ENTREVISTA MATTIAS “IA” EKLUNDH (FREAK KITCHEN)
Hi, Mattias! Your galician friend from the Freak Cooks here! It's always nice to talk to you and, today, I have to say that it's a high honour to interview you, even in the distance.
First of all let me thank you in the name of DCEV and all your spanish fans for dedicating us a little of your time and answering these few questions.
IA: Thank you. It is entirely my pleasure.
And now..., ladies and gentlemen, with you..... the viking god, the freak guitar master, the tip top guru, the one and only........ MATTIAS “IA” EKLUNDH!!!
IA: Is that me? Ahh… what a guy I am! Gee…
1. How are you doing, buddy?! (all inteviews should start with something like this, I guess..... But whatever....)
IA: All good here. I am sitting in the tour bus right now on the way to Frankfurt for the final gig on the Freak Ballett tour, a tour we are doing together with lovely German band Panzerballett.
2. Pretty soon you are visiting our country again, to play with FREAK KITCHEN at the IBERIAN PROGRESSIVE FEST on november 23rd. The day before you are giving a masterclass for your spanish fans, also. What are your expectations for this upcoming “freaky” weekend at Madrid? Are you looking forward to have a lot of “caca con leche”? (hehehehe)
IA: Indeed! We are all looking forward to it, needless to say. It’s been a while since the Vikings of Scandinavia were in Spain so it’s about time. To do both a masterclass and a concert is the best of both worlds. Got no real expectations except having a good time with my/our freaky Spanish friends and do a little prep work for next year when the new album is out.
3. Are you playing new stuff from Freak Kitchen's new album, Cooking with Pagans, at Madrid's show?
IA: Nope. We have decided not to do so as it will end up on YouTube in a split second and people will judge the entire album from a crappy iPhone clip. I embrace today’s technology and all, used in the right way, but there are certain things you simply can’t do. We keep the lid on for just a while more. All good things to those who wait!
4. I have to tell you that I can't wait to listen to Cooking with Pagans. Is there, finally, a date for the release? I believed that the first idea was to have it released on past spring, wasn't it?
IA: Yeah, most of it has been done since a few months back. We have some vocals yet to do. I’ve had some issues with a bleeding vocal cord, putting recording on hold, but it is much better now and the plan is to have it out by spring. The thing is, Cooking with Pagans is anything but overworked and overproduced. It’s quite raw and in your face. We have backed off using too many channels and have finally managed to capture how we sound live. The band is pretty excited about it.
5. In the great Land of the Freaks, we found a lot of indian influences, with weird rhythm structures (like the '1/1-2/1-2-3/1-2-3-4/1-2-3-4-5/1-2-3-4-5-6' in Murder Groupie). What are we going to find in Cooking with Pagans?
IA: The Indian influence is there, I think, forever. There is no way back once you’ve plugged into Carnatic music, classical music from South India. It is a bit more subtle though and not so spelled out as Teargas Jazz and OK, for example. Believe it or not, we have a lot of AC/DC influences on this record. I am not sure why because you do things without thinking too hard about it. What feels good is good in our book. We’re the least trendy band out there. However, listening to some of the groovy “meat and potatoes” songs I can’t help to laugh a bit since it sounds like Angus Young went to Chennai and turned his blues inside out while digging into a curry dish… Hope you will dig it!
6. Talking about your masterclasses from hell...... Tell us about the making of one of them. How do you prepare it? Are you methodical and got a clear script to follow, do you let yourself go and improvise or, maybe, 50% both?
IA: I never plan anything. Back in the days I remember sometimes scribbling ideas and topics down on a piece of paper, but once I got going I never glanced at it once. So… it’s all improvised but of course I have backing tracks to rely on and also a number of different things I want to share.
7. Your guitar, the Caparison Apple Horn True Temperament...... Tell us a bit about this freaky beauty's story. How do her “broken” frets change the playing and the sound you get from her?
IA: My Apple Horn models are divine and the True Temperament frets certainly make it even more so. There is no way back once you start to realize how insanely crappy regular frets are and how terrible the construction of the guitar is. I adore my guitars and TT frets. Playing has never been more fun.
8. And what about the fantastic Tremologic? Was it your idea?
IA: No, it is a Swedish company but I am not sure they are around anymore. A bit sad. They tried hard to get it out there. I have a system on an Apple Horn Jazz guitar and use it in the studio as it is super smart with six independent vibrato arms. The phrasing you can do is outrageous.
9. I saw you playing live a couple of times and I noticed that you don't use guitar effects on stage (maybe a little wah-wah in a few songs). When I tell this to my friends they don't believe me. It seems that all that you need to get your sound is your guitar, your Laney amplifier and your viking fingers. Isn't it?
IA: Yeah. I don’t want to rely on a 9 volt battery or a tiny adapter cable. I get annoyed when there are a lot of things hooked up in between the guitar and the hard working tube amp. It takes you away from the core, for good and bad, that is you. My sound is very hard to play with, you get nothing for free. Every note has to be played with conviction and like you mean it. This makes me get my butt together. The Laney amps will tell you (and the audience, I am afraid) right away if you suck or are in so-so shape. There is no hiding. None. When you take control of the amp, guitar and situation you are all the more rewarded though and the equipment becomes a part of you.
