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Freak Kitchen Blog

Happy Harmageddon – Blog of Doom

A super big congratulation to brother Chris and his newborn baby girl Nathalie not to mention mother Shara who pulled the bravery of labor off! Nathalie is a such a charming young lady you just melt. Her parents are quite proud and should be! Welcome to the freak family, Nathalie.


Enjoying myself tremendously as I watch the legendary Vikku Vinayakram and his sons go nuts on stage during sound check. I am in Chennai, south India where it is hot and dirty, the way it should be. Flew in a quickie the other day to participate in something called Chennai Global Music Festival.

Carnatic Healing in Chennai by Vikku Vinayakram

Brother Jonas Hellborg should have been here as well but was put to a halt due to idiotic visa trouble. India and the US are always a pain in the butt when it comes to visas, no matter how pleasant the visits may be when you finally get there. It takes forever and ever. Guys like Jonas and myself can not just send away passports for eons of time as we travel intensively. Whatever. Hellborg was missed (although we were not scheduled to play together, strange as it may sound).

Before take off I had an early (too early) cup of coffee with buddy Biffen and the guys from In Flames who were on their way to tour the US. Biffen is a trusty guy and has supplied me (and campers) with a shitload of Dunlop gear for many years.

Jamming with the Vinayakrams

I trust the holidays were goodie goodie. If I know myself correctly this will not be online until way later so perhaps it is a little off to talk about Christmas and the new year. My break was stunning though. Needed it, big time.

Had a fun time on stage with Selvaganesh, Uma Shankar and Mahesh Vinayakram. The gig was beyond loose, rarely any rehearsal at all but it turned out messy and fun. Dear friends of Furtados Music sent me a Laney combo from Mumbai to abuse. Thank you Mr. Mangesh. Thank you Mr. Sahil. Much appreciated.

Ah… the Swedes have invaded South India as well

During my brief visit to India I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with lovely musician and human being George Brooks. A true treat to hang out, George. (Mr. Brooks joined our slightly confused set to sing La Bamba which he knew about half the words to. Hilarious!)

The one and only George Brooks

Uhuh

Some sad news. Good friend Amit Saigal, also fully fantastic concert promoter, founder and editor in chief of India’s Rock Street Journal, died in Goa recently. They believe he suffered from an asthma attack while swimming.

Brothers Jonas and Amit in Hyderabad, India

Amit will be deeply missed. He was such a funny, dedicated man. Everyone loved him. Putting together a memorial article for RSJ I looked back on the many e-mails exchanged between us and was laughing to tears. The most trivial message would turn into a lovely read because of Amit:

Dear Freak Brother O Mine from another mother,

Brother Hellborg and I have been hanging since morning. He caught my cold from last week and currently has Niagara Falls running between his nose.

Yours truly,

Frobscottle Finkleperry. Exploding Fartbomb Detective

(Formerly known as the Fearless Flying Frog!)

Dear Lord of the Dicks,

After you left India, the climate has changed…we are now headed for arctic disaster with today’s temp predicted at 0 degrees! If my ass catches frostbite, I’m sending you the doctor’s bills!

Cheers n Chihuahua

Amit

Dear Splendid Swedish Sardine,

Regarding the 0 degrees… please do try that for a bit without any heating… I guarantee your nose will resemble brother Jonas’!

Your partner in crime

Amit

Dear banjo player from Valhalla,

T-shirts no problemo, my friendo! Send design, I get funtastique quotation, we make T-shirt in 3 or 4 dollars max. And would you like a side order of fries with that, sir?

Offence? I hate fences!

The Man Who Knew Too Little

Amit

Rest in peace, brother Saigal.

I am now watching the frozen Finnish landscape pass under me on my way from the city of Vasa to Helsinki after a lovely weekend in Seinäjoki. As my fellow Europeans have noticed all of us freeze our butts off from nasty cold weather from Siberia recently. Finland certainly was no exception. The day of my arrival it was an insane -29 degrees Celsius and yesterday it was -27. Brrr… Tough even for a Viking like myself. However, I adore the snow and much prefer this compared to the boring darkness and mud we had before Christmas. Chop wood like a maniac every day. Good for the soul (not so good for the hands). Nearly missed my connecting flight in Helsinki due to a severe snow storm. I think of India and that the difference in temperature is no less than 60 degrees. Gee…

A mean bass player and a Jonas Hellborg designed rig

I’d like to thank Freak Guitar Camp veterans (and brothers) Santtu and Pekka Lehtiniemi for assisting me throughout the weekend, driving from and to airport plus helping out in general. You are tiptop people.

Did a fun clinic at something called Mars, a small trade show in Seinäjoki. Maybe I could have played slightly better but I quite enjoyed myself on stage for some 90 minutes. Thanks to everyone who showed up, o amazing Finnish friends. Happy to say we will return this summer for a small tour and a beefier tour as soon as the new album is released. More details later on.

The fabulous Björn Fryklund

Excited to the bone. This Friday we will start tracking drums for the new album! It is going to be a very groovy release with twelve in-your-face rockers. No bull and to the point. As 2012 is Freak Kitchen’s twentieth year as a band, we want the album out as soon as we can before going back on the road. Land of the Freaks, as much as I love it, took way too long to record. Don’t want to walk down that path again with adding drums after guitar. Björn will play in any way he wants and Chris and me will follow him. No months of edits and shit.

Also glad to have shot a number of videos for the very dedicated guys at Jam Track Central. They will (or have of course already when you read this) put out my Freak Guitar – Growing Your Own Moustache series through their site and once I am done with The Smorgasbord and FK I will make exclusive jam tracks for them (and you) plus videos to go along. I find it entertaining to shoot video in peace, nice and quiet, in my studio with groovy sound and photography to make up for all the crap out there, done in a haste under the worst possible conditions. Time for a change. (Muchos gracias to Anders Bryngel for showing me the importance of the chimera and helping out when the HD shit hit the fan).

