Freak Kitchen Biography
1. The Beginning
After living in Copenhagen for nearly three years, playing and recording with Danish band Fate, Freak Kitchen's singer, guitar player and songwriter Mattias decided to move back to Gothenburg and get his own band together. He called long time buddy Joakim who was living in Los Angeles at the time, studying with drummer Mark Craney (Jethro Tull, Gino Vanelli, Jean Luc Ponty, etc. ). Joakim packed his bags and left L.A for Gothenburg. Joakim and Mattias had played together before in a group called Frozen Eyes in their teens. Bass player Christian was discovered in a local club where he was playing, smoking energetic while abusing his instrument, very impressive. He was asked to join the two, said "sure" and Freak Kitchen was formed in the summer of 1992 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
One thing Mattias learned after being signed to one of the world's largest record labels at the age of 19 was that he didn't, under any circumstances, want Freak Kitchen to become "record company puppets". When the band got in contact with Torben Schmidt a healthy deal was made between the band and Torben´s label Thunderstruck. Together with Torben, Freak Kitchen are in control of everything from videos and merchandise to album covers and mixing, mastering which, unfortunately, most bands are not.
2. Have an Appetizer
Freak Kitchen released their debut album Appetizer in Sweden, Japan and South East Asia in October 1994 and several other territories in the spring of 1995 (Denmark, Finland, Norway, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, etc.). The Swedish magazine Metal Zone wrote: "The best debut album a Swedish band has produced in both this and the last decade" and at the annual Zeppelin gala in Stockholm 1995 Freak Kitchen won the price for "Best Hard Rock Band of the year". A video was made for the song "Raw" as well as for the song "Hollow". "Raw" is also featured on the triple CD "Swedish hard rock and heavy metal 1970-1996" (Vertigo) released June 96´. Appetizer was produced by Skagarack front man Torben Schmidt and mixed by mixing genius Michael Ilbert (Roxette, Sator, Brainpool, etc.).
3. In the Spanking Hour
With the Roskilde festival as a special treat Freak Kitchen played festivals, clubs and halls throughout 1995 before sinking their teeth into the recordings of the second album "Spanking Hour" (released autumn 96´ in Scandinavia, Japan and Southeast Asia and several other territories in the winter/spring 97´). The trio also managed to survive their first German tour September/ October 95´ as support to Pink Cream 69 and Thunderhead. It seems the smell of diesel, lack of sleep and endless driving only improved the song writing process since the energetic "Jerk" and "Burning Bridges" were created on the roads of Germany.
In the summer of 96´ Mattias went to Japan to promote the release of "Spanking Hour" and held an eyebrow-raising guitar clinic at Musicians Institute in Tokyo. Various photo-sessions, tv-shots (for an internet show as well as for the inimitable Captain Wada) and an eight hour interview/photosession/showcase for the great Japanse guitar magazine Young Guitar were tightly scheduled by Freak Kitchen´s Asian record company JVC/Victor Entertainment. The meeting with Young Guitar resulted in Mattias being featured in some eight issues in a row and the Young Guitar readers voted Freak Kitchen and "Spanking Hour" number 15 in the readers´ poll (along side with Pantera, number 10 and Metallica, number 9). The visit to Japan also resulted in a meeting with the guitar company Caparison who are now building Mattias´ own custom made guitar. (Read more about this at The Apple Horn Model ).
4. Time for TV
Well at home with the fellow freaks, Joakim, Christian and Mattias did a warm up show in their home town Gothenburg as support act to Ritchie Blackmore´s Rainbow. The concert was perfect for Freak Kitchen to try out some of their new material rather incognito since the gig was offered to them approximately three hours before show time!
Joakim and his strange cows appeared in Swedish national tv-show called "Aftonbanken". An interview was made with the drummer, who remained impressively cool all the way through the live broadcasting, despite the dumb "Farmer Joe"-questions. An insane and wildly amusing video was shot for the song "Jerk" later in the autumn by photographer Anders Bryngel and edited by Christian, who has made several other videos as both director and editor.
