Stolt, Roine (The Flower Kings) (September 2004, pt 1)

Roine Stolt - In His Own Words: Part 1 - The Flower Kings

Roine Stolt at NEARFest 2003 (photo: Stephanie Sollow)Roine Stolt is a name that many in the progressive rock world surely recognize without any introduction - nevermind his years with Kaipa in the 70s (and again more recently), to younger progressive rock fans, he is the leader of The Flower Kings, whose latest, and 10th album (or 11th, if you count that first solo CD, The Flower Kings ? and don't include special editions, fan club CDs, and a compilation) was released this past July. And later this year, one will hear Roine on the second The Tangent CD. Not to forget past associations like Transatlantic and all of his guest work. Much as one can play "6 degrees of?" with Kevin Bacon - or in prog terms, Clive Nolan - so too can one with Roine Stolt.

Last month, Joshua Turner spoke at length with Stolt about much of this and more. Much like a Flower Kings album often spans over two disks, this interview spans over two parts. In this first part, Stolt talks about The Flower Kings; in Part Two, mainly about the other projects he has been involved in. What follows is a direct, and unedited transcription of Turner's conversation with Stolt; and, as Stolt does speak at length, we couldn't call this anything but "in his own words?"

Joshua Turner: Hello.

Roine Stolt: Hello.

JT: Yeah.

RS: Josh?

JT: Yeah, hi.

RS: Roine Stolt speaking.

JT: Hi Roine. How's it going?

RS: Very good.

JT: I've got a ton of questions here, so we should probably get started.

RS: A ton?

JT: Oh yeah, a ton. [we both laugh]

RS: Okay.

JT: I wanted to start by finding out what tour plans you have at this time.

RS: Um, well, um, I mean the tour plans for now are just, um, for Europe and it starts I think on the 3rd of October, going on for about three weeks, something like that, and, uh, and then, um, there's not much more planned at the moment. It's sort of, we are now trying out with the, you know, the shine light show, and uh, some projects and some stuff that we haven't tried before, so we're, I think we want to do this, and then see how it goes and, hah, you know, see what improvements we can make then I don't know it's possibly next year trying to do another tour of Europe and possibly going to some of the Eastern European countries, because, I mean, we started getting into Poland and, uh, the Czech Republic and Hungary and places like that and it's quite interesting, because there seems to be quite a big audience there even if it's not the same standard I would say as in places, you know, in like Holland or Germany or in England, but it's, uh, it's still interesting, eh, it seems to be, you know, quite an audience for progressive rock in the Eastern European countries, so that's what we're looking for, uh, maybe doing that also next year and then possibly, uh, looking into some sort of tour in America.

JT: Great. I would look forward to that. Where would you say are the majority of your fans located or are they just spread out everywhere?

RS: Uh, yeah, probably, I think we have probably, uh, our main audience in Europe, uh, but there seems to be, you know, there seems to be an audience in America and, uh, I don't know about places like Africa [he laughs] or Australia. There are fans, you know, there was one, this guy, who flew from South Africa to a gig in Holland, but it was, you know, probably someone who had, you know, money. Someone who could, you know, spend that type of money going from South Africa to Amsterdam, um, and then there are fans in Australia and New Zealand, too, but I couldn't tell how many. I don't think we could actually go there and play gigs. It is such a big place Australia, so it's probably too early, uh, but we have fans in Japan and some other places in Asia I guess, you know, around Singapore and that area where Western music can be found in their regular CD shops and, so, uh, I mean, it's really hard to tell. I'm just guessing that we have the main audience in Europe, because that's the place where we are selling the most records and probably because our record company is based in Germany.

I know we have fans in America and, uh, we have been playing East Coast and, uh, we've been playing West Coast, but not much really. We played, I think we played Los Angeles two times and we played San Francisco once and Seattle. That's about it, you know, so we're really looking forward to going back to the US and do more shows and, I mean, it would be great to, you know, just cross the US from East Coast to West Coast doing gigs all over the place. [he chuckles] I don't think it's realistic, you know. I mean, there must be fans of this type of music spread out all over the USA, but it's, uh, it seems to be quite difficult to play the states in the middle of the country.

JT: It seems like you've got fans all over the world. Is this a newer thing, because you've got such a great Internet presence? Would you say the Internet has had a play in some of this?

RS; Uh, I think it has, eh, I mean in the same sense that it probably, uh, impact for just about any band. I mean if you are a progressive, I mean for all the new progressive rock bands like Flower Kings, Porcupine Tree, and Spock's Beard, you know, those type of bands, the Internet has helped a lot. I'm sure, uh, and I think the same goes for, I mean, other bands, if you're in a heavy metal band, death metal band, or a rockabilly band or whatever, I think the Internet helps musicians to spread their music in a way that wasn't possible, say ten, fifteen years ago, because then you had to rely on the record company or you had to rely on yourself, uh, jumping into a small tour bus and just going out playing gigs all over the place and I think now, uh, the news, uh, the music of a new band can travel so fast, I mean, from one day to another really. The Flower Kings - Adam & Eve You make music and you can put it out on a web site and people can download your music, so for anyone who hasn't had the chance to actually record an album they can still, you know, create their own web sites and they can put out, you know, the music for download, uh, which is great I think in the sense that it helps people who create music to let other people hear their music. I mean, in that sense, it also helps bands like Flower Kings and most other progressive rock bands.

JT: I want to talk a little bit about this new album that you put out, Adam & Eve. It's an amazing album. I think the one strong point about it is that it grows on you with every single listen and it just keeps getting better. I'm wondering, what did you do differently on this album because I do hear some of the old familiar Flower Kings sound? There are even some passages that sound a lot like some of the classic songs and then you have some new elements as well. Can you tell me a little bit about how you put these songs together?

