Working around the time difference to speak with a band member about an upcoming album months in advance can be quite hard at the best of times. Then there’s Björn Gelotte from In Flames, who decides that not only will interviews take place on release day of their thirteenth studio album ‘I, The Mask’, the band are also on tour supporting Within Temptation for good measure!
First topic of discussion was about the excitement levels within the band about ‘I, The Mask’ now being available for purchase and Gelotte pointed out “we’ve had the album almost one since May or June last year, so it’s been quite frustrating waiting to show people when we can’t! However we also know that you can never wait too long for something good. We’re super excited that it’s out and have been able to play some of the new songs live, as they’re so much fun; we’ve been performing I Am Above, (This Is Our) House and actually opening with Voices! Even though it wasn’t released yet, we felt like it was a perfect opening track and should be part of the set and all the new songs have been going over well. Plus I’m having practice all of a sudden again because it’s demanding, but I haven’t been this excited in years.”
Gelotte then delivered an unexpected insight into the creation process of an album as he explained “we don’t really write when on the road; we’re either writing or we’re touring. So for us, it’s always been important to challenge ourselves by taking it a little above our skill levels so we have to practice! Whether it be when you’re on the road, when you’re at home or a combination of both, it’s about challenging yourself and your musical bubble and we’ve always liked that…plus we don’t like rehearsing four times a week (laughs) We do like a week of pre-production, polish everything off and play together, before we use the tour to get good at it. Whilst we used to practice a lot more when we weren’t touring as we much as now, nowadays it’s more important for us to get up on stage and work for it. And if there’s any advice I can give any starting or up and coming band, it would be get in front of people! That’s when you’re the most focused and the most vulnerable, but at the same time you learn from the most from it.”
The creation of ‘I, The Mask’ was the first time in 20 years that In Flames has gone about creating music without Peter Iwers. Talking about the difference in the creation/recording difference this time around, Gelotte let out a small chuckle as he quipped “it was obviously different during the recording process; we went from a great bass player to me! I had to think very differently on how to lay down the bass and not to be the third guitar. That’s where Mike Plotnikoff who is part of Howard Benson’s team came across and they were really good. Plus Anders was a big part of this, as we had long discussed about how we should portray the bass so from the creative side, nothing really changed as Peter never wrote music or was part of the song process. From a practice point of view, it was different or difficult as he’s an amazing bass player but we all as a team made it work really well and we’re super happy with how it turned out!”
Delivering another unexpected insight by this time touching further on Iwers’ departure, Gelotte was very grounded and honest with his perspective:
It’s always sad when someone’s life situation changes or they decide and it’s not for them; whilst it may be frustrating that we lost a long-time friend, basically family want to someone else, we managed to come out stronger! We managed to find Bryce who’s an amazing dude doing a killer job on stage, has all the positive energy that we need and wants to be in the band; we’ve gone from someone who felt like he was done with it, to someone who can’t wait to be on bass again and it’s been an amazing re-energization! With every band member change, we’ve always come out as a stronger, better and more energized band, which I think is the natural progression.”
In Flames released their first EP 25 years and Gelotte is credited as being the band’s first official drummer all the way back in 1995 before the creation of debut album ‘The Jester Race’. When asked what fuels the desire to keep touring and creating new music, Gelotte delivered yet another great insight that contained quite a few words of wisdom:
”One of the things was we decided from the beginning this is our music and no one can decide/dictate/suggest what direction we should take! If there’s seven billion people out there, there’s going to be seven billion different tastes in music; plus everyone has an opinion as well. It’s hard enough to make the five of us love what we do, but that is achieved we’re fucking bulletproof! You know this is the most honest you can be with your music and that’s why we do it for ourselves; if you have that mindset that no management or record label can dictate what you do, you’re being honest to yourself by getting up there and playing what you want to play which keeps it fun. I think that’s part of the longevity and why we have so much fun playing, as we’re playing our own favourite songs! Having done that for so many years seems to have worked really well for us, as we’re still pumped before we get on stage, we’re still excited for a record release or still excited to talk to people about our stuff. I mean, I was 19 when I joined the band and am turning 44 this year; I never dreamed that my whole adult life would involve this band, but I could never dream of doing anything else!”
Taking time to talk his favourite songs from ‘I, The Mask’, Gelotte was quick to mention”right now I really love I Am Above because it’s already well recognized, people seem to really enjoy it and it’s a very powerful tune live. I love playing Voices and as I mentioned earlier, we open the set with it. Whilst it goes over people’s heads a little bit, they seem to really get into it which is really exciting; plus House is just super powerful and heavy as shit on the bass! These are excellent songs right now, but we haven’t tried all the songs; maybe something will overpower these three songs. It’s a luxury problem that goes hand in hand in which we were talking about earlier with the reason why we do this.”
Drawing the interview to a close, the final topic of discussion was whether Australia would get to experience a tour for ‘I, The Mask’ at some stage. Gelotte was very quick to express “I’ve done quite a few interviews today and everyone has asked me this; can I just say that I can’t be more honoured that you guys want to have us over! We love Australia and would give almost anything and everything to get back to Australia as soon as we possibly can; it’s in the talks basically every day and whilst we have nothing solid yet, we would love to get back to Australia. It will most definitely happen on the back of ‘I, The Mask’, but I just can’t tell you how soon.”
IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY, YOU CAN PURCHASE YOUR COPY OF ‘I, THE MASK’ HERE!