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Interview conducted February 28 2009
Interview published March 03 2009

During the second day of the House Of Metal festival in Umeå, Sweden, Stefan Elmgren (ex member of Hammerfall) was invited to hold a guitar clinic. The short interview below was not scheduled or planned but during his performance I was inspired to ask him a few things about what is going on in his life at the moment, musically as well as professionally. I quickly put a few questions down, approached him after the clinic and the following is what came out of it:

Tommy: These type of guitar clinics, is that something you do often?

  • Stefan: No, I have done it a few times before but it was quite a while ago now, actually.

Tommy: Would you like to do them more often in the future?

  • Stefan: Yes, actually I would like that. I have a normal day time job nowadays so the music is currently more on a hobby level in my life. The flying was my hobby before when music was my profession, so I have lately kind of turned everything around, so to speak... These kind of things are perfect to do, since it's just me involved in the whole thing and I can arrange everything pretty much how I like it.

Tommy: You quit as a member in Hammerfall a while ago, and started to pursue a career as a pilot. What has happened since with that and is everything going as you had hoped for?

  • Stefan: I do indeed work full time as a pilot at the moment, and I currently work with cargo flights in different areas. Mainly in the Nordic countries, but also elsewhere. Next week I'm going to England, and then we're going between England and The Netherlands. It varies a lot.

Tommy: Do you miss the time in the spotlight and playing music on the level that you did as active in Hammerfall?

  • Stefan: Both yes and no. Sometimes I for example see a band playing live and think "It sure is a lot of fun….", but at the same time it's so much around the whole thing. A lot of work, you're away from home long periods and so on. I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. I don't regret the choice I made to step off the scene, I can tell you that. I have just as much fun in the cockpit as I have on a stage, so I don't feel that my pilot career is something I do only to earn money while deep inside wanting to something different. That was a feeling I had before joining Hammerfall. Every job I ever had before that was always something I did only to be able to pay the rent. I just wanted to play guitar at that time. So there are no regrets or second thoughts over quitting Hammerfall for the career I have now.

Tommy: Are you currently involved in any other projects or bands?

  • Stefan: Yes, I guess you could say I am. Magnus Rosén (also ex-member of Hammerfall) and Mike Andersson (Cloudscape) are thinking about starting something up. I got in contact with Mike via Magnus a while ago and sent him a few demos and asked him to try out some vocals on them. In my opinion the result is very interesting.

Tommy: What kind of musical style are we talking about? Classic heavy metal, or something more different to the style you are normally known for?

  • Stefan: It's very funny, actually. I like the Hammerfall style of music, of course, otherwise I would not have been in the band as long as I was, so initially it was music in that general shape. However, I felt along the way that I grew a bit tired of my own music, and that I was standing still and just grinding the same old crap. But I thought I'd send him some of it anyway to see if he can do something with it. He sings in a much different way than what Joacim Cans in Hammerfall does, so even if the music I had written was pretty Hammerfall-like, it turned out with a totally different feling in the end. Then I got new and fresh energy for the whole thing. I think it can turn out really fun and interesting. We are continuously working with the material and we'll see where we end up.

Tommy: At what stage is the project at the moment? You are just in the starting-up phase?

  • Stefan: Yes, it's still just an embryo. We don't even have a band name or anything yet. At MySpace we have put up a little contest, or more like a request, regarding possible band names, so fans can be a bit involved giving their contributions and we'll just take things in consideration along the way.

Tommy: Do you have any plans on releasing an instrumental album any time in the future?

  • Stefan: Those kind of plans I have had a long time. It has simply just not happened yet, for various reasons. When I was a member of Hammerfall there was not much time for other things, and my current profession is also time consuming. But I still think about the whole thing, absolutely. I have a collection of songs, and some of them have ended up on Hammerfall albums but I have more suitable songs on stock. It is a lot of work behing completing a whole album and, again, time is of course also a factor. Now I have a family and everything around that and sometimes you have to stop and think about what kind of time you actually have and what you must prioritize and what you actually can do. Sometimes you almost panic because of things you have planned and signed up for and you realize that you don't have the time to spare.

Tommy: So you have not dropped the idea completely?

  • Stefan: No, definitely not. I think I will do something like that in the future. I'll also see if there will be more guitar clinics, that is of course depending on if anyone shows an interest in booking me for them, but if I'll do, I will as a result of that write more music for them along the way and eventually I have the necessary material for an album. Then there is the question about what to do with it and where to turn. The whole music business is kind of weird nowadays. What do you do today? Do you sell traditional records today, or…what? Some years back there was a straight and single way to go, but today everything is kind of in a gray zone. To be honest, I am not exactly sure of what the best way of doing and handling it is. Focusing on internet, perhaps? I really don't know. At the end of the day there is always a budget of some kind involved and where does that come from? So we'll see. I hope to be able to do it.