Anders Friden a toujours la flamme créatrice!

Mardi le 5 mars, In Flames venait nous rendre visite à l’Olympia de Montréal.  Anders Friden, le chanteur du groupe a eu l’amabilité de me recevoir dans la plus petite loge du théâtre pour répondre à mes questions.  Très généreux de son temps, Anders révèle son amour pour la musique, l’authenticité de son processus créatif et surtout sa drive pour In Flames qui nous assure que le groupe continuera de nous gratifier de sa présence pour les prochaines années.

À noter, je serai identifié sous la lettre L et Anders le sera sous la lettre A.

L; First of all, thank you for taking the time to talk

A; No problem man

L; So you have been with the band since 1995, that’s almost 25 years! How has your musical process evolved over that time?

A; Well it’s difficult to answer in few words. After many years, of course things happen, that’s just normal in any job you have. In my musical journey, I’ve gone to listening to Heavy Metal, even prior to joining In Flames, my fist love was Scorpions, Iron Maiden, that type of Heavy Metal, or Hard Rock and I’ve been getting into heavier and heavier music, like Trash, Speed Metal and then Death Metal, Grindcore, and then I sort of went backwards.  With the years you know, I’m more open minded, obviously I know more and I’m more experienced of course. How you work in studio and how you work in a live environment. I’ve gained a lot of experience over the years

L; Like finding your own musical identity

A; Yeah, I mean, when people ask us about musical inspirations, we don’t have many influences. Of course I listen to music so there are things around me all the time but I wouldn’t say it’s something that I know is going to inspire me. 

I think you’re inspired most by what you listened to when you were young, when you were most impressionable. So that still sticks with us. Like with Bjorn, like, with Deep Purple, that’s like the first thing he heard, so it’s still with him

L; It steeps through

A; Yeah!

L; So the band’s sound has gotten progressively harder and louder… How much is that do to recording technology or you guys wanting to go in that musical direction?  When you listen to your first album The Jester Race, you can hear it in the drums, they are not as present, or not as loud…

A; We didn’t know anything else at that point and that’s who we were.  And you know with Jester Race, it was recorded and mixed in 11 days, the new one was written and recorded in 3 months. So of course it’s like a huge difference. An it’s difference in budget but it’s also a difference in Skill; We are better at our instruments for sure. Then I’m only talking about the skill, I’m not talking about the music that we do, that is up to anyone else to decide if you like or not. If Jester Race was recorded today with the same equipment, the same time as Behind the Mask (le nouvel album paru en 2019), of course the sound would be closer.

But now we have 25 years of experience

L; You know what your doing

A; We tought we knew what we were doing and I a way we were.  Every album has its charm and is important.  Every album is a photograph of who you were at that point in time. 

L; It’s a snapshot of who was In Flames that year

A; An I mean we don’t write all the time. We only write when it’s time to write an album. So if an album sounds a bit different, it’s not a conscious thing or a continuation of writing music all the time. 

L; That was actually my next question… You don’t clock in like the old Tin Pan Alley writers working from 9 to 5 and you have your recording day, popping out songs.

A; No…I mean these days, we try not to record all night and you get tired the next day. But we…For this album and the last album, we decided to write and record the album at the same time. So whenever we felt we had a couple of songs we started recording them and then we went back to writing. Not to long days in the studio and then we could go back to the house that we had where we had a small demo studio that we used to write in the evenings. L; You were able to isolate yourselves

A; It was just me and Bjorn in the house. Just us 2 writing and writing and writing and basically recording to. 

L; There’s been a big turnover in the band in the last couple of years. How has that affected your music, did it affect the dynamic, taking a while to get feet back together as a band

A; We don’t feel that way. Maybe it looks that way… Maybe it looks like that from the outside. When Jesper left, Sense of Purpose was his last album, and when he left, me and Bjorn were like : We want to continue the band. Then we found a formula that worked for us, writing together way more than we did in the past. And from Sounds of the Playground fading which was in 2008, its been us.  Its been us for the last 10 years that its been us, its only us writing. We found a formula that works for us…

Then we have members that, they leave for different reasons, they were never fired. They just leave for personal issues, changes in life and then I guess we want to BE a band and we want to continue to play live so we have to have new members.

They are contributing to the live sound and they are great people outside and so and so. The dynamic is very very important. Like socially, its almost more important, because as professionals, we expect musicians to be able to play our songs, if they are going to be part of this band.  So socially it’s a lot more important to be a cool, nice relaxed person.