Yesterday, Friday the 10th of February, our own, beyond stunning Björn Fryklund nailed no less than eight tracks straight on the forthcoming album. Harvest time. As a producer and engineer it is sheer bliss to work with someone like Björn. It is no bullshit whatsoever. He is the man. Eager to work hard. Eager to make it groove. You’re the best, brother Fryklund.

Now I am on my way to Johan Reivéns great drum studio called Bombastikk, where we recorded the drums to Land of the Freaks as well. Johan is fabulous when it comes to putting together a tremendous sound. I don’t have the patience to move around microphones for two days, I want to play, hence my primitive drum set-up. Reivén, himself a mighty fine drummer, is gifted with the dedication to pull this off and it is simply so neat to arrive with your computer when everything is hooked up and ready to roll. This day was certainly no exception to the mighty flow of Björn. We were done with the remaining four tunes in no time and I was home in time to watch the annual Melodifestivalen, a strange sing-back competition where the winner goes to the Eurovision Song Contest. Good fun to kick back to (pretty much the entire population of Sweden does).

Mattias Eklundh and Mattias Eklund

Had the guys from Toontrack at my house and studio for a couple of days to work on some freaky presets for their EZmix2. The fellas are so wonderful I couldn’t resist putting my greasy fingerprints on their software. Also, it is always great to hang out with Mattias Eklund (me, minus the h), the founder of the company. Not a day goes by without people confusing us and what we do.

Morgan Ågren – drummer extraordinaire

Right now I am waiting on my very delayed flight to take me to the north of Sweden and the city of Umeå where I will do a Freak Guitar Clinic tomorrow plus jam with buddy and demon drummer Morgan Ågren.

It was loads of fun to hang and play with Morgan again. He is a tremendous drummer, but you already knew that. You never know what to expect.

Mattias – The Beautiful Guy

We fumbled (I fumbled, Morgan played) through versions of Zappa’s What New in Baltimore, The Black Page and mutual friend Fredrik Thordendal’s Sol Niger Within medley. Maybe not so pretty but good fun.

Live at the Agora Stage in Frankfurt

Freak Kitchen then took a little trip to Germany and the annual Frankfurt Messe plus performing a few additional gigs while in the country. Before making it to Frankfurt I did a clinic at Future Music School after spending about a million hours on the autobahn and the biggest traffic jam you can imagine. (Stau! Stau! Stau!) I then did my usual noise in the Laney booth for a couple of days before Chris and Bjorn flew in. Friday evening we returned to the city of Wetzlar and our friend Ralph Fricke, a lovely sound engineer and overall groovy guy. The concert was a killer as we enjoyed our time on stage a lot. Tiptop freaks showed up from near and far, our buddies from the KIG organization among them.

A man of many staus…

Lamb of God’s Chris Adler and Freak Kitchen’s Chris Örtefors

The following morning we set up the gear on the stage of the nice Agora tent at the Messe. Always very pro folks at the fair. A breeze to work with. The short concert was a blast with loads and loads of people showing up to the band’s amusement. Tried to combine the sometimes a bit tricky tunes with more accessible songs. Worked well, I think.

My genius friend and designer Itaru Kanno and Chris Amott at the Caparison booth

Kind of blue…

Three legendary bass men (Steve Bailey, Jonas and Lee Sklar)

When we were done with the mayhem I spoke briefly with Animals as Leaders’ Tosin Abasi – a very nice man and passionate player. Björn rushed to a signing session at the Meinl booth where freaks were waiting for him.

Tosin and The Swede

After hanging with Jonas Hellborg and playing some more at my Laney friends’ headquarters we rushed to Essen and a gig there in the evening, arranged by my good friend Robert Scheiffer and his wife Melanie.

“I wonder what amp he is using?”

“I wonder what brand of instruments they are using?”

Crappy traffic delayed us quite a bit but we got there in time for the gig and had a tiptop moment on stage. Camper Michael Rollman was in the crowd (love my campers, showing up around the world).

Robert Schiefer and Chris at the Sheraton

Afterwards Robert, a guy that never spare any expense, had booked the presidential suite at the Sheraton where we did a brief interview before going nuts with tons of Champagne and snacks, listening to music and having a great time. The place was enormous with I don’t know how many rooms, easy to get lost. For those of you who read these blogs before you know that Robert is outdoing himself on each of the freak visits in Essen and around. This night certainly was no exception. We had a ball! Thank you, brother.

In the morning I did a VIP clinic in the suite, accompanied by muffins and more Champagne (not for me, can’t play with alcohol in my body). It was intimate and lovely with a handful of dedicated guitarists attending.

Live in Essen

Champagne twins…

VIP muffin clinic

The band then moved on to Mannheim and Pop Akademie for both individual clinics as well as a short gig for the students. I like doing stuff like this. Chris was extremely focused as this was his very first clinic on his own. He did a tremendous job! Everyone loved him and I think deep down in our dear Chris’ heart, it felt splendid.

Live at the Pop Akademie

At the end of Easter we went to Belgium to play the cool PPM festival. Very well organized, groovy stage and sound. We had a tiptop time on stage after a bunch of interviews and a signing session. Would love to be back.

Live in Belgium

Them crazy Belgians

It is weird, I don’t think Freak Kitchen is a progmetal band (whatever that is) but we do seem to fit equally well on an event like this as we do on a more conventional festival. We simply want to play and perhaps the sheer joy of being on stage together pulverizes the often genre-locked atmosphere. Regardless what, the PPM fest was a real treat!

Mid-April I went to Italy to go nuts for my friends at Mogar Music and Laney, Stefano and Katia. Started out in Sardinia and loved the place (not to mention the food, always blissful in Italy). In the morning after the first clinic when Stefano and myself left the golf resort we were staying at we experienced the most surreal cab ride. The middle-aged man behind the wheel looked and smelled like he just stepped out of some Godfather film. He begun the trip to the airport by turning exactly the wrong way, cursing vigorously as he smashed into all kinds of bumps and holes on the dusty road. I really thought the tiny vehicle would fall apart as Stefano and I looked at one another. We went further and further away from where we actually were going but all of a sudden the crazy taxi Mafioso made a radical turn and little by little our hope of a safe flight out of Sardinia picked up.