The Flower Kings - RetropolisRS: Um, I don't really know if it sounds that different from the other albums. I'd say there's, you know, similarities to earlier albums like Retropolis and Stardust and Flower Power perhaps, and also albums like Space Revolver, uh, even Unfold The Future. It seems like people think that Unfold The Future is something special, that was a very experimental album, and I don't see it that way. I see it as a double album where you could find a couple of, just a couple of, I think three songs that were improvised, you know, sort of more in a jazz or fusion tradition, you know. There's probably more in common with Miles Davis than, than King Crimson, you know, and that seems to be, um, you know, that seems to be an issue with some people. It's like, uh, Flower Kings being too experimental and they're noodling or they're playing, you know, music that I don't understand, [we laugh] things like that, but I never saw Unfold The Future that way. I saw it as, uh, as an album that had just, you know, a few things that were kind of odd and, and, I would say the core material for that album was strong songwriting as much as it is on this album, so when people say, this is, this is an album that is completely different from Unfold The Future, I say no, that's not true.

This is, uh, I guess if I put in two jams in this album than people would say this sounds just like Unfold The Future. [we laugh] You just put in a saxophone somewhere, you know, like twenty seconds a saxophone and people rate the album as jazz or they're, you know, it's, um, so I think Adam & Eve is, um, very much, um, the typical Flower Kings album, of course different songs, but, uh, there's not much really there that changed, you know, and there's no really, you know, radical changes, I think, to the music, and, uh, even if we do something, let's say as, um, something like, eh, "Vampire's View," that people seem to think is very, very different. I don't know that's really different from what we're doing, I mean, there's been elements that are, you know, quite similar to that song in, um, other albums. Daniel Gildenlow of Pain Of Salvation (circa 2002; © POS)Maybe now you have Daniel Gildenlow [of Pain Of Salvation] singing and some people, you know, they, uh, seem to be, um, you know, hanging on to, uh, whatever sound they felt that this is the typical Flower Kings sound and then there comes the new guy in and new voice and he is singing in a different way and it sort of takes time. It's like Mick Jagger was coming into The Beatles and starts singing all The Beatles songs. It takes time for people to accept this, you know, changes that are, you know, uh, I think with, um, a voice is also different than if someone else comes in and played the drums or the bass guitar, you know, the impact of Jonas Reingold taking over the bass was, you know, sort of, you know, quite an impact I would say, but it's, I think, uh, the voice, the human voice is even bigger change for people to, you know, to accept a different voice is, um, I guess, uh, I don't know.

It's like when Ray Wilson is taking over from Phil Collins and I mean even when Phil Collins was taking over from Peter Gabriel. Jonas Reingold at NEARfest 2004 (photo: Stephanie Sollow)It wasn't that big a difference really, but seems like people have a, you know, a hard time accepting that for at least a couple of albums, [he laughs] not till they get used to it, so, um, I think that's probably one of the things why people felt that this album sound different, because Danny is singing two songs lead and he's singing lead on one of the epics, too, so it's like, you know, his voice is well-represented on this album.

JT: Definitely.

The Flower Kings - RainmakerRS: Yeah, and, uh, I mean just looking at the songs, I don't think that they are that different really. I think most of the songs could have been taken from just about any other Flower Kings album. I mean if you take "Cosmic Circus" or, uh, "Adam & Eve" could have been from Space Revolver, as I see it or Rainmaker or even Flower Power, so, um, then again, I'm too close to the music, so I don't see it. I think the production has changed slightly. We're using a couple of other keyboard sounds, you know, maybe less of the Mellotron and, uh, the Moog sounds, that type of thing, because we want to move on and try new things all the time and, uh, and that's, uh, that's the way it works.

I mean for Tomas Bodin, he's, uh, he's not the type of musician that want to use the exactly the same sounds forever. It's like, uh, you have a, you have a sort of standard synth sound and, uh, Hammond organ sound and that's it and you play all the songs. It's like, you know, Jon Lord is playing with Deep Purple. It's just this distorted Hammond organ and that's it and then just keep on playing new songs with the same sound or whoever like Elton John or Bruce Hornsby playing the piano and that's it, you know, nothing new, and Tomas is always looking for new sounds and wants to try something different and we're sort of experimenting with different effects and, uh, trying to, because the keyboards is an important part in The Flower Kings for the orchestration and arrangements and, uh, yeah, you know, those type of things is probably what changes the sound slightly and I think some fans want to feel secure and make sure that we're playing the same songs and, you know, with the same riffs and don't change too much, and, um, so I think you're probably welcome by many fans and then some fans feel that, uh, that, and I think that's probably the reason why this album takes time and the first listen it could be, you know, I don't know, I think, uh, the fact that when people put in a record and they hear the record, if you can instantly, you can recognize this is something extremely complex, this is something that is, I mean, sort of, you know, very complex fusion, uh, techno, progressive rock thing, you know, avant-garde prog then you can say, okay, this is, this is, uh, complicated, this is complex, this is something that I probably like if I listen to more to it.

But if you put in a record like Adam & Eve, it sounds, I would say on the surface, it sounds like, um, a pretty, you know, straightforward album and then you sort of, you know, get the songs, you find the hooks in there, it could be that, you know, you misjudged the album for being, you know, a simple album and, um, I mean, I can remember albums that felt like that when I first got them and, uh, felt like the band sort of lost it or it was just, you know, I think actually The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway was one of those albums where I felt after I've heard Selling England By The Pound and I felt this is a great album and the more I listened to it, the more I liked it and then The Lamb Lies Down? came out and I was sort of, I don't know, I wouldn't really say disappointed, but I was sort of, you know, just blank. [he laughs] There was nothing really. It's like these are pop songs, um, I couldn't really say if I liked it or not. It's like just took me about ten, fifteen listens before I finally started liking a few of the songs and, uh, and then I, you know, the more I listened to it, the more I liked and, and then suddenly I liked all of the album and then I thought it was just brilliant and just got better and better with each listen, so it's, um...

The Flower Kings - Unfold The FutureI guess what I'm trying to say, [we laugh] I feel Adam & Eve is probably the type of album that you could be sort of, you know, you feel nothing when you listen to the album, because you think it's a simple album, I mean, straightforward and scaled down and it's not as complex as Unfold The Future or whatever is your favorite album and then, uh, and then this album I think sort of, you know, gradually bit by bit is sort of unfolding itself and you find the tiny little hooks, you know, yeah, all the good stuff that's in there.

JT: Absolutely.

RS: It takes time. It takes time.

