HAMMERFALL Are Built To Last – “We Wanted To Show The World That We Are Still Able To Make Good Songs”
November 12, 2016, a year ago
A popular phrase used by veteran rock bands who have experienced turbulence or burn-out at some point in their career is, “If we’d only taken a year off…” Sweden’s HammerFall is one of the few that have been wise enough to do just exactly that, and as a result, have returned refocused and just as majestic than ever - as heard on their last two albums post-hiatus - 2014’s (r)Evolution and this year’s Built To Last. The group’s bassist, Fredrik Larsson, recently spoke with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato about why it was wise to take a break a few years back, the new album, and future plans.
BraveWords: How is Built To Last similar or different to previous HammerFall albums?
Fredrik Larsson: “I look at Built To Last as really closely related to the (r)Evolution album. Because before that, we had a break for a little bit - over a year - and then we entered the studio with a hunger. We wanted to show the world that we are still able to make good songs, and we have the energy and we want to tour and do everything around it. And this time, I think we pretty much had the same feeling. It was recorded the same way - with pretty much the same people. Fredrik Nordström as the producer and we recorded the guitar, bass, and drums in Oscar Dronjak’s Castle Black Studios [in Harryda, Sweden]. So it was pretty much the same thing. Except for David [Wallin], our new drummer. That’s a big difference. I mean, we’d been touring with David for a long time, so we know each other, and he’s a really energetic person, and brings a lot of energy to us. But it was the first time in the studio with him for us. So that was exciting. But it seems like we worked pretty much in the same way as he does. So it was really easy to do that kind of stuff.”
BraveWords: And why did the band take that year-long break between the Infected and (r)Evolution albums?
Fredrik Larsson: “It seemed like we slipped away from the original thoughts about the band. We wanted to have fun and do what we love, but all of a sudden, it became like a daily routine, instead. Like a normal day job. We went up and did our thing. It was fun, and nothing much that we could complain of, but we realized that we needed to focus on what we want to do with HammerFall. I think that year off showed that we all came back with a much bigger hunger than we had before. It was a time off that you could do whatever you want, and people were doing really different things - Joacim [Cans] sang with a theater for almost a year, and Oscar wrote the book of HammerFall. We did a lot of different things, and I think it was necessary to keep on doing this. And we found that this was the thing that we wanted to do.”
BraveWords: Does the album title have any special meaning behind it?
Fredrik Larsson: “Yeah, of course. It’s pretty obvious. When we recorded our first album, Glory To The Brave, back in ’97, we were in a climate where there was a lot of grunge, and this kind of metal was pretty much dead. So when we recorded that album, no one thought we would record another album. And they pretty much laughed in our face with what we were doing. But now, almost 20 years later and ten records, I think we’ve proved them wrong, and showed them HammerFall is definitely built to last.”
BraveWords: What are some of your favorite tracks?
Fredrik Larsson: “‘The Sacred Vow,’ which was the first single, it wasn’t actually our first single that we had in mind, because we always said that ‘Hammer High’ would be the first single. But all of a sudden, our record label told us, ‘OK, ‘Hammer High’ will be a single, but we need one now, a fast one that should be out.’ I think that song showed a different side of HammerFall. It’s a typical HammerFall song, but there’s a lot of variety on this record. So I think those two songs were really good to have as singles. Another favorite is ‘Second To None’ - it’s a slower song. More vocal-driven, with a mighty chorus. I think that’s a great one. And we have a faster one that I really like, ‘Stormbreaker.’ It’s a different structure on that song and tempo changes. It’s a fun song.”
BraveWords: What are the touring plans?
Fredrik Larsson: “This will be our biggest touring plans so far. We’re going to start off next year in January, and we’re going to do a big European tour for over a month, and then we are going to do a big South American tour, and then a North American tour after that. That’s all before the summer festivals start, so we’re going to have a lot of festivals, too. And then we have some plans for next fall, as well. But nothing is really set in place yet. So, we’ll see what happens.”
BraveWords: Besides the upcoming tour, are there any other future plans?
Fredrik Larsson: “We get a lot of questions about our 20th anniversary of Glory To The Brave. We’ve spoken a little bit about it, but it comes at a really strange time, when we are out promoting our new album. So I don’t think we’re going to do anything special on that occasion, yet. But we’ll see. We have some time left to figure it out - what to do.”