The rest of the tour was goodie goodie as well, hooking up with Italian friends Guglielmo Malusardi, Destrage’s Matt and more. I adore the new Ironheart from Laney, a kick ass, very affordable amp with enormous potency. (Used entirely on Cooking with Pagans).

God bless the Italians and their caffeine

… and their cheese as well!

Bending strings in Milano

After Italy I went to do no less than eleven clinics in Norway, all whilst wrapping up Freak Guitar – The Smorgasbord, frantically listening to the tunes, mixes, running order and overall flow on my many trips back and forth to my pretty neighbor country. I have never done a double album before and although we live in a time where loads of people out there listen to one track here, one track there (playlist inferno) it matters a great deal to me with continuity, tempos and tonality of the songs, even titles, of a release. I trust my gut feeling and I got it right in the end after much soul-searching.

The neat Hurtigruten

I wonder so what qualifies as “strange things”…

Some scary fish

Anyway, Norway was fabulous! I love the country and its breathtaking nature. The people are friendly and really into it. From north to south friends from near and far met up. (Campers Espen, Gabriel, Ove, Leo and plenty more). I got to travel with Hurtigruten, a number of classy ferries that rotate in one big oval, carrying tourists and regular folks as well as goods to the more remote places. Loved it! (My son Gabriel is a fan of the excellent Norwegian animated series Elias, a young rescue boat living in a small village in the north of Norway).

I even got to visit… HELL! It was nothing like a expected. No infernal fires or red guy with horns and funny tail holding a fork. It was quite cosy. I guess AC/DC were right: Hell ain’t a bad place to be.

When in Hell…

After Norway it was time to harass my fellow Swedes a bit with four clinics, Uppsala (hey Maaaaaarkus), Gothenburg, Malmö and Halmstad. Tiptop clinics all of them. In Malmö buddies Fredrik Pihl and Christian Apekatten Johansson showed up. Nice to see you!

Freaks of Uppsala, Sweden

Early June I completed my forthcoming solo effort together with maestro Thomas Plec Johansson and his Panic Room facilities. I have been racking my brain enormously who might be the right person to take on an album like The Smorgasbord. Talked to people, listened, researched. Plec’s name came up and I sank my teeth into his philosophy about mastering which I found extremely appealing. Again, my gut feeling proved itself correct as I have never been happier with a mastering than this one. It is tricky business to make everything homogeneous when you are facing no less than 40 songs, all recorded in a different way. Plec found the balance. I was a pain in the ass, I must admit, but in a creative way, making minor, minor changes, almost impossible to hear. After a third round we nailed it and I couldn’t be happier. I am not sure the world is ready for such a massive collection of intense music, but I keep my fingers crossed it is. Release date is not set yet, but most likely early 2013. When the music is done you got to deal with cover, artwork, photo sessions, e t c. I shall keep you posted, rest assure. More updates on the freak sites and Facebook soon. Much thanks to Plec for bearing with me and for doing such an exquisite job. Needless to say I will hire the man for upcoming releases, whether he likes it or not!

Maestro Plec at work

Hmm, hmm, hmm… yes? No? Yes… Hmm…

My precious son turned five in June and the Eklundh family threw no less than three parties for him, most importantly the one with his pals, twenty of them invading our house. It was a lovely day with treasure hunting in the woods, barbecue, balloons, candy, drumming and whatnot. I turn into a lunatic at occasions like this, but I love it! Whipping up a frenzy before letting hordes of sugar-affected young boys and girls into the forest in our backyard to search for (more) candy is insanely fun! Afterwards I am ready for a long vacation.

My beloved five-year-old

So we went on vacation. Greece again. We can’t get enough of sailing around the adoring Ionian Sea. We also want to help boosting the Greek economy. It was hot, the food was delicious as usual and we thrived every second, both at sea and land. Went to the lovely island of Paxi with the boat where we stayed a couple of nights. Invaded inspiring caves, swam in the river Styx and even got to climb down into the entrance of Hades where they used to address the Death Oracle back in the ancient days. They rediscovered Nekyomanteion as the site (and Oracle is called) in the 50’s and it is very well worth visiting. So, do I get this correctly, you enter Hell or Hades in Greece and all of a sudden pop up in Norway, just outside of Trondheim? Weird…

When in Hades…

Stairway to Hell

Swimming in the river Styx (around 5-6 degrees wa… cold)

Crisis Prices

The stunning Ionian Sea

Gabriel finally caught that damn velociraptor

My new car

Buzz Lightyear by the pool

Anyway, Greece kicked ass and we are going back twice as long next year!

Arrived home, with tan and all, repacked everything and less than a day later I hooked up with Björn and Chris early in the morning to jump on a plane to Brussels, then onward to Marseille before driving to Digne Les Bains.

In Digne we kicked back with the groovy Morgbl (minus bass player Ivan who was home vomiting like crazy, having caught his son’s stomach disease), doing a few interviews, having tasty dinner together, charging the batteries.

Tilted Pastis

The mountains of Digne-les-Bains

Creme brulee

In the morning the previous day I did an overlong clinic (couldn’t seem to stop) where two guys signed up for a Minor Swing jam at the end of the FK show in the evening. Made a simple arrangement during the soundcheck and the dudes, Yves (was it?) and Simon playing fabulously. Simon even gave me a version of One Last Dance from Land of the Freaks, exquisitely pulled off, that he had recorded. Lovely!

The many faces of Christophe Godin

The gig was fine and certainly had its moments, especially in the end, but we were struggling a bit. Not sure exactly what the dilemma was but we never got to that point where everything flows. Christophe and the guys had the exact same vibe from their gig before us. Whatever. It was still good fun and we thank each and one of you for showing up!

Björn with his sore Sauna Nose (I don’t want to go into detail)

Chris and Björn left early the day after while I tagged along with Christophe to the marvelous city of Annecy. We had such a magic evening with Godin’s sweet family. I enjoyed myself like crazy! Thank you so much for hosting a mere pagan, dear friend.

The pretty city of Annecy, where people seem… happy?

