“Chris learnt 15 songs in two days”: In Flames on new album Foregone and hiring ex-Megadeth player Chris Broderick

“Chris learnt 15 songs in two days”: In Flames on new album Foregone and hiring ex-Megadeth player Chris Broderick

When In Flames hired ex-Megadeth player Chris Broderick in early 2019, they were in panic mode. According to the band, their then-guitarist Niclas Engelin called them to drop out of a US tour just two days before they were due to depart, leaving them scrambling for a replacement.
Four years later, Broderick has become a cornerstone of the band, and his athletic playing alongside longtime member Björn Gelotte is the heart and soul of In Flames’ fourteenth album. Foregone is being hailed as a return to form for the melodeath pioneers, who are re-embracing their aggro roots after a decade of more radio-friendly (and hugely controversial) alt-metal.

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To get the inside scoop on Foregone’s aggravated guitar attack and In Flames’ latest lineup, we sit down with Broderick and Gelotte to talk about the pandemic, their approach to soloing and what the future holds.

Björn, you’ve said before that [ex-guitarist] Niclas Engelin dropped out of a US tour with just two days to go, leading you to get Chris in. How stressful was that period?
Björn: “The tour was going to happen no matter what, so it was a weird position to be in. We asked our management if there was anyone available to fill in for Nick. We were presented with a bunch of names and, as soon as I saw Chris’s name, I knew, ‘We’re good!’ I’ve known Chris for so long; I know his skills and his qualities. He’s one of those students that can just absorb information and retain it.”
Chris: “What’s your name again?”
Björn: “[Laughs.] You need to take in a lot of information playing guitar in this band: not only the riffs but the melodies, the solos, the structures – everything. It’s intimidating if you’re not extremely proficient at your instrument. But I know Chris and what he’s capable of, so I was never worried.”

