Interview conducted August 3 2018
Interview published December 6 2018
"What will happen when all the so-called headliners
Swedish heavy metal outfit HammerFall
has slowly started working on new material and is putting out a 20th anniversary
edition of the Legacy Of Kings record on December 7th and as the band
visited Skogsröjet festival Metal Covenant took the opportunity to
talk with frontman Joacim Cans.
Tobbe: You have started working on a new
record and what can you tell me about that record so far?
Joacim: Not more, really, than that we have been
working side by side with the fact that we have extended the tour, since
we went back to the USA for a second time, and we have done some festivals,
and we're doing a second run in October and November in the parts of
Europe that we didn't do on the first tour. So, you know, I can't say
nothing more really, besides that we have come pretty far with it. That
doesn't necessarily mean that it's done in any way, because now is the
time to tweak stuff and touch things up.
get stuff from Oscar [Dronjak, guitar] and I finish it with melodies
and then I let the songs grow for a while and then I go back and listen
again and I'm like "Well, it's good, but it has to get better.".
You know, good, but not good enough; it must be great. It's kind of
like we're in that process right now. But it feels good and I think
it sounds good. It's a couple of strong songs that we have come up with.
But it gets harder for every album. You know, it's 21 years since our
debut [Glory To The Brave]. I have written a few songs
Tobbe: Is it even possible for HammerFall
to put out anything but a heavy metal album with some power metal elements?
Joacim: No, HammerFall is heavy metal. It's as
simple as that. We can't go outside those frames, because that would
lead to an outcry, both among the fans and from ourselves. You know,
as far as we play the music that we want to play and write the songs
that we would have bought ourselves, if someone else would have written
and recorded them, so
Tobbe: But if the fans would for some reason
follow you on the journey, could you deviate a little bit from your path
in some way?
Joacim: Well, you know, I think the frames of
heavy metal aren't so narrow anyway. Metal to me is the whole '80s with
everything from glam to Venom and within those frames I move. If we
would make a too big step in some direction, it's probably hard to get
back from there with our honor intact.
Tobbe: We won't talk so much about the next
record, since it's not done yet, but you have praised James Michael before
and is he involved in some way this time too?
Joacim: Well, he has been my, you know, song
producer from Infected  and I have booked him in February again.
So, I will fly to L.A. and do all the vocals there, you know. It's so
great to have someone who is a singer himself; someone who can push
the right buttons and someone who can make me believe in myself in order
to step up in the studio.
You know, so you're not just there working with
someone who can't handle a singer, because then it usually turns out
the opposite, you know what I mean? So he has meant a whole lot to me.
I trust in what he's saying because he's a singer himself and I look
up to him both as a singer, producer and songwriter.
And personally, how do you take care of your voice today?
Joacim: Well, I try not to talk so much. I never
do interviews before a gig. This interview is an exception, but you
don't get so much time, for that matter. But I just try to keep going
the best I can and I'm not so loud at the parties.
Tobbe: Is there something that could beat
being a frontman in a band?
Joacim: Well, I have never tried something else.
To me it's the most natural thing there is. And I wonder how the other
guys can get the same kind of kick that I get; how they can attain that.
To me that's just impossible. Like some drummers sometimes "I'm
behind the drum kit and no one can see me. No light.". No, that
wouldn't work out for me.
Tobbe: Okay, something that is more on topic
right now than the new record: A 20-year anniversary edition of Legacy
of Kings is out soon, and what can you tell me about it?
Joacim: We found a lot of fun stuff, in the vaults,
you know. It's old demo stuff and some live recording with did in Gothenburg
with Shure, the microphone company, who sponsored us. And then there's
a special interview with the whole lineup on the album. We were all
together this time; and that was great. The 5 of us haven't met in the
same room for, I think, 19 years.
Tobbe: Maybe it's just enough to talk a
little bit with each other for a while and I guess getting all the guys
back in the band wasn't in question.
Joacim: No, absolutely not, because we have
an incredibly strong lineup now, and just because we functioned together
there and then, there is a reason why they're not with us here and now.
But it was great seeing each other again. So, it's going to be a strong
edition, with lots of photos and old lyrics sheets that was found, and
original and strange versions of songs, you know. And when stuff like
this is made, a re-issue, you collect a lot of extra material, it becomes
a real treat for the fans that the whole band really was present and
stood behind this release even if they're not active in the band anymore.
Tobbe: Have you ever thought about making
another heavy metal solo album? It's been 14 years since Beyond The Gates
Joacim: Well, my daughter turns 15 this year
So, yes, it came out 14 years ago. But right now I feel no real need
to do it. On the other hand I'm open to suggestions about doing something
on the side, but I feel it's really nice to be a part of a band where
you don't have to be the creative person. That has been rather nice.
had a lot of ideas though, but most people I want to work with is busy
with other bands, which makes it difficult to make it work and a project
just for the sake of it
I'm a bit allergic to projects. I receive
a whole lot of requests, but says "No, thank you." to basically
everything. There are so many rock operas and stuff, to left and right,
and I feel that I don't need that on my resume.
Tobbe: But you released some different music
a couple of years ago and can you see yourself returning to something
outside of heavy metal?
Joacim: Yes, but not in the way that I did it
there and then. I think I at that point started to look for what I wanted
to do. Today I think I would do it dirtier and even more influenced
by folk music, and maybe even with some industrial touch, you know.