The door…

Green beer

The lovely Godins

Speaking of pagans, I take it this is the moment to chat a little what’s going on with the new album. Well, I tried to work on Freak Guitar – The Smorgasbord and Cooking with Pagans simultaneously (both carrying gastronomic titles as you may have noticed) but as the thick-headed, single minded dude I am I couldn’t divide my attention. I HAD to finish the solo album first or else I think I would have gone insane. This said, my full focus is now on Freak Kitchen while the Freak Guitar album finds the way out there. Will keep you updated soon again on the progress of things.

IA in a glass

Christophe and I drove to Nancy and the Music Academy International where I did a big clinic during the evening after having dinner with Hans and Monique Kullock, the founders and directors of the MAI, soon about to retire.

FK mark III

Clinic was short but great! Before, I jammed Porno Daddy with a band from the school and it was truly fun! Thanks for showing up!

Now I sit on a train to Saarbrücken, Germany where I will rent a car and drive quite a bit to Berlin to meet Björn and Chris for a festival at the ORWOhaus, located at the Frank Zappa Strasse, probably the coolest name on a street ever. Look forward to it (the playing, not the long drive).

Except for an accident creating more serious traffic jams (stau!), the 800 kilometer drive went fine. Listened to tons of music, everything from my new album to Samuel Barber to Van Halen to Charlie Parker.

Reached Berlin and hooked up with Björn and Chris at the hotel, taking a short nap, before heading for the festival and a brief line-check. Really good to see campers Robert, Peter, Jakob and Felix showing up for the noise as well as Berliner friends who before have been coming a long way when we played the Schondorfer Gitarrentage twice a bunch of years back.

Berlin flee market

The gig was enormously sweaty and loud but so much better than Digne and it was good to get some sort of personal vendetta sorted out. I loved it and although somewhat exhausted from the discreet (hrm) travel earlier in the day I rocked out the best I could. We finished off with Teargas Jazz after 90 minutes of Swedish mayhem. Thanks a bunch German friends for a great evening! We would love to be back! Spread the word!

The day after we strolled around Berlin and went to a flee market where we burned some good money after having coffee in a park. Berlin is a very chilled out place with relaxed people and atmosphere. We had a delicious dinner during a massive thunderstorm a couple of hours before heading for the Tegel airport where we soon are about to board the plane back to Gothenburg.

Drum tech Jörgen Tjusling and his fave fluid

The scariest being I could think of when I was kid – Mårran (Groke in English)

Now the band and crew cruise the Finnish roads soon at Elmus Rock, a festival we will headline tonight. Yesterday we played the city of Kuopio and had an absolutely marvelous time on stage in front of the many freaks squeezed into the club. The Finnish are simply lovely people – always in the mood to go nuts! We love you dearly!

Henry’s joint

… and Henry Rollins words of utter truth

Elmus Rock was loads of fun too. We slept at a camping facility (no hotels anywhere near the festival) just by a pretty lake. Chris, Fredrik and myself spent some time going through modes and chords in my room. Did a little pre-Freak Guitar Camp work on the computer (didn’t have a mouse pad so, moronic as it was, I used a… pillow).

The new exclusive pillow pad, hrm

The not so shabby view from where we stayed in the Finnish wilderness

We played in the middle of the night, as headliners, and it was freezing cold. For the first time ever I had a hoodie on stage before getting warmed up. After a few songs I could finally take it off.

Finnish FK booze

The audience jumped up and down and supported us again and we had a superb night/morning together.

Slept a few hours before heading for Helsinki and the ferry back.

Good neighbors of Finland, we love you dearly and shall return as soon as Cooking with Pagans is out there.

Thrilled to say my friends in fabulous German quintet Panzerballett has released a kick ass new album. Entitled Tank Goodness it features none other than Randy Brecker, playing an insanely twisted version of Some Skunk Funk. I am disturbing the peace with a tune called The IKEA Trauma, both with vocals and guitar.

The IKEA Trauma

I believe it was a Wednesday
I had reached the age of eight
Ever since I’ve possessed a potent
Furniture store hate

My mother had to do some shopping
So I was obliged to tag along
Confused in the Kivik the Loveseat section
I took one damn turn wrong

Ivar! Ivar!
Shelving unit
Mommy!
The Ikea trauma

Panic! Panic!
Where is my mommy?

Ivar! Ivar!
Shelving unit
Mommy!
The Ikea trauma

Panic! Panic!
Suck on my tummy

Luckily I had my Ace Frehley doll
Or else I think I’d lost my mind
Ace was brave and encouraging
The space man could see, where I was blind

Still wake up sweaty, anxiety attacks
With Hemnes beds, Vilgot chairs
And multi-function transition strip
Nightmares

Ivar! Ivar!
Shelving unit
Mommy!
The Ikea trauma

Panic! Panic!
Where is my mommy?

Ivar! Ivar!
Shelving unit
Mommy!
The Ikea trauma

Panic! Panic!
Suck on my tummy

I love Panzerballett and what they are doing. Check them out if you haven’t already.

Beyond gifted transcriber and friend as well as veteran camper Linus Mr. Gul Abrahamson and buddy Demian Andersen, also a veteran camper, came over a couple of days to my house to put this year’s Freak Guitar Camp backing tracks down on paper. I used to do this myself for years and years but time is the constant enemy and man, Linus is so much faster. He is also using about a fraction of the space I do and making all look neat and accessible. While Linus and I worked our way through the notation Demian repaired note stands, counted blankets, took care of instruments, got bitten by my dogs, played with Gabriel and more. It is good fun to have the guys over and they both do a pretty damn good job.

Freak Guitar Camp. Best time of the year. I love doing it and the passion for the camp has only grown stronger. I don’t know what it is but there is a certain chemistry when all these dedicated musicians from all over the world get together in a fairly isolated, beautiful place. Freak Guitar Camp 2012 was astounding, much because of the participants and guests (we had Niklas Engelin from Engel and In Flames, Stian Carstensen from Farmers Market, Johan Randén and Fredrik from CB Murdoch visiting us). I can’t wait until next summer and have already begun making a blue print for the backing tracks. Dates are 29th of July to 3rd of August (first week) and 6th to 11th of August. Registration begins at www.freakguitar.com February 1st. Hope to see you!

