I have become a Dad… Holy shit! I HAVE BECOME A DAD!!! I am not sure how it happened (I have a vague idea). Yet here I am, proudly (an understatement) watching my beautiful, stunning, godlike Son as I write this. May I present to the world: Gabriel Johannes Eklundh!
Camilla, my wife, and I have been together for ages. One day last year, a Wednesday in September to be more exact (in between a trip to the US with my fellow freaks and a gig at the Canary islands for the tour date maniac), we sat down, looked at each other and asked ourselves if we should give the baby-thing a serious try or not. We’re not getting younger and all of sudden you will wake up and realize it’s too late. Nature doesn’t wait. Said and done, we did what most folks do, you know what I mean, and it worked out. Boom. Just like that. Amazing!
The day before departing for Russia we did a pregnancy test and it turned out positive, to our monumental surprise! (I was kind of looking forward to a couple of years of intense, horizontal work-out, but… Well, I shouldn’t say that, with all the people out there busting their butts to make it happen. Guess it was just meant to be).
Camilla joined us for the trip, as planned before. Looking back, she probably would have preferred to stay home but we were so baffled by the result of the test, we simply went on with it. Also, we didn’t tell anyone about the pregnancy until Christmas considering all the millions of things that can go wrong. We wanted the first three months for ourselves. Björn, however, is a clever dude. Expecting his first child at the time we were playing Russia, the wonderful Sindre Fryklund, he was in utter soon-to-become-daddy-mode. He could see the signs; Camilla avoiding all the stuff you’re not supposed to eat, drink, e t c. In Moscow he sneaked up at us and said “Aaaahhh, so you are expecting, huh?” We didn’t confirm, nor deny, which made brother Fryklund insecure. (He told me later he really wasn’t sure if we already were expecting or were in the midst of trying).
My dear wife, son and dog
19:21, Monday the 18th of June, Gabriel checked out of Mommy. 53 centimetres tall, 3610 grams heavy. The most beautiful of creatures! I am so damn proud I don’t know what to do with my Swedish self. What a rush, what a rush. Gee…
A day old…
The entire pregnancy was kick ass from start to finish. All the stuff I heard about women going slightly mad, doing all kinds of irrational things, mood swings, eating frenzy, e t c, was put to shame. Camilla and I had a ball and I worshipped her growing belly every day. Magic months. Also, I haven’t been so productive for years, recording Freak Music like a madman. More about this soon.
A Gabriel Johannes Eklundh on the way!
We decided we simply couldn’t live in sin anymore when a child was on its way (coming from the guy who makes a living travelling the world playing music with ass vibrators). The 14th of April we secretly got married and became Mr. and Mrs. Eklundh. We invited a few friends and family to our house for what they thought were Camilla’s birthday party. (She was born April 14th).
When the guests arrived we were nowhere to be found. My better half and I were gearing up for the wedding in town. Our witnesses, Camilla’s sister Ann and Petrus were taking care of the confused guests, escorting them to a very nice chapel nearby after some fish soup. Jonas Hellborg played harsh, yet sweet, South Indian improvisations at the ceremony that was conducted by great female priest Evamaria Carlberg. Jan Johansson’s ever so heart breaking piano music was also used. Chris, Bjorn, Shara, Sindre and Sofia were there, of course, along with our families. Afterwards we had veggie buffet at our place. A day to remember, needless to say. The week before it snowed, the day after it rained like crazy, but this very day we had 21 degrees Celsius. Divine intervention…
From one thing to the other… Happy to say the Art Metal album is finally on its way to the pressing factory. Truly hope you are going to like it. I am very happy with the end result. It feels organic, dirty, dry, honest, to the point, groovy, sweet and… well, different from a lot of releases today. (The Mahavishnu Orchestra meets Metallica meets Carnatic music someone told me after listening to it. Sounds interesting enough to me).
Jonas and Jens Johansson mixed it during a couple of days at Hellborg’s studio on the island of Aspo, Sweden. The two turned it into something of its own. It’s very alive and doesn’t try to hide anything. Un-trendy in days of boring, stiff quantization frenzy. What you hear are five guys playing and that’s it. No bull.
A few words about the tunes:
Muthucutpor – a pretty straight forward opener and one of my favourites. Got a real cool feel to it despite the mid-tempo (that sometimes can be lame). When Jens dubbed the guitar with rough keyboard sounds, it all fell into place. Various Tihais (South Indian reduction structures) melted into the tune in a cool way. Nice, unpolished mid-section where Jonas is taking it away with his beloved thumb and I improvise over various modes, not trying to show off but merely make the music flow. Jens, Selvaganesh and Anders are keeping the beat in a grand way. Some nasty cluster guitars here and there.