But that's here and now; tomorrow I might say something completely different.
I'm really such an emotion human being; I might say yes today and no
Tobbe: And how do you look at TV appearances
today? You have done some stuff and you're kind of still there. You were
kind of a household name for some time in Sweden as well.
Joacim: I turned down most offers, because I
wanted to, you know, take care of my trademark a little bit. I think
it's quite easy to get pulled into it, you know, and then you're sitting
there, doing whatever kind of crap for €500 on an invoice. I don't
need that. I mean, economy is one thing, but strictly trademark-wise
I think I will be better off in the end. I did Stjärnornas Stjärna;
I was a member of the jury in one episode, and some other stuff. I did
some radio; I was a temp on Rockklassiker.
There's no TV stuff in the pipeline right now,
but I get some offers now and then, but it's just so hard to make room
for it in my schedule. They have asked me to do Doobidoo and Så
Ska Det Låta again, but I've been on that show twice already,
and that's enough for me, and I haven't done so much new stuff since
that, so I feel that I kind of can't bring anything to that show.
Tobbe: You did the rock opera Rock Of Ages,
like, 5 years ago, and how do you look at doing theatre and musicals today?
Joacim: Well, film, theater, musical. You know,
it's pretty much the most fun I've ever had. It's quite different: what
I normally do with HammerFall and what we did there, but what we did
there is also about being a part of something where you don't have to
be the creative part, because you were handed a script and you have
a director who's telling you where you're gonna be, what you're gonna
say and how you're gonna say it. Amazing
And to work with all
those people; it was great. I didn't go there saying I was the world's
greatest actor, because I wasn't even an actor; I was typecasted for
this role and I had to prove that I was the right person.
On a more personal note, Pontus [Norgren, guitar] has turned 50 and you're
next, and is that something you look forward to and is it a milestone
to turn 50?
Joacim: I have a long time to go
it's in two years. But I'm thinking about having the world's greatest
party in Florida with my buddy, he and I together, and invite a lot
of people. But there's a big risk that I'm on tour then and there's
a lot of planning to do; you know, the next record and touring. And
we have started to look at the USA again and it's gone really well now,
so we will return pretty soon again, and maybe we will have some rescheduling
Tobbe: Some musicians see the band as a
job and other musicians see the band as a sheer pleasure, and where do
you end up in this matter?
Joacim: In the beginning it was just a pleasure;
something that made me really happy. But the more the business side
of it takes over, the harder and the duller it gets, I must say. It's
nice to sometimes just go up on stage and bang your head and mosh. But
of course, I've done this for a living for the past 21 years, so it's
my job. But I do so much else, but it's just so sick that this is what
pays the bills. It's definitely a privilege and I should just be so
proud and happy that it works.
Tobbe: Do you really have any visions in
the band nowadays, that you haven't had before? Things that you have already
accomplished, you can't accomplish again, you know.
Joacim: When we play headliner shows in Europe,
we have a pretty good crowd with basically 1500-2500 people coming to
the shows. But then you have Maiden up there, who, wherever they go,
have their big show. You know, think about it; it would be great to
some day be able to do that; to go from one place to another and have
the same show wherever you go, and have those trucks coming along. Okay,
we have a truck too, but it's just one.
So it's a tickling feeling and we would really
like to be able to present the band on a larger scale. I think we have
it somewhere inside of us and we can handle the situation. And if the
songs aren't there, or whatever the reason is, is a completely different
thing, but I think we, as a band, have that capacity anyhow.
Tobbe: I guess a lot of bands are dreaming
about what you mention now, but still, HammerFall has been pretty big
almost from your debut album, you know.
Joacim: Yes. There's been small ups and downs,
but it's never become really big and never down there [Points to the
floor], but we have stayed at a very good level; a very healthy level,
the way I see it. We have seen many bands come and go, but we go on
and do our thing. By the time of the Infected album we had an undeserved
drop, I would say. That album cover made it hard for us, unfortunately.
I still think that record is so great. Perhaps the drop went a little
we have come out of that now and it also feels like the top is about
to go even a bit higher. We have put out two records [(r)Evolution 
and Built To Last ] that have been really strong, if I may say
so myself, and we have done good tours and showed everyone that if we've
been valid for 20 years now, then we will be able to stay, as long as
we ourselves want to do it, and we have such a loyal fanbase too.
Tobbe: The big, old bands won't last forever
and Slayer, for example, is out on their farewell tour, and now bands
like Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch are coming strong,
and will bands like those take over instead of HammerFall, if you know
what I mean?
Joacim: Well, they have already passed us, I
would say. But I don't know how well they go down in the entire world,
you know. They're big in the USA, I guess. And those are bands that
I don't know so much about, I must say. They stand for another type
of metal. But I'll gladly follow their lead; absolutely. But we will
see what happens.
I think things will be very different in 5 years.
What will happen when all the so-called headliners are gone? The sad
thing is that they still get the headline slots and then they go on
stage and don't deliver, because they don't have it anymore. The question
is just for how long we will keep the corpses alive, you know. A lot
of bands still deliver of course, but there are a number of examples
Tobbe: And what if you personally end up
in that situation?
Joacim: Well, I hope I stop doing this before
that happens. And it must be fun for me to continue. I have always said
that. When it's not fun anymore, then I will do something else. But
for now it's just full speed ahead; you only live once.