31.03.2017Архив интервью | Русская версия
There are no many bands on the present day that cause as much controversy as In Flames. Each of their periods has its own fans, some prefer melodic death metal cornerstones such as “Lunar Strain” (1994) and “The Jester Race” (1996), others are fond of the intermediate “metalcore” period that started with “Reroute To Remain” (2002), while the latest album, “Battles” (2016), exposed the band to yet another audience that regularly listens to modern rock. Each of these fanbases tends to dislike the others and never misses a chance to say something not so nice about the band that now and again refuses to meet their expectations, whatever they might be. Nevertheless, In Flames keep going forward with just as much acclaim, and their shows in Russia never fail to draw immense crowds. The Swedes will be back again in mid-spring (April 4 in St. Petersburg and April 5 in Moscow), and we used this occasion to ask a few questions to the band’s ever charismatic frontman Anders Friden.
The interview slot we got was only 10 minutes, but making it happen was unexpectedly complicated. When the band is touring Germany, their label manager is making appointments out of New York, and the reporters are doing their job from Moscow, it’s very natural that time zones and seasonal transitions get confused somewhere along this contact chain. As a result, the moment of truth happened for us an hour earlier than expected, while we were still in a crowded train. Luckily, we managed to talk the label manager into postponing the interview for 30 minutes - and being able to run fast helped, too. The resulting chat is for you to enjoy below…
Your upcoming gigs in Russia are not the first for In Flames. Do you have any special memories about Moscow or any other Russian city? Are there any nice or maybe bad moments that come to your mind?
No, nothing bad at all. I think we’ve been treated really well every time we’ve been to Russia. I love playing there. If that was to us, we’d come over more often to play for you guys. Our music is appreciated, we love the food and drinks, there is nothing but good to say.
Your touring schedule is very intensive, you will be on the road from now to July. How do you manage to deal with such amount of shows and travels? Do you get tired from time to time? And what do you do if this happens?
No, I mean, we just love what we do, this is our life. I love what I’m doing, this is the greatest job that I can hope to have. We get energy from the people we play for and try to bring that energy to the next stadium, to the next show. But like every other job, no matter what you do, whether you’re a postman, you work at a bakery, in the industry or if you’re a musician, sometimes you don’t have the greatest day, that happens to everyone. But once you get over it you realize what you’re doing, and how fortunate you are. We can travel the world and play our music, and meet all these cool people, and that’s fantastic. I try to think about that when there’s a bad day, and the bad day will disappear pretty much.
Yeah, we see, but we’re asking this question because your former bass player Peter Iwers recently quit the band, because touring life apparently got too much for him, if we understand it correctly…
I think you should ask this question to him. (laughs) If you’re in a band and your heart is not into it 100%, you should do something else then, that’s how it is. But I’m in the band, and I love what I’m doing.
What is the bassist situation in the band nowadays? Is Hakan Skoger a new full time member or a session musician?
He’s just a session player for the touring at the moment. I mean, he has his family of his own, and I think it’s a big change for someone to go from family life and playing a little with your friends to all of a sudden jumping into a band like In Flames. We’re constantly on the road, and it’s a full time job for anyone. I love the guy, he’s awesome, and I know him from the days with Passenger, but he’s just a session member for us for now. No one knows what’s gonna happen in the future.
We have a couple of questions about your latest album “Battles”. It’s obviously not the first time you work with a producer, but it’s the first time you credit the producer as a songwriter. How did Howard Benson’s involvement change the songwriting process?
It didn’t really change any songwriting process. He just took a bigger part in the final product. Me and Bjorn (Gelotte, guitar) did demos of all the songs, which is something we’d never done before. We wrote and recorded everything in our house in North America when we were staying there, and we constantly sent stuff to Howard for him to listen to, and he gave us his input here and there. That’s just the way he’s working. That’s why he was credited as a songwriter. We used him like a filter, but in the end it’s always us who made all the changes. We would never do something that we don’t feel like. There’s nobody that came in and said, “OK guys, you should do this, you should do that, you should sound like this, you should sound like that”. We always make sure that we have the final say. It was a little different way of working for us because are very insistent when it comes to our material, we hardly let anyone into it, but because we wanted to work with Howard, that’s the way it had to go down. He did great, and we had such a good time recording it. Howard and his whole team are fantastic.
With “Battles” you came back to Nuclear Blast Records after one album with Century Media and one album with Sony. Why did you decide to make such a move?
We always sign short-term deals so that we can make an early flight if something goes wrong. We’d been away from Nuclear Blast for a while and we felt like decided to come back to the label that’s been a big part of In Flames and that we worked with for such a long time. We just had an opportunity really. It’s good that we don’t sign deals for five or seven albums, because we’re a hard band to get along. (laughs)
Most of the people whom we’ve spoken to or whose reviews we’ve read think that “Battles” is a better album than its predecessor “Siren Charms” (2014), but in the U.S. charts it’s unfortunately not as successful (“Siren Charms” reached No. 26 in the Billboard Top 200, highest ever for In Flames, while “Battles” only peaked at No. 60 – ed.). What is the reason, in your opinion?
What do you mean it’s not successful? I don’t have an opinion. I did the greatest album that we could make in 2016. Every time we create an album, we try to make the best possible In Flames album, and when we release it, we’re happy, and then we move on. It’s not for me to have an opinion. I play in this band, I’ve been with In Flames all the time, and I don’t wanna keep thinking of what other people are thinking about. I am happy that people come to our shows, that’s how I measure success if you ask me. I’ve been in this band for my whole grown up life, and I’ve surpassed every dream and every goal that I had when I got in this band. We’ve done 12 albums… You can’t please everyone, but we have a good solid fanbase, and the ones that like it, I love them, and if you don’t like it, sorry I can’t help you.
Don’t get us wrong, we love the album! We just look at how it performed in the charts, that’s what the question was about…
I don’t think it’s always a good measure. There are bands that were high on the charts with one of their albums and could never reach that height again. You cannot measure the success just by the charts, longevity may be a much better measure, and we’ve been doing it for such a long time. Let’s see how long other bands that are currently high on the charts will be able to continue.
A lot of metal bands with a long history start to perform their classic records in full during tours. For instance, Anthrax are now doing this with the “Among The Living” album. Have you considered doing anything like that with In Flames?
No, we haven’t. Everybody else is doing it, as you said, and I don’t want to be like everybody else. We’ve done many albums, and it really depends on who you ask whether something is classic or non-classic. We don’t wanna do that.
In Flames on the Internet: http://www.inflames.com
Special thanks to Olga Ovsyannikova (Spika Concert Agency) for arranging this interview
Roman Patrashov, Natalia “Snakeheart” Patrashova
March 23, 2017