About Me

Interview with Hammer King

This year, Hammer King releases their homonymous album and the 4th full-lenght since the foundation of this German band, in 2015.

Considered by Titan Fox V – the original vocalist of the band Ross The Boss – as the best release of this heavy metal group, Hammer King draws influences from the sounds of the 80s and 90s and the theme of fantasy and Norse mythologies, mainly, the stories of… Hammer King - the mighty king of war, whose band members are his servants and live to express his glorious battles in the form of epic songs.
It was the eclectic and friendly band leader who answered our questions.

M.I. -  Hey! How are you? Congratulations on the last album. Top notch metal. It's Hammer King at its best! That double-bass blew me away!

Hi Ivan! It's a pleasure talking to you! Thanks a lot for your complimets. We are actually very happy with the álbum. II have never said this before, but I believe it is the best album we have made so far, even topping the debut! We have just played our first two shows in 16 months, two sold-out release-shows at the famed 7er Club in Mannheim, so we are still very thrilled!

M.I. -  First thing… Can you tell us a little bit about your story and how you all met?

The legend says that we were handpicked by thy majesty, the Hammer King, himself. The King needed a band to bring his songs and tales to the world and we feel privileged to be the ones to do so. Some of us have been playing together in other bands before, while Dolph was in Germany's chart-topping band Saltatio Mortis and I am the original vocalist of the Ross The Boss band.
We started working on the King's music in 2015 when our debut album "Kingdom Of The Hammer King" was released. "King Is Rising" came out in 2016 and "Poseidon Will Carry Us Home", in 2018. We didn't need more time for this one, it was purely for business reasons as we changed labels and re-structured the band business-wise. That took quite some time and was absolutely worth it!

M.I. -  The album Hammer King tells the story of the god of war where you got the name for the band. Is it just that or something more personal? Something that comes more from inside of the band? I feel a turning point here, relatively to previous albums…

All of our albums have been chapters in the legend of the Hammer King. The first one was all about the Kingdom with its people and servants, the second one told the war stories and "Poseidon…" was a very nautical affair, narrating the King's seafarings on the ancient Cape Horn route.
When we started arranging the new songs, it became apparent that many of them were closely connected to the King himself, so it was a logical step to name the album after the Hammer King and even put the King on the front cover for the first time.

M.I. -  I've read everywhere that the first album was the easiest to write because it was spontaneous. The following ones were more difficult. Did the trend continue or was Hammer King more natural?

That is a very good question! First of all, it is absolutely right – but gladly, it has become easier and more natural with the new album. We have changed one thing: we did worked on FAR more songs than ever before. I believe to remember that we had around 30 songs – or at least parts of song. The more songs you work on, the more relaxed you feel about them because there is no pressure to turn each song into a great one. So actually you can be in the flow without much pressure and you end up having stronger songs without forcing yourself. We keep going like this for the next album and we have already started working on the songs for HK #5!

M.I. - What is your favorite song from the album?

Well, that keeps changing back on forth all the time, but now, after the shows, it would be "Awaken The Thunder", "Baptized By The Hammer", "Hammerschlag" and "Ashes To Ashes".

M.I. - You wrote many songs for Hammer King but used less than half of them. What is made of the rest? Will they be used on the next album?

I always collect all the unused songs and parts on my laptop. But, actually, we never use them. Maybe someday we will unlock them and turn them into an album, like the Scorpions did on "Return To Forever" or Toto with "Old Is New". But mainly, the ones you use are simply better. The exception could be the slower epics, you can't use more then two of them on one album, so we might use some of the slower songs on later albums.

M.I. - How was recording the album in full pandemic? What problems did you encounter?

We are the luckiest bastards under God's sun – excuse me, under the King's sun. We did not have any problems at all. We started more or less when the pandemic thing started and we were always one step ahead. So everything we needed to do was still allowed when we did it, with the exception of the choir recording. We had to split the choir in three parts and recorded that on three days. Everything else was business as planned, gladly!

M.I. -  Does this situation of confinement, restrictions, etc. influence the inspiration to create? Did you have more difficulties in arranging themes and connecting ideas? It's hard to stay motivated in these situations?

As we have sold our souls to the Hammer King, we are living a safe and wealthy life in his kingdom, where there is no corona as the King has refused to accept a pandemic. Of course, whenever we leave the Kingdom, we encounter the effects of this pandemic thing and most certainly, it feels threatening every now and then.
As metal musicians we are bloody rebels and we don't accept restrictions easily. Sometimes you have to go along with them, but it cannot affect our creativity. Honestly, we are stubborn people, maybe me the very most of us, there is no chance in hell I would ever give in the slightest bit. There is no stopping and no slowing down!

M.I. - Taking about your songs… Kings and hammers… Which is more important, the person or the weapon? The best weapon is useless if there is no one to use it. On the other hand, the most powerful person may not be able to act if he does not have the right instrument to express his will.

You have put that really perfectly, chapeau! To quote one older songs of ours: "The King is the Hammer, the Hammer is the King – no King without a Hammer". So there is a unity of both and as you said, neither can go without the other. Still I know that the King himself is dangerous enough that he could even do without the Hammer, but it wouldn't be any fun...

M.I. - Okay, Power Metal or Heavy Metal? Despite the look, the lyrics, the name, you do not consider yourselfs Power Metal but more Heavy Metal (and, in fact, you have many elements of the latter). Is it a conscious and purposeful change or is it a mixture that comes out naturally?