10. As a guitar player myself I have to ask you (and I think I'm asking in the name of all the guitar players in the world): WHERE DO THESE FREAKING HARMONICS COME FROM?!?! (please)
IA: The natural harmonics can be found in any string instrument. It is there for you to grab and use. You need to spend some time to find the sweet spots. Not all the harmonics sound as good. Tonality wise you have a Lydian dominant scale on each string in various pitch with the center of the string being the 12th fret. Anyone can do it. Just give a little while and don’t give up.
11. You have already released three Freak Guitar albums full of pretty interesting and funny sounds. Is the Freak Guitar thing, maybe, some kind of refuge where you can throw up all those creative ideas in your brain that couldn't fit in Freak Kitchen because of being, perhaps, too freaky?
IA: It’s a bit like that, yes. It is my creative outlet where I can go absolutely berserk and explore the depths of music and my instruments of choice. I already begun make rough plans for the forth release, believe it or not.
12. And what about the Mr Libido project?
IA: Mr. Libido lives! There are plans to do a follow-up to the Sensually Primitive album!
13. Taking a look to the past, now...... Tell us about your beginnings as a musician. The first time you picked up a guitar, when you decided to take it seriously, your first bands, Frozen Eyes, Fate......
IA: I have always known what I wanted to do since the age of five-six. There has never been any doubt whatsoever. I started to write music at the age of six, simple two string chords and song titles like “Go to Hell” and “Homework Rots My Mind”. My first instrument was drums and I still play it in my studio from time to time. I think that rhythm is mighty important. I also think that many musicians are tremendously bad at it as soon as you take them outside their comfort zone. This is what we work on a lot during my Freak Guitar Camp.
14. Talking about your album with Fate, Scratch n' Sniff, I have to confess that it's some kind of a “cult record” between my group of friends (praisers of the Guru). What a great guitar work you did on this album, man! Obviously, your cool style was already there, but it was 1990 and you know......Suddenly appears a young swedish dude doing all that tricks on the guitar.......People must have freaked out!......... What do you remember about doing this record and about those days, in general?
IA: It’s all a blur… Just kidding! I am remember everything perfectly fine and have loads and loads of video footage from the recording as well. I needed a break from my struggling career in Sweden, moved to Denmark after getting the “job” in Fate. When I had the opportunity to show the growth of my moustache in the recording of the album, I grabbed the chance and made the most out of it. The record created quite a buzz in Japan and South East Asia and when I left Fate and founded Freak Kitchen I immediately went for Japan, got a great advance to finance the first record, entitled Appetizer, and the rest is freaky history.
15. It's well known that in your early days as a musician you were influenced by Kiss and Frank Zappa. Today, anyone who listen to the Land of the Freaks album, for example, or any of the Freak Guitar albums will find indian influences, jazz, latin music (viva la Bamba!!!) disco music... Do you think that if we all were more like sponges, absorbing as many different influences as we can, there would be better musicians in the world, doing more interesting things?
IA: Yes, I think so. I rarely listen to any metal music, I have to confess, but I am a heavy metal musician in my heart and soul. In order to compose something interesting I need to get away from the genre and get my influences elsewhere. To me there are few things as hard core as Gypsy Jazz, Igor Stravinskij, traditional South Indian music or Dean Martin.
16. Talking about uncle Frank, I have always saw you as some kind of a modern days' Frank Zappa (guitar-based, of course). There's a lot of things in your style, your music, your continuous innovation and your sense of humour that remind me of him (you are welcome....hehehehe...). What do you think about it?
IA: Being mentioned in the same sentence as Frank Zappa is an honor. He was the one and there will be no one like him. He produced no less than 77 records before passing away. Inspiration for a life time. There is a Frank Zappa album for any mood. I love it to this very day. His son Dweezil Zappa and yours truly are good friends and it is stunning to listen to all the stories about his father. What Dweezil is doing with the Zappa plays Zappa is astounding and great for the overall mental health of the planet.
17. You are talented enough to have your own characteristic and unique style. I mean... In my opinion, nobody sounds like Mattias “Ia” Eklundh. If you hear a single note, you instantly know if it comes from Mattias. Very few musicians have conquered such a huge achievement. Was it hard to develop your own style or did it came out naturally?.
IA: Oh boy, you really are in flattering mode, aren’t you? Thank you for your kind words. It is very appreciated. My style evolves over time but I tend not to think about it. I can clearly see afterwards why I sounded the way I did at certain stages in my life, but when I am in midst of it, I am clueless and only go for my gut feeling. That’s it.
18. One of the things I like the most of your music is the funny sense of humour omnipresent in all of it. I have to confess that sometimes I have laughed like a fool, by myself, while listening to some of your songs, because of the stories you tell, how do you tell these stories or, sometimes, maybe just because of a funny riff or a funny change of rhythm you introduce in the song.
