Many Americans may not know it, but modern hard rock owes Sweden quite a debt for introducing melodic death metal to the masses, though Gothenburg‚??s In Flames say they were just making things interesting.
Vocalist Anders Frid√©n was humble regarding the band‚??s impact when he spoke to The Weekender in advance of their stop at the Maingate Nightclub (448 N. 17th St., Allentown) on March 6 with Demon Hunter, All Shall Perish, and Battlecross, but his passion for music (and whiskey) shined through as he looked back at the band‚??s two decades of history.
THE WEEKENDER: In Flames is often credited with helping to found melodic death metal. Was that the intention when you started, to create something totally new, or is that just what ended up coming out?
ANDERS FRIDEN: We never had a plan; we still don‚??t have a plan. [Laughs] Music should come from the heart and the soul, and that‚??s what we did. I guess we looked up to a few bands, obviously, and then I wanted to create some sort of mix or blend of all that stuff. We didn‚??t want to do exactly what was going on in Stockholm, for instance. That was more rock, death metal‚?Ľ We listened to a lot of speed metal from Germany, and I think that affected our music. Plus the British heavy metal ‚?? Iron Maiden, (Judas) Priest, and so on. We added some more melodies and harmonies to our music. The singers were screaming or growling, whatever you want to call it, to make it more interesting.
W: You‚??ve released 10 studio albums. Out of that entire body of work, what song or album do you feel most proud of?
AF: It‚??s kind of hard. It‚??s like picking your favorite kid. I‚??m very proud of everything, and everything has led up to today. Obviously, ‚??Jester Race‚?Ě for me was special because that was the first thing I did for In Flames, but all the albums are connected.
They‚??re all part of the history, part of who we were at that time in our lives. They‚??re all small photographs of what we thought and what we were. I think that you should always embrace your history and not deny it, but you should always look forward and not go backwards.
W: How do you feel you‚??ve developed as a singer and songwriter in that time?
AF: I think we‚??ve changed to the better. We‚??ve learned; we understand what happens in the studio. If you want a certain sound live, you‚??ve got to make it happen there. In our earlier works, they are very hard to transcend to the live show because we got into the studio and, ‚??Wow, you can record eight layers of guitar effects. F‚??king fantastic, but then all of a sudden, you‚??re on stage and you only have two guitar players, so we have a better understanding of writing, what will work and what won‚??t work. You can see that when we play live; the newer songs have a better impact and a greater impact.
W: On the latest album, ‚??Sounds of a Playground Fading,‚?Ě was it difficult to write without (founding member) Jesper (Str√∂mblad) in the band?
AF: No. Me and (guitarist) Bj√∂rn (Gelotte) have done nine out of 10 albums‚?Ľ Jesper is a friend, but we couldn‚??t work together; that was the problem. Me and Bj√∂rn just did what we always do.
W: What has kept the rest of the band together? What keeps you motivated when you‚??re out on the road for months at a time?
AF: Because I love what I do. I love playing in front of people. I love creating music. I love going into the studio with nothing and coming out with something that is totally unique‚?Ľ As long as I enjoy this, I will continue.
W: The music video for ‚??Deliver Us‚?Ě is very unique. What was it like to shoot a video on a Ferris wheel?
AF: Yeah, it was kind of crazy. I‚??m not that keen on heights, either, so for me, I didn‚??t think about it. It was cool. We asked the city of Gothenburg if we could have it for a few hours, and they said yes, so I thought that was pretty cool.
I see it every day when I‚??m in Gothenburg, and I was just like, ‚??Hmm, that could be an interesting performance video.‚?Ě
W: You also have your own brand of beer and collect whiskey. How did you get into fine alcohol?
AF: I want to know how it‚??s made; I want to know more about the country, the regions and everything. Then it just developed into‚?Ľthe appreciation for the art that is distilling liquor and letting it sit in a barrel for some time. The distillers are extremely passionate in what they do, and that‚??s exactly how I feel about my music. Yes, it‚??s different work, but it‚??s the same idea and the same feeling. You feel proud of your product. All this cheap s‚??t that is mass produced ‚?? I don‚??t want to be a part of that. I don‚??t find that interesting.
Drink something that‚??s been in a barrel for 30 years ‚?? that‚??s history‚?Ľ I‚??ve had whiskey that was from before World War II, and that‚??s crazy.
In Flames / Demon Hunter / All Shall Perish / Battlecross: March 6, 7:30 p.m., Maingate Nightclub (448 N. 17th St., Allentown). $20-$23.