Gigs around Scandinavia followed before flying to London in January 97´ where the band was nominated in two categories ("best hard rock album of the year" and "best production") and invited to play at a gala at the London Astoria called the "Frontiers Awards", held by the English Frontiers magazine. "They came, They saw and They kicked everybody´s ass" and "Band of the night? Are you kidding?!?" were some of the nice comments on the show in the British press afterwards.
In the spring of 97´ Freak Kitchen "spanked" both festivals and clubs. For the third year in a row Freak Kitchen played the Swedish Karlshamns rockfestival in the southern part of the country shortly after giving a concert at a festival called Brännbollslyran in the far northern part Umeå together with Swedish artists like Eric Gadd, Dilba and Peace, Love & Pitbulls.
5. Pop From Hell
More gigs were to follow in 97/98´ (a fourth gig in a row at Karlshamnsfestivalen among other things) before the band hired an ugly, dirty place in Gothenburg for five months to record their third record (for more indepth information about the recording, please link yourself to The Third Digital Adventure).
The record was produced by Mattias and mixed by Roberto Laghi. Christian did the cover while Joakim painted the cover cow. Photos were shot by long time photographer Mike Spritz.
The self-titled album was decsribed as "Pop from Hell" by the band. With catchy tunes like "Michael and the Syndrome", "We´ve heard it all before", "My New Haircut" and the fragile "Broken Food" Freak Kitchen found themselves on the road again playing in every place, big and small, they possibly could through 98-99 (you guessed right, Karlshamnsfestivalen, now re-named "Sweden Rock Festival", also got its ass kicked again!). Swedish piano-legend Janne Lucas Persson contributed with a serious solo on "Tiny Little Second" and the quite nasty "Vaseline Bizniz" was to be heard on the Japanese Super Bowl!
Being on the road made Ia, Christian and Joakim discover what they do best: play furious rock the Freak Kitchen way. What sounded like well-arranged, hybrid pop on the third album mutated into dead heavy music live. Songs which included such instruments as banjo, zither, various forms av acoustic guitars, e t c, was when performing concerts shrunk to bas, drums and electric guitar, giving them a very down to earth feel.
6. Freak Guitars
In 1999 Mattias released his long-awaited solo-album, Freak Guitar, mostly recorded in his bathroom with absolutely no budget at all. Consisting of twenty instrumental tunes and one (!) with vocals the album became a huge success, to everyone´s enormous surprise. Not exactly a record-company person´s dream to market.
The album includes a gypsy jazz version of Kiss´ "Detroit Rock City", the folk song "La Bamba" and Frank Zappa´s complex "The Black Page", the last tune calling upon no other than guitarist Steve Vai´s attention - "I never played it that well" was his comment in an interview featured in Swedish guitar magazine Fuzz. "The best guitar album I ever heard" said American virtuoso Ron Thal. "Respect!" was uttered by German band Helloween´s guitar player Roland Grapow. Even Canadian legend Frank Marino and his band "freaked out" when introduced to Freak Guitar by journalist Janne Stark.
Freak Guitar was voted 14:th best album of the year and Mattias was voted as the eighth Best Guitarist by the Japanese guitar magazine Young Guitar´s readers.
At the annual Tokyo Musical Fare in October 99 Eklundh held an appreciated Freak Guitar Showcase and presented, together with manufacturer Caparison Guitars, his official signature model - The Apple Horn. In Japan Ia did tons of interviews, performed "The Grey Hat of Compromise" in Captain Wada´s famous Tv show, e t c. He also recorded the song "Beefy Jam" for Young Guitar magazine at JVC studios.(As did Yngwie Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde and Paul Gilbert. Not the worst of companies). This resulted in a "Freak Exercise"-cd for YG mag, with some 39 tracks, licks and tricks to the readers amusement. (To read more, go to The Tokyo Diaries).
