Anders Johansson (Hammerfall): „You’d have to be an idiot to stop something as great as Hammerfall!”

HAMMERFALL is a band that will elicit some sort of reaction even from the most jaded metalhead. The Swedish heavy heroes, who are celebrating their 15th anniversary this year, are either worshiped, or sneered at for the passion and determination with which they stick to their trademark „pure metal” style.

The band is currently taking a break that will last until 2014; just enough time so that the metallers get to recharge their creative batteries and prepare their plan to conquer the world through the most powerful weapon of all: music.

To console their grieving fans, Hammerfall will release a special material entitled „Gates of Dalhalla”, on November 30th 2012. The DVD+2CD pack features 135 minutes of live performance, with a lavish set-list of 26 songs, recorded during the band’s show at Rattvik, Sweden.

Maximum Rock Magazine summoned Anders Johansson (drums) for a chat session in which we discussed the band’s future plans, the rumors regarding a potential split and much more. Read it all in the interview below.


MRM: It’s been 15 overwhelmingly heavy years since Hammerfall has been crushing the world with its sonic weight. Did you think you’d get this far when you started, in 1993?
Anders Johansson: Personally, I joined the band in 1999, but I don’t think anyone thought it would last this long, except Oscar and our fantastic label Nuclear Blast. Without the believers and the doers – you know, those kinds of people – you never achieve anything.

You’re preparing for a well-deserved break that will last until 2014. Do you want to stay as far away from music as possible, or will you still be involved in it?
I play in several other bands: Fullforce with ex-Hammerfall guitarist Stefan, a dance band and, with my brother Jens, in a jazz duo where I’m in charge of the double bass. It’s kind of hard to stay away from music completely!

At the end of this month, on November 30th, you’ll release a very special DVD called „Gates of Dalhalla”, containing one of your most spectacular and comprehensive shows ever. What makes this material a „must-have” item for your fans?
The things that make our DVD so special are the outstanding venue and the large number of special guests with whom we shared the stage. Also, we played a lot of songs that we don’t normally perform live. You won’t see that happening again soon, so you better take advantage of the occasion.

Some people are saying that the break will be a permanent one and that everyone in the band is tired of Hammerfall. How do you address these rumors?
It’s the first time I hear this, but I don’t think it’s true. You would have to be an idiot to stop something like Hammerfall!

Speaking of which: do you ever see yourself becoming wary of metal? I was having a conversation the other day with a friend who used to be a metalhead, but now listens mostly to experimental acts and he said that „one day, everyone becomes tired of metal”, which I disagree with. What’s the difference between people who stay in love with metal, and people who fall out of love with it?
I personally play all sorts of music. One does not exclude the other. If a person stops liking metal he/she must have liked it for other reasons than the music. Like supporting a football team. For the companionship, out of some sort of community spirit etc. Just to be part of something. It’s a good reason, but it’s not pure musically speaking. People that stop liking metal are not true metallers. You never get too old. And yes, I think it will be around forever. Like jazz is nowadays. It’s still around and doing well. 30 years ago, no one would have thought that metal would make it into the new millennium. However, it’s almost as big today as it was back when it started.

Your style has always been very traditional and you haven’t experimented much with all sorts of fashionable musical trends. Do you see this as a vice or as a virtue?
Yes, it’s a virtue. If you change excessively, the fans get confused. Don’t worry; most of us in HF are not capable of playing or liking anything else.

What contemporary bands do you listen to? Do they ever inspire you like Iron Maiden, or Black Sabbath – all the legends – for instance?
Personally, I like Deep Purple, Van Halen, Rainbow, Priest, Accept…that sort of stuff. The others like Maiden a lot.But I really like Meshuggah and that style too…maybe a little bit more actually (smiles).

When you return in 2014, what will you bring with you? New album, new tour, new videos? Do you want to come back to Romania?
Exactly, new EVERYTHING, but maybe with a more traditional album cover featuring Hector Dragomir. The music will still be pure, true heavy metal. And yes, Romania was a really big surprise for us! Cool people, nice food and warm weather.

During the performance recorded on your new DVD, you played alongside former band members. What was it like? Did you ever question the band’s continuity as a result of someone’s departure?
It was nice. I personally play a lot with Stefan outside Hammerfall,  in our band Fullforce. It was nice to be on stage with Jesper and Stanne. And no, a band cannot stop just because someone leaves. A band is strong because of its songs, even though it’s never nice when someone “abandons ship”, so to say. It affects the vibe backstage, things change, the live sound isn’t the same anymore and the recorded material becomes different. Everything changed when Stefan and Magnus left; not necessarily for the worse, but it was just different. It’s always strange. But I’m used to it from previous bands, especially with Yngwie’s band, where we changed our line up all the time.

A message for your Romanian fans!
See you in 2014, on our next tour (hopefully).

Thank you Anders!

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