FREAK KITCHEN: Cooking with Mattias IA Eklundh

Freak Kitchen

Going from a sort of progressive charged with a pinch of a very singular sense of humor and up to Zappa covers, Freak Kitchen’s avant-garde and limitless musical imagination should really be up your alley.

With a style of music that can hardly be defined in words and a musical history that never seems to fail our expectations, Freak Kitchen are now releasing their 8th album, Cooking with Pagans, and you better get ready because you’re in for a treat. A long time expected and weirdly well-flavored treat, as we might have seen coming from these guys.

With a collection of sundry comedic tracks that defy us through its variety of textures, bizarre lyrics and fresh, multi coated instrumentals, to dive into the surrounding world’s flaws and maybe have a sneak pick into our inner selves along the way while embracing that bluesy and tender, yet widely influenced and nuanced tone, the Freak Kitchen gang is exceeding every technical limit under their new, solidly composed album’s coat.

Presenting us their new album, Cooking with Pagans is the Freak Guitar virtuoso, Mattias “IA” Eklundh.

I listened to the album and as it ended I found myself still hoping for a Freak Kitchen ballad in the style of Breathe, Broken Food or The Bitter Season. Why did you choose not to include one on the album?

IA: What comes out comes out when I write. I never plan anything when composing or work by any formula. We have Hide which is, I guess, something like a ballad.

I love the guitar tone, especially on songs like Hide. What’s the secret behind it? 

IA: Thank you. The trick is to keep it dead simple. I use a Shure SM57 microphone angled in a unorthodox way, then into a tube preamp and straight into the computer after that. I do believe a lot of players tend to make it slightly too complicated with a zillion things stuffed into the signal chain, leading to one unwanted side effect to the other, only leading to more gear in there to compensate. It is not rocket science recording electric guitar. Put mike in front speaker. Turn it up. Play.

You’re the definition of experimental. How do you combine all these different ideas? 

IA: To tell you the truth I never understood why we are considered experimental nor that we are seen as a “funny band”. I don’t really get what’s so funny when most of the topics we sing about are tremendously harsh. I think it more the usage of words and it perhaps not common to sing what we sing about. A tune like (Saving Up For An) Anal Bleach is just downright sad if you think about what I actually yell about. I think that the fact that we use different elements from other music than metal add a certain taste as well, but check out John Cage if you want experimental.

I’m getting a more intense math metal vibe on Cooking with Pagans than on your previous records, as for example on songs like Ranks of the Terrified. How come? 

IA: Again, I don’t really hear it this way. Ranks is, in my book, a pretty straight forward power metal track with a frantic guitar riff and some double bass drum to match it. Teargas Jazz from Land of the Freaks is much more mathematical for instance, based as it is on South Indian Carnatic reduction structures.

Freak Kitchen - Cooking With Pagans

What’s your opinion regarding the new turn progressive metal took? And I’m referring here to djent and math metal.

IA: I am such a terrible dude to keep up with music going on around me. I hear Dean Martin or Prokofiev in my spare time to cleanse my brain. I guess there is good music and bad music within every genre. I have never had any interest in labeling styles. To me it is just music.

How was this record received by fans and critics compared to the previous ones?

IA: It is quite unbelievable but I think Cooking with Pagans has been the most appreciated record by critics in the entire catalogue. The fans also tell us it is the best one since Move. It makes us happy. Again, you do what you do and try not to think too hard about it. It is impossible to say whether an album will be well received or not and you should never produce music to please. This will lead to major artistic failure.

Which one of you guys gets to record first the instrumental part when beginning to record a new album?

IA: Björn did the drums first to a rough guitar track and click and then we follow him. The only record played live together is the self titled third one… but then I had to spend four months afterwards making it come to life with acoustic instruments since the basic recording itself wasn’t nowhere near as good as I wanted it to be.

Mattias IA EklundhWhat crazy ideas do you have planned for the following gigs?

IA: You never know. We don’t really plan anything except for trying to find a suitable way to play the new material live. The rest we wing on the spot. It gets more alive that way.

What song on the album you’re most excited to play live?

IA: Most of them, really! This one, compared to many tunes on Land of the Freaks, are fairly easy to play as a three piece band as this is the way it was recorded pretty much. Goody Goody is going to be fun if we get it right with all its zillion ornaments and details. Also, Freak of the Week, Sloppy, the mentioned Anal Bleach will hopefully turn into groovy concert material.

Who are the metal “heroes” you look up to?

IA: I have been listening to the same stuff as everybody else of my generation: Kiss, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Van Halen, Slayer, Judas Priest, e t c. I am not sure I look up to them as individuals though, as most “heroes” you meet disappoint you. My true musical heroes are John McLaughlin, Django Reinhardt, Igor Stravinsky, Howard Shore and loads of not so famous Indian musicians playing, classical music.

If you could say you’ve written any album that you love in the history of music, what would that album be?

IA: Overnite Sensational by Frank Zappa.

Are you guys planning a European tour?

IA: Indeed we are. We kick off the Pagans on Road tour in Sweden in November before I head for Japan in December. Then we start harassing our Finnish friends in January before taking the show to Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Denmark and Spain from February and onward. Hope to see you lovely freaks out there.

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