In Flames' Drummer Daniel Svensson on Golfing with Alice Cooper

It's no secret that the Swedish brand of death-metal and its innumerable sub-dialects have had a massive impact on the heavy music world. But, occasionally, In Flames is left out of the conversation. The band grew from the same scene that sold a million Boss Hm-2 pedals via the exploits of bands like At the Gates and other more aggressive bands. In Flames took a more melodic path to metal glory. 

Though the band's sound has morphed several times over the years, its early discography is still considered by many to be a benchmark of the melodic death-metal style. We spoke with golf enthusiast and drummer, Daniel Svensson, as he relaxed at home in Gothenburg about the band's sonic evolution, what exactly is in the water in Sweden that makes for such high-quality metal, and rumors of a new recorded offering from In Flames in 2013. 

New Times: How have you been?

Daniel Svensson: Been good! Been nice having a couple of weeks off for during the holidays after the last tour, which was pretty long, so, it's good to recharge the batteries before the next run, so to speak. 

Have you been playing a lot of golf?

I try to, as much as I can, but the golf season in Sweden is not that long. And, it's tough to fit in the schedule, even when I'm back home because I have kids, and if you're away so much, you want to spend as much time as possible with them.

But, while on tour -- if we find good courses -- we try to play as much as we can. 

So you bring your clubs on tour then?

Sometimes we do, yeah. I think it was two summers ago when we played the Mayhem tour, we brought the clubs. But during the wintertime, we don't because we can only play in like Texas and Florida. 

If it could be arranged, would you go head to head with Alice Cooper in match? 

Anders already did when Alice was in Stockholm! 

No chance! Who won?

I don't know, Alice is a really good golf player, even though he is getting old. He's been playing for a long time. I think we have the same golf endorser in Callaway, so, they hooked them up -- Alice and Anders. It was pretty cool! 

You've said the Florida death-metal scene was a big part of your musical upbringing. What bands really got you started?

Personally, Deicide. That was one of the first bands I listened to, and that's the band that I played along with the most in the beginning when I started to play the drums. Then I tried to catch up with all of the bands that recorded at Morrisound, because there was -- for me at least -- a quality proof. You definitely knew what you got when you picked up a CD and it was recorded at Morrisound. 

Do you feel that Colony was a turning point for the band towards the current direction of the music, and do you feel your switching to drums and Bjorn taking over guitar was a major part of that sonic change?

I think Colony and that era was a big turning point for In Flames. I don't know musically, but before that album, In Flames was more like a side project, basically. It was first on Jester Race that In Flames got some steady members, but some of those didn't really want to tour. 

When I joined, it was right before Colony and we had five guys that were really committed to tour as much as possible and see how far we could bring this music because we felt that we had something special. You can't just be in your rehearsing room practicing and then sometimes release an album, you need to get out on the road. We decided to do that after the release of Colony, and I think that was the most important thing, and then, secondly, came the music itself. But I think that transition was more important than the sound of that album.

Do you ever see the band moving back towards the older sound a little bit, with a little more of the death metal vocals and a little more of the aggression? 

Time will tell. We use songs that produce albums that we see interesting today, we write songs that enjoy playing, and whether it is more growling or less growling, that is not really important -- we don't really say before recording that "this time, we need more clean vocals or less guitar solos." We write songs that we feel represent what we stand for today, and songs that we can perform in front of our fans and that's not cheating. 

I saw that Anders has mentioned the possibility of a new record in 2013. Any more word on that and have you guys started writing yet?

No, we won't have time to release an album this year, but most likely get one out next year. Hopefully we will record it this year. We are going to be on tour until at least the end of the summer, and we're not a band that can write on the road. We have to wait until we get back home, and for the tour cycle to end this chapter so to speak. 

In Flames is going to be on the 70k Tons of Metal Cruise coming up. As a metal fan, are there any bands you're really excited to see perform?

To be honest, I don't really know who else is playing! (laughs)

Have you guys played a cruise before?

No, it's the first cruise we've ever played! We're not really big fans of these things because (I think) the live show suffers a little bit, and we're keen on looking and sounding good all of the time. We've built the reputation of being a good live band, which I think we are, but this is a special occasion and we know a lot of bands who have played these shows and they say it's pretty cool and that the fans appreciate it and take it for what it is. They know it's not your show and they accept the compromises you have to make on these kinds of stages, so we decided to make it happen this time.

For being a relatively small place, Sweden -- and Gothenburg specifically -- has put out a staggering amount of influential bands. Can you offer any insight into why this is the case?

It is, and it was a good climate, for young people to start bands. We pay a lot of taxes in Sweden, and sometimes you can actually benefit from that. When we grew up, you could form a band and we got lent drum kits and rehearsal spaces at youth centers which helped and created a lot of new bands, so I think that's a big part of it. It's fucking expensive if you want to start a band and have no one to help you, so it's a very good climate for up and coming bands in Sweden. 

In Flames with Demon Hunter, All Shall Perish, Battlecross, Mendacity. 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $24 in advance, $27 at the door. Visit

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David Von Bader