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Freak Kitchen Blog

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Paris. My Viking butt finds itself on a harsh railway station seat. Soon about to jump on a train to Tours to do a little bit of playing there tomorrow with buddy Christophe Godin. Last night the Eklundh family arrived from an utter kick ass vacation in Greece, far away from all the teargas jazz in Athens. We spent time sailing the Ionian Sea, swimming in caves and driving around. A tiptop time indeed and a potent battery charger for an intense upcoming second half of 2011.

Inspired Greek house construction… (Can you imagine being the folks with balconies to the left? No wonder the country is in trouble).

Gabriel and the Ionian Sea

The clinic in Tours went fine and I had an excellent dinner the night before with the Morgbl guys. Talked about our mutual, upcoming US tour in September and whatnot. My ever so trusty Tours friend Yasine escorted me to left and right throughout the visit. A good man, mr. Yasine.

Stockholm. With Björn and Chris, on our way to Italy and Maximum Rock Festival which we will headline tonight in Novara. In a couple of days we will back in our country’s capitol to go to the US embassy plus pay the ever so amazing Anders Thidell and True Temperament a visit. I am picking up my first acoustic TT-guitar, my beloved Alhambra that I have been using for stuff like Time to Breathe, Father and The Woman in Seat 27B.

Milano. Waiting for Chris and one of his bass guitars they are keeping on the plane. Apparently the Italian personnel think it is a rifle and don’t want to take it off the aircraft. Ahh… Life of on the road. Pretty much the same thing happened to me at George Bush airport in Houston, Texas a whole bunch of years ago. Had to open my Caparison case in front of two security guys with guns ready to be very much used. The innocent case had the exact size of the most popular machine gun. No weapon inside. Only a Japanese guitar and a bunch of cheap dildos.

Novara. A lovely little festival with great people and welcoming atmosphere. We weren’t really well-rehearsed at all but compensated our lack of tightness with attitude. The three of us had a cool time on stage. My Italian is worse than my French so I screamed random words in between songs for the crowd to shout back: espresso macchiato, quattro formaggio pizza and whatnot. (We were up early as hell and actually had espresso on stage. Where other bands drink hard liquor, we have coffee).

Chris dragged someone on stage to sing and dance during Razor Flowers. Good fun. Friends from near and far came to see the show. Playing before us where groovy band Destrage whom I laid down a guest solo for on their most recent release. Tiptop guys and players.

I would like thank our buddy Ale (again) for believing in Freak Kitchen and bringing us to Italy. See you next year friends.

Nam, nam, nam… (Death by cholesterol)

I’d like to take this opportunity to also thank this year’s Freak Guitar Camp participants. An amazing bunch of players who was a real treat to hang out with. You did good and fought well. I truly hope to see as many of you as possible next year. As I write this, sinister new music that will test your skills and give your playing a vitamin injection is being planned. Will start the actual recording of the backing tracks early January. It will get as nasty as ever, I promise.

Panzerballet’s Jan Zehrfeld paid us a visit to guest teach which was much appreciated. He did insane versions of Brecker Brothers’ Some Skunk Funk from the upcoming PB album (also featuring yours truly).

Trusty, hard-working side kicks Christian Alsing, Fiffi and Jörgen Tjusling, Anders Treptow all did a wonderful job. Alsing spent the first evening of each week going through the history of distortion. A lovely man, Mr. Christian.

Freak Guitar Camp 2012! Dates are:

Week 1 – 30th of July to 4th of August
Week 2 – 7th to 12th of August

Registration begins February 1st at www.freakguitar.com!

(NOTE: We dropped the Scandinavian week, as last year, but might add another international week later on depending on touring schedules and demand. Stay tuned)

After the camp the Eklundh family took my mother Inga to Ebeltoft, Denmark for a few days where we enjoyed delicious food (we stayed at a gourmet hotel) and had a great time together.

We also got a companion for our beloved Bardo, an adoring German shepherd girl named Panja. Watch out people, in a few years time the Eklundh clan might start a kennel! (Not kidding).

Bardo’s new buddy – Panja the grey German shepherd

Munich. We are enjoying brunch together, Björn, Chris and myself, waiting for our plane to America to depart. I am leaning towards getting a shoulder massage but I think there is not enough time left. Been working real hard in the garden before take off, preparing the house for the winter with tons of chopped wood going into the woodshed, safety precautions for Panja and much more. As a middle aged man I get stiff as a bloody brick. Will see what I can find in the US. No problem.

We are soon flying over Washington D.C and it is not far to go to North Carolina, where we are about to hook up with Rodney Cord, one of the two absolutely stunning people of Blue Mouth Productions, putting this tour together.

Chris in New York

Charlotte. Trying to find the hotel of the evening in the hot (understatement) American south. Rodney, without beard as promised, showed up with our tour vehicle, a slick van, very new. An also very new GH100L, my favorite Laney amp next to the (yes) new Iron Heart, plus cab was waiting for me in the back of the car. Damn, it is good to be endorsed.

The fabulous Rodney and Julie Cord!

Got to the hotel, checked in and went to some Mexican place and had yummy dinner. All good. Slept like a crazy, about ten hours.

Went shopping the previous day, Wal-Mart of all places. Prioritized my instruments when flying over (messy with many tunings) so I was a little short on the underpants front. Can’t tour and smell like a pig (you do regardless actually). Wal-Mart is cheap, erasing all competition. A pair of jeans is perhaps about a third or less what we pay in Sweden. However, someone always have to pay, you know.

Nope. Not me.

Cheeseball Björn

The gig in the evening was quite funny. The venue was an unlikely old blues joint where Clapton and tons of others had played, called Double Door Inn. Traveling around the deep south of America is sometimes a little surreal to a Scandinavian bloke. You have rednecks, bikers, cotton fields, rabid guilt spewing churches, black people singing the blues on the porch and whatnot. We had such a jaw dropping ride, both good and bad, on our way to pick Rodney up where he lives with his lovely family in Laurinburg. It was clearly an America in trouble, suffering from financial crisis with ghost towns, stores shut down, houses in desperate need of refurbishing, but also stunning nature and even a spring from 1700-something (chapel around the corner had the completely fucked up sign “Dusty Bibles lead to Dirty Lives”… Better run home and dust my Bible off, hrm). Rodney informed me that Laurinburg has about 13 000 inhabitants and a 156 churches. Gee…

Jeesus…

… and here is pastor Terry Smith and his new moustache for you

Look closely and you will see Chris somewhere in the picture taking a piss to provide the spring with more fluid

Anyway, after Charlotte we went to Florence and kicked back at Julie’s mighty fine house. All three of us had absolutely stunning massage by Whitney the Masseuse. A groovy way to start a tour. Went to Long Horn Steak House (great place for a vegetarian… hrm) with the band, Julie and her buddy Cami. Found a fish that was goodie goodie (I am a Presbyterian, sorry I mean pescatarian and full blown hypocrite since I do eat seafood). Afterwards we had a beer at a local bar and Chris was asked to put something on to cover his tank top and bare arms. The shirt he was wearing apparently means big trouble in the US. Most people don’t refer to it was a tank top. They call it a Wife Beater. Well… This happened many times throughout our visit in America. Matt the very nice sound man got a shirt for Chris to wear.  Thank you Matt!

