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Bjorn Gelotte In Flames - Interview
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In Flames

The legendary Swedish melodic metal band In Flames returns with a new album and heads back to their long time label Nuclear Blast. The result is a total slammer of an album "Battles" which comes out November 11th, an album which contains their classic Swedish Metal sound combined with a growth in their sound by adding elements of the current scene. We spoke to guitarist Bjorn Gelotte about how the album came together and some of the new elements that were a part of the process.



After a quick hello and settling in for our chat, Bjorn tells me he is having his first beer of the day in Europe but the weather was a little less desired. "Well it's Europe and it's Autumn so it's raining obviously, I wish I was in Australia to be honest. That would be fucking brilliant actually!"

In Flames were last in Australia with Trivium in 2014, previously in 2012 for Soundwave Festival and the band are definitely looking to come back again at some point as Bjorn explains. "We love it there, unfortunately it's so far away so it's really hard for us to go there and just do a show. We need to do a sort of tour and it's not easy for us to get those together as often as we want to but we'll get there, we'll get there soon enough".

Andrew: I just had a quick listen to the album and it's In Flames but it's also a bit different at the same time, what can you tell me about the songs and what happened during the process of creating these songs?

Bjorn: I would say every time we do a new record it's sort of a snippet or sample of musically where we are right now. We don't really write on the road, some bands do and they do it really well, we tried and we suck at it so we figure one thing at a time. Touring is touring time and writing is writing time so we separate that but that also means that the records will be slightly different from each other because the continuation is not as obvious to an outsider as it is for us perhaps. The song writing process starts pretty much the same way every time and I do a couple of riffs and melodies to light arrangements with drums and bass just in order for everybody to have something to sort of understand where I want to go with things and then we start working on it together. We did the previous album "Silent Charms" in Berlin and it was pretty much the same time as now, it was winter time and it was cold, it was grey and it was historically very heavy. Obviously Berlin is culturally very heavy so that sort of trickled into the record, into the sound and it was an aspect we could not control and we found that pretty cool actually so we wanted to see if we could do the same thing but on the opposite end of the scale of the spectrum. So we figured fuck it, Howard (Benson, producer) works in L.A. and L.A. in many ways is the opposite of Berlin! The sun was shining every day, I think there was one day where there was rain for night of the 9 weeks we were there, life was very different compared to Berlin and I like to think that trickled into the recording as well.

There's so many things that changed from the last album, I mean the fact that Howard is the guy that he is, a huge producer well renowned but also he's very good at what he does. That made us think about how we use a producer because in the past we had producers but we always did our thing anyway and mainly used the producers as mixing guys or engineers and then we would say fuck you, we will do this. It's not fair obviously but it's how we done it! We weren't ready for working together like opening up to a producer until now and we had the opportunity to work with one of the best there are and we figured maybe we should actually use his set of skills, maybe we should listen to what he is telling us and we should learn from this. That sort of forced us to open up not only to him but to ourselves as well, I let Anders (Friden, vocals) in very much in the song writing process in order for him to fully understand and make it as good as he possibly could. And he let me in so I could work on the vocal melodies and stuff, I never had the opportunity to do that before so that obviously gave us a whole different perspective on the song writing. So I'm super excited and amazed how well it turned out and how effortless we did this record. We're really lazy, let's put this down first! We're super lazy so we don't do 30 songs and then pick the best 11, we do 11 songs and that's what we work on and we make sure that these are the best fucking 11 songs that we could ever do. But we ended up with 12 on the record and actually we recorded 15 songs, that says a lot about how inspirational and how creative the whole experience was.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely! And the connection between using Howard Benson as producer and recording in L.A., was there a connection between the 2 or were they different decisions in working in Los Angeles and with that particular producer?

