Freak Kitchen

Interview date

Octobre 2009




Interview Mattias Ia Eklundh

Hi Mattias, thanks a lot for accepting this interview for the french metal webzine

Thank you for paying interest !

Last time I saw you in Paris was at the Ron Thal show at "La Maroquinerie" where you were a special guest with Christophe Godin & Patrick Rondat in March 2005. You came to play "Speak when spoken too" and you also jammed with the other guys at the end. What memories do you have of this special evening ?

Oh yeah ! I think it was just chaos, I remember that Ron managed to loose his guitar somewhere but that's all I remember. I think it was fun. I think we're going to play in that place (La Maroquinerie) one or 2 nights in February with Freak Kitchen, I think so.

During this special show, you played guitar using a mobile phone. You're famous on the Internet to play guitar using numerous weird objects (including vibromasseurs), you jammed with your Epson printer on your solo album "The Road Less Traveled"... Can you please tell us more about that ? Any new items to jam with ?

Yes I do ! First of all, I'm using a new instrument called a Kelstone ( which is flat, it's both bass and guitar at the same time. I hope to bring it to France. I'm also playing with some other devices you will get to know in February when we come to tour. But the thing is using different things is that you have to do it and have some kind of point, otherwise it's just for show, it's just wanking, you know what I mean. You have to have some kind of musical point, otherwise I won't do it. It has to make a fun sound in the music, that's why I do when I find a chopstick. Being different for the sake of being different is very easy. But being different in a cool way, in a musical way, that's really tricky.

What have you done during these 4 years between the "Organic" release and the new album "Land Of The Freaks" ?

I have done many things, I've travelled all over the planet many times, I've been to India 3 times with the band where we've played for thousands and thousands of people. I played Beethoven's triple concerto, the violon section that I played on guitar. It has never been done before, it took 8 months to learn it, it was 140 pages of written music. I got married, I became a father, I worked 3 years for "Land Of The Freaks". We did a big-band thing with Freak Kitchen, we played with a big band our own music, that was very cool. Yeah, I've been very busy, "Land Of The Freaks" took a lot of time and I'm very happy with the result. I've never been so happy with an album in my entire life.

Who decided of the CD artwork with the dark universe with a robot's hand ? Did you want to give a dark image of this album ?

It's not really a robotic hand, it's a ugly creature made by a lithuanian artist. "Land Of The Freaks", it's everything, it's where planet earth is today, where we are now, I see many different things. It's a very fit album title, everybody remembers "Land Of The Freaks".

Like on the previous albums, lyrics are both serious and very funny. "Sick ! (Death By Hypocondria)" is the perfect time to be released within the context of paranoia about H1N1 flu. Why did you compose this song ? Are you hypocondriac ?

It's not really related to H1N1. For young people, it's a way of life to have a little pill for that and another pill for that and then, you have a side-effect. You take the pill and you say "today I can't eat pasta because I'll get a rash". I say : fuck off ! wake up ! It's an industrial world problem, we have some so much money despite financial crisis and so on and I feel so bad. "I need a pill for that", you have nothing to complain about ! I've seen some shit on planet earth and people are still smiling, they live in shit, they breath shit, they eat shit and they don't complain ! And you have all these rich bastard western kids - so the song's about this. But no, I'm definitely not hypocondriac. I'm sure some of these guys would die just from thinking how bad he or she feels, you're not sick you know. If you loose a leg, you're sick.

After "Mussolini's Mind", "Honey you're a nazi" is your new track against intolerance and racism. Can you please explain us what inspired you ? Will the next song's title be "Adolf was a guitar hero" ?

(Laughs) Not really ! I just write about stuff that I'm concerned about, stuff I think about and I want to share and I want to talk about it. When you have and option to say things and share things with your listeners, it's a good opportunity because I'm not particularly interested in singing about fire, dragons, baby suck my penis and so on...

Same question for "Murder Groupie". Where does this story come from ? Did a groupie already try to kill you ?

Not really, no. It's about a girl that I used to know, a very smart girl. For some reason, she fell in love with a prisoner. He was a really violent person, a very hostile person and he managed to actually get her to do very things, even committing murders for him. Although she was a very smart woman, love came in the way. The song's about someone in prison taking control of someone outside conducting very nasty things. She's a murder groupie.

Musically, this new album still contains the very specific Freak Kitchen fusion style already present on the previous albums but also integrates some new influences. For example, "The Only Way", sung by Christer, is a typical power-ballad as Skid Row could compose in the 90s, it's very far from your weird and complex usual fusion style.

That's because Chris wrote that one, the bass player, he's in basic rock and I didn't want to interfere with it, you know. So we just played it straight and it's good, it's a great song. The difference is what makes the Freak Kitchen strength I think, we do anything we like.