South Carolina Tobacco Festival – Family Fun?!

Slept like crazy to fight jetlag again. Woke up way later than the guys and had brunch.

Did a whole lot a work on the computer. Since wrapping up the camp I have been running around like a maniac. Really needed to sit down and update the web sites, answer about a zillion unanswered e-mails and try to get the new Growing Your Own Moustache out there together with the ever so trusty Noak HTML Dude Eldh.

Heavenly karaoke! 30 Bible songs for kids…

Hooked up with our friends in the fine, fine Panzerballet who drove from New York to play with us in Florence. Now, I enjoy what these wonderful guys are doing a lot and will be happy to sing and play on their forthcoming album.

Panzerballet and Freak Kitchen in a… kitchen (Julie’s)

People from near and far hooked up for the show. Buddies Krister and Travis from Minnesota drove for days in a mobile home together with a couple of friends. Guys from Florida dropped by as well plus a whole bunch of local freaks.

Mad German and Swedish musicians invading an innocent Florence restaurant

The gig was messy but fun. Loved every minute watching Panzerballet open the night. Good fun. Thank you for coming to the show!

Caffeine is a mighty important thing on the road

Kicking butt in Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Stopping by a Starbucks we were approached by a hilarious drag queen that really liked our look, neat little scarf and everything. (You said you were going to post a link on our Facebook page, but didn’t?) I love the movie Birdcage with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane and this guy looked exactly like Lane.

Soap Bubble Melvin in action

More bubbles

Celebrating Melvin’s Chapel Hill bubbles

When we got to the festival in Storybrook Farm I couldn’t believe my eyes. What a cool place! Oozing of good vibes, nice people, tiptop stage and sound rig, in the middle of absolute nowhere. Loved it!

The sweaty concert was an improvement from the previous day and I had a lovely moment on stage with Björn and Chris. We invited a woman named Melvin on stage since we saw she was blowing soap bubbles in the crowd. Thank you for taking it away on stage with us, Soap Bubble Melvin! Thank you Prog Day people!

A Swedish Chris’ facial expression

… and a French Chris

My kind of amps and cabs

Sure it is… (To stop invading countries to left and right would be a good start. Straight after this we felt we had to play Gun God, which we did).

Had Asian food with the tremendously fine Morgbl. Afterwards there was a serious pool party but I decided to bail out to take care of the sensitive Viking vocal cords a bit. All the other guys went nuts though. The party people sort of called it a day when a big guy got all naked and decided to perform some kind of dance before throwing himself in the pool. Myself? Slept like a baby.

Fire in the hole!

A wet pool party

Drove for Raleigh and the Lincoln Theatre. Nice venue. Andy Wood band, featuring my friend Paul Warren from the Raleigh Music Academy on rhythm guitar, joined us again together with our beloved French dudes. Paul was very much responsible for the two summer workshops I did with Bumblefoot and Guthrie Govan. Guthrie and his amazing band The Aristocrats are following our footsteps in the US only a few weeks from now. (Well, when you read this, it will be months ago, but…)

North Carolina soundcheck

Before the gig the band went to grab some food. At the place we found there was this man in his sixties that used to be in the oil business who told us many interesting (if somewhat upsetting) things he discovered comparing numbers and “facts”. We ended up in a discussion that felt like the Mel Gibson movie The Conspiracy. After the concert he was in the audience with an envelope with print outs of what he discovered. Surely didn’t understand a fraction of it but I hope he will find a way to go public and poke the oil industry in the eye a bit. Keep up the investigation.

Exactly what went through Björn’s head at this time is still unclear…

We had a fine gig with a mighty fine sound and we thank each and one of you for coming out to the show. Spread the word so we can come back, alright?

Norfolk, Virginia. Had a nice and easy ride to the east coast, driving through a bit of intense rain that I adore. Did a live radio interview with Willy Forrest at Up Close and Personal Radio that was fun.

The Norfolk show was most likely that least cool we did on the tour but it still had some goodie goodie moments here and there. Mr. Wood joined us and the French again and played extremely well (Andy is great!) Before the show Christophe and I traded redneck licks with Wood backstage.

Andy Wood and a mighty fine guitar

Hmm… gas station hard on pills. Weird.

Hmm… “Hi IA, Ma… (Mattias), Me (Mattias Eklundh), NY (yes, I am going to NY), 5 cents to go to MI? Nah, if you give me 10 cents I will play OK in Californa”

Secret Corona bottle messages

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I haven’t been to Philadelphia since I was about ten so it was fine to be back. Irene flooded the rivers and a bunch of telephone poles were not happening anymore but other than that it was all good.

The boots of Philadelphia

The guys in fabulous Consider the Source showed up for sound check. If you haven’t heard them you ought to check them out. Three guys from New York that plays an intense mix of music (lots of Indian influences) like no one else. Lovely stuff and very nice chaps.

A bluesy Philly skyline

Our long time friend Kevin Pandele joined us together with his girlfriend. Kevin is French and has helped us on numerous occasions on the road, starting the fan mag The French Kitchen, editing video (Look Bored on the YouTube channel, the Organic bonus DVD and more), e t c. Really good to see you.

The one and only Kevin Pandele

The gig was alright and we had a fine time as always. We felt however we can do better so we trust you spread the word so we can come back! Thanks for coming to the show, good American freaks.

NY? Take left.

New York, New York. I’ve always had a crush on the city since I was a kid. I remember stealing one of my dad Bernt’s books about the place when I was a kid, just looking at the pictures of wild night clubs and tall buildings. There is just something in the air. New York is a different planet and certainly very different from the South. I feel at home in the mess.

Hehe…

Would you like some more cheese in your sandwich?

We dropped the gear off, after listening to Safe in New York City by AC/DC as we entered the Holland tunnel, rigged and sound checked before going to Katz, a legendary Jewish restaurant (where Meg Ryan did the fake orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally). Everything is ridiculously overpriced but you simply don’t care. The vibe is fantastic. Friend and camper Brandon Ellis joined us together with Jeremy Krull, Brian Larkin, DJ Scully from Vigier guitars (Christophe is using them) and Brian’s fiancé. Good to meet ya’ll (as they say where I am now, back in Charlotte).

