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Topic ClosedRoine Stolt - The Flower Kings 9/4/08 (Pt 2 of 2)

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Queen By-Tor View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Roine Stolt - The Flower Kings 9/4/08 (Pt 2 of 2)
    Posted: September 12 2008 at 15:21
Here's the continuation of my interview with The Flower King's Roine Stolt, carried on from Part 1

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ProgArchives: So here’s a questions for you… One thing that strikes me as odd is that TFK often gets the “Retro Prog” label even though you were around in the 70s working with Kaipa, how do you feel about that title?

Roine Stolt: Well, you have to understand that most people who hear about The Flower Kings, they see The Flower Kings, they see Roine Stolt – the guy who writes the songs, blah, blah – plays the guitar… This is just a new band and a new guy who plays much now. Today. And they have no idea what I did 25 years ago. They have no idea that I was, sort of, here in Sweden almost in parallel with Yes or Genesis at their height – but we were in a small country, so… we were not known to the international audience. But we were touring at the same time and playing the same type of music and probably had the same influences. Because those guys were influenced by The Beatles or Procol Harum or The Nice and stuff like that, and that’s exactly what we were influenced by – so we were building on the same foundation.

So when people describe the Flower Kings music, they describe it as… we’re building on the 70s prog bands: Yes, Genesis, ELP – in a sense that’s true. But it’s also something beyond that. In my case, my biggest influences when I started playing the guitar, starting writing music, it was even before I discovered bands like Yes and Genesis, y’know? And I was into The Beatles, and I was into Jimi Hendrix and The Doors and also King Crimson and bands like Jethro Tull and stuff like that. But I also loved bands like The Allman Brothers, lots of blues, some Fleetwood Mac, stuff like that. So where I come from is another place. I didn’t actually didn’t grow up and someone put a guitar in my hand and I started listening to a Genesis album, so… When Flower Kings music is described as retro prog, I’d rather say it’s “Retro Rock” music. Because that’s all the influences that I try to put into the music. More of an angle of what I grew up listening to, like from probably the mid-60s and the first time I got a record player in, I think… ’66 or ’67.

That’s where I’m coming from. But people now, where they see The Flower Kings, they see a band that emerged in the early 90s and we’re sort of the third wave of prog band. But I never saw it like that because – I wouldn’t say I was in the first wave of rock bands, but I was in the first wave of prog bands! [He laughs] But I wasn’t in the USA and I wasn’t in England, so I wasn’t known. But I was touring around and playing music already in ’74. So I think it all depends on where you’re coming from. In the end, it really doesn’t matter. If they like it, they like it. If not – there’s really not much I can do about it anyways.



PA: Another question regarding Kaipa, I’m interested in why you went back to join them again in 2002

RS: Well, I mean, frankly I joined Kaipa, I mean, I joined the guy who was making the Kaipa album because he asked me if I wanted to play – and I think originally he asked me if I wanted to play on his album – and once we started working on it and I was laying down my guitar tracks on it and we started discussing the music and it sort took shape and form… then he called me and asked, “how do you feel about calling it Kaipa?” And I said, “well, that’s up to you, I don’t mind – if that’s what you want it’s okay by me. I think you need to ask the other two guys (who were in the band before that). But that’s okay with me”. So suddenly his solo project became a Kaipa album… and I was back in Kaipa [he laughs]. Something I didn’t plan from the beginning. But that was okay! Then I did two more albums, but I felt that it was a little bit too close to what I was doing with The Flower Kings, also the chemistry between us wasn’t really there. It was more like I was being a studio musician, playing what someone else told me to play. It felt right to just end it instead of going into endless arguments about the music, or how the music should be played or recorded or produced, ect.

PA: Not too long ago, around 2005, you were doing a lot of different projects at once, you were in The Tangent, The Flower Kings, Kaipa, Transatlantic, you own solo stuff… what made you stop all that to focus on The Flower Kings?