JT: At the same time, while it is different in some ways, I also recognize some sequences that sound like earlier albums and I was wondering, is that something that was done on purpose or is that just the way it worked out? In some cases you hear a sequence and it sounds like something that you've heard before and then it totally takes a different turn.

RS: Uh, I think it's, uh, it's just something that happened. I would guess. I mean, I couldn't tell really. I think, uh, what happens is that after some time you sort of develop some sort of formula and you even, when it comes to modeling melodies or chord structures and stuff and it's, it's not like your, your fantasy or your imagination isn't like infinite. There's some sort of limitation, you know, you're, uh, you, um, you find ways to express yourself and you sort, you after awhile, you write music and you sort of, you know what you like and you know, you kind of stay with those elements and maybe you, I mean, hopefully not rewriting the same songs over again, but it's like, uh, you have sort of, uh, figured out what, what you like and you try to, you know, probably do that [he laughs] once more and just in a slightly different way and the chance that there's like a melody line or a phrase that, you know, comes back from another album that you'd done five years ago, is possibly? It's possible, you know, and, uh, you know, some people said that, you know, the main riff for "Adam & Eve" is the same riff that's in "I Am The Sun" and maybe that's true. I didn't see it that way, but [he laughs] probably it is, you know, um, well, I don't mind, but I think with the phrasing of the vocals and, uh, things like that.

Roine Stolt at NEARfest 2003 (photo: Stephanie Sollow) I think each and every writer have sort of favorite things they like to come back to. There's something, you know. It's like there is a song that you know, you're, like the big, big song that you, you sort of carry around and [he laughs] you sort of, sort of just, uh, taking out fragments of that song in, in your music, you know, all the time and, uh, I guess that's what you know, what you could call a distinct style of writing, you know. You can, you can recognize this is a Stevie Wonder song or this is a typical Elton John song or this is the way, I mean, by now you can hear, if you hear a Peter Gabriel song, you know, you'll, you recognize phrases, you know, the way he's singing and, uh, and, um, sometimes it's chord structures. It's something that is quite similar to, uh, an album that he did ten or fifteen years ago and, uh, I think that's the way it is, you know, it's, um, I cannot think of one single artist, you know, that you can instantly get new stuff from all the time, you know, there are, I mean, there are musicians that are, that are seeking all the time and they are, uh, they're trying to find new ways to express themselves and they force themselves into doing, you know, different things. I mean, Robert Fripp is one of them, he's, but by now even Robert Fripp you can, you can see this is something that he did before, you know, and there's some sort of a formula, even if he is trying to push himself and trying to push his, uh, musicians into doing new things all the time. You can still see this is typical Robert Fripp, so he can't get away from himself, you know, that's [he laughs], that's the burden he has to carry, you know, the rest of his life and he's, because it's Robert Fripp, you know, can't get away from that.

And I don't know with Miles Davis he was, uh, sort of, you know, trying to push, uh, you know, the, the limits for what you can do and, uh, the style he was playing and trying, trying new things all the time and, uh, I think it still sounds after awhile it still sounds like Miles Davis. You can't get away from Miles, you know, it's, uh, it's different, I mean, uh, looking back ten, fifteen, twenty years, uh, one of Miles, uh, I mean, pure jazz records, it sounds very different the stuff that he did in the seventies when he was totally into funk and the electric stuff, you know, using different sounds and then, and, uh, not really working with chord changes and melody, just, uh, working with the groove and improvising, so that's different, but after awhile it's got, you know, that, that also you could, you could, you know, sort of hear this is, this is Miles, you know, and you recognize it's the same phrases coming back in the same way. Same ideas coming back.

So, I think that, uh, uh, if you hear something in this album, uh, this Adam & Eve album, that is similar to something you heard on Retropolis or The Flower Kings - Flower PowerFlower Power that's, uh, that, you know, that's completely, uh, you know, a natural thing. It's, um, it's something that you, you can't get away from, you know. It's the same people writing the songs. The same people playing, you know. If I pick up the guitar and play, I'd probably come back to the same phrase every now and then and, uh, it would be, uh, I would say, very, very frustrating if you always try to do something that's completely new and I mean, honestly, I can't find one musician that actually come up with new things all the time. We all come back to the same things, you know. We may be more or less, uh, you know, um, I think of course there are musicians that try more, then there are people who don't care, I mean, people like Status Quo. They just keep hammering out, you know, boogie rock, you know, which is fine if you like that and then there are people that try to push, to, you know, new levels of, of, expressing, uh, in terms of, of playing their instruments or composing and, uh, I guess Flower Kings are somewhere in between. We're not, you know, just, uh, trying to do new music all the time. We're, we like the tradition and I mean, we like the tradition of progressive music and the tradition of good pop music. The tradition that was started by The Beatles in the beginning and, uh, I guess that's what we try to do.

JT: In my opinion, it works very well for the music, because there are some passages that do seem familiar and it's like, oh wow, you know, like I recognize that and then it all of a sudden takes a different direction and it's like, oh wow, that's really cool how the music took that direction. Just to talk about Adam & Eve a little futher, I just want to talk about the songwriting to some of the songs specifically. "Love Supreme" is a phenomenal song and it sounds like it really had a lot of work put into it. What is "Love Supreme" about and what did you do to put that complex song together?

