour so I felt it was best to use the guys who went on tour with me to do the next album. I think I might have 2-3 co writers and I have some ideas which could be a little harder in style."

I noticed that you also recorded the last 'Warlord' CD which features Mark Zonder, the original drummer, who is also with Fates Warning and he also played on your solo album. How did the Warlord thing come about? 

"Yes I did do the current or should I say last Warlord CD, it was a honor for me to record this as I grew up with them. Yes Mark also played drums on my solo CD too and I am happy that Mark took the time to help me record my solo CD."

OK, So let's talk about the new album 'Chapter V, Unbent, Unbound, Unbroken', which is a long title. 

"Me and Oscar would disagree with the title, because it was originally longer than it is now. So we decided to have 'Chapter V' before the rest of the title. We felt that people in countries like Southern America might find it hard to say the title with it been so long. 'Chapter V' to me is, our 5th album and a live album & DVD to follow shortly. To me it feels like a new chapter within our life's, but at the same time it is still Hammerfall!! We thought about taking a song title for the album, but Oscar was not really into that and I kind of agreed with him."

Tell me a little bit about the art work for this album, the warrior frozen in ice.

"The whole thing came from the film 'The Day After Tomorrow', it's a Artic/ Ice age kind of a thing, a monumental kind of thing, the warrior frozen as a statue, with wolfs around him. The rest of the title 'Unbent....' tells you that no matter what happens to him he will not bow down to no one. Its the same with Hammerfall, we have taken a lot of criticism form the press and fans when we became successful."

Who did the art work for the new album? Was it the same guy who did the previous ones?

"No it is not the same guy, we changed after the 'Crimson Thunder' album and we started to use Andreas Marshall, who did covers for Running Wild, etc.. and now we use a guy from the U.S. who does artwork for 'Blizzard Entertainment', who does 'War Craft', and other video games. He sent us an email saying he loves our music and he asked if he could do our album cover, so we agreed!!"

How were the songs wrote this time around, what are they about?

"Well this time around they are more personal to me, whereas in the past I was heading in the direction of story telling, and fantasy based lyrics. The new album only contains 1 song which is fantasy based, that is called 'Knights Of The 21st Century'. The opening track is called 'Secrets', and this has a kind of a King Diamond feel to it with the harpsichord and it also reminds me of the 1st time I felt when I heard Heavy Metal music back in 81.It's like medication to make me feel good! It is my legal drug!! 'Blood Bound', is like a unifying thing within Heavy Metal, as we all stand together for the cause. 'Fury Of The Wild', which to me is more toward revenge. 'Hammer Of Justice', that to me is more of a classic Hammerfall song, and it has a connection towards 'The Crimson Thunder' a little bit. 'Never, Ever', is the ballad, which is more towards the traditional Hammerfall power ballads and is about a person looking back at his life and if they could change it they would. In general it is more personal to me than previous album we have done."

How do you see the new album as a progression from the bands previous albums?

"Well I always say this (Laughing), but this is the most mature album we have ever done!! We have been able to add some new elements to the music that makes a lot of sense. The 'Crimson Thunder; album was a good album, but I think it was a little too polished for us. The new album has more of a live feeling to it, which is what we wanted."

Would you say that this album has the typical Hammerfall sound, like Accept, Saxon etc...?

"I would say it is directed more towards the Judas Priest & Accept sound."

Where was the album recorded & how long did it take to record?

"We recorded everything in Denmark except for the final mix. I felt that I didn't want to record the new album 100's of miles away, because after a week or so you need a break so Denmark was not too far away from Sweden. I was looking on the internet for a studio and I went to Google and typed 'Studios in Denmark' and I found a great studio which was mainly used for Country music from Denmark. Charlie B did our album who has done Angra previous albums etc.. and he also loved the studio it was a great place to record. I think the album took about 7 weeks to record and 2 weeks mixing."

Are you happy with the final results?

"Yes I am happy with the way it turned out. I knew it would be a good album but I didn't think it would be as good as it turned out!!"

Will you be recording another promo video for this album, if so for which song? Also do you still think it's a good idea to record a video because they don't seem to get played much unless it's pop shit!!

"We will record a video for the song 'Blood Bound', which will be us playing on the top of the hammer from the front cover. We had 1o hours in front of a green screen and then the company had 7 weeks to work with the computer graphics. It's a cool video!! There are countries that still play these videos, in Sweden it is a lot different because we get a lot of exposure on Radio & TV."

Have you been getting better reviews for this album, than the previous releases?

"Yes we have, the press seem to be comparing it to the 'Glory To The Brave' album, because it has the energy that that debut album had. People have told me we have been getting great reviews, so now it is time for me to read the reviews to make sure I have been told the truth."

When do we expect to see the band touring? Are you playing any festivals?

"Well in the UK we are doing Bloodstock., (ED: weren't you suppose to of played Bloodstock last year or so??), Yes we were, but Oscar had a motor cycle accident. We are also doing the 'Gods of Metal' festival in Italy, Sweden Rock festival.

Moving on, I would like to get your thought on the death of Dimebag formerly with Pantera? Does it also frighten you to know that you might be playing the U.S. again soon?

"Well I have to say this, I don't think that everybody should carry a fire arm, it is stupid and senseless to me. Why does nearly everybody in the U.S. carry guns?? It only happens in the U.S. nowhere else in the world and they always refer it to the constitution. I don't think the security in the U.S. clubs are doing there jobs right otherwise that crazy shit would never of happened. It was a great lose, a great musician that never did anybody no harm, just played great music!! I'm not that frightened really, I just hope that Dimebag's death was a 1 off with a nutter doing a fucked up thing."

Well thank for your time, best of luck with the album, and the forthcoming tours. Do you have anything to say before we finish?

"Yes, thanks you our fans for their support, we hope you like the new album and come and see us life if you can. Thanx for the interview."

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