It’s always great to see an area booming with local music. In these cities, creativity is everywhere. The local acts are often inspiring each other, playing shows together, and they see it as a community. Some of these communities are so special, that a number of these bands get signed by labels and are able to make music for a living. Savannah, GA released sludge metal acts like Mastodon, Kylesa, Baroness, and many more. Portland has brought us Yob and Red Fang, while Little Rock has given us Rwake and Pallbearer. And who can forget Seattle in the ‘90s, with bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Nirvana, just to name a few. In the case of Seattle, it was a movement. They were in the right place, at the right time, and did something unique and different. They had their own sound. Such is the case with Gothenburg, Sweden.
Melodic death metal became a thing, thanks to the bands that came out of Gothenburg in the early to mid ‘90s. Bands like At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity, and In Flames pioneered this booming genre. Other notable acts that include this unique blend of heavy riffing and melodic guitars include Arch Enemy, Scar Symmetry, and Soilwork. I was first introduced to this style of music through In Flames. A friend of mine had suggested I try giving the band a listen and I eventually got a hold of their sophomore LP, The Jester Race. This was the band’s first with singer Anders Fridén and drummer Björn Gelotte. Well, it is about 20 years later, and Anders is still singing, but Björn isn’t drumming. In fact, he’s now playing guitar for the band, and has been since 1997. The Swedish metallers recently welcomed the release of their sixth full-length, Siren Charms. Since its release last September, In Flames has been performing these new numbers live.
I was fortunate enough to get a hold of the band while they were on break from tour in late March. Fridén was kind enough to take some time from relaxing and answer a few of my questions. He touched upon the band’s experience at Hansa Recording Studio in Berlin, Germany, where the last album was made. He discussed further, the writing for Siren Charms and what it was like to perform some of the tracks acoustically for their album release party last year. 2015 will be a big year for In Flames and Anders gives us a glimpse of what to expect out of the band’s camp. Topics of discussion also included video games, setlists, and of course, Jesterheads. Check out what Anders had to say below:
You guys have been making music for over 20 years. Are you more critical of what you put out now?
I would say yes and no. The focus of our songwriting has always been reflective of our lives at the time. So, even though we are way more experienced at writing now, our songs still relate to whatever is going on in our personal lives at the time. Of course, that’s what makes the newer material different than our older songs!
You guys were in the legendary Hansa Studio in Berlin for six weeks. Did you do all of the writing there as well?
Actually, Björn had pre-recorded some demos before we even went into the studio. While we were there, we all kind of sat around and pieced the puzzle together, so to speak. In other words, we had the parts but we formed the songs together while we were over in the studio.
Were you on a rigid schedule for that entire time, or was everything rather laid back?
Yeah, so we were over at Hansa for about six weeks in total. That was definitely a very intense six weeks. A lot was going on, so our schedule was very hectic.
I wanted to touch upon the album release show real quick. I saw that you guys played a few tracks like “Through Oblivion,” acoustically. Would you ever want to include that into your live shows or take part in an Unplugged-type performance?
Yeah, the acoustic performance was a very special event for us. We have never done something like that before. A lot can change over time, but as of right now, we will keep the acoustic for special occasions and events. Who knows what the future may hold though.
You have been playing the new record for months now. How have the songs translated to the live environment?
Pretty well, actually. Currently, we are really happy with the way “Paralyzed” and “Rusted Nail” both translate live. But everything has been great so far.
Were any of the tracks reworked or changed in any way as the shows went on?
We actually haven’t reworked any of the songs at this time. Right now, it’s basically how we wrote them. We may in the future, but the situation hasn’t come up just yet to where we need to.
Because you have so much great material, what is the setlist creation like?
Setlist creation can be a bit difficult just because each and every fan may have their own favorite track. We do our best to mix new and old tunes together for our shows and keep it interesting. In terms of how they all come together, I will usually bring in some suggestions to the guys. We then take the time and decide for the final result.
I thought it was a nice touch how you offered a backstage experience in December with fans of the band (Jesterheads), which included playing video games. How was that experience for you guys?
It was great. It’s always nice to meet our fans and we always try to give them a unique experience. We have never lost sight that they are the reason why we get to do this for a living. So they deserve all the attention in the world. And we will always try to do as much as we possibly can for them.
Are you big gamers at all? Is that a hobby that you can also bring on the road with you?
Absolutely. Me & Björn are huge gamers! We actually like to bring a system with us when we are on the road. Recently we have been bringing a PS4 with us to keep traveling light and entertaining. We absolutely love gaming and it has always been a big part of our lives.
What do you guys have planned while back home? Will you get to relax for a bit, or is it mostly prepping for the rest of the spring and summer dates?
While we are home, the first thing we will do is rest for a bit and spend time with our families. When we get back to it, we will begin prepping for our next stint on the road. We have a lot of great shows coming up with the U.S. tour and the festivals in the summer. It is going to be one hell of a ride.
You guys will start back up at the end of April and tour more of the U.S. before heading to Europe. What else do you guys have planned for 2015?
Yeah, most of it is under wraps right now, but there will of course be more shows in the fall. We are also preparing for the release of our upcoming live DVD. So there is a lot in store for us this year and we are excited for it all.
In Flames will take the stage at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on May 7. They will be joined by their friends in Periphery. Siren Charms is available now through Sony Music. For future tour dates and information, head over to inflames.com.