RS: Um, I can't remember actually writing that. That's, that's actually one of the songs that I, I think most of the songs were written on the guitar this time and I, and I tried that approach, because I've been writing mostly on the keyboards, uh, lately. I would say most of The Flower Kings has been written on the keyboard. You have a good overview of, of the chords and the bass notes and the melodies and everything and, uh, and this time I wanted to get away from that, so I, I just, you know, kept writing with just my acoustic guitar and my pocket memory to try, uh, you know, a different thing to come up with different music hope [he laughs], hopefully. I don't know if I did. Anyway, but for "Love Supreme" I, I remember having this idea. I think the initial idea was to see if I could start with just one note, ummm, and, uhhh, I was thinking how about just starting with one single note from a, you know, from strings or from an organ or something. One, just one note and then having some sort of a melody going over that, so there would be no drums, no bass, no chords, no nothing, just one note and then gradually letting it grow into two notes, three notes, and a chord, and then the bass comes in and everything. So that was the initial idea. Now it didn't turn out exactly that way, but I was, you know, toying around and I, I, uh, for that specific song I think I was [he inhales] playing the piano and, uh, um, this starting sequence, uh, that is, um, you know, time, and that was also the idea to have something that isn't in 4/4 and, uh, I had the idea of, uh, of the vocal phrasing also that was important, uh, it's kind of weird, but after you heard it like ten, fifteen times it's, uh, sort of feels natural and I think the, I mean, the only reason we're, I mean in the Western world we're so used to having music that's in 4/4, you know, because that's the core that's in, you know, uh, that's what you hear and what you've heard since you were a child, you know, if it's jazz music or, or, [he inhales], you know, just mainstream music. It's usually in 4/4. and now this, this vocal phrasing for "Love Supreme" that you can hear for the first four, five minutes I think, it's, um, it's in, um, you know, an odd time and that, um, that was just, I don't know, it was just interesting to see what I could do with that phrasing and I think it builds on that one and, uh, um, and once you start working with, uh, vocal harmonies, it's even more interesting, um, so that's, that's what I, I tried to build the song around, you know.

And as usual when you start with a small thing like that and then go on, uh, I mean, as long as you can find something new or in a sort of development to what you have and, I mean, normally it's like you spend an hour or two maybe to get the basics down and, uh, maybe write some scrap vocal, uh, or lyrics and, uh, [he inhales], and, um, then maybe leave it until the next day and then you listen and see if the idea was good and if you like the idea maybe you'll, I mean, in this case I get lots of ideas popping up and then for possible ways to develop this, this idea into more of a complete song and then as long as the ideas are popping up, it's just, you know, I just go on and I see no need for ending the song if there are ideas that are interesting, so that's what, you know, that's what normally happens. I just keep on writing, you know, and, uh, putting all those ideas and, and, trying to find a good sequence for all that and if there's like tempo changes, I go for the tempo changes or key changes and try them out and that's, [he inhales] that's, you know, easy to do these days with a, a computer and software that we use and, uh, um, it's a very creative process and very, you know, interesting and sort of uplifting to do, because you're, you're modeling this piece of music and, and, uh, there's, there's really no limitations to what you can do and, um, yeah, the idea for the lyrics for this song and this, this was probably something that, that came just about the same time I started writing the, the vocal melody, uh, the idea of the lyrics is, uh, is by, I would say by learning more about, uh, the connections between just about anything, um, between people and, uh, the nature, animals of the universe, uh, the way we live here and, uh, feed off whatever is growing on the planet and, uh, and, uh, I mean the, the complete , uh, cycle of life and, uh, the complexity, the, the, I would say the genius [he laughs] of what is the cycle of life, um, then, then you're sort of entering a state where you can, you can gradually start seeing the, what I call the, the "Love Supreme" and, uh, it's the, it's, uh, as I see it, it's the love that you can feel for the creation and, and, that's, that's, that's the sort of a love that's, that's, uh, beyond, uh, even, even beyond I would say, I mean, uh, the love for another person, your wife or your girlfriend, uh, and even your kids. That's one thing and that's great, that's fantastic, but then there's something that's even bigger and that's, that's what, uh, the lyrics, uh, are dealing with in this song, so that's, that's the love supreme.

JT: That's pretty cool.

Roine Stolt at NEARfest 2003 (photo: Stephanie Sollow)RS: Yeah, yes it is. It's, um, It's um, I don't know, feels, feels good. This is a great piece of music and, uh, the music and the lyrics go so well together I think and it's sort of uplifting and, uh, it feels also like something that's going to be really fun to play live, you know. It's like one of those songs and, I mean, we had a few of those, you know, "Garden Of Dreams" was one. It was sort of, uh, a great song to record, uh, on Flower Power and, uh, once we started playing the song live it was sort of, after some time, it was sort of growing and was even more fun and the song was, uh, sort of developed into another level and, uh, I think, uh, even songs like, uh, "The Truth Will Set You Free," is another one of those and "Love Supreme" seems to me [he laughs] right now, because I was, you know, the other day was just looking, looking at the song and, and trying to figure out what guitar parts I'm going to play and what Hasse is going to play and Daniel, et cetera, et cetera, and I was just playing through the song, you know, very, you know, rough sort of rough take and [he inhales], uh, it felt like this is going to be a great song to play live and it's, this song that, it's one of those songs that sort of take, take on a life on its own, you know, it just grows and, uh, I'm quite confident it's going to be one of those songs that the audience will really like, you know. It's a, yeah, it's a good feeling.

JT: Just to cover some of the other songs, "Vampire's View" is quite an innovative song. It's very creative. It's like a self-contained story. What inspired that song when you put that together? It's, in my opinion, it actually is quite different from anything else you have done.

RS: It is, it is, uh, yeah, it's different. It is, uh, really not that different, uh, I think, but if I remember right, uh, that was just, um, it started out of the, the tiny, tiny, little guitar riff that you can hear in the beginning. That was it and I, I don't know. That's, that's nothing really. It's not really something interesting, but there was something there. [he laughs] For some reason I just started working on it and I think, I think by the time I, I started writing the lyrics then sort of the lyrics, uh, sort of gave view to the song, to the music, and vice versa, so I, I think the music couldn't do without the lyrics I think and probably the lyrics couldn't do without the music, uh, I... [he pauses]

Daniel Gildenlöw at NEARfest 2003 (Photo: Stephanie Sollow)I don't know really why I started writing. It was just some sort of a, sort of a mood I was in, you know, uh, it just came out of nowhere. I don't know really, but once I started writing the lyrics I felt this is, this is interesting, you know and I think if I had, you know, I guess, if I had started writing one of those typical Flower Kings sort of, you know, little, uh, cosmic [he laughs] lyrics things, uh, then I don't think, uh, I'd, you know, kept on working on that song. I'd probably just put it aside, because the music in itself isn't really that interesting. It sort of gets interesting, because of the lyrics and the way, and the way that we can build around the way it's sung, you know, and uh, when Daniel started singing, you know, he took it even further, you know, I had my demo and I was trying to do something similar to what he did, uh, but, but then when I asked Daniel "can you sing this song?" and then he liked the idea of singing this song and then we started singing then, then that in, in, turn gave us new ideas about the arrangement and, uh, uh, so you come up with all those, um, weird notes and the string arrangement, so it should be kind of haunting and, uh, sort of gives some sort of unpromising feel [he chuckles] to it.

