Molding Their Visions
CoC talks to Bjorn Gelotte of In Flames
by: Adrian Bromley
Sweden's In Flames are easily one of my favorite bands out there. Their music is a brilliant meshing of death metal vocals accompanied by powerful melodies and some of the coolest guitar solos that have been displayed within the metal scene in recent years. Their constant evolution and groundbreaking work within the melodic death metal scene has stationed them high up on the list of bands to be inspired by and copy.

Their new work on _Clayman_ [reviewed in this issue] is breathtaking and we are indeed blessed with the notion that the band is just hitting their stride, no doubt anxious to see where their music takes them within the next few years.

"When we start to record an album, we never really plan what we are going to do or where we are going to take the band", starts guitarist Bjorn Gelotte about the ideas that inspired the new disc. "We just used the inspiration that we got from touring and just meeting people. We just bring into the fold ideas and inspiration from how people are reacting to what we do."

"We also try to look at what we did with the last record and try to take the music of In Flames one step further. I think that is quite obvious since we have the same line-up now that we did on [1999's] _Colony_ [CoC #40] and that makes all of us feel more comfortable with what we do. We [the band is rounded out by singer Anders Friden, bassist Peter Iwers, drummer Daniel Svensson and guitarist Jesper Stromblad] grew together on this record and we took it to the next level."

Indeed they have. Ever since their debut album, the death metal-tinged disc _Lunar Strain_ (Wrong Again Records, 1994), In Flames has gradually taken on a much more melodic overtone within their music, a change brought forward in their punishing (and in my eyes classic release) _The Jester Race_ (1995) [CoC #12]. Since then, the band has managed to capture a real solid feeling of creativity and musicianship in the last few years by putting out one impressive record after another.

While the band does have a very faithful following, a lot of fans of the band feel very passionate about the work on _The Jester Race_ and think that much of In Flames' new work is just a continuation of that, not really breaking from that mold. About those comments from fans, Gelotte answers: "Let people think what they want. Some people even want us to go back and record another album like _Lunar Strain_. Why should we do that? That would be like living in the past. We are getting older now and are being influenced by many different things these days. We have much more diverse music styles than we had when the band first started. It would lying to ourselves and In Flames if we just stayed in the past, because we are always trying to move forward with each recording."

"It has never been this easy to create songs for a record, but this time it was", states Gelotte of the recording of _Clayman_. "We were on tour in the United States, the first one we have ever done, and we were so inspired with this tour and the great experiences that we had, we didn't waste any time when we got home. We just started writing and it came together very fast. It was all pretty much done within the time frame of a month. It was very fast and it felt so good to be able to go into the studio inspired and get it all done so quickly."

"This whole idea of being inspired to write music is something new to us. A while back we would normally have to book studio time to get things rolling for us and working on music and inspired to write for an In Flames record. It isn't like that anymore. We used to be very lazy, but this time around it was the total opposite. After the tour, we just couldn't stop writing and we didn't want to. We didn't want to stop the momentum of all this."

How does Gelotte and In Flames feel about all of the respect they have garnered over the years? "It is very flattering to hear people speak so highly of In Flames and reading how all of these bands are influenced by us, but I also got to thinking about all of that too. When you create music you are trying to create your own identity, and if you don't, something gets lost along the way. There is already one In Flames. The world probably doesn't need another one and people must know that they can use what we do and get influenced by it, but then they need to take it to their own next level and get their band noticed."

I ask Gelotte about the perils of being lumped into a music scene, In Flames most notably thrown into the "Gothenburg" Swedish metal scene. He answers: "We have always tried to do our own thing. We were there when this whole "Gothenburg" scene took off. We were there in the beginning and we had to decide just where we were going to go as well. It was the only way for us. I don't think we followed trends or tried to stay within a scene sound. We don't know what we are going to do next and I think you can hear that with what we do, especially on the new disc and how some of the choruses and ideas have been done. We aren't afraid to do things like that and I think it is important to be dynamic and have songs that'll come across solid live, because let's face it, we like to tour and play for our fans. Everything is important to us and our music and I think it is important for many bands to stay focused on what you do and let things happen, and not have a great plan."

What inspires Gelotte and his songwriting / guitar playing? "I would have to say the touring and most importantly the line-up of the band. We have been the same band for the longest time now and we are like a family. For the last few years In Flames has kind of been a project with members being used from other bands to help In Flames, but now we are a full unit with all members devoted to the cause of In Flames. It used to be Jesper and myself telling people what parts to play and all that, but now everyone brings into the group their ideas and we function as a full unit. This time around, and over the last year or so, everything seems to be great for us and working as a team", says Gelotte. "It just seems very relaxed and that is a great feeling."

On the topic of the album title, Gelotte responds: "We had a bunch of names to go as the title, but they didn't work out. We chose the title _Clayman_ because it was very short and easy to remember, just like the last record _Colony_. Also, the name seemed to fit very well with the concept of the record too."

As always it seems, an In Flames release is a big deal and that means big pushing by their label, Nuclear Blast. So how does Bjorn feel about all of the press work and hype surrounding each release? He comments: "I think doing press is a lot of fun and it is great to talk to people that like metal, as well as meeting some very interesting people. I think it is more of a necessary evil for us because we just want to play the music. That is the main reason why we started all this. When we started out, we didn't want to talk to the press, but this is needed to help push the band name and make things smooth for the label we work with and the people who help us out. Oh well, it is only for a short time when the record is coming out and the rest of the year we get to play music and tour. Now -that- is exciting."

(article submitted 12/8/2000)

1/9/2006 J Smit In Flames: Moments of Clarity
3/23/2004 J Smit In Flames: A Soundtrack to Comeuppance
3/10/1998 A Bromley In Flames: The Flame of Ingenuity
4/9/1997 A Bromley In Flames: Serious About Success
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
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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