The Flame of Ingenuity
CoC Interviews In Flames
by: Adrian Bromley
"I think there is still a lot of creativity left still for In Flames and the music we create," starts guitarist Jesper Stromblad from the phone overseas when asked about their latest LP, _Whoracle_, and future material. "I am very satisfied with the way this record turned out. It is a great record. And it is good that people are getting into this record 'cause that is what we want. For people to grow with us as we get to be better musicians. At this point right now, we are thinking how we are going to top this record. How are we going to do ten or more songs better than the material on _Whoracle_? I mean, something has to happen with the music now. You can't repeat yourself. In terms of new material, we have written a couple of new songs and I think one of them is the best song we have ever written. It sounds like "Moonshield Part 2" or "Gyroscope Part 2". It is a very good song."

He continues on, "What we plan to focus on more with the new LP is the production. We want to make it very fresh in some way. We want to add some ideas. Ninety percent of the material will sound like In Flames, but we'll throw in some samples, drum loops or maybe some more keyboards. We want to maybe try a bit more clearer vocals. Not in the same vein as Amorphis, because I think if you can't sing normal then don't do it 'cause it sounds pathetic. This is something we will try. We already tried it on _Whoracle_ with the clear vocals dubbed over the screaming vocals on "Everything Counts". It worked to some degree. Right now I am writing many guitar riffs where I put simple clear vocals on and demo it. Then we go into the studio and try to add many alternatives to the song like keyboards, etc... If it works, we will keep it. I mean, we want to progress as a band and bring new ideas into In Flames."

In Flames -- which includes vocalist Anders Friden, bassist Johan Larsson, drummer Bjorn Gelotte and other guitarist Glenn Ljungstrom -- worked hard to put out _Whoracle_. It was a much needed sound and direction for the band to be able to continue on where they left off with the dazzling 1996 effort _The Jester Race_, a much more melodic death metal LP than their previous efforts _Lunar Strain_ (1993) and the _Subterranean_ EP in 1994. _TJR_ opened up In Flames to a lot of music fans who were captivated by harsh vocals on top of seductive and quite memorable choruses and riffs. In Flames captured a slick quality to melodic death metal -- putting themselves in a category with such acts as Dark Tranquillity -- and felt _Whoracle_ needed to attain that same quality (production/songwriting) somewhat, as Jesper had stated, to move on. What is it about _Whoracle_ that Stromblad finds appealing?

"I like the whole feel of this record, but as most musicians will point out about their efforts, I am not 100% happy with the production. It was good, but could have been better. It was just a great feeling to have some fresh material out for people to hear. With _TJR_, we recorded it in 1995 but it didn't see the light of day 'till a year later in 1996, when it was released. The music then felt old to us. This record was recorded quickly and released right away. This stuff seems so new to me that I can enjoy it moreso than when _TJR_ came out."

Getting more in-depth about the production of _Whoracle_, Stromblad says, "This was a very quick record for us to assemble. But there were problems first off. I had a writing block for sometime and I didn't know what we were going to do. No ideas were coming to me and I was worried. I didn't write for almost a whole year, though I had written the song "Episode 666" (off _Whoracle_). Then at the start of 1997 I had started to write material and then it all just poured out. To go from total blackness to a new album in less than four weeks. It just came out all at once."

Since Jesper is one of the main songwriters for In Flames, I ask him about the initial song idea and how it takes shape on record. Does it change much from initial idea to production and recording of the material for the LP? He responds, "When I have a song idea in my head, I pretty much know how it will end up after we record it and work on it in the studio. I know what has to be done. But song writing this time out was much more relaxed. We had time to work on songs. _TJR_ was recorded in just eleven days, but we really had thirteen days in the studio. We recorded the LP and then had to re-record half the record, so we had to do it exactly as we had rehearsed. This time, with _Whoracle_, we could take as much time as possible to finish it up. We left a lot of parts open to work on in the studio, stuff like melodies and guitar leads. It was great as we could record some stuff and when we grew tired of studio time go home, relax, come back tomorrow and go back to work. It wasn't like that for _TJR_. This time was a much more pleasant experience for us."

On his goal as a musician and songwriter, Stromblad has a lot of ideas he wishes to see happen in the next little while for his band. He believes in In Flames and himself, living out a dream of touring and making music for as long as he possibly can. "Music has always been an important part of my life. Ever since I learned to walk, basically. I knew from the beginning I wanted to do this. I stuck by that dream all through school and look where I am at. This is a full-time business for me. I think about music twenty four hours a day. All the time. This is the only thing I can do and the only thing I want to do."

And such is the case with Stromblad also having helped (both through writing and playing) on the Hammerfall debut LP, _Glory to the Brave_, an 80s-tinged metal outfit in the vein of Helloween and Iron Maiden. So how does Stromblad work the time out between Hammerfall and In Flames? Jesper quickly explains, "I am not in Hammerfall. They are a real band now and I have no part in the band. They had real problems with people thinking it was a side-project of In Flames. Some even thought it was my band and that I write for them. I mean, I did help them out with their debut record but they have a solid lineup now and all I do is help them out a bit. If I am home when they begin recording their follow-up LP, I may help them engineer the vocals because I helped them do that last time and the vocalist (Joacim Cans) was very comfortable working with me. I'd like to help them out but in no way am I in the band. I just wanted to get that straight."

_Whoracle_, next to such early releases as _Lunar Strain_ or _Subterranean_, seems to have such a magnific production quality and to be bursting with top notch musicianship. The growth of the band has been a gradual one, seeing each LP strengthen them as a band and fully adapt their ideas so effortlessly into the evolution of In Flames' material. Has the evolution been an easy transition for the band to evolve?

"I never really think about us trying to take our music to a certain place. This all falls into place very naturally. The only time I ever think about where we should take the music is if I draw a blank while writing and need to use our old material as a reference and [choose] where to take it. I don't think the direction of In Flames has ever been planned. I think it has taken a long time for us to find our identity. It is like when you grow up, it takes you a long time to find your identity. You have to grow with the people in the band as well as with your music through numerous releases. It takes a while to find a particular sound that represents our band and I think we are slowly getting there. Our sound is being given shape right now."

(article submitted 10/3/1998)

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