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Freak Kitchen Blog

Tour of the Freaks – Big Bad Blog


A somewhat hysterical woman is screaming as I get off the transfer bus. “Bangkok? Passengers for Dubai? Dubaaaaiii? Baaangkok?” I ask what the screaming is about. Yes, I am going to Dubai. Show me your boarding pass, she yells. I don’t have one. Need to find the transfer desk. She is almost on the verge of a nervous breakdown and I still haven’t got a clue of why the hell she is shouting like a maniac. Well, I ignore her and mind my own business. Usually works best.

Found a boarding pass and got to Dubai safe and sound. At the airport I was greeted in the most grand way with transportation straight from the gate to the passport control where I went right through when every other passenger had to cue up. Neat. Don’t ask me why I got this treatment but I did enjoy it. Good to be Super Duper Important Person every once in a while.

I was the first dude to arrive in this remarkable 11-piece band put together solemnly for the occasion. Strolled around downtown Dubai and as usual wound up under some bridge where you’re not supposed to walk at all. Typical musicians.

Asked around what I simply had to check out during my visit but the most exciting thing happening was the annual Shopping Festival (that to some seems truly a thrill. I find it probably the most shallow thing I’ve heard about).

Nevertheless I took a peak in the most beefy mall I have ever been to. The most inspiring thing I saw was a gigantic aquarium plus a big poster of Rob Lowe (an underrated actor!) doing a commercial for slick camping clothes, I think. Grabbed a cup of coffee and went outside again.

My hotel was facing the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa tower. I remember on a visit to Taiwan I few years back where the 101 still was the highest skyscraper. The Taiwanese were a little bit upset the Arabs soon were done with their construction and they’d end up second place. (The 101 is more than enough tall. Take it from me).

Did some work on Murder Groupie and was happy to finish it during the weekend in the UAE. It is up there on the YouTube channel in case you haven’t seen it yet with footage from last year’s Hellfest.

Hooked up with everyone in the lobby to rehearse the next day. Good to meet buddy Niladri Kumar again as well as my new acquaintances:

Ali Obeid (oudh), Talvin Singh (tabla), Bernhard Schimpelberger (drums), Abbos Kosimov (doyra), Eliana Burki (alphorn), Rakesh Chaurasia (flute), Agnelo Fernandes (keyboard) and Chloe Arnold (tap dance), a whole bunch of wonderful human beings and top notch musicians.

Went to another mall (yes) where a tiptop room was booked for us to fire away throughout the day. I jacked my guitar into a Fender amp and struggled a bit to get my sound. The local Laney dealer was not happening so I decided not to bother them. I immediately asked for something slightly more powerful to the gig though and the very helpful people around promised they’d get me a Marshall.

Gee, didn’t know my friend Selvaganesh (or Selva as we call him) had a store in Dubai

Niladri busted his butt to keep it together and make sure everyone felt they had a spot to shine. Not easy and I was relieved I was not the guy in charge. A messy job. He did well.

All of us had late lunch and nearly got lost in the gigantic mall (where they had indoor skiing. Absurd to a Swede). It took a while before we were back on track again. Quite hilarious.

We felt we were close to have an okidoki set together and called it for the day. A welcome dinner had been arranged to our honor and we got back to the hotel to clean ourselves up a bit.

UAE water pipes

Dinner was lovely – a yummy Indian buffet. I ate and drank like only a Viking in a desert can. You never know about tomorrow. Better to have a stash. People from the bank (that paid for all) were real nice and not uptight in any way. Rather the opposite. Had an inspiring chat with one of the top fellas and he considered bailing out from the job and more importantly the city of Dubai. He told me he started to feel hollow inside, so did his kids and wife. I mentioned I had a similar vibe after a day so… Probably a wise thing to do.

An open bar in Dubai is a rare thing

Were picked up and driven (everyone had a personal driver) to the venue, a large ballroom in the Jumeirah Beach Hotel just by the beach. Groovy…

Males…

and females

Sound check took about forever but I spent my time writing a couple of articles for Swedish magazine Fuzz. Speaking of Fuzz, I will perform at their fine guitar show in Gothenburg in May.

The forever and forever soundcheck

Returned to the hotel a quickie to change clothes and splash some water in the face (plus edit a few seconds of Freak Kitchen footage).

Mom… why is the PA upside down?

The concert was scheduled to last 90 minutes. After close to two hours Niladri asked the crowd if they were starving for the dinner lurking around the corner. A man shouted back “We are hungry for your music” so we continued another thirty minutes or so. The gig was far better than the rehearsals and the evening turned out swell.

The not so typical back stage look

Afterwards we mingled with the audience and had some delicious food before heading for the real after party way out in the Arab peninsula and a bar called 360 (since it was round and you could see in every direction, located next to the famous Burj Al Arab hotel). Water pipes and booze served plus I don’t know how many damn sandwiches that ended up in my lap for some reason. Felt obliged to take a bite although I wasn’t hungry. After five or so I gave up.

The tiny little after show party. Gee…

We took group photos before heading for the hotel again and a good night’s sleep. Thank you all, the band and everyone involved. Had a lovely time and hope to hook up soon again.

Most of my new found friends left early the day after. Niladri knocked on my door to say goodbye before heading home to Mumbai. You are a stunning man, Mr. Kumar, and a kick ass musician. Our paths shall cross again, they shall.

