Slept, slept and slept some more. Kicked back with Camilla, Maya and the cats. Supervised the online store whenever I could. The store is going to be real groovy. We apologize it took such a long time but we hope you will think it is worth it. We’ve worked hard to provide you with a whole bunch of products + the CDs and related stuff like Jonas Hellborg’s catalogue. It simply was no point to open to store with only a couple of shirts to offer. As soon as we got the ball rolling we will invest in even more items. Stay tuned! Hope to have this tuition album ready for downloading before Christmas, almost like a best (or worst) of collection of practice stuff put together over the years for the Freak Guitar Camp CDs.
The guys, Camilla (who’s going with me to Russia) and yours truly paid a visit to the Russian embassy to get the visa process started. We all look forward to go nuts there in October. It was more tricky then we thought to get them and we needed plenty of additional documents, insurance verification, before the actual process would begin so we had to come back. Also, we travel all the time and are in desperate need of our passports which isn’t making things easier.
The day to depart for the US rapidly got closer and we packed our gear together before hooking up at Landvetter airport Thursday the 14th, crap o’ clock in the morning. I’ve travelled like a moron and therefore used and abused my passport to left and right + it was of a weaker type the Swedish authorities had experimented with. No good. The woman at the check-in counter kindly informed me there was no way I’d get into the United States with my soon-to-fall-apart passport. Bummer. She pointed me in the direction of the airport police office where I could get a temporary one but she didn’t know exactly where it was since they moved recently. I gave it a shot and ran in the direction she gave me but, nooooo… No police station. Ran outside, asked more people who said it should be somewhere close but, you guessed right, they didn’t know exactly where. Damn it! Time was running out and I needed to find the freakin’ place. I would be in deep shit if I missed the flight. After a while, running back and forth like a moron, I saw the Swedish police sign in the distance. Rang a bell outside, got an answer from a female police voice inside who kindly informed me I needed to have 980 Swedish crowns in cash, which I didn’t have, being a VISA-card kind of guy. Had to run back into the departure hall and get some hard doe and try again. This time I was let in and briefed the police officer about the problem. She went to work real fast and took the most gruesome photo of me I’ve ever seen. Not that it really mattered. In the end I didn’t have to pay anything since it was a bad passport. Happy I ran away to locate Björn & Chris so we could board the plane.
After travelling via Amsterdam we reached Atlanta. US customs these days is a grand nightmare for non-Americans (being a musician doesn’t really help either). I do understand why security needs to be tight, and to an extent I am grateful about it since I am the guy up there, but I am not sure taking off your shoes about a zillion times and picking up/dropping off the luggage constantly and generally being pushed around is the way to do it. I was happy to read an article in the Washington Post that plenty of US citizens where going nuts about it as well and changes needed to be made to get tourists back. Tricky.
Anyway, the Freak Brothers made it through the passport control but I was sent off to another room intended for Suspicious People; Middle East folks, Indians and Swedish guitar players. After a brief questioning I was let go since the cop behind the counter was a cool dude. Apparently he believed me when I said I wasn’t a bad man, despite my looks, but merely a confused Viking in the US to play with an ass vibrator on stage.
Well outside we were picked up by an insanely large, black limousine, which was a nice treat by Glenn. Way to travel! At first we didn’t really think it was for us but all of a sudden the driver held up a large sign with my name on it. Groovy!
Checked in at the Mariott, got our VIP-passes and headed for the pre-party to see if we could find John Willcoxon and his friend Jimmy.
Outside the venue we more or less bumped into one another. Real good to meet someone you’ve been e-mailing for years. Not only is John a very nice guy, he is also extremely reliable and trusty. I have been searching for a pro HD cam for a while and found one in New York. Originally Jonas was going to pick it up for me (he’s got an apartment there) but all of a sudden it was out of stock and he had to fly somewhere else. So I had the dear HTML-dude place the order from San Francisco, where he lives, when it was available again and then have it sent to Wisconsin where John lives. Then John brought the camera to me in Atlanta. Why make things more complicated than they are, huh? Thank you, again, Mr. Willcoxon.
We, Jimmy, John, Chris, Björn and I went to eat some before the pre-party. Had excellent grilled salmon. After feeding ourselves we hung out at the venue, shook hands and had a couple of beers before it was time to go to bed.
Hooked up for breakfast and were later picked up by our driver Laura. Did a short sound check and were introduced to the splendid crew. Wayne, Chris and the rest of you guys were awesome, all the time. Thanks for helping out the way you did. Hope to work with in the US soon again.
