Anders Friden of In Flames Talks New Record, the Swedish Metal Scene + More
In Flames are gearing up for a European trek in April, starting in their home country of Sweden in support of their new record, ‘Sounds of a Playground Fading.’
We got the chance to catch up with In Flames frontman Anders Friden while he was in New York City for a co-headlining show with longtime friends Trivium. (Check out our exclusive photo gallery and review of the New York concert.) We also recently posted about Friden describing the camaraderie between the two bands, along with support acts Veil of Maya and Kyng.
Friden dished all about the new album ‘Sounds of a Playground Fading’, the Swedish metal scene, the longevity of the band and much more.
Please describe the new album ‘Sounds of a Playground Fading’ and the overall themes of the record.
Oh, that’s a big question. Well, we started when Bjorn brought a batch of riffs to the studio and we started from there — just writing in the studio — ‘cause that’s how we do it these days. We don’t rehearse. Five guys in a rehearsal room is just too much s–t and we never get anything done so it’s better we focus on creating the songs — me and him. I had a bunch of lyrics with me but this didn’t fit. I felt into what we are writing right now.
That’s also something I’ve done in the past, I have lyrics done and then I try to cramp these words into the songs and then I want to do it in a different way. First, I actually just wrote stupid lyrics that didn’t mean anything just to create a melody and then when I had that done, I wrote completely new lyrics. I started from – if we had a sign saying this planet is going to disappear in two years or five years or whatever – how will that change the way we behave to you and me, between nations, people in general — what will that do to man, really? I used that as the ultimate source of inspiration to write the actual lyrics, so there are small episodes with that thought in mind in different scenarios — personalized for me and things that I’ve seen other people go through.
It’s not as introverted as it has been in the last few albums. The overall experience was awesome. We had such a good time. We were super focused and I went in with a good mood and left the studio with an even better feeling. It’s funny — I hear from other people, they say, “Oh, it’s a really dark themed.” I didn’t feel that but maybe it is in a way, because it’s a Doomsday theme in a way, but more like a wakeup call.
‘Sounds of a Playground,’ we act like this is our playground and we can do whatever we want to this planet. We cannot continue to rape the earth and think that it’s not going to take an effect — and to think about coming generations.
Tell us a little about the new single ‘Where the Dead Ships Dwell’ musically and lyrically.
It’s actually about me talking about my hometown of Gothenburg. I moved away from Gothenburg six years ago and that’s kind of what I left behind. The reason it’s named ‘Where the Dead Ships Dwell’ — it’s such a perfect image because there’s these old old boats that basically old guys go there and repair them, but they will never ever ever leave the port because they are in such bad shape. They just go there to fix them, to kill time, or just get away from home or whatever it is — or they just want something to fix but they can never leave port — so it’s symbolic.
Remixes were released of ‘Where the Dead Ships Dwell.’ How did those collaborations come to be?
I just talked to the record label. I mean we’ve done the song the way it’s supposed to be — let’s see if some other people can do something else with it and I was not involved except for hearing the result and saying if I like it or not. I wanted to do a remix of every single song on the album and possibly release it in the future.
What are some artists you would want to collaborate with?
Oh, I mean Trent Reznor would be f—ing phenomenal, if he could do it. Someone from Depeche Mode or some completely different artist — so we’ll see what happens.
Right now, In Flames, along with several Swedish metal bands like Opeth and Arch Enemy are achieving great international success. What do you think it is about the music coming from Sweden that has such a broad appeal?
Good melodies I guess, skilled musicians. We prove to a lot of people probably that we’re not a trend. We do what we do and we don’t really care what’s happening around. I guess we’re all influenced here and there but it’s hard not to be. We really stay true to ourselves and continue to work hard. We’re all super down to earth people, all the guys I know in those bands you mentioned plus tons of others, they’re good people.
Frederik Akesson of Opeth said it’s because you guys have “A lot of dark hours during the day” and “It could be that people have a lot of spare time and they sit around in the dark and listen to metal.”
Yeah, oh that sounds great that description, but that’s not really true. [Laughs] At the same time that’s how we grew up — at least for me, I wanted to be part of a scene. I was buying tons of music, went to tons of shows, reading magazines, fanzines, all of that. Me and my friends just wanted to be part of it.
‘Sounds of a Playground Fading’ is the band’s 10th studio album. How do you keep the music so consistently fresh and new?
I don’t think about it, we just do it. The day I will be onstage — start thinking about what I should eat or when I start recording an album and feel it’s only 75 percent as good as the previous one, f—k it, release it anyway then it’s time to quit.
We always feel like we have something to say on our albums and feel like this is the best thing I can do. Being onstage seeing the reaction and what clicks between us and the audience — that’s what it is. We don’t have a major plan, we just enjoy ourselves. I mean, we’re super serious when it comes to writing and being in the studio, it’s not like we’re going to let something pass because it’s not as good or we can’t achieve it, then we do something else. We have to feel satisfied — 100 percent satisfied — but at the end of the day it’s about having a good time.
In Flames are set to play Europe throughout April and will be playing various metal festivals during the summer.