Look! I am on TV!

Sweden is passing by me outside the window as I find myself on a train northbound for a clinic tomorrow. It is indeed a dynamic place we live on, Earth. My native country during winter has got very little to do with the desert in the United Arab Emirates (although it was wintertime when I was there which pretty much is the same temperature as Sweden a hot June/July day). A driver in Dubai claimed they had measured no less than bloody 58 degrees Celsius last summer. Not really my cup of tea as a Norseman.

I think they meant Gene Simmons

Time to get off the train and take a bus that will take me to yet another train that will take me to another bus before I reach my final destination. I don’t mind though. I really like the people of Orsa in Dalarna whom I’ve worked together with for a long time.

Changed to a bus where I now sit on my butt watching the incredibly pretty sunset while listening to the ever so fascinating Jan Johansson. A fox walked over a frozen lake a minute ago, its fur almost glowing in the strong orange light. Damn, I love this country. A beautiful place to be.

Freaky, French tattoo

The clinic was groovy and stimulating. In the evening I watched the remake of Wicker Man with Nicolas Cage. A bit… transparent movie I have to admit.

Freaky, Swedish tattoo (made by none other than our Chris)

Went to see Steve Lukather in my home town and holy crap he played well! Sober and focused Luke kicked butt for two hours. Wonderful. Good to see you, Luke!

My new love – the Jim Dunlop volume pedal

A clinic at Bogesunds Gitarrklubb in Ulricehamn, Sweden was a good way to spend Sunday the 27th of February. Always great guys to work with. Thanks for having me again.

Björn and a really big (empty) glass of red wine

After this Björn, Chris and I went to Åland, Finland where we had a fine weekend. I did the very first clinic, or so they say, on the little island’s very first guitar exhibition. Many people showed up which I was most happy about. The gig at club Dino’s in the evening was great fun too. I have to thank my buddy Christian Jansson and his fiancé Mikaela for pulling it off. Christian is simply a good guy who makes things happen. He was also my guitar tech for the day, doing a fine job. Thanks also to Niklas at Dino’s for being a sweet guy, taking good care of things. An overall goodie goodie weekend for sure.

Chris and index finger live on the island of Åland

Before Åland we picked up no less than three Apple Horn guitar modified by the absolutely genius Anders Thidell of True Temperament fretting system. Anders has put together different temperaments for my different tunings and maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, it is good. Once you try True Temperament you realize how much a neck with regular frets sucks. Big time. I am utterly and completely addicted. Next up to get a Thidell treatment is my beloved old nylon string Alhambra.

Jonas Hellborg and a nylon string with TT-frets

Now I am cruising over London soon about to land at Heathrow where I plan to drink a strong cup of coffee before leaving for Tunisia and a gig in Tunis tomorrow. There has been close to a year of frantic e-mailing to make this happen. In the end I had to do it alone but originally Freak Kitchen was booked for the guitar festival. A whole pile of boring logistics put that to a halt (flight connections from hell and whatnot). Still, I am grateful to playing in Tunis after all that has happened recently. Remember a vacation some twenty years ago where me and some friends went out in the desert with a jeep to check out where they shot the first Star Wars movie, then onward into the Sahara coming close to the Libyan border. Happy this is not the present day with everything going on, Gaddafi loosing his mind and all. (I think he lost it years ago if I may be frank). As usual, civilians take the heat when rockets start falling from the sky, no matter who is dropping them.

Live in Tunis

British coffee was fine and I am soon about to board the plane to North Africa. Been playing guitar here at the airport (people looking at me in a funny way), warming up the fingers for the tour to come, working on Freak Guitar Camp material and more.

At the airport I was picked up by my friend Harrag and driver Dominique who took me to the hotel for dinner. Tunis was fairly quiet and we spoke about the revolution over hot soup. People are truly optimistic (if somewhat careful) when they talk about the future. It is a good vibe in the air.  Strange to think about the mad man next door (Gaddafi, that is) and all the crap in Libya now. Fingers crossed for a quick end. Usually in a revolution you replace shit with… Shit. In Tunisia it seems things worked out well. A rare case.

Harrag the man

The previous day I was escorted to a tiptop radio station where we had an interesting live chat. Also played a little bit on the air, plugged in straight into the console, a dry, clean sound. Scary but… challenging. I liked the cool, liberal minded people of the place. You can tell everyone is real excited about the major changes of power in the country.

Sloppy and happy in Tunisian radio

Back to the hotel for a bunch of interviews. All good. Lunch before sound check. Yummy salmon in my mouth. Delicious.

Alive and well on the streets of Tunis

Quick sound check at the fine venue. My buddy Yann from France handled everything in a top notch way, as usual.

The ever so trusty Yann

Harrag and myself strolled down the street for strong coffee, talked to some kids, signed stuff before I took a nap in my room.

North African coffee takes no prisoners

The Apple iPod gig was a lot of fun. The people were absolutely nuts in a groovy way. They screamed and danced all the way through my set (consisting of Freak Guitar tunes, Art Metal tunes & some new music). Had a ball and loved every second up there! Viva la revolution! Viva la revolution!

The cool freaks of Tunis

7/16 four times equals 7/4 one time, OK?

Photo, photo!

A local player joined me for the last tune to jam (I called him Mr. Heineken because of his beer shirt. Sorry I forgot your name, buddy). Good fun!

