A Soundtrack to Comeuppance
CoC chats with Anders Fridén and Peter Ivers of In Flames
by: Jackie Smit
In Flames are about to take over the world. You don't believe me? Well, for starters the first single off their upcoming _Soundtrack to Your Escape_ effort debuted at number two on the Swedish charts, and with high-profile tours with the likes of Slayer and Hatebreed under their belts in the States, matters across the pond look equally optimistic. Considering how many of today's metal acts continue to pilfer the In Flames back catalogue with gay abandon, one could easily argue that the band are finally getting what they deserve; but the fact of the matter is that if they were going to get their due for any single album, _Soundtrack to Your Escape_ is the choice that would please both old and new fans. Certainly the most creative offering to carry their logo since 1996's _Whoracle_, the record is at once heavy, catchy and impossible to resist. I recently met up with vocalist Anders Fridén and bassist Peter Iwers to discuss the new album, touring, movie soundtracks and a whole lot in between.

CoC: Since In Flames released _Reroute to Remain_ in 2001, your profile has increased exponentially, and you've toured with a lot of very popular bands (Slayer, Slipknot, etc). How did this affect the band's approach to the music industry and the recording of _Soundtrack to Your Escape_?

Peter Iwers: It didn't affect the writing of the music in any way, but it did help us to see things from a 'bigger' point of view. Seeing all these bands play was incredible. But again, it didn't affect how we write music, because we always write music for ourselves.

Anders Fridén: I think that they affected us in a live environment. They go on stage and they just don't give a crap, you know, they roll over you like a tank. And that's what we like to do ourselves: just go out there and do the best possible show. We don't want to be like other European bands that make excuses -- "Sorry we're playing", or "If it's too loud, please stop us" -- we're just there to roll over people, do the best possible show that we can. But as Peter said, it doesn't affect us in a musical way. Obviously touring with a band like Slayer -- if someone had told me ten years ago that I would be touring with those guys, I would just have said "Yeah, right."

CoC: So out of all the bands you guys toured with, who would you regard as your favourite touring buddies?

AF / PI: Slayer!

AF: It was just an amazing thing to tour with a band like them. They've influenced us and they have influenced metal as a whole for years and years.

PI: And they still manage to be just really down to earth guys. It's really nice to see that.

AF: We knew our place on the tour, but their crew was really helpful and really supportive. It's one of the best tours we've ever done.

CoC: Any crazy tour stories to tell?

AF: We have tons, but they're X-rated. <laughs>

CoC: Moving on to the new album -- the new record instantly gives off a far more sombre vibe than anything you've done before. What was your approach to writing and recording _Soundtrack to Your Escape_, considering the obvious pressure you must have been under?

AF: I've heard that said before, actually -- people think that we are under pressure, but we don't have any pressure. I mean, if we start thinking about it then yeah, but it's only from ourselves. We try and push ourselves to do our performances at 110%, so the only place where we feel pressured is within the band, because we are trying to be better all the time. As far as the fans and the record company things -- we feel that if we stay true to the music that we feel is right for In Flames, then the people will follow.

PI: We just tried to make a better record than we had done before, and not repeat ourselves.

CoC: You've built most of the songs on this new album around some very strong choruses that follow an almost traditional '80s structure. Thinking back to when you did the Depeche Mode cover on _Whoracle_, would you say that you're showing your roots once again?

AF: <pauses> Not directly, but of course we've been listening to those bands for years and years -- since we were young -- so they affect us and influence us more than the latest music. That's something that's been with us for years and years. We are an extreme band, but we do have that influence. Those bands all wrote some great pop songs. We're all suckers for melodies, and for example Depeche Mode are one of the greatest bands for melodies, and if we can use that influence in our music without sounding like them, then that's great.

CoC: So, taking into account how different _Soundtrack to Your Escape_ is from something like _Reroute to Remain_, which track off the new album do you feel defines In Flames in 2004?

PI: "The Quiet Place". We chose that as the single and we feel that's what sums up what the album sounds like.

AF: I agree, but we are definitely not a one song band, we're an album band. You've got to listen to the whole record to see where we are. We've never been about hit singles. We don't write fifty songs and then choose the best fifteen. We write whatever's necessary for making the album. We try to top ourselves every time we write a new song and all of a sudden we have an album.