RS: Well I think there’s an explanation to everything, and it may seem like I just stopped being in different projects. And in the case of Kaipa it just felt like, and I think I felt it already, after the second album, Keyholder – and I think Keyholder was a good album – but the road to finishing Keyholder was… kind of rocky, I would say. I didn’t feel the band should play music that was written only by one guy. We had some very good players, we had Morgan Ågren playing the drums, we had Jonas playing the bass. He had Patrik, from Ritual, singing, and myself. The band was so strong! I felt that we should get together and try to write music together. Because everyone in the band writes, and we had lots of singers in the band, so I felt that this could be like, a wonderful opportunity or everyone to contribute and make the music richer and more dynamic and more expressive. That wasn’t the idea of this guy, Hans Lundin, he wanted to write the music and he wanted total control and work with sequences and stuff like that. That’s the main reason I felt like I shouldn’t be doing this – it could be, with all these great players in the band. So that’s why I left Kaipa.

With Tangent - it felt like I just sort of stumbled into The Tangent. I was asked to play on and album and suddenly I was in a band called The Tangent [he laughs]. And that wasn’t my plan, and It wasn’t 100% what I felt in my heart was my kind of music. I kind of like the albums, they’re okay, and it’s not bad music, but it’s not what I really, really want to do. You have a certain amount of time that you can spend on writing and producing and releasing albums and at my age it feels more and more important for each year that what you do has to be right, it’s got to feel right. The Tangent didn’t feel right for me. So that’s very simple, I left the band because it didn’t feel right.

Transatlantic was actually because Neal Morse decided to leave the band and the rest of us felt that it would be very difficult to continue the band without Neal. That was in 2001, so it was a little bit earlier. So, apart from that I’ve been guesting on other people’s albums now and then. That’s something I can see myself doing in the future. But I think for the big projects I’d need to feel it’s very right for me. Playing with musicians I feel I can communicate with – and something where we can take the music to a live scene, and that’s something I couldn’t do with Kaipa. I asked a couple of times “how about playing this live?” and Hans Lundin was never interested in playing it live. I thought – you know, we have great players, Morgan and Partick and everyone, so I thought that it could be a nice thing to try and to play the music live, but that never happened.

So that’s another thing that I like. If I do a side project aside from The Flower Kings I want to do something where I can take the music to a live stage and play it, and form it. That’s part of the excitement of being in a band is playing the music live.

PA: So It sounds like these were all just projects that became bigger bands

RS: Well, that’s difficult to tell, really. But I guess as the situation was, at the time, where The Flower Kings was starting to get more recognition and then suddenly I was in Transatlantic and being associated with Pete Trewass from Marillion and Mike from Dream Theater, suddenly I got more recognition and at that point people were probably more interested in playing with me, because they had a chance to get more recognition. Kaipa got a record deal because of me and The Tangent got a record deal because of me. So I guess that’s what happened – although, nothing wrong with that – but that’s basically what happened. Good for the music because people get a chance to hear the music.

PA: Back to The Flower Kings, you guys are known for your epic suites, do you ever plan for these on the album, or do they just happen?

RS: I don’t think there was ever a plan to make a long song. It’s more like I really try to get out of it! Because when all the ideas come… the way I work today, I compose in a music software and you can just keep on adding ideas and cutting and pasting and you can change tempos, you can change the key, you can take a section that is in the end of the song and put it at the front. There’s so many things that you can do that you couldn’t really try out and hear 25-30 years ago when you had a microphone and a tape recorder and a guitar [he laughs] and you record your demo. But now I can compose with all those fantastic sounds, I can compose with everything I have – the moogs and mellotrons and the bass and drums, and it sounds fantastic! So once you start writing the song or composing you get carried away. And I work, I can work a couple of days trying to write songs, and I come up with all the ideas. I try, of course, to have some sort of a break so it’s not like I’m recording everything and listening to it. Sometimes you record something and then take it away the next day, you say, “nah, that wasn’t good enough”. But sometimes it’s like with classical music. You take it and develop something else like a bass line and then you record structure and you change the key, you take the melody from the beginning, ect.

So I think that’s probably the core of why you call it symphonic rock, because you take the method of composing that can be found in lots of classical music. So why do these songs wind up being 12 or 17 or 25 minutes it’s probably because of all the ideas, and then you try to finish it up in a decent way and have a nice grand finale and all that [he laughs] and all the ups and downs and dynamics - there’s and intense section where it needs to go – maybe some sort of tense and release… you just try to do what you can do as the best you can do. Take the best that you have and if the music feels exciting then possibly it goes on for another 5 or 10 minutes. So it’s not in the plan – I never sit down and say, “okay let’s write the 20 minute song”. I probably, would say rather the opposite; I sit down and try to write a really good 4-minute song. That would be the ideal! I would love to write songs like, whatever, Coldplay or U2, that’s fantastic when you can write a 4 or 5 minute song that feels like a great song. But probably, I cant keep my fingers away form the synths or guitar and I’d like to add another theme – or you go with your themes and you try to find a new way to present them in the end, ect. That just feels good, and I just try to go with what feels good, you know?



