Freak Kitchen interview (02/2010)
|With:||Mattias "IA" Eklundh, Christer Örtefors, Björn Fryklund|
|Conducted by:||Ivor, Promonex (in person)|
Recorded after the gig in Gießen, Germany, 06.02.2010.
KiG, the organizers of the Freak Kitchen gig in Gießen, told us that to do an interview with the band we'd need to catch them ourselves. By narrowly missing them before the show we opted to try our luck after the gig. When the band came out to chat with the fans I grabbed the opportunity and asked Mattias if we could do an interview. He was all for it and we decided to do it when things settled down a bit around there.
A bit later we went backstage and welcoming Mattias was telling us to take a beer and feel comfortable. Then was the moment I pulled out my sort of gift – a fresh bottle of superior unfiltered German beer. I had acquired it the evening before in order to bring it home but was told it wouldn't hold for more than a day. Hence, an obligation of exterminating the beer was laid on me. And Freak Kitchen gladly agreed to join in on this enlightened mission.
There wasn't really a starting point to the interview. A sort of conversation was starting to get going amid preparations for it. At some point I made an attempt to get it off to an official start. Brace yourself though, it's a lengthy piece.
It's by a lucky coincidence that I am personally here. I'm responsible that he [Daniel aka promonex] is here...
Chris: Where's my be-e-e-r?
Björn: It's here!
Here! Have a beer!
Chris: It's a wonderful beer. Getting happy just drinking from this bottle.
Daniel: I'd be as well if I wasn't the driver.
Chris: (Laughs.) Sucks to be the driver.
Daniel: Yep, it definitely does.
(Mattias and Chris drifting off in Swedish.)
Chris: I'm trying out new singing coach thing. Which makes it very strange in a high pitched place. All of a sudden after many, many years of singing, all of a sudden I start searching for the exact place where I should place it. And it's really strange because I'm trying not to. And just because I started this process my brain is like trying where is it the most comfortable place. And I'm like "Raaaaah!"
Mattias: I think your vocals was one of the things that really worked well today.
Chris: I struggle. It's very strange because I struggle to find the place where it feels comfortable, even the high up because before I've – "Pkhh" – just pushed it. And now I'm in the middle of a process and it makes it really...
Mattias: Processes are good.
Chris: Yeah, I hope so. Or I will come out at the other end and sing like Tom Waits "Rawr-rawr-rawr." (Does the low rumbling noises.)
Mattias: That would be cool.
Chris: I'll be comfortable. High-pitched women singing on stage... What's wrong with you? (Laughs.)
Then you'd need an acoustic guitar or something to accompany you.
Chris: But I've got a beer to accompany the acoustic guitar and "Rawr-rawr-rawr..." (Does again the low rumbling noises and laughs.)
For me it was the first – and the best – Freak Kitchen gig I've been to.
Mattias: Good! It's a good start!
I hope so! How was it for you?
Mattias: It was both, good and bad. It was nice, it was a great venue and everything. We had some technical difficulties, I had with my gear, and cables, and crap, and cables not long enough, all kinds of stuff. But it's just, you know, it's bullshit. We'll just get it settled. It was a good gig. People were happy, people showed up and everybody were cool. I mean, it was a successful evening. You have minor details that annoy you but then you fix it and you move on, you know. And sometimes you can thrive on that. At the end I was so pissed off, I was like "Arghtt! Arghht! Arghht!" And then it turned into something good, I was "Daaaaah!" I was singing, and screaming, and giving some energy back, you know. I needed to do something. So, it's not all bad. If things fuck up, you can get control again, and just... I don't know what I'm talking about.
Björn: Yeah, the problem is if you get so annoyed that you lose your focus then it's going to be "Shit! Where am I?" But you need to be really there!
Björn: But I didn't have a problem today. So, I had a very cool gig, you know. Good sound, everything was nicely arranged here, and everything. The crowd was really interested in what we were doing. So, cool for me!
With Daniel we kind of thought that this venue is kind of big for you. Daniel was actually surprised that so many people showed up.
Mattias: Yeah, yeah! Me too, actually. Because it was like, good God, we're not really happening in Germany. We love Germany...
Chris (catches up with the question and looks at Daniel): He was [surprised]?
Daniel: I was surprised, yeah.
Chris: You bastard! You have to be happy that you have Ivor here otherwise I'd... (Laughs.)
Mattias: (Laughs.) No, no, it felt good. We thought why not just book a club and start with that. Because it's really on our way to France and we were happy. But it turned out good and it was a successful evening. And were happy because it's a funny climate when people go to concerts. And everybody are playing because nobody's making any money from CDs, everybody are doing gigs, you can see every band you want to see in a week. So, people stop going to concerts now because they are sick and tired of every "We want your money! We want your Euros! So, we're playing everywhere." It was actually a very good evening. So, we're happy, thank you very much.
