Fredrik Nordström – The Gothenburg Man

Fredrik Nordström – The Gothenburg Man

Chapter: Fredman & Sound Engineering

Which are the albums that induced you to get involved into sound engineering? How would you compare the era of analogue sound with the digitalized era? Which one do you prefer soundwise during the recording sessions?

Fredrik: Wow! Well, one album I remember for sure that was like “sound changing” for me, was the “Black Album” from METALLICA. That’s actually an album which, even if I was already making recordings at that time, it inspired me to move on forward.

How would you compare the era of analog sound with the digitalized era? Which one do you prefer, soundwise, during your recording sessions?

Fredrik: Oohh! This is so hard! There are not only good things happening with the digital stuff. There are not! But there are absolutely not only good things with the analog stuff either. It’s so much easier to record the guitar stuff for example (ps. digitally). So, if I have to choose “analog” or “digital”, I would go “digital”.

When you were making all those recordings in the early-mid 90’s, were you expecting that they would affect the global metal scene, musical wise but also with your sound-engineering technics??

Fredrik: No. But I noticed that when we did “Slaughter Of The Soul” suddenly people from different countries were interested to come and record an album, a thing that had never happened before. Back in the days I worked so much, I was like 12 hours – 7 days a week in the studio! At least!!!

After all those years in the recording business, what keeps you inspired and excited to continue being a producer?

Fredrik: The thing that you can always be better. You can always do better stuff!

As a producer, can you tell us what your actual power over the band is? Is the producer’s word the “law” during a recording or is it strictly as an advisor?

Fredrik: It depends on the band. Some bands need a lot of advice, help with arrangements and so on…some other bands use me as a “tool” to reach their goals, because they’ve already set up their goals. That also make this job “fun” because it’s a dynamic work. With a new band, you don’t know exactly what’s gonna happen…

Which band was the one that didn’t want any opinion from you and just wanted what they had in their mind?

Fredrik: The early THE HAUNTED album that we did. They knew what they wanted. And after some albums, they’ve asked for advice because they felt like they wanna move on. So my advice was: “don’t move soft, stay hard!” and they were like: “[email protected] you, we are tired of playing so fast all the time!!!”… hehehe

So what do you feel about THE HAUNTED‘s last albums? Do you believe that they are of the same quality as the first ones?

Fredrik: I don’t know because I had’ t listened to them. That’s the thing when you are working in music like 10 hours every day…you don’t go home and put on an album and enjoy it. I’ll watch television or something else…The only thing I listen to is actually in my car, rock and pop radio stations.

When did you first open Studio Fredman? In the beginning it was a really small studio, just to record your own music?

Fredrik: That’s true. I’ve opened the studio in the beginning of 90’s, I think 1989. I wanted to expand in the 90’s and then we had a financial crisis, so I remember that…

How are things going nowadays at your studio? With which bands have you been working lately?

Fredrik: I have done a very good band actually. The band is called THE OFFERING. Their new album is out so if you are into “crazy” stuff, you should check this out! I have done also an Australian “Pirate” Metal band called LAGERSTEIN. That’s something you should try to see live. That’s an amazing live band. They are also a good band but they are amazing live, with the show they have!

Hammerfall @ studiofredman

Is the work at your studio as hellish as it used to be during the 90’s?

Fredrik: No. It’s softer now. Also there are many bands recording at their homes. The music business doesn’t look as it did back in the 90’s. 

From all the musicians you have worked with, which one was the most dedicated, hard-working and obedient and who “made your life difficult” in a way, either in technical issues or due to his peculiar character?

Fredrik: I think ARCHITECTS is the most hard-working band, for sure. “With technical issues” I think it should be BRING ME THE HORIZON.

What is the most intense recording you ever done? What makes you mad during a recording session?

Fredrik: I don’t remember the name of that band. It was actually a Greek band. That was a very intense recording! The thing that makes me mad in a recording is when people think that they can play, but they can’t! That makes me upset! That normally goes for singers, to be honest. They haven’t practice to sing clean vocals at all and then they start singing clean vocals and I ask “have you practiced anything before” and they answer “no”! But it’s not like growling, this is a thing you have to practice for. They start singing out of key and out of time…[email protected]! That makes me really mad!

Have you ever regretted for any of your productions? And what would you change in it, if you could?

Fredrik: There is always stuff you want to do better. That’s also the reason I go on and I don’t work as a plumber or whatever… I think maybe a couple of mixes I’ve done for a Canadian band called STRIKER, because I think I was “rocking” more in the studio than mixing. Hehe!