This was the first song Jonas and I started to work on and it has mutated into many shapes and forms. In the end I replaced the original, normal tuned, layers of guitars, with a single one tuned in C all throughout and it worked. Took about ten minutes to nail. You got to take a step back sometime. The Art Metal album has been in the works for so long, it’s refreshing it found a way out of itself with all the zillion variations of each song we got. Instead of becoming overproduced it took a left turn and shook a lot of unnecessary stuff off that made it come to life. Lots of dirt under its fingernails.
Manirambha – another groovy, almost soundtrack-like song. More Tihais, more tuned down riffs. Great keyboard solo by Jens and sweet, short lead by Jonas. At times very controlled, at times very chaotic. I dig it. I dig it.
Nataraja – this one is a real gem. It sounds like (in my imagination) Chinese camp fire music, whatever that is. Coming from Sweden, celebrating Midsummer like crazy and all that, Nataraja has a true Asian folk music vibe to it, with the vivid use of the major pentatonic scale. Melodic minor acoustic lead by moi that I didn’t think would make it, but Jonas threw it in the very last minute. A track to hum along to.
Solitude – a kick butt kind of song. I love the way Jens has overdubbed my lead parts (listen carefully, panned right). A lovely solo by Hellborg. The guitar riff, played in a Ugly Side of Me kind of way, works real fine with unique Jonas’ slap bass.
Diaper Dad of Doom…
The Three Princes of Serendip – my favourite track on the entire album. So happy it made it. There is just something with it that is both musically shit-interesting along with the sweetest of melodies. Anders and Selvaganesh are really glued together here for all the stimulating South Indian fills in between the melody. Jonas bass line over the guitar is delicate to the bone. Pleased with my (super-dry) long solo as well.
The second part of the tune is equally lovely, with Jens and Jonas both doing great solos as well as playing a wonderful, super-glue-like, major melody together. We’ve played The Three Princes of Serendip live a bunch of times but it was on the album it came together for real. I just love it.
Round Metal Hat – a fusion of early Art Metal-album recordings and stuff that was made at the very end. Has both a melancholy vibe to it along with intensive parts. I loooovvve the solos Jonas and Jens deliver. Have to turn it up like crazy every time I hear it. Top notch stuff.
Vyakhyan – kar – the only track without Selvaganesh. Remember when Hellborg showed me the parts for the first time in my living room before going to India to play. I then recorded it to a click track only and everything else was layered upon it. If it wasn’t for that everyone involved have been around for quite some time, this would never work. To add attitude and “moustache” (you get it) to a static click track and guitar alone can be hard if you’re not confident in your playing. This wasn’t a problem here. Great solo by Jonas.
Art Metal – now, here’s something else. Damn, this was a fun one to nail. Art Metal was originally a long Kanjeera solo by the mighty Selvaganesh. Jonas had the beginning and the end figured out but the entire middle part was just blank and the bass maestro told me to play what I heard. So I did and parts of it turned out slightly scary, especially after Jens added spooky voice samples. I put together eight guitars that followed the mood of Selvaganesh’s playing (as I hear it) and then stuff was dubbed upon it. When the guitar orchestration begins all over there is a weird clash between the guitar and keyboard, making it sound out of pitch, which in turn makes it even more nasty and slippery. Using modes like the Pantuvarali helps to create an uneasy atmosphere. The ending of the tunes is insane and shit-hard to play. Anders is playing like crazy and both Jonas and I fight hard to keep it up. Not a tune you sit down and jam. This one you got to hear. Outrageous, ground breaking and awesome, at least to me.
David Palmer for President, huh?
Now Gabriel woke up. Time to try one of the two (extremely potent) Secret Weapon’s in the Eklundh Family arsenal: Dean Martin. Something happens with my precious Son when Bye Bye Blackbird hits the CD-player. If he is pissed off (which he rarely is, knock on wood) Dean’s smooth voice and the slick brass arrangements simply makes him happy. (Slayer doesn’t work the same way). If that doesn’t cut it, there is only one thing to do, the Secret Weapon of all Secret Weapons: TITTIES! Yeah!
Lots of interesting stuff about to happen at the Freak Kitchen Headquarters soon. (Yes, we are working on the new album and it’s going to KICK ASS!) But first I got go nuts at the extremely sold-out Freak Guitar Camp for three weeks (looking forward to spank you all, ergh, ergh). Talk to you in a while, thanks for reading.