"We were supposed to be out touring and celebrating the album..." - In Flames talk the re-release of Clayman
Swedish metallers In Flames aren't terribly fond of looking back. Across their 30-year career, the band have delivered 13 studio albums and toured relentlessly, headlining thousands of shows and lighting up hundreds of festivals. Normally, it's touring, touring, touring and then onto the next LP.
But, this year, they are allowing themselves a little look backwards with the re-release of Clayman, their fifth studio album and the LP widely regarded as their breakthrough release.
The LP comes out with a lavish new package. The whole album comes entirely remastered by Ted Jensen, whose credits include Pantera, Deftones and French metallers Gojira and comes with all-new artwork in a 16-page booklet, a brand-new instrumental medley plus four re-recorded versions of tracks like 'Only For The Weak' and 'Pinball Map'.
As the album is re-issued, we spoke to frontman Anders Fridén about his memories of making the record and the band's current stasis...
It’s a very strange time to be releasing a record, even it’s just a re-release, have you managed to enjoy the process at all?
"Yes, since it’s a pure celebration of an album we did 20 years ago, I’ve definitely enjoyed it. It’s not really what I was hoping for, we were supposed to be out touring and celebrating the album on the road with Megadeth, Lamb of God and Trivium on The Metal Tour of The Year. Regardless, I am happy with the re-release and can’t wait to get on tour and keep playing some of these songs from Clayman, live."
Why did you decide to re-release Clayman? Was it your idea or was it put to you?
"It was a group decision; I had the idea and I asked Björn (Gelotte, guitarist) what he thought about it. We always missed our previous albums when they had anniversaries. Fans tell us about the anniversaries of our albums while we are out touring across the world. Since we had time to think ahead for this 20th anniversary, we were able to fine-tune the plans for the re-release. What could we do to really celebrate this album? The rest came together seamlessly."
You've said of Clayman that the album "changed our career in a number of ways", can you talk us through them?
"Every album that we’ve made is important for the album that follows. I think as we went from Colony to Clayman, we were able to solidify our line-up and develop a fluid writing process. One way that our career changed was that we got to tour across the globe, there are a few Clayman songs we continue to play to this day. Every single album is important to us and has changed our career in different ways."
What are your memories of making the album? Was it a fun album to make? A challenging one?
"There are a few songs that I remember were challenging at the time of writing, specifically, 'Only for The Weak'. It’s funny, OFTW is one of our most streamed songs and is always received warmly on tour, but I struggled a bit while writing vocals for it because I did not know what to do since it was a bit slower than our other songs up to that point."
"I think this album came together out of pure joy. There are always struggles when you record and thinking back there was only a year between Colony and Clayman - we had good momentum and were in a good place. It felt like everything fell in place and that made me happy."
You worked with Ted Jensen on the remastering, why did you decide on him?
"Because he’s the best in the game. His discography speaks for itself; he doesn’t overdo it, he finds the details and completes the mix."
You also worked with Howard Benson to re-record songs? Why did you want to work with Howard? And how did you decide which songs you were going to re-record?
"Howard is awesome, we love to work with him. The last two albums we released we recorded with him and it’s always a great experience, he makes the studio atmosphere relaxed. It was even more relaxed for this anniversary re-recording. I didn’t have to think too much, I just had to have a good time and celebrate Clayman."
The band's line-up is quite different to the one that made the album, was it odd re-visiting old songs with new people?
"Not at all, we play these songs live with our current members, so we felt comfortable working with them during the re-recording process."
Are you able to make any live plans at the moment? Or are you looking towards 2021?
"We can’t do anything, we aren’t allowed. Sweden has regulations in place, the live scene is effectively dead. The crew and everyone that helps make the live shows possible can’t do anything. I’m just sitting here and waiting for touring; I really miss touring. The worst part is that we don’t have a date, we don’t know. It’d be so much easier if we had a solid date in which everything starts again. We have no idea."
How have you spent lockdown? Have you kept writing?
"I write music all the time, but I haven’t been super active to be honest. We’ve taken some time off to unwind. I’ve been laying low, just cooking and spending time with family."