We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Anders Fridén, vocalist for the Swedish death metal band In Flames, about the group’s new album Siren Charms, his obsession with fine spirits, and his life off of the road. Here is how the conversation went.
Hey Anders, how are you?
Fridén: I am good, I am good.
Where are you guys at today, up in Canada?
Fridén: Yeah we are in Edmonton tonight.
Is it freezing?
Fridén: Ah no, it is not bad at all; I have been surprised by the weather. It has been quite nice; really, the whole tour has been, to be honest. We were expecting way worse weather.
How is the tour going so far?
Fridén: It is great; it is a lot of fun. We have known Wovenwar since the As I Lay Dying times and they have toured with us or we have toured with them, however you want to put it, and it has been great. It is a good time and people seem to be enjoying themselves.
Have the crowds been good?
Fridén: Oh yeah, they have been awesome. We have one week left on this leg. We play for a month and then we go home and come back to the United States.
Oh, you are not staying on the road the whole time then? You are going to go home and come back again?
That must be hard on you then, right?
Fridén: We all have families back home, so I think everyone needs a break from the touring antics.
Now that Siren Charms is complete, how do you feel about it and are you satisfied with the outcome?
Fridén: I am very satisfied with it. I am very satisfied every time we release an album; it is always the album I want to make at the time. I think there are always new things, old things and everything in between. We never try to repeat ourselves as we go forward.
This is record number eleven and I was wondering if you find it difficult coming up with new ideas and not rehashing the same songs, or is that not even an issue?
Fridén: Not really, no because every time you complete an album you think “Oh fuck, how am I going to do this again?” but then you tour and travel and give it some distance and you are ready to make another album. The music just comes, it is not rocket science, it is what we do. It is like heavy pop music, metal music, or whatever it is quite easy to be honest. We are always searching for good melodies, that is what In Flames has always been about.
Alright, let’s switch gears for a little bit. I hear you are a whiskey connoisseur. Do you have a pretty big collection?
Fridén: I have a decent collection, I don’t buy as much as I used to due to space issues because I consume the same way that I buy. I travel to Scotland at least once a year to go to different distilleries, check the scene, read magazines, and follow what is released. It is crazy how much comes out now, new stuff all the time, it is hard to keep track of all the new stuff. I usually buy at auctions because it is older, rarer bottles I am after. If I just want to drink something with my buddies I can drink whatever no problem, I am not snobbish with it at all, but I do enjoy fine, delicious whiskey.
What is your favorite type of whiskey; scotch, bourbon or rye?
Fridén: Well you know, being European obviously whiskeys like scotch were my entrance into the whiskey world. Then I experienced Japanese whiskey, which is fucking amazing to be honest. Then came Bourbon and so on, but in the beginning when you heard of Bourbon it was always Jack Daniels, but if you look behind Jack Daniels and Jim Beam you can find some amazing whiskeys and really fine bourbons. I really like the smoothness of rye as well.
This might be a tough question, but what are some of the best whiskeys you have ever had?
Fridén: I guess it all depends on the company as well. If I should pick a few, one from Scotland called Bunnahabhain and the bottle itself is called Auld Acquaintance, it is from 1968 and it is just fucking fabulous; it is so so good! Then you have a distillery called Glenugie, they don’t exist anymore because it closed down. It is hard to find these bottles anymore, but the ones that came from the ’60s in the bourbon and sherry casks that they came from are also amazing. These bottles are real hard to find and they get really expensive.
I imagine being on the road and being in all these new places you can really find different stuff. When you have a day off do you go out searching for new ones?
Fridén: I do, actually today I went to a nice place here and bought some tequila, I really like fine tequila too, I found some nice blanco from a new brand that I have not tried yet so it was nice and I am going to enjoy that later on.
Getting back to the band again, how do you guys keep up with the physical demands of touring, you have been at this for a long time; do you find it getting harder as you go on?
Fridén: I guess, yes. Some of us are working out and some of us are not. You find your ways, I am out walking and looking around, it is not the greatest exercise in the world but it works for me. I drink a lot of water in between the beers, that’s it.
So going back to what you said earlier, staying on the road for a month and then off the road for a month, do you find it difficult transitioning or does it become so routine that it is no big deal?
Fridén: It is no big deal. We have kids back home and I love to cook so I go straight into the kitchen. I have a day job where I work, not because I have to but because I love music, I go to the office and I work at a record company, I hang out with a few people there and talk with a few bands and it keeps me sane. So I go straight from the road into a sort of normal lifestyle. The warmer weather is coming to Sweden and we will have a lot of outdoor barbecues with a bunch of friends over, cooking and drinking. It is always a good time. I really, really need to get away from being Anders of in Flames, it makes me feel sane.
What do you guys have planned after this tour with Wovenwar? Are you playing festivals over the summer?
Fridén: Yeah we have the next tour coming up over here (North America) then we go straight back to Europe, we have a few days in-between and then summer festivals all over the summer. We might have a little break and then we will continue to tour. I can’t really say where yet because of all of the politics, but we will be touring for the rest of the year.
Check out the song “Rusted Nail” here.