Bjorn Gelotte on In Flames’ Stylistic Evolution: ‘We Always Try Not to Make the Same Mistakes Twice’ [Interview]
In Flames guitarist Björn Gelotte was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. He discussed the band's new album 'Battles' and what it was like to work with an outside producer for the first time, as well as the stylistic evolution over the years. Check out the chat below.
We're here to talk about the new record from In Flames, called Battles. The making of it was entirely different from any other In Flames album. What was most unexpected about the process?
I'd say how smooth everything went. Normally it's a lot of work. A lot of tedious time spent with doing the riffs over and over, waiting for producers to check that piece of equipment in and all that stuff. Howard [Benson] and his team were so efficient, having a five minute break. I'd have bad conscience doing that, but they were so ready all the time. It was fantastic.
This was the first record In Flames worked with a producer, you guys were in with Howard Benson, which had to be a totally different experience from the previous records you guys have done, obviously.
Yeah, they've been mostly self-produced, but together with friends who are good and actually normally do produce records but this way we actually — we wanted to use his skills but not be the guys that we normally are, telling everybody how we want things. We just wanted to hear his opinions. We had long talks before we started recording and he was very — he really didn't want to change who we are, maybe just a little bit. Get to the point a little bit quicker, [laughs]. It was really interesting and definitely a learning experience and something I would love to try again.
What's typical in terms of the starting point for an In Flames album?
So far it's always been, well from my point of views it's alway been the melodies. If there's a strong melody you can tie that to either keyboards or vocals or hopefully the guitar, but then comes the riffing part. I do simple arrangements on a computer at home, programmed drums and everything. Show Anders [Friden, vocals] stuff I have and if he gets a vibe, we start working on it and create some vocal lines on there. I think he usually draws a lot of inspiration from the music that he hears. So yeah, I'd say melodies and riffs.
Battles was recorded in California. How conscious were you that the different surroundings would affect your mindset while writing and recording?
Oh, we were totally aiming for that to get a positive vibe. We did the last one in Berlin in winter time and it couldn't have been any grayer. I think that actually filtered into the sound of the record, it was an awesome thing. We didn't expect that. It brought some melancholy to the record and that was outstanding, obviously. But this time around we knew that the surroundings could actually have something to do with the sound. Being in the sun for nine to 10 weeks drinking cold beer, working with awesome people, hanging out with friends. I can only recommend it.
Daniel Svensson left the band after many years together. Your drummer. What changes most about a band when a long time member leaves?
First is the social part. He's been my brother for 17 years on the road, so it's always hard to lose someone like that. He's not gone, obviously, but he's busy with — he's brewing his beer. He's got a family so I don't see him as often as I did. That's obviously the sad part. Practically, we try and not to go totally crazy with these kind of things. We want someone playing pretty much the same way. The foundation of this band and I'd say most bands is the rhythm section. Daniel was a robot. An awesome robot and together with Peter [Iwers, bass], they just rocked. Me and Nic [Engelin, guitar] we could do pretty much whatever because they were always right on time and super tight. That obviously changes now but we have a dude coming in and he is like the new Daniel, so I'm very excited.
You guys are all getting along?
Yeah, so far. I mean we haven't really toured together yet. Nah we know the guy, we know the guy well. He recorded with us.
There's a new DVD, Sounds from the heart of Gothenburg, as well. It's a good overview of all periods of In Flames. What makes you most proud about the way your music has evolved?
I think the fact that we always decided ourselves what we wanted to do, sound wise, who we wanted to work with and how far outside our own comfort zone we want to go, musically. Letting nobody else do that for us. We're still here, this is our 12th record. Two live DVDs and we are still doing what we love to do. Not what people expect of us or what we think would be the next trend. We're doing exactly what we want to do. That makes me really proud.
I'm sure it's challenging as a band who's been around so long, I'm sure it's easy to just continue to create the same record over and over and satisfy certain fanbase but I think it's healthy to evolve and change your sound.
I actually wouldn't know because we always try to not make the same mistakes twice. Also, try to find new angles. How to attack our music in a way. Find new ways of redefining in a way, especially finding new ways of creating exactly what it is we haven't done yet. I'm not talking crazy, like we need to have some opera in here or some weird jazz. It's just that there's so much cool melodies and awesome riffs that haven't been written yet. We hope to find at least some of them.
You guys have some U.S. touring coming up. Anything else you can tell us beyond that going into 2017?
Yeah, we do have the first show in Japan, that'll be the first show for our new drummer, too. Then we go straight into a U.S. tour with Hellyeah and From Ashes To New. We're really looking forward to that one. It's exciting to be back on the road again. We actually had a long break making this record, so yeah, this will be exciting.
Thanks to Björn Gelotte for the interview. Pick up your copy of 'Battles' at Amazon or digitally through iTunes. For a list of In Flames U.S. tour dates, head to our 2016 Guide to Rock + Metal Tours and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
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