Yeah, we kind of figured that people that showed up here are the ones that really wanted to see the band.
Mattias: Yeah, yeah! Absolutely! Absolutely. And the band only! That's what they came for, you know. It's not like "Yeah! Let's go to Hessenhalle, heh, on Saturday to see what's going on!" (Laughs.)
Yeah, probably not place where you go like that. But tell me what's with you and France? You seem kind of really popular there.
Björn: Something happened the first time we were there. It was 2002, the first tour. Something... They just embraced us, and weird music, weird French people got connected. So, they loved us from day one. So, that's what happened. And of course some nice promotion too. We had some...
Björn posing with the beer
Chris: Yeah, it's a lucky thing with the promoters. People promoting that like the band, which is important. We haven't had that type of luck in Germany, actually.
Mattias: Germany's always been tricky.
Chris: I think if we could get out we could have a wonderful time in Germany.
Björn: And we love to come here!
Chris: There are a lot of people who like the band but you have to find the right promoters.
Mattias: Give us the opportunity and we promise to kick some ass. Put us on a big festival and we will make the crowd dance, and stagedive, and headbang like they never done before, you know. But it's really funny for us in Germany. All around Germany we're doing fine! Even in the UK which is a really tricky country to break in. We're doing fine! Germany? VERY hard! You can't even find a Freak Kitchen album in a German store which is a scandal.
Daniel: Yeah, how come you aren't on any billings of any festivals?
Mattias: Ask the festivals! We're available... for sex, and drugs...
Daniel: Have you applied?
Mattias: We don't really write e-mails saying "Listen! We're Freak Kitchen. We want to come." We're slightly too proud for that. We're doing like Hellfest with Kiss in France for instance. In Germany? No-o-othing. But, you know, hey, offer us something, and we'll come back later this year no problem. We'd love to, we love Germany. We always have a good time here.
Björn & Chris: Yeah!
Is France where you are the most popular?
Mattias: It depends. Sweden is fine. Finland was a riot...
Björn: Yeah, really cool first time.
Mattias: UK is good. Japan is good.
Chris: I think it is that we are playing in a niche, a certain type of music. And of course there is more people in France. So, the percentage, of course, of the people that are coming are bigger than in Sweden. It's a small country. But I think Finland was a real surprise.
Mattias: It was a real surprise. We sold out. And it was like we're playing weekdays, our first tour. And the response was insane. We're going back, playing big festivals.
Chris: They really ro-o-ock!
Björn: Our first tour in 17 years.
Mattias: Spain is good. We're doing our first Italian tour in May. Portugal first time.
Björn: Denmark, Norway is cool.
Mattias: Yeah, Norway is fine, Denmark is good.
Mattias: Germany is tricky. Yes!
Yeah, I understand that. (Laughing.) What country would you really like to play some day?
Mattias: I would actually like to bring Björn and Chris to Indonesia. Because I think we would play for many thousands of people. When I do a clinic in Indonesia it's mad. I can have two thousand on a guitar clinic and everybody says "Bring Freak Kitchen! Bring Freak Kitchen!" And they play the videos on the big screen. It's like if we do a really good well-planned tour in Indonesia it would be a riot. The entire island of Java would tilt and float to Australia.
Björn: Let's do it!
Mattias: Yes! That would be really cool. Because they are such kickass people in South-East Asia, Indonesia. So, yeah, that would be cool!
How have you acquired this freak stage show that you do?
Mattias: We just do what we do. It's not really we think "Now we are really freaky!" We play our songs. Shit happens and...
Björn: And the songs are the stuff that we like to hear. So, we make music that we would like to hear. And we play it. So, it can include anything style-wise. But, you know, we like loud distorted music with big sound. We are three people. We like to take up a lot of space. You know, we have three big egos.
I'm actually amazed that three people can fill up the stage so well.
Björn: Yeah, that's what happens when you have three big personalities, both music-wise and personal-wise. We're just happy to have found each other on this planet, you know. (Mattias laughs.) So, we have a good time and play really the music that we like.
Have you ever been told that you kind of talk too much maybe?
Mattias: Absolutely! All the time! Last time...
Björn: Last time I received an e-mail, two days ago, review from a Swedish gig. "Extremely well-played, very cool, but no, it's too bla-bla-bla-bla..."
Mattias: Someone talked too much.
Björn: They're not used to it, you know.
Mattias: I didn't plan actually to talk so much today. But I had to compensate for the shit that happened all the time. I was like "Arrgh!" And shit happens. You lose focus, and you play wrong, and you stop, and you have to explain what you're doing, and bla-bla-bla-bla. But I promise to shut up from now on, I'll not say a word.
(Everybody is laughing.)
Chris: That's got to be...
Björn: This guy will never shut up, and that's good!
