Travellin’ Light

Ingebrigt Håker Flaten
Answers 20 Questions About Life on the Road

Ingebrigt Håker Flaten
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten                                                                           F. Sorli©2008

Oslo-based bassist and composer Ingebrigt Håker Flaten's international reputation was initially based on his work with Scandinavian groups such as Atomic, The Thing, and Scorch Trio. More recently, Flaten has worked in several Ken Vandermark initiatives bringing together musicians from Chicago and Scandinavia, including AtomicSchoolDays, Free Fall, and Powerhouse Sound. Flaten's Chicago connections led to a recent residency, where he formed a line-up for the Ingebrigt Håker Flaten Quintet that combines guitarist Jeff Parker, saxophonist Dave Rempis and drummer Frank Rosaly with violinist Ola Kvernberg, an original Quintet member. Flaten has a rapidly expanding discography with over 100 albums to his credit; recent additions include Belle Ville (Clean Feed), the second album by Town house Orchestra, a quartet with saxophonist Evan Parker, pianist Sten Sandell and frequent section-mate, drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. For more information, consult: and

What is the most difficult airline to deal with in terms of instruments and equipment?

AEROFLOT! Absolutely terrible, corrupt and no common sense

Which airline has the worst economy seating and food?

Ryan Air. It’s cheap but not worth it!!

Which airport is craziest for making connecting flights?

Everything which means transit at London/Heathrow is mostly very bad news!!!

What is the most important thing you ever forgot to pack?

My passport! Had to get a "extra" passport at the airport in Oslo, which cost me a fortune. But I learned a lesson and have never forgotten it since

What is your worst lost baggage story?

SAS managed to break my bass AND my bass trunk after a flight to Amsterdam years ago, ant they of course refused any guilt, nothing I could do.. and I later lost all my effect pedals in the luggage on my way to Istanbul, never got it back, was most likely stolen there. Luckily I had insurance.  also "lost" a vintage Bordeaux and a king size bottle of Milagro Tequila at customs in Chicago (gifts for my 35th birthday which I have carefully packed in my suitcase).I hope they at least enjoyed it!

What country hassles musicians the most at customs and passport checks?

I some years ago played with some Palestinian musicians in Jerusalem and after that flew out from Tel Aviv. Tthat was a nightmare, they checked every little thing in my suitcase putting it wide open on the floor in the middle of the room so everybody could see, it took about two hours. It was also a heavy reminder of how bad the Palestinians are treated there! The United States is of course always a big hassle to get into if you don’t have a Visa (which costs a fortune). Also, taking the night train to Croatia is a very intense experience, they check your passport about 5-6 times, and are very rude.

Which city has the worst cab drivers?

I don’t like to admit it but Oslo is probably one of the worst cities ever when it comes to rude cabdrivers.

What is the best hotel that a presenter has provided for you?

Hilton Airport Hotel in Frankfurt. Provided by General Motors, when I played with Bugge Wesseltoft for 20 min. at the launching of their new "jazz" engine at the car exhibition in Frankfurt on September 11th, 2001. A very, very surreal experience on many levels!!!

Do you travel with a laptop or a PDA? If so, how many times a day do you check your e-mail?

I try to check my e-mail very day

Do you listen to music on the road? If so, what device do you use?

I use my iPod or the CD player in my laptop.

Do you do your own laundry on the road?

I should!

What is your most nightmarish sound check to date?

Many! But one I remember for something else than the sound was for the gig, also at the car exhibition in Frankfurt, on ninth eleventh 2001, where one of the light engineers who adjusted the lights one stage above our heads lost his knife and it scratched my head with a few inches before it hit the floor with a big bang... very nightmarish indeed...

What is the scariest food that has been laid out for you backstage?

Subway sandwiches, laying a little too long, at the backstage at a gig in Beijing. They didn’t think we wanted local food. We all got very sick....

What are your three favorite venues?

Hungry Brain/Chicago, Alchemia/Krakow, Pit Inn/Tokyo. Their amazing staff, audiences and vibe creates the best possibility environment for good musi.! It’s always great to play there.

Which cities have the best restaurants for late after-gig meals?

Sushi, Sashimi, Korean BBQ, Sake etc etc.... in Tokyo! Open as long as there is people, and the friendliest people working there as you can ever imagine, Amazing!

Which cities have the best after-hours sessions?

A hard question, there is a lot of after-hours sessions to remember, but I've had some really amazing experiences at a small village in the mountains close to Ljubljana called Cerkno. They have a great club all year round, and a festival in the spring. Ended up jamming there while they feed you with their amazing local prosciutto and homemade schnapps, very exotic!!

What is the best city that closes down too early?

Most of them!

What is the best locale to have a day off?

There´s a ton of good places all over.... But, record shopping, great food and good music make Chicago truly one of the best alternatives I can think of!!

What is your cure for jet lag?

Stay awake as long as possible! Stay in the new time zone.

What is your best tip for the novice?

Appreciate your time and experiences on the road as much as you can when it’s happening. It’s your school!

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