Swedish Rock / Fusion Guitarist Fredrik Pihl has been on our radar for a while now, his music has been described as a mix of Jazz, Metal, Blues, Rock and Fusion, all with that Scandinavian edge one finds in far Northern Europe.
Born 1980 in Southern Sweden Fredrik picked up the guitar for the first time at the age of twelve after watching a Guns N’ Roses live concert on TV.
Since then he has gradually grown as a guitar player and musician and has played and worked with many World famous musicians such as Ron ”Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns N’ Roses), Mattias IA Eklundh, Lalle Larsson and Dave Martone to name a few. His work has been highlighted in magazines such as: Guitar Player, AXE Magazine, Gitar Plus and Guitar Ink etc.
2011 saw the release of his first solo album “Silhoettes” which was well received and reached new boundaries in the instrumental guitar genre.
Fredrik also works as a session player, guitar teacher and clinician. He has written columns for Swedish guitar magazine “Guitar Ink” and also for various websites.
He currently lives in Helsingborg, Sweden.
Interview with Fredrik Pihl, January 2016
Jahloon: What made you take up playing Guitar?
Fredrik: I was around twelve years old and a huge Guns N’ Roses fan. Me and some friends were watching a live show with the band on Swedish television. We all played air guitar, thinking we were as cool as Slash. A couple of weeks later my parents bought me my first electric guitar, a small amplifier and a distortion pedal. I was in love!
Jahloon: Influences are an integral part of a musician’s development, who influenced you?
Fredrik: Growing up I was first influenced by bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Guns N’ Roses. I remember spending countless of hours reading and studying transcription books with those bands. Later I discovered more guitar oriented music. My first big guitar idol was Marty Friedman, after my parents bought me one of his solo albums. After that I was hooked on players like Steve Vai, Yngwie, Satriani and the whole Mike Varney Shrapnel era. Next plateau was more jazz / fusion oriented. Players and musicians like Allan Holdsworth, Pat Metheny, John Coltrane etc. I also started taking one on one private lessons from different great players. I get influenced by everything from Jazz to Death metal, hence my Spotify list is a complete disaster and a joke. There is always something good and inspiring in almost every kind of genre of music.
Jahloon: What factors made you take up the Fretless Guitar?
Fredrik: I was at Mattias IA Eklundh’s freak guitar camp in 2002. Mattias told me about a friend of his named Ron Thal, (aka Bumblefoot). Mattias played me the 9.11 album by Bumblefoot and I thought the phrasing and sound was very interesting. I had no idea that Ron was actually playing the fretless guitar. When I later found out he was playing a Vigier Fretless guitar, I decided that I had to get one for myself. I Got my first fretless guitar in 2005, and a couple of years later I came in contact with Patrice Vigier and I had the privilege of getting an endorsement deal with them.
Fredrik with purple Vigier fretless Surfreter.
Jahloon: In 2014 you joined a cover band called The RockOutz, What style of music are you playing?
Fredrik: We are mainly playing rock songs and party music that make people happy and gets them in mood for dancing (usually under the influence of adult beverages). I enjoy it a lot!
Jahloon: You have had the Vigier DoubleBfoot for about a year now, how is that working out?
Fredrik: That guitar is a beast! It has everything I need in a guitar. Vigier makes the best guitars out there; they are very well built and reliable. When playing live I wanted to have the possibility of switching between a fretted and fretless neck. Therefore the Vigier double neck was perfect.
Fredrik with Vigier DoubleBfoot fretted / fretless double neck guitar.
Jahloon: How did you link up with Ron ”Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns N’ Roses) and what did you get up to?
Fredrik: Ron and I have known each other for a long time, and we have become good friends over the years. He is a wonderful person and I have learned so much from him. There’s not enough good things to say. He also did a guest solo on my debut album Silhouettes (2011).
Ron Thal & Fredrik Pihl
Jahloon: You’ve also collaborated with Mattias IA Eklundh what happened there?
Fredrik: Mattias is also an old friend of mine. I first met him back in 1999 and took lots of lessons from him. He really had me pushing my limits and discovering what is possible to do with a guitar, as well as also giving me lots of good advice about the music industry. A tip top guy!
Jahloon: Any other collaborations we should know about?
Fredrik: Well, during the years I have had the pleasure of collaborating with many fine musicians. My friend and keyboard virtuoso Lalle Larsson and guitar player Dave Martone to name a few. I have also been working with other artists, playing guest solos on their songs.
Jahloon: Are there any musicians you would like to collaborate with in future?
Fredrik: Yes, there are soooo many great musicians out there that would be fun to work with. We’ll just have to see what the future brings to the table… I’m having some ideas for people to work with on my upcoming album. But it’s too early to mention any names as of yet.
Jahloon: Currently you are living in Helsingborg, Sweden, if you had to live somewhere else, where would that be?
Fredrik: Well, I would guess somewhere close to my family and loved ones. If I ever need to go somewhere else, Earth is not that big of a planet after all.
Jahloon: How many planets have you visited? I’ll rephrase that, where do you like to go on holiday?
Fredrik: I love to visit places and cultures I have never experienced before. I’m not a big fan of spending countless of hours at the beach, although it’s a good way to relax and recharge your batteries. But I prefer to experience different cultures that are different from the Swedish ones.
Jahloon: You are very well established as a musician, if you had to change jobs, what other career would you follow?
Fredrik: Beside being a musician I also work as an secondary school teacher in English. So I have to go with that. I love to teach and share my knowledge with people. I’ve been teaching guitar for many years too, but recently I had to give up on the private teaching. Not enough hours in a day. 🙂
Jahloon: What advice would you give to someone wanting to take up fretless guitar?