Yeah, I think it's a good part of your show, to talk a lot.
Mattias: Even this! Even this motherfucker... (Showing the tape around his finger.) I couldn't pick! I couldn't pick because of this. I was like "I-I-I can't take it off!" because then I would bleed on stage, everything was...
Chris: That's all rock!
Yeah, that would be metal, really metal!
Björn: Look, I'm bleeding, I'm bleeding! Look-look-look!
Mattias: Morbid Angel! I remember I was 15 and I went to see a concert with Morbid Angel. I heard their bass player and the singer – can't remember his name – he was supposed to take a bite out of his arm! And I really wanted to see that because I was into blood, and death, and gore, and everything. When I was 15 and a half or something. And a doctor before, in Denmark the day before told him that "If you take another bite of your arm, you would just get, you know, blood poisoning and die! You can't do that." He was like "Ughh, I need to put in second gear..." Take a bite himself, and take a chunk of his arm, and spit it out, and bleed blood. I was like "Yeah! I need to see it!" But he didn't do it. So, I thought it sucked.
Björn: Bad gig!
Mattias: Yeah, I was like "Aww, he's not going to do it..."
Chris: It's got nothing to do with the music, he didn't bite his arm. What a lousy concert. (Laughs.)
Mattias: I just wanted to see him bite.
It's a stage show, you've got to see it, right?
Chris: It's a strange stage show. You bite your arm every gig, suddenly your arm will be, you know, lying on the floor.
Mattias: Yeah, playing with your left hand...
Chris and Mattias
Some people bite bats, you know, or chickens, you know...
Mattias: Yeah, bite yourself!
Yeah, bite yourself! Nobody will complain at least.
Björn: Animal rights.
Do you do a lot of improvisations on stage?
Mattias: Yes, you could say. (Laughs.)
Björn: All the time.
Let's say besides these happenings that go wrong...
Björn: Even the set list, you know. Two seconds before we go out: "What are we playing today? - I don't know..." So, yeah, it's a big improvisation.
Mattias: I didn't have a set list.
So, every gig for you is like you go out and just randomly pick songs? Or do you have something?
Björn: Yeah, we have something.
Chris: We have, you know, the structure. But sometimes we follow it, and sometimes we don't.
Björn: We can go either way.
Chris: You never know exactly where it's going to end up. That's kind of fascinating. "What? What song are you going to play next? No?" It keeps you on your toes a little bit. You don't get too comfortable.
Yeah, definitely. Keeps you on the edge.
Mattias: Definitely on the edge.
How long was your longest gig?
Björn: Two hours? That was in...
Björn: Bordeaux, yeah. 2 hours and a half, 2:20 maybe. It's not really super long but, you know, without intermission or anything. Just two and a half hours straight.
Yeah, that's actually long. OK. Let's talk a bit about your last album [Land of the Freaks]. How was the reception for this album?
Mattias: It's been good. Reviews have been really, really kickass. We had a really, really nice review now, last week, on Guitarist, UKs leading guitar mag. Everyone should check it out. So, it's been good. We were number one the entire fall in Sweden. The critics have a list, it's called TheCritics.se. And they had to take us off because no one was actually getting close. So, it was "Enough, you had your 8 weeks." So, that was good. But it's always tricky to sell X amount of CDs, you know. Because the band is always, and that's always been the case with many bands, are always bigger than their record sales. So many more people. Say, you sell 5 000 CDs in one country and you do really well and so on. It means that if you sell 5 000 CDs, you have 100 000 people listening to it. Or you sell 500 CDs in Spain and that means that 10 000 people listen to it. Or one guy puts in on PirateBay and million people listen to it. So, it's really, really hard to define what...
Björn: Or you sell zero CDs in Indonesia and everybody has it.
Mattias: Absolutely! We played in India, for instance. We played 20 000 people in India. Everybody knows songs. We didn't sell a single CD. Internet works! (Laughs.) Oh yes! Downloading works. Your torrent program works. (Laughs.) It's not all bad. Of course you want to sell shitload of CDs. But CDs today or albums today are... it's like a business card, where you are. This is our new music. Please listen to it. We'd like you to pay for it so we can pay our bills and get money. But if you refuse to pay it and you think everything should be free, we want you to embrace it and listen to it anyway, you know. So, we realize that so many more people listen to Freak Kitchen than we actually sell hard copies, you know. Sometimes it's frustrating. And sometimes it's just how it is. It's really hard to define a success today.
Yeah, but most likely the people who download actually show up at the gig when you're in town.
Mattias: Yeah, and then buy a shirt, a cap. Something they can't download... God! The day they start to download T-shirts is got to be the end of the band.
Björn: Bzzt! (Laughs showing a T-shirt downloading.) The bands!
The last album was quite different from your previous works. It's kind of... I don't know, do you like when you are called a progressive metal band?