JT: Yeah, its got a real sinister sound to it and it sounds like when Daniel is singing that he is really tormented. He sounds like a vampire.

RS: I would say it's sinister, but it's also for me it's sort of a sad song really. It's, uh, it's, um, I don't know how to express myself really. It's, uh, yeah, tormented is probably the right word. It's, uh, it's someone, I mean, it's, it's about this vampire. He really don't want to be there, you know, he's sort of trapped in this sort of a curse, you know, being who he is, and, uh, when I was writing this song I had this idea. This is something that happens usually when I'm writing songs. I write about one thing, you know, and then I, I come up with, uh, usually some sort of double-meaning, and then this song is if you just read the lyrics it's, uh, okay, this is about this vampire and he's, uh, yeah, he's, uh, you know, uh, his feelings about finding out who he is and, and what he brings, you know, to, to the rest of the world, you know, just sadness and sorrow and death, but, uh, it's also a song as I see it about I would say, uh, could be a person, could be a company, could be a country, someone who exploits others and, uh, in the same way brings sorrow and death and, uh, and, uh, sadness to, you know, uh, whoever is the victim, you know, and that's sort of a two parallel, uh, realities, you know. This is the simple reality. This is the sort of the, more like the, the story, the monster or the ghost, you know. It's, um, uh, and the other one is more like based in the reality, but, uh, I guess it was more interesting for me to write it, I mean, from the view of a vampire and maybe [he laughs] because I never done, uh, a song like that before, you know, so it's, um, it's another thing, you know, you try to do something different.. I mean, I, I now, I, I realize there are typical Roine Stolt songs and typical Roine Stolt lyrics and, and what people expect me to write and probably what I expect myself to write, too, uh, but if I can come up with something that is slightly different than it's, um, it's, it's, I think it's interesting and I try to go down that road too and in this case it was, uh, you know, very easy to go down that road and, and then most of the lyrics came very easy and that's, that's usually how I work these days. It's, uh, if something, if there's something, seems to be some sort of a resistance, you know, if I try, really try hard to do something then normally it doesn't come out that good. So, I think for most of this album. I, I didn't work that much really on the lyrics, but still I think it's probably the best I've done so far and probably it's because it came quite natural, you know, and, uh, I guess that probably it's the same thing with music. If you try really hard it normally comes out something, uhhh, like something that's, um, clever, maybe, but, uh, could have some sort of an artifical ring to it and, I, I mean, I don't want that. I want the music to flow naturally and, uh, even if it's complicated, I thnk,. I wouldn't say I hate, but I, I have a hard time listening to bands where you can actually hear how they sit down and write that it's complicated just for the sake of being complicated, you know.

JT: Right.

RS: I think that normally, you know, it's, um, quite disturbing for me to listen, but then again, you have other bands like, like, uh, Planet X who write things like the Moonbabies album I think, uh, lots of stuff. I think it all comes very natural for those guys, you know. They've been listening to this type of music and they, they love this type of fusion, you know, they probably loved UK and bands like that, you know, fusion bands, and so it comes very natural, so when they write a song like, even if it's very complicated, it sounds very natural and it, I think it's very enjoyable to listen to and then I can hear other bands that really try to do something, you know, complicated, and it just annoys me, because it's, I can hear how hard they try [he laughs] and it takes away from some of the enjoyment I think and I'd rather have, have anyone that, you know, isn't that familiar with whatever they are trying to write, to just go on writing something that is, comes very natural, you know, so I think that's, um, I mean, I can look back now and see maybe in the, maybe not in The Flower Kings, but it bands I've been in before and, I mean, even going back to Kaipa in the old days. In the seventies I was, probably to write something, you know, that was complex and just for the sake of, you know, to being hip at that time, [he laughs] uh, I think, uh, yeah, a lot of musicians, you know, would, would, um, say the same if you talked about the old days in the seventies and, you know, writing progressive music.

JT: To continue on in the album, "Starlight Man" does seem like a classic Flower Kings ballad. Is that kind of what the goal was with that particular song just to add balance to the album? Also, I want to say that your singing in that song is just really good. I think it is a great song to add onto the album.

RS: Um, well, I, I, what happened was that, uh, I as I said, I, I was writing, you know, just sitting down with that acoustic guitar and that pocket memory and I, I, you know, just recorded into the pocket memory lots of, lots of music and I just recently, a couple days ago I was looking through this because I, I'm at the moment planning for a [he inhales] a sort of a solo album, hopefully, for at least next year and I was looking through the songs and I, I, I was shocked, because I found out that it was 6.8 hours.

JT: Oh, wow!

RS: It says, um, so it's lots of music and that's just I would say the basic ideas for the songs and, uh, I'm not saying that each and every one of those ideas are great ideas, but there was certainly lots of stuff in there, uh, that is, um, I mean, great ideas that could be developed into good songs. [he inhales] There was demos or there was something I could send down to, to, um, the other guys to listen to and, uh, and, uh, I think I came with, uh, two CD's of music, probably more than two hours of music that I toasted down to CD's and sent to the other guys and from that then we listened to music and we just, you know, tried to pick out the songs that we felt this is something that we can work with. This is something that, that everyone can contribute with something, you know, we can come up with ideas and, [he inhales] um, that's, that's the way it happened and, um, uh, I don't think that we actually was looking for a couple of longer songs and a couple of shorter songs. This is just the way it happened. It was just, you know, "Starlight Man" and "Cosmic Circus" were just two of the songs that we felt that this is something that we need to do and I think, uh, "Cosmic Circus" was something that Tomas Bodin said we must do this one. This is a good song and I said, yeah, I like that too and, and, uh, "Starlight Man," I think [he laughs] I was probably the only one that wanted to do [it], but after a couple of listens they were sort of yeah, yeah, this, this is good and I even remember "Vampire's View" I had, I had to go over that one a couple of times and, uh, and say, okay listen carefully, because I think this, this is something that is interesting and they said, oh well, it's, uh, uh, don't you think the drums should come in after a couple of bars, you know. It seems like the song don't start really, uh, until say after four minutes and I said that's exactly the point. [I laugh] That's, that's exactly what I'm looking for. I'm, I'm looking for, because, okay, listen to the lyrics, uh, that's, that's the whole point, you know. If you start, you know, banging the drums after a couple of bars and then you sort of kill the song, you know. It should be spooky, should be like haunting. It should be like your holding back and then after, after Daniel finished the vocals, it sort of, you know, going into this instrumental section and then it's, uh, it's, um, you know, it's still like, um, something that is, um, you know, a little bit dissonant and, uh, and, uh, haunting in a way with this piano, you know, hammering on and, and I think that's what the song is, sort of building up to that climax, you know, and, uh, that's the whole point of doing that, so, and that's, that was another, another one of those songs that I sort of begged them to listen [I laugh] two more times, you know, "you're going to see this is a great song" and I, then I realized, we started laying down the drums for the songs and they, they had to hear it a couple more times.

