Interview with In Flames
Band Photo: In Flames (?)
I had the pleasure of Interviewing Bjorn (guitar) of In Flames at Ozzfest on July 26th at PNC Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ.
It was a hot, sunny, dry afternoon of about 95 degrees. Bjorn found a spot on some grass to do the interview, which had been shaded by a near by tent. He was very laid back and no problem answering the questions I asked him.
Overall, the interview went very well. I enjoyed conducting the interview and learned a few things about the artist's perspective of their fans and reasons for doing what they do.
Zack: How does it feel to play the main stage at Ozzfest?
Bjorn: It’s great. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a couple of years now. Finally got here. We got asked twice before and we had to turn them down because we always book a lot of festivals in the summer in Europe. The festivals in Europe are just amazing, really fun, and a lot of bands you wanna see. We keep those booked all summer, but this time around we said leave this space open and hope that they ask us again and they did, so we are really happy. It feels really good, especially with a line up like this, all the Swedish bands, Shadows Fall, Mudvayne, Killswitch, and all those other bands we know.
Zack: What is it like to open for Iron Maiden and Sabbath?
Bjorn: Well for me, its especially cool because I’ve been growing up listening to Sabbath and Maiden. Maiden has definitely influenced my music. The way I write music is the way I play music. I’m very excited about it. I try to be out there and see the show everyday
Zack: I heard there were delays with the DVDs.
Bjorn: I heard it today.
Zack: So what’s up with that?
Bjorn: I’m pretty pissed because I think it’s unfair to the people over here. It’s released already in Europe. It was released yesterday or two days ago. I think it’s really unfair because we’ve toured more over in the US than we do in Europe, so it pisses me off that it’s delayed. It’s not our fault, that’s even worse. If it was our fault I would have been ‘It’s our fault I’ll take that one’ it’s not our fault, its annoying.
Zack: Lately some fans are considering In Flames “sell outs.” Since Colony In Flames have been experimenting with their sound. What do you think caused this?
Bjorn: Causing the experimenting, that’s just musicianship. That’s something you want to do, there’s nothing causing it. But you know what caused the sell out thing?
Bjorn: The fact that we said we would love to tour with a band like Slipknot. That’s when it all started. And what’s wrong with that? I love slipknot. I hope they get the point. Well I am [a big fan] and I know some of the guys in the band and they are awesome guys and I love touring with them. That’s when it all started. Nothing changed with the music, but all of a sudden we were ‘nu-metal’ and we were sell-outs. That’s just fun. We just laugh. We get to do whatever we wanna do. We don’t need to care. Seriously if we came to somebody and they said we should do this or that, we couldn’t listen to them. It’s hard enough to please us in the band. We’re too picky to listen to somebody else like the management, the record labels, fuck that. No time.
Zack: I know some bands that are influenced by their record label.
Bjorn: It’s too bad. The record labels sign the band for doing their music. If the record label starts changing the band it’s not the same band as they signed. They lose whatever was important when they signed them. It’s bullshit, let the band do what they need to do.
Zack: So you think In Flames stays true to the original sound, though on the latest album there’s a lot more vocal harmonies, a bit catchier and more singing?
Bjorn: Depends on how you see it. Staying true to what? How we sounded ten years ago, or to what we wanna do?
Bjorn: It all depends. Staying true to what we did ten years ago, any day. I’ll be behind those CDs any day. But right now, this is how we wanna sound. That’s how we work.
Zack: What’s to expect on the new album?
Bjorn: More melodies. A little bit more up tempo. Great production. Awesome songs. It’s a great album, seriously it’s a really really good album. I’m very very happy with it. It turned out even better than I imagined. The expectations were quite high and it was even better.
Zack: What album would you compare it to? If any?
Bjorn: Well I wouldn’t compare it to any, because it’s got a little bit of everything in it. From the actual start all the way up to where we are right now. It’s all this bullshit about ‘going back to your roots.’ Either you have your roots or you don’t. Or you have your roots and that’s it. We tried, on this one, to do something, which is not as rhythm defined as the last album, was. The last album was very dark in the whole atmosphere of the album, but this time around we wanted to do something a bit more up tempo, more energy to it. When you listen to it you can hear that we are very happy about the album.