Mattias: I like the word progressive but I when you say progressive metal you immediately get stuffed into genre that we feel that we have very little to do with. We play with many so-called progressive metal bands, and we sound anything like it. You know, we are progressive in a way that we want to move on, and we want to discover, and see what's lurking behind the corner in our musical universe, and explore new things. So, we like progression, of course. But progressive metal is... you're limiting yourself. Some of the stuff we do is just meat and potatoes kind of rock'n'roll, and some of the stuff is really tricky, some of the things weird from a tonality kind of view. But it's got nothing to do with progressive metal, you know. But you can call it anything you like. It's OK. Freak music. We can cope with progressive. We played the ProgPower. We loved it. The audience loved it. We had a great time, both times.
Björn: Doesn't really matter what style we get stuffed into. We...
Mattias: We CONQUER!
Björn: We conquer anyway in the end, kind of.
That way you kind of sound like Manowar.
Mattias: Divide and conquer!
Chris: Conquer! Manowar... I was in Hungary in Budapest. We were supposed to have a couple of beers in the evening. And we went into a pub... and it was a Manowar pub! (Ed: As far as it's possible to find this pub is probably called Cafe Manowar or Cafe Monmartre in Budapest.)
Mattias: A Manowar pub?
Chris: Yeah! And the guy, he had Manowar things, he was standing with the band, he had posters of the band everywhere. It was just a Manowar pub! And I was like "This is amazing! Why do you have Manowar stuff?" In the end I couldn't hold myself, I had to ask the guy. "Why do you have Manowar stuff? - Ah, I know the guys, and I like the band. - Yeah, OK, why don't you play Manowar music? - Do you want me to? - Yeah!" (Laughs.) There were a lot of guests and shit, and he was like playing Manowar. And he was so happy! Talking about Manowar... A Manowar pub!
Mattias: I went to a Ritchie Blackmore pub in Tokyo. Ritchie Blackmore pub where everything was Ritchie Blackmore. It was a pub for about five people. It was very, very small. But everything was just Richie Blackmore, all over the place.
Chris: So weird when you come to a place like that.
Mattias: They even had his wig.
Chris: I of course went back a couple of days later, to the Manowar pub. (Laughs.)
Mattias: Kind of felt like home?
Chris: Yeah! He was a nice guy. (Laughs.)
Will you have Freak Kitchen pub someday?
Mattias: I don't know...
Chris: I would love to have a pub like that.
Mattias: Yeah, yeah! Maybe when we get older we can have like a Freak Kitchen, serve really freaky food.
That's a good idea.
Mattias: Yeah, a Freak Kitchen. Come vizit ze Freak Kitchen!
Chris: Nobody know what they are getting, it's just freaky food!
Mattias: Yeah, tastes like shit, or very interesting. Progressive metal food.
Chris: Progressive food!
Chris and Mattias
Progressive food! I like that!
Mattias: Freak Kitchen – enjoy progressive food! (Meanwhile the beer ends.) Le bière is gone.
Thanks for sharing it, it was nice!
The talks about the DVD have been around for quite a bit of time. When is it going to happen?
Everybody looks down, nobody knows...
Mattias: It's a good question. The thing is...
Björn: We have progressed in the thought, in the thinking... of the DVD.
Mattias: Yes! We are progressing right now.
Chris: We are going to make a movie.
Mattias: Yes, we are going to make a porno movie with just the three of us in it. It's going to be a really progressive... (Laughs.)
So, you are kind of taking Rammstein as example?
Mattias: No-no-no! Only the three of us. (Laughs.)
Chris: We don't want to be seen with any other people. Just going to be us. (Laughs.)
Mattias: We don't want to see other people in our movie. (Laughs.) No, the thing is, we have so much material collected throughout the years. One day I just started to learn how to use HD material, and Premiere, and edit. I just realized that if we are going to make a DVD this is just too much stuff. It's going to be 10 DVDs. So, we started a YouTube channel called God Save the Spleen. And we put all the stuff four years back out there. In High Definition. YouTube is still... I don't think you can actually upload in 1080p yet. Anyway, it's really good quality stuff. And you mix it, and you edit fine, and so on. So, the thing is, all the stuff that we wanted to make a DVD and actually paid a fortune for left and right. We have shot shows in India, the US, and Japan, and Sweden, and all over the place. We could make 10 DVDs. It's just too much stuff to go through. It's like "This is good! This is good!" Just get it out there. If you release a DVD, if you're lucky you can sell like 6 000 copies in 2 years and it would cost a fortune to make. It's very hard to get your money back because everything is very expensive. But if you put it on YouTube you can have in a year 100 000 people watching it. And that would give you a good kick back on shows and merchandise, and whatever. So, we just thought "Get it out there." And if we're going to make a DVD – which we are going to make, a commercial DVD – it's probably going to be one show. And then we would have to plan it well and edit it right after so it's not years passing by. Not getting that old "Yeah, but now we're somewhere else." We just decide to shoot one show, and it has to be good, and we'll just do that one. But for now we just release all kinds of stuff – Lo-Fi, Hi-Fi stuff – on the YouTube channel. It is just getting too much. And when we're done with our progressive erotic movie we're going to put that one in pieces. (Laughs.) It's going to be very Lo-Fi. "Lo-Fi middle-aged penises on YouTube!" (Laughs.)