Honestly, to this day, I have never understood what the difference between Power Metal and Heavy Metal is! I started listening to Helloween when they were labeled Heavy Metal, while nowadays they are supposed to be Power Metal. For me, it is a statement to say we are Heavy Metal as in my opinion Heavy Metal includes Power Metal, Thrash Metal and so on.

M.I. - By moving away from many elements of Power Metal, it means that in live shows, there is little pre-recorded and everything is very “raw”. What we hear is what you play. However, doesn't that take away some of the greatness of the songs? Don't you miss those elements of Power Metal live?

I go with what the band Ghost said just recently: they used pre-recorded material until they could afford to pay the people to do everything live, so we have started using some tiny choir parts, because – as you said – you simply cannot play "King Of Kings" without it at all. But for everything else, what you see is what you hear. We love playing loud, raw, energetic shows.

M.I. - You had, recently, the first change in the band and now you have a new bass player. What did Gladius bring to the band? Did you have other options on the table? Why was he chosen?

That's right, Gladius has been in the reich of the King for one year now. Of course, he came in so late that he could not be part of the creative process of "Hammer King", the album. We had quite some people applying for the bass position and the King chose three of them to actually come over and try out. Two of them ended up being in the very final choice – and both of them were great. Gladius was the one who brought along some business knowledge that was very helpful at that point in time, so we simply had to go with Gladius. It was one hell of a ride!

M.I. -  You left Cruz Del Sur and signed for Napalm. Why the change? What do you expect from this new partnership? Is it an attempt to break out of the underground and get more into the commercial side (whatever that means… I struggle a little with a meaning of this, nowadays)?

We loved being with Cruz Del Sur Music and their chief Enrico Leccese is a very trustworthy and fine friend of ours. Even Enrico agreed that we change to Napalm Records as we had never been a typical band for Cruz Del Sur's following. Napalm is the perfect musical environment for the King and the promo and booking work is really extremely helpful for us. I have certainly given more interviews for this album than for all the others together.
We need to reach the audience for our style of music and we need to play more shows. All that is part of the Napalm deal. It was the very right decision and I love it every day.

M.I. - When the world returns to normal, do you already have plans for a future tour?

As we have signed with Napalm Events, there will be touring opportunities in the future. Of course, no one knows how the whole touring thing will be working now or rather "when". We are more then ready, we practice and rehearse all the time. You can wake us up at night and pick us up in the morning and we'll be ready to play any show rightaway.

M.I. -  As Hammer King, what was your best live experience? What was the concert/festival/audience that surprised you the most?

Usually I would have picked many, right now it is very easy. After this long break, the two release shows were the best live moment so far. It was such a relief to finally do what we do best again. The first show in Austria will always have a very special place in our hearts as well. It was a magical night and we felt the love of the people in Tirol – always remembered!

M.I.- Do you have a festival that you dream of playing?

Absolutely! I want to play the Bang Your Head festival with Hammer King. I once did with Ross The Boss and it was fantastic. Of course 70,000 Tons Of Steel would be awesome as I love being on the ocean anyway. I always said that I would only go to Wacken if I play there myself, so it HAS to happen.
But the one place in the world that I need to play is the Loreley at the river Rhein in Germany. It is the most magical place on earth and all the great people have played there from the 70s on. Rockpalast has broadcasted so many shows worldwide from the Loreley. I need to play there, otherwise my life will not be complete.

M.I. - What are you listening to now? What were the albums that most caught your attention lately?

I am a very fanatic music listener, I usually listen to an entire discography chronologically from start to finish. My latest turns were Rush, the Scorpions, Pretty Maids, Ramones, now Toto. Next will be Black Sabbath and the probably the Beach Boys again. Maybe it's time to live through Wishbone Ash once again thereafter. So many great music out there and you can learn from all of them.
Of course, outside my discography turns I just played the new Helloween album. As a lifelong Helloween fan I had to get it on the first day. It's great to have Kiske and Hansen back.

M.I. -  What is the least metal thing and the furthest away from your style that you hear?

Oh, I already let the cat out of the bag above. It would be the Beach Boys, I guess. But Toto is also wicked and the 80s stuff from Genesis and Queen are far-out, too. Nina Hagen's early work – and very certainly Austria's Erste Allgemeine Verunsicherung, who are a sort of a cabaret-rock band.

M.I. -  A slightly different question… Nowadays, as a result of pop culture, when you think of gods, kings, hammers and lightning, Thor inevitably comes to mind. Are you fans of these movies? Have any ideas for a song come out of these stories?

Honestly: Not at all! At least not myself, I have to ask the guys in the band though.

M.I. -  Almost done… What's on the band's future horizon? What have you been preparing for when the world returns to normal?

We stubbornly keep going as if nothing has happened. We will play as many shows as possible and we are working on new songs in order to maybe hit the studio around christmas time. We believe that there will be plenty of ways for Hammer King to play and grow. If not be regular means, the King will use his power and might.

M.I. -  Any last words for our readers?

Thank you very much for this lovely interview. I honestly enjoyed it a lot! It was a pleasure and an honour to talk to Portugal and we hopefully can play your country soon! We are madly into spicy food, so it would be awesome, I guess!
Thanks a lot for the support and your great work, let's meet face to face in the future!

M.I. -  Again, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Hope to see you soon on stage. If it's in Portugal, even better. Keep doing what you do so well and be safe.

Absolutely the same to you, Ivan! Keep up the great work, we shall meet in Portugal! God bless the King, may the King bless you!

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Ivan Santos