INTERVJU: Chris Broderick i In Flames

Starx före In Flames äntrade scenen på Hovet i Stockholm satt vi ner med gitarristen Chris Broderick. Det blev snack om bland annat glömda pass, vad han lärde sig efter tiden i Megadeth, hur han vill vara Yngwie till den ibland något för avslappnade stilen i In Flames:

I will tell you, the difference between this camp and other bands I´ve been in prior to this, is that it´s very laidback and that´s both really cool and also annoying at the same time. It´s super cool because you get on and it´s like you´re playing with your friends. There´s no real pressure and there´s no expectation that you have to perform at a certain level or anything like that. The annoying stuff is that there is also very little information about what your daily schedule is going to be and what you should be doing or if there´s going to be a new song added or anything like that, so it can definitely keep you on your toes.

Did you bring your passport this time? (Chris forgot his passport on his way to Sweden Rock Festival last summer which made him arrive late to the festival)

You know, I did of course, says Chris laughing. Last time was so annoying because right after we left the hotel I asked “Hey, do I need my passport for this?” and they were like “Well, maybe, I don´t know. I don´t think so.” Then we drove all the way to the border, to then find out that of course you do. I will tell you that one of the other cars had somebody that didn´t have their passport in it, but he was Swedish so they just let him in.

What´s it like being in a band with two Swedes? There is a cultural difference between Americans and Swedes, how you look at things and so on.

I don´t know that I can detect the differences other than that I see the way Anders and Björn are, like super laidback. I will tell you, the difference between this camp and other bands I´ve been in prior to this, is that it´s very laidback and that´s both really cool and also annoying at the same time. It´s super cool because you get on and it´s like you´re playing with your friends. There´s no real pressure and there´s no expectation that you have to perform at a certain level or anything like that. The annoying stuff is that there is also very little information about what your daily schedule is going to be and what you should be doing  or if there´s going to be a new song added or anything like that, so it can definitely keep you on your toes.

In my opinion, the new album “Foregone” is the best sounding album In Flames has put out in a long time, so I guess it´s because of your contributions?

(laughs) I would love to take credit for it, but quite honestly I think it was a mix of just the songs themselves, where the songs wanted to be in terms of how hard they hit, and the fact that they´re fairly guitar driven this go round, and Anders contributing to the mix and how he wanted it to sound in the mastering. I love “I, the mask” (2019) and I think it´s got great songs on it, but I think the mix for “Foregone” sounds a lot heavier and a lot more guitar driven.

Anders is a great lyricist, but  did it ever come up that he would ask you how you say things and stuff like that?

No, not at all and I would have to assume at this point that Anders knows what´s going to translate well. I have done that for friends that are German natives and stuff like that and it´s great, but it´s so hilarious to me because a lot of the times it´s like “You have a better grasp of English than some Americans do.” But Anders he´s got it down.

Back when you got the call to join the band in 2018, was it Anders or Björn who made the call or was it all just through management?

I´ve heard Björn tell the story from their end so I´ll give a little bit of that side of it, but on my side of it, it was really just a friend of their management… actually, she programs iTunes´ metal department and she´s a friend and she called up asking if I´d be interested or not and I was like “Yeah! I know Björn and Anders so that would be great.” I had the time and everything so I was like “Sure, I´d love to fill in.” What I hear from Björn is, is that as soon as they heard that I had shown some interest, it was like “Yeah, let´s go with Chris.” It was pretty cool and that was literally two to three days before the tour started, so that was insane. Parts were swimming in my head like you wouldn´t believe.

You must´ve been working on that stuff day and night?

Pretty much. With a huge dose of humility in terms of trying to temper your expectations of how well it´s going to come out at that first show, but I was pleased actually with the first show. But it was literally like Björn would call out a song name and I was like “Which parts go with that song name?” I had worked on so many songs and I knew them and I had formatted them, but I didn´t know them to the song name. It was pretty interesting. Anyway, it was fun and that lead us to today.

Going back to when you started out. I read that you got started around 11. Was there a certain album that kind of pushed you in that direction when it comes to picking up the guitar?

You know what´s funny? I wish that´s how I got introduced to the guitar. I mean, I still love the way I was introduced to the guitar, but to me, I started playing the guitar purely out of just loving the guitar itself. I had basically formed some new friendships and they all played and my best friend played guitar, so I started going over to his house and I was like “Let´s play your guitar!” and I was always nagging him to play his guitar and it wasn´t any particular band that was inspiring me, it was just something about the guitar I really liked. Then  from there I started making the correlation to all these rock and metal bands that some of my older brothers were trying to influence me with and some of my friends and stuff like that. That´s really how I got introduced to it.

Is there any album that later had a real impression on you?

Oh yeah, there were a lot of them and there still are a lot of them. Anytime you hear a unique guitar technique and hear something that is invented, that´s an influence on you. In my very starting years, it was Van Halen. Van Halen I and II. I actually think the first Van Halen record I had was “Women and children first” oddly enough. You don´t hear that one mentioned too much, but that was the first one I had on vinyl and then I went backwards to II and I. From there I pretty quickly got into Yngwie Malmsteen and I wanted to be Yngwie forever and still do. Then I got into progressive bands and all the other guitar shredders like Jason Becker and Paul Gilbert and then I would have to say that one of the most formative CDs of my senior year in high school was King Diamond´s “Them” with Mikkey Dee and Andy LaRoque. Such a great album and I can still listen to that CD today and go “It sounds so cool!”

Have you ever had the chance to meet Yngwie?

I´ve elected to purposefully not meet him, just because I want to keep… I want to have that esteem and I want to maintain that esteem, so I don´t want to risk it and I think most people know why.