Afterwards I jumped down into the crowd, signed and posed for photos. The security told me to please stop for a while and take it outside of the hall so they had a chance to control it if it went out of hand. So I did and I think it was no problem at all but after a while they thought it got too crazy and pushed me back backstage again. Whatever.

Look what I can do with my fingers!

Fine freaks of North Africa, I love you. Thank you for your support! Will do my utmost to come back soon, OK? Thank you again.

Took a quick look at the Django Reinhardt School of Music (great place!) before heading back to the hotel and a late dinner.

Yeah!

Yeah?

Jumped on a plane to Marseille the day after and from there flew onward to Madrid where I was picked up and put on a train to Valladolid. On the France-Spain flight I sat next to Nigel the Captain and we had a stimulating chat. Nigel was in his 50’s and flew private jets around Europe for people with Big Money. He was also a rabid Rush fan and a little upset his son only listened to Slipknot. I told him not to worry. He also told me he just read an article that about a third of all the divorces in the UK nowadays are due to the social network that is Facebook, people finding old flames, dating them, one thing leading to the other, and… Give me a break. Miserable shit.

Well in Valladolid Tony Hernando, long time friend, Spanish guitar hero and promoter, slid by the station to take me to the venue, a ballroom kind of place where newly weds throw their parties.

I was introduced to the fine Jeremy Colson, drummer of Steve Vai and Billy Idol, and we had a chat over coffee. Jeremy is a lovely person and a kick ass drummer. Really enjoyed hanging out together for a bunch of days with the hard-working crew and musicians. A tour very easy and smooth this Guitar Fest.

Old sins… Jeremy with long hair!

Lovely looking lad!

My gig went down well, I think. The Laney rig provided by Mogar Music sounded fantastic! I use two pedals nowadays (whaou, I am such a gear slut, ain’t I?), the one besides my usual wah being an absolutely tremendous volume pedal from Jim Dunlop. I find it even more useful than the Cry Baby. With this musical device I can get rid of so many unwanted sounds and play in a far more dynamic way than previously. It also works very much like the guitar’s volume pot, not only lowering the volume but the sound of it all (in a splendid way).

Live in Spain with Animal Liberation T-shirt

Hung out a while afterwards and talked to people before getting a ride to the hotel and a good night’s sleep.

Next stop Oviedo, a pretty, pretty city I enjoyed walking around in. People seemed relaxed, exactly the opposite from any metropolitan around the world. I think man is not made to be squeezed together. We need space to function. Room to breathe. So much energy is sucked up by living in a large town, the daily bullshit you have put up with. Nah. I never regret moving out to the countryside some eleven years ago. One of the best decisions I have made (much thanks to my wonderful, smart wife). I wasn’t really interested at all in buying a house but was convinced it was the right thing to do. It was indeed. (I don’t mean to start like some smart-ass Swede. I am fully aware most human beings out there do not have a choice).

Meat and greet?

Spanish, Swedish, American fish in a barrel

Anyway, Oviedo was a fine place and I enjoyed the gig a lot. It was messy but hilarious at times. Got stuck in pretty much everything on stage, threw out a chair in the audience and whatnot (nice and easy, don’t worry).

The one and only Guglielmo Malusardi

Had a nice stroll back in the northern Spanish night after giving away picks, signing and posing. The usual stuff I do like after each show.

Thank you everyone coming out to hear some home-brewed freak music!

Sitting in the tour bus with Jeremy, Tony and the guys watching Flight 666, the Iron Maiden road (well more like sky) movie. I did very much enjoy it and remember the first time I saw Iron Maiden live, opening for Kiss back in 1980. My mother Inga was with me at the concert as well as my friend Jörgen and his mom. After the concert I went out and bought Maiden Japan only to play it at half-speed for about a year (wasn’t aware it was an EP and not an LP). I thought Paul Di’Anno sounded a little bit awkward but liked the heavy, tuned down backbeat of a song like Running Wild. It was a mere revelation when I finally figured out the speed the disc was meant to be played at and I went Maiden crazy. Saw the band on the Piece of Mind tour, the Powerslave tour, the Somewhere in Time tour and the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour before I lost interest a little bit.

Flight 666

The documentary is not really a “critical look” at the tour but a neat observation. I admire Bruce Dickinson’s enormous energy and guts to fly a bloody Boeing (over)loaded with gear, band and crew. Respect. After the movie I felt a strong urge to cover a tune for the next Freak Guitar album. Probably, if I decide to, something from The Number of the Beast. We will see…

Thank you and good night!

On the way to Peralta we were watching a best of Journey DVD. The video to the song Separate Ways made me cry of laughter. Forgive me, possible Journey fans out there. It is a great song and all but geeeeee… That video! Please look it up on YouTube. God… The 80s.

We are now in Peralta and another tremendous venue, a concert hall. This is the Noches de Guitarras and yours truly is headlining. (Well, the promoter wanted me to but I declined as I find it a bit cheesy to walk on stage after actual live music with an iPod).

I actually think I played quite well this evening and I loved the stage and sound. Two songs from the end though my volume pot decided to screw with me and I couldn’t change pick-up leading to unfocused and sloppy playing. I guess it was OK anyway.

Jeremy has many tattoos…

Jesus…

Animal…

and a Steve Vai cover!