L; You want to know that if you are going to be touring with someone…

A; Yeah your not going to be touring with idiots…But that goes for the whole In Flames machine. For the crew it’s the same thing, we can’t have idiots. We have a lot of people that have been with us for 10 years, for 20 years, a lot of people have been with us for a really long time.  We are a really well oiled family.

L; That’s awesome, and being able to afford that kind of stability and that type of support system that allows you to just concentrate and clear your mind, so you don’t have to worry about anything.

I had a question about that…You were talking about the dynamic and everything. When you were doing your album with Passengers. Was that just something where you just had to get some songs out of your system that were not In Flames songs?

A; Not Really, Not Really. I mean Nicklas was in there and three other friends and we just wanted to do something different. It’s not even that, we just wanted to go into the studio, drink some beers and create some music. And if I’m going to do something on the side, I don’t want it to sound like In Flames. That was made out of pure joy, for the fun of it L; For something that was made for the fun of it, it sounds great. A; And then the record company heard it and said: Can you guys record an album. Because we did a demo first and they said: Hey why not, let’s do it. And we went on tour once and it was very fun but… That’s it

L; it was just a moment in time

A; Definitely

L; Montreal as been known to be good to metal A; That’s why we keep coming back again and again. L; Obviously Europe is a hotbed of metal music. There is the biggest metal festival in the World (HellFest) there is even an international society for the study of metal music (l’ISMMS pour les curieux). It’s pretty intense in Europe. So how do you approach touring in North America versus touring in Europe? Are you more inclined in Europe to visit smaller cities where there is more demand, and going to bigger cities in North America because you have to centralise your shows?

A; I mean we are bigger in Europe than we are over here so we can do bigger productions.  I mean tonight we are opening up for Within Temptation meaning that we have an hour. Imagine that we have an hour and we have 13 albums out, it’s quite difficult and we can’t bring that much on stage. We bring ourselves and music and hopefully there is good interaction between us and the audience. There is so much that is involved in where we are touring. We have agents and management, people telling us where to go and what options we have.  I like to go play in both the bigger arenas and the smaller club tours like we are doing today, where we are very close to the public. We are very fortunate that we can do both. But we have a different status in Europe that we have around here.

 

L; You have been around for 25 years and there are a lot of big bands that after a while they stop really putting out new music and become glorified cover bands, touring more to please their fans.

A; That won’t happen with In Flames.

L; That’s what I figured with the continuity and the quality of the music that you put out.

A; I love my history and I think it’s perfect as it is.  But I don’t want to rely on it.  I bring it with me and look to the future. I love being in the studio. I love going into the studio with nothing and leaving with something that you as a band feel that is complete.  So I won’t stop recording. As long as I have that sort of childish curiosity of wondering what can I do if I do this or that, I will continue. I won’t rely on the past in that sense. 

L; You have recorded entirely in English. Is their a need eventually to record a fully…

A; Swedish? I don’t know

L; Is it a question of language, of public?

A; I never think about the public when recording at first. I have to like it. I don’t think about a certain language, country, gender…There is nothing involved.  I record it and then it’s up to you to decide whether you like it or not. It’s just that I think it’s easier to express myself in English that’s all. The Swedish language is almost… to close to home, it’s to personal if it’s in my own language…Swedish doesn’t sound as good.  Swedish sounds good when talked of course. But the expression of the music that we do has always been in English.  If there is anything I could think about is that more people can understand you.  Who knows! Maybe we should do one song sometime… Who knows!

L; There were a lot more acoustic moments in the earlier albums. Is there any chance that we’ll see an acoustic set someday? Would it interesting transforming your songs, giving them a different identity?

A; Yeah I think it would be fun. We will see what happens. We’ve done a few songs here and there live in acoustic while on tour.  We’ve done a tour in Europe called In our room, which was in small clubs, where we had a string quartet with. So we would play acoustic with the strings then we would play 3 or 4 songs electric in the middle of the set.

It’s fun because it gives a different dynamic. And we have more acoustic guitars in the new album than we had in the last few years. I mean, I love the instrument, but our songs are not made that way. They are made for dual electric guitars, so it’s a lot of rework and the songs will come out different. It’s not as easy as just playing the riffs on acoustics guitars. A lot of work needs to go into it. 

L; Well that’s amazing, thank you for your time and I’m really looking forward to seeing you guys on stage later on tonight.

A; Thanks!

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