A jolly son when getting his pizza

Thank God it’s only 4 meters to the WC!

After the camp I took my family to Poland for a vacation. We stayed at a groovy hotel in Gdynia and took the car to visit interesting places. Westerplatte was one of them – the site where the second World War started. It was quite horrifying to climb down in a by bullets en masse torn apart bunker. I will come back to Poland soon for sure. Much more to see.

Westerplatte – where the World War II begun…

What is left of the Polish bunker

Early September Björn, Chris and I did a fun band clinic day in the city of Karlstad. First separate seminars and then all of us together. Doing stuff like this is great. You got to shape up and really deliver or it will fall apart in no time. This is something we surely want to do more.

It is absolute shit in the morning. The sun is slowly rising as I look at Chris taking a nap on three chairs pushed together. The glamorous life on the road. We are in Doho, Qatar, on our way to Nepal and a gig in Kathmandu. Dragging our butts through an eight hour stopover in the night before getting on the plane to the home of Mount Everest. Man… what a loooong night. Can’t wait to get to Nepal, a country I fell deeply in love with last year.

We are playing something called Silence Festival. The band will stick around for a few days to hang out then Chris will go walking in the mountains for more than a week while Björn and I fly home.

Beauty sleep in Doha

The intensity of Kathmandu

Live in Nepal

Two rabbits – the wonderful Bikrant and moi

I currently find myself on a Lufthansa flight on the way to Frankfurt and then onward to Athens where I shall bend serious strings this weekend on two gigs with Yiorgos Fakanas Group.

Kathmandu was absolutely tremendous! My love for Nepal is only growing stronger. The festival was absolute top notch and the kids were so kick ass and carried the band all the way.

Kathmandu’s finest

We co-headlined along with the band Textures at the Silence Festival, the third edition. It was lovely to hook up with the fine Bikrant and his pro buddies. Thanks a bunch for having us at your damn fine event. (The gig was being filmed so expect some cool footage to pop up on our YouTube channel in a while).

At the airport with Dipit

The Freak Brothers and I kicked back in the city before and after the gig with temple sightseeing, massage, unbelievably stunning food, also doing interviews and photo shoots. I think both Chris and Björn fell in love with the place as well in all its intensity and slight chaos.

Freak Street Coffee Break

Of course we had coffee on Freak Street (love their organic brew). Of course I had to buy the largest Nepalese version of wooden Kali masks known to man to hang on my studio wall. (It took a while for me and an old man from the store to measure, weigh and pack the goods, I tell you that, but now they are proudly watching over me in the Apple Horn Abusement facilities).

Gabriel, his dad and a couple of really cool masks from Kathmandu in the dad’s studio

The concert was certainly not pretty but a whole pile of fun. The band could have played a lot better BUT this is not necessarily what makes a good performance. What we lacked in accuracy we compensated with raw energy and boy, did it work! The crowd were loud and crazy from the very first second, singing, banging their heads, moshing and dancing. They really made the gig! We humbly thank you, o tippus toppus human beings from Nepal (and elsewhere). We also hope to see you as soon as we possibly can again. Spread the word!

Over morning coffee I read in the Kathmandu Post a festival review that “clearly Freak Kitchen was the band the crowd came to see”. Ahh, what a way to start a day.

The day after we went to a club to get a dose of Bikrant’s band Underside and all three of us absolutely loved them! Groovy, good song-writing with a energetic attitude! One astounding unit of a group Underside. I shall keep my Viking ears and eyes on them, I shall.

The Nepalese James Woods

Uhuh…

Winnie the Pooh and his new parachute, er?

The local dentist… (I kid you not)

Print your photos at Chakra Photo Centre

Jent-jent-jent-jent, jent-jent-jent-jent

Fooooooooooooooooood

Crap where you are…

Björn and I flew back to Qatar and then to Stockholm before finally reaching Gothenburg again. Home sweet home. It was weird to hug Chris goodbye at the hotel. He looked a little lonely and we sent text messages back and forth before he went trekking for real. Our beloved bass player had a divine time walking the mountains and valleys of Nepal. Photos? You bet!

After working some more on Cooking with Pagans I flew to the north of Sweden, basically to party with my friends from Toontrack. One hell of a party, I shall state.

Hooked up with Dick Lövgren from Meshuggah at the airport and we spent the trip talking about jazz music and life. On board was also my friend Plec, as well attending the craziness. Plec will most likely mix and master Cooking with Pagans as I worship the guy and his approach.

Airplane Dick

The three of us had a cab waiting to take us to Toontrack headquarters where people like Andy Sneap, Jocke Skog from Clawfinger, the guys from Periphery, Mårten and Tomas from Meshuggah along with Toontrack CEO Mattias Eklund and many fine employees were waiting. The reason for this mother of a feast (man, I never want to see the final bill) is a brand new preset package that Fredrik Thordendal, Devin Townsend, Misha Mansoor and yours truly put together, entitled Metal Guitar Gods. As a lo-fi man my two cents was mainly to use my ears as Mattias twisted and turned binary knobs to get something as close to my ideal sound as I could. I hope you EZmix-users out there like it and find it useful.

Clawfinger-Jocke’s new vehicle

Anyway, it was good fun to meet Misha and his band. Top homo sapiens. Myself and Mr. Mansoor did a photo shoot together plus the two Mattias Eklund(h)s wearing “Who the fuck is Mattias Eklund”-shirts. A Kodak moment.

Misha being harassed by a Scandinavian person

Jumped in the beefy limo and kicked back at the hotel for a while. Joined my friends Fredrik and Petra Thordendal with the rest of Meshuggah in the lobby. Great to see the Thordendals again! We spoke about and showed pictures of our kids. The plan is that Gabriel is getting married to their Maya when the time is right. We have already swapped photos of the two and there is a mutual interest. We just got to give them twenty or so more years…

The Mattias Twins

Yeah!

