Exclusive interview – hellfest.fr: PRETTY MAIDS [Ken Hammer (guitar)]
“It’s great to play festivals: you get to play in front of a lot people that maybe never heard of you before”
Ken Hammer – February 3, 2017
What was the last song you chose to listen to before taking some time to do this interview? And if you are listening to some music while answering, what is on?
Haha! I was just listening to “Highway Star” by Deep Purple while I was watching a comic film.
The reviews regarding your latest record Kingmaker (2016) are very good. Were you expecting such a unanimous reaction?
Hmm… Well, I was hoping for it, course I think it’s a really great album, but of course you can’t expect everybody to feel as you do, so I am really happy about how so many people feel about it.
Can Pandemonium (2010), Motherland (2013) and Kingmaker be considered as a three-piece package? I feel some kind of a coherence and complementarity with these three records.
A lot of people have said that. That was never our intention though. Maybe it’s because they kinda sound a bit the same, becourse we have been using the same producer (Jacob Hansen) on all 3 albums, but that being said, this is how I always thought that Pretty Maids should sound.
I think that one of the key reasons of your current success is your ability of finding a good balance between adopting a modern approach of melodic heavy metal and sticking to your roots. Was that some kind of conscious goal while recording the latest records?
To be totally straight, we never thought like that.Wwe have always been writing what comes to our mind, but of course we listen to a lot of new bands as well so it might have some input on the songs that we write these days.
Releasing albums at your pace is rather courageous: with such a catalogue, you could rely on old favourites so as to easily please crowds: less work, packed venues, while still having fun. Why are you opting for a more difficult and dangerous path?
Haha! Because ever since we started, this whole thing all we wanted to do was to write our own stuff. And since we keep coming up with ideas, that we really like ourselves, it still makes sense to record new albums.
2017 will mark the 30th anniversary of Future World: that could be the occasion for some commemoration though? Would you consider playing that whole album live? Bands playing classic albums in their entirety: that’s clearly in fashion, plus it’s a win-win deal for bands and fans.
Yes we have talked about it, but no further plans have been made.
The career of Pretty Maids didn’t take the right commercial turn after Jump The Gun (1990) got out. It’s probably the conjunction of various factors but what was the key one according to you? Do we have to blame Kurt Cobain and his mates? Any regrets, by the way?
Haha! If it was just that easy… No, we don’t blame anybody. I think the Nirvana album is fantastic but I think we were just unlucky, that album should have been released two years earlier and it would all have been fine (Maybe, haha !)
Ronnie (Atkins – vocals) often refers to you and himself as “the old farts in the band”… Usually old farts moan constantly. So I guess that when it comes to compare the past and the current situation of the music industry, the answer has to be “it was better before”. How do you keep a stiff upper lip while looking at the situation (dropping record sales, etc.) ?
Well I think that Ronnie is the old fart :-). No, seriously we all know that you don’t sell record like you used to, and that is a shame of course, because, that also means that labels take less chances with new bands. But for Pretty Maids, we still have a pretty good live reputation so we can still survive.
Unfortunately, the story will have to end and you will have to put Pretty Maids to rest for good. What epitaph would be suitable for the band?
I guess it has to end at some point, but right now, we are still going “Wrong” :-).
I recently read that “hygge” is very much a part of Danish life. Is that fundamental to you, personally?
I really think it is, it also means that you shouldn’t take everything too seriously, relax a little, take time to look around, and enjoy life a little
I’m a big fan of Danish series (Forbrydelsen, Borgen, Bron, Legacy, 1864, Unit One…). Do you share my taste? How do you explain that Danish people do so well when it comes to series?
Haha! I like them as well, but I don’t know if Danish actors are better in series than other nationality
Festivals are coming bigger and more numerous. Are they a threat or an opportunity for bands? Some says they kill touring, some says they enable bands to play in front of bigger crowds…
Hmm, I never looked at it like that… Why would they ruin a tour? It’s great to play festivals: you get to play in front of a lot people that maybe never heard of you before, and you get see and meet a lot of friends :-).
You are to play at Hellfest next June. This is going to be your second appearance there (you played there in 2010). Do you have any memories about that first appearance?
Yeah, it’s scary man… Its’ so big but a fantastic festival, that we are really looking forward to play.
I guess you already had a look at the line-up for the 2017 edition. Is it up to your taste? Are there artists you’re looking forward to watch?
Well, of course, I wanna see both Deep Purple and Aerosmith and we have the time, but I would also like to see my friends from In Flames.
Aerosmith and Deep Purple are doing farewell tour. Could you pick your favourite Aerosmith and Deep Purple songs?
Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and Deep Purple’s “Highway Star”.
Many thanks to Elodie (Him Media).