Oscar Dronjak of HammerFall

August 21st, 2005
by EvilG

Oscar Dronjak of HammerFall
Interviewed on Oct. 2, 1998 by EvilG

Hammerfall has become one of my favorite bands over the past year, so the opportunity for a Q-n-A session with guitarist Oscar Dronjak was in a word –  AWESOME! Also, I have nothing but respect for a band that is 100% heavy metal and who are proud of it! Hopefully you’ve heard something from Hammerfall by now, if not then it’s time to do so. Here is the interview, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed doing it!!


Oscar Dronjak - Metal Lord :-)Metal Rules!!:
Let?s take it back to the beginning?Hammerfall was formed by you and Jesper Str?mblad in 1993, after leaving the death metal act Ceremonial Oath. Why did you choose to leave this band, and style of music, behind?

Oscar:
Actually, I formed the band when I quit Ceremonial Oath, and when Jesper also quit six months later, I asked him to join me in HammerFall, because I knew he appreciated this music almost as much as myself!

 

Metal Rules!!:
How can us Hammerfall fans get a copy of this, or any of your other previous band?s recordings??

Oscar:
With me in the band, Ceremonial Oath recorded the album “The Book Of Truth” for a small French label, who since has gone defunct. I also did a record with Crystal Age, “Far Beyond Divine Horizons”, for the Dutch label Vic Records. I imagine it’s still available from there.

Metal Rules!!:
Did you become disillusioned with the death metal scene?

Oscar:
The reason I started HammerFall in 1993 was purely selfish; I wanted once again to experience the feelings I get from playing heavy metal. The death metal scene had given me a lot of fun, but deep inside, I knew where I belonged; my heart has always been a heavy metal heart.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Do you still like any death metal bands at all? For sure you still like Chuck?s DEATH?!  You are about to embark on a a tour with them in North America! Is this Hammerfall?s first tour on this side of the Atlantic? 

Oscar:
I haven’t listened to death metal for years. It just didn’t give me the same kick it used to. In fact, during my death metal period, my main source of inspiration always was the heavy metal I grew up with. Death was one of my favorite bands at that time, especially Chucks vocals. It’s going to be great touring with them, I think we present a pretty good package for the American fans, who somewhere along the line have lost their heavy metal traditions.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Correct me if I?m wrong, but didn?t Hammerfall begin as a side project? How long did it take for you to realize just how special Hammerfall was and that it deserved full time attention?

Oscar:
It’s true that we started out as a project, because all members had other bands at that time, bands which were more important to them. We entered a new level in March 1996, with the addition of Joacim on vocals. And when the album was recorded, it was clear that HammerFall was definitely something that deserved all the members full attention.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Can you straighten this headache out for me?what is/was the connection between Hammerfall, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and Crystal Age??

Oscar:
One of the first HammerFall line-ups consisted of members from all those three bands. Today – and for the last eighteen months – we have had a steady line-up with no members having other bands to tend to. That was something we demanded from everybody in the band, and that’s the reason we had to find three new members right after “Glory To The Brave” was recorded.

 

Metal Rules!!:
So after all was settled and the band members were in place you recorded ?Glory To The Brave? ? perhaps one of the best surprises I had in 1998! I like the fact that you aren?t afraid to sing songs that actually praise metal like ?The Metal Age.?  To you, what is that song about?

Oscar:
“The Metal Age” represents the timeless passage in which heavy metal reigns. It will never die or fade away, because it’s one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Only the true heavy metal fans live in the Metal Age.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Why did you put out “Heeding The Call” rather then wait until a new CD was ready?

Oscar:
“Heeding The Call” is a single taken from the upcoming full length “Legacy Of Kings”. That was the purpose, to release a single as an appetizer and an incentive to buy the album. It’s standard practice.

 

Metal Rules!!:
What do you think of the current situation of metal both in Europe and internationally?

Oscar:
I don’t really know the metal scene out of Europe, but I guess we’ll find out on the tour we are about to embark on; it takes us to four different continents.

 

Metal Rules!!:
I must admit, I luckily heard of Hammerfall thanks to the Internet and word of mouth. If I had to rely on the media over here (Canada) I still would of probably not heard you. It must be frustrating trying to crack into such areas??