Eat me? Hrm…

Walk all over me, huh?

I am on a flag!

Had dinner at Scharinska, the venue of the evening, with Mattias and the Meshuggahs. Stuffed myself silly as someone ate my veggie pizza at the Toontrack office (sniff, sniff) and I didn’t have any breakfast. Yummy.

Watched Periphery who did a groovy gig in the tiny place. I liked it! The French stand-in drummer did an amazing job! So did the rest of the band.

Ended up at Producer Table with Jocke, Plec, Andy, Ola Englund and Danne Bergstrand before it was time to check out Fredrik and his fellow band mates.

To my utmost surprise I ended up in the midst of the crowd, going nuts, and liked it! Sweaty and crazy. I haven’t rocked out in front of the stage like that since I was in my mid-teens, I think. Bloody catharsis and a jolly moment! Meshuggah were astounding as usual.

In between the bands I enjoyed my semi-drunk self listening to the tremendously funky organ-drum-duo Orgel & Trummor. An unlikely act to sneak in between two pretty extreme bands, but… it really worked. Check them out.

Afterwards we hung out for a while before heading back to the hotel. Tomas Haake, Jens Kidman, the drummer from Crucified Barbara (sorry, forgot your name) and another woman (sorry, forgot your name) plus you-know-who sat in Tomas’ hotel room and talked until crap in the morning. I was the first to leave, had to catch a flight before noon, but it was a nice chat over cheese doodles.

Much Toontrack gratitude for a stunning time! Thank you, lads!

Going Halloween crazy with Gabriel

Ladies and gentlemen, I can not emphasize how absolutely thrilled to the bone I am to announce Freak Guitar – The Smorgasbord will be released March 5th worldwide by Steve Vai and Favored Nations. In difficult times Steve, a tremendously brave man with his integrity intact, stepped up and simply decided to release a DOUBLE INSTRUMENTAL RECORD in physical form! Apart from Vai’s own recent (inspired) album The Story of Light, Favored Nations do not release actual records anymore, only digital. Still… I couldn’t be happier about it and am forever grateful for this, Steve. Now get your fine butts out there, online, in shops or at gigs and clinics and yerself a copy! If nothing else, to support a guy like Vai and a company like FN who fight conformity. I keep all of my fingers crossed in a big knot you will like it. Here’s the tracklist:

DISC 1

  1. Amphibians Night Out
  2. Musth
  3. Mattias – The Beautiful Guy
  4. Hells Bells
  5. The Smorgasbord
  6. Friedrichs Wahnbriefe (feat. Fredrik Thordendal)
  7. Sexually Frustrated Fruit Fly Flamenco
  8. Daily Grind Disco March
  9. Lease With an Option to Buy
  10. The Swede and The Wolf (feat. Georg Jojje Wadenius)
  11. Mambo Italiano
  12. Mind Your Step (at Schiphol Airport) (feat. Dweezil Zappa)
  13. Crossing the Rubicon
  14. That’s Amore
  15. Keep it in the Dojo (feat. Ranjit Barot)
  16. Infrared Jed
  17. Peter, I Won’t Drive Another Meter (feat. Andy Timmons, Guthrie Govan, Kiko Loureiro)
  18. Larvatus Prodeo
  19. Blaha Blaha
  20. Lullaby for Gabriel

DISC 2

  1. In the Goo of the Evening
  2. The Dogs of Delhi
  3. Special Agent Bauer (feat. Ron Bumblefoot Thal)
  4. Mahavishnu John
  5. Harry Lime’s Theme
  6. Dark Matter
  7. Trumpet Lesson
  8. Mandur and Morgan’s Camel Safari
  9. Shore Thing
  10. Captain Smith’s Moment of Truth
  11. Mah Ná Mah Ná
  12. The Nigerian Gynecologist
  13. 6 Rue Cordot
  14. Kali Ghat (feat. Jonas Hellborg, Selvaganesh Vinayakram)
  15. Safe to Remove Hardware
  16. Did You Actually Pay for That
  17. Those in Badiyah (feat. Andy Timmons)
  18. The Essence of Emptiness
  19. Meralgia Paresthetica (feat. Morgan Ågren)
  20. Guano Afternoon

The kick ass Anders Nyberg outdid himself again (The Smorgasbord artwork)

I am waiting in the car in the outskirts of Athens as my buddy Eddy is picking up a bottle of olive oil for me to bring home. Eddy and I had a delicious dinner by the ocean where I enjoyed serious Greek fish. Thanks, my friend.

Camper and dentist Eddy (to the right) and his brother (to the left)

Acropolis from the hotel room

Jazz!

One way to dry your hair

Yesterday’s gig was tons of fun! I had a damn cold and was soaking of sweat but heavy metal musicians should be dripping on stage, shall they not? We played four of my tunes (Father, Little Bastard, Samba Caramba and Happy Hour and five from Yiorgos catalogue: Parhelia, Senza, Narkissos, Osaka Express and Freedom Jazz Dance). Singing Happy Hour with a nose full of snot was mighty interesting. I did a few goofs here and there but the overall vibe was cool. Loads of inspired improvisations around from my band mates. Thanks to everyone coming out to get a dose of hard fusion.

Earlier in the day I gave a lesson to great player Nikos Giolias who is the brother of assassinated journalist and blogger Sokratis Giolias. I was told the most horrific stories about nasty corruption, but was not surprised. Greece would not be in the shit they are if the governing and elected politicians did their job for the people and not only looking after their own interests. There is a sense of desperation and frustration, not to say downright anger, over the situation in everyone you talk to. You see it in closed down shops and restaurants. You see it in the eyes of the Greek. Wages have dropped radically but the cost of food, rent, gasoline have not followed. An impossible equation. I truly wish my friends here strength to somehow turn this mess around eventually.

Despite the gloominess and terrible times Nikos is going through we had a fine moment together with our guitars, talking, as trivial as it might sound, the universal language of music.

After the gig we went to dinner and boy, do I adore the Greek cuisine. I am a feta cheese maniac!