My good friend Guglielmo Malusardi had showed up from Italy to introduce me and Tony’s band. He is a true gem and always a real treat to hang out with. Thank you for coming and for taking part in the Night of the Guitar happening.

I am not a jamming kind of guy. It took me many years to come to this conclusion. If jams were interesting and everyone were listening to one another I would have loved it. Usually it is a mere showing off event where the players simply try to outdo each other. Nothing interests me more than making music on the spot but so often when invited to jam it is full blast from start to finish (in one key or a blues run at best) leaving no room for dynamics or interesting harmony.

Moving to Montan… Montãna soon

The local guys insisted I’d participate in a jam this evening since it was something of a tradition. Needless to say I felt obliged to obey and it was actually great fun. Jeremy started a groove and we followed taking the music in various directions.

After Peralta it was time for the good ol’ Ritmo y compas in Madrid – a venue we have played numerous times with Freak Kitchen.

Buddies and freaks from near and far showed up and I had a blast fooling around on stage. Someone yelled Murder Groupie and I did my best to play it and transpose it from C tuning to regular tuning as I went along. In the mid-section, where Björn is doing a drum solo on the album, I begun singing to my utmost surprise. Didn’t know what else to do really. The crowd had enough guitar wanking for one evening, I think.

I was happy to meet Ivan Manoloff, former camper and pal, who gave me his brand new CD. We had a beer outside and talked about this and that. Support the guy. He deserves it.

The lovely Mike Daane

Then Felipe Guevara showed up, another camper and past crew member from the crazy tour in 2003 with the Andy Timmons band. Felipe has also come a long way (so has his brother Juancho) working as a sound engineer, mixing everything from complex 90 channel stuff like the Les Miserables to basic pop. Good to see you!

As if this wasn’t enough, Mike Daane, Timmons’ bass player appeared together with their promoter, to my utmost surprise. The ATB was on the road in Europe and I didn’t have a bloody clue.  I was super happy to see him and there was a lot hugging going on the rest of the evening. Andy was sick and back at his hotel room but sent his regards. We will have German caffeine at the Frankfurt messe so… Goodie goodie.

Guglielmo stuck around as well, always a funny guy to hang out with. Thanks buddy for finding my chopstick both in Peralta as well as in Madrid! (The vibrations from the cabinet made it fall down from the amp).

Well, fine Spanish freak friends as well as Tony, the band and Jeremy, it has been an utmost pleasure to join the Guitar Fest 2011 and I hope to be back soon with Freak Kitchen and very possible a Freak Guitar band after The Smorgasbord has been released. Thank you!

Slept like a dead man before hooking up with Mr. Hernando who took me to the airport and my flight to Bordeaux.

The Grave Hospital?! (Toulouse)

Slightly delayed I met up with pals Stephane Alaux and Cyril Tacaille, both working for the fine Ciam School where I was to perform roughly an hour after arrival.

The school was packed with nice, dedicated French freaks, listening to my ideas about rhythm and tonality. Stephane did a great job translating, a not so easy task when sinking one’s teeth into hairy Indian structures for example.

Questions were asked and I signed guitars and CDs afterwards, took photos, etcetera. Thanks a bunch for showing up!

As a vegetarian I seldom order Rabbit Pizza…

Had dinner together before crashing at Cyril’s place for a few hours. Got up at the insane hour of five (should be a law against getting up before seven, at earliest) and drove for the airport and the flight… back to Madrid! Corny, I know, and terrible from an environmental point of view but I try to avoid Paris in any way I can (love the city with all my heart, detest the airport). No good flights from Bordeaux home, so…

Now I left Copenhagen behind and can’t wait to hug Gabriel, Camilla and Bardo again at the airport!

Spent a week home with my beautiful family. Gabriel, Bardo and I were playing around in the woods for hours everyday. Pure bliss for a touring musician. Actually there is nothing that cools me down more than hanging out with my son.

Don Felder’s Hotel California double axe

Gabriel’s double axe

First day at the Frankfurt messe today and a very funny one. Hooked up with brothers Jonas, Selvaganesh, Ranjit and all my Laney friends. Was picked up at the airport the previous night by Freak Guitar Camper Marc and we had a couple of hours of playing at my hotel in Langen.

The most friendly Devin Townsend, a glass of water and you-know-who

Chit chatted with Devin Townsend about our kids, wives and whatnot. The great True Temperament guys were at the fair. I am so happy about Anders Thidell’s fabulous work. He is in my book a true guitar wizard. Mark Dronge and his daughter Annika came over to my booth to give me more tiptop DR strings – the best ones on the planet. DR rule. Thank you, good people!

Jamming with Denander and Gaitsch

The most amazing Selvaganesh in serious heavy metal pose

Panzerballet invited me to play a tune with them, entitled Vulgar Display of Sauerkraut. They’re such a wonderful band and I look forward to work together in the future. Had to get into the crowd before it was my turn to play. Marvelous musicians. My spot started okidoki but after my solo I managed to mess up my cable and lost concentration. What the hell. Let’s do it again, shall we?

Look! I am on TV AGAIN! Amazing…

Swedish guitar player/songwriter Tommy Denander introduced me to the legendary Bruce Gaitsch, guitarist, producer and composer to Madonna, Chicago, Richard Marx and many more. A lovely guy! We later jammed in the True Temperament booth together with Tommy. Denander has a very neat signature model out with both TT-frets as well as the brand new Evertune system. Had a nice chat with the brain behind it all, Mr.Cosmos Lyles, and he told me a vibrator bar is in the works. I am all there if this is anywhere near the fixed bridge one.