In which album can we find the best guitar sound you’ve ever created? Which do you believe is the best production you’ve ever accomplished?

Fredrik: Hm….I think AT THE GATES‘ sound in the guitar is very good, THE HAUNTED also! But also in the “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” album of DIMMU BORGIR they had very cool guitar sound. Talking about the best production in total, it must be the album “Death Cult Armageddon” again of DIMMU BORGIR! That was a BIG thing!

How it feels being a part of Melodic Death Metal’s creation? What is your opinion about how the melodic Death Metal sounds nowadays?

Fredrik: I think that there are some bands like…for example I haven’t listened to the latest NIGHTRAGE’s album but, if we go back 10 years ago and people asked me “how does the Gothenburg-sound sounds like?” I would say “LISTEN TO NIGHTRAGE!!!”.

That’s cool! Marios Iliopoulos would be happy to hear this! Let’s move on to another question now. In which group of the 80’s would you wish to be the producer? Especially in metal but also in all kinds of music.

Fredrik: If I can just peak any band I would like to record an AC/DC album. 

And if you should chose a Heavy Metal band?

Fredrik: VAN HALEN.

Have you checked any of the modern producers? For example Jens Bogren, Kurt Ballou, Matt Bayles, Brendan O’Brien, Tue Madsen. Any opinion about them?

Fredrik Nordström & Michael Amott during ARCH ENEMY’s “Black Earth” recordings. 1996

Fredrik: Hehe…I’ll keep that for myself! I think there are some guys that do a really good job! I think Andy Sneap is a very good producer that I would like to mention. I’ve noticed the last days that people are working very much with templates. For example, they have the “snare drum sound” and they use it on the production, and so on…which makes stuff boring. I never do that! I always start from the scratch, because I want to try new stuff, every time! Many times I go back to what I did the previous times but I don’t use to save presets, making fresh sounds all the time.

Now that you are talking about snare drums, an extra–bonus question! What do you believe about the snare drums on METALLICA’s “…And Justice For All” album??? In general, how would you characterize the production of this album?

Fredrik: In general, what I think Bob Rock did with the band (ps. in “Black Album”), is that he took the previous albums’ production and he actually listened to it, to find the sound of the band. He cut down all the unnecessary things, focusing on the music to make their sound so much better.

Black Metal music. If I’m not wrong, you have produced albums for a very small number for bands in your whole career, including DIMMU BORGIR, OLD MAN’S CHILD and LORD BELIAL. Why has this happened? Aren’t you a fan of this kind of music?

Fredrik: Hm…No. When this kind of music showed up back in the days, it felt like the bands were more into having a “cool image” than actually play music. I said NO to most of those bands, I didn’t do even CRADLE OF FILTH from which I was asked two times! First time I didn’t have the time needed and the second time I told them “I listen to your stuff and we need to rearrange this, to be more catchy” and then they were like “No, no, no, that’s not gonna happen!” And I was also like “then maybe we shouldn’t do and album together….”. I’ve heard so many Black Metal bands and it’s more like “punk-rock of Death Metal” kind of, if you understand what I mean. Of course that’s totally different with bands like DIMMU BORGIR or OLD MAN’S CHILD.

What is your opinion about the Greek Metal scene? About the groups but also the crowd? Ηave you given any live show in Greece with your band?

Fredrik: Ι’ve never met the crowd of the Greek Metal scene. I’ve never played live with my own band, unfortunately. But I think that the Greek Metal scene is doing better than the Greek things are doing by themselves to be honest (ps. meaning the Greek society).

Chapter: Bands – Recordings

DREAM EVIL. A band that you express your musical feelings since the late 90’s. You’ve created the band back in 1999 together with Gus G., whom you met luckily during your vacations in Greece. What is going on with DREAM EVIL nowadays? Are you satisfied with the evolution of the band till now?

Fredrik: Actually we are planning to record a new album. We are gonna get together in autumn and start writing songs. We also have a new drummer in the band that is very very good, so everybody is very inspired to do stuff, a thing that was not always the case the last 5 years.

Fredrik Nordström

Are you satisfied from the evolution of DREAM EVIL till now?

Fredrik: Heh…I don’t know if we have evolved so much, to be honest and I’m not sure if we want to evolve either! We have the band more like a “hobby” thing.

The first album you’ve ever created as a producer & sound engineer was ‘The Book of Truth’, back in 1993 with CEREMONIAL OATH. Jesper Stromlad and Oscar Dronjak were participating in this band. What can you remember from those days and your first steps as a producer?

