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INTERVIEW: Anders Fridén – In Flames

When you think of heavy metal, usually IN FLAMES will be one of the first bands to spring to mind. Since 1990, the Swedish outfit have built a solid reputation as one of metal’s biggest household names. 26 years after exploding onto the scene, the band are ready to unleash album number 12, Battles, to the world. We caught up with vocalist Anders Fridén to talk about the new record, the progression of the band and how there is no pressure when creating new record, despite their enormous reputation.

So it has been two years since Siren Charms, how has the band progressed in that time?

Anders: Well we are a little bit more set in our skin, we decided to cut the touring cycle for Siren Charms short, we were eager to go back into the studio but at the same time we decided to record this album and we have a little break, not do anything for the whole summer. That’s been all that we’ve done for many years, touring touring touring and not really reflecting on life. We get to spend time with our kids, it’s always been in the way, especially in the summer when they are off school and stuff like that, it’s been really hectic going back and forth to the festivals. So, all in all, it’s just been a good time, making and recording this album in LA was a good time and now it is time to start the old machine again, just keep on going and doing what we love.

You just mentioned then that Battles was recorded in LA as opposed to Sweden. What did recording in LA bring to the album?

Anders: Well I believe that you hear the sound of not LA, whatever that means, but I think it has a warmer feeling than the previous album, Siren Charms. Siren Charms was recorded in Berlin in November, it was grim, cold, wet and grey – which was great for that album, it’s our Berlin album. But then come to Battles two years later and that was recorded with sun, BBQs, beers; it gets into the album somehow. I think it does, for me it is a bit warmer, then again I think the riffs could have been written wherever but that’s the way it should be, I think the environment creeps into the album no matter what your intentions are and I don’t have albums that sound the same. Even though it is IN FLAMES and it should be recognisable but I think it should be a touch of something that they maybe didn’t hear two years ago or three years ago or ten years ago.

So with the record being called Battles, what is the meaning behind the album name?

Anders: Well I can’t really write about Dungeons & Dragons, war battles and we aren’t the greatest political band in the world, I have opinions, but I don’t tend to write about that. It is more about the inner battles that we deal with, basically when we started to think and feel, how we attack the day, not dwell too much in the past, dealing with your battles in your earlier days to being able to be open to the future. Just personal stuff, nothing ground-breaking, nothing that is super new or that no one has heard before but I think are general fans can relate to it and think the same.

You’ve released a music video for The End. How have you found the fan reception for the first glimpse into the new record?

Anders: Good? [laughs] I don’t really pay attention that much to what is being said. I’m happy with what we have done and that’s my attitude, I mean I can’t change what people think so I’m happy if they like it. But the video for The End and there is another video for The Truth that is coming out, they are connected actually. Like a storyboard, they are connected, so I think people will get a ‘aha’ moment when they see The Truth video, well I hope they will at least get the concept. But The End is a very intense firefighter first person shooter game, because we love playing games.

With Battles being IN FLAMES’ 12th record, how do you think it holds up compared to your back catalogue?

Anders: Great, I hope! I mean we go into the studio with the same attitude we have always had, we just try to write those melodies and I think it is good. I think it is recognisable, as I said before, and it is something that I am proud of. If we put it out there and people go “oh that is the new IN FLAMES” that’s the general, whether you like it or not, but you can still hear it is us. And that is pretty cool to still have that even as the band has changed and developed and we’ve grown older. We attack our instruments in a different way but we still have that recognisable sound. I said in an interview before that we are the best band at being IN FLAMES, that’s what we do. We don’t try to be someone else, we don’t try to aim to become the best guitar player, the best keyboard player, the best drummer, best vocalist, best bassist; that’s not our goal. As a collective we are very good at doing what we do, being IN FLAMES.

And I think very much by having that attitude that’s one of the reasons behind the huge legacy that you’ve got. So when it comes to making new records, do you feel a bit of pressure by having such a good reputation?

Anders: No, not at all, to be honest there are so many opinions about what we should be, what we should do, what we shouldn’t do, and I cannot take that into consideration. I only care about what the other guys feel, I don’t think about it’s going to be perceived or how people are going to react, I think that is the wrong perspective to have. I can’t define what you should feel or what others should feel, if you don’t like it I can’t change that. If you like it, fantastic! If you don’t, well I’m sorry! We go in to write good melodies, write good songs and we try to get to the point pretty quick. We don’t write twelve or twenty minute epic stuff that you haven’t heard before, that’s not us.

And really that’s the best way isn’t it? Just focusing on what you want to achieve rather than worrying what everyone else might think?

Anders: I can’t do anything about it! It would be too much weight on my shoulders if I started to think about other people’s views, if other people have an opinion on how we should do it and we’d let them write the album then I think it would be a very schizophrenic weird album because people tend to have different opinions. So it is better that we focus on it than them! [laughs]

Following the release of Battles in November, come early 2017 you’ve got an arena tour supporting AVENGED SEVENFOLD. What can fans expect from your upcoming performances?

Anders: Well, a frantic short set that they need to pay attention to! Hopefully they can get a good feeling and those who haven’t heard IN FLAMES before are hopefully in for a good treat and they have a great time. I would love to hear IN FLAMES for the first time today because there is so much music I would find, overall I hope it will be good. But we are the first band out so people need to be there early and pay attention!

With that tour being arena shows around the UK, what is your preference? Do you prefer big arenas or do you prefer intimate club shows?

Anders: Well I’m happy that we can do both! Club shows are super tight, close and sweaty and you can feel all the sweat from the fans and it is super intense and really rewarding! Arenas are a bit colder, especially opening up for someone where you have to be aware that their fans may not care about us and that is something we have to have in the back in our heads, don’t be disappointed if people are looking at their phones. We play huge festivals where we are the headliners but we also play the tiniest club shows. I remember playing CBGBs before it closed down in New York and that was insane! You can almost touch all four walls and people are flying back and forth, that was amazing!

And really, my final question for you with Battles coming out in November, what are you hoping to achieve with the record?

Anders: That I can continue to do what I love, that I can make another album. At least there are people out there who are paying attention to what we do, I just love being part of this whole machine, I love what I am doing, playing the music I love and I don’t have a goal to take over the world or something like that! It’s just let’s have a good time, that’s the general idea, that’s how I look at life too!

Well thank you for taking the time to talk to Distorted Sound, thank you Anders.

Anders: Cheers, thank you.

Battles is set for release on November 11th via Nuclear Blast Records. 

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Distorted Sound Issue 24 COVER