***man måste ju kommentera sommarens Freak Guitar Camp. Av hänsyn till de många internationella besökarna vid detta evenemang skrev jag texten på huliganernas och de internatskolade, hängande i duschstängerna-med apelsin i munnen-s språk ***
Looking at the stream of blood from my fingertips, The Guru grins malevolently.
“Well, someone had to be the first”, he smiles. “Now, let’s run through what we’ve played so far this week once more before lunch.” My fellow Freaks nod obediently in unison. After all, we’re not here to complain, we’re here to master the myth of metal guitar soloing. Welcome to the Freak Guitar Camp 2008.
Guys with a beard are never alone
Where did I ever get the idea to send that application to Mattias IA Eklund ? And to think that I brought my 13 year old son into this spot as well. As we run through the appropriately named high-speed tune “Did you actually pay for that?” on the first morning of what promises to become a week in hell (of doom), questions such as those run like rabid rats on cocaine through my mind. The son shows no pain, though: strumming his 80’s Charvel with an upper lip stiffer than his fingers, he seems intent to get his (my) moneys worth from the camp experience. There are some thirty of us in the room, heat approaching sauna levels, gothenburg outskirts wasps abound both in the room and in the exterior but we’re all gonna take it and improve. A lot.
As a long-standing fan of Zappa’s hairier efforts, I guess it was my fascination with the kind of artsy, smarter/faster/louder-than-thou kind of metal played on the Freak Kitchen records that made me enter the Freak Guitar pages on the net. And while there, well, one finger led the other to the Freak Guitar Camp 2008 pages and soon enough, we were in a minibus on a winding gravel track through the woods in western Sweden.
And the week takes off. The days are spent trying to master songs that are sometimes tailor-made, sometimes ripped straight off albums with challenging outfits such as Art Metal and Mats/Morgan Band. The guru mixes his tutoring with war storys from a life that sounds fit for the cartoons; fancy that I’ve paid decent after-tax geld to a chap that includes ticket-forgery, porn-movie soundtrack production and bodybuilding with a typewriter – a typewriter, for gods fucking sake! – as ersatz dumbbells, on his CV.
The evenings are spent in the company of the Vice Executive Guru of Sound Production, aka Christian Alsing. The VEGoSP’s responsibilities include discussions of sound, strings, effects, amps, actual production and such. He encourages us to describe what we hear in visual and tangible terms, and suddenly we find ourselves believing that some guitar players actually sound “brown, wet and hairy” while others are “like, sorta, rugged, kinda purple, metallish with the twang of a dry ‘gator jaw”.
During the night following this particular exercise I dream that the guru plays a solid cast-iron guitar with strings made from the hairs of a witch intertwined with the umbilical cords from unborn spawn of the devil himself. His sound is green, wet and very, very hairy – albeit in the pointed and agressive way that comes with running the signal from your Freak Guitar Rig and Traynor’s Molten Lava amps through a severely aggravated Pit Bull Terrier.
And then I wake up to find that all’s actually well in the world, that the fingertips seem to have healed during the night and that the totally overwhelmingly nice chef, Fiffí is already in the midst of breakfast production. Fiffis grub, by the way, is the stuff that legends are made from; vegetarian, though in a way that is more than fully edible even to this card-carrying, orthodox Meat Lover.
Guest stars abound in the afternoons: Andreas Öberg explain the intricacies of Gypsy picking, Freak Kitchen does the thing they do so well and the recently born straight-in-yer-face pentatonic rockers Eaglestrike deliver a gig that bodes very well for the upcoming album. The sound is straight & great, and the backdrop is even cooler.
At the end of the week, there’s a contest. The Freak Apprentices are divided into bands of three and given the task of…well… never mind …the fifth bar in 5/4. I’m not all that suprised to find that a) my band does not win as my own skills are clearly wanting in this company of clever, ponytailed metal worshipers, and b) that my son is awarded the Freak Top Poser Award for his pulling-out-the-stops and smoking the other turkeys-performance.
Do I survive? Obviously! Do I enjoy the week? Hell yeah! Do I learn? Does my moustache grow? Better betch’er! At the end of the week, I find myself yet again bowing to Sylvester Stallone for his invaluable advise in the latest Rocky flick:
“But it ain’t about how hard you play, it is about how hard your fingertips can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward..”