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Freak Kitchen Blog

Land of the Freaks XIII

Greetings! It’s a hot July morning in the woods of Sweden. Maya the Dog is running around playing with the zillion cones surrounding her. A little further ahead a moose is getting up from what looks like a good night of sleep. Maya couldn’t care less. We’re all buddies here.

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Mastering the new album

Eons of time have passed since you heard anything from us and so much has been going on I am not really sure where to begin.

First of all: Land of the Freaks is mixed, mastered and ready for release. (I think I have to type that again). First of all: Land of the Freaks is mixed, mastered and ready for release! Damn it! I can’t believe it is actually true but I think is. No fixed date yet. We are working with many different labels around the world that need to be somewhat in sync. We will let you know as soon as we do, rest assure.

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Chris and a sinister snake!

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The mighty Roberto Laghi and a mighty fine mixing console

I am very, very, very happy with the record. You may beg to differ but for the first time I feel we got it right all the way. I love every album we’ve put out. There is a lot of hard work behind them and I know we always did our best. Land of the Freaks has taken close to three years to wrap up. Get me right: we have worked on it over a period of three years. We haven’t been recording three years. That would have been insane. I think Björn has spent around three days in total nailing his parts plus some last minute tabla frenzy. Chris, with bass and vocals, a couple of weeks tops. Sure, I have spent months on my butt arranging, editing and laying down tracks. Still, it has been a cool ride and lovely to let things unfold along the way.

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A future tabla master?

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Johnny and Roberto

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Iron Maiden coffee

The mix was finished two days ahead of schedule, something that never happened in my audio compadre Roberto Laghi’s history of turning Knobs Attached to Expensive Things. Most likely because I am a conservative man (when it comes to music production) and prepared the mixing phase as much as I could beforehand with track sheets, how channels should be panned, even effects bounced down here and there. Good for Chris that got a few more days with Roberto to get his Eaglestrike album done. (It turned out really great as well and is a must get. Eaglestrike will open for Freak Kitchen at several gigs this fall. Stay tuned).

We mixed Land of the Freaks at IF Studios (owned by In Flames). A top notch facility, highly recommended.

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Another Björn… This one’s from In Flames

Mastering is tricky business and I nearly drove audio wizard Dragan Tanaskovic nuts. He is alright now and still trust me enough to send his son to the upcoming Freak Guitar Camp. It took four versions, two days and vivid debates before yours truly was satisfied. Everything doesn’t have to be the most loud ever. Metallica’s Death Magnetic and commercial monster-compressed radio are good examples of where I didn’t want to go. It is so in your face and pumped you grow tired of listening to it after a while (Dean Martin, my savior!) I need the music to last long and we are intense guys, playing intense tunes. Sometimes one needs to back off. A gut feeling. Nothing was hardly done in the mastering I dug the most, only a discreet digital EQ and a little limiter to keep it in place. It is loud, but not in a ridiculous way.

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Biffen from Jim Dunlop, taking care of signature picks for us. (Chris and I finally got ourselves together since a lot of people ask for it at gigs).

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Biffen’s lovely Bamse tattoo (Bamse = legendary Swedish bear)

Listening to the album every day as the new studio is seeing the light of day. Been having fantastic carpenters putting the building together. Still loads of work to be done but we’re getting there. I can’t wait to go mad in my new facilities.

Right now I am in London, soon about to grab me a British cup of coffee. Off to Raleigh, North Carolina in a few hours to take it away at the Raleigh Music Academy together with Guthrie Govan. A perfect warm up for the upcoming Freak Guitar Camp.

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London, England… from above

I must thank buddy and veteran camper Linus Mr. Gul Abrahamson who have allowed me to create weird practice tunes for the camp without paying the slightest attention to how it should be written down or how long that would take. Linus has put together all the notation this year, a beyond pain-staking experience, seriously busting his butt with 12 hour shifts. Music notation of this magnitude takes forever. Time I don’t have in these days. I used to lock myself up in a German hotel in May and write until I would puke. Not anymore. Thank God. This stunning piece of work shall not go unnoticed to the world so I am putting together yet another Growing Your Own Moustache with equally demanding stuff (an understatement) as the first edition. To be released through the online store this fall. More about this later on. Just wanted to express my gratitude, Linus. You are amazing and have come a long way from the early days of the FGC.

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Linus, the fabulous, and Dream Theater. Notice the pretty hood Linus is wearing and how Portnoy wants to steal it with his mouth…

Three cheese tortellini smell somewhere over the Atlantic as we are getting closer to the US. Land of the Freaks in my head phones.

