Serious About Success
CoC interviews Sweden's In Flames
by: Adrian Bromley
"We didn't intentionally try to change our style with _The Jester Race_, but we did tune down our guitars with this record because we felt it would be a good complement to the melodies", responds guitarist Jesper Stromblad to the question of how the band has changed since their inception in 1990. "We aimed to try to find a good combination of brutality and melody. I think we found it."

Through lineup changes (their current lineup includes vocalist Andres Fridan, bassist Johan Larsson, drummer Bjorn Gelotte, and other guitarist Glenn Ljungstrom), touring, and studio work, which saw the release of _Lunar Strain_ in 1993 and the _Subterranean_ EP in 1994, In Flames have worked hard to perfect their melodic death metal sound. Time and energy has paid off with the excellent and well-received second full-length LP, _The Jester Race_. "I don't think there is one real element that stands out with this record", says Stromblad. "We are very happy with the results because it is a very compact album, interesting from start to finish. Also that there is a lot of different influences radiating throughout the record and that we worked hard to make it interesting for the listener."

On the topic of studio work he says, "We were prepared when we went into the studio and everything went as we had expected. I think there is a lot of variation between songs on this record. There are the death-ish tunes, folksy-styled tunes, and some progressive instrumental ideas that use keyboards. I think we have gotten all of the elements that we wanted to bring to _The Jester Race_". He adds, "Song writing is a lot easier for us now. A few years back we were working with studio musicians and from about two years ago till now we have had the same band lineup which has helped us become tighter and more creative. It allows us to be a unit and to write as one. We rarely have problems coming up with ideas to bring into the band."

When asked about the state of metal music being perceived as underground once again, and not as big as it was, Stromblad offers this comment: "I think death metal music has always been big and not that it has gone back to underground exposure once again. When the media finds time to hype music, they do it and it gets big, and then when the media forgets about it, people think it has gone away, you know? Gone underground... I think this music has always been very strong and there are lots of bands out there. Bands change but that is required to keep it fresh and innovative at times. We have changed our music from the sound we were doing four years ago, but it has been natural for us. Some bands change to keep up with what is going on at the moment and they will never succeed in the long run because they keep having to change to be accepted."

Seeing that the music has changed as the band goes along, how has Stromblad changed as either a musician or a person? "Obviously, I have become better from what I do. I have more thirst to explore my musical talent, meaning that I don't try to limit what I want to attempt to do. I don't want to be sectioned off into a certain style or sound of what I am doing. Years ago I might have been in the studio and come up with a riff and said, 'We can't use this. This isn't In Flames sounding.' Now that doesn't occur and we try to use whatever we can incorporate into our music. We are more open-minded now than ever before. We are not afraid to try stuff like keyboards or violins. For us, the use of violins and keyboards are a complement. I think if they were not into the record, it would be very boring from start to finish", states Stomblad, "I think the addition of those two qualities lift our music. You have to be sure to use the right amount of sounds and by all means don't over do it either."

He finishes, "I think people are drawn to In Flames because of our diversity. As well, our fans, or people that may know us, know that they are going to get something different with each release and not have us repeat the same song styles. I think from looking at our music and career from this point, we have not stagnated ourselves. I think we have done the complete opposite. That was quite humble wasn't it?", laughs Stromblad. "Okay... enough of that. The answer: It has been a very positive evolution for the band."

(article submitted 9/4/1997)

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