It's, it's like, um, there were sort of spontaneous comments. "Oh, I think this is going to be great. Oh, this is a great song," [we laugh] so it was like for each and every listen, each and every time we, you know, uh, because Zoltan Csörsz at NEARFest 2003 (photo: Stephanie Sollow)Zoltan [Csörsz] needed to hear the song more times, you know, and to go back and maybe redo some sections, you know, and for each and every time we played this song, it's like, uh, each and every one of us, you know, being more and more positive and saying oh, this is going to be great, this is going to be something different, you know, and blah blah blah, [he laughs] so it's, um, so I think the way we, we decided what songs that should be on the album is, um, uh, you know, sometimes I feel it's just, uh, coincidence, you know, another day, we would have picked other songs, you know or maybe I, I would have been more, you know, I've, um, if I pushed harder for any other songs maybe they'd say okay, let's try that one, you know, or someone else had come up with another song. Jonas said, okay, I have one song here, let's listen to this, you know, I think this is, this is going to be a good one, you know, and, um, I don't think we had, because, um, I mean, day one when we start working on an album, it's, it's like we, we never have a very clear or specific idea of what the album should be like, you know. I think no one knows really. What we know is we have, you know, bunch of songs, you know, and songs we have let's see couple of hours music that should be, you know, scaled down to some sixty five, seventy minutes and that's it and we just trust that we, whatever we come up with it's gonna be, you know, good, good music and we, uh, if it isn't excellent and we sort of turn it into excellent by the way the guys are playing [he laughs] or I don't know, it's like we rewrite the lyrics or it's just like, uh, I don't know, I'm, I never doubt that we, when we start working with an album that we are going to come up with something that sounds good in the end.

That's never been, I mean, in Flower Kings, that's never been like the situation where we are looking for songs, uh, I know that there may be people who think otherwise, you know, because they're, I mean, I certainly know that some people complain about we cannot write real songs, but then again, it's, I don't know, what is, what is real songs. I mean, real songs is one thing for one person, you know, and, uh, uh, what is, what is a real song? Is it, um, is it like a Paul McCartney ballad or is it, uh, like a chicory song? What is it really? It's, uh, and once you, you, I mean, you accept it, it's once you hear like, uh, uh, Mahavishnu Orchestra song some twenty five years later, it seems to be like a real song, you know, or if you hear "Close To The Edge" after, after thirty years, it really sounds like a real song. It sounds like one of those big fantastic epics of all time, you know, but I mean, I can remember the first time I heard it and I, I really wasn't that thrilled. I liked the bass sound, you know, that's, and I, there was a couple of vocal hooks, you know, but, but I mean, after so much time had passed it seems like now it seems like fantastic music, you know and I think the same goes with lots and lots of rock music, you know, and, um, then whether you consider it to be real songs is, um, I think probably, uh, I'm just guessing now, but I think probably what happens is that Flower Kings is one of those bands that try different things. We don't just, um, we don't just, um, uh, pick influences from pop music. We pick influences from classical music and electronics and, uh, different types of folk music from around the world [he inhales] and when you do it's sort of we are making progressive rock and we are making, uh, symphonic rock music, but we do it in a different way and, and when we do it sometimes sounds a little bit different or odd and we're not doing it the same way everyone else does and I think that's exactly [he laughs] why Flower Kings is interesting, you know, uh, but for some people it's probably they, they listen to music and they don't understand it and they say, oh those guys they cannot write real songs, you know, and I, I, I, [brief pause] I, I really don't feel bad about that. It's more like I feel sad for, for the people who say things like that, because they're sort of, you know, closing the door for new influences, you know.

There's only so much you can discover in music and if you're, you have an open mind and, uh, you're willing to listen to music in new ways and, uh, and, uh, open up your mind for new influences and, um, if that means that Flower Kings is going to be one of those bands that are considered to have like, uh, you know, a handful of good songs and the rest is crap or filler [I laugh] or whatever people call it, it's like, okay, so be it, but, uh, I mean, uh, I would say looking back, say fifty years from now looking back at it, I would say probably Flower Kings is one of those bands who are going to be remembered as one of the bands that actually were trying to, you know, uh, take one step further into whatever direction, you know, and trying to make music that is, you know, familiar, but yet not familiar, and, uh, and I guess that's the price we pay, you know. [he chuckles] That's how I see it, so it's, uh, well, sort of, um, kind of amusing, but it's, uh, yeah, that's the way I see it.

JT: On the album, you've got "Love Supreme," which is a great solid epic, you've got "Vamipire's View," which is almost like a Broadway musical like a Phantom Of The Opera type of song, you've got "Starlight Man," which is a great Flower King's ballad, and then to round things out towards the end of the album, you've got "Driver's Seat," which has a real psychedelic feel to it. Can you talk about that a little bit? How that one came together? That one, you have so much diversity in the album, and then you come up with something that is even different again.

