Nikita Ramkissoon of South Africa’s Times Live spoke to bassist Peter Iwers of Swedish metallers IN FLAMES ahead of the band’s first-ever appearance in the country for the annual RAMfest music festival (taking place in Johannesburg on Saturday and in Cape Town on Sunday).
On pioneering the “Gothenburg” metal sound:
Peter: “There were other bands at the same time doing similar things. I think we reached a little further then some of them. You have DARK TRANQUILLITY, AT THE GATES… so many bands did this together I would say, and I think we all had one thing in common, and that was the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. It’s not like we sat down and tried to sound like any of the bands we listened to, but we all liked these different bands. We just made music inspired by whatever we liked.”
On the band’s early years:
Peter: “We did all of these rough years on the road, not making any money, not enjoying ourselves, besides the part of being on stage. Everything around it sometimes was really crappy. So we stuck in together and had a really good time. We went up there and remembered why we started doing this. We love playing music, we love being on stage.”
On parting ways with longtime guitarist Jesper Strömblad, who left the band to seek treatment for alcoholism:
Peter: “It took us some years to realize how sick he was from the alcohol. We always thought he could handle it. But he needed more and it was really hard for us to see one of our best friends destroy himself. When he left to take care of himself, it was difficult. After one year, Jesper called and said he was quitting so that he could get better by himself, and we said, ‘Okay, as long as you’re happy and feel well.'”
On whether there have been times when the band almost reached its breaking point:
Peter: “We’ve come close, but never close enough to destroy this. I mean, on tour, we miss our families, but the love for music is what drives us. The stage brings us back and whenever we are together, we are stronger than ever.”
On being criticized by the band’s longtime fans for changing their sound over the years:
Peter: “If you listen to the first IN FLAMES record, it was kind of brutal melodic death metal. But you listen to today’s stuff, and it’s not really the same thing anymore. We’ve always had the element of melody and harmonies, usually on the guitars, sometimes on keyboards, sometimes vocals, and we just tried to incorporate it into whatever element that fitted the purpose at the time. We don’t want to make the same record twice.”
Read the entire interview from Times Live.