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HAMMERFALL Guitarist Says Drummer ANDERS JOHANSSON's Departure Was 'A Huge Shock'

Posted November 10, 2016 by Josh Drespling in Empire Extreme News Feed

Matt Coe of Dead Rhetoric recently conducted an interview with guitarist Oscar Dronjak of Swedish metallers HAMMERFALL. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Dead Rhetoric: Was it a shock to lose long-time drummer Anders Johansson in 2014 after the release of your last album, “(r)Evolution”, and have you found a permanent replacement or are you still using temporary/ fill-in members until you are satisfied with the right member for HAMMERFALL?

Dronjak: “It was a huge shock, and a huge disappointment initially too, because he didn’t say anything to us. He didn’t even notify us when it happened. We found out from our booking agency, actually. They wrote us an e-mail saying that ‘well, since Anders is no longer going to be touring these next shows, we need a name to be able to start securing the plane tickets and visas. Who is your new drummer?’ And we were, like, ‘Wait. What are you saying?’ It’s a typical Anders way of doing things, and it felt weird. It was the end of the relationship. It felt like being dumped by your girlfriend after 15 years without her telling you why, basically. To this day, I still don’t know why it happened, because I haven’t spoken to him. I’ve gotten some texts and stuff. What I think happened is he saw the touring plans that we had. He has been touring since the early 1980s; he’s 10 years older than I am and he’s done this for a long, long time. He was tired of touring the same cities over and over again. I just think he was tired of the grind — he didn’t want to go through this again. He has a new family; at that point, he had a son that was two years old, and also another on the way. That played a role for him too, being away from the family for a while. I can respect and understand that totally. I just wish he would have told me in person, but that was what happened. So we got David [Wallin] afterwards. That was a blessing in disguise that Anders took this step because David has invigorated the band quite a bit. He’s four years younger than I am; it’s not much, but with the attitude he has, he hasn’t done a lot of big stuff. To have David on board has been a big shot in the arm for everybody else, especially live. The gigs have been much more energetic since he’s appeared with the band. I think we sound better than we ever have.”

Dead Rhetoric: Did you ever imagine at the start of HAMMERFALL‘s career that we would be talking about a group with a 23-year-plus history now promoting your tenth studio album, “Built To Last”? What do you think are the keys to your longevity?

Dronjak: “To answer the first part: there was no way in hell that we thought this would ever go anywhere. When I formed the band in 1993, metal was something that people spit on, basically; melodic metal, the way that we did things, was a genre that people wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. We were laughed at quite a bit, doing shows and stuff, they would ask us if we knew that the ’80s ended a few years ago. That sort of attitude. We always said that it doesn’t matter — we are not doing this to become rich and famous because it would be insane to do that in the 1990s. We were doing this because we love it; there was never any other motive other than that. We released our first album in 1997, and we thought if it sells a couple of thousand copies worldwide, then we will be happy. The height of our dreams at that point, because that’s what we thought was realistic. And then, all of a sudden, we found ourselves on a roller coaster, just running away with us in it. And now we sit here twenty years later and this is incredible. The second part of your question is a little bit interesting because I think this ties into what I was saying before — we did this because we love the music and we are fans of heavy metal. We have been fans of heavy metal since we were kids, and still are to this day. We have a vision of how HAMMERFALL is supposed to sound. This is a type of band that we are. There was never any identity crisis ever in HAMMERFALL or should we go in this direction musically. We always wrote the songs that we wanted to hear ourselves. We also had a lifetime of heavy metal experience, even though it was as fans. We had a vast knowledge of the genre, so that has a lot to do with why we were able to stay relevant for such a long period of time. I guess it comes back to the fact that we love what we do — and if you love what you do, and you do it well, it’s going to last for a while.”

Dead Rhetoric: This is also your first record with your new label Napalm Records after spending your entire HAMMERFALL career on Nuclear Blast. Was it time for a fresh start, and do you enjoy the challenge of how another strong metal label will handle activities for the band?

Dronjak: “The reason we left Nuclear Blast was it’s not like we had any real disagreements with them or anything. It was more a case of us, after 18 years, wanting to try something new. We wanted to find people that actually believe that HAMMERFALL can still grow, and not just (be) content with releasing an album in the same way that they have done because if it’s worked in the past, it will work now. We wanted them to help us further our career, and make us feel that we have a chance at doing that. With Nuclear Blast, it’s now a case of them having way too many bigger bands, and we would be lost in the shuffle. With Napalm, they don’t have that. I think Napalm is like Nuclear Blast was 15-20 years ago. That’s the type of feeling I get, they have a young and enthusiastic staff of people. Although smaller, they are on the rise — and that’s what made the difference for us in the end. We were never dissatisfied with Nuclear Blast; we just wanted to move on to keep things fresh.”

You can read the first part of Dead Rhetoric‘s interview with Dronjak at this location. The second part is available here.

Source: Blabbermouth NEW
HAMMERFALL Guitarist Says Drummer ANDERS JOHANSSON’s Departure Was ‘A Huge Shock’
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About the Author

Josh Drespling

Josh is the Publisher and creator of Empire Extreme and it's sister publication Kingdom Extreme Magazine. He is an accomplished writer, photographer and graphic designer. He is always conjuring up new ideas and has a amazing passion for the music industry and all the things that surround it.


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