Viking hair and Bruce Gaitsch

One of my evenings in Germany I went to Giessen and did a clinic for my friends at the KIG organization. Had a lovely time in front of the very interested people. The day after I hooked up with my buddy Robert Schiefer who took me to Essen where I did yet another clinic (happy to say FK will play in Essen next year). Robert is always a top notch kind of guy and after my playing I was escorted to a stunning villa next to the castle of Schlosshotel Hugenpoet. An absolutely marvelous place. We had Champagne and good food. Wish I could have stayed longer. The clinic was tremendous much due to the many nice freak friends that showed up (hey, Mr. Rollman!) I loved to talk and play for you. See you in 2012, Essen!

The fine Robert Schiefer in my Schlosshotel living room

The actual Schlosshotel

Up on the Agora stage before noon and loved it although there was a serious lack of sleep involved. Thanks for showing up and listening to my early morning mayhem.

Finally had the chance to have a quick chat with one of my all-time favorite players, Jeff Waters of Annihilator. You may think that we have little in common but I really think he is The One metal player. His timing and drive is superior to anyone out there (which is so obvious when he is dueling with name guitarists an album or two back). One of the best solos I know is Road to Ruin from eons of time ago but I do enjoy the most recent albums as well. Jeff is the shit. Good to meet you and see you play.

The kick ass Jeff Waters

Bumped into loads of familiar faces throughout the fair, campers, new and old. Always have a groovy annual week Germany. See you next year!

Now I find myself in the pretty surroundings of Chambery, France. Done some frantic playing here today. Always feel funny about the word master class (well, two words). Don’t see myself as a Master of anything although I have plenty of things to show. Anyway, did a clinic (or, hrm, master class) in the afternoon then later some kind of showcase in the evening, taking it away with my iPod, improvising my brains out. A lot of people showed to listen to the strange Swede and I am most grateful for that. My buddy Jean-Pierre Biskup was responsible for the entire event and he did good. (Thank you also a bunch for the Summertime album, buddy! Appreciated it!)

The local shoe dump

Got picked up at the airport earlier in the day by Jean-Pierre and his friend who took me to a great bio-veggie place where we had tiptop lunch. Good caffeine too. Kicked back in my hotel before heading for the above clinic and iPod-gig.

The day after I took the train to Valence to hook up with a truly gifted player named Franck Graziano also teacher at a local music school. Clinic and jam session. Happy to see camper Christophe in the audience. Had a groovy moment on stage, teaching my brains out in front of the eager students. In the evening I joined a local band and sang backing vocals on Nobody’s Laughing as well as jammed with Poppy Street, Franck’s band. (Good band too!)

In the morning we drove for Lyon to shoot a DVD for Guitar Part, France’s leading guitar magazine. I was slightly sloppy but it was fun, so…

Off home to do a packed clinic in the city of Skövde in Sweden. Camper Julian was there to make sure the Guru had his chops together.

Just threw away a cup of coffee at Logan airport in Boston. The Americans are good at many things. Coffee is not one of them. Damn, that was some nasty crap! Sandwich was lovely though and being a vegetarian here is not a problem.

Eric and lovely son Xavier taking it away!

I am on my way to Chicago after a lovely time in Boston and a wonderful clinic yesterday. First of all I need to thank my good friend Eric Clemenzi for pulling all this off together with Chris Ptacek in Chicago. Initially I was going to do a bunch of tuition DVDs in New York for Rock House Method and then continue to Boston and Chicago after that. The DVD shoot all of a sudden got postponed but Eric and Chris were determined to go ahead with the clinics anyway. So they did.

Eric in nice shirt

I couldn’t believe playing my sometimes not so flattering music in yesterday’s venue, a big library in the little town on Byfield, outside of Boston. However, the place was packed and we had a ball together. I am so grateful so many showed up (not the least to support Eric who worked hard for this) and I hope to see you in September during the Freak Kitchen US tour.

The cool people of Byfield (and elsewhere)

Eric, myself and Eric’s buddy Steve, playing fretless bass, finished the clinic with an acoustic version of Django Reinhardt’s Minor Swing (that might show up on the forthcoming release of Eric and Steve’s acoustic band Kangaralien as a bonus track).

Steve, the fretless demon

Also happy to see 2008 Freak Guitar Camper Ben attending the clinic in his organic, bamboo camp shirt (I had my 2010 shirt on. Once a camper, always a camper).

I stayed at Eric and his wife Amanda and son Xavier’s home. Xavier is a super sweet two year old and we hung out together, playing with his train set, strumming chords on my Apple Horn Yellow.

Got to meet a man named Jeff Grassie who has a company called Guitar Tattoo, doing beautiful carvings into guitars. Very nice. Check him out.

A backstage Byfield frog

After the clinic a whole bunch of us went to Eric’s folks to eat a yummy dinner. Enjoyed a chilly glass of dry white wine after a successful day. Thank you for letting a weird looking Viking invade your pretty home, o dear Clemenzis.

Er?

Don Draper for president! (Well, maybe not).


Now I am in London drinking coffee again after crossing the Atlantic last night. The Chicago clinic went down equally well as the Byfield one. Chris and wife Margaret picked me up at the airport and we drove for Chris’ nice place, the Plainfield School of Music to do the sound check.

