HammerFall: Built To Last and Now On Tour!

Pontus Norgren and Joacim Cans of HammerFall at The NAMM Show

HammerFall: Built To Last and Now On Tour!

HammerFall has just launched their ReBulit To Last 2018 Tour, now travelling across the country with Flotsam And Jetsam in direct support!  Local Southern California dates will include June 14th at the legendary Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip and June 15th at the City National Grove of Anaheim.  A few months prior to the main event, Highwire Daze Online caught up when HammerFall members Joacim Cans and Pontus Norgren at The NAMM Show to discuss the upcoming tour, their recent Built To Last magnum opus on Napalm Records, musical instruments of choice, and other highlights from a vast and epic career now spanning 21 years!  Read on…

Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in HammerFall.
Joacim: My name is Joacim Cans and I’m the singer of HammerFall.

Pontus: My name is Pontus Norgren and I’m playing guitar.

What are you looking forward to the most about this NAMM adventure?
Joacim: This is my first NAMM adventure, my first NAMM experience. So I didn’t really know what to expect actually. But this is so much bigger than I would ever imagine, so it was so crazy the first day I went through the drum section. It was snare drums, it was cymbals. I heard a cacophony of noise in there. I’m here too to hang with the guys in the band and meet a lot of friends. So this is kind of like a big party I would say. A week full of partying and hanging.

Pontus: For me, I’m more of a tech nerd, so I like the new software, guitars, strings, whatever is coming out. For me, I’ve been here a couple of times. The only thing is the feet are hurting more nowadays than back in the day when I was here the first time. Then I could walk for four days in a row, but now it’s harder to walk around.

Joacim: We have wheelchair next time.

Pontus: Can you drive me around, you sit and steering like this.

Joacim: Yeah, the little carts or whatever. We all need those.

What are your weapons of choice and why? What microphones do you use?
Joacim: I’m more turning into a Sennheiser guy in comparison to Shure. I’ve been trying both for my whole career. I started out with Shure. Went to Sennheiser, back to Shure. But there is something with the Sennheiser that have a little bit more edge to them. A little crisper, which is what I need. At my age, I’m losing my hearing a little bit and I need the high end a little bit. I would say Sennheiser, they are great brands both of them.

Pontus: My weapon is Samberg Stratocaster and Samberg is made in Germany. It’s a quite small company – amazing guitars. I have two custom made guitars now. One cream and one black that has a HammerFall logo on it. It’s really good. And then, of course, I use the D’Addario strings. That I think is a big part of the playing. The strings are very important.  All string guys in the band are using Samberg, even the bass players. Camper Amps of course. We have all profiles and everything with the Campers. So it’s a very good digital amp and it’s very handy because you can fly with it. It’s lightweight.

First of all, what are you guys looking forward to the most about your upcoming tour with Flotsam and Jetsam?
Joacim:  We have such a great experience on the previous North American tour. That’s why we decided to actually make another one. So we postponed the released of the next album. We postponed the recording of the next album because we really wanted to go back. I really hope that now we’re back as headliners in North America, it’s going to be, I really hope and I think people will show up to show their support. We have a lot of new fans on the Delain Tour. That was one of the greatest, most fun tours I have ever done in my whole life. So I’m not sure we are going to top that off, but it’s going to be very, very close. We met the bass player Mike yesterday from Flotsam and Jetsam. Such a nice guy and it’s going to be cool.

What can fans expect from the upcoming live tour?
Joacim: Well, don’t expect anything. Just come with a blank mind and get the experience.

Pontus: HammerFall, we are always delivering, I would say. There is always a lot of energy on stage and we did a show last night in San Diego, it was kind of in a very small bar. But it doesn’t matter if we play a small bar or an arena, it’s the same thing. We just go out there and we do our thing. Come and have fun, because we have so much fun up on stage. That’s our message to the fans. Come there and have fun with us.