Eklundh also wrote, produced and recorded the instrumental "Yngwie 2000" for a tribute to Malmsteen called Guitar Odyssey. The song was the only original track on the album, fusing Malmsteen´s playing style with Ia´s zany ideas. When Yngwie got to hear the composition his frank comment simply was: "The guy is out of his fucking mind…".
7. A New Millenium
On New Year´s Day 2000 Christian and girlfriend Annika´s daughter Amanda was given birth to. Splendid timing and a wonderful way to kick off the new milennium.
When sketches were made for the forth album, the trio had one thing clear: it had to be done in a raw, fat, dirty way - very much the way the band sound live. Said and done: in February 2000 Joakim, Christian and Ia went to Kolding, Denmark to start recording the drum tracks in Torben Schmidt´s garage. Joakim was in tiptop shape and provided the most frantic drumming so far. (To read the full story please visit the "Diary of Madmen").
The band then continued the sessions in Gothenburg: rhythm guitars were done in a buddy´s summer place. Vocals and bass in Joakim´s toolshed. Guitar-solos in Apple Horn Abusement (read: Eklundh´s infamous bathroom). Another typical Freak Kitchen recording in other words.
8. Dead Soul Men
In October 2000, the band released "Dead Soul Men", the most powerful album to date. With songs like "Gun God", "Silence!", "Everything is Under Control", "I Refuse", e t c, Freak Kitchen prove their capability of combining elements of many musical styles into something truly original and rare is stronger than ever.
"Dead Soul Men" is a collection of 12 songs where the listener is given no time to breathe whatsoever. It was mixed by Roberto Laghi, once again, in Oral Majority Studio, assisted by Ia and Hasse Asteberg. A very successful combination.
On the collaboration between Christian and Ia, "Slap Me in the Face", Joakim handles the vocals throughout for the first time. Gronlund´s daughter Amanda also provided some inspired "vocals" on the track, giving it an inimitable introduction. The title track, "Dead Soul Man", featured gifted singer Zara turning the song into heavy metal gospel…
Alongside veteran photographer Mike Spritz, the trio also worked with the talented Jerker Andersson. Christian proved once again his ability to get the right feel for music vs art when putting together the cover. Joakim´s zany cows, which pretty much has become a trademark for the band, appear in new colours and shapes.
9. The New Flesh
On New Year´s Eve 2000 Kitchen Freaks around the world got a monumental shock when Joakim and Christian decided to leave the band officially after eight and a half years due to personal reasons. (Read Joakim's statements about the departure here and Christian's here).
In fact, they left much earlier, shortly after the release of "Dead Soul Men" in the autumn of 2000, while sitting on a ferry from Denmark to Sweden. For a while Freak Kitchen was no more.
Mattias has stated numerous times over the years that if one guy leaves the band, the band wouldn´t go on. While licking his wounds and deciding what to do IA, Joakim and Christian performed two more gigs in Sweden.
After a time of painful status quo IA got his shit together and decided to continue with the band. He called demon drummer, friend and dedicated Freak Kitchen-follower Björn Fryklund. Björn who sat on a train talking to IA on his cell-phone immediately agreed to join Eklundh while checking his pulse.
A fit bass-player was harder to find. Just before Christmas IA called singer (!) and buddy Christer Örtefors in sheer panic and asked if he knew any cool cats with a shitload of attitude. Christer (who also happened to be on a train) boldly said: "Let me have a go. Don´t try anyone else until I have been given a shot". Eklundh took a walk in the woods with his dogs and instantly knew Örtefors was the man for the job - despite the fact that he´s a vocalist.
When rehearsing together for the first time just before New Year´s Eve Freak Kitchen mark II provided so much raw, postive energy the members almost self-combusted. Apparently there is life after death... This is only the beginning.
To be continued...