RS: Uh, that, I think that was the, the last song I wrote for the album. I think actually I wrote this song when we had recorded most of the other songs and we were doing one session, uh, doing drums and, um, I was, I was going to come back, uh, a couple of weeks later and I think we actually did the background for The Tangent in between and then I was supposed to come back and doing, um, uh, recording three more songs, one of them being "Driver's Seat" and the other one, uh, "Blade Of Cain," I think, one more, I don't remember right now. [he inhales]

Anyway, um, I think it was "Starlight Man" actually, uh, anyway, uh, "Driver's Seat" was the last song I wrote and I, I think I wrote it because I was looking at what do we have now, and, um, and I just felt that okay we need something like this and, uh, I had just a few basic themes that, you know, were lying around from, from the guitar sessions [he laughs] and, um, I don't know, I just started developing them and, uh, and, um, I remember there was a vocal section in the middle that I rewrote and I think most of the lyrics are, are still there, are the same, but I, I rewrote the section and tried to do something that we hadn't done really before and, and, uh, yeah, I don't, I mean, it's pretty much the same, I think, as with "Love Supreme," it's I, you know, start writing, you have a theme and then you go on, uh, and if you find it interesting, you just go on and, you know, develop it as long as you can as far as you can and, um, you know, uh, if you have ideas, you just go on writing. If you run out of ideas then you, you just close the book and say, okay, this is it, do we have a song, yes or no, [he laughs] and, um, so, um, yeah, "Driver's Seat" was, you know, one of those songs that was sort of tailor-made for the album in the same way and I remember doing exactly the same thing for, for Retropolis. That song "Retropolis" was the last song I wrote, uh, I was just looking at the album, what do we have now and, and what, what do we need, what could be nice, you know to round out the album and, [he inhales] and, uh, I felt, this is what I felt could be nice to have, you know, to round out the Adam & Eve album and, uh, um, it just came very natural and just went back and recorded drums for that one and, [he pauses], and, yeah, that's it, not much more I can say about that song really.

JT: I just want to ask one last Flower King's related question before I change gears.

RS: Okay.

JT: How did you actually meet all your bandmates and put together this band, because I consider The Flower Kings to be like a supergroup?

RS: Yeah.

JT: It's odd how you have all this talent in there. How did you find all these people?

RS: Um, yeah, that's a good question I think, because I'm living in Uppsala and Uppsala isn't exactly Los Angeles, [I laugh] London, or New York. It's, uh, uh, well, um, um, I mean, when, when we started out, I mean, going back almost ten years now, I think, in fact, it was, let's see, two days ago, it was ten years since we played the first gig. [That'd be August 20 - ed.]

JT: Wow!

Roine Stolt - The Flower KingRS: That very first gig I played with Tomas Bodin and Jaime Salazar and my brother Michael Stolt, so we're just a quartet playing at that time and we were playing a couple of songs from, from that album The Flower King and, uh, what else, I think we played one Gentle Giant tune and, uh, we may have played one old Kaipa tune, I think. So, it was not a long set. We played maybe for an hour, something like that and, I mean, Tomas Bodin I knew from before. We met first in '85, I think, and we were playing in different bands, you know, funk, pop, rock, whatever, [he inhales] um, Michael was in that band in the beginning too, um, uh, and he even was in Fantasia, one band that I had, very brief session I had, um, in '79 I think, after leaving Kaipa, and, [he inhales] um, he was just a teenager at the time and he, he just knew all my songs, so I ask him to join my band then, and then, we sort of, we were going separate ways on and off and sometimes playing together in, in blues or boogie bands, or [he laughs], and then when I formed The Flower Kings, it was very natural, because we were, you know, talking about music, and I said, um, I'm trying to put together this band together, you know, you know, playing songs from the album and, uh, and I asked him, how to you feel about, you know, joining this band, I, I, there are no promises about tours and anything. It's just, we are just trying to play the music live to see if it works and see if the audience likes it, and he said sure, that would be great, because it's, uh, it's always fun to play that type of music.

So he was joining and I had Tomas Bodin joining on keyboards and, uh, Jaime Salazar I, I had at the time been playing with in a sort of, I don't know, it's, um, uh, sort of a, uh, more harder version of a, a Janis Joplin style [he chuckles] band with a female singer here in Sweden, actually quite good and he, he was the stand-in drummer for, for our regular drummer at a couple of shows and then he sort of joined that band and, uh, we became friends and I, I asked him to play on the, the first album, The Flower King album on a couple of songs, so, uh, he's a great drummer, so I, I asked him to join the band so then we were myself, Michael, Jaime, and Tomas and we were going on like that for a couple of gigs and then joined Hasse Bruniusson at NEARfest 2003 (photo: Stephanie Sollow)Hasse Bruniusson on, on percussion and then we were going on for about two years I think with that line-up and then by the time we were supposed to play ProgFest in Los Angeles in '97 we asked Hasse Fröberg to join on vocals, because he's been singing on a couple of songs on the albums and he became, um, a full-time member of the band.

Uh, he was playing and from the beginning he said "oh no, I don't think I can play the guitar. I can sing, [I laugh] but I'm not really good guitar player" and I said, "oh I don't, I think you are wrong." Hasse said, "but I can't play your stuff, you know," and I said, "don't worry about that, you know, I know you can play lots of my stuff, you know, it's, eh, it's, uh, it's just, um, that I think your in sort of?" um, I think he is looking at himself as a no good guitar player and, uh, I think he is way better than he thinks is. [he laughs] Hasse Fröberg at NEARFest 2003 (photo: Stephanie Sollow)He's that type of guy, and very, very humble.