The first time I saw Hammerfall was actually, two times, in San Francisco and then Los Angeles at The Whiskey and you opened for Death. What was that experience like touring with Death on that particular tour?
Joacim: What a great atmosphere we had on that tour. We became such close friends with the guys in Death and I don’t know – sad to say a few years later Chuck passed away but I’m so proud that I got to know him really well. That was just a big party. It was like Kindergarten for metalheads in that tour bus, you know? Every stop we made, we went to Waffle House – we went in there and got a coffee pot, hats, aprons, everything. We played songs on the jukebox, we stood there did a concert at Waffle House. That was a real fun tour.

Going back, Legacy of Kings is now 20 years old. What do you think of that album in retrospect?
Joacim: It’s hard to go back and listen to albums. I don’t like to listen back to albums. Back then everything we did felt right at the time. I’m a different singer now in comparison to what I did back then but like I said, that was what we were capable of back then. The first four albums were like a milestone in the career of HammerFall, really really important albums. So I’m damn proud of it.

Did Pretty Maids ever comment on your cover of “Back to Back” from Legacy Of Kings?
Joacim: Yeah, we made it with them. The last time was in Denmark, I think.

Pontus: I got dragged up on stage because helping them doing monitors at their show in Stockholm. They dragged me up and I played bass on it. That was the last time I played it [laughs].

Joacim: Copenhagen. We did the song together with the guys a couple of times and we’re good friends with them. I think – they’re of course a little proud we decided to make a cover of it, but that was in the early days of HammerFall and before we really took off. So maybe we were just a obscure little band from Sweden to them, I don’t know. Maybe it gave them a lot of mechanical royalties. Who knows. So they should be happy, [laughs]. I want to have my %, Ken!

Editor Ken with HammerFall at The NAMM Show

Built to Last, is there any overall story or concept behind that?  Hammerfall is built to last.
Joacim: Of course. I think when we started out over twenty years ago, it really says everything. Like you said, HammerFall and the career and everything we built is built to last. Even though we will not be around in 20 years, I think the music will last for a long, long time. That is what, in my opinion, is what Heavy Metal is all about. It’s solid, sturdy and it’s – it’ll take a lot to tear it down.

What do you think has kept you so excited after 21 years?
Joacim: The passion, I think. The passion of playing. Doing the thing you want to do. The thing you’ve dreamt of your whole life growing up. Also, we kind of reinvent ourselves for every album. We make it interesting. I mean, we’ve been around for 21 years. 11 studio albums next year. Still, we are considered a new band. That has to mean something. There’s a lot of bands who release albums just so they can tour, but no one cares about the latest album. But for us, still, we opened up with a song from the previous album yesterday and we do songs from the new album – were skipping some of the old songs because people want to hear the new songs too.

Pontus: We’re blessed. Some bands have a problem just playing new songs but every time we do new songs, it’s been an amazing moment where they sing along even louder. We’re blessed when it comes to that.

The new album, there’s so much passion in it. Still, 21 years later. I did want to ask you about Infected. What do you think of that album now in retrospect?
Joacim: It’s a fantastic album. Musically, songwriting wise, fantastic. Different type of mix, I would say, the production side. I think we didn’t know where to go with the albums. We took a little chance to do it differently. The last nail in the coffin, in a negative way, was the album artwork that made the fans go crazy because then they judged the album by the cover. It didn’t matter what the actual music sounded like because they already judged the album. I would love to remix that album and put it out again, to show people hey listen to the songs – there’s some really heavy stuff in there. This led to HammerFall taking a break and that was the best thing we could ever do. We came back, we were hungry, we wanted to be back out on the road, we wrote and recorded Revolution which was a punch in the face.

Do you have any messages for Hammerfall fans who are reading this now?
Joacim: We want to thank everyone for supporting HammerFall for our first 21 years. I really hope they will stay by our side for the next 10 years. As long as we can reinvent ourselves, as long as we think this is fun and have the passion we’re gonna continue for many more years.

Pontus: Well said.

(Interview and Photos by Ken Morton)

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