Interview with In Flames’ Björn Gelotte

With Ramfest only just behind us, In Flames‘ performances in both Johannesburg and Cape Town are still very fresh in many metalhead’s minds. Metal4Africa.com was fortunate enough to have a brief chat with lead guitarist Björn Gelotte before their Cape Town set.

Metal4Africa: How does it feel to be in South Africa?

Björn Gelotte: It’s our first time here and it’s been absolutely amazing experience! It’s a wonderful country, wonderful people. Everyone we have met so far has been really accomodating and they find it fascinating that we’ve never been here before. It’s been fantastic! We had a great couple of days off in Johannesburg, we had time to do some safaris, lion parks… yeah, just enjoying ourselves. We came from a really long Europe tour, all in all almost eight weeks before we came here so we’re on the ninth week right now, almost nine weeks.

M4A: Since you’ve had such a good experience so far, would you guys want to come back?

BG: Oh yeah! Yesterday was an amazing show in Johannesburg and there were a lot of people there. It doesn’t look like there’s the same amount of people here today, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a really good show.

M4A: What is your perception of the crowds in South Africa? A lot of people overs eas are always amazed when they hear there are metal bands in South Africa and there’s all this music coming out of the country. What are your thoughts on the more neglected territories in the global music scene?

BG: The only thing I knew about South Africa before was what my friends told me, and they’ve been here on more club shows – Entombed and stuff like that – and those have been slightly smaller shows and they had an amazing time as well. Lots of off time which is always nice when you come to a country like this, to actually explore it. But I didn’t know really if there were any South African bands or a healthy metal community. This is not really a metal festival, it’s more rock going to heavy rock. But I had no idea there were so many people into that kind of music. That’s maybe because I’m ignorant or it’s probably due to the fact that there’s so little knowledge of this community musically. We go to the US all the time, and tour Europe, we tour Asia, Australia several times, South America and we’ve just never been to Africa.

M4A: Not even North Africa?

BG: No, this is our first time and it’s been a very, very pleasant experience.

M4A: Can you give any pointers for bands down here trying to get out there and make a name for themselves outside of South Africa?

BG: I don’t know how it works here but for us or even in the US I think the one rule of thumb is to get all the shows you can. You expose yourself to people, not only to the audience but also to other bands so that they might want to bring you outside of your normal territory and just be ready to not turn a fucking dime for many years and then hopefully with hard work and not giving up… Do what you believe in and make sure you are seen. You can be the best band in the world but if you’re in the rehearsal room, who knows? Any chance to be in a live environment is good.

M4A: Thank you very much for your time, and have a great show!

And have a great show they did. Launching forth with a collection of songs off the latest album Sounds of a Playground Fading and throwing in a liberal mix of the older tracks, the crowd was absolutely electric. Here’s to Ramfest for once again pulling off an excellent event and to In Flames for giving Cape Town and Jo’burg truly memorable performances!