Björn: Yeah, that sounds like a...
Chris: (Laughs.) Lo-Fi penis... That sounds like a progressive movie.
Mattias: Lo-Fi penis movie!
Chris: From outer space!
Mattias: We passed 40, we can't get an erection!
OK, so I take it at the moment you kind of don't have a real plan for a DVD anymore?
Chris: It's a lot of stuff to get out.
Mattias: No, edit as much stuff as you can and get it out there. We release it all on YouTube and then we'll shoot some more.
Chris: You realize that was a diversion. Just to try to get you off track. (Laughs.)
Björn: He's [Mattias] actually sitting every week and putting out new songs like every other week. So, we'll continue doing this.
Chris: That could actually be a DVD.
Mattias: Oh yes, people are actually asking "Is this from a DVD? - Not really, you know." It could be.
Chris: It's cool to share it that way.
Mattias: Yeah, just get it out there. I have many live DVDs but I never watch them. I really never do. I watch stuff on YouTube. I sit in my hotel room, try to brush my ugly hair, and I search something, and I watch it, and I brush my hair. I would never put on a concert DVD.
Chris: I do it sometimes. I do. At home, taking a beer.
Mattias: Yeah, I know.
Chris: Which never happens.
Mattias: No, of course not.
How do you name your songs? Where do you get inspiration?
Björn: Everyday life.
Mattias: Everyday life. Stuff that's going on and stuff that is part of your life, that you experience sometimes, or someone close to you is experiencing something, you read about and upsets you in some way, you know. And song titles have to be punchy.
Is it the same for your solo instrumental stuff?
Mattias: Yeah! Actually a song title can really help in the composition, you know, the process, the creative process. If you have a song title and you frame your songs, it's good. If you have a really potent title like "Teargas Jazz," "Murder Groupie," "God Save the Spleen," "Honey, You're a Nazi." Whatever you know. It can really help. You have something you can focus and rely on and so on. There are many bad song titles out there. We love catchy song titles. There is a saying "Get them in the crotch and the rest will follow." And it makes sense, really. You grab them here and they would discover there are more things. You have a song title like "Porno Daddy" and you get "Ah! I want to listen. What is this? Porno Daddy? Ha-ha-ha!" And the truth is it's a sad story. It's a true story and very sad. But it's life... It's a moron living close to me, actually, that is a porno actor and part time politician that I write about. And I know his kids, and they are very transparent, they feel bad, you know. So, write about that and... Song titles don't have to be super explicit or in-your-face. But they have to have a ring to it, a sound to it.
So, how do you think of song titles? Do you have like a song first, then lyrics, and then a title? Or do you come up with a title? "Oh, this sounds cool! I want to write a song about it!"
Mattias: No, no. Then it becomes hollow. You have to have an idea of what the song is about and then you have to make up a title from that. You can't really start with "OK, this song is called..." You can do that in an instrumental way, of course. But still, I'm super picky when it comes to instrumental song titles because it can be so wrong. If you listen to the stuff and it's really heavy and it's called "I Left My Penis in Paris." It's like "What?" It doesn't really work out, you know. You have to be... It has to ring true. So, it really is hard. I move a lot of things around. I write down stuff that I like, words, sentences, and all kinds of stuff. But it has to match with the music. You can't just put anything, smack anything on any song. It doesn't work like that.
OK, what's your creative process? How do you create music? How do you record it?
Mattias: We all have, I think, you know, lots of fingerprints. We all have big personalities and stuff to say. I compose most of the stuff and have a sort of vision. The vision always changes. And it's always to the better when you bring in Chris and Björn. It's always like "Ah! Cool! I didn't think about that! What did you do there? That was a really cool thing, we'll keep that."
Chris: Sounded like crap but it was cool.
Mattias: Yeah, sounds like crap but it was really... Yeah, we need some crap on the record. (Laughs.) No, but I have some kind of vision. I write stuff, I sing stuff. "Do you like this? Try this, and this." And they always make it flow, they always, you know, turn it from black and white to color when they put their fingerprints on it. But Land of the Freaks was done in a backwards kind of way. We used to put the drums first. First we rehearse the songs, everybody got a grasp of how they are, and you sing, and you hum, and the lyrics are not really done but you have a vocal line. Land of the Freaks was completely opposite. And then you nail the drums and you build everything from there. Land of the Freaks was basically done to just a click-track, cheap drum machine thing. I moved a lot of things around, and I played a lot of guitars and then said to Björn "Could you play something over these?" He didn't have the melodies, nothing. It was very hard. And for Chris... I just threw twelve tracks. Boom! "There, go! Here, we want track each day. This is how you are supposed to play. - What? What? Ahh..."