Fredrik: I remember that the guys were at the studio and they were playing so much “notes & stuff”, that I didn’t really get what was going on! When I actually remixed that album, I realized that it’s so untied!

It was a great era! Very true and authentic!

Fredrik: Oh yes! That was the time of tape trading days! When people was trading tapes and stuff like that. Very underground scene!

AT THE GATES. 1995. “Slaughter Of The soul” album. The bible of Swedish Melodic Death Metal sound! What does this album means to you? As a producer but also as a fan of metal music?

Fredrik: Back in the days it meant so much! But now, these days you can even meet kids that haven’t heard about that album…and I am like “Ok!”. But I’m not sure that…if you come into “Melodic Death Metal”, I thing that this specific album stands out a little bit comparing to DARK TRANQUILLITY and IN FLAMES.  

I think that those bands you’ve just mentioned were the leaders in the Melodic Death Metal sound! What can you remember from the recording sessions of “Slaughter Of The Soul? Any kind of stories from that time?

Fredrik: No. Not really. Everybody was working so hard to make it sound like a “machine”. And back in the days we recorded on tape, without “kick track”. So there was a lot of hard work to make that sound.

All those sounds in the intros like in “Blinded By Fear”, were your ideas or the group’s ideas?

Fredrik: The intros actually came from the band. And there was also those film samples in between the songs but we had to remove them because of label writes.

Did you feel back then that this album would be a classic afterwards?

Fredrik: No, but I’ve showed if to some friends and everybody said it’s a really really good album. It was a lot of enjoyable good music. But you’d never know what’ s gonna happen. That’s the thing with music…

So, lets talk about IN FLAMES. One of the biggest metal bands that Sweden has ever had. You have been working with them from their first steps of their career. “Lunar Strain” album was your first cooperation. First of all, how do you compare the music of IN FLAMES back in the 90’s and the music they produce now? What do you thing about their latest works and “I, the Mask” album?

Fredrik: I haven’t heard so much from their latest album. However it doesn’t sound bad. I think that this album (p.s. “I The Mask”) is better than the previous one.

Is it just a coincidence that your last work with them, “Clayman” album, is the last respected album from their old school fans?

Fredrik: No, it’s not a coincidence. Because I think that they always try to change. And I was like “guys…you have a concept here! Speak with that! We’ve worked this concept together. We can develop of course but we should develop from the foundation of that concept…”. While Anders wanted to do…I don’t know…Hip-Hop?? Hehehe!

Yes, he wanted to move more into the “American sound” or something like that!

Fredrik: Yes, exactly!

I think that’s the big difference with DARK TRANQUILLITY, a band that never left its musical character, that character that made them be loved from the old school fans. Would you ever like to work again with IN FLAMES?

Fredrik: Yea, maybe! Hehe! I’ve had got the question from other band members of IN FLAMES, but not from Anders. Me and Andrers had some conflict I don’t know about. I’ve got the question but it seems that it’s not gonna happen.

IN FLAMES: “The Jester Race”. This album for me is included at the top 3 of the Gothenburg sound. Can you tell us some things about the recording sessions of this album and all the memories you have from the young IN FLAMES??

Fredrik: The memories from that recording is that we did EVERYTHING two times! We had to redo the guitars because they were not interknitted well and then, when we stopped recording the bass we realized that we have to record the bass again because it was also not interknitted! After that, we tried to show Anders a different way of singing so when he came to the last second of the last song he was like “Oh, now I get what you mean, this would be so much better! Let’s do everything again!”. EVERYTHING in two weeks! Lastly, I had an analog gear and an analog mixing console and when I had everything mixed and ready, my son (he was 5 years old), came to the studio and changed everything!

Truly bad luck! Lets’s go to the band OPETH now. You’ve produced their finest albums, from “My Arms Your Hears” till “Deliverance” album. What’s your opinion for this musical genius that’s called Mikael Akerfeld?

Fredrik: He is a great musician! He is a great guitar player and a great singer!

Do you like OPETH’s change of musical direction a their last 3 albums?

Fredrik: I hadn’t listen to them at all, to be honest…For me, back in the days I loved the part where there were no screaming vocals even if he (Mikael) has one of the mightiest voices as a screamer. I loved the “soft” acoustic parts. They did it so well!

In my opinion Mikael has one of the best clean voices…

Fredrik: Yeah, but he also has one of the best “screaming” voices!!

