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Freak Kitchen Blog - March, 2008

Land of the Freaks VII

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Oh well, here I find myself again on a plane going somewhere. Budapest, if I am on the right plane, then onward to Zagreb, then onward to Split, Croatia, where I will play my strange music tomorrow. It is snowing like crazy and I find it quite cozy (although not the ideal flying weather. Flight is already delayed so we’ll see what happens in Hungary).

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Winter has finally reached Sweden and the Eklundh family adores it entirely. Hanging out in front of the fireplace with your nine month old son, Dean Martin on the stereo, cup of the wife’s groovy coffee and ivory storm outside is simply heaven to me. Gabriel is hypnotized by snow flakes on our long walks in the woods with Maya. Had a lovely Easter together. Hope you did too (if celebrating it at all) wherever on Earth you are. (more…)

Land of the Freaks VI

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Walking around the huge Musik Messe here in Frankfurt, trying to wake up with the aid of German caffeine. About to jump up on the Laney stage in a couple of minutes.

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Gee… There have been so many wonderful, intense musical meetings recently; I don’t know where to begin… I am simply overwhelmed with groovy impressions and after a short visit to Croatia next week I will stay home and try to channel all this new inspiration into music. I also desperately need to be with my precious, precious son. (I miss Gabriel like crazy).

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First out was the Metal meets Brass concert with Chris, Björn and the LJO. Looking back at the video footage I can’t believe we actually pulled it off. The day before we rehearsed the music on stage, with no PA or monitors, and it felt… fragmented. The night of the performance though, everything fell into place and we all went that extra mile to make it as good as it could be.

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Kudos, and then some, to the fabulous, enormously gifted Magnus Ericsson, conductor, composer and stunning saxophone player. Magnus really busted his butt and came up with simply amazing arrangements to our music. Also much, much thanks to the LJO for working hard to nail it all. I know your mouths and lips suffered dearly. We had a divine time on stage together with you fine, fine people. Would love to do it again! We are also super-grateful to everyone showing up this memorable night. The best bits and pieces will of course make it to the DVD (which is growing and growing since we never seem to be able to stop recording concerts). Everything was captured on some 48 channels and shot with a bunch of HD cams.

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(Photos from the great Patrik Hellström’s sharp lens)

Uhu… So after this stunning experience there was time for yet another one. I got up at bloody four in the morning Friday the 7th and drove to Stockholm. Morgan Ågren had invited me to join an All Star Team a couple of months earlier. Featured musicians were: Morgan on drums, Mats Öberg on keyboards, Gustav Hielm on bass, Lars Hollmer on accordion and Fredrik Thordendal and myself on guitar. A pretty potent not to say unorthodox band. Morgan sent me a list of songs from the Mats/Morgan band, Frank Zappa, Lars Hollmer and Fredrik’s stuff. As the Serious Musician I am, hrm, I decided to learn the better part of it.

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Meeting everyone and playing this sometimes quite complicated music at best one time from start to finish was slightly scary. There wasn’t any real chance to sink into the music and we all struggled to keep it together. But, this also has a certain charm. Lots of nerve, energy and focus. Many ways to go wrong on Hollmer’s tricky music (which I did on a song called Vill du höra mer since I had to read it on stage and didn’t see a damn thing. Shame on me). Zappa’s hairy tunes and the repertoire of Mats/Morgan and Thordendal is not exactly the easiest tunes known to man either.

Everyone were very cool though and after Indian lunch we managed to get the groove going.

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The Curry Quintet

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Fredrik’s dedicated sheet to Hollmervalsen

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Crashed at Morgan’s house and his lovely family: Tina – the wife (and also a splendid musician), Alvin – the son and Lester – the dog. Tina had made a lovely dinner that I truly enjoyed and we all kicked back together with some tasty white wine in the evening.

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Tina and Lester

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Frank Zappa’s drum notation

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Alvin and Morgon taking it away!

The day after we hooked up with everyone outside the rehearsal place to go to the Melloboat (Silja Line) together. Dragged all our gear on board before having some wine and food together. Mrs. Thordendal, Petra, joined us on the trip as well. Nice to meet you Petra. Our kids, their daughter Maya Thordendal (yes, same first name and spelling as the furry French creature in my house) and Gabriel looked like a perfect match (look-alikes!) and we decided to introduce them a little later in life. (Stupid parents, aren’t we?)

