Anybody who likes the music of Mattias IA Eklundh has more than a slight yearning for the weird and wonderful. I've spent many an hour trying to recreate some of IA's sounds, and usually to no avail.
As the guitarist for Freak Kitchen, Mattias has a sound that is interesting and unique, but that also never strays far from catchy melodic phrasing. Freak Guitar is not weird for the sake of being weird, and that's what attracts so many people to the sound.
A friend of mine once described his solos as sounding as if Lucifer was reading you a nursery rhyme. So after spending too much time wondering how Mr Freak Guitar comes up with some of his unconventional playing styles, I decided that it would be easier just to ask him...
RB: Mattias, great to talk to you. First things first, how are you, and what has 2012 been like for you so far?
IA: Everything is mighty tiptop I have to admit. I just came back from India (where it was +30 degrees Celsius) and Finland (where it was -30 degrees) and right now we are tracking drums for the eighth Freak Kitchen album, to be released later this year. I am also working hard on my Freak Guitar - The Smorgasbord album, also to be released in 2012.
RB: So I hear you have been recording a new solo album, and are going to start work on a new Freak Kitchen album, can you tell us any more about that?
IA: The solo album will be quite a ride! When nobody is buying CDs anymore I decided to make a double one with over 100 minutes of unorthodox instrumental music. Madness. But it feels good and to me it is a necessity to make music. Music is life. The next Freak Kitchen is going to be a nice, beefy rock album with a twist. No bull. To the point. Björn, our drummer, has been busting his butt yesterday to make groovy drum takes. Next week I will start nailing the guitar. Very excited.
RB: Land of the Freaks seemed to have more of a heavy drop-tuning approach than previous albums, is the new album going to be heavier again?
IA: There will certainly be heavy, tuned down tunes on the record, for sure. I don't use regular tuning with the band but have six different ways to tune that set spark to my creativity. You can check the tunings on www.freakguitar.com if you're interested.
RB: With songs like 'My New Haircut', you seem to vent your anger at certain people - and the result is often quite entertaining for your fans to listen to. Do you sometimes use your lyric-writing as a method for airing grievances?
IA: Absolutely! Singing about your experiences and frustrations is a good thing. I have to write about stuff that means something to me or I get bored. The actual topics can be cheesy and corny or dead serious, it doesn't matter. I couldn't remember a meaningless boy-meets-girl or hate-death-die-you-pig lyric even if I had tattooed all over my face.
RB: As a guitarist you are one of a handful of people who could be said to have an instantly recognizable sound. How much of this do you put down to your equipment, and how much do you put it down to your playing style?
IA: Thank you for your kind words. As much as I adore working with the lovely people of Laney and Caparison (and of course they do help shape my sound) the real personality is in the fingers, heart and soul (I know it is pretentious but... That's the way it is).
RB: In terms of your playing style, what did you listen to over the years that led you to experiment with harmonics, and other Freak Guitar techniques?
IA: Mostly everything I do comes out of utter mistakes when screwing around with my instrument. I am very grateful one is equipped with liberal ears and hear music and potential noises everywhere.
RB: Your Freak Guitar Camps are pretty renowned for not only being a place to improve as a guitarist, but also to have a good time. What can people expect if they attend the 2012 camp?
IA: Hard work first of all but also a stunning opportunity to hang out with likeminded people from all over the world, some that might become friends for life. The Freak Guitar Camp is my favorite time of the year and I have been doing it for no less than twelve summers in a row. Not bad. More information can be found at: www.freakguitar.com
RB: What level of Freakiness can we expect from your next solo album?
IA: Oh, you will wish you never asked when The Smorgasbord is served! Easily the wildest ride I have ever experienced and produced. Stay tuned and beware.
RB: Is being on Favoured Nations like a badge of honour for guitarists? There are so many incredible musicians on the label, from the outside it seems like a bit of an exclusive club where us mere mortals aren't allowed.
IA: I love the label and I am so honored to be working with Steve Vai and the guys. We have a very healthy business relationship. There is certainly no better label for what I do on this planet, rest assured. Steve is the man.
RB: Just one last question; who is your favourite guitarist, and why?
IA: John McLaughlin. He has inspired me for so many years and I still think he is kicking ass. He simply refuses to sit still, always moving on, exploring. To me that is a true hero. I fear few things more than stagnation and John is a potent cure.
For more info on Mattias, please head to FreakGuitar.com
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