Anyway, so he joined, um, on vocals and playing mostly the rhythm guitar and helping the band ever since then and, uh, and then by the time Michael couldn't make it anymore, because of his daytime job, uh, in '99 I think it was, we were going to Japan and he said okay I can the Japan tour, but after that, I, I, I, I think we cannot make it because of my job and then I had to ask Jonas and Jonas was actually someone who Jaime knew at the time, living in the same town, and, and, uh, he said I know this guy and he's playing, uh, jazz and he's, you know, quite a good player, you know, we should try him, so he was, he was coming here to Uppsala for an audition and, uh, I think he probably spent like ten minutes playing and showing his chops and, uh, we're playing a couple of songs, "In The Eyes Of The World," I think, and maybe one more, and, uh, uh, and, um, and, uh, you know, after ten minutes and I think Tomas and myself, we're looking at each other and, and, we sort of said nothing, but it was sort of a silent agreement that this is the guy. I don't think we need to try anybody else and, um, Jonas was a member of the band, uh, from that day in '99, and uh, and then, uh, when Jaime left, uh, well, actually we were deciding that it was best if we so parted, because he, he felt, you know, that this isn't really the type of music he wanted to play and he was sort of, you know, feeling the pressure to come up with new interesting things all the time and he was, I don't know, he sort of had lost the feeling for playing this music and, uh, we sort of, um, you know, uninterested in developing his playing style and uninterested in rehearsing and, uh, you know, he was sort of just in it for the bread and, uh, didn't feel right, so I just, I just, you know, I called him up and said frankly "Jaime, do you think this is the right thing for you, you know, for the band," and we talked for about an hour and we sort of agreed that, um, it was best if he left the band, you know, and then we asked Zoltan to join and, uh, Zoltan was also a, um, a drummer that Jonas had been playing with, so it is sort of we are getting one musician in and the one who is joining is sort of dragging in another person, you know, and, um, so Zoltan's in the band from, could have been 2001, I think.

And, uh, yeah, that's sort of the, the main, main band, the, the core of the band, and, and then we've been playing lots of gigs and, um, and then, um, I thought by the time we were recording Unfold The Future, I had the idea of, of, you know, bringing in just a couple of people, you know, this, this horn player, and then, and I was thinking, you know, bringing in someone else who was singing, because we're doing a double album, there was lots of songs and it could be nice to have another voice, you know, for one or two songs, and, uh, I was thinking of Daniel Gildenlow, uh, you know, because he have a good voice and, uh, and it could be interesting to, to hear his voice in the context of The Flower Kings music, so Daniel, uh, um, did Unfold The Future in the studio that album and then we asked him to, to, you know, join the band on stage singing and he's a guitar player, too, and he plays percussion and keyboards, so it's, you know, a good person to have on stage, because there is so much he can do, you know, lots of stuff he can add to the music and, uhhhhh, he's sort of, you know, gradually, uh, going into being sort of a full-time member of the band, too. It comes very natural.

It's, it's, um, I think there was maybe at one point, someone was asking on the bus, "so is Daniel a member of the band now?" [he laughs] and I said, "well, I guess he is." There wasn't much more talk about it, you know, it's, uh, just one of those things. It's, um, it comes naturally, because he feels that he, he, you know, likes playing with the band and we feel like we like having him in the band and there is not much more talk about, you know, so that's, uh, and, uh, as you know he comes from Pain of Salvation and, uh, they're sort of a fellow, you know, label, or I would say label mates at InsideOut and they come from a town not too far away from where I live, [he inhales] uh, and we've been playing couple festivals together, so we've heard them and we met and I also brought in Daniel to the Transatlantic tour in Europe in 2001 and, uh, so we've been playing on stage before together, you know, and, uh, we've been touring together and I knew he was a, you know, good guy and funny guy and everything. You can sort of have a conversation about, you know, just about anything,, you know, and I think that's important too. I mean, I hate being in band where people only talk about music, you know, or they, they don't talk at all. They just go on stage and play together and they, and they go to their separate hotel rooms and they go read a book and say nothing till they get on stage [he laughs] the next day. That's, that's not, you know, the ideal situation I think, and I think in that sense I think The Flower Kings is just a wonderful band, because all the people in the band are great people, you know, lovely to be around most of the time I would say. [we laugh] There's maybe one or two days on a tour where, you know, people are tired and it's, it's just a natural thing. It's, uh, it's no big deal really, but it's, I mean, uh, most of the time it's, uh, people are, you know, there's lots of humor in the band and people are funny, you know, and they can talk about just about anything and we have fun when we are on the road. I mean, we have fun without, uh, alcohol or drugs. [he laughs] That's, that's, uh, that's not, I mean, one of the most usual, um, situations I would say, because when people go on the road, it's like they, they sort of, I don't know why, why rock bands need all that, you know, alcohol, the booze and the, and the drugs, high.

JT: Sure.

RS: It's, um, I mean it's okay in, if it's sort of controlled by, but, uh, I mean, I'd hate being in a band where everyone is, you know, getting drunk before getting on stage and that, that type of thing. You never know from one day to another whether they'll show up or they, [he laughs] so it's, I mean, in that sense, I think Flower Kings is just a wonderful band being in. It's, uh, it's very down-to-earh and, and, uh, you know, people are, you know, great about just about anything, uh, so I think that, that really helps, you know, to create a good, good feeling when we go on stage.

Part Two

Roine Stolt - The Flower King (1994/2001/2004)
Back In The World Of Adventures (1995)
Retropolis (1996)
Stardust We Are (1997/2000)
Scanning The Greenhouse (comp) (1998)
Edition Limit?e Quebec (1998) (only 700 copies!)
Flower Power (1999)
TFK fanclub disc (2000) (free CD exclusive to fanclub members only)
Alive On Planet Earth (2000)
Space Revolver (2000)
Space Revolver Special Edition (2CD set) (2000)
The Rainmaker (2001)
The Rainmaker - Special Edition (2001)
Unfold The Future (2002)
Live In New York: Official Bootleg (2002)
Fan Club CD 2002 (2002)
Fan Club CD 2004 (2004)
Adam & Eve (2004)
BetchaWannaDanceStoopid (2004)
Harvest (fan club CD) (2005)
Paradox Hotel (2006)
The Road Back Home (2007)
The Sum Of No Evil (2007)
The Sum Of No Evil (Special Edition) (2007)
More Is Never Enough (2011)
Kaleidoscope (2014)
KaLIVEoscope (CD +DVD) (2014)

Meet The Flower Kings - Live Recording (DVD) (2003)
Instant Delivery (DVD) (2006)
Instant Delivery - Limited Edition (2CD/2DVD) (2006)
KaLIVEoscope (DVD/BR) (2014)

Added: September 11th 2004
Interviewer: Joshua "Prawg Dawg" Turner

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Language: english

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