I was glad to see my trusty friends at Laney had sent me two cabinets and two amps which sounded great not to say loud. Goodie goodie. Played the always superb GH100L, volume turned up to eleven.
Björn and Chris hung out with John and Jimmy while I waited backstage forever to check a tune I was playing with the band Evergrey (Tom is an old friend. Henrik and drummer Jonas can both proudly entitle themselves Freak Guitar Campers). Well, the sound check didn’t happen for some technical reason, I don’t know why. There were no more microphone-inputs on stage so couldn’t use my Laney (damn) for the guest spot. I therefore had to plug into a guitar processor. My God, I know why I hate that crap, it simply sounds bad (understatement). It ain’t the real thing. Nowhere near a hard-working valve state amp. Blaaahhh… To make things even cornier when it finally was time for me to enter the stage, of course it took most of the song to bring the sound up. Something that never would have happened with a REAL amp. Ah, never mind.
Fooled around with my super slick video camera backstage and rested. Booked an appointment with the gifted masseuse Deborah Ohara. Kudos to Glenn for bringing her to the festival, the first ever I’ve been to where you could get a massage before the gig. And boy, Deborah was good, going through both Chris and myself. Nice.
Did a signing session a couple of hours prior to the gig, then got geared up, eager to play and kick butt. Again, we used Alsing’s delicate tune to accompany our entrance and then basically took it away as we always do. The crowd was great and we had a wonderful time up there. The entire thing was shot professionally and recorded so expect a couple of tunes from the concert to show up on the live DVD later on. Good vibes in the air!
Played tunes from all six FK CDs + Chopstick Boogie, the Samba Caramba. Brought with me the dildo from Sweden. Cheap tricks to get a little attention but what the hell, ergh. Can’t seem to get rid of the damn thing.
Again, our sincere gratitude for the awesome feedback and for welcoming us the way you did. We’ll be back! That’s a promise.
Walked out afterwards, shared beer, signed everything we could and posed for photos. Met Dr. Gonzo who attended last year’s Freak Foot workshop in Raleigh, North Carolina. Good to see you, man. Talked to record company people over more beer. Since we were kind of stuck in our European time we got slightly tired after a while. Fell asleep backstage when waiting for my non-audible guest appearance at Evergrey’s set. Wayne woke me up, I went out and did my thing which no one heard. Laney… Never any pod for me ever again. Period.
Greeted everyone, got a cab and headed for the hotel. Slept like a dead dude until late afternoon. Took a walk with boys in Atlanta and hooked up with Jimmy and John, who completely lost his voice (making one of his cats, the least gifted, to freak out since the tiny tiger didn’t recognize him when he came home). Had lunch with the gang before I had to get Laura to take me back to the hotel pronto to pick up my guitar. I agreed to do Stars, yes the 80’s tune with the metal elite back then, with Jorn Lande, his band and more guests. Happy to have my Laney again so I could crank it up. The stage was filled with heavy metal people from all the various bands, mostly singers. There was some confusion on who was singing what but Glenn wiped out the lyrics and simply pointed on each and everyone as we played the tune.
When it was time for the song, at the end of Jorn’s set, we all walked on stage and there was a wall of sound, much to the crowd’s appreciation, it seemed. I think it sounded quite horrible but it didn’t matter, since we all had a good time (microphones were muted at the wrong place but no one gave a shit). I did the last solo before we all played some harmony stuff for the ending when some of the Evergrey guys came running on stage as well.
Said bye-bye to everyone, Glenn, Wayne, Chris and other fabulous people working at the festival. We’ll be back as soon as we can, that’s for sure. Thank you and thank you again, friends.
Chris was inspired and worked with his recording gear at the hotel. I was tired as crap and went to bed while Bjorn partied all night with John and the guys at their hotel.
Sunday morning. Checked out, took a cab to the airport and grabbed a bite while waiting for the plane to Detroit and the connecting flight to Amsterdam and later on Gothenburg.
At the Atlanta airport a lot of people walked up to us and praised our gig. We were really baffled and didn’t expect this strong, positive reaction at all. We hoped the guys and gals of the USA would dig it, but the response has been overwhelming. (Now as I write this the online store is open at looking at the orders HALF of them are coming from the US, which is another huge surprise to us, but a good sign, to say the least).
AND a bit of groovy Christmas news: we will be back for a headline show in 2007! See you then, if not before!