Freak Kitchen did a fun, packed (an understatement) gig at the annual Fuzz Guitar Show in Gothenburg as well as a second concert with Linköping Jazz Orchestra with Chris having serious back pain, forcing him to sit down the major part of the performance! That felt weird, especially when he is normally everywhere on stage. He is back in shape again for the upcoming Scandinavian gigs. A bunch of pics for you from the event:

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Magnus Ericsson – a big band genius + awesome sax player

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Rehearsals

The Fuzz concert was a real catharsis moment for the three of us, having been so into the production of Land of the Freaks for such a long time. Can’t wait to go back out there. More photos:

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This is how it looks right now in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, Tour of the Freaks:

2009-08-15 Jönköping, Sweden, Vätterfesten
2009-09-25 Copenhagen, Denmark, Vega, ProgPower Scandinavia
2009-09-26 Sommerstedt, Denmark, Banehuset
2009-09-27 Svendborg, Denmark, Vintage Guitar Show
2009-10-08 Stockholm-Åbo, Sweden-Finland, Silja Galaxy, Sweden Rock Cruise
2009-10-09 Västerås, Sweden, Sigurdsgatan 25
2009-10-10 Ålvik, Norway
2009-10-16 Örebro, Sweden, Örebros Konserthus
2009-10-17 Köping, Sweden, Smedjan
2009-10-20 Helsinki, Finland, On the Rocks
2009-10-21 Tampere, Finland, Yo-talo
2009-10-22 Jyväskylä , Finland, Lutakko
2009-10-23 Kuopio , Finland,Henry’s Pub
2009-10-30 Bjuget, Norway, Fosen Rock
2009-10-31 Oslo, Norway, Smuget
2009-11-28 Stockholm, Sweden, Salemkyrkan

Hope to see you there! Loads of more gigs to come!

Had the privilege of playing together with amazing Finnish musicians Kai Hahto on drums and Ollie Rantala, bass, twice this spring. My friend Christian Jansson in Vasa, Finland had set up a bunch of clinics and wanted to close it with a Freak Guitar concert with local players at the Doo Bop club in Vasa. Something I felt skeptic about. It never turns out as well as you want it to. I was wrong. Gee, Kai and Ollie kicked my butt! Tunes like Ketchup is a Vegetable, Chopstick Boogie and other Freak Guitar tracks are not really meant to be played live. The guys had rehearsed before we met and I have to say again I was utterly floored they nailed it so well. The club was sold out and people came from all over the country. Former Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen hung out during the day.

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Kai…

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… and Ollie

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… and Jani. All Finnish. All good.

We did a second gig at the Agora stage at the Frankfurt Messe and I was equally baffled. Whenever the time is right I want to do some more stuff together. Very cool.

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Frankfurt am Main

At the Frankfurt Messe, where I played for Laney, I was introduced to Joe Satriani whom I never met before. Goodie goodie to hook up! Joe said many lovely things about my zany playing in guitar press over the years and I am truly grateful about it, coming from a monster player like him.

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Joe, a broken chair and yours truly wearing an organic Freak Guitar Camp T-shirt, of course

I was also happy to hook up with Steve Lukather. We’ve been in touch since the show and he is a super sweet guy (not to say a legend in his own time). Tiptop!

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Luke and a nasty Swede

At the Warwick stage Jonas Hellborg, myself, Niladri Kumar, Selvaganesh, TM Stevens, Ranjit Barot, Sivamani and others jammed so loud in front of an enthusiastic crowd they nearly had to close down the booth due to Noise Police.

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Loud Swedish/Indian/African jamming

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Sivamani, the one and only

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The man’s discreet set up

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TM Stevens and a German sandwich

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Trio of doom: Selvaganesh, Hellborg’s lovely fiance Ana and Jonas

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Ranjit Barot, one of the very best drummers around. I’m a fan.

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Stevie Salas and a pretty guitar

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Niladri Kumar, you-know-who and Selva taking it away

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Jamming with Niladri in the Laney booth. This guy is something else… One of a kind, to say the least. You got to love those Indians. They’re simply the best.

After the trade fair I went to Essen to hook up with my friends Robert and Melanie and a clinic there. Robert knows I am huge 24 fan (season 7 coming up on Blue-ray soooooon!) and he wanted me to get a groovy David Palmer vibe while in town. As the crazy guy he is he booked me the presidential suite at the Sheraton. A nice contrast to the sometimes super-tiny rooms in South East Asia… (I like both). Robert, you madman!

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The Mattias IA Eklundh signature chair, now available at Ikea for only 70 000 €! (Made by Melanie).

I give you The Essen David Palmer Presidential Suite:

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Our beloved Björn got married to his Sofia late May! A magic day on all accounts. I played and sang a Francis Dunnery song in church, shit-scared, with buddy Christian Alsing supporting me. Chris, Björn and myself played sloppy versions of My New Haircut and Michael and the Syndrome at the great party after the ceremony. On their honey moon the newly weds went to New York to check out groovy jazz and hang out with Bumblefoot.