Zack: On Colony you rerecorded Behind Space. Any plans on further revisiting other older tunes such as, my favorites, Upon an Oaken Throne or Subterranean?
Bjorn: we had plans of actually rerecording the first two albums just for the fun of it.
Zack: That would be cool.
Bjorn: But there’s no time for it. It would have been a fun thing, but there’s no time for it right now. We have thirteen new songs on the new album. We don’t need anymore, especially our own covers.
Zack: Do you think it’ll happen eventually when things loosen up?
Bjorn: There’s always a possibility of pretty much everything especially when it comes to us. If it’s fun and something that we feel we can do [and] we wanna do we would do it. That’s one of the perks of being around for this long. You learn, stand your ground.
Zack: How do you feel about those ‘metalcore’ bands that took the Swedish death metal sound that you helped create?
Bjorn: well let’s hope they explored it and evolve it. If they didn’t then they’re just copies. Most of these bands have their own identity and that’s what counts. You can be influenced. We have an influence. We are still influenced by a lot of different bands. It’s healthy to be influenced because if you’re not then you would stick to the same sound, stick to the same thing over and over again and it would really be boring after a while. As long as they’re influenced and get their own identity, that’s awesome. I’ve seen some really good bands on second stage it’s really hip.
Zack: Many bands change to a major labels after success with an indie label, why have you stuck with Nuclear Blast for so long?
Bjorn: well they have been treating us good. We have a healthy relationship. In Europe, especially, they really support us in what we wanna do. They’ve never tried to interfere with our music, which is much appreciated cause we wouldn’t listen. If they would have started saying ‘you need to do this’ we’d say ‘fuck you we go to some other label. But it doesn’t work like that. They’ve always been good to us, they listen to our needs and we’ve tried to do what they want without changing anything. Everyone’s been helping each other out and that’s why it’s been working good and that’s why we’re sticking with them.
Zack: It’s good to stay with a label for a long time.
Bjorn: yeah, it’s the same thing as sticking with bandmates.
Zack: Even with the line-up changes?
Bjorn: There has, but now we’re finally the same guys. Same thing with the label, we know how to talk with each other, there’s no stupid questions or anything everybody knows already.
Zack: How do you feel when your new albums get leaked out onto the Internet?
Bjorn: Well if it’s before it it’s out, it sucks. I hate that. I hate when it gets out before it’s out, but if it’s on the internet after it’s release, I couldn’t careless. The people who really enjoy it, and wanna go to the show and everything, they will pick it up anyway. I think what’s wrong right now is the record industry, they’re too slow, they are behind everything right now, that’s why stuff is leaking, and that’s why people are sharing music on the internet.
Zack: You think they should stop the leaks from happening in the first place?
Bjorn: I think that’s wrong as well. I think they should get a good medium to get the music out onto the internet instead of preventing it. They should be first with it. Also they should definitely fucking lower the prices of CDs because It’s getting ridiculous. I don’t care if it’s my money in the end because I rarely buy CDs nowadays. I buy what I really know I like. I can’t just stroll around and grab whatever I fancy anymore cause its too expensive.
Zack: What influences came into writing the lyrics?
Bjorn: Well I don’t write the lyrics, but Anders does. It has in the past been very big things, global things or epics things. Nowadays I think its more personal and on a smaller scale, but very dark and personal lyrics. [For example] stuff that happened to him or things he’s been dealing with and dealing with right now. I think it’s pretty darn scary sometimes. I wonder how he’s feeling sometimes, it’s really dark.
Zack: I noticed during your live set…
Bjorn: You mean the 20 minutes?
Zack: Yeah 20 minutes, it was good, even if it was too short, it didn’t suck. Anyway, I noticed In Flames uses a lot of samples, have you ever considered getting a keyboardist?
Bjorn: Ya, never.
Bjorn: There’s no room for another guy. We’re five people, we’re family already. Getting another guy in now would be really really rough. That would be having a line up change, [which is] nothing fun. There’s no space for another guy and we don’t need it. We got a click track and that’s what it is.
