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Sirens Are Calling: Metal Mark's Interview With Anders Friden of IN FLAMES

By Metal Mark Mihalo, Tulsa Contributor
Monday, January 12, 2015 @ 1:15 PM

"We always have the same mentality when we go into an album. We just want to create good melodies."

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Live Photos By Metal Mark Mihalo

IN FLAMES has been around the metal scene for going on 25 years now, and they have carved a name for themselves during their long career. It's great to see bands like them last this long and keep the movement alive with such great releases like their latest effort, Siren Charms. Bringing on the supporting tour for this album, IN FLAMES teams up with another legendary Swedish metal band, OPETH, for the Communion Of Sirens tour. The reaction from the fans present at these shows indicates that Anders and the rest of IN FLAMES must be doing something right. Before the show in Dallas, TX at the Gas Monkey Live, I got a chance to sit down with Anders for a short chat about festival playing versus venue shows, about his business venture in brewing beer back in his home country and also his love of fine hand-crafted whiskeys. Anders was very down to earth and looks at the problems in the world as influence to the music he writes. It was an honor to talk with him (and I'll have to admit to being a little nervous), and wish Anders and IN FLAMES a great and memorable 25th anniversary year in 2015.

KNAC.COM: So youíre half way through your North American tour. Howís it been going so far?

FRIDEN: Itís been great. Good to be back doing what we love, which is playing live. An obviously touring with OPETH because Iíve known Mikael since í98 and our cycles have never been synced, so now for the first time it worked, and I was like ďweíve got to do thisĒ.

KNAC.COM: So this is your first tour with OPETH then?

FRIDEN: Yeah, this is the first tour weíve done together. I mean being Swedish and Iíve known him for 16 years.

KNAC.COM: He (Mikael) did say that you guys are more popular back in your home country than OPETH is. Would you agree with that?

FRIDEN: If you just look at the numbers, yeah sure. The last shows we played in Sweden we had 9,000 people in our home town and 6,000 in Stockholm.

KNAC.COM: So they just announced the lineup for Rock On The Range and I see IN FLAMES is on the list of bands to play. Are you excited to be coming back to play one of our large festivals?

FRIDEN: We were there two years ago, I believe. That was a great festival. Playing festivals is so easy. I mean you donít have to sound check, you just go up there and play in front of as many people as possible that might not have heard you before, so itís a great challenge and itís good fun, and itís a good part of the United States.

KNAC.COM: Is there any chance youíre going to play any of the other festivals in the U.S.?

FRIDEN: (Zips his mouth closed and chuckles)

KNAC.COM: I understand. Weíll take that as a good sign though. So most of the time the best metal festivals are over in Europe. How would you compare the European festivals with the ones in the U.S.?

FRIDEN: Yeah, I agree. Or at least they used to be so much better, now youíre getting really decent festivals over here as well. I think the organization behind it is way better and all these bands that come together, I mean Wacken is a prime example of people even from here travelling to Europe just for that festival because the lineup is that fucking good.

KNAC.COM: The wife and I actually toyed around with going to Graspop next year just for that reason.

FRIDEN: Thatís a great festival. Canít say much, but you might see us there.

KNAC.COM: So I see you have your own brand of beer back home called Frequency. How popular is it and what type of beer?

FRIDEN: Well Iíve done about 10 or 12 different kinds. I do everything from lager to stouts. I did one juniper stout that I had in whiskey casks from Glenfarclas, which is a distillery up in Scotland. I did that, and that was really good but I donít know how pure it is. Itís a lot of fun. Itís very, very small; we do one batch thatís 3000 liters. Then we sell it and when itís gone itís gone, then I do another one of something else.

KNAC.COM: Can you only get it in Sweden or do you export it?

FRIDEN: So far no, but I would like to start working with some breweries over here so I can actually start making beer over here in America. We canít export. The batch is just that small.

KNAC.COM: I see youíre also into fine whiskey too, in particular, hand crafted whiskey.

FRIDEN: Yes. Good food and good drinks. Life is way too short.

KNAC.COM: So you have quite the collection at home then?

FRIDEN: Yeah, I have an extensive collection, but donít collect as much these days because I donít have space. Thatís the only reason.

KNAC.COM: Just how large is your collection?

FRIDEN: I have a lot of different kinds of rare whiskies. Itís not just whatever type you can find on the shelf. I go to auctions whenever I want to find something rare and good.

KNAC.COM: Do you ever drink any of them or are they just for show?

