This phone interview with the bassist Peter Iwers of In Flames was done by Roy Boeren on March 21st, 2006.

Once one of the originators of the so called Gothenburg school of death metal, In Flames have always been a band to push the boundaries further ahead, setting new goals for each new release. Since long focusing on writing music that works well on stage they have become one of the leading Swedish live acts. Roy Boeren talks to the band's bassist Peter Iwers about the new album "Come Clarity" among other topics prior to their show at Effenar in Eindhoven, Holland, on March 21st, 2006.

Hi, first of all, how are you doing?
Yeah, I’m good.

How has the tour been so far?
Yes, it's gone very well, we’re having a good time with the guys from Sepultura and we were just joined by Dagoba, so yeah, its going very well.

What’s it like playing with Sepultura anyway?
Well, they’re really cool guys, and they’ve been around for a long time. You know, they’re just human beings, who like to play music.

Have you had the chance to see any of their shows?
Yeah, of course, almost every day.

What’s it like on tour actually, for what I’ve seen its quite a busy tour schedule.
Yeah, we just play shows almost every day. We have a few off days, but usually we try to arrange it that they are just travel days, because off-days, they can be necessary some time, but it just means more time away from home. Just sitting around doing nothing. We just want to play, but we do get some free time of course. Like now, I just went to the city and had some lunch and stuff.

On the last few tours you only did a few headliner shows in Europe, what was the reason for that?
I think a lack of time, I mean, we did a shorter one last record, but we only had two weeks, when we were available to do this. We have done a lot of festivals and stuff, it’s always a lack of time.

Yeah, I saw you live on Graspop last year.
Cool, we’re playing there again this year.

What’s actually the difference between playing in Europe and the USA?
The performance in itself isn’t so different. It’s just heavy metal united people going to a concert and enjoying themselves, but I mean, if I would watch a show on video from Holland for instance, and from America I could clearly see the difference. Like the big moshpit they have over there. And that’s not as common over here so. Maybe the audience there is a little bit more violent, but then again, everyone’s in on it, so you know, it’s all good.

Of course I’ve got some questions about the new album. I heard it was finished quite some time before it was released?
We were changing labels in the US, and we had to finalise that deal. And we didn’t want to have the record released like here in September and next February in the US. So we saved up, and had everything released pretty much simultaneously. That and plus there’s always a lot of management and label bullshit that needs to be done. For us it was done 10 months prior to the release, so we know what we were having, and it was kind of frustrating to have to wait.

Where did the album title actually come from? Just from the song, or does it hold a deeper meaning?
Well, that’s Anders’ part basically, but I think we can all decide for ourselves what it means. For me, at least, we did a lot of support tours last year, and like no headliners what so ever, which was really interesting, because we got to play with our own heroes, and we got to play in front of bigger crowds. That’s really healthy but at the same time it was really hard, never getting the recognition we would like to get. We just constantly tried to prove ourselves and this tour we can see that we have new fans and that it actually paid off.

To me this album sound a little more versatile, like a mixture of previous work. For instance the song “Dead End”, “Crawl Through Knives” and “Come Clarity”, they all sound very different.
Most of the times people say its a mixture like you said, it can be, but it was never intended to be that way. We always try to move on and do something new. I know when the songs were written the idea was to make the song a bit more up-tempo. Putting the keys in the back, and the guitar a bit more to the front. Its hard to sit down and say we’re gonna write this way. We just keep on looking forward. Cause a lot of people are saying we go back to our roots on this album, which I think is bullshit. Either you do what you do and you like it or you don’t.

Is there any way you can compare this album to for instance “The Lunar Strain”?
It’s better. It’s better played for once, and the production is better. Back then we had lots of guitars and lots of different layers and stuff, and it was just impossible to reproduce live. And from “Colony” we just wrote all our music to play it live. If you go from album to album you can always see the red line in between. If you compare this one to “The Lunar Strain” its very different. You still have all the melodies and the aggression though.

Is that also the reason you don’t play many of the old songs live?
Yeah, pretty much. We have to rearrange them completely to play them live, we do sometimes. I mean, we always play “Behind Space” for instance. And we play a lot of other stuff as well. The more records you have, the more difficult it is to choose a setlist. If we would bring in more of the old song, it would be even more difficult. I think we rehearsed 40 songs for this tour. If we would have taken up more songs, it would be impossible to play it all.

The song “Dead End” contains female vocals as well, for the first time since “Everlost pt.2”. Where did the idea come from?
Well, the idea came from Anders I think. He wanted to do something together with a female vocalist. And this girl is a singer/songwriter and she is very famous in Scandinavia and her type of music is totally different than ours. But she’s into metal as well, and we’ve known her for some years and we talked about a possible collaboration. And unlike talks we had with different artist, that never happen, this one did. The schedules mixed perfectly, so when Anders was in the studio he phoned her and they recorded it. The song was already written, so it wasn’t really written for her, it just fitted perfectly. It’s just a classic In Flames song, and it was really cool to have her.

As you said before, many people see this as a “Back-to-the-roots” album. Doesn’t it get irritating to answer the same question over and over again?
No, its not irritating, I just get better at answering them. We always try to take yet another step, you know, we never go back to our roots, like how we sounded back then and try to achieve something similar. I think that’s a huge mistake, I think you should constantly evolve and add more elements to your music and make it more interesting. It just wrong doing something you’ve done ten years ago.

What about the live performance, doesn’t that ever become the same?
No, not really. On tour you sit around for hours just doing nothing, just waiting to get on stage. That’s just what we’re waiting for the entire day. Just having fun and getting this energy from the crowd. Just enjoying yourselves, we know what we are doing, but if the passion would ever leave we wouldn’t do this.

Do you think there’s any point in your career when you can say “I’ve reached it all”?
That’s a dangerous thing to think. Of course I had some heroes I wanted to play with when I grew up, it was always my dream to play with Iron Maiden, and now I have. But it’s always good to get new goals, and to aim forward. Constantly try to achieve more, without getting greedy. We’re very thankful for what we’re doing. But sitting back and thinking I’ve done it all is dangerous.

Do you always try to make a better album than the previous one?
Yeah, exactly. If we make an album and we think “well, it’s not so good as last time”, we would have to change something. So once its out there, its, according to the five of us, better than the last one. And that’s not slamming the last one, it’s just achieving more.

Then do you have a personal favourite In Flames album?
Well, I’d have to say “Come Clarity”. I guess in ten-fifteen years I can sit down and really pick a favourite. But now, it has to be the latest one.

Links of interest:

In Flames
Nuclear Blast