Interview: Pontus Norgren of Hammerfall

Earlier this week, we got the chance to talk to Hammerfall founder/guitarist Oscar Dronjak about the band's new album, Infected, the maturing of the band's sound and upcoming anniversaries for Hammerfall. You can read the interview with Oscar here.

Now, check out this bonus interview with the other half of Hammerfall's dual-guitar attack, Pontus Norgren.

GUITAR WORLD: Talk about your gear set-up for the new album.

PONTUS NORGREN: We kept this recording pretty basic. I used my Marshall JVM 4x10 the whole recording session and my Les Paul Custom Plus. Of course I also had my Cry Baby with me and Dunlop MXR phase 90 Classic, you know the one used in Van Halens’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” Over all, nothing fancy, just stuff that sounds really good.

Is there something in your gear set-up you would consider your “secret weapon”?

My secret weapon would be my Impulse Responser which mirrors my exact sound that I use during recording-sessions when I play live. It’s very convenient and comforting to know that my sound is consistent both live and in the studio.

This is your second album with Hammerfall now, do you feel more comfortable in your role in the band?

Yeah, for sure! Since I also work as sound technician/producer, I had a lot of input on this album. I actually produced the guitars and bass, as well as writing one song for Infected.

You know, HammerFall is [guitarist] Oscar’s and [lead singer] Joacim’s baby and as the new kid on the block, it can be difficult to really get the feeling of how things should be at first. On this album, I think that I’ve found my role in the band. Now I really understand Oscar’s and Joacim’s vision for HammerFall and how they think. It feels great to be involved so much in the recording process.

Did you find yourself contributing more ideas to this record than the last one?

As I said, I took the producer role. I mean, I wrote one song for the last album, but I was involved so much more on Infected. I was involved a lot in the song arrangements and I kind of took the role as mentor as well. How to arrange, produce, etc.

Infectedtackles a lot of real-world problems in the lyrics and imagery. Is this element of realism something fans can expect more of from Hammerfall?

I think everybody goes through different stages of life. Hector [the band mascot] has been such a big part of our albums, merch and live shows. He needed a well-earned vacation. The time just felt right to do something different, write about other topics. If this is something we will do in the future, I really don’t know.

Of course, this doesn’t mean Hector is retired for good. He will be back when you least expect it!

Is there a particular method by which you and Oscar work out your dual guitar parts?

A lot of melodies derive from the main riff or the vocals. You know there’s a lot of creativity going on just sitting in the studio and jamming with Oscar. That’s probably how most harmonies and melodies are born. Usually Oscar plays one octave up and I play one down, then I often continue with a guitar solo. Trying out different arrangements and harmonies until you find that really cool sounding stuff is a fun part of song writing/recording.

Hammerfall will be celebrating their 20th anniversary in just two short years. Has the band thought about doing anything special to mark the occasion or is it too soon to think about?

Well it’s actually our 15th anniversary next year depending how you look at it. All I can promise is that next summer is going to be something extraordinary. We’re doing a lot of festivals next summer and we have something special in store for all our fans!

Hammerfall's new album, Infected, is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.

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Josh Hart

Josh Hart is a former web producer and staff writer for Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado magazines (2010–2012). He has since pursued writing fiction under various pseudonyms while exploring the technical underpinnings of journalism, now serving as a senior software engineer for The Seattle Times.