In Flames’ Anders Friden: A Vocal Coach Was More Fun Than I Expected
In Flames singer Anders Fridén was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. He discussed once again working with producer Howard Benson on the band's 13th full length, I, The Mask and how the collaborative efforts between he and guitarist Björn Gelotte have changed under his direction.
The frontman also touched upon working with a vocal coach before going into the studio on the most recent pair of In Flames records, although he was apprehensive at first. Find out why he enjoyed the experience so much and more about I, The Mask in the chat below.
This album is the result of an extremely detail oriented songwriting process. How did that thoroughness allow the band to maximize its musical ability?
Well, I mean, it already started on the previous album Battles because when we decided to work with Howard Benson, me and Björn, we sort of had to let go a little bit of that control that we had from before. We know best — that type of attitude.
It would be a waste of time and money to work with someone like Howard and just go in and tell him how we should run things. So, with that, Björn also has to be... [we] work tighter. What we've done in the past is [put] music in one corner and vocals, lyrics in the other corner, and then we met up in the mix. And now, we started writing from scratch and just assembling things and just throwing ideas back and forth.
The whole process actually became so much more fun. It's just crazy that you learn something after our 13th album. It's been an awesome process. He inspires me. I inspire him. Then we both know exactly what's gonna happen when we go into the studio and so on. So, yeah, it's been good, and I feel the result, it sounds like a band that's having a good time.
You worked with a vocal coach before recording the new album. What changes in technique did you implement once you were in the studio?
That is also something I started with on previous albums on Battles because Tara's like, "All right I usually send my guys to Mark Renk and they're more prepared when they get into the studio." Obviously, it broadened my spectrum, my range, and so on. I can go higher and lower. But it's so much more that just the actual recording. It's more like how you prepare yourself before and after a show. What you should and shouldn't do.
I feel more confidence in doing what I do now. It's been really really good. I was super stubborn before. I was like, "I know. I don't want to change and do this." I have a very homeschool technique and I couldn't see myself being next to a guy on a piano and then doing scales up and down. But it was actually really, really fun to get to know your instrument a little bit better.
In Flames have never stopped evolving from album to album. What do you like most about I, The Mask that is something you've never done before?
That we made another one. [laughs] You know, it's just awesome that we can still do this after such a long time. That's something you never saw in the beginning of your career, of course. If you know about In Flames and know how we sound these days, you'll hear some familiar tones whatever. It has all those elements.
I don't know if so much is new, and it's not in my place to tell. It's the fans that can tell me what they feel and not feel about the album. I think it's perfect in itself, and that's sort of how I've always felt with every album. They're perfect as they are. But it has melody, it has the aggression, big chorus, a lot of dynamics. You know, there's metal, there's accessibility, there's anything for everyone.
The title of the new album references the way we present ourselves to other people in various social situations. Anders, what are the different masks that you wear?
You can read that in the lyrics. Of course, I wear them and my lyrics maybe don't reflect on how I feel like yesterday or today. It could be something I picked up from 30 years ago, whatever — in different relationships and what not.
I'm not the same person in every single situation and I need to shield myself from the outside world as well. But I see this album and my lyrics as more of a therapy session. I write something down and I get rid of it. That is something that is very important. We can't carry all this sadness and darkness and whatever inside. We need to deal with them head on so we can see what's ahead and see something brighter, hopefully.
With In Flames being from Sweden, how has touring here in the U.S. and in other countries shaped your world view?
Ah, well traveling of course you open up the understanding between you and other people. You see people in different situations and so on. I think it makes you more humble. When you're just in your own little world, it's easy to point fingers and complain and so on but you definitely have a better understanding of our planet and our situation and between people.
Thanks to Anders Fridén for the interview. Grab your copy of In Flames' 'I, The Mask' here and follow the band on Facebook to stay up to date with everything they're doing. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show here.
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