PA: You’re also well known for writing double albums and a lot of material in general. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block or do you just go?

RS: Well, of course there can be a day were you just feel that, for personal reasons or you just had the flu and you’re not on top of your game, but… normally for me it’s kind of a natural state of mind. It feels very natural for me to write music. And I just get up in the morning and do breakfast and then I start working. I would say the amount of music I have… and I’m not saying that every song is great, but there are some songs that are great that I haven’t released – maybe they didn’t fit on the album. But I write a lot of music and I never have a problem when it comes to coming up with material to write an album. It’s rather the opposite – it’s really difficult to know what to work with, you have songs and then you need to decide what direction the band needs to go in. Should it go more in a complicated, progressive style, or should we try to make it a little bit easier and… try the less complex songs.

It’s funny, I see people on the internet and they’re always talking, and the internet is a funny place, in that sense. People know everything and they say, “Roine – he releases everything, you know. If he farts he releases it,” and I’d just like to invite them to my studio so they could see my hard disk and they could see all the songs, all the music that I don’t release. So when people say, “Oh! You release double albums all the time, why do you? Isn’t there a room for a filter? Don’t you need a producer to tell you not to release double albums? Ect, ect.” And I think that some people think that I release everything and that’s the reason we release double albums. But that’s not the case.

If I wanted – I could release a box of… I don’t think I exaggerate when I say about 10 albums at this point, now. I could. But that’s not the point! For some people it’s okay with a 40-minute album. For me it’s not okay with a 40-minute album, because it feels sort of crammed… and some of the material that people see as “filler”, I don’t see as filler – I see it as… it’s like you’re watching a film. If you’re watching a film that’s 1 and a half hours it’s all action scenes from start to finish and it would be kind of… too much – over the top. You need to have some kind of tension and release, and sometimes you need some softer stuff in-between songs. It gets very intense, lots of information; lots of notes, sometimes a wall of sound, and then you need something a little… a tiny little song that’s just an acoustic guitar or just a synth, and not a million notes.

But to some people it just doesn’t work that way. They want very concise – they want songs that they can relate to and understand as songs. For me that never was the case. I see just one… when the album is done. I see it as all one big piece of music. Some of it is very intense and some of it is kind of loose, or maybe jammy – and that’s the whole picture I see. So as far as composing and deciding what should be on the album… I wouldn’t have it any other way. I could listen to critics, and I always listen to the other band members, of course, but in the end you have to go with what your heart tells you – and this is probably what my heart tells me. Sometimes it feels like, okay, like this last album felt very good. It had lots of different modes and lots of lighter shades and everything. Sometimes it feels like you have the material and you’d like to spread it out and release two discs. If people think that it’s too much they can always listen to one album [he laughs] and then save the other one for the next day or the next week. You don’t even need to listen to all the songs, you can skip songs, but I’d rather present it the way I see it.

PA: Rumor has it that you guys are ready to record your next album

RS: Well I haven’t heard those rumors, but maybe that’s true. But in fact we haven’t decided anything. I thought we were going to talk about it and discuss when we were doing the American shows, because we’re all together in the tour bus, so it felt very natural to talk about it, but we were talking about lots of other things and never came around to discuss the very subject. I would say we’ve been a little bit hesitant to start working, right away, on a new album. The reason is that there’s been a lot. We’ve released a lot of albums and almost each and every year there’s been a new Flower Kings album. I think that unless you feel very strongly that you have the direction – “This is what we’re doing, this is where we’re going to go,” just going on an booking studio time and recording. I know we can do an album! Probably an album with good music, but the question is – can we do an album with good enough music to excite people, and to excite the band. I think before we know that we’ll probably just wait and see, and see whatever material comes up and if people feel motivated to write and come up with something so that we can present something that feels right to the band. Then you have to ask yourself if it’s exciting enough for the audience.