Oscar:
Some areas are naturally harder than others. Canada and U.S.A. are two of those, seeing as the heavy metal fans have been severely reduced in numbers. But they are still there, there’s no doubt about that! We’ll see what happens on the tour with Death, if the fans appreciate some traditional heavy metal. I hope – and think – so!

 

Metal Rules!!:
Since the recording of  ?Glory to the Brave? some members have had to leave due to other band commitments. Can you tell me person by person who they are and what band they are currently in?. As well, who are their replacements?

Oscar:
Jesper is still with In Flames, Glenn doesn’t play anymore – not that I know of – and Fredrik plays with a band called None. Patrik R?fling is now a permanent member of HammerFall, he was only a session drummer on “Glory To The Brave”. Stefan Elmgren is playing guitar now, both he and Patrik joined us in January 1997. Instead of Fredrik, we have Magnus Ros?n, who came onboard in May 1997.

Metal Rules!!:
Considering that you have a slightly different line-up for the new album (Legacy of Kings) is it sounding any different?

Oscar:
“Legacy Of Kings” is more mature and more well thought through. But since the main songwriters are the same – although Jesper’s input is considerably smaller – the result is similar. The main difference between the two records is the production, which is 100 times better on the new album. We have grown as musicians, so it sounds much better playing-wise also. 

 

Metal Rules!!:
How would you describe the Hammerfall sound? Power metal? Or just good ol? heavy metal??!

Oscar:
I don’t really like to label music to others, because everybody has their way of interpreting a definition. I call HammerFall a heavy metal band, because, in my eyes, that’s just what it is. But I understand that in the US and Germany, people refer to it as power metal or speed metal, which, again in my eyes, is something different.

 

Metal Rules!!:
I understand that two videos were recorded from your debut “Hammerfall” and “Glory To The Brave.” As usual these videos haven?t been shown on TV here to my knowledge. How can fans get a copy? Do you have a home video with them on
it and some live footage? That?s what I?d love to see!!

Oscar:
We are currently planning a home video for a February/March release. It will include all three videos that we have done, as well as some special footage, from the first live recording off of which we actually got the record deal, to the release party for “Legacy Of Kings”, where we performed live with several special guests.

 

Metal Rules!!:
There seems to be a buzz amongst “true metalheads” about ?false metal.? Can you elaborate on what you think is false metal?  What bands represent this ?false metal??

Oscar:
I don’t think you have heard that from us, you must be talking about Manowar! I believe that every person involved in the music business has his or her version of “true metal” and “false metal”. It’s up to yourself to judge what you regard as one or the other. For me, heavy metal is the ultimate form of music, there’s nothing that even comes close. But that’s just my opinion. I see no reason to come down on different types of music. Granted, I don’t like the 90’s version of metal, but others obviously do, so I let them do what they want. As long as nobody is forcing me to it, I’m cool.

 

Metal Rules!!:
So conversely, what is a true metal band? I assume Hammerfall eh? Hehe?I would agree. I assume you must be big fans or you must appreciate bands like Gammaray, Helloween, Stratovarious and Primal Fear??

Oscar:
The term “true metal” has been adopted for the kind of music we play, and I think it is a suitable title. There are no fans that are so loyal and true to their bands as heavy metal fans. I know, because I’m one of them!

 

Metal Rules!!:
I know this is a generic question but for the many that haven?t heard it can you tell us about the new CD?

Oscar:
It’s called “Legacy Of Kings” and was released on September 28th, 1998. The style of music is pretty much the same as before, which means true heavy metal with the emphasis on melodies, powerful guitars, pounding drums and majestic choirs.

 

Metal Rules!!:
How would you say it differs from ?Glory???

Oscar:
Mostly production-wise. We spent much more time working on the production this time around, and that is very evident in the result. As a whole, “Legacy Of Kings” is the bigger brother of “Glory To The Brave”. We have all matured as songwriters and instrumentalists, but the main ingredients are still there.

 

Metal Rules!!:
After the Death tour what are Hammerfall?s plans??  Any other big tours like that being talked about??

