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In Flames Interview

A Conversation With Guitarist Bjorn Gelotte

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In Flames

In Flames

Koch Records
The latest CD from Swedish veterans In Flames is A Sense Of Purpose. The melodic death metal pioneers produced the album with help from Daniel Bergstrand (Soilwork, Meshuggah) and Roberto Laghi. The band is kicking off the tour cycle for this CD with an appearance on Gigantour 2008. I spoke with guitarist Bjorn Gelotte about the new CD, the studio they just built, helping create a new genre of metal and many other topics.

Chad Bowar: What can fans expect with A Sense Of Purpose?
Bjorn Gelotte: It’s awesome. It’s energetic, melodic, pretty much in the same vein. But we always try to mix it up a bit and try to put some dynamics into the songs, even though they are very intense. If you’ve heard the previous ones, you pretty much know what vein we’re going to be. It’s just a matter of small experiments in different songs.

Has the band’s songwriting process changed much over the years?
I think initially when we write the songs it’s pretty much the same way we’ve done for the last six or seven albums. We just sit down and share the riffs and melodies with each other and start working on ideas. That’s been the same for several albums. What changed later on was the amount of security we feel toward each other. It’s easier to open up and let other people mess with your songs. It’s easier to work together with the rest of the band. It’s something we do all together now, instead of us doing the whole song and having Anders (Friden) put vocals and lyrics on it. It’s more fun. Everybody has a point of view, and we need to listen to that to get the ultimate In Flames sound.

When you’re doing the guitar parts, do you and Jesper (Stromblad) have any difficulties deciding who does what, or is it pretty smooth and natural?
It’s really natural. Some of the riffs I can’t even play before we start recording because he wrote the riff and vice versa. That’s the beauty of it. We put the songs together and they grow and then we start rehearsing. It’s good, because it keeps the songs fresh for us. We try to divide leads and melodies. I do pretty much all the leads, and he does melodies and choruses. It’s just something that happened over the years.

Your last CD Come Clarity was very successful. What are your expectations for A Sense Of Purpose?
I don’t know. We don’t really think that way. I just hope that we can come out on all the tours we’ve planned for this album. That’s really what I am hoping for. We don’t really have expectations. We’re already happy with the album, and that’s the hardest thing for us. When that’s done, it’s like a big sigh of relief.

I understand you recently built your own recording studio in Gothenburg.
It’s more like we obtained a studio and we remade it a little bit. It’s a classic studio that’s been here for 20 odd years. It’s been in different people’s hands. We swapped out most of the equipment and remade the whole kitchen area and the areas to a band that are important, but as a studio technician you could care less. Those areas we really improved to make sure it’s a comfortable studio. It was a great experience recording in our own studio made for our sound and our own specs.

Were there any struggles getting all the equipment set up the way you wanted?
Yes, of course. Right after we did the record we got a new mixing console, and we’ve been working on that for a month now. It’s always a lot of work, but we have some great people that we work with and that are working on it. The cool thing with the studio is that we are free to do whatever we want. We can experiment. We can try out different things. It’s not a one take, live or die thing. We have a lot of opportunities having an environment we totally control ourselves. It’s really relaxed, we work with the people we want to work with and work on our own time. There’s no other band knocking on the door saying it’s their turn.

Do you plan on using the studio exclusively, or will you rent it out to other bands when you’re not using it?
It’s definitely for any band that wants to record there. It’s not a rehearsal space turned into a studio, it’s a built studio. It would be a waste to put in all this cool equipment and made it comfortable for bands if it wasn’t used. It’s open for everybody.

Plus you need to make back the money you spent on it.
Actually we got away really nicely. Anders was working with Frederick, who had the studio before. He was already part owner of it. It was either sell the whole thing or buy half of it. Plus we’re working with Roberto Laghi, who put in tons of gear as well. We have a really nice studio without having to pay the millions and millions you usually have to pay.

You switched U.S. record labels for this album, going from Ferret to Koch. How come?
We used to be on Nuclear Blast. It never really worked out that well for us in the U.S. because they were sort of underneath the umbrella of Century Media at that time, and that didn’t give them the weight they needed to reach the right people for distribution and stuff like that. We’re really focusing hard on the U.S. We try to tour there as much as possible. We understand that it’s important to tour there, so we try to do that. It didn’t really work out with them. So when we talked to Ferret for the last album, they really helped us out and they really knew how to put us on the right tours and get us in contact with the right people. We did four U.S. tours for Come Clarity. That’s a lot of touring considering we have all the festivals and all the touring we do in Europe. It was a great cooperation with the Ferret guys. This time around we were open for a contract again and said we’d love to continue working with you, but we want to see who has the best ideas of what we can do to take this another step. Times are really changing when it comes to different media and putting out the music. We need some cool ideas to be in people’s faces. In the end Koch came up with the best ideas and we really liked them. That’s the way it ended up.

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