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The Fredrik Thordendal Boarding Session

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Gustav in trance

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The beauty and the beast, sort of

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Melloboat crazies

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We are very focused…

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We are very relaxed…

The gig was quite surreal. Quite surreal. Morgan, Mats and Gustav started out with a pile of intense Mats/Morgan songs (and very well so) before Fredrik and I walked on stage to play En Schizofrens Dagbok and Watch Me Pleasure, both M/M compositions. Fredrik walked out and I did Paltsug before Lars Hollmer entered the stage for Nationsjazz, Pas du Valse, Idealfamiljen and Vill Du Höra Mer. Zappa time. Village of the Sun, Echidna’s Arf (of You) and Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing? Hollmer out, Fredrik back for Sol Niger Within with some lovely low-end guitar in Bb (the Apple Horn HGS worked great, way tuned down). We then wrapped it up with Boeves Vals and Hollmervalsen. A nice contrast to have Lars Hollmer re-entering the stage with his accordion as the Sol Niger Within inferno faded out into nothing. Encore was The Black Page 1 & 2 (which I didn’t play well. It might have had something to do it was five in the morning by then). Mikael Åkerfelt from Opeth and Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree stood by the guitar side of the stage throughout the gig, among many other potent musician. Film critic and living dictionary Ronny Svensson was the host of the evening. A nice guy stuffed with so much details about music and movies, it hurts. He knows it all. Morgan, Ronny and I did a TV shoot the day after where I praised, for no reason at all, Swedish writer and friend Zac O’Yeah (had been to the bathroom with a copy of the Tandoori Moose, a detective satire set in a future, Asian Gothenburg). If you haven’t read anything with Zac: do. He rules. A league of his own. (From one thing to the other…)

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Zac O’ Yeah, Mahatma and Me

Tried desperately to get a beer and something to eat after the show, but it was early morning so we had to settle for a can of Lapin Kulta and cheese sandwich from the information desk.

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Hand made Mats/Morgan shirt

The day after we just chilled. Hung out with Fredrik, Petra, Morgan, Gustav and Mattias Eklund. Yes, Mattias and Mattias (me) finally got to meet after years of (both of us) replying to tons of e-mails and forum posts that were either a) ‘No, I am not Mattias IA Eklundh, the guitar maniac’ or b) ‘No, I am not the Drum Kit from Hell Mattias that plays Synth Axe on the Sol Niger Within album’. Mattias was truly a nice guy and is boss of all things sound at Toontrack. Their stuff is really top notch in every aspect. Check it out if you haven’t already. Nice to meet you Mr. Eklund.

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The Real Mattias Eklund, damn it

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Watching the gig

Like little kids we watched the gig on my laptop in Fredrik and Petra’s cabin over some wine and Champagne. Some things were better than expected, mostly in an unplanned, unexpected artistic kind of way. Some things were worse. But the overall feel was cool. It could have gone much worse and collapsed totally, considering the kind of music performed at the ungodly hour.

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Talking to Ronny

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Petra the Enlightened

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Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt and a tired freak

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Fredrik and iPod (with splendid music beginning on M)

I’d like to thank everyone involved and express my gratitude to Mats and Morgan for thinking of yours truly when it came to putting together the band. I had a great time, all the time. Let’s do it again later this year, shall we? (There is some talk about a show in Stockholm with the same line-up in the fall. Stay tuned). (For the interested I will join Mats, Morgan and Gustav at club Nefertiti in Gothenburg the 11th of April for a couple of tunes).

(Live photos by Johan Mauritzson)

Headed home and spent time with the family. Serious baby-swimming that both Gabriel and his daddy adored. God, I love that little man…

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Oh, beloved Son with thy stunning eyes

Jumped on a plane to Frankfurt and the monstrous Musik Messe. Played like a maniac at the Laney booth and signed my brains out each and every day.

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Two incredible musical meetings happened while in Germany.