How important is “keeping the thing funny” and the sense of humour in your life and music? Does humour belong in music?
IA: In my book, yes. Humor is such a vital part of life and makes life understandable a bit. Without love, humor and music, there would be no point. Also, to get whatever is on your mind through to your audience humor is a potent and strong weapon. You bring people in and unite with humor. You don’t to that by shoving a lot of pointers down their throats. So, yes, humor is important.
19. Tell us now about the Freak Guitar Camp experience. A week of intense guitar lessons into the wilderness of beautiful Sweden, imparted by the Guru himself, when people seem to have a real goody goody time......
IA: The Freak Guitar Camp is my absolute favorite time of the year. In 2014 we have done this no less than fifteen summers straight, gathering people from any nation you can think of. Age, sex, religion is not important. We get together in the woods in Sweden for six days at a time and dig really, really deep into interesting, musical things to be applied on the guitar. I talked to a former Freak Guitar Camper yesterday after the gig in Hamburg and he said before the camp he was stuck in a typical minor pentatonic inferno and afterwards he was cleansed and had a palette of tools and ideas for a life time to sink his teeth into. That’s a true reward, I think.
20. Question number 20......wow........ Don't worry..... We are almost done.... hehehe.....
What is that thing you've got in Sweden that makes that there's so many good bands coming out of there? Classic bands like Freak Kitchen, Candlemass, Entombed, Europe......, and new cool bands like Ghost (viva el Papa!) or Bombus........ All good bands and all from Sweden.
Is it maybe that you have more kind of support from the government and, of course, from your parents when you are a kid and you want to play an instrument, put a band together, have a place to rehearsal, etc? (surelly in Spain don't work like that......)
IA: I do think it is fairly accepted to be a musician in Sweden since we’ve had quite a big success way back with Abba and more. We have music schools as well but from own point of view I humbly thank my parents from the bottom of my heart. They allowed me to go for my passion from a very early age, never forcing me in any other direction than my own. This I am eternally grateful for. Most of my friends who started to play and form bands in their teens do not play at all anymore, mostly because of the social whip and expectations from their folks to get a “real job”, e t c. It’s a bloody shame. You got to do what you got to do. I read a study recently with a nurse interviewing people facing death, asking them what they regretted most in life. The most frequent answer was that they didn’t actually life their life the way THEY wanted it, but, again, to please their surroundings. Not good.
21. What do you thing of the duality internet/music business and the “over information” that we have this days? Do you thing is there any future left for physical music (CD, LP, etc)?
IA: It’s hard to say but there is always room for good music, in whatever physical or digital form it may take. I have gotten back to my LP collection funnily enough and enjoy putting the disc on the turntable and change side. It’s a little ritual that I quite like, I have to admit. Respect the music.
22. Jimi Hendrix, Randy Rhoads, Van Halen, Steve Vai, Mattias “IA” Eklundh........ How does the TipTop Guru see the future of guitar playing and the future of rock and roll, in general? Is it possible to go on and still innovating with electric guitar? What should be the next “big thing”?
IA: Oh boy, I think we have merely scratched the surface of what can be done on the electric guitar. I really do. Time is the enemy but I have a ton of things I have a deep itch and urge to investigate. What the next big thing will be, I don’t know. Big things are not always necessarily the interesting stuff. Only the future will tell but I am optimistic. There are many good players out there.
23. As I said at the beginning of the interview, you are playing with Freak Kitchen at the Iberian Progressive Fest, in Madrid, on november 23rd. When Cooking with Pagans is finally released, are you planning a Freak Kitchen tour that, maybe, could bring you back to Spain again next year?
IA: Yes! That’s the plan! We want to play as much as possible in Spain so accept loads of freakiness in 2014, dear friends out there.
24. Any european festivals scheduled for next summer?
IA: Yes, there are a bunch of dates floating around to left and right. The closest to Spain is Germany for now, but hopefully we can reach your shores too!
25. What do you thing about little websites like DCEV that support music everyday, no matter what, without making any money, only because of the love for music itself, helping the underground scene and all the “little” local bands to promote themselves and have more than 6 people at their gigs?
IA: All of us salute you lovely guys and gals! Keep up the kick ass work. We need you out there!
Well..... That's all folks!....... Let me tell you that, as a fan, it's been a huge pleasure and a true honour to interview you. It's always nice to talk to you, Viking God from Hell!
Thanks again for your time, for your music and for being such a cool and nice guy. I'm looking forward to meet you on the road again pretty soon, my friend! Cheers from the Freak Cooks!!!
IA: The pleasure is all mine, sir.
GOODY GOODY!!! TIP TOP TIP TOP!!!
Finally...... I would like you to say a few words for all your spanish fans and the DCEV audience and finish the interview by yourself. ALL YOURS!!!
IA: See you very, very soon! We promise to do our utmost do provide a goody goody time for all of you!
Entrevista realizada por Anxo Castelo para DCEV
(Entrevistador y entrevistado)