Fredrik: Playing the fretless guitar offers so many possibilities that are more or less un-do-able on a regular fretted guitar. It’s almost like playing a completely different instrument. The first couple of hours may feel awkward and you question if you ever are going to get it down, but after some practice your intonation improves and things start to feel more natural. If you haven’t tried a fretless you definitely should… It’s really great to play more freely without the boundaries of frets.
Jahloon: Do you have any new projects on the horizon?
Fredrik: I’m currently working on my next solo album. This will be quite different from my first album; not as dark and extreme. The style of music is more towards rock / fusion with some other influences sneaking in every now and then. It will also feature some great friends and musicians on other instruments. I don’t have a release date as of yet, but hopefully by the end of 2016.
Jahloon: How many guitars do you own?
Fredrik: Not enough…
Jahloon: There’s never enough. 🙂 Do you use many effects pedals?
Fredrik: I have a quite big pedal board that I use with my band. I am one of those gear junkies that loves to check out new stuff and continuously trying to improve my tone. You can read more about my gear on my website: fredrikpihl.com/gear.html
Jahloon: Do you have a favourite amplifier?
Fredrik: I have to go with my new rig: AxeFx II XL+, Harley Benton Gpa 400 Poweramp and a Harley Benton 2*12 cab with celestion vintage 30. I also use an old Peavey 5150 head, an Ibanez TSA 30w combo, and a Rocktron prophesy preamp. I’m such a gear junkie…
Jahloon: Who are your favourite guitarists?
Fredrik: There are so many, but here are some names off the top of my head: Brett Garsed, Wayne Krantz, Ron Thal, Allan Holdsworth, Tim Miller, Guthrie Govan, Shawn Lane, Allen Hinds, Yngwie Malmsteen and Andy Timmons.
Jahloon: How has the internet affected you as a musician?
Fredrik: Well, I think for me and many other musicians, the internet is both a blessing and a curse. It definitely helps you with getting your music out to the public, and promoting your work becomes easier. The downside is of course illegal file sharing, and that we get overwhelmed with music. Unfortunately we live in a society where many people almost consider music to be something that should be for free. When I released my first album in 2011 I found it on illegal file sharing sites about a week later… I need to find these people and smite them!
Jahloon: What direction do you think your music will take in the next ten years?
Fredrik: I have no idea!! I will probably continue to develop as a musician and try new things. I’m very curious by nature and there are always new musical roads to walk. The foundation will probably always be rock and fusion, but with different icings (musical genres) on the cake.
Now the fun questions:
Jahloon: You win the Lotto (Swedish Lottery), what is the first new thing you would buy?
Fredrik: Probably a loaf of bread, flavoured with sun dried tomatoes (the possibility of winning high amounts of money on the Swedish Lottery is close to nothing).
Jahloon: OK, you have eaten the bread, and as compensation for Swedish Lottery odds, you can have any guitar you want, which would it be?
Fredrik: I would get another Vigier, probably a GV single cut model. That’s a good compensation for a lottery ticket worth a loaf of bread.
Jahloon: What do get up outside of music, any hobbies?
Fredrik: I love photography, and I try to do it as much as time allows (which unfortunately isn’t enough). Furthermore I also like going for a run every now then and try to live as healthy as possible.
Jahloon: The big question, Canon or Nikon? (similar to asking Fender or Gibson – Ed)
Fredrik: I use a Canon EOS 60D camera with a 70-200mm lens and a 18-55mm lens. Nothing too fancy but it gets the job done. I love taking pictures! Similar to music and playing guitar; photography is a good way to use your creativity.
Jahloon: What makes you laugh?
Fredrik: I’m not sure, but I think it has to do with raisins and the colour yellow…
Jahloon: Custard and Raisons eh? Do you have “Spotted Dick” in Sweden?
Fredrik: Yes, and when you spot them… don’t go near them.
Jahloon: OK let’s change the subject. Which six records would you take to a desert island, and why?
Fredrik: Probably six albums with great looking covers. There’s probably no electricity on the island so at least I have something nice to look at.
Jahloon: What’s the best book you ever read?
Fredrik: I love reading biographies and history books. Choosing a favourite, however, is really hard…
Jahloon: What film had the most impact on you?
Fredrik: There are so many good films out there. I have always enjoyed the Star Wars movies ever since I was a young kid. So I would have to go with the Star Wars saga.
Jahloon: Have you seen the new Star Wars film?
Fredrik: I have! Won’t spoil anything though… HA!
Jahloon: It is surprising how many musicians are into Sci-Fi, any idea why?
Fredrik: It’s because all musicians are Jedi knights… On a serious note, maybe it’s because it makes us think outside the box. Sci-Fi always goes outside the ordinary, as some of us musicians tend to do in order to push the envelope further.
Jahloon: Favourite drink?
Fredrik: I guess I’m not hard to convince when it comes to beer or smoky single malt whisky. Laphroaig is an old time favourite..
Jahloon: I’m rather fond of Laphroaig too, favourite non-alcoholic drink?
Fredrik: WHAT? There are drinks referred to as non-alcoholic? You mean that I no longer have to permanently walk around in an inebriated state of being? WOW!!
Jahloon: Favourite hot drink?
Fredrik: I love coffee and chai-latte.
Jahloon: Favourite food?
Fredrik: I have always loved Indian food. The dishes use a lot of spices and are rich in flavours.
Jahloon: Yes curries rule, and you do need a lot of beer to go with them, shall we go and get one?
Fredrik: Sounds like a good idea…
Jahloon: Thanks for the interview.
Fredrik: Without doubt the most entertaining interview I’ve ever done. Thank you!
Fredrik Pihl live with double neck.
Fredrik Pihl with Vigier DoubleBfoot fretted / fretless guitar.
Website – fredrikpihl.comMore Interviews