Brandon the camper in groovy shirt

My wonderful niece Malou plus equally wonderful boyfriend Sebastian came to hook up with the uncle (me) and listen to some freaky music. Malou is the daughter of Kevin Fickling, a.k.a Mr Kaschei/Doctor Pangloss. She lives in NY nowadays and her elder sister Lin is also on her way over (to my sister Gunilla’s despair!) So good to see you both!

Outside The Drom in NYC

Jonas Hellborg’s younger sister Emelie and younger brother Andreas also came out to see the show plus more Swedes and familiar faces (who was that guy from Law and Order?)

The gig was incredibly messy. The first half almost drove me nuts with instruments out of tune and overall sloppy playing. So I got mad and things got a lot better during the second part, which made me happy. We conquered at last. Thank you New York for a tiptop night!

Consider the Source’s amazing Gabriel Marin and a sweet guitar

Consider the Source, Mörgbl and FK

Backstage

Jamming with Consider the Source

Live in the Big Apple

The many faces of Christer Örtefors

New Jersey. Arrived at the Crossroads venue, which I liked. Loads of friends from previous days showed up again; Kevin, Brandon, Brian, Jeremy and more. All good.

The gig was smooth. We played well and were very relaxed on stage. I think we got a little too focused on NYC and now it felt good to just play music together. Actually Jersey and Baltimore were the shows on the tour where we played the best. Chris and I went nuts before the concert when we had absolutely stunning Cajun shrimps. After the gig we grabbed a few beers and I looked at brother Örtefors a table away and saw he had ordered another round of shrimps secretly. He looked at me and saw that I just had my second round of shrimps. Cajun craving. Lovely.

Hanging combat gear to dry

A dildo was given to me on stage and of course I couldn’t resist using it…

What’s new in Baltimore? We headed to record company Laser’s Edge CEO Ken Golden to have lunch. Ken is The Barbecue Wizard and made me a lovely salmon. Everyone else thrived on meat. Ken and his wife have excellent taste in unorthodox art. We had a ball strolling around the house looking at various sometimes bizarre paintings and sculptures. Very cool. We hope to work with Laser’s Edge on the forthcoming album and make a US pressing, most likely the back catalogue as well.

Salmon of doom

The art of Ken Golden’s walls

(Don’t worry, I haven’t become a carnivore again. Merely helping out)

Check ENTIRE surroundings!

Why overdo it? THE cheesecake menu

After a little shopping in here, Chris’ (very expensive) glasses were gone. Damn.

The Orion studios was a cozy club in the middle of nowhere. Buddy and freak guitar camper Andy Canter and friends showed up plus a whole bunch of other freaks. It was a kick ass night I think. On top of everything our crazy French friends in Mörgbl surprised us totally when they, during a lounge style cover of Highway to Hell, all of sudden dressed up as… us! Jesus, they looked stupid with wigs, helmet, glasses, e t c! Christophe took off his glasses and could hardly find the microphone. Hilarious! Needless to say, we had to climb the stage and go nuts together. Check out a video of the entire thing on YouTube.

Christophe Godin as… me?

Ivan Rougny as… Chris?

Crazy Swed… French musicians!

Actual Swedes

Backstage Chris and his new towel

Sweaty Swede in Baltimore

A good night to remember. Thank you everyone.

Washington DC, 9/11. Woke up in the hotel and checked the news to see everything was somewhat okidoki out there, 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. The most weird thing happened, the globe seemed calm everywhere but in… Gothenburg, my home town, where arrests had been made to prevent a terrorist attack on an art exhibition. Now, how stupid is that?! Gothenburg? Come on… It was all over CNN and international press. Gee… Next time I am sure they might try to blow up some squirrels where I live in the woods.

Checking out

My favorite super hero! (A French man, again!)

Two vans with freaky gear… everywhere!

The Book in which we all trust

I feel it! I feel it! (Drying my hands somewhere in the US)

Gee, I am hungry. Can’t seem to find any Mc Donald’s restaurants around though…

Anyway, we head south now and so far, so good.

I think we were all relieved nothing happened. It was an uneasy vibe in the air the days before. Signs on the highways urged people to call in if they saw anything suspicious.

Back to Florence. Invaded Julie’s mighty fine house for the second time on this tour, both bands, before heading to the venue to sound check. Our friend Matt was there to help us out a second round with gear, light and sound. A tiptop dude.

Really fine pals John Willcoxon and Jimmy Brogan came to see us and we had a groovy evening together. The gig was loose but loads of fun. Thanks, as always, to the freak friends that showed up!

Had a bunch of beers at Julie’s place afterwards, all of us, before I got so tired I couldn’t keep my heathen eyes open. Had to call it a day.

The French (again!) singing My New Haircut with us

Deliverence? I can hear the banjo…

So beautiful…

No one can crack me up like Chris when he gets going. Here? Not sure. A few inspired dance steps, I think.

Aftershow hang at Julie’s. Damn, I was tired.

Took care of a lot of logistics in the morning, returned the vans, packed the amps and cabs for future tours, e t c.

The flight back was… pure horror. I am the least afraid guy of flying I know but, man… We went straight out over the Atlantic and all was alright for a while when all of a sudden the worst turbulence I have ever experienced in my life kicked in. Holy mother of God. It was mad. The Boeing was thrown to left and right like crazy. People screamed, puked and panicked. The man behind us had an instant heart attack. Not funny. The girl next to Björn had a nervous breakdown and went to into hysterical spasms. Scary. I closed my eyes and thought about my loved ones while repeating a mantra that I would very much like to see them again quietly to myself. We were all convinced we were going down. After a real struggle the pilot managed to slowly get above the bad weather and the personnel could do a damage control. The man with the heart condition had to be laid down on the floor. Luckily he survived but for a long while he was not able to communicate.

When we got to Munich it was a relief. That was by far the worst flight ever (and I, as you know, do fly a great deal and have had my share of turbulence).

Beautiful drive south

It was lovely to see the family again and hang out with Gabriel for a while. I miss the little man, the wife, the dogs and the cat so much when traveling. After the Jason Becker festival in Haarlem I will take two months off over Christmas. I don’t think I will move my butt from our house until an Indian tour mid-January with Selvaganesh, Hellborg and Mandolin Srinivas.