Good friends Jimmy and John!

All of a sudden buddies John Willcoxon and Jimmy Brogan appeared from out of nowhere. We haven’t met since the last gig in Atlanta a few years back and it was a total treat to hang with them! Grabbed lunch at some Irish pub in downtown Plainfield. Ate a mountain of macaroni and cheese. Most likely not the most nutritious food that ever entered my body, but I was starving and wanted to stuff myself. So I did while John, Jimmy and Josh Kramer, another fine player and gentleman, sipped on Irish beer.

Freak mobile #1

Freak mobile # 2

Enjoyed playing and talking in front of the fine Chicago audience. Dan Westadt, a Freak Guitar Camp veteran, plus family showed up together with plenty of other cool people. I kept on going for about an hour more than originally planned. Lost track of time completely but what the heck. Thank you for packing the place, friends. I will be back. Count on it.

Very groovy looking strap # 1

Gifted player Daniel Santos had flown from California to have a private lesson with me after the clinic. It was a real nice moment to sit down and talk and play for a solid hour (or was it two?!) Thanks for your dedication, Daniel. (He’s got a son named Gabriel by coincidence).

Had a few beers at the school with John, Jimmy, Josh, Chris, Margaret, Daniel and a couple of others before heading for dinner. We all went nostalgic over food and drinks and threw concert memories around. A tiptop evening, buddies of mine. Thank you for coming all the way to hook up John, Jimmy and Daniel. Good, good, good to see you.

Very groovy looking strap # 2

Crashed at the slick hotel, woke up at Crap AM (still on Swedish time) and did some work on the laptop before hooking up with Chris and Josh. As a true lo-fi man I still use an old, dead system called Paris by Ensoniq/Emu for recording my tunes. It passed away around ten years ago but I refuse to stop using since it sounds so damn sweet. Even people at Digidesign has begged me to throw it away but I won’t. Not until the last system on Earth has stopped functioning.

Mean looking gentlemen, Chris and Josh plus caffeine

Chris happened to have a bundle of Paris gear laying around and I took it apart and stuffed as much of I could into my bags. Thank you, Chris. Spare parts are hard to get. They will come in handy sooner or later. Thanks again.

John and a mighty fine guitar

Coffee in London was groovy but coming home to the family was even better. Dear American friends, I had an astounding bunch of days together and I thank you for your support and good vibes. See you in September, OK?

Fuzz Guitar Show in Gothenburg! A tiptop weekend with a packed clinic on the Saturday plus a True Temperament clinic and jam Sunday with Anders Thidell, Tommy Denander and Homesick Mac. Good fun!

A jam in tune – True Temperament it is!

Guest playing (and singing) just out there or soon to be heard: Panzerballet, Jonas Tamas, Stéphan Forté, Chandresh Kudwa, Fredrik Pihl, Teodor Tuff, Roberto Vanni, Ranjit Barot and more.

Now I have just finished eating some tasty German veggie sandwiches on a train from Markneukirchen to Nürnberg after having spent a day with buddy Jonas Hellborg and his fiancé Ana. We cooked and played and enjoyed a couple of glasses of exquisite red wine (Jonas has an excellent taste for this and quite a collection). I got me a grand tour in the Warwick factory, who Jonas is working with and we visited the Framus museum in downtown Markneukirchen.

Jonas and German cheese

Fried French cheese

Serious cooking with brother Hellborg

Happy campers!

Art Metal is alive and kicking (new shirt soon on the online store) and we plan to tour next year as well as release new stuff in trio format. We miss playing together and have so much still to do we decided to get back to work again in 2012. Stay tuned.

Drank Hellborg’s kick ass espresso and listened to all kinds of unreleased music, music with Shawn Lane and Jeff Sipe among it. An audio feast that will hit your ears eventually.

Jonas in his lab where the audio magic takes place

Metal art…

A fine piece of instrument

Good to spend some time together before going nuts with my guitar, very solo, in Germany. Jonas and Ana drove me to the city of Hof and put me on the train to Nürnberg where I met Mr. Werner Kratzer of PB music, the German Laney dealer. Now I am in a hotel room somewhere I can’t even remember the name of watching a documentary called Religulous with Bill Maher. Very interesting (and I guess upsetting to some). Woke up at an unspeakable hour and had an hour of iPod-frenzy, mostly listening to the amazing Derek Trucks, and got back to sleep.

Werner the dude

Did a show in Musik Klier that was very loose and nice. My friend and Freak Guitar Camper Andrei came to hear my mumbo jumbo among a bunch of other German freaks. Afterwards we had Italian dinner and I decided to go fat crazy so I had a pizza infested with cheese and olives plus a tremendous glass of dry, white wine. The guys from Musik Klier were very cool lads. Thanks for having me.

Benschi the Store Manager and a Stevie Ray Vaughan strat in the Very Secret Room

Breakfast, brushing the weird hair and whatnot before hooking up with Werner to go to the insanely big (biggest in Europe) music sto… well, not really a store, more like a music village, by the name of Thomann. For those of you who haven’t heard about Thomann they sell, and very well so, musical instruments (plus everything possibly related) on the internet. I have never seen such a place before in my entire life and was duly impressed. I realize it must be damn hard to be a small music store owner and having to compete with these guys in price and variety. You simply can’t win. The mathematics of defeat. Having written this, I still think you should support your local dealer and the stuff you can’t find there, buy it at Thomann. Everyone needs to stay in business.

