In Flames released their eleventh studio album, “Siren Charms,” earlier this year, and while there were mixed reactions from fans, the record still sold enough to land in the Top 30 of the Billboard Top 200 Chart. Whether you love the music like I do, or it hasn’t grown on you yet, In Flames is still a HUGE force in the metal scene, and will continue to be for many years to come! They recently wrapped up a U.S. tour with Opeth, and will be returning with All That Remains and Wovenwar next year, and since it’s an official headlining tour, expect a much more diverse and catalog driven set list! Before their recent show in New York City, I got to sit down with Björn Gelotte to discuss their latest record, the band’s longevity, beer and much more! Enjoy the chat below!
Metal Mark: Björn, thanks for taking out the time today. How’s life treating you guys on this tour so far?
Björn Gelotte: It’s been great man. It’s a short tour, but feels like a long tour for many reasons, but it’s been awesome. We’ve obviously known Opeth for years, so to get to hang out and play shows with them just makes for a good time all around. We’ve been on a crazy run since the album’s release. From Europe to Japan to Australia, and now the States, we are really pushing strong right now.
MM: You must really love the States because you just announced the new tour with All That Remains and Wovenwar the other day. What do you love so much about playing here?
BG: We do love it here man. I think our first tour here was in 1999, and it’s always treated us very well. It’s a beautiful county, with beautiful people, so how could you not love it? Everything is really easy to get when you need it, even this beer I’m holding. It’s super easy (laughs).
MM: I have to ask, because we know you guys love trying out all kinds of beer, but you’re drinking a Bud Light. That’s not the fanciest beer here in the States!
BG: Does beer have to be fancy? (laughs). I actually enjoy Bud Light. When in Rome right?
MM: When in Rome drink our worst beer? (laughs)
BG: Basically! Anders is a connoisseur of beers, as most people know by now, but I’m less picky. I like it all. Sierra Nevada is one of my favorite beers, because it goes with anything. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, whatever else there is in the day (laughs). It’s good stuff. I love the “hoppy” beers, but with Bud Light, it’s impossible to find in Sweden.
MM: Probably because it’s called water there!
BG: Maybe! (laughs) It’s definitely not the most potent, but after a dozen or so, I don’t think it matters. That’s my motto (laughs). I didn’t grow up on Bud Light like a lot of Americans do, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but hell, I love it. So cheers!
MM: Cheers indeed! We’ll cheers to “Siren Charms,” as the new album came out earlier this year. The fans went out and bought enough for you to land on Billboard again, and you’ve been nominated for a Swedish Grammy again, so how happy have you been with the response to the new stuff?
BG: Extremely happy. Our fans are the best in the world. I know some old school fans may not be too fond of the new material, but overall the response has been extremely positive. We understand that some may not like our progression, but that’s the beauty of music. It’s one of the few freedoms we really have. You can choose what you want to listen to or not, so I think that’s a great thing. We’ve been hearing mixed reviews since “Whoracle” or “Colony,” so we are used to it by now. Some people adapt to change, and some do not. You have to realize that we’ve been around for almost twenty years, and it’s human nature to evolve. Whether it’s through music, personal beliefs, or whatever, your thought process and emotions evolve. So we stick to playing the music we love, and luckily we’ve had a strong fanbase to stay by us throughout those years.
As for the award nominations and all that, I don’t really put a lot into that. That’s usually decided by a jury of people, or just a small group, so that doesn’t really count in my opinion. It’s the personal taste of a few people, instead of a full audience ya know. It’s an honor to be nominated of course, but if there was an award voted on strictly by the real metal community, I think that would mean more to us. Either way, we’ve been really humbled by the response, and it only makes us want to get better and better each day.
MM: Very cool. Well knowing how some fans feel at this point, does that ever affect your writing in the studio? Maybe throw something in all fans will like, or is that unproductive in your opinion?
BG: No, that’s never in our heads while we are writing. You can’t cater to everyone else, because you never truly know how they will react until it’s out there. Trends come and go, and the only thing that you can rely on is each other in the band. One thing about our band is that we never write on the road, so that means the progression may not be as smooth as other groups out there. At the same time, I think we are really successful at staying current with what we do, and continue to challenge ourselves. We like playing above our skill level while recording, because it keeps it fresh, and it pushes you to get the best out of you. We’ve always stuck to that, and it’s been working now for almost twenty years, which is a true blessing.
MM: It is a true blessing because nowadays you see so many bands come and go. The ones that seem to stick around always have goals to meet, or certain aspirations they want to accomplish. For a band like In Flames, who’s basically done it all, is there still a certain goal you’d like to achieve?
BG: Honestly, I’m just really happy with where we are. I mean, yes I’m sure there’s stuff we’d love to do, or places we’d love to play that we haven’t yet, but I think it’s just as important to look at where you are today, and when I do, I’m extremely happy. Like I said, it’s a blessing to have had the success we’ve had, because it is so rare today. It’s really the coolest thing ever. I was nineteen when I joined the band, just out of school, and just went on the road, and I’m still here, and can pay my bills. It’s unreal to me, but it’s something you can not take for granted because it could go away in an instant ya know. This job allows me the freedom to perform music I love all around the world, and I couldn’t ask for anything better in life.
MM: Obviously there are many reasons for the band’s longevity, but one thing that you hear from everyone is that all of you are so humble and gracious wherever you go. Like you said, you realize it’s a blessing, and there never seems to be an ego surrounded the In Flames camp.
BG: Egos can destroy people, not only in bands, but especially in bands. I’m fortunate enough to be in a group of my best friends, and each day just brings another memory that I’ll have for the rest of my life. We’ve played with the biggest bands in the world, whether it was Metallica or Slayer or Iron Maiden, and to say that out loud still blows my mind. I don’t know if it’s us being humble, or just being rational about who we are, what we are, and what we know. We are a heavy metal band from Sweden, who play our hearts out with every note, and the success we’ve had is only icing on the cake as they say. It’s a wonderful thing, and hopefully we can keep it going for many, many years.
MM: Speaking of keeping it going, 2015 is right around the corner, which looks to be another year of touring for you guys. Let’s look back at 2014, with the new record and touring, if you could describe 2014 in one word, what would it be?
BG: One word? Wow. How do you say all that in one word? Honestly, great. Just great. Let me explain the further though, because great really doesn’t sum it up. This year we had the first Summer off in over a decade. No festivals booked, the album was already done, so we decided to take the Summer months off, and it was such a great choice. Whether it was being on the ocean, or cooking out with friends, it was really nice to actually have a Summer. It may sound crazy to people, but just to have those months off was just awesome. It’d been so long, and it was much needed for all of us in the band I think. Not only was it good mentally for us, but we were also more ready than ever to hit the road because of that time off as well. It felt like one of our first tours again, because it had been so long, so these first few tours have been so much fun, or great as I said (laughs).
MM: Very cool. Well we look forward to a “great” show tonight. Do you have anything else you’d like to say to the fans out there?
BG: As always, a huge thank you for the support throughout the years. We will be touring as many places as possible next year, so come hang out, drink a Bud Light, enjoy our new tunes with us.We are here because of you, so you can expect the best from us each and every night. Cheers!