Chris: I didn't have any time to practice before recording.
Mattias: No-no, it was just very difficult. It had to be done that way. We'll do the next one differently.
Björn: We actually never played the songs on the last one together. Which we did on the tour before. We played the songs through together to get a band vibe. This time we did not do that. It was kind of weird for me. I really like to play over the vocals and lyrics and everything, to get some lines in my drumming. This time I had only the guitar.
Mattias: And cheap drum track.
Björn: "Is this a verse? Or is this a chorus? Or is this a solo?" So, it was really interesting way to... It also made it very hard for me because I totally changed my kit. I left my kit somewhere else and I just borrowed some stuff. I took stuff away, I put them in a weird positions just to be creative in another way, not to be safe, to get new ideas. That on top of the new way of recording was really good for me.
Mattias: Sounds kickass!
Björn: I think I still progress every year. And that's cool. This is the best job so far.
Chris: It was such a dramatical experience to do it like that.
Mattias: Yeah! It's a nightmare.
Chris: Every day I was thinking "I can not think about the complexity of the songs. I just have to go there and just do the shit." He was like "Well, it is like this." And he started to count. And I was like "Yeah, my brain understands but my fingers... they have to connect. Just give me a couple of seconds. Arrgh!" And then, all of a sudden we were supposed to play together. We did a record and now we are going to play the stuff.
Björn: The CD is out and we have never played the songs.
Chris: No! And I then it was like "Ah! Trauma number two. Fuck! We're going to do it again. You've got to learn everything one more time."
Mattias: It was the same for me actually. I had to relearn.
Chris: How you do it, it makes you takes you a couple of steps forward, in your musicality, of course, on your instrument and everything. So, it feels great. It was a weird way to do it.
Mattias: Yeah, very backwards.
Chris: For me it was frustrating many times.
So, did you rehearse much before the first tour with this album?
Mattias: Not really. We just threw ourselves out and we played like two songs last year: "God Save the Spleen" and "The Only Way." We didn't really have any time to rehearse. The album came out and we were already on the road. And then after the Christmas break and before this we said "We need to get our shit together." And then we started to rehearse the really hard stuff that we played today: "Murder Groupie," "Teargas Jazz," "Honey, You're a Nazi." The stuff that you have to really focus and sing at the same time.
Björn: Pretty much 4 hours in total for this tour for the new stuff.
Mattias: Of rehearsal? Yeah, perhaps 4 and a half. (Laughs.) And that's good for this band because we never rehearse.
Björn: No! 4 hours is like "Yea-a-ah! Finally we can rehearse!"
Chris: I've been sitting a couple of hours more than that.
Mattias: I've been practicing as well. I need to see where...
Björn: I didn't because I'm god!
So, the skeletons come out of the closet!
Mattias: It was done in a weird way and for me, at least, it had to be done in a different way. I do not want to do it that again. I'm really happy with Land of the Freaks, it turned out so good. It'll always feel like really groundbreaking, for us, kind of album. But the next one has to be done in a more band kind of way. It took three years to record and produce. And that's a lo-o-ong time. Too long time. The next one will take two months. Just need to do it in a completely different kind of way.
You did a cool experiment. You played with the orchestra.
Will this happen again?
Björn: We did again. We did it twice.
You did twice?
Björn: Yeah! We did it the year after also. The same venue, the same band.
Mattias: You mean the big band thing?
Yeah! Will it be annual?
Björn: I've been thinking about it because I want an even better big band the next time. All the sheet music is written down. So, just give it to a really good big band, like Bohuslän, or something like that I've been thinking about, in Gothenburg. And do it again. It would be really, really cool. So, why not.
Mattias: The guy that wrote arrangements and was the conductor of the big band, he's really good and made some really, really wonderful arrangement. But it's a beefy project to make it work, to make it happen, and make it groovy, you know. You need perhaps ten gigs and then it would be super. It would be great to play a big festival, you know, 50 000 people with big band metal. Because it works really well, it's a huge sound. But it's also really hard to keep it together. Sometimes, you know, it's falling apart.
Chris: It was actually arranged in that way, it was their arrangements instead of just playing along with us. It was like "You don't need to play guitar here."
Mattias: Yeah, I was like "Whaat? I want to! – No, no, because the trumpets are doing this. – OK, so I'll just sing then and them I'll come in here." But it was great.
Chris: Totally weird but it's really great.
Mattias: Beefy sound.
