Roine Stolt - "We can’t be stopped by an evil virus!"

Roine Stolt - "We can’t be stopped by an evil virus!" Hot

Markus Skroch   03. September 2020  
Photo: Lillian Forsberg


Seit dem letzten Interview mit ROINE STOLT vor vier Jahren ist viel passiert. Vor wenigen Tagen kam zudem die Info, dass am 30.10.2020 ein neues THE FLOWER KINGS Doppelalbum veröffentlich wird. Höchste Zeit erneut mit Mastermind ROINE STOLT zu sprechen.

Das Interview

It's already been four years since we last talked. Since then, you released quite a lot of music.
“The Sea Within”, “Manifesto of an Alchemist” and also a “real” THE FLOWER KINGS album, named “Waiting for Miracles”, which featured two new members: Zach Kamins on keyboards and Mirko DeMajo on drums.
Together with them and longtime members Hasse Fröberg and Jonas Reingold you also went on tour to promote the album. I was lucky to catch you both in Bochum on tour with SPOCK'S BEARD and in Dortmund on the “Waiting for Miracles” tour. Lucky, because looking back now, the pandemic has turned the (music)world upside down.

How are you affected by this and what are your views on the current situation?

ROINE: Yes it was very,very unexpected - If you fear the future it is normally war or terrorism - but this was totally unexpected -on this full global level of shut down. All shows and festivals were canceled and the future didn’t really ‘unfold’ itself like we had hoped. 
We, as a band, suffer a bit, but many others in the entertainment industry have bigger problems. To sit out the pandemic with no activities was not an option for us! So, with members living in the USA, Italy, Austria and Sweden, the only way to move on with the music and now realize an album, was to use the magic of the ‘net’, sending files around the globe and start building what now has become the new studio album.

Can you imagine playing a streaming show, or performing live in front of seated people wearing masks, or would you rather wait for things to get back to normal before playing live again?

ROINE: We are looking into it - but as you can imagine there are a lot of technical issues we need to solve - As you know we are scattered on different continents - in the USA, Italy, Austria and Sweden. 
Zach and Mirko know more about this thing - streaming etc. - I’m open to any new portal to get music out.

On your last tour you had to sit because of an injury. What had happened, and have you recovered from it yet?

ROINE: Yes I have recovered - let’s say 85% - the fact is when the collar bone is fractured they do not try to get it back by surgery anymore - so I still have it broken and will have it till my last day here. But I’m fine.

That's good and sad to hear at the same time.
Watching The Flower Kings live with Mirko and Zach was a great experience. I thought that the band sounded better than ever. How do you feel about working with them?

ROINE: I think their enthusiasm is worth a million - They enjoy so much being in the band and love the material - This means everything - and for us the remaining 3 ‘oldies’ it keeps us on our toes. But we also have a great live engineer - Micha Weber - so a lot of credit should go to him. 

There are some brand new news about an upcoming The Flower Kings album. 

ROINE: Yes, the album will come out on October 30th. The album is a double and named ISLANDS.

All shows and festivals were cancelled and the future didn’t really ‘unfold’ itself like we had hoped. To sit out the pandemic with no activities was not an option for us! We can’t be stopped by an evil virus! So, with members living in the USA, Italy, Austria and Sweden, the only way to realize this album, was to use the magic of the ‘net’, sending files around the globe and start building what now has become a mammoth-sized double album of 21 songs. 
On October 30th, 2020 progressive rockers THE FLOWER KINGS will release their new double album “Islands” on InsideOutMusic, just a year after the group’s much celebrated “Waiting For Miracles”.
The 92 minutes long “Islands” features artwork by legend Roger Dean (Yes, Asia, Gentle Giant, Greenslade, Uriah Heep)

Can you tell us a little bit about the musical and lyrical direction of the new album?

ROINE: Oh - it’s a mix of everything - wild ride - with all styles from symphonic rock to funky or jazzy instrumentals.

All members have contributed more or less - We just went with what we felt was great songs or ideas - not trying to be anything special or meeting any special demands from our fans.
The theme of the album is isolation - so the title ‘Islands’ felt like a most relevant title - as much of it circulates around isolation, loss, and the fear of being disconnected. Having to face this unexpected pandemic will leave marks on each one of us for a very long time and to lose loved ones forces us to soldier on, learning and growing a stronger version of ourselves in this fragile cycle of life.
Musically; the aim has been to create a bigger grand epic piece out of 21 songs - so they are all connected with themes that weave in and out - like the way ‘Sgt Peppers’ or ‘The Lamb’ were built on shorter songs, but yet linked. So view it as one mega song or as 21 separate pieces, it is all tailored to be listened to as one piece - like a cinematic 90min long ride.
To me, a new Flower Kings album is always way more exciting than albums from other bands because you never know what's coming. Most of the time, you have a certain opinion of a band, what their strong albums are. For example, people often like early works of a band. In my opinion it's not as easy when it comes to The Flower Kings. When you write a new album, do you think a lot about what it should sound like before you begin writing, or do you just do it?