Some electronic elements also appear, especially on "Hip Hip Hourrah" and on "One Last Dance". Your very heavy riffs over the keyboards on "One Last Dance" give a real groovy dance sensation. Is it a will to integrate more and more electronic elements in Freak Kitchen music in the future ?

There's not so much keyboard, the intro of "One Last Dance" is guitar and mellotron, then you have a synth bass and also keyboard, it's piano and it's acoustic guitar. It's just orchestrated in a very different way. I use whatever I feel I have to use in order to create what I want to do, especially as we did with indian musicians with "Teargas Jazz" with violin and percussion and so on....

In my CD review of "Land Of The Freaks", I'll describe "Teargas Jazz" as "When Portnoy meets Frank Zappa". What do you think about that ?

Great ! Actually, we're making a video of "Teargas Jazz" and everything is shot in India because I think that there's haven't been any indian metal video before, so I said "Fuckin' ! Let's do it !". And the vocal takes are done in Romania in Bucharest, so it's gonna be very raw, very hand-camera kind of thing. But live ! It starts with me in front of 20.000 people in New Delhi with my camera. "Delhi, Delhi, Delhi !" screams are crazy, people have turbans and everything, we like to do something different in a cool way. But I'm glad you like it !

Which Freak Kitchen album is your favorite one and why ?

"Land Of The Freaks", easily. It's the best one we've ever done. I'm very happy with it.

You're the only guitar player in the band. Your songs contain multiple complex guitar tracks and solos, and moreover you're the singer. How do you succeed to play live ? Do you plan to hire another guitar player or to use some samples ?

No no no, I will never hire a guy. It's no problem to play the rhythm, we've already played some songs like "God Save The Spleen", it's no problem. I write it, so it's very natural for me. I can play arpeggios backwards and sing on top of it, it's no problem. I'm left handed, so I'm very easy with rhythm, each hand can go in a different way. It's just who I am and I don't have problem with that. It's maybe hard for you, you probably have some licks that I find difficult because I didn't write them but all the stuff that I write myself is all very natural. Of course, a song like "Teargas Jazz" will be slightly hard to play live because there are so many notes, so many rhythm, that's tricky to play on guitar. We will alsolutely try to play it live.

Which bands or albums are you listening these times ? Some new rising bands ?

There's an american band called Mutemath which is sort of indie stuff, I'm not really into the indie stuff but they've made really really good album. Mostly, I'm listening to old Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, stuff like that... a lot of Django, that's not really new stuff, that's in the 30s/40s/50s/60s. I also listen to classical music, Samuel Barber is one of my favorite compositor. You remind me that I'm going tonight to buy some Samuel Barber albums in Virgin Megastore.

Let's now talk about your personal career. The metal press presents you as one of the greatest guitar players beside Ron Thal, Guthrie Govan, John Petrucci... Don't you fear to be too much considered and respected as a guitar-hero and not as a member of a band ?

The guitar hero thing is great, I love to be part of this guitar hero community, I'm glad to be mentioned with Satriani and Vai, with Petrucci, with all these really big guys, Paul Gilbert or whatever. It's great and I really like that side of it but it's only a fraction of what I do. But I don't see a dilemma because Freak Kitchen has always been my baby, it's like my right arm. We have a great audience with Freak Kitchen, the guitar hero people come and watch, you have also the average kid who's not interested into guitar but who likes the music. I think it works both ways. I really like to do workshops and guitar clinics around the planet because it keeps me in good shape, there's no way to fake it.

You have a very personal style in your solos. Immediately we can recognize that Mattias Ia Eklundh playing. Your solos are very weird, not conventional at all. Are you a weird guy ?

I think I'm a pretty normal guy but I'm a guy who like to do things my way. I live in the swedish woods with my son and my wife and my french dog and my three cats and we have a great place, I've a studio, I've a forest, I've a wonderful place where I can swim and a great living room with three fire places ... I like to be there to recharge the batteries. I just do what I like to hear in my head.

You have a parallel project with the bassist Jonas Hellborg. The "Art Metal" project is described as "contemporary metal". Can you please tell us more about that ?

I think that we did a very brave album. "Art Metal" is an album with 5 guys, it's really how things sound in real life, the mix is very primitive and I like it. There's a lot of groove and a lot of indian structures, some of my best playing ever is a song called "The Three Princes Of Serendip", it's one of the best song ever written, Jonas and Selvaganesh wrote it. That solo is probably my old time one favorite solo, it was done in 2 takes and it's a long solo. And the ending part of the song "Art Metal" is the hardest thing I've ever recorded, it's so tough to play. It's a nice album, I really like it.

Will we have the opportunity to see you live in France for the "Land of The Freaks" promotion ? In headline ou with another band ?

In february, 7 concerts ! Starting in Paris, then Lyon, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Marseille... In headline ! We might use local bands for the opening, I don't know.