Chris: But it takes a lot of work to do that. And it would be great to have some more concerts. Because you do a lot of rehearsing and preparing. And then you have one gig, and then it's over. But it's a fantastic evening!
Mattias: Yeah, absolutely! We must have rehearsed like 6 hours. (Laughs.)
Chris: You've got to really love to do music if you want to be in this band.
So, do you have a plan?
Mattias: We have some, I don't know, tentacles out there and there's some talk about actually doing it in Las Palmas with a good big band there, Canary Islands. So, it's going to happen, it's going to happen. For sure.
Chris: Let's go where it's warm. I would love that. (Laughs.)
Mattias: Yeah, yeah.
Sick of Swedish cold?
Björn: Yeah, a little bit.
Mattias: It's bloody cold.
Chris: I think it's beautiful, though. Actually, this Winter is like a Winter.
Mattias: Mother of all Winters.
Yeah, I agree with that.
Chris: It's not that gray, wet shit that you have from November until March in Gothenburg.
Yeah, you should come to Estonia, that's how it looks usually but this time it's cool.
Chris: Yeah, it's so gray you can't see anything in the morning. But now it's white, it's cold.
Mattias: Yeah, we had -26 the other weekend. -26 – that's really cold.
Chris: You don't want to piss outside then.
Mattias: No, and I went to Orsa in Dalarna (Ed: possibly some other place) where we had -31. And you could be outside for like 7 minutes tops. And then it was like "Argh, god dammit!" You had to really run inside. It's hopeless.
No-o, you've got to go to sauna and then like jump into this snow.
Mattias: Yeah, yeah, and just die of heart attack.
Björn: I do that!
Chris: I was sleeping under a pine tree in -35 degrees.
Mattias: But you are fucked up!
Chris: And then I jumped into freezing water. Then we got into the sauna. I was standing naked after jumping into, you know... We've been sleeping outside – it was this crazy thing, we do crazy stuff... They took a saw and sawed up a hole in the river, and you have ropes so didn't flow away. The water was really colder than zero but it was flowing, therefore it wasn't frozen. And you jumped in. We get out and I was like "It's warm." I stood there with a really tiny penis, of course.
Mattias: And of course you were stoned on heroin. Oh just kidding. (Laughs.)
Chris: Every day! (Laughs.) But then – the sauna. Ah, fuck that! (Laughs.)
Do you have a sort of a career dream that you want to achieve? World domination maybe?
Chris: Of course! You said it!
Mattias: That's just one... World domination – it's a good start. (Laughs.) Universe domination! (Laughs.)
Chris: And total annihilation! Everybody else.
Mattias: Oh, yes-yes-yes! (Laughs.) World annihilation. We just want to keep doing what we're doing, and spread the word, and, you know, make it grow everyday.
Chris: It would be great to make it grow and spread a little bit more. I mean, we are working very hard it, and we love to do this. So, it would be great if we got a little bit more back from it.
Björn: Absolutely. This is the 10th year with me and Chris, with Mark II of Freak Kitchen, and it's just the beginning. We just have a good time and have a lot of years ahead.
Chris: Because we love it. That would be so great to do this a little bit more.
Mattias: There's so much more to do!
Chris: Meet more people. It doesn't have to be huge... Yeah...
Mattias: Yesss! (Laughs.)
Chris: Huge is good!
Mattias: And only world domination is good enough!
Chris: Everything else is just secondary. (Laughs.)
Mattias: The most important thing is that we do it on our terms, even if Freak Kitchen is getting bigger and bigger and so on, that we keep control. We've turned a whole bunch of things down that would probably make us bigger than we are but we would have to sell actually a big chunk of our souls and so on. We are now on Roadrunner Records, for instance in France. It's a great company. It's good to be on the same label as Kiss, and Slipknot, and bla-bla-bla, Porcupine Tree. But still, it really is that we deliver the finished product. This is what we do, this is who we are. We want to keep on growing but on our terms really. Nobody else should conduct our business. But still I'd love some support.
Chris: That's what rock is all about actually. To do the thing that is actually you and not what company tells you to. "Do this because it sells." Actually the true rock'n'roll thing. But of course it's a much longer road to walk.
Björn: It is. I mean, we are a little bit too old to be like starstruck with deals. We've been through – all of us – through a lot of stuff in the business. I mean, we're over 40, all of us, now. And we want to do it our way because we like this.
Chris: You know, 40 is the new 5.
Björn: But it's going to take time if you do it like that because you are not really easy, you don't say yes to everything. So, it's going to take a lot more time, of course.
