Björn Gelotte: “Gibson asked if I wanted to do a signature. I was flattered but most people who listen to our music won’t pay $4,000 for a guitar. I wanted something affordable“

Björn Gelotte
(Image credit: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Sweden is a country well-known for producing world-class metal acts, but few if any have been as globally influential as Gothenburg’s melodeath originators In Flames. 

Guitarist Björn Gelotte reveals how he achieved the huge tones on new album Foregone – and how he’s playing better with ex-Megadeth shredder Chris Broderick at his side.

This new album feels more thick and metallic, and arguably less experimental than its predecessor...

“I think mostly that comes down the production. We never really know what’s going to happen, the writing sessions turn into demo recordings and then we end up in the studio, where we’ll carry on writing. It’s a very organic thing.

“I think our last album I, The Mask was more rock-sounding because of the mix. This time we wanted to sound big and sound metal, and it ended up being possibly the best-sounding record we’ve done.“

You’re known for using Gibson Les Paul Customs and prototype Marshalls in the studio. Is that still the case?

“For these sessions, we were open to trying different things. I can’t play a lot of amps I use in the studio live because I need a lot of gain. I don’t want that typical Marshall sound, with mids that sound like tossing Lego on a tiled floor! I hate those frequencies. 

“The prototype Marshalls I own do not have that sound. I mixed them with other things, from 5150s for that beefy aggression to stuff like Oranges and Wizards. For leads, ever since [1996 album] The Jester Race I’ve always loved using a rack-mounted SansAmp, maybe some wah or delay. I’m not a gear nerd! I just know what sounds right for me.“

So what was your main guitar?

“I used my prototype signature Epiphone Les Paul Custom, which I recorded the last few albums with. It’s one of the first ones they made and such an awesome guitar. Before, I had been using my Gibson Custom. I refretted it once and it was time to do it again. I realised it wouldn’t make it much longer. 

“A while back Gibson asked if I wanted to do a signature. I was flattered but it made no real point – most people who listen to our music won’t pay $4,000 for a guitar. I wanted something affordable. Epiphone said they could make it happen with a few adjustments. Basically, the coating is not the same and the headstock is different, but everything else is exactly like my Gibson.”

I don’t know how Dave Mustaine does it, finding these incredibly talented guys. Chris is insane, as is his replacement Kiko

You hired ex-Megadeth guitarist Chris Broderick for a tour in 2019. Now he’s a full member of In Flames.

“I don’t know how Dave Mustaine does it, finding these incredibly talented guys. Chris is insane, as is his replacement Kiko [Loureiro] who is doing a killer job right now. We’ve known Chris for over 20 years, since he was in Jag Panzer and Nevermore. He’s extremely hard-working. If he can, he’ll play eight hours a day... in between workouts! It’s been so inspiring. 

“I’ve never played as much guitar as I do now... my fucking calluses! It’s a bit like having a guitar teacher with me on the road. For this album, he didn’t do any rhythms, but I asked him if he wanted to do solos and was happy when he said yes. He was super-prepared. He probably had it all written down on sheet paper. He’s funny that way, but very organised!”

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Amit Sharma

Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences as a guitar player. He's worked for magazines like Kerrang!Metal HammerClassic RockProgRecord CollectorPlanet RockRhythm and Bass Player, as well as newspapers like Metro and The Independent, interviewing everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handled lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).