On the road again. We are about an hour away from Paris after a funny gig at the Hessenhalle in Giessen, Germany yesterday. We were a bit worried the local promoter had booked a slightly too massive venue since we always had a somewhat tricky time getting ourselves heard in Germany compared to the surrounding countries. We were wrong. It turned out to be a groovy evening. Myself, Björn and Chris are most grateful for everyone coming out to see the show! Spread the word so we can come back soon again. Lots of gratitude to Kig, the organisation taking care of business. (Man, those home-made feta cheese burgers backstage made a vegetarian blissful and then some).
For the second leg of Tour of the Freaks we’ve had three stunning new backdrops made. The beefy center one is the silver band logo matched by two long sidedrops with the ugly creature on the Land of the Freaks cover, facing one another. It looked neat when we saw them hanging from the light rig for the first time.
Before heading out on the roads of central Europe we did two warm-up shows in Sweden and the cities of Arvika (Björn’s home-town) and Uppsala.
Much thanks to Jimmy Dahlgren and Hellcat Tattoo for taking the initiative in the first place for the Arvika gig. Chris even got himself a new skull by Jimmy before the concert. (Björn and I are still very far from getting tattoed I’m afraid to say).
The performance was spooky. We tried out tough stuff from Land of the Freaks like Honey, You’re a Nazi, Murder Groupie and Teargas Jazz. Tunes we never played before. Shit, you have to use all you got playing the songs. It’s a liberating feeling and I think we got away with it. One review of the evening said we played like kings but talked too much in between. They were right. I think we needed to let the pressure out.
Uppsala was a lot of fun too and the place was packed. We used a wonderful remix of several tracks from Freak Guitar – The Road Less Traveled done by Jim Pavlov from Ukraine as intro. Before Teargas Jazz we had Radhakrishna’s beautiful violin introduction on tape to create a South Indian vibe.
You wouldn’t believe the tour bus mess we experienced and how insanely lucky we got out of it while driving from Arvika to Uppsala. It was freezing cold and we all looked forward to a yummy dinner at our buddy T6’s place when suddenly all lights lit up on the dashboard. The bus felt and sounded pretty weird, like it was choking to death.
Something was clearly very, very wrong and we pulled over. The battery was almost dead when we tried to start the engine again. Bad.
We have this road assistance deal and called for help. They said they’d send a truck within the hour so I suggested Björn, Chris and Chris’ son Tommie get a cab and go to T6. Jörgen, our drum tech/merchandise man, stayed with me. Damn, we frooze… After a while a gigantic vehicle showed up and dragged us up onto the truck bed backwards and then drove us to the venue.
Never before have our gear and bus arrived in such grand style to a gig… Man, it was cheesy yet incredibly funny. We got some help after loading off the stuff to push our precious van into a nearby parking garage.
The Uppsala concert was a on a Saturday and I was slightly worried we wouldn’t be able to get help until Monday. Before the encore I announced our Toyota van wasn’t feeling well and if someone was handy with cars we’d be more than happy to overpay him or her for help.
After the show, which was a far better one and less talky then the night before, Jörgen told us there were two guys from Toyota trying to find us.
What are the odds two Freak Kitchen fans happen to work at the fine Japanese car brand’s shop plus are willing to help out… on a Sunday?! I was so happy I could set myself on fire and started to threw shirts and stuff on Masen and his buddy. Masen tried calling mechanics in the middle of the night and got hold of one.
We agreed to meet fairly early to see if we could figure out what the hell was wrong. The generator had decided to call it a day, it turned out. Thank God they managed to temporarily steal one from another Hiace bus. We were on our way back in no time. Signed a poster that said “Freak Kitchen fix their vehicle at Toyota Uppsala”.
On behalf of the band and crew I hereby thank you, amazing people, for walking that extra mile to help out. You have no idea how grateful we are. Respect.
Much gratitude to the lovely, very diverse crowd of Uppsala! Had a tiptop time, all of us.
Pagan hugs to our dear pal T6 for serving the most gorgeous dinner and taking care of us while in town. You’re the dude of dudes, T6!
Now we are soon at the venue in Lyon, France. The snow has been falling constantly since we arrived here. Germany has been the same. As pragmatic Vikings we have no problem with driving in serious snow but everyone else seem to freak out quite a bit. The traffic jams have been slightly annoying but we have always made it to the venues, so far.
After Germany we drove to Paris, a city we all adore, and kicked back there for a day with dinner at the Champs Elysée, the usual Virgin Megastore shopping and a good night’s sleep. (I went nuts in the Disney store when I found lots of Winnie the Pooh toys for Gabriel. So much for Toxic Mickey/Donald).
In the afternoon the day of the show we did a whole bunch of interviews, met our support act Alive Inc, hung out with buddies Julien Damotte (check out his new album. Very potent progressive metal), FX, Benoit, Roger, Buzz and others.
The Paris concert was bloody overwhelming (not to say sold out). We loved every minute on stage and had an utter and complete ball! So good to see many familiar faces again as well as many, many new. Lovely response from start to finish. Fucking splendid if I may say so. We love you all and hope to be back soon!