Mattias: I think, actually, the hard thing in the beginning... We were a hard rock band, we didn't sound like anybody else and what we're doing on stage is who we are. We don't really want to pose and every night is the same and so on. I think that is the strength in 2010, that we are really doing our own thing. I think we're the only band that is doing this, what we're doing, on Earth. There's nothing like there's a Brazilian Freak Kitchen as well, you know. We are a heavy metal band, we're a hard rock band, we're a rock band, and so on. What we do is we have created our own very special genre. Like it or don't like it. But if you like it you're most welcome to attend, you know.
Chris: The good thing about it is that it keeps you sane in your insanity someway. It keeps your soul alive to pursue that goal of doing it our way, doing it the way we think it should be done. Of course it's a long way to walk but I think if you live that you will be alive! I see a lot of people my age and they are dead, dead. They've been doing stuff they hate for like 25 years now.
Mattias: And you meet them and they talk about good old times.
Chris: The good old times. The good old times?!
Mattias: It's now! Tonight! Germany! (Mattias drifts away to talk for a moment.)
Chris: For us it's now. This is the best and I love that the time is now. It's the best times I've ever had. If you can do that, you keep yourself alive. You keep your soul alive.
Yeah, that's cool!
Chris: It is cool! And that is rock'n'roll!
Mattias, I., Björn and Chris
Well, it's been quite a long interview. I'd like to ask what is the answer to the question that you'd like somebody to ask from you but nobody asks. Do you have such question? Or, to be precise, do you have the answer to the question that nobody asks?
Björn: Maybe, 4.
Björn: Yeah, it may be the answer.
Chris: True answer is 42. You know that!
Björn: I know but it's already taken. Yeah, 42 is already taken.
Chris: If it's The Answer, it's got to be 42.
Björn: It must be 42. Yeah!
Chris: Yeah! That must be the answer. 42 must be the answer.
Björn: Mattias, interesting question. (Mattias comes to join us again.)
The question I asked is what is the answer to the question that nobody asks?
Mattias: Why... is... pubic hair never as good as your facial hair? Why is the quality of your pubic hair so bad?
Björn: But that is the question!
Mattias: OK! The answer to it is... Because it's in your pants all day! It can't breath! (Laughs.)
Chris: I think it would be like "Yeah! We'd like to do it but it's hard to find an octopus at this time."
(Silence and laughter.)
Björn: Yeah, hard to do it... Or, "It would be fun but it's hard to find an octopus at this hour."
Chris: Yeah, exactly. Maybe...
Mattias: Good! It's hard to find an octopus in Gießen at this hour. (Laughs.)
Chris: That must be the answer to the question nobody has ever asked.
Mattias: That's answer to every question.
So, thank you guys for this wonderful interview.
Mattias: Thank you!
Björn: I wonder if my drums are still there.
Daniel: I also wanted to ask what is the thing on the cover of Land of the Freaks.
Mattias: It's a pair of jeans from Lithuania. It's a little creature done by a schizophrenic artist. And I was in Lithuania doing one of my Freak Guitar clinics and I walked into a restaurant. And I saw all these really bizarre art hanging from the walls. And in the bar there was a shelf with this little creature. I was like "What is THAT?" We were half way through Land of the Freaks, we didn't have a clue how the artwork was going to turn out. And I was like "That's our album cover! Give it to me! I'll buy it. I'll pay whatever!"
Björn: It has a gun, a bottle, and it's made of metal and jeans pretty much, with the face and crap.
Mattias: Yeah. It's a schizophrenic guy called Santa and he's bicycling around the city of Vilnius handing out his art to various pubs, restaurants, clubs that are liberal minded and OK, you know, to finance his schizophrenic behavior. So, he comes back the week after and said "Did anyone buy anything?" And nobody knows his name. Everybody calls him Santa. And his like "Ugh, did you sell anything?" I don't know... Whatever, I saw this and I was just thrilled. And it was very tricky to get it on the plane because it has a gun and all kinds of Russian old parts of hand grenades and all stuff.
Chris: Hand grenades?
Mattias: Yeah. It was just Land of the Freaks manifested into a pair of folded jeans, sprayed in metal, you know. So, then we had a very, very good photographer take some footage. It's part of Gothenburg, only the buildings are CGI, everything else is from Gothenburg, the train, and the rocks and the sky. So yeah, it's a pair of jeans and Land of the Freaks. There you have it.
Nice story to it! I like it.
So, thank you again!
Mattias: Thank you!
I have to thank the band again for having this enormously enjoyable chat with us. It was a real pleasure. Special thanks goes to Daniel aka promonex who decided to document the interview with photos.
Finally some useful links:
Freak Kitchen - Hessenhalle, Gießen, Germany, 06.02.2010
Kulturinitiative Gießen: http://www.kig-giessen.de
Freak Kitchen's YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/godsavethespleen
Bohuslän Big Band: http://www.bohuslanbigband.com
ProgPower USA: http://www.progpowerusa.com
Posted on 23.02.2010 by
I shoot people.
Sometimes, I also write about it.
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