ROINE: No not at all - Even the old albums have a strong strain of my inner ideas about what is good music - and I try follow that feeling - trusting intuition a lot. I listen to band members and let them contribute - and on this album me and Zach wrote some songs together - I liked it because his ideas were fresh and I could help him realize them in a new fashion.

In 1994, when you started with The Flower Kings, what was the musical landscape in Sweden like when it came to Prog? I must confess I didn't come across TFK in the mid-90s, but I did listen to LANDBERK and ÄNGLAGÅRD. Although it was all Retro-Prog and done around the same time, every band played a rather different style of Prog. Did you know any of them back in the day, or were you located too far apart within Sweden to call it a “scene” in the mid-90s?

ROINE: I got to know Stefan (Dimle, bassplayer) from Landberk - as he is a very nice guy and always cool to chat with - I’ve met him many many times over the years. 
Änglagard I’ve heard but these guys were always a bit difficult to bond with - they had an air of ‘we’re best’ we’re the real deal and your music is shit’ …..I can be wrong of course - but anyway I enjoyed some of their music. My friend Erik Hammarström who did about 2 years in The Flower Kings became their new drummer lately - he is a supernice guy - and very talented - so I think the band is happier today.

Are you interested in today's Prog scene? 

ROINE: I am interested in ALL new music - Prog or not. 

 You also recorded a new TRANSATLANTIC album last year. I guess, many people are glad you did that pre-Corona. I always wondered about how you guys write an album together that is so complex, yet you only meet for a couple of days to put it together. Does everybody arrive with pre-written musical ideas and throw them into the pot, or is most of it written while you're all together? Which role does every band member play in the process?

ROINE: I cannot go into too much detail - but yes we met September last year in Sweden for 10 days - and now the album is being mixed in LA - a lot has happened and some things changed - and it will be a good album. More info to follow.

I can imagine it's also hard to come up with all the lyrics in this short meeting time. Do you guys only start with parts of lyrics and figure out the rest later?

ROINE: If you still talk about TA - well, I had about 90% of my lyrics set already in my demos that I sent around last summer - and Neal (Morse) had some but he wrote some later too - so did Pete (Trewavas).

Not a music question, but I'm curious if you have a daily routine to start the day?

ROINE: Not a strict one - depending on what I did the night before and if sleep was good - I eat breakfast at 9:30 - and start my work in the studio - or with business - then usually go all day - sometimes until 23:00.

Wow, I guess that is the reason we'll get a new 92 minute album soon!
Which bands/composers are you currently listening to yourself? Do you still discover new music or do you mostly listen to older music that you already know?

ROINE: Ah - I wish I had more time to listen - I don’t even know what would be considered NEW music. - I enjoy new works by Coldplay - Derek Trucks - Jacob Collier - Nick Cave - Jennie Abrahamsson – Vangelis – U2.

That's a colorful mixture of music. Thank you very much, Roine! Really looking forward to your upcoming releases. 

More infos on “Islands”.

Disc One (49:40)
1 - Racing With Blinders On 4:24
2 - From The Ground 4.02
3 - Black Swan 5:53
4 - Morning News 4:01
5 – Broken 6:38
6 - Goodbye Outrage 2:19
7 – Journeyman 1:43
8 – Tangerine 3:51
9 – Solaris 9:10
10 - Heart Of The Valley 4:18
11- Man In A Two Peace Suit 3:21

Disc Two (43:01)
1 - All I Need Is Love 5:48
2 - A New Species 5:45
3 - Northern Lights 5:43
4 - Hidden Angles 0:50
5 – Serpentine 3:52
6 - Looking For Answers 4:30
7 –Telescope 4:41
8 - Fool’s Gold 3:11
9 - Between Hope & Fear 4:29
10 – Islands 4:12

“Islands” will be available as massive Limited 3LP & 2CD box set with slipcase and 180 gram vinyl housed in two gatefolds, one single sleeve; as Limited Edition 2CD Digipak and Digital Album. Presales will start September 11th, 2020.

Roine Stolt - Vocal, Ukulele, Guitars, Additional Keyboards
Hasse Fröberg - Vocal & Acoustic Guitar
Jonas Reingold - Bass, Acoustic Guitar
Zach Kamins - Pianos, Organ, Synthesizers, Mellotron, Orchestrations
Mirko DeMaio - Drums, Percussion
Guest: Rob Townsend - Soprano Saxophone


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