FRIDEN: No, no, no. Theyíre not for show (laughs). I drink them, but not everything at once, at least.

KNAC.COM: So your latest album Siren Charms has been out for several months now and you have your supporting tour underway. Do you find it's being well received so far and are you content with how things are going?

FRIDEN: I am. Iím happy with the album and happy to be here because the songs go down really well live. I havenít checked in with everyone about the album or every magazine that writes about it. Iíve done this for so long, I if was to read a review which I donít agree on, I just get mad. ďYou didnít get the pointĒ. So for me, I donít really check that. And also itís out of my hands. When I record an album it goes to the record company. What can I do? I canít do anything. If you donít like it, I canít convince you to like it, it something thatís up to you. I think some people are surprised. ďI fucking love IN FLAMESĒ, ďI fucking hate IN FLAMESĒ, you know, these two sides fighting and I just stay away from it.

KNAC.COM: I personally love the new album. I think itís phenomenal. You have such passion and conviction in the lyrics, and of course every fan should find their own meaning in the songs they hear. What do you personally draw upon for inspiration when youíre writing?

FRIDEN: This time, I mean I have two kids at home. I canít write when theyíre around. Before on the earlier albums, I wrote all the lyrics during the night when everyone went to bed by myself. This time I had so much distraction around me, I didnít write anything before we went to the studio. I wrote everything there. I had to close all the doors, shut the world outside and just started thinking. For this time specifically, I watched a lot of documentaries about people in poor situations, a lot of drug related problems. I donít write about the drugs or anything, I just look at like what happens to a person in that situation and what happens to the people around them. How come we can become slaves to something that we know is not good for us and how can we get away from that. I use that as a sort of metaphor hard and evil twisted in the world. I think we should explore it to a certain extent, but we should be careful because we might drown in it. I do feel itís important to go through all these stages and you need obstacles in life to become a greater person and hopefully learn from it. All these different songs are small topics within that bigger picture.

KNAC.COM: So for the evolution of IN FLAMES, you have cut your dreadlocks off, your beard is growing back some but you had it short for a while, and youíve changed your vocal styling a little bit to cleaner vocals. Would you say your latest album is an expression of that evolution?

FRIDEN: Maybe. Itís just one album. We always have the same mentality when we go into an album. We just want to create good melodies. Thatís what it is. Itís not rocket science what we do. We write short songs and we want to get to the point pretty fast, get to the chorus pretty fast. I donít think the looks affect the way I write. I had long hair for a long long time and itís a drag being on tour with dreadlocks. It gets dirty and sweaty and you have to shower all the time. It gets pretty nasty. I donít know what we will sound like in another two albums, but I know we will write something that we believe in.

KNAC.COM: IN FLAMES formed in 1990 as well, correct?


KNAC.COM: Youíre going to be celebrating your 25th anniversary next year then. How does that feel?

FRIDEN: Itís just a number. Yeah, I didnít know I would be doing this this long, obviously. But because we take it step by step, year by year, show by show, and album by album, maybe thatís why weíve lasted this long. If I had any hopes or dreams or goals, I surpassed all of them. Now itís just hang tight and hope it works out.

KNAC.COM: It seems like over the course of the last ten years or so, a lot of the great metal bands are coming out of Europe and in particular, your home country of Sweden. Are there any American bands that are popular in Sweden?

FRIDEN: Yeah, of course. All the mainstream bands obviously. I think our country looks into whatís popular in America. We have all the tv shows and radio stuff; we can get that, itís no problem. Then you have the death metal bands that are coming from here which is something that when I was younger I really got into.

KNAC.COM: I only have one more question, maybe two, for you today, Anders. Is there anything youíve ever wanted to be asked during an interview that youíve never gotten asked before?

FRIDEN: (laughs) Not that I can remember, no. I try to answer everything politely. That is it.

KNAC.COM: Are you excited to be able to go home for Christmas?

FRIDEN: Yeah, Iím home the day before Christmas on the 23rd so thatís good.

KNAC.COM: Bet your family will be excited.

FRIDEN: Yeah unless Iím sleeping all day (laughs)

KNAC.COM: I bet this kind of tour takes a toll on you.

FRIDEN: It really does. We were in Europe, then we flew to Japan and then Australia. Then we were home for four days and then we flew here. I had the worst jet lag ever and it fucked with my head.

KNAC.COM: Thatís all I have for you today, Anders. Thank you for your time on behalf of KNAC.COM.

FRIDEN: Absolutely.

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