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Oscar Dronjak (Hamerfall)

Interview with Oscar Dronjak from Hamerfall
by Stathis Giannakopoulos at 15 February 2001, 2:00 AM

During Hamerfall's visit in Greece as part of the press tour, for the promotion of their new album, Renegade, we got hold of the chance of meeting Oscar Dronjak and having an interesting chat with him under the Athenian blue sky and sun! Read what the man has to say!

Since we are from an internet magazine, our first question is naturally, what is your relationship with the internet, as persons and as a band?

I have a computer obviously. Our homepage on the internet Ithink is really good. It’s made by a guy called Sven. I think he is doing excellent job. The site for me is reallty important. It’s a way to communicate with the fans through the forum. Somethimes i check what people write and when there’s a question i try to answer it right away. Personally i believe that internet is really good. It’s hard if you don’t know what are you looking for. It could take forever to find it. But once you found it.. You know i am a pro-wrestling fan. I like pro-wrestling, wwf and there are millions of pages for it on the net. But if you find the ones that are good it’s really cool. For me internet is really really good. I think that people can’t live without it now.

In a few days, you will release your third album, Renegade, which is an important step for the band. How do you feel about it?

I am extremely satisfied. We said to do something really different. Glory to the brave and Legacy of kings were recorded in the same studio with the same producer. This time we wanted to develop our sound a little bit. A step up! You know i am so satisfied and proud of the first two albums but you always want to impove your style and for me Renagade is one step closer to the ultimate heavy metal album which is what we are aiming for. I’m not saying that we’re gona get there but you know, you have to set goals.

What are the differences and the similarities between Renegade and your previous albums, and what will make it stand out from them? Do you think that with renegade you have gone a step further?

I think that the main difference is that every song was very good at the previous albums too but this time we had a little bit more time to prepare. A little bit more time to write the songs and go through every note on every instrument. To make sure that they are there for a purpose. So that’s the biggest difference. We worked harder on this. The musical direction is.. I mean if you look our previous albums and this it’s not a big difference if you are talking about heavy metal. But if you look deeper into the music there’s a big difference. I think we’ve grown and we are more mature now. We know what we want to achieve with the music. Something that really helped us to take this step was recording the album in another studio. We went to Nashville to work with a producer called Michael Wagener.

In America?

Yeah. Actually we went to America to work with him. I mean it was because Michael lives there. If he were living in Greece or Italy we would have gone there. This was something we wanted to do because we wanted someone to help us to get more fresh sound. He helped us to work with the maximum of our abilities. Also this album has a more live feeling. It’s more vibrant. That’s for me is the biggest difference. We had fun recording this album. The other times we had fun too but this is the ultimate fun.

What is the theme of your lyrics? Have you kept the Fantasy/Epic/Metal trinity again?

We always gona have the same style of lyrics. Because we are singing about stuff that means a lot to us. Which is heavy metal. I think that if people within the heavy metal community, if we get together i think we are stronger than all. This is what we are singing on the first song for example,  Templars of steel. That song is about how people will unite for the heavy metal revolution. The lyrics have different lairs.. I mean it’s about battles and medieval stuff but at the same time you can take some lines and put them into this year. I mean the present. What they used to believe back then, the honesty the severy and things like that is something that i think is missing in the year 2000. A lot of people don’t have any respect for anybody else. That is important. To get that message. Do whatever you want, whatever you like and live your life but not on the expense of someone else. Be carefull with that.

What was the fans reaction to Renegade EP so far? Why did you chose this song as your single release?

So far everybody is been thumps up and supportive. That makes us feel very proud. We worked so hard on that album and it feels great to hear good words. We chosed Renegade because a lot of people who were in the pre-production always pointed out Renegade as the one they remember. Renegade is also a microcosmos for the whole album. It has everything.

Are you ready to go on tour now, and if yes with which bands?

There are some plans for a tour with Virgin Steele but i don’t know excact dates.

How come Anders Johanson joined Hamerfall, and why Patrick left? Did you experience any problems with him?

