I’ve caught up with the Swedish metal band In Flames at the Detroit stop of their tour with Lamb of God, Hellyeah, and Sylosis. The atmosphere on the In Flames tour bus is surprisingly calm tonight. That is compared to the atmosphere outside, where a line of rowdy metal fans currently wraps around the entire city block. This observation quickly fades as I’m ushered to the back lounge of the bus and introduced to Peter Iwers: the iconic bass player of In Flames. After taking me to Peter, a member of the crew shuts the lounge door; isolating Peter and I for this exclusive interview.
HHM: So Peter, how has the Lamb of God tour been going so far?
Peter: Good, very good, We are having a great time [Lamb of God] are great friends, we’ve toured with them like 3 or 4 times so it’s a good environment and everybody’s getting along. I know some of the Hellyeah guys from before as well. We are new to Sylosis but they are very cool guys.
HHM: What is your favorite city to play in the states? And you don’t have to say Detroit
Peter: No, no, no [laughs] I don’t really have a favorite city, I have favorite “places.” It all depends on what I can do during the day; if I can go out and walk around and just see stuff, then I like that. There are some cities that I know better than others obviously. I like Philadelphia for instance, I do like Detroit as well though, I mean, the shows are always really good here.
HHM: What is your favorite song to play live on tour?
Peter: [pauses] that is a hard question, it varies a lot.
HHM: How about from this tour’s set list specifically?
Peter: Off this set list? Probably “Embody the Invisible” A lot happens [instrumentally] for me in that song, as a bass player.
HHM: Which song has been your least favorite to play? It doesn’t have to be off this tour’s set list, just in general.
Peter: It depends… when we rehearse, I really hate playing “Cloud Connected” but when we play it live I love it because people love it, you know? And the reaction that we get from the audience is what we feed off of so that’s not really the proper answer. When you do a tour like this one, with 30 something shows, there’s bound to be a couple of songs you get a little tired of playing after a while. A lot of fans want the “old stuff” and we always try to play some old stuff, but of course we want to represent the new material. I can’t choose a specific song, but any song that I play 300 times in a row, I will get tired of.
HHM: Your most recent album, Sounds of a Playground Fading, was released on Century Media Records, as opposed to your former longtime label: Nuclear Blast. Were there any key reasons for making the label switch?
Peter: It was just time to move on, no bad blood or anything. We wanted to see what it would be like to work with Century Media, and we have.
HHM: Sounds of a Playground Fading debuted at #27 on the U.S Billboard 200; that is your highest charting in the U.S to date. How does it feel to have that kind of support?
Peter: It feels great! I mean, I’m a little sad that people have stopped buying CDs because I love the physical product. There were a lot of [music] stores I would go to that aren’t here anymore, so when we sell physical CDs anyways and we get to land on the Billboard chart, it’s amazing. It’s not all about the numbers anymore. I’m very happy when we tour and people come out to show their support, that’s what definitely means the most to me. I just wish people would go back to buying CDs or even Vinyl because I grew up on it you know?
HHM: On a similar note, Sounds of a Playground Fading debuted at #1 in Germany; what is it with In Flames and Germany? You guys seem to have such a strong connection with your German fans and command such loyalty.
Peter: Absolutely, Germany was one of the first countries to take us under their wing, so to speak, and we’ve always had a good relationship over there. I’d say it all started in Germany and Japan, blew across Europe, and then spread to the U.S. I don’t know what it is, but they like what we do and we’re obviously very, very happy to be #1 in Germany, It’s a huge country!
HHM: What is your favorite song off of Sounds of a Playground Fading?
Peter: Oh [pauses] this is also a difficult question [laughs]. I like “Liberation” that’s a great song.
HHM: Have you spoken to Jesper recently?
Peter: Absolutely, he had a birthday the other day so I called him. We are still close friends.
HHM: I know that a lot of your fans were concerned for him and will always care about him. How is he doing? What has he been up to?
Peter: Yeah we all do, he is one of my closest friends. He is doing well, he has another band: The Resistance. You should check out that band, they’re coming out with a new EP in January or February and it’s really, really good. The old In Flames guitarist, Glenn [Ljungström], is also in the band as well as Marco Aro from The Haunted so it’s an all-star band. Everybody check out The Resistance please.
HHM: This question is for the more “old school” In Flames fans: are all the pioneers of The Gothenburg Sound [In Flames, At the Gates, Dark Tranquility] still close friends?
Peter: Yeah we are very close friends; Mikael from Dark Tranquility and myself are very close, the same thing with Martin. Niklas, Martin and I actually live within like 200 meters of each other so we still hang out, we often drink beer and have fun together and we barbeque in the summer. It’s the same with Anders Björler and Tomas Lindberg from At the Gates. Actually, there is The Gothenburg Sound Festival on the 4th and 5th of January; a lot of the Gothenburg pioneer bands are playing. For example, The Resistance is playing, Ceremonial Oath are reuniting, and Niclas Engelin’s old band Gardenian is playing as well so if you get a chance to come to Gothenburg, you should check it out. Otherwise check it out on Facebook Gothenburg Sound Festival. I had my brother’s 40th birthday a while back; I hosted it at my restaurant and everybody came: The Haunted and the At the Gates guys were all there, as well as Dark Tranquility… Good friends, we are all still very close.
HHM: What is the name of your restaurant, for anyone who may not know?
Peter: 2112 [restaurant2112.com]
HHM: Has “Only for the Weak” been officially retired from the set list?
Peter: Oh, hell no, definitely not. It’s just because this is a short set list and it’s difficult to choose the songs. We will never retire “Only for the Weak.” I am going home [from this tour] about a week early because I’m having another baby, and we have to rehearse a substitute so it was easier to stick to this set list where as we usually throw in some different songs here and there.
HHM: Congratulations, so this is your third child?
HHM: I can imagine you picking up your daughter from school and the other kids all making a mental note to never bully her when they see who her father is.
Peter: [Laughs] Yeah, I know there are some fans at her school and it’s all good, you know?
HHM: Does being a parent and having a family make touring difficult for you?
Peter: Of course, but it’s weird. 14 years ago, when we started touring here, we had to go to a payphone and call collect, so we could only speak to our families like once a week. Today I can Skype, and I do that as often as I can; that makes it a little easier.
HHM: Any artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Peter: I would love to do something with Rush.
HHM: How was it collaborating with Pendulum?
Peter: It was cool, it was cool. I hadn’t heard of them before, we were woken up early when we were on tour in England and driven to their studio. Basically, they sat down with Björn first to write the riff then I came in to put down the bass, and Anders did some vocals on it. It was a one day experience, so we didn’t really hang out very much, aside from going out to dinner afterwards. Very cool guys, cool band, and I had no idea how big they are.
HHM: Are there any new melodic death metal bands that you’re currently really enjoying and would like to recommend to the fans?
Peter: Obviously Jesper’s band, The Resistance, which I recommended before; they’re not so much melodic, more of a mixture between melodic and hardcore. A band called Minora, who are also from Gothenburg. Death Destruction you should definitely check out; they have one album out and are coming out with a second before next summer.
HHM: What is next for In Flames?
Peter: We will keep on touring for about 10 months, and then we will write a new record.
HHM: As far as direction, what can fans expect from the next record? Will it be darker? Will it be more melodic or heavier?
Peter: They can expect it to be awesome of course [laughs]. It’s really hard to say up front, we never go in and say “let’s make this type of record” But I seriously doubt that it will be darker, I’d say more melodic. We have to see when we get there but this last record was a little bit more melodic and that’s kind of where we’re headed, we will never go back to our roots as some bands do.
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