Gabriel and his Brazilian wooden plane

London. What a fucking day. Pardon the language. I got to the airport, as usual driven by my beloved clan, and checked in via the computer, went to the baggage drop only to find out my last name wasn’t on the reservation. According to Air France my name was Mattias Johannes, which of course it is, only Johannes is not my last name as some of you know. I asked to have it changed. Couldn’t be done. No way. Absolutely not. I could buy a new ticket for approximately 3000€ which I didn’t feel like unless having it refunded by the Brazilians and it was way too early to give them a call. Without my last name the ticket was worthless. Nothing else to do but to call mrs. Eklundh and ask to get picked up again. I, for sure, thought this wouldn’t jeopardize the entire trip but at least delay it one day to have it all sorted out. So after sending e-mails to my Santo Angelo buddies in Sao Paolo, the family and myself went shopping and prepared for a unexpected groovy Saturday evening together, rented a Blu-ray that seemed happening and started to kick back. Gabriel, who was thrilled his dad was back in the house, and I started to play and go nuts in his room when a panic e-mail appeared that told me to get my ass to the airport right away. The travel agency had found a flight (with two different airlines) to South America. Right now I am, in a delayed plane, soon about to arrive in London and haven’t got a clue if I am going to make it or not. The flight to Brazil leaves within the hour from a different terminal and I don’t even have a boarding card yet. Damn. It was also almost heart breaking leaving the family a second time in a day as we thought we’d get at least a bonus day. It’s hard enough as it is with one goodbye…

Sao Paolo. Obviously I made it in the UK and at the airport I was greeted by Rogerio (CEO of Santo Angelo), Daniel (Rogerio’s right hand), Carolina (my right hand/Brazilian mom) and Alvaro (also my right hand/Brazilian dad). All of them extremely fine people that I am fortunate to know.

Sao Paolo downtown

First day was just chilling out, trying to get back to the time zone I recently left in the US. Sao Paolo is one big mother of a city, around 20 million Homo sapiens living here, suburbs included. Carolina, Alvaro and myself did a little sightseeing, ended up in a local joint for a beer while waiting for our table at a popular Chinese restaurant.

Al Capone, Jesus and Steve Jobs… Say no more.

Second day we went to a trade show to sign and be around the many lovely Brazilian freak kids. Throughout the stay I have baffled how many know of me and the band. Even as I walk the streets to get a cup of coffee either someone comes running for an autograph or photo or hang out the window from the car and scream. Good fun and quite flattering. Also met many fine musicians along the way. Brazil is simply oozing of them.

Had dinner with Rogerio’s family and his trusty sideman Daniel at a nice place.

Cash or credit card?

Wazzup?

George of the Jungle

Ragged ol’ Snow white

Did a short set at a slick night club downtown where buddies from Andragonia showed up. Got me a groovy drawing (had gifts given each and every day. Very sweet).

Went to see the Santo Angelo factory where we were given a grand tour. Man, it was heartwarming to see the place. I get to experience so much depressing stuff on my travels, people living and working under the most dreadful conditions. The Santo Angelo facility was the exact opposite where you actually care about your employees and make sure they are treated with respect, have certain benefits, frequent breaks, e t c. Rogerio is a genius and has traveled loads to check out what can be done before he started from an environmental point of view. The facility has natural light and air-condition. All the leftovers from manufacturing the (splendid) cables are recycled. The place has won all kinds of awards and I am proud to be an endorsee. Great work guys!

Santo Angelo himself

Where they make my cables

Natural air condition

Natural light

Serious cable company recycling

Look mom! I made my first jack!

Rogerio and Daniel – two wonderful guys indeed!

Who’s that boy?

The following days I mostly played, signed and experienced the huge fair called Music Expo at the Santo Angelo booth. I must have put my name on thousands of signing cards, e t c, before I was done. Loved the Expo and the vibe. Did clinics at the EM&T as well as the Souza Lima school. Thank you tiptop freaks for coming to hear me!

Clinic at the great EM&T

Happy clinic people

Monica Lima, boss of EM&T, and son + Swede

Live at Souza Lima

We’re not in Boston anymore…

Oh, we nearly crashed our car here in Sao Paolo’s intense Friday afternoon traffic a second ago when an idiot went out from his driveway without looking. Close call.

Oh, bloody hell. Now we actually DID crash. The breaks just ceased to function all of a sudden! We smashed into a Citroen, new one, with a lawyer driving it. Bummer. Poor Alvaro yelled “the breaks aren’t working!” before we came bursting into the butt of the shiny vehicle in front of us. Luckily everyone is alright. Shit happens.

Double parking

My Brazilian Dad Alvaro and Mom Carolina. Splendid parents!

Angra’s Rafael Bittencourt

… and his street!

Angra’s Felipe Andreoli

… and his new car stereo

Live at the Manifesto club

Captain?

Have pen. Will sign

Yes I will!

Yes I will!

Yes I will!

Cool people waiting for the pagan to begin playing

More cool Brazilian freaks waiting

Waiting, waiting…

Yes, we’re waiting…

Waiting, waiting, waiting…

Finally!

Had so many lovely gifts and drawings during my Brazilian stay, it was amazing!

I want your nose! I want it!

The winner of the Mattias IA Eklundh lookalike contest

Sure, Gaddafi is dead, but…

Osama bin Laden seems to be alive and well in Sao Paolo

Ironheart! A kick ass amp!

A notch better than Indian wires

Market time!

Jesus, you’re everywhere!

Uhuh…

Why so upset?

The pick of destiny…

Groovy restaurant in the hills

Er?

Yummy veggie food!

Birdie nam-nam

TV time!

More lovely veggie food!

Not again

Inspired pop art

Video shoot

People of Brazil, I can not tell you enough how much I enjoyed my first visit in your fabulous country. You made me happy and proud and you can bet your fine butts I am coming back as soon as possible! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! (And to all of you who participated in the Santo Angelo Freak Guitar video contest to win the signed guitar – you all did really well. It was tough to pick a winner I tell you that. Hope you dig the guitar Luis Felipe Mathias!)

Abu Dhabi. Annoyed by the fact that someone decided to take a coffee break instead of updating the departure monitors I quickly mutated into a sneaky, part-time hacker. The guy at the information desk here left his computer unprotected and it was easy to figure out for oneself with only a few clicks where I am supposed to board. The airport here in the UAE is fairly big and I hate to run like a maniac the very last minute to get on the aircraft. Happened one time too many. Terminal 3, gate 35. Good info.

I am only here for a few hours and remember the sweet trip to Dubai earlier this year.

Sydney string bending

It was so good to be home again with the family for a few weeks. We were all sick as dogs but it didn’t matter. The Eklundh fam is rarely ever sick but when we got some crap, we get it bad. Can’t wait to take a couple of months off to do fun things with Gabriel, celebrate Christmas, write and record new music.

Still, now I am all geared up for this Oceania/Asian trip. First visit to Australia and I will go all around the country which will be truly interesting.