Because Anders is a good friend of Magnus since ten years. They used to play and live together in L.A in the beggening of the 90’s. When we were looking for a new drummer, Magnus immidiatly though of Anders ’cause he like the way he plays and the way he is as a person. We tried him out and he tried us out. I mean we tried the situation, if it works. We played in some festivals and we all felt a breath of fresh air in the band. Patrick was a lot more like a machine. Anders is playing like a human being, with everything.

With more feeling.

Exaclty. So that’s a great change for us. A big improvement.

As we know, Anders has a rich past in his career. Did his experience helped you in any way?

Yeah, it did of course help us. That’s because you know you can ask him sometimes what would you do have done in this situation. He’s also a great guy. He is talking all the time when he’s around. He’s like a clown sometimes, he is funny. We’ll never get bored.

Have you covered any song for Renegade.

Nope, not this time.

Many people have accused you for lacking originality. What do you think of that?

First of all i think that’s bullshit. I think we definatly have our own identity. But if people don’t wanna see that, they don’t have to listen to our music. It simple! On the other hand if originality is everything for a band we wouldn’t have any bands left. What is original? (he hits a lighter on the table). Is this original? It will be on the new album. You can do so many things with guitars, vocals and drums. I think the whole question on that is ridiculus. In any case i don’t really care what people think ’cause we’re doing something we wanna do and something we believe a 100% percent. It’s something we love.

Let us go back to the past now for a bit. How do you look upon Legacy Of Kings now? What do you feel when you listen to it?

I feel the songs are very strong. On every album we tried to make the songs as good as they possible can be. I don’t think i’ll ever look back at everything we have released and say what the hell we were doing. Because we are working so much on the songs before we recorded. I also think that the production of Legacy of kings is something i wish i could have done something different. But no this is the way we did it in 98. This is the way we sounde and i’m so proud of that.

Did it sell as much as you expected?

The albums? More than we expected! We didn’t expect anything from the first album but it was something like BOOM! and there we were selling 150.000 or something, i don’t know the excact figure. Then on Legacy on kings of course we had hopes but that selled even more. About 250.000. It’s unbelieveable.

After the release of Legacy Of Kings you released a video/DVD called The First Crusade. Will there be a Second Crusade.

Yes. It’s inside our plans.

And now a question that you answer if you like.

Ok (laughs)

As you may know a band call Amon Amarth talks bad about you on their interview and on their lyrics.

In their lyrics?? (with surprize) I didn’t know that!

Really?

Yeah!

How do you feel about it. Do you feel bad or you just ignore it?

Well, i don’t think anybody would feel good about something like this. But at the same time i’ve said it before. This is what we believe. If they can’t see that we are true to what we believe in then it’s their loss. I mean i don’t care i don’t even know the band just the name. Where are they from?

Sweden.

Oh from Sweden? That explains all thing! (laughs from everybody). This is a typical Swedish thing.

Fight?

No, no not fight. It’s doesn’t have with music. It’s just the Swedish mentallity. It’s really hard for other Swedish people when someone else makes it or doing something they like. It’s hard to accept other people’s success sometimes. I don’t think anybody can look at our music and say this is not good. I mean we work so hard. If they have a vicious critic against our albums it’s ok but nobody can say that we don’t feel what we play. That’s bullshit.

Lately there where many classic bands reunions, like KISS, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and millions of others. Do you think that the 80?s heavy metal movement is reviving?

I don’t think that there’s a reunion of KISS because they were around. I guess a lot of people are opening up their eyes towards heavy metal again. In the beggening of the 90’s things were not that good but now it seems that the magazines and the labels have opened their eyes too towards the many bands that are out there and that’s good for the growth of that music. I really believe that metal is gona be here forever. It’s too strong to die.

For the end you can say anything you like to the fans. Send a message to the internet fans around the world!

The internet fans. That’s really cool ’cause we get a lot of mails and stuff. We try to answer but when is 100 mails in the mailbox when you come home then it’s hard to aswer them all. The internet fans are really supportive. Thanks is what i have to say to all who believe in us.



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