We probably can do that. But we can wait – I see no real reason why we should hurry. There’s no one really waiting, “you must release it because there’s a tour going on” or whatever. So I think at this point we just sit down and think about it and look at what we have and what we’d like to see happening in the future. Probably by talking and discussing the future and the music and the possible future direction of the band we’ll probably come to a point where we feel that, “okay, let’s start working on this” and we’ll get together and blah, blah, blah. So that’s really all I can say. There’s really no immediate plans of a new recording.

PA: So are you sick of people asking you about Transatlantic?

RS: No, not really. It happens all the time and I normally [he laughs] just try to avoid the question. But the funny thing is that I wish I could… I wish I had an answer. But I really don’t! And as long as I don’t have an answer, people are going to keep asking – I realize that. But the funny thing is that nothing has been said – and I even played with two of the guys just two weeks ago, at the Three Rivers Progressive Festival and I joined Neal and Mike Portnoy came on stage too and we played two Transatlantic songs and it felt okay, it felt right. But there was never any talk – I think Mike probably said something to the effect of, “oh, any time! I’m ready anytime you’re ready! I’m ready to record another album and play more.” But from Neal’s side I’ve heard nothing and it seems like he kind of avoided the subject. What made it even more strange is that he’s been the one inviting us to playing his records, basically all of Transatlantic, and he’s been the one inviting us to play on stage. Not only this, but he invited me to play in Europe too, which I wasn’t available for at the time. So it seems like he wants to play together but… still avoiding the question of Transatlantic doing another album and another tour. To my understanding – I think the chemistry is still there, everyone is nice to everyone and we have fun. There’s laughter and good vibes! I really don’t understand why it doesn’t happen. So I guess I’m as clueless as anyone! [he laughs]. We just keep asking the question and we’ll see what happens.

PA: Here’s my last question: What was the last cd you listened to?

RS: The last cd I listened to was yesterday evening, or maybe this morning, I was listening to the latest Coldplay album. I can’t remember the name of the album, but it’s a good album – and it even has a slight, slight prog flavor to it, I think. I wasn’t really a fan of the band before, but this has some really, really, good songs. And I like the production of it. I’m actually planning to see the band play in Sweden in a couple of weeks, if I can get a ticket.

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Thanks again to Roine for the excellent (and very lengthy) interview and InsideOut for setting it up!


Edited by King By-Tor - November 15 2008 at 02:27
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 12 2008 at 22:14
Wow! Clap There's just so much good information in this interview Mike.Well done. So he's got like 10 albums worth of material he could release,that's incredible.Interesting as well about his thoughts on KAIPA,TRANSATLANTIC and THE TANGENT. Also his thoughts about what some call "filler" ,and him comparing a record to watching a movie.
"The wind is slowly tearing her apart"

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 12 2008 at 23:23
Great interview! Thanks! Clap

Roine is such a nice guy and musician!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 14 2008 at 05:56
YAY! ApproveClap
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 14 2008 at 14:53
Excellent Thumbs%20Up Very interesting stuff.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 14 2008 at 19:48
Cool, but err...are they wearing make-up in that second photo?...Looks it to me...ahah.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 16 2008 at 12:16
Excellent interview thanks!  Lots of great info there.  I'm familiar with a lot of this already, being on the Flower Kings Yahoo group, but there is always interesting tidbits in interviews like this one.  Couldn't agree more with Roine about "filler".  And their albums really are like watching a movie (and not just because of their length Big%20smile)

And no, I don't think they have makeup on........probably the photo was touched up a lot after the fact by the photographer (just like they do at portrait studios for family photo's, graduation photo's, etc.).



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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 16 2008 at 12:31
Great job KBT.  Great info on Roine, The Flower Kings, and all of his other projects.  Put me in the "Definitely interested in hearing a new Transatlantic album" corner.  I just wish that I had been able to make the Three Rivers show. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2008 at 14:44
Thanks By-Tor! Very Infromative. I learned a lot of things like....

- the musical attitude of the Kaipa guy is a bad example.
- Portnoy's yearning
- Sweden's small population.
- that Neal Morse should make the first move. (Back then, I thought Stolt has the issues)
- ect. ect.

and also he made a very beautiful answer to this ever-living question - So are you sick of people asking you about Transatlantic?

- I think Morse should think about it. after releasing his good-but-not-very-impressive album Lifeline.
Take the Passion Road.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 15 2008 at 08:18
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