After the French capitol we drove for Tourcoing in the north of France, close to the border of Belgium and the fine venue Le Grand Mix. Did a quick photo shoot before the show as well as interviews.
The backdrops looked mean from the light rig and we’re all happy we had them made. Jim Pavlov’s remix sounded again (insanely loud in the PA. I think someone was a techno-fan in the house) before we took it away around an hour and a half. Had a goodie goodie time again and adored playing the new tunes. Very rewarding. The Kelstone part started to sink in a little bit. I see an amazing potential in the Kelstone and want to explore it more in the future. Expect to hear it on upcoming freak releases.
The drive to Strasbourg from Tourcoing was a long, slow one due to heavy snow almost the entire way (around 500 kilometers). Cars and trucks parked along the road and we saw several accidents. Our newly restored van didn’t have any trouble finding its way in the tricky weather. It’s slightly overloaded with gear plus band and crew so it looks like a big, fat frog on the road.
Music for snowy road survival:
Good to be back in Strasbourg. Last time we played the smaller venue in La Laiterie but now they had moved us to the bigger hall, which was nice. Progress. We like.
Gig was fine and we are, as usual, truly happy about everyone showing up. Our dear support act Alive Inc.’s guitar rig broke down so they had to finish after three tunes. Merde. We climbed the stage slightly earlier due to this.
I get more and more jaded when it comes to soundchecks. Everything is always, always, always totally different when it is your turn to play and you have to wing it. I think in the future I’ll have my trusty, wonderful guitar tech Fredrik Eriksson take care of it so I can spend my time more wisely.
After Strasbourg we played Lyon and had a blast! Lots of people, kick-ass vibe. I was a pain in the ass before the gig trying hard to get the side banners up but they were too close to the light. Bummer.
Great concert, great crowd! Lovely to hook up with my buddy Rod again as well as a few campers. It is peculiar but there seems to be at least one Freak Guitar Camper in every city I/we go. You are all my children, you are. Once a camper…
Speaking about the camp – time to sign up! The first international week is very, very full but there is still room for a few dedicated players on the Scandinavian week and the second international one. My buddy Christophe Godin is flying in this year to teach, his first visit at the camp. The one and only Guthrie will most likely be there and a bunch of other lovely players to floor you. I am darn inspired in these days and bust my butt recording new, tricky backing tracks for the weeks. Love to challenge myself and keep things on the edge. Christian Alsing and our FGC crew are also already preparing for yet another tiptop summer experience.
After Lyon we drove south to Marseille where we never played before. I started to feel funny in my throat that evening. A potent taste of blood appeared during the concert and I realized Infection Grande was knocking on the door. My voice has always been raspy by nature, sort of, but this was something else.
As a stubborn kind of guy I ignored it and did my best to scream my brains out. The crowd was wonderful and we had a tiptop evening throughout. Happy they moved the concert to a bigger venue than originally planned.
After the show I met Jean-Paul Julien and his son. Jean-Paul is a top notch Photoshop artist and can spend days putting together bizarre pictures. I was given three new creations he called J-Zeus, Miracle Matt and Smoky. Some of you might find this upsetting but relax, it’s just me fooling around with liquids, cigarettes and a shoe lace. I can prove it is computer trickery: I don’t smoke. Thanks for the art, Jean-Paul!
I was also glad to bump into Ricardo, a guy who used to make computer games back in the days. I remember I made a couple of musical drafts to a bunch of animations he did. Glad you are coming to the camp so we can chat some more, buddy.
After Marseille we got up early to go drop the crew and gear off in Montpellier. I had a clinic in Carcassonne and Björn and Chris decided to tag along to hang out with Blanquette Marge and her family plus check out the impressive castle.
We had a tremendous lunch at Marge’s family’s place. A huge smorgasbord of delicious food and drink. Thank you very much for inviting three smelly musicians into your lovely home. We appreciated it, we did.
Clinic was goodie goodie. I could feel it was going to be a tough concert in Montpellier voice-wise as I was talking about more or less important guitar stuff. Lots of people attending and I had fun, playing my absolutely divine Apple Horn Yellow with True Temperament frets. Thank you for setting it up, friends.
As expected the show was hard to pull off. My vocal cords were fucked up, spitting blood in between tunes. It must have sounded like utter crap but I did what I could. Chris and Björn together with the audience did a great, great job as I tried to manouver my way through the night. A struggle.
To save what was left for the last show I asked the also very sick, but fabulous, promoter Roger Weisser, to take me to the hotel. I hate bailing out from signing stuff afterwards but there wasn’t much left for me to give with fever and shit. Sorry about that.
Slept fine and we set course for Bordeaux early in the morning. Bordeaux is always special to us so cancelling the concert was no option. Valentine’s Day and everything. The show must go on. (I am not a real singer anyway).
Tried to rest at the hotel and even went to the pharmacy with Phil the Promoter after buying some neat wine to bring home with the bus. When in Bordeaux…
As I was in a lousy condition I felt I had to go on stage before the house lights went off and tell the crowd the current vocal situation or else they would have spent the entire night wondering why the hell I sounded like a Neanderthal. I tell you, everyone screamed their butts off that evening and I am most, most grateful for all the help, friends.
