It's the connection between the audience and the band

In Flames

In Flames will release their live DVD “Sounds From The Hearts of Gothenburg” this month. That’s not the only news they have; this fall they will also release a brand new album. This month we had the chance to talk to briefly Niclas Engelin about this new DVD. Later this year we will have another chat, exclusively about the upcoming release!

How are you, and how are things in your world?

I’m awesome man. I just put the kids to bed and I went to buy some Snus if you know what that is *laughs*, you put it under your lips.

Ah yeah, I know that stuff.

Yeah, so I’m all good, how about you?

Busy times here! There’s a lot of action in the Metal world! A lot of releases, a lot of good music all around. There’s a lot of news in your world as well! You have the new live DVD coming out, you have an upcoming new album which we will talk about later this year. So this time around we’re going to focus on the DVD!

Yeah, let’s do that. I mean, I’m all yours!

Well, first question! You just put your kids to bed, between the promotion of the new live DVD and the preparation of the new album, do you still find time for yourself?

Yeah, very much so. The vacation was over like a week ago and kindergarten started up again, and I started working again also with writing new songs, stuff like that. I write all the time because I have so much fun doing it. I work for eight hours while my kids and wife are away, so when it’s like four o clock, I get to pick up the kids from kindergarten. So I have time for myself, and time to practice guitar and write some stuff.

So you do get the best of both worlds right now! As I said, this interview we will focus mainly on your new DVD. What made you decide to record a new live show?

Planning a gig at the full house Scandinavium, which is the biggest venue in Gothenburg... It’s the venue where I first saw my concerts, way back in 1984. I was there for Dio - Last In Line with Queensryche and special guests. I was twelve I guess. It was my first concert and it was monumental, to me personally! I think it was for all the guys in the band. I mean, Judas priest, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Scorpions, Europe, the list can go on forever. And here we are, years later recording a DVD at the Scandinavium. At the very same stage as where our heroes performed, back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s wonderful. It’s a fucking miracle to me! *laughs* I love it!

Yeah, I can understand that. It might be a bit hard to grasp when you’re playing there, I think.

Yeah it is! Because, we played there like three times. This time we recorded the DVD, and the two previous times, I had too much respect. I was thinking during the gig, wow, I sat back there, I watched Vivian Campbell in Dio on the “Sacred Heart” tour, with Jimmy Bain on the other side, you know? All these classics!  I mean, the “Metal Heart” Accept album, they did a tour and I was there as well. Ah, The list can go on! *laughs*

When you play a place like that, with such a rich history, do you feel some extra magic during your show?

At this show, I couldn’t let go of those feelings. I could enjoy every second on stage, because the previous times, all I could think about was I had so much respect, and this time I thought fuck it, I just go with it. I just run with it and have fun. And I did have fun the previous times as well, but this one was a little bit more relaxed, and more comforting. I was relaxed.

I can understand that. Where it comes to the show itself, other than the inclusion of newer material, in what ways was the show different from your previous live DVD, “Used and Abused” from 2005?

Wow, well, we have released four albums since 2005. We tried to combine all elements of In Flames into our setlist, but that can be hard. We only get this amount of time to play, and we try to focus on giving 100% on stage every night, and we want to show the world, the people that we do that. I think we covered a really good portion of In Flames history on this DVD.

I think so too. There’s a bit from every era of the band.

Yes I think so.

When you look at your stage set over the years with In Flames, how much has changed and what is still the same?

I think we always strive to keep it diverse I think. So this stage set, it was made for the album “Siren Charms” tour, it was maybe a little bit more moody, a darker vibe, because the album is a little bit more moody. We wanted to project that live in our stage set as well. You ,now the new Jesterhead that we have. It shows up during one or two songs throughout the whole set. Stuff happens all the time during the live set on the stage. There is never a dull moment, or a boring moment. I want to believe that we ain’t that boring *laughs*

No, exactly! I think In Flames itself is a live band that already performs very well with just it’s music. You don’t need a lot of spectacle, I think.

Thank you. I take that as a huge compliment, because I think the same. That would be a… You just gave me an idea. It would be really cool to do the total opposite. Maybe the minimum of lights *laughs* Just the same lights and do a gig with that. That would be cool.

It should be interesting! Keep the house lights on. I actually saw you perform at 2012’s Wacken Open Air festival and that tour you had a really BIG stage set up. It had a gantry of multiple stories, and a projection and everything. Was that like the most expensive stage show you ever did?

Ooh. Well it’s still expensive, I’ll tell you! *laughs* Yeah, but I think that was the final big bang and I think we kind of evolved from that. We are trying out different stuff with each album. Lighting I guess, different stage sets. We don’t have the same light set on that show as we will have with a new album. We want to be on the move and try out different stuff. As I said previously, we want to be interesting to people, and interesting for ourselves.

The only way is forward! With your music, and with the show as well. Where it comes to live performances, they show a band pure and raw, without the makeup. What makes performing live special to you?

The energy. I love it, I love the energy. Very often I get this question; where did you have the biggest show, or what was the best show for you, and I always answer that it can be in a club with 200 people, it can be at Wacken Open Air with thousands. It’s the connection between the audience and the band that makes a gig wonderful and explosive. Because in this genre of Metal, the band and the audience depend on each other. That’s what makes it wonderful in the Metal community, the band and the audience live together, and make it a special night. That’s important.

I fully agree with you there. If you are able to give the energy live, and it connects with the crowd, you get it back amplified. You feed off each other.

Yeah, it is like that!

You can really see that on the DVD by the way!

Yes, definitely. It was a wonderful night. It was a little euphoric when we went off stage. It was like, what happened? What just happened? *laughs* You know, you have your family there, wife, kids, mom, dad, even my uncle and kids, it’s unreal. Wow. *laughs*

I read in the material that came with the promo that it was a hometown show, and that was what made it special, with your family and friends there in the audience. What’s the most special thing about performing in front of a home audience?

For me it was having my kids there. They ain’t old enough, they are three and six years old. I loved having them there, and my wife. I’m not able to bring them on tour very often. Maybe they came along on a date or two, that’s it. And my mom and dad, and my closest friends were there. The very friends that went to the same concert, at the same venue, the Scandinavium. They were there as well.

Now they got to see you there!

That made it fucking wonderful, yeah! *laughs* We had a good laugh about that afterwards.

That’s amazing, I bet. Your kids, are they Metal fans as well? Do they like to see daddy play?

Yeah, they like the spectacle of it, for like two or three songs, and then they start jawning and then want to go *laughs*

Yeah, that’s just kids *laughs* Live performances, to me, are also the best way to show you care for your fans. Which you obviously do, in 2013 you even offered fans the chance to be part of a video for the song “Ropes”. How important are your fans to you?

It’s not fans, it’s supporters. It’s just fantastic to have the supporters of your band, of your music. Without supporters, you are nothing. And that along with the live shows as well, I mean without an audience we are nothing. We are a gimmick. I love playing and I love our fans.

I really love the distinction you make there. When I think about it, a fan idolizes you and a supporter supports you. I like that difference!

Ok, let’s use the term fan. I’m a fan as well, of Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Motorhead, everything metal. Is it important? Of course, I love our fans. Without them we are nothing.  

I do believe that’s about all the time we were granted. Do you have any last words for our readers?

Well, thank you for full-on metal autumn/winter, for this live DVD and the new album coming out, and we will see you very soon hopefully!

Yeah I hope so to, and let’s talk some more in the fall about the new record! Metal On Loud!

Yes, thanks for the interview!

Randy Gerritse