Oscar:
We are embarking on our first world tour on October 15th. Entitled “The Templar World Crusade 1998/99″, it takes us through twenty or so countries in four different continents. In all areas except the U.S.A., HammerFall will be headlining. For us, this is a really big thing, because this is the realization of a childhood dream; to be able to have a full stage show, with pyrotechnics, backdrop etc, and getting to play a full set every night! I can’t wait for this!

 

Metal Rules!!:
I read you were covering Rainbow?s ?Man on the Silver Mountain?? That?s a way cool song, I love Dio-era Rainbow!  Also, aren?t you covering an Accept song?  Will these songs be available on the new CD, as b-sides, or on a separate EP for cover songs?

Oscar:
We are participating on three different tribute records. The first is for Dio, and we will be doing “Man On The Silver Mountain”. The second is in honour of Accept, and we have chosen “Head Over Heels”. The third is for Helloween, and we’ll record “I Want Out”. These songs are not for any new HammerFall album, but there is a chance that one of them might end up as a bonus track somewhere.

 

Metal Rules!!:
What bands did you get off on as a kid growing up? (If you ?grew up? in the 80?s it was probably close to what I was into AT THAT TIME ? bands like Priest, Maiden, Metallica, Ozzy, Ratt, Motley Crue, Accept, Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, WASP, Venom,?etc.etc?I must of guessed some of them? ….haha)

Oscar:
That’s a typical North American selection, if you ask me. Good, of course, but typical nonetheless. When I grew up, my favorite bands were Accept, Judas Priest, Helloween, Alice Cooper, Manowar, KISS, W.A.S.P., Motley Crue and Twisted Sister, as well as various lesser known bands, like Stormwitch, Picture, Warlord, Tyran Pace,  et al. I’ve always been a fan of the heavy metal genre, but the bands mentioned above meant something special, of course. My influences then are the same as now, basically, because I’ve never stopped listening to my old favorites. Why should I, when they still to this day have so much to offer me? I love heavy metal, always have, always will.

 

Metal Rules!!:
When did you start playing guitar?

Oscar:
I first picked up the guitar when I was fourteen years old. Before that, I played the trombone for five years. The moment I started to get into this new instrument, I knew I was hooked for life. That’s the same thing with heavy metal; once you’re in, there’s no turning back!

 

Metal Rules!!:
Did any one band or player motivate you to start playing?

Oscar:
One of the biggest reasons for me to start playing was Ace Frehley of KISS. I thought he was a very cool guy (still do, in fact!). But what kept me going and shaped my playing was the work of Wolf Hoffman (Accept) and Randy Rhodes (Ozzy Osbourne), they really had a big influence on me as an instrumentalist. But I have never been much of a “practice maniac”, I prefer to write songs than to play solos.

 

Metal Rules!!:
When did you decide to make music your life?

Oscar:
Music has always been an extremely large part of my life, but when I was sixteen, I had to choose between playing in a band and playing soccer. The choice is obvious to me, and I have never regretted it for one second!

 

Metal Rules!!:
I see that some of the members of Hammerfall have their own webpage?!? So what?s with the fascination with Homer Simpson?  I think he?s a god?”all hail king Homer”?.haha

Oscar:
We all love The Simpsons! In fact, that’s what gets us by on rainy or boring days on the road. Nothing can liven up the spirits like episodes of The Simpsons!

 

Metal Rules!!:
Do you think the Internet has been a helpful medium in spreading “the word”?

Oscar:
To a certain extent, yes. The Internet is a very powerful and useful entity, that can reach millions and millions of people around the world. But without the promotion of the labels and distributors, it’s very hard to reach out to people. Our Official Home Page has had quite a few hits since its inception, so The Internet has helped us a lot too!

 

Metal Rules!!:
Well that?s about it from here?I understand you are busy and currently on tour so I appreciate that fact that your time is precious?All I can say is THANKS for the interview and thanks for being a REAL METAL BAND!!!!

Oscar:
Thanks yourself! We are really looking forward to “The Templar World Crusade 1998/99″ and the release of “Legacy Of Kings”, which should have happened today! Hope to see you all on tour!

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