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The mighty Selvaganesh and a Swede

Jonas (Hellborg) had flown in the one and only V. Selvaganesh (Remember Shakti, Art Metal) to the Messe to play with him for Warwick. Needless to say we were bound to play together. The Art Metal Trio in a new shape. Selvaganesh is nothing but a legend and an icon. He is easily the leading man in the world of percussion. So totally in control of his instrument he can squeeze sounds out of his kanjeera you wouldn’t believe. It’s an entire drum kit in a single drum, played with one hand. Divine… It was truly an honor to meet the man for the first time (although we made a record together).

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Laney had arranged a set at the Agora stage for me and I was so happy to be able to present Jonas and Selvaganesh. We pretty much decided what to play when the curtain was opened and although goofs here and there it was loads of fun. Jonas and Selvaganesh played like they were on fire (judging from the smoke in the photos, they weren’t far from it). The subwoofer frequencies the kanjeera can produce are ridiculous. Selvaganesh tried hard to show the Germans how to count South Indian style. I was simply floored all the way. (After the first song and major screw up I strongly felt to do only the tihai, reduction structure part again. It would have annoyed the hell out of me for a long time otherwise).

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We trashed versions of Who Would You Like to Be, Savitri and Leal Souvenir before walking off. So privileged to play with all these gifted musicians and fine human beings. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I would also like to say thank you.

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Jonas, Selvaganesh and TM Stevens

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Jonas and Bill Lawrence

(Live photos by Per Sviggum and Benny Kahrs).

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The Andy Timmons Band

Bumped into our friends of the Andy Timmons band, Andy, Mike and Dan who are on tour in Europe. Tiptop to see you! The tour we did together in Spain a bunch of years back was hilarious. We’d love to tour together again. Andy is going to play on Land of the Freaks on a song called Clean it Up. If we can synch our calendars he might be coming to the camp as well. We’ll see… Nothing is certain.

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Kiko and moi

You know you have to get your shit together when guys like Kiko Loureiro (nice to meet again, Kiko), Greg Koch and Vinnie Moore are standing watching you playing in the booth. Oscar and Stefan from Hammerfall dropped by but they are Swedish and I can scream at them to get the fuck out in our native language. It helps. Always have to focus when fellow musicians listen carefully to what you do. Tricky.

Tried to disturb Yngwie Malmsteen’s signing as much as possible with harmonic minor scales. Apparently he was asking behind his security guards who the hell was playing. Mission accomplished.

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Gus G and a pagan

Bumped into Gus G, more fellow Swedes; Kee Marcello and Tommy Denander. Mr. Fastfinger was at the show and we will definitely do something together for the next Freak Guitar album.

Got to have a quick chat with my hero John McLaughlin again. Gave John a copy of the Art Metal album. John rules. I love what he is doing and always have.

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Next to the improvised Art Metal Trio gig, the coolest thing that happened on the fair was jamming in the Toontrack booth. Fredrik sent me a text message from Sweden that Mattias was at the fair as well. I found the booth and listened to stunning drummer Nir Z, groovy Israelean session cat living in New York, demonstrating their fine product together with Eklund who took care of the binary business (Macintosh, huh?) Mattias asked me to bring an amp to jam and needless to say, I did. We took it away to the crowd’s (and our) amusement. Mattias said he really wanted to introduce me to yet another awesome drummer by the name of David Haynes (Prince). Now, if you haven’t heard about him before, he is not your average guy. At all. He is playing drums on an old (used to have one myself) Alesis HR16 drum machine, using the Toontrack drum samples of course. Holy shit, that was some intergalactic playing. David, Nir and I fired away in a looooong improvisation in both straight and odd meter. Mattias filmed it all and I hope to make it available here or on YouTube. You got to see Haynes in action. Loads, loads of fun. Thank you gentlemen. Loved it.

Now I sit in Wurzburg, waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the confused but funny Charly to pick me up. Charly is responsible for a mini-mini festival thing here that Mörgbl, featuring the kick ass Christophe Godin on guitar, and myself guest. The French (Mörgbl that is) left this morning after last night’s concert and I will do a solo performance this afternoon before heading home.

Alright. That’s it for now. Again, to all my new (and old) musical brothers from near and far, thank you sooo much.

Tuesday soon. Baby-swimming. You know where to find me.

IA