Anders Fridén of In Flames: I am 100%

"It's stuff everybody can relate to, that we need to feel, to deal with our past, so we can embrace the future".

Swedish pioneers of melodic death metal In Flames are poised to release their twelfth studio album Battles tomorrow, November 11. As the countdown ticks down, Metal As Fuck chats with vocalist Anders Fridén about singing lessons, dedicating songs and creating Battles in sunny Los Angeles.

So, what are these ‘battles’ that you write about? “Lyrically it is about our inner struggle, they are our inner battles, everyone has them, you have them, I have them; young people, old people - through our whole lives. It's stuff everybody can relate to, that we need to feel, to deal with our past, so we can embrace the future. We might miss opportunities in life so unless we are, you know, open to the things around us, and we can’t be open if we are stuck inside fighting the past, and these can be small battles or big battles, we all share it, everyone can relate.”

Can you tell us a bit about the process of writing these songs? “I would say it’s very organic. We don’t write between albums, we have tried a few times to write and take mobile recording equipment but we tend not to use that, ever. So we set a date for the studio and then we start writing. Björn [Gelotte, guitarist] starts writing stuff at home… the guitar written basically, I think I went to his house two times before we left for Los Angeles to continue writing…. I think it’s a necessary process for him to get it out of his system. I usually just let him do his own thing because I know that good things will come if I let him work, work, work on his own for a little bit. Then we started to work with Howard Benson [Producer], he lives in Los Angeles…So we went to LA about two and a half months prior to recording just me and Björn we had a big house to ourselves and we built up a small studio. We basically put together all the songs there, … Niclas [Engelin, guitarist] joined us at the end of the session and he was part of the writing as well. It was excellent, an easy going process, very productive I would say, so much fun - drinking deer, having BBQ's, playing heavy metal 24/7…”

Sounds wonderful… “Yes it was a really smooth process, also the fact that we made demos of all the songs which we haven’t really done in the past, we knew exactly what to expect when we went into the real recording. Therefore everybody was more relaxed as well during the whole process. In the past it was like we recorded drums, guitar, basically all the music in one studio, then vocals in another studio, then we met up in the mix, previously it could be a surprise to people as to what would end up on album, but this time we knew exactly what was going to happen.”

Do you think that being in Los Angeles changed how you approached the final stages of writing and recording? “I am 100% sure it did something, you don’t know but it sort of creeps into your system, you know. I mean, when we took a walk from the apartment where we lived in Berlin [to record 2014’s Siren Charms] it was twenty minutes, it was a cold and rainy walk; of course you brought that to the studio that day. If it is extremely sunny and nice, and you go into the studio in California, of course you are in a different frame of mind, different mood, sure, but we don’t write about the warmth - the lyrics…they are not the most uplifting stuff. It’s not a surf metal album. Its not like we are singing about surfing or the beach, its something else, but I’m 100% sure the environment plays a big role in the recording.”

Are there any songs on the album that you feel particularly passionate about? “Its hard to pick and choose, and we never start with like, ok, lets write two singles then we write the rest, we always write ‘the album’, I mean the best way to enjoy this album is to see this album as a whole and get the whole picture of where we are today… But Here Until Forever is for my son, and that of course was very special for me, like, personally.”

It must feel like a great achievement to dedicate songs to your children “Yeah sure, I dedicated one to my daughter - Come Clarity [2006]- that song is for her. So I wanted to write a song for my son, but I don’t think I felt ready, I don’t think I felt like I had the right song, I wasn’t ready. But now I felt that I was ready, I had the right song, I was in the right frame of mind and I felt the lyrics I wrote were extremely personal, and they do it justice.” What do you feel you have done differently for Battles? “Well I haven’t really taken singing lessons before. That was something new for this album. I knew we were going to Los Angeles and I was like, ok, there have gotta be all these vocal coaches that take care of the screaming metal vocalists, they are like, professionals, so I, together with Howard [Benson] and our management, found this guy called Mark, he was absolutely wonderful, we talked so much about how your whole body makes an impact on your voice, if you’re tired, haven’t slept right, what you’re drinking, the mood you’re in, all these things. Its not like I tried to become the best singer in the world, I just tried to understand my instrument, you know, and after this many years I thought I should give this gift to myself, to explore and understand it. And its interesting too, like guitar players get new guitars and try to improve their playing style and why shouldn’t I be the same? That was great, it was something I’ve never done before.”

Do you think that voice lessons have changed your approach to the vocal work on Battles? “Not so much…Both yes and no, I mean, I didn’t want to change, I think I have a voice, that is mine, that I own, that is unique to me, I don’t want to sound like someone else, but I’d like to understand where my voice lives within my own body, so that I can sing longer and I don’t destroy it".…of course...“Its not like I want to sound like this person or that person, I want to sound like me, but I want to be able to develop it, hit the higher range maybe, or certainly just like yeah, take care of my instrument more, and that’s the thing, we are In Flames, we are not here to compete with anyone, we are just here to do what we do best.”

Have you played any of the songs on Battles live yet? “Nope, no, we haven’t. We have just been in Hamburg, in Germany, rehearsing for the past two weeks. Its been going really good, sounds great, but you never know 100% until you play them live what its like, I mean, the songs are written to be played live so I have no doubt it will work out this time as well.”

Do you embrace life on the road? “If you’re not 100% in it, you shouldn’t be part of it. But I love it, I love meeting the people that appreciate our music, to see the happiness, the feeling they let go at shows, that interaction between us as a band and the audience, its fantastic, and its so rewarding, so I’m excited. I can’t wait to get out there. But I love the studio too, I love the feeling of coming in with nothing basically and you come out with something that you feel as a band is complete, that’s an amazing feeling as well. But there’s two parts, the live stuff as well. I love it. For sure. Not even one million dollars could drag me away from it, I am 100%”.