Zack: Are there any bands or people you look up to in the music industry other than Sabbath and Maiden?
Bjorn: Zakk Wylde, best guitar player in the world.
Zack: Well besides people who played tonight.
Bjorn: Dio, dio has always been my absolute favorite singer [and] songwriter. He’s just brilliant. I wouldn’t say that the last couple of albums he did were brilliant, but in the beginning. That’s where I come from, Rainbow and Dio. Deep purple. There are so many. Dream Theater, the whole band is fucking awesome. A bunch of Swedish bands I really appreciate.
Zack: Like who?
Bjorn: Arch Enemy. Definitely At the Gates when they were around, now Haunted. Fucking awesome. Soilwork, great great friends. I appreciate what they’re doing. All of us from Sweden we are sort of fighting towards the same goals.
Zack: It’s one big family over there.
Bjorn: Yes definitely, everybody knows everybody.
Zack: When you first started out, did you think In Flames would be as huge as it is today?
Bjorn: Well I don’t know about huge, but I know I wasn’t expecting to be here. When we started off, I was just hoping to get a couple of live shows maybe record a CD someday. When that wish became fulfilled there’s always new wishes. And they’ve all [come true] so far. I’ve been really blessed when it comes to stuff like that. I got to do whatever I wanted to do with music. I get to see places most people don’t even see, get to meet a whole bunch of really cool people. Bands: played with bands I’ve been looking up to all my life. I would have never expected that when I started out. I think it’s wrong to expect that when you start because then you will be very disappointed most of the time.
Zack: So what do you expect for the future of in Flames?
Bjorn: I expect the DVD to come out any day. I’m fucking pissed that it’s so delayed. Then we have a new album coming out early next year. Then I expect a lot of fucking touring that’s what I wanna do. It’ll probably take a year or two before another album comes out. We gotta do a lot of touring before that, [I] can’t wait. Doing proper sets, This 20 minutes is bullshit, it’s not even appetizer.
Zack: What do you think is the future of metal? Do you think it’ll be a little more mainstream?
Bjorn: Stuff you hear nowadays [that] is mainstream, but five or ten years ago it would have been considered very extreme. I think people’s minds are opening up a bit. The younger people, they are picking up bands which are really extreme and since there are so many people like this, it becomes mainstream. I think that music will probably only be more extreme [because] people will welcome it more than they have in the past. It has been very taboo to do death metal for a long time. Not until the last couple of years did radio over here picked it up, college radio and stuff like that. It used to be nothing here.
Zack: What about the underground scenes or local bands?
Bjorn: In the US or in Sweden?
Bjorn: I don’t know much about underground bands over here because we don’t live here. We don’t get to go to the clubs where the bands play. [Points to my T-shirt] is that your band?
Zack: No, it’s a band I know, Divinity Destroyed.
Bjorn: Well, I’ve never seen them. The thing is, when we do headline shows [when we] go on a tour, there’s always somebody opening up, hopefully, local bands cause that gives them a good opportunity and it gives us an opportunity to put our ears to the ground and see what’s going on right now. In Sweden it’s different. We don’t have that many outlets in Sweden. We used to have a lot of youth centers and stuff where bands could play. That’s where I come from, that’s what I did, but we don’t have it anymore. It’s getting different, for a lot of bands to play. Everybody is helping each other out. Hopefully, someone has something out that will go with some other Swedish band on a tour.
Zack: Any last words?
Bjorn: Pick up the new DVD and CD and definitely come check us out when we play. We’ll be here soon again, early next year I’d say.
Zack: Are you gonna play a stadium again?
Bjorn: *laughs* Yeah we wish
Zack: Well not necessarily headlining, but opening for a bigger band.
Bjorn: Well we’d love to. There are a few bands that we’ve already toured with that I’d love to tour with again. Slayer for instance, best band in the world, I could tour with them any day. They would probably play at venues like this. Otherwise we will probably focus on smaller, more club shows. Get out a decent lighting rig and make it look cool. That’s what I think we’ll do.
Zack: Alright. Thank you for doing this interview.
Bjorn: Thank you.
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