We jerked around, switched instruments in Razor Flowers (which must have sounded like a genuine catastrophy) and I wore a pair of (used?) underpants as an alternative to Chris’ helmet. The Kelstone part of the show did finally start to work well and I think we did put on a good groove. I enjoyed trying to get people to clap their hands in odd meter. Always a treat, leading to Murder Groupie, one of my favorite tunes to play.
Despite the idiotic infection (leading to six bloody weeks of medication, cortisone and antibiotics, and many visits to Mr. Doctor) and messed up vocal cords I had a blast in Bordeaux. We all loved it! You kicked serious buttocks, fine Kitchen Freaks!
This actually goes for all of you coming to the German/French leg of Tour of the Freaks! We can’t thank you enough for your support! Miss you already and can not wait to come back for a bunch of summer festivals, Hellfest with KISS being the very highlight.
Festivals… both good and bad news. We are thrilled to go back to Finland for Tammerfest plus an additional concert in Helsinki and in July! You Finnish treated us so well last time we simply couldn’t stay away any longer. See you there!
Monkeyfest in the UK has been postponed to 2011. No problem though. We’ll be there then. UK tour will happen in November we are darn happy to announce. London, Dublin, Glasgow. There will be clinics as well while in the UK.
The Online Store is reopened with lots of new stuff; organic hood with zipper, God Save the Spleen T-shirt, new long sleeve, Appetizer and more.
I am soon done with the guitar parts to a forthcoming album with Jonas Hellborg and the amazing Ranjit Barot on drums. It has been a sheer pleasure making it and I think we broke some new ground here. It is not going to be easy listening and it will take a while before it will get under your skin, I guess, but if you take the time to go for it I truly think it will last long. Vivid playing from Hellborg and Barot and I quite glad over my own string bending. Very improvised and done with my guard way down.
Had fun at the Frankfurt Messe. Glad plenty of you there when playing for Laney. Joined Jonas, Ranjit and Selvaganesh at the annual Warwick party for a concert.
Will fly in for a day at Christophe Godin’s Metal Kartoon Guitar Week in Tours in July to warm up my fingers for the camp. Mr. Fastfinger will be there too.
Working on Freak Guitar – The Smorgasbord as much as I can and I can’t wait for you to hear it. Insanely happy with what I hear at this point. I am also incredibly grateful many of my guitar playing buddies around the world helped out on this one. Names shall be reveiled when I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Happy about the recent Favored Nations Facebook frenzy. To be part of the Favored Nations family is amazing and I couldn’t be more pleased with Steve, Dean, Sean and everyone working to spread our music. A fine label.
Now we sit on the plane home from Madrid and I can’t tell you how much we got off playing for our Spanish friends yesterday. Thank you for selling out the place and for being such lovely folks! When we walked into the place as one of the opening bands played a huge roar broke out. Felt good. Chris caught an eye infection and my throat still wasn’t exactly top-notch but we loved it anyway. Many had travelled a long way to see the show and we hope to be back soon for more dates. Thank you Sebo and Mogar in Italy for providing me with Laney gear. Thank you Tama for sending the drums.
Madrid, we love you!
Chris decided it was a good idea to do the Ambassador Thing and go party after the usual signing and posing. He is tired now. I went back to the hotel, as did Björn and Jörgen. Now we are at the airport and our beloved bass player is sleeping next to me at the gate.
Oops, all of a sudden I find myself in rainy Riga, soon about to jump on a plane to Gothenburg after a fine Moscow visit. Did a clinic for Delta Mekong Concerts and hooked by buddy Ivan who came all the way from Cheboksary where we did a few of gigs a bunch of years back. Thanks to Amt and Laney for the gear support and thank you very, very much for showing up, dear Russian friends. Got me a super-groovy Stravinsky CD-box by some fans after the clinic. Lovely!
We would like to express our sincere and humble gratitude for the splendid evening in our home town Gothenburg and the Brewhouse venue early April. We loved every moment and it felt amazing to be back. Hope it will not be another three years before the next gig…
We are very much looking forward to our first Italian shows with the band and hope to see as many of you freaks there as possible! Thanks a bunch to everyone busting their butts to make it happen, especially Ale from Fuzz Fuzz Machine and Machada Booking Agency .
Last but not least, we have a new Eklundh family member: Bardo, the German Shepherd. (Buddhist name and yes, the same as Jonas Hellborg’s record company). A beautiful, twelve week old male little furry wolf-looking animal with incredibly sharp teeth, ripping my hands to pieces. (Bardo is most welcome to. The puppy itch, the puppy itch. We’ve all experienced it). It’s a wonderful time with Gabriel the Son and Bardo the Dog in the house, summer around the corner. If I am not on the road, you know where to find me, kicking back in the garden with kid and/or canine.
Alright, I think it is time to wrap this one up. Sometimes when you write this blogs they kind of take on a life of their own and grow and grow and grow until you don’t know where you started, so…
Reminder: Freak Guitar Camp, sign up while there are still places left!
All the best Freak Friends and thank you for reading!
PS. Thanks to all the photographers around, letting us steal the loads of live photos.