A Don Felder Les Paul also in the Very Secret Room

Anyway, I had a great time at the place and was showed around by Benschi the store manager who also supplied me with a couple of fine clip-on tuners. (I like clip-on tuners but break them when travelling). Benschi took me to the Very Secret Room with the Very Secret Windows that you can’t see through from the outside when someone is inside. In the Very (Very) Secret Room they had some pretty damn cool instruments, among them replicas of Don Felder’s Hotel California Gibson double neck, Stevie Ray Vaughn strats and whatnot. Of course I smeared my greasy Swedish finger goo all of over them.

A Santo Angelo cable poster somewhere in Germany

The clinic was tons of fun and I really enjoyed the company of all the people coming from the outside as well as the many employees attending. Kept on going for about an hour more than initially planned, but what the hell. When you’re having fun, don’t stop. Andrei popped up again with fiancé. A good evening in the German countryside. Thank you everyone.

Just play it!

Speaking about Germany, Bardo the Shepherd has made us all proud recently when he kicked so much butt during a demanding mental test the people who ran it simply wanted to buy him at any overprice. (Of course we are not selling a family member but it was flattering). They shot above his head, scared him with chains falling from trees, had a ghost approaching him in a threatening way, tested his aggression and passivity, e t c, and he was so exemplary they had never seen anything quite like it. Camilla, my precious wife, came back a happy woman and Bardo celebrated in his own cool way with a sausage (or two). Good dog, damn it, good dog.

Bardo the Enormous, very awesome German Shepherd, Camilla and Gabriel

Find myself on a train on the way to Würzburg than onward to Kassel to hook up with the fine Georg Grau. Hot here today, around 30 degrees Celsius and it is only May. Guess we are looking at a sweaty summer around the corner. Climate changes in practice perhaps.

Georg picked me up at station and we checked in at the hotel. I usually don’t complain, I adjust and get on with it, but in this hotel everything was wrong and so complicated. The staff must have had a crash course in ways to fuck things up for the guests in the most grand of ways. Both Georg and myself were pissed off from check in to check out. Weird, weird.

At least they had an English cow menu…

The clinic at the Alter Schlachthof (translated the older slaughterhouse, I think – THE place for a vegetarian, huh?) was all the more fun and plenty of Germans (and Brazilians and Chileans) came to see the mad Swede. I really enjoyed being on stage in Kassel and there was a relaxed atmosphere in the place. Signed and posed afterwards before grabbing a beer with Armin Engelhardt, the owner of Farm Music who was responsible for the show, and Georg at a bar next to a galleria by the old train station. Smiled when I saw a big, very familiar banner hanging from the ceiling that said “Atomkraft? Nein danke!” In my youth the Eklundh family was protesting against nuclear plants around Sweden and I, along with my four sisters and mom and dad, walked for hours and hours in demonstrations. I didn’t actually enjoy it much since I was perhaps five-six years of age and my legs were half the size of the grown-ups which of course meant I had to walk twice as long. The red and yellow Atomkraft-logo is apparently Swedish (“Atomkraft? Nej tack!”) and we used to wear buttons and everything. (I later changed to pins and buttons with Kiss and Iron Maiden). Those were the days.

Gabriel is currently very much into AC/DC and trying out a few Brian Johnson vocal chops on a ferry in Sweden

On the other side of the road there is a dreadful traffic jam (or stau as they say here) that will take forever to get out of. Time wasted. In Georg’s slick new VW things are smooth though. We listen to the fantastic Cinematic Orchestra (thanks again, Tollis) after having test heard a couple of Smorgasbord mixes. Colder today, occasional showers and a bit hard wind. My style.

Got to Session Music, the place for the day, in Walldorf. Good store, good people. Drank coffee and had käse spätzeln, some kind noodle, pasta like dish with cheese. Met Peter Alexius from Taylor guitars, a very nice man, and I tried his fine instrument and liked it!

Clinic was again quite relaxed and I tried to go into some stuff I hadn’t played in a long time to keep myself on the edge a little bit. After the mayhem I was happy to see Freak Guitar Camper Aziza Schwenke, a girl beyond dedication who came to show me her final exam in years of beefy education… and it was about me! Of course I knew about this since she had to conduct several interviews but it was very flattering to see everything from meticulous transcriptions to history and photos and pretty much everything in between. I told her I wanted a copy for my ego. Well done, well done. Hope all goes tiptop on the upcoming judgment day, so to speak.

Aziza, a.k.a Vinterbarn, a cool, dedicated German girl

I was given a beer on stage, someone in the audience apparently thought I looked thirsty. This is simply not me to sip on alcohol when performing but I have to admit it tasted swell. Thanks buddy.

Georg drove like a (fast) king to Köln afterward, he lives there, and I checked in at my hotel, watched a few seconds of The Exorcism of Emily Rose before falling asleep.

Did a whole lot of Freak Guitar Camp backing track work in my hotel, called home to check on the family and had a groovy breakfast before meeting up with Georg again to go to the enormous Music Store Professional in Köln. Gee… The stores here in Germany really have grown the last bunch of years and the competition is tough, I realize. Music Store Professional is a gigantic place, several floors, instruments and gear everywhere. Impressive.