Bjorn: We had the opportunity to talk to 10 different producers. We were super lucky as we had never done that before, we thought it was like a 'never gonna happen' kind of thing so our manager lined up all these producers and we talked to all of them and all of them seemed to know who we are, had a lot of respect for what we had done. Obviously with 20 years plus in the industry and still being relevant with our 11 records at the time and that was such an ego booster hearing all these guys knowing some of our records, and Howard said all the right things. He didn't want to change anything, he has respect for what we we do and he understands what we do. He mentioned in the end, 'My studio is in L.A., it's going to be nice and warm', and that sort of won us over anyway [laughs]. Everything just came together very neatly on this record, I'm super happy. His team is amazing, just one of those situations where you don't want to leave the studio which is rare because normally you fucking hate the studio but this time around I really didn't want to leave.

Andrew: How much actual time did you spend in the studio to record the album?

Bjorn: Normally we do 14 hour days most of the time because there is a lot of waiting in the studio but his setup and his team is so efficient so we probably did 6 hour days and got more done in those 6 hours than I normally would get done in 14 hours because the whole setup was so smooth. Also that was important I think because we kept the energy up all the time so we did the studio time, 6 to 8 hours and then we still had energy to go home and write more stuff so we could continue with our demos and ideas back in the house. We had a small studio there as well and that was absolutely necessary because we only had those 11 songs and we weren't feeling that we had everything we needed yet so we wanted to write more stuff and we did. The only way we could do it was if the energy was up and it was thanks to their efficient system so yeah, I would love to go back and work there again because it was extremely productive!

Andrew: And speaking of all new things working in a different city and different producer, you also worked with a new drummer in Joe (Rickard). How was it working with him on his first album?

Bjorn: It was really interesting because we came into the writing process and recording with the intention of not having a drummer. We're going to be in L.A., we can find anybody to play the drums, it's not brain surgery what we do and everybody is a fucking session musician in L.A. so we can find a drummer not a problem. So we didn't think about that part, we didn't want to think about auditioning and trying to find somebody who is somebody we know and not a total stranger, we didn't want to think about that, we just wanted to focus on the record. We did programming for the drums on the demos and Howard has his go to guy that helps out with programming of the drum sessions when they have artists who come in without a band and he came in to help out with the programming to get a sort of drummers vibe through it so it's not too stiff. He came in and we worked on it and when we were done he said, 'This is how I would play the drums, mind of I have a go?' And we said, 'Sure, play!' And then he fucking kicked ass! So we were just laughing when he was playing it and we hit it off really well, such a cool guy. Really hungry, loves his instrument, very dedicated to his instrument and to the music so we just asked him towards the end of the recording, 'Hey dude, you want to be a part of this? You want to tour?' And he said, 'Fuck yeah!' We didn't have to think about it at all which is a luxury obviously.

Andrew: It sounds like an interesting and very inspiring creative process that you guys went through and funnily enough, just last month you had recently released the "Sounds From The Heart Of Gothenburg" DVD so really it's been a pretty big year for you guys.

Bjorn: It's been busy [laughs]. We have a lot of things to look forward to and a lot of balls in the air so we say so a lot of things happening. It's really exciting times, not only a new drummer and a new album and a new DVD, touring coming up and we're back on one of our favorite record labels. We have a management that we started working with about a year ago so all these things are new, super exciting, everything is lining up nicely. We have a lot of fun festivals that we are doing in the summer, it's exciting times, a lot of things happening right now and this is after 20 years plus so feels like being a kid just digging away [laughs].

Andrew: Yeah in this part of your career it's amazing that you guys are as strong as ever, maybe even more so than ever before because of all the experience that you have had so it's great to see.

Bjorn: Yeah we are extremely fortunate, we are very aware of that. But it's also a lot of hard work, a lot of years put in. I've been in this band more than half my life so it's quite an investment but it's been the best investment I could have possibly done. They are my brothers, this is the music I love and I'm extremely fortunate to be able to pay my bills and put food on the table doing what I love so nobody is more happy than me!

Andrew: Yeah absolutely! We are all happy for you and hopefully we will get to see you in Australia sometime in the future. Congratulations on the new album and thanks for your time today!

Bjorn: Thank you very much, thanks for having me and let's grab a beer next time we're down there! Shouldn't be too long, might be next year sometime.

Andrew: Hopefully! Take care until then!

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on October 17th 2016