In Flames: To The Left, To The Right, But Always Forward

“Well I was hopping on crutches at the time...."

With a band whose ever intensifying reputation completely took them by surprise, it is no wonder the ever so humble yet unassailable In Flames still blush when hearing the words ‘pioneers of a genre’. Bassist, Paul Iwers sat and chewed the fat with Metal As Fuck recently as we pulled back the layers that make In Flames one of the tightest and most successful units Sweden has ever produced...   

In Flames are pioneers of a genre, how does it resonate with the band hearing these words? “It is a huge honour, we certainly didn’t set out to be pioneers as you say, and it’s only when people asked me this question that I really think about it [Laughs] I wasn’t in the band when it started; I was a friend on the side so I don’t feel I can take credit for it, but I can continue to preserve their heritage or whatever, it’s a very cool thing though”. [Laughs]

With In Flames latest album, where does Siren Charms sit on the scale? “It sits at relevance really, it reveals where we are today, encompassing where we are in life, our song writing, our musicianship and how we are evolving. It gives an accurate representation of where we are today. Each album we step forward; either it be a little bit to the left or a little bit to the right, but we’re always moving forward. Siren Charms symbolizes our latest evolution”.

The band has eleven albums under its belt, so In Flames are averaging an album, say every 18 to 24 months, which is a feat in itself – has the song writing process remained stringent with each album? “Yeah it’s pretty much remained the same, when Jesper [Strömblad – former guitarist] was in the band him and Björn [Gelotte - Guitars] would write the riffs together then send it to us, where we were responsible for arranging them into songs, now Björn writes all the riffs himself, then the same process occurs, we work the songs together, its generally how it has been each album. We’re all involved in finalising the product as a band”. Now you joined In Flames at the release of Whoracle with a subsequent tour so how were your first twelve months in the band? “My first twelve months were very mixed I’d say, some of it was very cool, some was to some extent not so. Going into the band I was a little surprised as to how some things worked, going on a tour where we weren’t making any money was new for me, I mean I’ve played gigs where I hadn’t been paid, but a full tour no. Investing all my time in one band was new to me, but a very healthy experience for me also. It’s what kept us all level I think, we still do that sometimes though you know, to either invest in a new market or support a bigger band, but you need to do stuff like that. The first twelve months were for me, learning how to be in a serious band, a successful band; adapting to new lifestyles, it was a crazy journey but I like to consider everything we do as a learning process and growth; we evolve between the records but we also evolve as people and we learn a lot about people whilst on the road”. [Laughs]

It has been mentioned by (vocalist) Anders Friden that the recording of Siren Charms was challenging as you all only had half the time you generally assign to the production of an album; so why the mad rush? “I was hopping on crutches at the time, so that was my challenge [Laughs] it’s an interesting question because the answer will be different depending on who you’re asking, but we needed the time pressure. Previous albums we would record at our own studio (which we have now sold) so our last record we gave ourselves three to four months, whereas on this album we decided to book six weeks straight because I think that time pressure is actually good for us, for me personally it was never a problem you know – you have two weeks to get the drums right, then certain times for guitars and bass and luckily the vocals went down on different level of the studio, overall I think Anders felt more pressure than the rest of us – for me, I thought it was great having the short timeframe because we actually solidly worked in the studio and didn’t just drink beer and watch soccer”. [Laughs]

Another challenge you guys find a lot I would imagine would be constructing a set list, how difficult is that getting now? “It is getting increasingly difficult now, each time, what we generally plan to do is to play the last four albums in the catalogue and add some oldies here and there because we have realised that when we play these old songs that a lot of fans were only just born when these songs were released so we try to focus on the current material but throw in some old classics for good measure. We always listen to what fans want to hear and at the end of the day we have to want to play them and be able to play them. But it’s definitely getting harder”.

I could definitely help you guys out in writing out a set list for the Australian tour, just throwing that out there – the Australian tour though; supporting Trivium - a band who name In Flames as one of their biggest influences, so this should be a fairly neat tour “Having a blast is priority number one, Trivium are old friends of ours, we love Australia – coming back to do a proper tour is way overdue. I am expecting to have a great time”. And the news that Melbourne had to add an extra show “This is news all bands want to hear”.