Camper Stéphane Riqaud came all the way from Brussels to check out the Guru (well) behaving and soon-to-be camper Michael Lewendel plus wife as well. Incredibly gifted guitar builder Timo Schramm came to listen and show me one of his insanely cool instruments. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary please Google the guy. Those are top notch guitars he is building, six and seven (eight on the way?) string instruments. Not cheap, but a guitar amazingly well constructed. I am such a loyal guy and adore my Caparison Apple Horns, but a craftsmanship like this should not go unnoticed. Go Timo, go!

German friends from near and far, lots of Swedish love and gratitude for making the week on the road a true pleasure. Thanks a bunch! Freak Kitchen and Art Metal gigs next year.

Happy to participate in Jason Becker’s Not Dead Yet festival in Haarlem, Holland November 13th together with Guthrie Govan and many more. The backing band will be Stu Hamm on bass and Atma Anur on drums. Really look forward to it. Do a good thing and spend a few Euros on a ticket, alright? Jason needs it.

Björn and his moose salami!

Now I am in Frankfurt (for the zillionth time this year it seems) with Björn and Chris on our way to Toulouse to play tomorrow. It is so good to be back together and hang out. We plan to tour a lot in 2012, the Freak Kitchen 20th anniversary, record new music and simply work hard. We are also shit happy the working visas for the US tour in September have been approved. Watch out, America! The first time around we mainly will focus on the east coast but we will be back soon again. There will be around 10-12 concerts. Dates and cities will be announced as soon as we know them. A big thank you to Blue Mouth Productions for doing this.

Wheel barrel man (in groovy 24 long sleeve shirt of course)

I am watching serious lightning outside the airplane window as the pilot try to get above it. Weather in Sweden has been kick ass the last few days. The Eklundh family went to the coast and Gabriel’s grandmother’s (my mother Inga, that is) lovely place by the ocean to relax, enjoy the fabulous Nordens Ark (a big park with loads of Nordic animals), fish some crabs (we didn’t get any and would throw them back right away if we did) and basically have a good time. Balm for the soul.

After Toulouse I go a quickie to Denmark to teach at a university for a day then it is vacation until the camp starts. We have an Italian festival with the band in July but that’s pretty much vacation as well, so… The family will go to Greece to sail and I will be home working on camp and Smorgasbord material, preparing for intense Guru teaching (an annual highlight for me!) in the woods and a very, very intense fall to come with the earlier US tour, a trip to Brazil, Turkey, New Guinea, Australia, New Zeeland, Indonesia, Denmark and more before Christmas. Blog will follow of course but I need to finish this one after the Toulouse gig otherwise it’ll take on a life of its own. I can’t seem to stop once I get going.

Chris at an airport somewhere

We arrived early for the gig, a day in advance, which was quite nice. Hung out in the beautiful city of Carcassonne and our friend Marge’s folks’ house where insanely yummy dinner was served to our sheer amusement. Much gratitude for this incredible feast! Top notch indeed.

Backstage with Mörgbl

Chris, Björn and I now enjoy a cup of French coffee the day after the gig, soon on our way to harass the people of Toulouse before heading home tomorrow. The gig yesterday was loads and loads of fun and it was sooooo good to make noise together again. It wasn’t pretty, but all the more hilarious. Lots of freaks showed up from near and far. Christophe Godin and his remarkable Mörgbl Trio plus a couple of local bands opened for us. Christophe is a gem, lovely guy and mean player. Mörgbl Trio and Freak Kitchen will team up half-way on the US tour later this year. Look forward to it! Mr. Godin and myself joined one of the opening bands, In Delirium, to play Frank Zappa’s Dirty Love.

About to walk on stage

Anyway, again, the concert was outrageous in a good way. We started out beyond rocky though, walking on stage to the sound of Dean Martin singing in French (from my iPod) when Chris’ tuner all of a sudden caved in. When you fly in and can’t bring in enough instruments you need a tuner to go from one song to the other with different tunings so this was a crucial thing that needed to be fixed. Björn and I jerked around on the stage for some good ten minutes or so, singing April in Paris and whatnot before we sorted everything out and kicked the show in with Rights to You, followed by Nobody’s Laughing, Silence!, Chest Pain Waltz, Teargas Jazz, The Only Way, Murder Groupie, My New Haircut, Porno Daddy, Razor Flowers, Propaganda Pie, Speak When Spoken To, God Save the Spleen, Blind and Jerk before calling it a night. With Freak Kitchen messing up is part of the performance so we simply put in second gear and went nuts. No big deal.

Björn in the venue pool after the gig

The audience was splendid from start to finish and carried us all the way through. Thank you fine, fine, fine French friends for showing up and thank you SDT for setting it up at the impressive Le Bikini venue. A groovy night! We will back in 2012. Count on it.

Björn after checking out the venue pool after the gig

The mighty Christophe Godin – a good man and stunning player

Cool people of France with a Swedish flag (signed by us)

Love is in the air! France, you’re the best! See you soon!

OK, enough writing. Got to get this one online now or else it’ll grow old and start smelling funny. I hope you enjoyed reading. Always a pleasure to touch base a little bit. Sorry it takes eons of time in between these posts, but… that’s me.

More to come in a little while. Have a wonderful summer (if it is summer where you live, that is) and see you later out there somewhere on Earth.

Viking hugs to all of you,

IA

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