Chris, what did it take to get your name on that list of last-minute candidates?
Chris: “I have no idea. A friend of mine heard from their management that they had lost Niclas and asked if I was interested. I said yes in a heartbeat. Knowing Björn and Anders [Fridén, In Flames’ singer], I was definitely interested, and the music is phenomenal so I knew I’d have a good time.”
Björn: “I don’t even remember any of the other names. I didn’t even think you were available; I didn’t know you weren’t in Megadeth anymore.”
Chris: “They got me to the studio and for some weird reason they had a stripper pole hooked up and they gave me some high heels. [Björn laughs.] And I obviously impressed them somehow. In reality, I was trying to retain all of the songs. I remember walking into rehearsals and Björn says, ‘Let’s do Leeches.’ I was like, ‘Which one is that?!’”
Didn’t you need to learn 25 songs for the tour?
Björn: “I don’t think it was that many before the tour but during the tour it continued. Chris learnt 15 songs in two days and then we started the tour.”
Image: Press
Comparing In Flames to Chris’s other bands like Megadeth and Act of Defiance, the guitar playing feels less technical and more harmonic. Was it a difficult transition between styles or did it feel natural?
Chris: “I actually identify with Björn’s writing style quite a bit. He has a strong sense of melody but he also likes to present counter-melody, whether it’s within the rhythm line or whether you contain both an upper and lower melody within the rhythm line. That’s stuff I’ve always gravitated towards. For me, it was like putting on an old pair of shoes. Whereas Megadeth was more of a rhythm- or riff-oriented structure – you have these riffs, then solos, then riffs – this was much more melodic. It’s much more compositional in a way. Instead of, ‘I’ve got this guitar riff! And here’s the next guitar riff!’, it’s, ‘How am I going to build this melody into the chorus?’”
How did you two first meet?
Chris: “The first time I met In Flames was the Iced Earth, In Flames and Jag Panzer tour [in 2002]. I just thought they were the cool kids. Iced Earth obviously headlined, but I got the impression that the fans and the momentum were behind In Flames. I didn’t hang out a lot with them. I’ve never been this huge partier but these guys, at one time, could have taken on the world.”
Björn: “It was a bit wild. You’re twenty-something, on the road, playing your own music and living the dream. Chris was always either playing guitar or working out.”
Chris: “And what’s changed?”
Björn: “Nothing! [They laugh.] I never saw him with a beer; I never saw him with anything except water and a guitar in his hand. It’s incredible how he can keep that focus on the road. He would run up and down the stairs, he’d do push-ups from fucking ledges and it would be crazy watching him. We were just sitting there drinking beer! We were not in the same mindset at all.”
Image: Press
Foregone reintegrates some of that old-school In Flames heaviness, and there’s some speculation that Chris, with his history in thrash bands like Megadeth, is partly responsible for that. Is that true?
Björn: “If you see us live, absolutely. That’s where you can see how it is. The record was written before Chris put his solos on there, but he has elevated the songs to a level that we couldn’t have taken it to ourselves. There’s so much skill and thought behind the melodies and solos.”
Chris: “While he’s being so kind, you have to remember that every heavy riff and melody that you hear on Foregone, Björn wrote.”
Björn: “I like the process of writing, especially when we’re in a good flow and all that, but I do not like the studio part. Recording turns this free, inspirational creativity into work: it’s mechanical. It’s on stage where these songs come alive and that’s where this line-up is the best we’ve ever had.”
Björn, don’t you prefer writing melodies to solos?
Björn: “Yeah, I can’t shred at a million miles an hour. It’s very ad hoc: if I know there are three solos missing on a record, I’ll sit down with a part and start building a melody. It’s usually a melody that I build a solo around. I never aspired to be a shredder; it’s all about the melody.”
Chris, because you contributed solos to Foregone and solo’d in Megadeth, is that your favourite part of guitar playing?
Chris: “It’s interesting, because that’s where I spend the bulk of my practice time. It’s a big focus of mine and I do love soloing, but to me it’s more of a compositional tool. While I love fast playing, I believe that there should be a very melodic component to it. I grew up with the classic shredders and I love that playing, but Björn and I were talking about Dream Theater’s album Awake the other day. We both love that CD, but my favourite song on it is The Mirror, which doesn’t have a solo on it.”

A lot of the aggression on Foregone came from anger over the state of the world during the pandemic…
Björn: “The first two, three months were extremely frustrating. We had a big meeting just a few months before the pandemic where we laid out the next year-and-a-half touring-, travel- and recording-wise. It was all going to be super-smooth for the first time in 15 years, then the pandemic hit. It felt like getting kicked in the nuts; I felt useless because I wasn’t creative and I couldn’t see live music.”
What guitars did you use on Foregone?
Björn: “I use a signature Epiphone. It was basically built as an absolute copy of the Gibson Les Paul I played for thousands of shows. I don’t know how many records I did with it. The first or second prototype that I got is still the one that’s in my studio. I’m super-happy with it, it’s an awesome guitar for me.”
Chris: “I bring my signature series Jackson to the party. I can’t say enough about it. I worked really hard on its design.”
Do you think the sound of Foregone and the new line-up mark a new era for In Flames?
Björn: “To see this as different eras, you need to be outside of it for a bit. I am in this all the time so I see it as the same era. I don’t have to look back because I’ve done all that. I know exactly what we’ve done in the past musically and hopefully I’ve learnt from it.”Chris: “The one thing you want to understand about In Flames is that they have had crew members who’ve been around since ’95. They’ve got so many people that have been here for longer than I’ve known Björn, but having new members like Tanner [Wayne, In Flames’ drummer] and Bryce [Paul, bassist] can’t help but influence things. Rest assured, though, you’re always gonna get your Swedish metal fix from Björn over here.”
Foregone is out on 10th February via Nuclear Blast Records.
The post “Chris learnt 15 songs in two days”: In Flames on new album Foregone and hiring ex-Megadeth player Chris Broderick appeared first on Guitar.com | All Things Guitar.

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