Content in Sydney

Sydney. I was picked up by Mark from Australis music and his fiancé and taken to my fine hotel after the beefy flight. Kicked back by reading a copy of Empire and an interview with David Fincher shooting the first of the books in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. By coincidence I had Men Who Hate Women (or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as it is called outside of Scandinavia) on DVD with me. It has been a while since I watched it. Thought it was equally good as the first time. It is going to be interesting to see how Fincher approaches the story.

Hey, mr. Kangaroo man

The next day I was picked up by Kurt, also from Australis music who took me to see their office and warehouse. I am, believe it or not, an official Tama drum endorsee and Australis are distributing the stuff. Have a kit on the way to the studio and it was cool to sink my teeth into what I actually ordered.

Sir Evil Eye

Brisbane sky

Brisbane. Ombudsman! What the hell?! I was not aware of this very Swedish word being used so frequently in English language. On my flight here I watched the news and Ombudsman was mentioned in every second sentence. So… we have Ikea, Abba, Volvo (before it turned Chinese), the moose, fermented Baltic herring, Ingmar Bergman and Ombudsman that we can be proud of as Swedes. Well, Smorgasbord as well. And maybe Kalles Kaviar.

It’s everywhere! It’s everywhere!

Got to my hotel and went through my guitars since I had to check them in despite frantic arguing at the counter. Not so cool in a soft bag. I told the persistent girl behind the desk that each instrument is worth more than 5000 AUS $. She replied in the most jaded mood that for that kind of doe she could buy many interesting beverages. Jesus…

Anyway, Apple Horns were good and I am happy to be in the cozy town of Brisbane, north of Sydney. The clinic yesterday at Bam Bam Music in Blacktown was great with many die hard freaks showing up. I was told before coming here that people only go see drum clinics, never guitar clinics. Not true. I am super grateful for you cool folks coming out to see the show and hear my playing through Laney’s new, kick ass Iron Heart! Killer gear! My new rig is waiting for me as I get home! Can’t wait to start recording with it.

If chins could kill, huh?

Alive in Brisbane

Brisbane skyline

The Brisbane clinic was lovely with a good number of freaks showing up! Thank you all! Will be back. Signed a Caparison afterwards plus plenty of flyers and covers.

Toowoomba.  Had lunch with Andrew and took the opportunity to have a couple of passport photos for my visa in Nepal shot. Learned that here they don’t say AC/DC but Acca Dacca. Don’t ask me why (nobody seems to know).

No fire today

The people in the store Royce Music were really nice folks. Heard Freak Kitchen blasting out of the speakers from afar. Cool.

The clinic was relaxed and intimate. Had a tiptop time in Toowoomba and again, most grateful for the Aussies showing up.

The loudest bird in the world. At least in Toowoomba

Drove back to Brisbane and had dinner at the Pancake Factory before going to bed.

Yummy

The next day I was off and did a lot of work in my hotel room, composing, answering e-mails and more. In the afternoon Andrew took me to see kangaroos in the wild. They’re lovely but despite their cute look they can kick you real bad if your presence is not Kangaroo Approved. We didn’t go super close but still it was thrilling to see them.

We then had Thai food and I went to bed completely stuffed. Now I am on a plane to Melbourne and from there I will head to Geelong.

Geelong. Jon Hicks, another trusty sales rep of Australis, picked me up at the airport and took me to an excellent breakfast place where I had scrambled eggs with feta cheese and pesto. Yummy.

Geelong garbage man

Drove to Geelong, a pretty south tip of the country with almost a tropical climate. Liked the place. Very cool freak friends came to see the madness and there were tons of album covers, Laney amps and heads, guitars (Caparison even) that got the Viking signature. Smart and interesting questions were asked which always give the clinic a nice flow (although I never stop talking). Thank you for coming from near and far! As usual, spread the word!

In the car, heading for Melbourne. Going to go to bed very early today. Call the family, grab some food and beer, maybe watch a movie and then sleep.

Melbourne. Slept some fantastic eleven hours after watching French movie Vidocq (that I didn’t half as good as the first time I saw it, Björn. Sorry…)

Acca Dacca lane, huh?

So, here we are in the AC/DC capitol. I really like Melbourne, I must admit. The city has a soul and it’s not all glass, concrete and metal. I especially dug the Fitzroy neighborhood where I found interesting stuff and groovy food. Also was happy to go to AC/DC lane, a short, tiny street with graffiti all over the place. Before this I did a hilarious TV shoot with Hack Wanger and his Guitar Gods and Masterpieces show. Man, that was the most fun session I’ve had in quite a while. Hack is quite a character and speaks in a funny voice. Before the show we talked about how my last name means one penis in Hindi. As we shot he started to ask me “You mentioned the word penis before…” Both of us, men in our forties, completely lost it and started to laugh in the most hysterical way. Forever. We were crying. Trying to focus. Lost it again. Everything became funny as the tape rolled. Not a single useful word came out from neither of us for a small eternity. Wonderful. Haven’t laughed that hard since I can’t remember when. I hope Hack will put it out there, sort of like a blooper reel. Man, it was tough to get back to seriousness after this.

TV-time again

The one and only Hack Wanger

So, you mentioned the word “penis”…

The guy is working his ass off and in the fourteen months he has been around he has pulled off more than seventy interviews (and with guys like Steve Vai, who just left the country when I arrived, Derek Trucks, Albert Lee and many more). Guitar Gods and Masterpieces has really taken off with hundreds of thousands of viewers. Well deserved. Played seven tunes (first takes as I have painfully come to the conclusion that as soon as I start to think too much about what I am doing, I loose it. So even if you screw the first bunch of seconds up, continue as you drain yourself from energy if you go for a perfect take, as there is no such thing). The 60 watt Laney Iron Heart sounded so damn sweet I couldn’t believe it! Darn, my British friends will have to send me one of those as well. Greedy bastard musician I am.

Hack, I loved it and will be back as soon as I set my foot in Australia again. Thank you for a truly fun time.

Slash, far right, was sitting in for a jam, hrm.

Now we are stuck in rush hour traffic trying to make it to the Five Star Music store. I usually need six minutes for sound check (including packing things up, tuning the guitar and so on) so I think we will be just fine.

The clinic in Melbourne was groovy to the bone with a fine number of people attending! I enjoyed myself a great deal on stage and was glad to see die hard freaks showing up with FK shirts and whatnot. Good to see people from the clinic in Geelong as well turning up for another night of mad Viking playing. Thanks a bunch everyone! Very much appreciate your support!

Now I am the airport (no shit) about to get on a plane to Canberra, the very capitol of Australia. Last show tonight before heading north to Indonesia.

