Mattias IA Eklundh is not only a fantastic guitarist and musician in the absolute world elite but also through his annual Freak Guitar Camp a highly respected guitar teacher. In the wild forests of Härryda, outside Gothenburg in Sweden, his world renowned Freak Guitar Camp is held at the end of July, early August. Here, like-minded guitar freaks from around the world – 40 participants at a time divided into two different occasions – during six days gather to share maestro guru Mattias unique knowledge of picking, tapping, harmonics, phrasing, riffs, exotic tonality, finger-picking and poly-rhythms, etc. Along with other topics as song-writing, how to survive in show business, etc.
It all started in 1999 – last year, the 20th anniversary was celebrated! Thousands of guitarists from all over the world have since participated. Demand is now so great that with each new year there is a waiting list. Most recently it was over 50 people.
Freak Guitar Camp is located in a beautifully located courtyard by a lake where you live and where the teaching takes place.
As a teacher, Mattias conveys positive energy and warmth, it´s a friendly atmosphere while everyone seems to be very focused. One of Mattias device is: ”Push yourself out of your comfort zone. It is the only way to grow as a musician”
Mattias is of course responsible for most of the teaching but guest teachers are also invited every year. Among them many world famous guitarists, for example:
Kiko Lourerio, Ron ”Bumblefoot” Thal, Guthrie Govan, Tom Quayle, Vic Zino (Hardcore Superstar) Niclas Engelin (In Flames), Kee Marcello, Dick Lövgren (Meshuggah), Fredrik Åkesson (Opeth), Jonas Hellborg, Uli Jon Roth, Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry), Selvaganesh Vinayakram, Ola Englund (The Haunted), etc.
The latest in the line is Alex Hutchings, who just has arrived via Landvetter airport, which is just a mile away. For the last few years he´s been a member of Steven Wilson’s touring band. Like Mattias, he´s also teaching beside the musician’s career.
I ask Alex what his focus is in his lecture.
– I will talk about my special guitar tuning, among other things. You see, I´m tuning in fourths, EADGCF, which creates a different tonality that opens up new sounds, compared to standard tuning. I will also share my experiences as a musician, but I also want to interact with the participants and see what topics emerge.
During a coffee break we also speak to two Freak Guitar Camp participants: Daniel and Adam. Daniel comes from Holland and explains what he expects from his stay:
– At home I make progmetal and I just want to get better in my playing, get better skills. And also meet new friends, socialize with musicians.
Swedish Adam Nilsson, for his part, is at Freak Camp for the third time! He´s into music in the style of Meshuggah, advanced music with odd rhythms and just like Daniel he wants to develop as a musician.
– I met IA at one of his gigs and then he told me about his Freak Guitar Camp and I became curious, especially about that Indian konnakol that he teaches.
Konnakol is a south indian art of performing percussion syllables vocally, while simultaneously counting the tala meter with the hand.
– It has been really useful for my music that I do at home.
I was in and listening to a lesson. It sounded very advanced.
– Not really, only you get into it, it goes well.
Do you have to be able to read music?
– The compendium we are working from on is based on both tabs and standard notation so it works both ways.
During the break we also meet another guest teacher: Jen Majura, guitar ace in Evanescence´s band.
We discuss True Temperament and she is terrified that, just like Mattias, she will love it so much that she wants it on all her guitars – 21 pieces.
– That would ruin me! she exclaims. Ulf Zackrisson