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Party!

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Ron and Bjorn and pizza

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Check out my friend Remy’s son Oliver’s Freak Teddy!

We dropped by France a quickie for a show in Bordeaux at the Drums Addict Festival early June and it was lovely to be back. You are such fine folks, you French, you are. A tour is scheduled for February. Italy might happen back to back. We love you, you know that.

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Live in France

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I did a thirteen date tour for Laney in Scandinavia and would like to thank each and everyone who showed up. It was loads of fun! I will be at the Vintage Show in Svendborg for Laney plus two more clinics in Denmark after the ProgPower festival in Copenhagen.

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Aalborg clinic

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Norway… the most beautiful place on this blue planet

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Ripping out nose hair in Oslo

Guthrie Govan, myself and two other guitar players will do a Guitar Day in Bucharest, Romania, mid-September and I will swing by, well, hrm, Taiwan and China in November during my Japanese visit where two new Apple Horn models will be presented at the 15th anniversary of the Tokyo Music Fair.

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Gabriel, my wonderful, wonderful son has turned two. He is everything to me and it is a sheer pleasure just to be around the funny little man. His verbal skills are amazing and he is talking from morning to evening about everything from Christer’s greasy tattoo (he had a new one made and has to put cream on it) to Winnie the Pooh to the neighbor’s huge excavator. We built him a small house in our garden where he can play. He calls the place Gabriel’s Pizza. However, he is always running out of pizza when I am around since they are so “popular” (his most recent word). Gabriel has also come to the conclusion that both Björn and Chris have penises BUT Chris also has a boat (the ship tattoed on Cap Man’s lower left arm). Not bad. I love him more than one can imagine.

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The construction of Gabriel’s Pizza, the place to eat

Teamed up with brother Jonas and Zoltan Csörsz for a gig at the Swedish Jazz Celebration in Gothenburg in March and had a splendid time doing so. It was good to get back together playing music and stretching out a bit. We are talking about a European tour with Selvaganesh, Ranjit Barot, Jonas and I in March 2010 if things fall into place. A new album might happen as well.

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Two kick ass drummers: Zoltan and Björn

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Jonas, playing Mozart on a Venue Piano in leather jacket

Talked to piano virtuoso Patrik Jablonski the other day and orchestras in France and Bulgaria are interested in doing the Beethoven Triple Concerto with Hellborg, Jablonski and yours truly. We’ll see what happens.

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Song writing class with Guthrie. Loads of fun.

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Paul Warren, the Evil Minister. (Not really. Paul is boss at RMA and the sweetest of guys).

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The Jetlag Brothers, alive and well in North Carolina

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Uhuh

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The cool Chris Ptacek from Chicaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaago

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You wouldn’t believe the karaoke performances inside…

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Andy Wood = great guy and absolutely top-notch player! Check him out on MySpace! Buy his music. (We just might start selling his brand new album at the online store). Lovely Redneck chops combined with a modern sound + good songwriting.

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Message in a… Guthrie in a glass

Eating breakfast right now, watching Good Morning America. At every break there are depression medicine commercials of various kinds. It has been like this the last three mornings and it rings false, at least to a Swede. Medical Company Profit Hunger Smell. The medication side effects read at the very end (without pause to breathe and at warp-speed) make it ridiculous. All of a sudden I realize it’s all stuff from Sweden and that Good Morning America is presented by a gigantic pharmaceutical company from my home town. So much for crazy Americans, huh?

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We found a truck… The Jesus Saves vehicle.

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Then Guthrie dropped all his coins. Jesus Saves indeed.

This very moment I am on my way back to Europe again after a bunch of absolutely phenomenal days in Raleigh at the RMA. Had such a tiptop time together with Guthrie, Paul, Chris, Andy and the students. Would love to be back, anytime.

One thing that I found truly intriguing was when Guthrie and I shared lessons on stage, improvising, making up music on the spot, Q and A, e t c. This I’d like to do more of. It can be a lonely job to do clinics and teach.

We had a song writing seminar one night and that can be real tricky. How do you write a groovy tune? For me, it’s never the same from song to song. There is no formula or special method. We were asked to write something and believe it or not, magic was in the air. Guthrie started with a bunch of cool chords and I came up with a melody and then we twisted and turned it around and for a moment there it sounded like nice music.

Anyway, I just would like to thank everyone that attended this workshop. Work hard and goodie goodie things will happen, OK?

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Dinner time over New York! Will try to adjust to European time after stuffing myself with American Airlines’ food = get some sleep. Tomorrow I will start gathering the crew. Whoohooo, Freak Guitar Camp coming up! Looking forward to berserk for the upcoming three weeks!

More information soon regarding the Land of the Freaks release, tours and whatnot. Stay tuned, stay freaky and thank you for reading.

IA

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