Interview with vocalist Anders Fridèn | By Morgan Y. Evans
Gothenburg legends In Flames move to the beat of their own drummer. It is what made them such a force in the beginning and keeps them relevant today. Anders Fridèn checks in to discuss their compelling latest triumph, Siren Charms.
When you wrote “Rusted Nail,” did you know it was special? It will be amazing live.
With any of the albums – or any other song, really – we just try to create the best song possible. We move on, and then try and create the next one. This one really is a grooving verse leading into a bombastic chorus that people can sing along to. Sing right back at me. I’m happy with the way all the songs turned out. It’s meant to be played live. They should sound good in the live environment, otherwise there’s no point really.
How do you know when you’re done and have all the songs for an album?
You just do, I guess. I just know when we’re done. We usually don’t write that many songs for any album. This album we wrote 13 songs. 11 ended up on the album and we have two bonus tracks. I think it’s better to pack your album with good ideas instead of filler. There’s no point, really.
Yeah, it’s a waste of time for everyone. [Laughter]
Definitely. We write for what we think is right. I have to believe in myself and the songs and music that I do. I have to live with that shit forever.
It’s your life! I love Colony, but I’m not going to dislike the new stuff. I like to see where you’ve progressed.
Yeah. I [could] try to do Colony II, but that wouldn’t be right, either. That album was true to who I was for that time and who we were then. I wouldn’t change a thing, you know? For us, it’s always been about taking everything we’ve done with us, but embracing the future. Using what we have right now.
That is how you helped shape the face of modern metal in the first place…
Gothenburg… It’s pretty crazy to think of who we were then. We were one of a few bands in Gothenburg and had no idea what we were doing. We just wanted to use all the influences we had around us and create something that people hadn’t heard before. Incorporate British heavy metal, and the thrash metal from Germany, and the death metal from around Europe. A twist of whatever beer we were drinking that day. [Laughs]
“Paralyzed” seems very rebellious.
Yeah. I can never write what other people want. 1,000 people’s opinions would not translate to a good song. If you’re not open to listening to it, it’s not for you. If you think, “It’s not my music,” then you won’t find something good. If you open your ears, then you might find stuff in there.
I like that you never really listen to critics.
I hear what people are saying, but at the end of the day, it’s my decision. I wouldn’t want to be A&R to In Flames. They ask if we have any songs. I’ll be like, “Yeah, yeah… We got songs.” And we don’t [laughs]. We have lots of parts of songs, and some loose ends. That’s where the magic happens. It’s the spur of the moment with a lot of things. It is whatever we feel and create from there. No one outside the band has anything to say about our music.
The sharp stops in the intro of “Siren Charms” took my breath away.
A baritone guitar plays that riff. I guess he had to do it twice. It turned out to be really, really good. That song was one of the trickiest songs. The way we did it on the demos was very different. It’s a powerful song.
Do you think hope is blind or can we touch the hand of God like Michelangelo?
Maybe. The hand of God… It depends on how you look at it. It could be hope or something that is not actually good for you, but you are reaching for it. It’s not God in the religious way, necessarily. It’s more symbolic. The way I write, all my lyrics are something for me. I use metaphor, but for you it could be something completely different. It’s the eye of the beholder.
Is your creativity hard to reconcile with the outside world and everyday life?
Depends, really. Before the album, we played one last show in Sweden. I was eager to record this album, but at the same time, I didn’t have much inspiration. Being at home, I take my kids to daycare. I don’t want to write when I’m barbecuing. I have to have some sort of inspiration. I need to be by myself. I put myself under stress and had nothing. What would it do to me as a songwriter? In the studio, it was ALL about the music. Put all the pieces together in four weeks. It was very, very hectic. Everything I wanted, but at the same time it was tough on me. Why the fuck do I put myself in those situations? [Laughs]
And when it was done?
I had people around me all the time, holidays. Trying to relax, but at the same time, knowing I had to listen to the mixes to know if everything is all right. I’m very much a part of all stages, how everything sounds. From that, I learned that I’m not a robot. It turned out good for this album, but I’m saying I know I need to relax sometimes and have the moments where I’m not the guy in this band. I’m working now for four other bands; way smaller artists who are way nicer to the record company. Then I have my own beer brand. I brew beer. I love it. So I go to different brew masters and use their equipment and come up with recipes. It’s a lot of fun.
Like when you are in the kitchen trying to multi-task, and you’re thinking about music, so you cut the vegetables wrong…?
Yeah! Cooking is also a big part of me! That’s my Zen moment where I can think of things like, “When is it enough garlic?”
Never enough garlic!
Never enough. That was an easy question.
Pick up Siren Charms here: http://inflames.merchnow.com/