Fakanas school of music and dance

Went to bed far too late and got up far too early (need my morning caffeine). Worked on the laptop, wrapping up the Freak Guitar artwork. My dear buddy, the talented Mr. Anders Nyberg has once again outdone himself with his drawings. I can’t get enough of the front cover of The Smorgasbord. When we first met to chat about my ideas, Anders looked a bit skeptic. In the end things turned out monstrously better than I ever expected. Thanks for walking that extra mile, o beyond talented Anders.

Had a very productive day in my neat suite at hotel St George. Wrote articles for Fuzz magazine (I am always late), updated the freak sites, answered a zillion e-mails and even begun syncing up footage from India, Nepal, the US and more for the video to the song Musth from The Smorgasbord. Talked to maestro Steve Vai about my artwork. (He liked it!) We are missing one another by a day in Greece but are hooking up in a couple of weeks in Gothenburg. It will be fun to play together again.

Neat jazz combo set up

In the evening I went to delicious dinner with Yiorgos and Sonia. Stunning food as always. We listened to Yiorgos’ new record, to be released in a couple months, featuring Dennis Chambers and Mike Stern. Boy, do they play like they’re on fire! Extremely well executed with meticulous arrangements by Fakanas. You need to check this man out if you are into insanely well-produced jazz rock fusion with a twist.

Afterwards we went to see the new Bond movie Skyfall, that I enjoyed.

Tintin on stage in Athens

Irritation around me as we wait in the longest line in history at the airport to check in. People do get very upset easily. No one ever thinks about the poor ones behind the counters doing what they can under the worst circumstances. It is not good for the soul to go nuts over everything all the time. Relax. You can’t win anyway. Go with the flow. The plane won’t fly without you (well, sometimes it does). I type stuff like this or work on lyrics, articles, answer e-mails.

Fine folks of Athens, I had marvelous weekend in your capitol. I will be back in February to do a clinic and, with a little luck, a gig with Freak Kitchen. Will keep you posted on this. Thanks a bunch for coming to check out the shows!

God bless Scandinavian Airlines who now are showing Shaun the Sheep on the monitors in the cabin (Gabriel’s favorite show). I love it!

A few things that is currently pissing me off and that I feel I have to ventilate:

Annoying Thing Number 1.

I recently had, after long thought, a meeting with my bank to talk about investing some money in funds via my company as a retirement plan (don’t worry, I am not planning to retire until someone push me off stage). The Bank Persons were nice and all, of course, but started to look a bit funny when I asked for ethical funds and obligations. I said I don’t care if my doe do not generate any money, or even if I loose big chunks of it, as long as it is fair stuff like renewable energy I invest in, for example. They then showed me the most ridiculous video of one of their Bank Person Friends visiting some ugly fucking factory in Cambodia where a zillion young women were working to make cheap clothes for us western folks. The lame Bank Person walked around the place telling one factory worker to please use ear plugs to protect his Cambodian hearing. He also took a quick glance at the first aid kit. Gee… Not thought at all that this is so incredibly wrong in the first place. The video was, needless to say, put together to reassure the working conditions were all hunky doory and that is is safe for your conscience to invest like crazy. I just wanted to puke. I have traveled quite a bit. I know how the shit works.

I told them they needed to do better than this. I have no interest in supporting companies like H&M. They promised to send me information about their most ethical funds. So they did. I got this back (and mind you, this is one of the biggest banks in Sweden, in part owned by the government):

Basically what is says is that the trustees of this Super Ethical Fund will avoid investing more than 5% in companies dealing with (and here we go): weapons, tobacco, alcohol, gambling and pornography. When it comes to weapons, The Super Ethical Fund and its Super Ethical Trustees promise not deal with “controversial weapons” like land mines, cluster weapon and nuclear weapons.

This is the BEST they can come up with. I do not dare to think of the not so Super Ethical Funds… Fuck this shit and fuck this monstrous hypocrisy. I hereby declare I shall NEVER invest in any fund of any kind. I am not naïve, less than most folks, I think, since I have seen every little ugly corner of the planet. I know guns and porn is lucrative. I just get sad when perfectly fine moms and dads, disguised as Bank Persons, deal with this crap every day… and simply look the other way. Look over your funds if you happen to got them. Make demands. Protest, damn it.

Annoying Thing Number 2.

Speaking of moms and dads. Gabriel, as a top notch 5-year old target, is getting loads of toy store catalogues in the mail so he can convince his folks to buy loads for Christmas. The big difference from previous years is the completely and utterly screwed up iPhone and iPad protection cases (in funny colors). We are nursing a zombie generation of tiny human beings who will be able to speak fifteen languages by the age of three but don’t know how to socialize nor play. It’s already a major problem in pre-schools with lack of actual communication and physical contact (but by God they are kick ass at Angry Birds). Information is not knowledge, said Frank.

Shame on you, iPad Parents and the apps you are feeding your children. Read a book with your kid. Get out and play in the mud. Get fucking real.

OK, enough with the annoyance.

I am now on Brussels Airlines flight to… well, Brussels. Last week I had the utmost pleasure of playing in the fine city of Cardiff, Wales on behalf of my lovely Caparison Guitars friends. The company, after a bit of trouble a couple of years ago, is very much alive and well since the British took over. My dear friend (and genius designer) Itaru Kanno is still on board in Japan, kicking butt. But it is also lovely to have some European muscles behind it. The director Gabriel (good name) Öztreicher is truly a fine man, as is his co-workers at the office at Cranes Music in Cardiff where the operation is based.

What did I do? Why did I bring the Swede to Wales? (Gabriel during the clinic)

Simon checking the gear

Had a groovy time in Wales and I was very glad to see my friends Simon Fraser Clark from Laney (plus marvelous Ironheart amp) and our UK right hand Mik Gaffney showing up to hang out. It was also cool to jam with buddy James Went, a fine player (and BBC magician) and tiptop guy.

The clinic at the Park Plaza Hotel was great, with many freaks from near and far showing up. Caused a mass nervous breakdown when trying to do a bunch of clapping exercises. Hilarious!