Towels. One thing that annoys me in hotel rooms is that nearly every hotel today has a sign in the bathroom that mentions the effect all the detergents when washing towels and sheets has on the environment. You know, leave your towel on the floor if you want it changed, hang it to dry if you can stand the thought of using a towel TWICE and thereby help Mother Earth out a bit. No matter how much I hang towels everywhere I go, it’s changed every damn day anyway! Even when I stay in a hotel room for several days and put Do Not Disturb sign on the door handle there is bloody mountain of clean towels piling up outside my door.

Don’t you fucking dare changing it!

Interesting… When waiting for someone to pick up the phone in Australia the dial tone is in 5/4. How cool is that?!

Canberra. Said hi to the guys in Better Music and had a look in their fine store. They carried Jonas Hellborg’s great DR signature strings and on the counter was a copy of a guitar mag with an article with Guthrie Govan. Goodie goodie.

Went back to the hotel and changed strings while watching the movie Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky. I really enjoyed it. Especially the opening sequence where they had stages the opening of Igor’s Rite of Spring in Paris, back in 1913. The piece and ballet was considered so outrageous the ensemble was booed off stage. It was a new musical language unheard off. Paris wasn’t ready at the time. Later fell asleep in the listening to Petroushka, another stunning piece of work by Igor.

Also did a little composing for the forthcoming Freak Kitchen album. It’s going to be a straight in your face release. To the point. Hope to have it released next fall.

The clinic was tremendously fun with a lot of people showing up. Had a truly tiptop couple of hours up there and hope to see you all soon again.

Signed stuff afterwards. Was happy to see a guy wearing a God Save the Spleen T-shirt. All good.

At the airport. Back to Melbourne to catch a plane to Perth.

I have come to a bunch of conclusions while in Australia :

No one hear drinks Fosters. No one. You can’t find it. We are mislead back home.

No one looks like Crocodile Dundee.

People do say “mate” in every second sentence.

The coffee is good.

I like the place. I like the people. I like the kangaroos. (They should fly in a Swedish moose and let it be intimate with a kangaroo; the birth of the kangamoose…)

Nicole Kidman is considered snobbish and a bad actress but everyone loves Hugh Jackman.

Canberra has many government buildings and porn shops. (They usually go hand in hand).

Toowoomba could be the name of a Norwegian death metal band (perhaps wearing koala bear make-up instead of the usual panda bear look to honor the aboriginals that came up with the name in the first place).

Free WiFi is something unheard of.

Sydney’s Blacktown is almost like Beverly Hills compared to most places I visit. (I was told this is the rough part of Sydney).

That’s it.

The Queen is lurking somewhere here

Perth. I was picked up at the airport by good sport Nicky T from Australis music. He desperately tried to nail a clinic in town but Australis only begun distributing Laney recently so I had a day off.

We ate like kings by the beautiful shoreline. The Queen was in town so there were policemen all over the place. Since Australia is a commonwealth country this is a pretty big thing here. Apparently the 86 year old royalty stayed close to my hotel but she was too busy to hang out. Tough girl though. Saw her on TV walking around for quite some time after a boat trip shaking peoples hands forever. The Helen Mirren movie was good too.

Perth was a cool town, west coast of Australia (many sharks in the inviting waters). Gene Simmons and Red Hot Chili Peppers own property here.

After eating ourselves silly we went for a drive to Fremantle, where Bon Scott was born (and is buried). A sweet little town I’d love to come back to. Had a glass of wine after checking out a marvelous sunset. Found a second hand bookstore where I found (or actually Nicky did) Highway to Hell – the Life and Death of Bon Scott. Great reading. I also picked up If Chins Could Kill – Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell. More groovy reading. I loved stuff like Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness, Crimewave and Darkman when I was a teenager. Sam Raimi’s inventive directing style and funny camera angles were groundbreaking in my book, especially the first two Evil Dead movies. Bruce Campbell’s exquisite timing and funny faces, murmurs and screams were second to none. His Ash character was one of my teenage heroes. Had a hilarious time reading the book. (It basically read itself in a couple of days).

Survival kit: cash, noise-reduction headphones, adapaters, HD-cam, first aid kit, bag scale, movies, books, socks (for blood circulation when flying like a middle-age man does), iPod and vitamins.

Now I am on a plane to Bali writing this and gearing up for the (lovely) craziness of Indonesia. If you have a 150 people attending a clinic in Australia, you have 1500 on the island of Java.

Bali. Hotter than hell here. 7:00 PM and around 28 degrees Celsius plus serious humidity. Everyone is wearing cheesy vacation clothing. The scent is nice though. Get Indian vibes. Not sticking around long. Damn, I need to take a piss. (Pardon the French). Went searching for some cool stuff for Gabriel but it is mostly touristy crap. He wouldn’t be interested in an I Love Bali shirt anyway. OK, got to find a bathroom, then check in, find a boarding pass, a gate and ultimately an aircraft.

The new Laney Ironheart has quickly become my main amp. I love it!

Jakarta. Someone was hired to take me through the customs, which always is a tricky thing here. I have a working visa but had to sign that under no circumstances will I perform any kind of work while in the country. How stupid is that?

I was taken into a smoky room with two police officers that didn’t speak a word of English. Apparently someone at the embassy in Stockholm put one digit wrong in the visa and all kinds of hassle piled up when all of a sudden the officer decided he probably didn’t give a fuck after all and put all the necessary stamps in my passport. Thank you.

More goodie goodie gear

Outside my buddy Hendry met me and took me to my hotel where I was upgraded to a suite. Sweet. To my utmost surprise a bell boy from three years ago remembered me (and I him!) He wrote me after my last visit on Facebook and I do believe we are Facebook friends. He helped me carry all my crap to the groovy room on the Executive Floor and promised to show up for the show in Jakarta. Good to see you!

Bandung. Good to be back in Indonesia’s third biggest city. Still have my “Bandung laptop bag of doom” that I bought here during my last visit. Traffic is mad as in every big city. The distance from the hotel to the venue should have taken maybe twenty minutes to walk. Easily fifty minutes by car during rush hour. Madness.

Ahh…

I was happy to see myself on the cover (and on every second page) of leading guitar magazine here entitled Gitar Plus. Gitar Plus and the Bandung Guitar Community arranged the event of the day, an indoor mini festival at a place called Alcatraz. Did what I usually do (mess around without a clue) and had a tiptop time as always. Did a little jamming at the end of my set with local guys that were really skilled from playing the Dobro to heavily distorted shred. Cool.

Bandung in the morning

Live in Indonesia’s third biggest city

Thanks a bunch for coming out to the show! Now I am in the car listening to Ella Fitzgerald trying to get out of the city and drive to Jakarta. Slept darn good.

