Our writer Alec Damiano took some time out to interview Fredrik Larsson, bassist of HammerFall, about their latest album, ‘Built To Last‘.
ViM: Your latest album, ‘Built To Last‘, was released in November. How do you feel this album differs from the previous HammerFall albums? What can fans that haven’t yet heard this album expect?
Fredrik: “In my opinion this album is very much alike the ‘r(Evolution)’ album. It’s recorded in the same way and with the same people, except that David Wallin played the drums this time. But I think we managed to capture the energy better and the album as a whole is better put together. We got some really strong choruses on this one.”
ViM: You were in HammerFall pretty much since the group’s inception, but decided to leave in 1997. What motivated you to leave, and what motivated you to return to the band in 2007?
Fredrik: “At that time HammerFall was a really small band that not many people believed in and I was really happy and proud just to be able to make a Heavy Metal album. I mean, this was in the mid 90’s and people were pretty much laughing us in the face but we did our thing anyway. But at the same time I felt that I wanted to explore other genres, I was more into Death and Thrash Metal. And if I couldn’t give 100% to HammerFall it was better to step aside because as soon as we released the debut things started to move real quickly. And after 10 years it was finally time to rejoin. Magnus left and I read about it in the newspaper but didn’t thought more about it and the phone call I got really came out of the blue for me. And I actually played with Joacim on his solo tour, with ‘Cans’, and I still didn’t have a clue. But as soon as I sunk in I didn’t hesitate at all. Getting back in the rehearsal with the guys once again felt totally natural, it was like those 10 years were just a couple of months. I never regretted that I quit in the first place but I know I would regret if I didn’t say yes to this opportunity.”
ViM: You also have another band, Death Destruction, that was formed as a side project by members of Evergrey. Did that have anything to do with your stint in Evergrey? Do you plan to do anything with Death Destruction in the near future?
Fredrik: “I was actually a guitar tech for Evergrey for a couple of years and then I joined as a bass player when Michael Håkansson quit. But that was just for a short while, not even a year I think, but it was great fun! And I have played with Henrik Danhage for years before that as well in other bands. We will definitely do something with Death Destruction again, we have too much fun to quit on that, but no real plans for the moment. We will try to get some jam sessions going and see what happens. Right now we don’t even have a record deal but we’ll see.”
ViM: HammerFall is from Gothenburg, which is famous for its death metal bands. When Hammerfall was starting out, did you ever feel there was a sense of tension because you guys didn’t play death metal? Or is the Gothenburg metal scene more united in terms of metal genres?
Fredrik: “At that time, in the mid 90’s, pretty much everyone laughed at us and thought we were crazy playing Heavy Metal. They didn’t think we were serious at all, but we played the music that we wanted to hear, the music we grew up with and still thought was great. Of course I listened to a lot of different music genres but Heavy Metal has a special place in my heart since that is the genre that I first started to listen to as a kid. The first album I bought myself was Accept – ‘Restless and Wild’. And my first big concert was with Accept. I was to young so I had to drag my mom with me, luckily she was very understanding and brought some ear protection.”
ViM: When you were away from Hammerfall, you also played in the death metal band Crystal Age and the thrash metal band None. Would you want to branch out and do different types of music again in the future?
Fredrik: “Right now there is very little time for other projects but as soon as I can I will try to at least jam with Death Destruction. I would love to play in a rock band as well, that would be fun. Death Metal is not on my top list of doing but never say never.”
ViM: How do you feel about the newer bands from the Swedish metal scene? It seems like several successful newer bands are from Sweden (e.g., Ghost, Avatar, Tribulation).
Fredrik: “We have a very strong scene in Sweden and a lot of talented musicians. I would say it’s because of the system that we have. I think it’s mandatory to at least try an instrument and it’s easy to continue if you want to. And later in it’s pretty easy to get support for renting a rehearsal space and so on. And since we have a great music export a lot of young people are interested in that business so it’s like a snow ball effect which is fantastic.”
ViM: What made you decide to pick up the bass? Was there a particular band/song/album that inspired you?
Fredrik: “I always had music around me since my father played guitar in a pop/rock band. He didn’t push me in any direction but we always had instruments that I could try and when I told him that I wanted to play bass he got me one for Christmas. A black Ibanez Roadstar II, which I still got, and I was blown away. I didn’t think much about bass guitar before I started playing but once I did there was a whole new world that opened up before me. Peter Baltes of Accept was a big idol and Steve Harris of course. And it seemed like all my friends wanted to be either a guitar player or a drummer so I had the chance to play with the more talented guys since everyone needed a bass player. Good for me!”
ViM: You’re going to tour North America with Delain this spring. Is there significant differences between the American and European audiences? What are you looking forward to most on this tour?
Fredrik: “It’s always fun to tour the US, even if we play smaller stages with less people. But the ones that comes are very dedicated and it’s not unusual that they drive for hours just to get to the show. But I would say it’s pretty much the same audience, even though we haven’t played that many times in the states. I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully we don’t have to wait that long until next time.”
ViM: What are your and HammerFall’s future plans once this album/touring cycle concludes?
Fredrik: “It’s a bit early to say but we usually have like a 2 year cycle with album release, tour and festivals and then back to write a new album. We are still in the first period of the tour and have a lot of shows coming up so it’s not even on my mind yet. But Joacim might have a master plan, I’m sure he does!”
HammerFall‘s latest album, ‘Built To Last‘, is out now via Napalm Records.