DARK TRANQUILLITY. “The Gallery” album. We named our page with that name, in order to honor this masterpiece of Melodic Death Metal! What can you remember from the recording sessions of this album, back in 1995?

Fredrik: We were quite drunk during that recording! Hehehe! Not during the recording itself, but we had a couple of “alcohol” nights outside the studio, me and Mikael. I was carrying him around…

He likes Ouzo very much. Every time he comes to Greece he searches for it!

Fredrik: He likes everything with alcohol I think! But Ouzo is very nice, yes! As for the recording, I do not have any specific memories. I remember that the feeling of the recordings was really good. I remember I saw them live. But I cannot recall any titles. It was surely good! That was a really good album!!

The thing you said explains all those imaginable compositions in there! Did you have any influence on the songs of this album?

Mikael Stanne

Fredrik: Not, not mush really. Its more that we’ve changed small stuff and…you know, everybody has its highlights and I think that was one of their highlights. That album was actually recorded just before we recorded “Slaughter Of the Soul” album!!!

So you worked on TWO masterpieces at the same period??

Fredrik: Yes! I think the big step in my career was when I moved from 16-track tape recorder to 24-track tape recorder.  The first album that was recorded in that machine was “The Gallery” and then we recorded “Slaughter Of The Soul”. However I think “The Gallery” took a little bit more time to be released…

How did the cooperation with EXHUMATION started? Do you believe that this band didn’t have enough support due to the fact that they were from Greece and not from Germany for example? 

Fredrik: They just contacted me in order to record an album and they came to me to do the recordings. I remember we had a very good guitar tone on that album also (ps.”Dance Across The Past”). It was a great experience. If NIGHTRAGE’s first album was called “Sweet Vengeance” its because Marios actually pointed more or less straightforward to his former band members. I believe that Marios has been so dedicated to the music but I think that the rest of the band in EXHUMATION were not feeling the same. I know Marios felt like he was abandoned by his previous band members. He was moving in a different direction, I could say… So, I actually gave him the title for that album: “Sweet Vengeance”

Marios is a good friend of mine. I know that you have helped him a lot at his first days in Sweden. What is your opinion about NIGHTRAGE? Have you heard any of their last albums?

Marios Iliopoulos
Exhumation 1998.
Fredman Studios
Nightrage 2009.
Studio Fredman

Fredrik: No, I haven’t. Even if I have the possibility to listen to music on Facebook, it’s just like I’m coming home after 8-10 hours of work with music, every day, so I don’t listen to music. I’m just happy when I have the option of working with really good bands, in that time of creating music.

DIMMU BORGIR. “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia”. Were you the one that proposed the album’s sound to be heard like this, or was it Shagrath’s & Silenoz’s idea?

Fredrik: I think that this album was like “the step” to the next one. This one was just the “take off” for using the symphonic orchestra. They took in about 14 people from the Gothenburg philharmonic orchestra and then, for the next album, we were all the way with a full orchestra. So I think it was, more or less, everybody’s goal to make something special!

Can you remember how many albums have you produced or mixed?

November 2000.
Silenoz @ Fredman Studios.
“Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” recordings

Fredrik: No I’m not in that. Back in the days it would be like an album in two weeks and that means, more or less, 24 albums per year.

Are they over a thousand?

Fredrik: No, not over a thousand!

Ok. Let’s move on to the last question. LORD BELIAL. “Enter the moonlight gate” back in 1997. Even if you are not so much into Black metal music, you chose to record this album! What’s your opinion about THIS SUPERB MELODIC BLACK METAL BAND?

1997. Lord Belial @ Fredman Studio.
“Enter the Moonlight Gate” recordings

Fredrik: To be honest, I don’t remember so much about their music, but I have strong memories from the band. There was a black metal scene going on in Sweden and the guitar players left this circle and said that “they didn’t want to be with this bullshit any more”. So they were chased by one of the leaders of that “circle” who said that he was going to kill them. So we were sitting in the studio with the band waiting for that guy to show up and I was like fucking scared all the time! Heheh! It would be a nice fight in the studio!

Thank you very much for all those information Fredrik! Your last words to all the readers of THE GALLERY Web Magazine….

Fredrik: Have fun! That’s all I’m trying to do!!

Interview: Alexandros Soultatos
Cover Artwork: Chrysa Antoniadi

External Link: Fredman Studios

Ps. You can listen to the previous interview with Fredrik Nordstrom as a radio podcast at the following link:

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