A guy like Eddie Van Halen, when you talk to guitar players most of them look at him as he was from another world and he was truly one of a kind. Do you look at him in that way too?

Absolutely, because I think if you look at him from a technical or a theoretical standpoint you might be like “Yeah, he´s efficient in these areas and maybe he didn´t really know theory that well or anything like that.”, but the thing is that the guy had a such a great ear and a great sense of rhythm and then he was so inventive on the guitar. I tend to think of like… not only his tapping and maybe he popularized tapping, but even more than that, if you look at his intro to “Fair warning” (hums Mean Street intro), that stuff to me is like “What made him think “Ah man, I´m going to like almost slap and tap these harmonics in this rhythmic fashion.”? That´s phenomenal to me. That´s inventive.

When you started out playing did you try to play “Eruption” like a lot of other guitarists did?

Yes, to a degree. In my very early years I was definitely all about that and then I started to go the very schooled route and I was taking lessons, classical guitar lessons and I ultimately went to college for a guitar degree, so once I started going down that path, I got very into the technical side of just trying to really formalize my technique, so I got probably to far removed from figuring out songs, because that´s a very valid way to get better as a musician. But I think you need both. I think you should spend a lot of time really making sure that you understand your technique and what´s efficient about it and what you need to work on with it and what are the most economical ways to improve would be and then the other side of it is that you really need to spend time playing music. There were a number of years when I think I was too far removed from playing other people´s music.

You grew up in Lakewood, Colorado right?

That´s where I was born, yeah. It´s on the western side of Denver, so it´s almost in what they would call the foot hills that leads to the Rocky Mountains.

Did you ever check out any shows at McNichols Arena in Denver? I found this fb page dedicated to that arena and there´s a guy called John Vinson who posts tons of really cool shots from back in the 80´s and 90´s.

Yeah, I went and saw Van Halen there in 1984 and I was actually pissed, because  David Lee Roth forgot all the lyrics to like every song, “I forgot the fucking lyrics aahhh!” And I´m like “Really?” It was one of my first concerts and I even bought a shirt there and it got stolen. I was outside and had just left the show, had my shirt in my hand and this bunch of kids just ran, swiped it and kept running.

Did you do all the solos on the new album? I heard something about that.

Not all of them no. I did a really good amount and more than I was expecting to. They had told me that they were starting to work on the next CD and I was like “I hope they might ask me to play a solo.” And then oddly enough when they were in LA working on it, we all went to see Yngwie. We went there to go see him and he cancelled, but anyway, at that night Björn was like “Hey, would you be interested in playing a solo or maybe two?” and I was like “Yeah, that would be awesome!”, but then when they really started to make the CD happen, Björn was like “I´ve got another one for you!” and then another one and another one, so I think I played a really good amount of the solos for the CD.

Do you live in LA?

Yeah, I live in LA in a suburb north of Encino called Lake Balboa.

All you read about LA these days is about all the celebrities moving out of LA.

I say – let them move. The only thing I don´t like about LA is traffic. It´s an awesome city and I love the climate. The people there… I´d always been warned like “People in LA will burn you and blah blah blah!”, but if you just hang out with friends and so, they´re super considerate and super nice.

You hear that it´s a city that can eat you up.

I´ve heard that too. Maybe. If you´re trying to establish yourself as a performer or an artist and then you´ve got 5000 other people trying to do the same thing, maybe you can feel like it´s all competition against you, but for me, I never viewed it that way. I moved there with my girlfriend and I was already somewhat established in the industry. I was just doing my thing and trying to get guitar students at the time, so it was good.

What is something you learned from working with a guy like Dave Mustaine, who´s been in the business forever? Anything you took away from that experience of being in Megadeth?

I took a lot away from it, because it really showed me that there is a lot more to music than the music, which I both appreciated and hated at the same time. Prior to thatI was just like “I´m a musician! I´m a guitarist and I play the guitar.” And when I joined Megadeth and got into that camp, it really showed me how interested people are in your personality and who you are as an individual and that was shocking to me. How you present yourself and stuff like that, so that´s like one of the biggest things I learned from my time in Megadeth.

Last thing. How did you look at the whole pandemic? Were there moments when you thought you might never play live again?

No, I never questioned or looked that far into it. I was definitely bummed that I wasn´t able to tour. We had literally just left like… my birthday is on March 6 and I had a party on that night, then March 7 got on a flight to go to Russia to play Moscow and St Petersburg and when I landed in Moscow they were like “Did you get tested?” and I was like “Tested for what?” and they said “They´re testing for the Covid virus.” So we went and played in Moscow and then we went to St Petersburg and then we flew to Auckland, New Zealand and we were just ready to make the shows happen and we started to hear things and whispers and there were a couple of days off before our shows and I remember working out in the hotel gym and they had the tv on with news and the parliament was talking about closing down any shows over 500 people and I´m like “Wait, that would be us!” By the time we were supposed to play the show, they were talking about shutting down the US so they put us on a plane and got us back home as soon as possible. So the touring aspect of it sucked, but for my part I just fell right back into my online teaching, so I was extremely fortunate because I didn´t lose any close family members. I knew some people that passed away from Covid, but they were more friends of friends. That sucked, but for my part I was able to maintain my teaching and my girlfriend and I basically just would go do these reclusive camping trips and just go hiking and hanging out. But I am glad to see where back out here and we have 6000 people here right now going crazy to Orbit Culture and Imminence and At The Gates. I can´t wait to see them when we step up on stage.

Text: Niclas Müller-Hansen

Foto: Björn Olsson (Chris), Therés Stephansdotter Björk (In Flames live), John Vinson (Van Halen 84 stage)