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In Flames - Not like a virgin
In March a little band called In Flames played in the Effenaar in Eindhoven (the pearl of Brabant if you ask me!) Metalrage had a nice talk with In Flames guitarist Björn Gelotte, who is next to a generous person (regarding passing around the beer) also happens to be a very talkative person. Read on if you want to hear about his opinion on the evolution of In Flames and if he had a great time at Ozzfest.
Every new album is an evolution for the band, how would you describe them?
Alot of stuff happened. Not before Jester Race it wasn’t even a band. It was more of a project for Jesper so he could make the music he couldn’t do in his other band. Anders and I joined with Jester Race, and then we thought that we might get a steady line-up and play shows. Musically that’s where it really started, and not on Lunar Strain. People seem to forget that sometimes. It’s a different band.
You learn all the time, you learn to make a song dynamic and for example, not heavy all the way. That makes yourself and others just exhausted. You learn this by playing live. We have never been a rehearsing-band, we're actually pretty lazy. We know our songs very well and try to learn a lot with the live playing.
With Jester Race we did our first "European Tour", it was called Race over Europe. 12 shows, that was it, basically just Germany and one show in Switzerland..really a 'big' race. But it was fun and we learnt the importance of having dynamic songs. After that, we recorded Whoracle. When we wanted to start touring on that cd Glenn (Ljungström) and Johan (Larsson) decided they didn’t want to do this touring thing, so they quit. We had to find new people and that was a nightmare. It was hard to get together. We got Peter pretty early, but it was really hard to find a guitar player. After a while we decided that I should take the guitar spot and find a new drummer and Daniel was the one who got the spot.
All these changes influenced our sound, because suddenly we had a great drummer and bass player, and that made mine and Jesper's life easier on guitar, because we didn’t have to work so hard anymore. We didn't have to compensate anything because we could write something and know that the others could play it. With Colony and Clayman we really started touring.
A smaller evolution, not as big as Subterranean compared to Jester Race, would be the change of studios and producer. We still wrote the same way. People were suddenly saying that we had changed, but we did not. It was just a matter of cosmetics, so to say. Reroute was still rough but it also had some great melodic choruses.
Soundtrack To Your Escape was a lot of hard work. We rent a house and worked our asses of and I'm proud of how it came out. I'll never say anything bad about our records, but I feel that we didn't get what we aimed for because we worked different than usual.
Do you think it wasn’t spontaneous?
I think the balance between us and the producer wasn't the best. He should make you play the best you can on your own material, but also be able to open up for other ideas. The feeling I have about that record isn’t 110% but some of our best live songs are on it.
For Come Clarity we wanted to do more for ourselves. Now we know how things work, so we recorded all the guitar parts ourselves. That allowed us to be more spontaneous. You could have this great idea and just record it.
So In Flames is back on track?
I don’t think that we got sidetracked; it is just that we used a different way of recording. We talked about recording this album and wanted two things: Faster and more up-tempo so it has more energy. The other thing was to make the guitars more up front and let them do most of the melodies.
Then we recorded again with Daniel (Bergstrom, producer) and Anders, they did their thing in the studio because that works the best for Anders. And we let someone totally different mix it. It was a good thing but scary at first because it might suck, but fortunately it turned out great.
Have you already got ideas for the next album?
We really liked the way we did Come Clarity, but we don't really plan that much. It is funny though because Come Clarity has been released not a long while ago, but the recording was actually done in April 2005.
That must have been annoying regarding internet leaks..
Well in our case it actually helped us. Big stars like Madonna live on their singles; the most money is made on just one song. For us, it just creates a kind of hype. They know it’s done, and they can listen to it and check it out if it’s worth getting. If people don’t like it, they just don't buy it, everyone has his own opinion. For us it worked out fine but I'm not saying that you should steal our next record.
In 2004 you played Sziget in Hungary. There apparently there were some problems with the logistics?
We didn't get our hard drive, so we did not have any samples or keyboards to play with live. It’s very important for us because besides the extra instruments it also has the tempos to play with and so on. We were really pissed and tried everything to get it. So we came on stage rather pissed but it went on to be one of the best shows we ever did. The people went crazy there.
Yeah, we've been to Sziget and its an amazing festival!
It's a really cool festival, and well organised (except for our missing hard drive). A lot of great bands, I believe The Rasmus played after us and they sounded great. I was really surprised by the singer and the bass player.
Anders said that you guys quickly practiced some old songs in the bus, weren't you scared that you might screw things up?
We ran through some old songs so we could still play for our amount of time. The thing is, even if you haven't played those songs in a long while you still know them.
On Graspop '05 Anders pulled out a guy from the crowd and let him sing a track; do you guys do that a lot?
We do that quite often. It’s funny because everyone always yells that they know the lyrics, but only a few of them have the guts to sing it on stage. It’s a fun way to check out the real fans.
He sang out of key but he nailed it!
We did a show in Stockholm, in our home town..god dammit did I just say that? I mean our home country. We pulled a guy out to sing; he sang out of key as well but did a great job. When he was done I gave him my guitar and he was totally amazed. It's just great fun for us. In Gothenburg (which is our hometown) we asked the crowd if anyone could do a guitar solo. This short guy had my guitar on his knees and was playing and playing. We were drinking next to the stage and thought "let’s give him another minute", so I just let him keep the guitar as well.
So if the crowd is right, you might ask an In Flames cover band to jump on stage?
I saw Greenday do that once, and it seems very cool to me!
In 2005 you also played Ozzfest, how was that experience?
Mixed. Theoretically it's a great festival with a lot of great bands, but that only goes if you play at the right time. It is true that you can reach a lot of people but you only play for 20 minutes. For us it was pretty shitty, we opened up the main stage and played 20 minutes. For the band it was good and we got quite some media attention, but most of the times we played for empty seats. It’s the wrong way around because you would have 20 rows of empty seats because of seated shows and in the distance you might have some fans watching. I would never say that I regret that I did it, but the vibe just wasn't there. It was a bummer sometimes.
What really good was the contact with the other Swedish bands, Soilwork, The Haunted, Arch we really had a lot of fun. The American bands were cool as well because we already knew the guys from Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall. The hanging out was more important than the 20 minutes on stage
But you have to pay to play at Ozzfest?
Yes, most bands do. Its called a promotion fee. Usually the record label pays that.
That’s really American. Do you know Hellfest? Because I have a DVD where Opeth plays there and they only had 15 minutes.
Yeah we played there once, and I think Hatebreed played before us because they were in a hurry. I remember hating that because they're such a good band! But I don’t understand the short shows neither, personally I don’t see the fun in it.
What can you tell about the Cube special edition of Come Clarity?
Well its something someone from the record company came up with, I'm not really a special edition fan. But it's cool that there is something out there for the collector or investor.
What can you tell about the artwork?
I haven't seen the art for the special edition. I have it but I haven’t opened it. I think it is parts of the art we didn’t end up using for the normal release.
You did a cover of "Land of Confusion", but if you would have to record a full album of 80s covers, which ones should be on it?
A lot of them! Alphaville songs, A-ha songs...Take On Me or something.
Not "Like a Virgin" from Madonna?
No! But maybe a Michael Jackson one, that would be cool!