CoC: As far as choosing Daniel Bergstrand to produce the new record -- why use him again this time round?

PI: We were very comfortable with working with him the last time. He was very dedicated to what we were doing and he did a very good job. Why change a good recipe?

AF: He was very eager to do it this time round. We got to know each other on the first round and felt how we would react in certain situations, and now we felt like this is the time to prove ourselves and really give things an honest chance and show what we could do together. He knows what we are about and he has done great things for us; pushing us to our limits and capturing great moments.

CoC: As you grew more popular after _The Jester Race_, In Flames obviously drew a lot of criticism with people saying that you were repeating yourselves and that you had grown boring. Was the departure of _Soundtrack to Your Escape_ a reaction to that?

PI: Not at all. Our music is never a reaction to what anyone thinks. We just want to make things really interesting for ourselves. We want to make the best music that we can make at the time and we want to make something different from what we have made before. Evolution comes naturally to us. We never give any thought to what anyone says when it comes to songwriting.

AF: We've been around for a long time and we've learned a lot from our experiences. From the first album we have been growing as a band. In the beginning we didn't really know how to play live, we weren't such good songwriters, but we pushed everything we had into In Flames. We don't regret anything, but I think that it's important to move forward and it's important not to repeat yourselves.

PI: With us, people know that they can expect the In Flames sound, but they never quite know exactly what to expect. And regardless of whether you like it or not, you will never know what you are going to get, because we don't do anything according to any trends.

CoC: A lot of the so-called new breed of thrash (Killswitch Engage, God Forbid, etc.) use a lot of the ideas that In Flames pioneered many years ago. How do you feel about the push that bands like this are getting and about the fact their record companies promote them as having a 'fresh' sound?

AF: We get what we deserve, I think. If success is something that is meant to be, then we will get it eventually. We have a lot of fans that come to our shows and we've had a lot of support for many years now, so I also think that people know who did this kind of music first. As far as our influence, I think that is often coincidence, and all the bands you mentioned, I think are brilliant. I mean, we take influences ourselves; we are influenced by other bands.

CoC: In Flames appeared on a couple of movie soundtracks last year -- "Freddy Vs. Jason" probably being the most prolific. What would be your ideal movie to score as a band?

PI: "Star Wars".

AF: "Rambo 4".

PI: Any Jean Claude Van Damme movie. <laughs>

PI: It's a great honour to be part of a soundtrack, and when someone offers us the opportunity we would always accept.

AF: I think that we definitely gained a few people's interest off "Freddy Vs. Jason".

CoC: So what are the plans for In Flames for the immediate future?

PI: Touring for the rest of the year -- probably until the end of the year. We'll be going through Europe, the UK, through to Australia, the States, and then possibly back for another tour of Europe.

CoC: Any last words, guys?

PI: Thank you.

AF: Buy _Soundtrack to Your Escape_. You will not be disappointed.

(article submitted 23/3/2004)


CHATS
1/9/2006 J Smit In Flames: Moments of Clarity
8/12/2000 A Bromley In Flames: Molding Their Visions
3/10/1998 A Bromley In Flames: The Flame of Ingenuity
4/9/1997 A Bromley In Flames: Serious About Success
ALBUMS
4/15/2008 K Sarampalis 7.5 In Flames - A Sense of Purpose
1/9/2006 J Smit 6 In Flames - Come Clarity
8/22/2005 J Smit 9 In Flames - Used & Abused: In Live We Trust DVD
2/29/2004 J Smit 8 In Flames - Soundtrack to Your Escape
9/1/2002 C Flaaten 6 In Flames - Reroute to Remain
10/19/2001 M Noll 3 In Flames - The Tokyo Showdown
8/12/2000 P Azevedo 9 In Flames - Clayman
6/15/1999 A Bromley 9.5 In Flames - Colony
1/1/1998 P Azevedo 9 In Flames - Whoracle
7/17/1996 B Meloon 8 In Flames - The Jester Race
3/14/1996 N Bassett 9 In Flames - Subterranean
GIGS
11/29/2006 J Smit Slayer / In Flames / Lamb of God / Children of Bodom Hung, Drawn & Quartered
9/12/2005 A McKay Mudvayne / Shadows Fall / In Flames / Trivium Dodging a Bullet
5/13/2001 M Noll Dimmu Borgir / In Flames / Nevermore Crimes in the Mourning Palace
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