In Jakarta I checked in at the luxurious Grand Mahakam, a five star kind of place. Another suite, two floors and everything. Of course I find it flattering and do appreciate a nice room. Sometimes I just feel weird though since I am merely passing by. I am fine with places like Hotel Ibis where it is (somewhat) clean, plenty of power outlets and to the point. What annoys me the most at high class rooms are the fact that someone is knocking on your door every five minutes to make sure everything is alright. However, the Grand Mahakam was grand and going to bed on the second floor in the room was a treat.

A neat clinic set-up indeed…

Sound checked at the big Studio Seven where my fine distributors had set up a massive rig for the evening. Big video screens on both side of the stage, a catwalk, slick Just Play It-backdrop and tons of British amps.

Did my usual two minute amp testing and the Iron Heart did sound tremendous again.

Outside I met my buddy Ponch and we chit chatted for a while before it was time for a press conference.

Ponch and the Viking

People from the Swedish embassy showed up to make sure I didn’t say anything bad about my native country (I love Sweden!) Good to meet you Amreta.

Answered questions together with my fellow Indonesian guitar heroes that were opening the evening. Bumped into my other friend and Freak Guitar Camper Insan on the way to my car. Insan had grown his hair since the visit in Sweden and I didn’t recognize him first when he stood in front of me! So tiptop to see you, brother Kamil although short (as always when traveling).

Insan the camper (right) and his buddy

Kicked back at the hotel room for a few hours, called home and wished the family happy Halloween, plus arranged a couple of new Freak Kitchen tunes.

The clinic was wonderful with loads and loads of freaks attending! Played a pile of tunes, answered questions from the crowd, played some more before it was time for the ending jam.

Kick ass people of Jakarta!

More kick ass people!

Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetal!

Yepp! More kick ass people!

Photo! Photo!

I once had a hernia this big!

Now, I am not a jamming kind of guy as I have written many times before while blogging. I adore making music on the fly but detest lick trading. This night proved to be a wonderful exception to my cynical attitude towards jams. My two very, very fine local guitar friends Andry Muhammad and Ridho were equipped with sensitive ears and together we made a fine piece of music. No drums, no bass. Just three carefully played guitars. I was flabbergasted how well it turned out and felt genuinely happy as all kinds of interesting rhythms and harmonies revealed themselves. Thank you lads! Let’s do it again!

Lovely Indonesian jam!

Also, a big, big thank you to all the people that turned up for the show! You are kick ass girls and boys, you are!

Signed my brains out afterwards before heading back to the hotel again. A very short sleep awaited me, four hours or so, but I went to bed a happy guy.

Signing and posing

Signing and posing some more

Guangzhou. Back in China for a short while. Had coffee at a trusty place I knew from before and even plugged my computer into the same socket as I did perhaps two years back. One is a creature of habits, huh? China always makes me ambivalent. It is something in the (bloody polluted) air that triggers aggression within me as soon as I set foot in the country. And you know I am peaceful man. Maybe it is because they bought Volvo AND now possibly Saab? Dunno…

Anyway, had a veggie sandwich feast to be remembered until next time I need to charge my computer in Guangzhou.

I type this on a plane to Nepal while looking with one eye on the movie Sanctum. Don’t know why. I have already seen it (on Blu-ray needless to say) back home, so…

Content in a rickshaw in Kathmandu

Kathmandu. I was picked up by the wonderful Bikrant who immediately threw a silk scarf around my neck. Jumped in his Defender and headed for my hotel. Kathmandu was dark and the holes in the streets pretty much require a vehicle like Bikrant’s unless you want to move into to a car shop permanently. Slept well, had kick ass breakfast and hooked up to check out the city. Read the most bizarre article in The Himalayan Times about Mount Everest’s south side being so covered in human shit there is simply nowhere left to put up your tent. Due to climate changes this gigantic pile of crap is starting to melt slowly making it even trickier to camp. Lovely.

Contains shit article, er?

The lovely Bikrant…

and his ring!

Nepal is a very chilled out place. Where I sometimes have to fill out a zillion papers and send my passport away for weeks to get a visa, here you have a guys laughing behind the counter who couldn’t care less if you filled in every detail in the visa on arrival form as long as you cough up 25 US$. I like this attitude on a paranoid planet.

We strolled around the city after a short rickshaw ride. There is a tremendous vibe in the air. Very similar to India. China drives me nuts but as soon as I set foot here it is all gone. Sure it is dirty, poor and ragged, needless to say but still… fantastic. Mount Everest and the Himalayans are around the corner.

Buddha merchandise anyone?

Next to my bed, in case the electricity is out to lunch in the middle of the night and you need to pee

Such happy coffee

Had a cup of (organic) coffee on the promptly named Freak Street where the hippies used to hang out and smoke themselves silly back in the days. Still lots of young “must go to Nepal and find the meaning of life” people around, all dressed up in Om shirts and khaki pants, occasional henna tattoos, dreadlocks, back packs, smoking pot, the whole nine yards. We are all walking clichés in one way or the other but the western kids hanging out in Kathmandu are so stereotype it hurts (although they think the exact opposite of course). I think the Nepali laugh a great deal about this as they cash in on yet another North Face sleeping bag, trekking gear, dope or books about spirituality. Sorry for being a cynical schmuck. I simply find it funny.

Montessori heaven school?! (Gabriel goes to a Montessori school and it is great and all, but… heaven?)

Bikrant is an amazing dude. He has built something that I can only describe as an… empire. Yet he is the coolest man, far from a bossy tyrant. Silence Entertainment Group is his baby and not only is he doing a great job selling music gear in his store Tone Music, he produces movies, sets up festivals, builds houses and apartments and whatnot. A good, dedicated man who was a treat to hang out with.

Lunch time

Yummy

Yay, I’m in the paper


Jak hair for sale

Who wouldn’t want to spend a day with such a handsome man? Hrm…

Freak Street! Ha!

Kathmandu from the Monkey Temple

Downtown

Gee…

I am sucker for masks

I get it! I get it!

Stunning coffee indeed!

Look I am on a wall!

The Swedes are everywhere! (SKF sign to the left)

Used books… in Swedish… in Nepal!

Yeah! Tiptop!

Uhuh…

Did a little shopping for Camilla the Wife and Gabriel the Son. Gabriel got a neat Angry Birds shirt. Had a funny gift made for the annual Fuzz magazine Christmas party where I try to outdo myself each year with gifts containing the Fuzz logo. This time I had a wonderful shirt sown with the logo plus cool Hindu graphics and Free Tibet underneath. The wife had socks, gloves and a warm sweater made out of Jak hair. Got me a spooky Bhairav wooden mask for the Apple Horn Abusement studio. Had tiptop lunch before heading for Tone Music where the clinic was to be had. Lots of crazy, lovely freaks showed up to get a taste of the Viking tunes. All of a sudden it started to rain but we covered the amp and iPod. The show must go on.

