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Interviews : “I Just want to play my music anywhere” – Interview with Anders Friden (In Flames)

By on March 14, 2019

Following the release of In Flames‘ thirteenth album, I, The Mask, earlier this month, I caught up with singer Anders Friden to discuss the new album, the early days in Gothenburg and his view on Australian metal.

We began by discussing the changes to the band’s writing process for the new album: ‘We went to LA again to record and write the album like we did with Battles. This time around we had nothing with us, we sort of started from the very, very beginning. ‘Voices’ was the first song that we wrote, and we based everything around that, we felt that that was a good opener and we just kind of continued. It was really inspirational and easy to be working with the team, Howard Benson [Producer] and Mike Plotnikoff [recording] and all the guys around there… I think it fits really well within the catalogue and who we are as a band these days. It has that In Flames melody, the essence of In Flames, the melody, the aggression, but it’s big – and the team with Howard Benson, Chris Lord-Algae [mixing], Ted Jensen [Mastering], all these guys added value to the album.”

Part of the preparation for the new album involved trying new things, vocal lessons in this case. “At first it was Howard Benson’s idea, he said ‘You know, why don’t you try this?… ‘I send my guys there and they’re usually more prepared when it’s time to record’. I was sort of sceptical at first because, you know, ‘I know best, I have my home-schooled technique’, but I was surprised that it was a lot of fun. Obviously, when it comes to the writing process and the recording process, you now know what range you have and what keys work the best and so on, and [now] I am more prepared when it comes to recording. It [used to] take a couple of days before to get the old engine up-and-running, so to speak and now I’m pretty well on the get-go. It’s a lot of fun and I’m glad I threw away my stubbornness and actually tried and had a good time.” When asked what he was most excited to share on this album, Friden explained: “The whole thing, I think. It’s complete, a unit. We don’t write singles, we write albums and in a perfect world I’d want people to listen from Side A to Side B by themselves in a dark room with just headphones or speakers… just enjoy and just, appreciate the art… It’s the dynamics, how the songs connect together, and they come after each other, there’s a lot behind it, it’s not by accident… I think in general I’m just happy that I’m able to do this. It’s our thirteenth album, it’s insane that we’re still alive and still able to do this and I’m so grateful to the fans for giving me this opportunity to do this, it’s the best job anyone could have.”

Friden was also happy to discuss the early days of the band, and the formation of the ‘Gothenburg sound’. When explaining his entry into music, he told me “I got into it by accident really. I played the drums when I was young. I don’t know HOW my parents let me because the neighbours were pretty close, and I was banging away on the drums in my room. There was no real ‘thing’ that got me singing. When I was 10 years old I saw a show from Germany [on TV it was a late night in Sweden and I begged my parents to stay up. It was Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Krokus, MSG, Quiet Riot and Def Leppard. I was just blown away, I was like ‘metal is my life!’ from this point on, so drums were the thing for me. I was very close neighbours with the guys who were in Dark Tranquillity, like Niklas [Sundin, guitars, Dark Tranquillity] and Anders Jivarp [drums, Dark Tranquillity], Mikael Stanne [vocals, Dark Tranquillity], Martin Henriksson [former bass/guitars, Dark Tranquillity]. We talked about forming a band and then I went away on vacation and when I came back they already had formed the band [Septic Broiler] but had never had a rehearsal… I went to the first rehearsal and the supposed singer, never showed up so I went ‘Oh I’ll do it’, so it was just by accident, really. So, I stayed doing that band and I got my own technique, home-schooled if you like.”

The formation of the classic Gothenburg sound was equally organic “[It began] when we started selling and started travelling the world and playing our music and people had to put a name on it. We never said, with the other bands ‘let’s have a meeting, we need a name for our whatever we do’. I think the other bands have unique things to them but there was something that held it together… I remember in the early days Johan [Larsson, former bassist] was playing bass and they were listening to a lot of [Swedish folk music], as well as metal, of course. So that came in and I mean it’s all been there in the background, we’ve grown up in Sweden that melody’s there… Those melodies, those super, super happy feel and melancholic feel as well, I think that has become a sort of trademark sound of In Flames, so even though it’s not around when we’re writing, we still have it, it’s there, somehow… This was before the internet and everything, so news didn’t travel as fast as it does today. So, we were able to form something without the pressure of the outside world or people peeping in all the time and we didn’t have to answer to anything, nobody said ‘Why are you doing this, why, why, why, why!?’ We blended that metal, the British heavy metal and that folkish stuff that we talked about… it was an inspirational time, and it was really cool to see the bands from Stockholm started a bit before us and had a different take on death metal… The rest of us were like ‘Oh shit, it’s possible’ it’s not just for the big bands outside of our area, it’s actually possible to get somewhere. So that was really an inspiration and then we got picked up and then we had a name.”

We then turned to talking about Australia’s metal scene. “I feel kind of a kinship because a lot of the bands are developing their own sound, there’s a certain uniqueness, a certain tone that I find interesting, it doesn’t sound like American or British or European. I can almost tell like ‘Oh, that’s got to be from Australia’ somehow. I mean Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus, Twelve Foot Ninja, there’s tonnes of bands. When I saw this band Polaris, they sounded really good, there was something about what they did, even though they had some of the things that are popular these days, they still had something that was slightly different, there was something unique that was really good… I would love to say yes [to touring Australia] because I love being in Australia, but I don’t know just yet. We hope that would happen, but that’s up to management and agents and booking. I just want to play my music anywhere”. When asked why he loved touring Australia so much, Friden was candid, “It’s way warmer than Sweden. It’s really friendly and it feels like when you get there people are super excited because they know you came a long way. There’s a nice atmosphere.”

Overall, Friden’s enthusiasm for his work and his music. Check out I, The Mask when you get the chance to see the next chapter in In Flames’ career.

About

Ben is a metalhead originally from Sydney, who has now moved to Hobart to pursue a PhD in Australian extreme metal. When not studying, writing about or playing metal, he can be found playing video games, browsing Reddit, knitting, fending off his cat or helping out at his local church.