Apple Horn and Champagne

Our trusty Mik Gaffney in a lobby

The very talented Jayce Lewis and you-know-who

Afterwards a whole bunch of us hung out in the bar, having a few beers together. In the morning I had breakfast with Mik and made a little battle plan for UK press versus The Smorgasbord.

Enjoyed coffee with Gabriel a couple of minutes ago and currently am waiting for my gate to be announced here in Brussels.

Yesterday’s clinic at Key Music was tiptop too! Many friends from France, Holland and Germany dropping by among the Belgians. I was more fragmented than ever, jumping from one thing to the other but that also has its charm. I never plan anything beforehand. Try to feel what the crowd needs to stay focused and alert.

At the end of the evening the sweet guys at Key Music gave away a gift card worth 350 € and I had to pick the winner (accompanied by Igor Stravinsky and Spike Jones). Made, naturally, a big mess out of it, but what the hell…

Thanks to everyone attending both of my first Caparison clinics! There will be more next year! Stay tuned!

OK, have to board now. Camilla and Gabriel (and the dogs) are picking me up at the airport. We are then picking up my mom to go to a Christmas market. Tomorrow I will join Dweezil Zappa on stage. The day after that I will take Gabriel to one of his friend’s birthday party and the day after that I will join Steve Vai on stage. What a weird, yet quite wonderful life I do live. One is grateful. One is grateful.

Meeting Dweezil and his astounding band again was great! Dweezil is such a gentleman and laid back, spreading good vibes around. What he has done with Frank’s music, bringing it into the future, is worth serious respect.

We spoke about possibly doing a tour next year together as well me perhaps joining his Dweezilla camp next summer, which I’d love to do. I shall keep you posted, I shall.

Tried out a bit of Zomby Woof in front of a sound check crowd and it felt good. The venue was surprisingly good, never been there (Svenska Mässan in Gothenburg) before but the stage and light looked great.

Sound check in Gothenburg

The gig was fabulous with the band, slightly stripped down since their last visit, playing better than ever. I dig Dweezil’s playing a lot. He really took a gigantic step forward since he started to tour with Zappa plays Zappa. Splendid fingerprints all over the place.

Climbed the stage for the encore and took it away, building it up to a frenzy, so to speak, with Mr. Zappa. A magic moment. I am honored to up there with the man and the band.

You can check out the jam on good ol’ YouTube if you wish to hear all the notes possible on the electric guitar.

As if this wasn’t enough to boost your ego to beyond gigantic proportions I teamed up with the amazing Steve Vai and his amazing group only two days later. It was great to meet Steve again after about a zillion e-mails regarding The Smorgasbord. As I walked into the venue the band was sound checking and Steve yelled in the microphone “Mr. Tiptop just entered the building!” Hugs and chit chat I thanked The Man so much for his utter guts to put Freak Guitar – The Smorgasbord out there.

Thomas taking care of them guitars

The hard-hitting Jeremy Collson

The ever so dedicated Thomas Nordegg was there, taking care of Vai’s guitars (and mine as I broke a string a few minutes before walking on stage). Steve gave me brief directions of what was going to happen on stage in the evening when he would invite a couple of fans on stage to build a tune out of nothing. We jammed a bit and tried the sound. Iron Heart sounded killer, as usual.

Deborah Henson and her hip harp

My right hand since eons of time, Torben Schmidt, tagged along and we hung out backstage for a while with Vai, Thomas and the band. Cool to meet Jeremy Collson again after our guitar/drum tour in Spain with Tony Hernando last year. Showed the guys the inventive Tremologic system with six independent vibrato arms.

Apple Horns lurking among the Jems

Jumped the stage after being introduced by Steve. Up there were already four guys from the audience (one of them being my camper Gabriel Holmertz!) who made improvised beats and melodies for everyone to go along with. Took it away after Vai made a brief arrangement on the spot (and of course this was also on YouTube a few seconds after the gig).

The mighty talented Dave Weiner (penis in stereo, right, Dave?)

Hugs and chit chat before calling it a day. So good to meet again and I can not emphasize how much I have Steve Vai to thank for everything, helping and supporting me out through the years, distributing my zany music, spreading the Freak Gospel.

An amazing Record Company Boss, to say the least (pretty good guitar player too)

I wrapped up my “professional” year with two concerts together with my sister and her fabulous female choir La Cappella plus my absolutely tremendous nephew Andreas on vocals. The performances took place in the medieval church Helga Trefaldighetskyrka in the city of Uppsala, Sweden. We sang and played mostly Christmas music, beautifully arranged by my sister Karin and others, but also renditions of Father from The Road Less Traveled as well as new stuff from The Smorgasbord; The Swede and The Wolf, Lullaby for Gabriel and Jonas Hellborg’s sweet Kali Ghat.

My dear, stunning conducting sister Karin and La Cappella

To stand with a well-rehearsed choir in your back and play is indeed something of an audio treat. I was scared shitless when we did Adam’s Christmas Song (a.k.a O Holy Night) and I played the first verse alone with only piano. You can not goof. You can not. Andreas’ beautiful vocals almost made me weep and I had to think of dead rabbits not to cry (and similar things). He is certainly a young man to keep your eyes on. So is my sister Karin Eklundh and La Cappella who all did a fabulous job. I am honored to been invited to tag along and make some noise holiday noise. This shall not be the last time, it shall not, sis.

It is time, it is time, it is time to wrap this up, friends. Christmas is around the corner and, as usual, this blog (if one can call it a blog) became way too beefy, but… what the hell.

A couple of 2013 date reminders:

1st of February – Freak Guitar Camp registration.

5th of March – Freak Guitar – The Smorgasbord to be unleashed.

Late spring – Cooking with Pagans.

Gigs and clinics will be up on the freak sites soon. January is off to work with the album but early February I will head to Chile to go nuts.

Speaking of dates… Should the Mayans and their calendar be right about the end of the world the 21st of December, well then I wish you all a Happy Armageddon! Should they not,  well, then I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Tip Top New Year.

See you on the road, take care, stay freaky and thanks for reading.

IA

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