Live in Kathmandu

The freaks of Nepal

The Evil Dead!

Hello!

Spit drumming time

Signed tons and tons of stuff afterwards, guitars, shirts, cards and posed for photos. A splendid evening. I am most grateful for everyone showing up! We truly hope to bring the band to the Silence Festival in October next year!

Signing amps and…

cigarettes!

And even signing cards sometimes!

Strolled around the city for some five hours the previous day and even managed to climb the Soyambhu temple (or Swayambhunath as many refer to it), a Buddhist place located on a large hill west of the city of Kathmandu. Monkeys all over the place cracking me up with the most inventive ways to steal tourist fruits and sandwiches.

Monkey temple time

Me and my new friend

The inventive monkeys of Kathmandu

I bid you welcome…

I loved Kathmandu and Nepal. I shall be back. Thank you fine people.

Brussels. Groovy coffee and groovy Tintin merchandise for Gabriel (and me). Have yet to see the Spielberg movie but as you read this I will probably have watched it several times. Everyone says it is kick ass. Also stunning to have the new David Cronenberg movie A Dangerous Method around the corner. My kind of movie fall! Yes!

Home! Hung out with the family (needless to say) and also did some Smorgasbord recording in the studio. Darn, darn darn, it was lovely to be back in the woods with near and dear ones again. Bjorn and I took our sons to swim in Lerum and the Water Palace. Good fun.

Amsterdam. Sitting in a hotel room somewhere between Amsterdam and Haarlem. Just had lunch with Guthrie Govan and Stéphane Forté. Guthrie and I hung out and drank beer the entire evening while the other guys rehearsed. In the bar of the hotel the waitress told us she just came back with her husband from Australia having seen Steely Dan at a vineyard. She also informed us that Alison Krauss sounds twice as good if dropping LSD at the same time. Yeah? Right.

Hotel lobby quartet (moi, Guthrie, Stu Hamm and Michael Lee Firkins)

The rehearsals went just fine with Atma Anur, Stu Hamm and my two helping hands Federico Solazzo and Martin Miller on keyboards and guitar respectively. It was a real treat to hear my tunes in the hands of Anur and Hamm. I mean these guys go way back to when I was a teenager obsessed with everything released on Mike Varney’s Shrapnel label. I remember when Stu’s Radio Free Albemuth came out back in 1988. We all freaked out over the insane bass playing.

Rehearsing with Stu and Atma Anur

This genteman, Atma Anur that is, played no less than 49 songs in a row…

Left the wonderful party early due to a persistent hangover because of previous day’s beer investigation. Guthrie can hold his liquor way better than me. Watched half of the old movie Hindenburg with George C. Scott but the eyelids wouldn’t stay open for long. Woke up some ten (!) hours later. I think I needed to sleep, huh?

I like this man’s playing very much

Worked on Smorgasbord, FK and camp music before being picked up to go the venue together with Michael Lee Firkins. Firkins is a player I’ve admired for a long time and despite my constant quest to grow my own moustache have stolen a few licks from. Perhaps not the exact notes but the vibe and style. Michael’s fingerpicking is top notch and his intonation divine. I was really looking forward to meet the guy.  If his record company don’t beg to differ he will be playing on the upcoming Freak Guitar album.

Where the nasty people dwell…

and laugh and have a good time!

Eat!

And play Apple Horn guitars!

Grow your own moustache, huh?

Got to the venue, had food and cracked jokes with Guthrie, Kiko, Stu and Michael backstage in our dressing room. It was good to see Kiko again. We talked about fatherhood (he recently became a dad) and showed pictures of our kids. Atma was busting his butt the entire evening, playing no less than 49 tunes straight. Amazing man.

This man doesn’t take no for an answer. The amazing Atma!

Guthrie sound checking

Went out in the audience and signed stuff, posed for photos, shook hands. So happy to see my beloved campers, eight of them, dressed up in this year’s yellow shirt! We are like a family and the campers are my children! At least it feels like it although a few of them (very few) are actually older than me. Lovely to see you. You make me happy! Thanks for coming.

It was a little heartbreaking to see Jason on a monitor watching us live the entire evening. I wanted to hug him but almost had to ignore he was watching to do my thing (go nuts).

This sign means something completely different in Swedish, Guglielmo!

The one and only Stu Hamm

Taking it away in Haarlem

Michael live

Decided to do pretty straightforward tunes early on. If you took one quick look at the bill you’d realize there would be more than enough notes played for a lifetime. So, I choose La Bamba, Father, Samba Caramba and Happy Hour to do a bit of singing, give the crowd a moment to breathe. Federico joined Stu, Atma and me on Father and Happy Hour. We were happy to have Martin join us on Happy Hour as well. The tune had never been performed before so didn’t have any backbone feeling at all. It went down surprisingly well though. We screwed up the set here and there but overall it felt good. Thank you so much for showing up friends from near and far! Thank you Kris, Guglielmo, Laurie and everyone involved for an amazing night.

Enjoyed a beer together my campers watching Michael and Guthrie do what only they can. Lovely musicians, lovely chaps!

Now I have boarded the plane home and am about to put my phone, that I type this on, down. Camilla, Gabriel, Bardo, Panja and White-Paw the Cat are waiting for me home. Will now spend a couple of well-deserved months with the family, record like a maniac and recharge myself for 2012.

Before finishing this, a couple of reminders plus cool things for the year to come:

Camp registration begins February 1st on www.freakguitar.com

Caparison Guitars are very much back on track with the one and only Itaru Kanno on board. Now UK owned we can expect more activity and easier access in the future. All good. Check: www.caparisonguitarcompany.com/en

I will play at the Global Music festival in Chennai, India January 13th – 15th together with Jonas Hellborg, Selvaganesh, Uma Shankar and more. Looking forward to it!

Laney clinics in Italy in February! Possibly Spain as well.

Freak Kitchen will play at next year’s Frankfurt Messe plus additional gigs in Wetzlar, Essen and Mannheim in March. We will also make Swedish noise at the PPM fest 8th of April in Belgium.

The band has happily just signed a deal with New Jersey based Laser’s Edge. The record company will release the entire catalogue in a groovy US pressing as well as the new one late 2012. Needless to say, we are very excited about working with CEO Ken Golden and his crew. Expect Vikings harassing America in the future big time.

Ladies and gentlemen, it has been a wonderful, crazy, intense and great year! For the zillionth time: my utmost gratitude for your endless support all around the world. You are the best! Thank you! Remember to grow your moustaches wherever you are.

IA

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