Roine Stolt is one of the most important musicians to the rebirth of Progressive Rock in the 90’s. With his The Flower Kings he helps to give to the genre a new and fresh sound, keeping the 70’s style and adding new tricks on the mix.
I had the opportunity to chat with the swedish musician by e-mail and the result you can read below in one more exclusive interview on Progshine.
Progshine – I’ve been aware of Agents Of Mercy since the beginning, I’ve seen the release of The Fading Ghosts Of Twilight (2009) and Dramarama (2010), but I confess that I was afraid to be let down, cause I really like The Flower Kings and couldn’t understand why a new band. When The Black Forest (2011) was released, I had the chance to get a promo copy and review it on Progshine (read it in portuguese HERE) , and I was amazed! Now I know all of the 3 albums and I’m convinced that the new one is the best one. Did you have many ‘problems’ like this? With people not interested in a new band and wanting The Flower Kings back again?
Roine Stolt – Yes definitely – it seems to be inherent in the way we consume music and the way we idolize musicians and bands. I realize it will be very hard to understand why I start a new band. So in the big picture it would be correct to say that Agents Of Mercy will not get a fair chance, since many people will not even listen, and if they do they want it to sound exactly like TFK and preferably with me singing. Almost as if Agents Of Mercy is a threat. To me it is just a natural evolution of my writing and playing and I can se it co-exist with both The Flower Kings and Transatlantic.
Progshine – The Black Forest (2011) is a different album if you take a closer look, it seems a little darker than the others. Do you see it like that as well?
Roine – Yes that’s right – I’m still the same person, but for me it was interesting to write music and words with a slightly harder edge and darker content.
After more than 10 Flower Kings album, with mostly bright happy music I felt the need to evolve something different. The Black Forest (2011) is supposed to tell stories and is a very cinematic album, all the way down the the cover image. (See the cover HERE)
Progshine – And talking about that, when did you make the decision to put Flower Kings on hold and start from scratch and what made you get back to ‘Flower Power’ again?
Roine – Very much for the same reasons, to not get stuck with the same music, musicians and style for too many albums. It was never my intention to stop TFK for good and now it simply came to a point in time when it felt fresh and inspiring to write TFK music and take the band on tour again. This was never a money driven thing so the inspiration is most important.
Progshine – Is there any possibility of a new Agents Of Mercy album in the future?
Roine – Yes, definitely – I can see us do a couple of more albums – there is so much talent and creative force in the band so I wanna see how far we can go. We’ve just started and The Black Forest (2011) is a very good album and show that we can rock a bit too.
Progshine – Back to Flower Kings. I interviewed Jonas Reingold a few months ago (bass player of the band, read the interview in portuguese HERE), and he told me that Flower Kings was everything in his life, because of the band he played in several places, with several other bands, formed his own group, started his own label, etc.And for you? Coming from the Progressive scene in 70’s with Kaipa, going through a hard period in the 80’s and triumph in the 90’s. What does Flower Kings mean to you on a personal level?
Roine – I guess pretty much what Jonas just told you – but from my end a bit different as I started the band and have been the driving force of TFK. For me it has been my “daytime job” for about 12 hours a day- 7 days a week for more than 15 years. It pushed me from being local musician to being international “prog rock star” and has given me the chance to play with some fabulous musicians and taken me around the world many,many times. But it has all been hard work creating a legacy.
Progshine – And talking about that, please, tell us a little bit about the new album that will be released in June, Banks Of Eden (2012), when you started the writting process, when rehearsals started and what fans can expect. The new drummer, Felix, has he changed the band’s sound in any way?
Roine – We started writing end of last year – nov & dec – I probably had some sketches lying around already but I put in a couple of weeks of hard work and we started the recording in Varispeed studios on Jan 23rd 2012. We didn’t rehearse the material before that as we wanted to keep it fresh and spontaneous. This album is probably quite easy to detect it’s Flowerkings but we tried a few new things. It’s a delicate balance – but in the end it’s fundamentally about if the fans like the songs or not. I imagine Felix has put a bit of hard hitting energy into this band and we rock a little mere this time.
Progshine – Talking about projects, you played in a lot of them, I would like to know your thoughts about Transatlantic. Do you have any opinion on how it became a big name? And I know the band isn’t supposed to make a new record every year, but can you see a 4th one soon? The Whirlwind (2009) is definitely one of the best records recorded in the last decade!
Roine – I think Transatlantic simply emerged as a prog ‘supergroup’. with 4 musicians from some of the most successful prog bands at the time. Other than that one cannot deny the magical hemistry of this band – we are just a force and music comes effortlessly and in abundance. I believe there will be more but it’s hard to tell when, but I’d be there and I will love every minute of it. I agree The Whirlwind (2009) is a monster record.
Progshine – You have come to Brazil 3 times, am I right? Do you remember any of those visits? Do you know any brazilian music? Can you name some?
Roine – I remember them very well- we had a wonderful time – We visited some other villages outside of Rio de Janeiro too – Macaé. We were welcomed and all the people were very kind – we just loved every minute of it.
I’m not very familiar with Brazilian music in detail- of course I know Samba etc. In general – but other than Antonio Carlos Jobim, Sivuca and Sepultura. I don’t know much but I find the Brazilian Pourtogise to be the most beautiful language for singing.
Progshine – I know you’re a Prog Lover (of course) but I know you’re a fan of Joni Mitchell, for example. Do you sense that in this generation people in Prog Rock are too ‘close-minded’? Even if the genre means to be free to try everything. Or is it just an impression of mine?
Roine – I think, that some fans are a bit narrow minded. Because in my opinion some of the best music out there is not prog. I just happen to like a few of the better and more inventive prog bands and in general the freedom of musical formula is attractive but many prog bands are lacking in both writing and performing with some kind of real emotion.
Progshine – And talking about new bands, do you listen to new music? Can you name a few records that have been playing in your head lately? Maybe a top 10 of all time favorite albums? (I know, not easy to do it 🙂 )
Roine – Cannot figure out the top ten – but at the moment on my table are : Weather Report /box of early years – Vangelis/Mythodea – Allan Holdsworth/Blues For Tony, Steve Hackett – Beyond The Shrouded Horizon, Paul McCartney/Memory Almost Full, Porcupine Tree/The Incident, and the latest Foo Fighters album.
Just found out about Trevor Horn’s new band – The Producers – with Lol Creme from 10 cc- very good and half proggy pop music.
Progshine – I’ve recently done a big article for Progshine about Long Prog Rock tracks (check the links HERE), ‘Garden Of Dreams’ reached the 4th ‘position’. Flower Kings always wrote long songs in every album, but do you see any other like that in the future?
Roine – That’s impossible to tell, but I’d imagine that may be some more serious epic work. I’d like to indulge in some rock opera thing. I enjoy playing those kind of pieces live too – even if very exhausting.
Progshine – This is a tricky question for people who play and record, specially if you have many albums recorded, artists normally say the newest one, cause it’s the natural course. But, do you have one all time favorite record from your own career? The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Kaipa, The Tangent, Agents Of Mercy, or solo?
Roine – Almost impossible to tell. But I imagine Stardust We Are (1997) from TFK and The Whirlwind (2009) from Transatlantic are the ones I am most happy with as a whole.
Then there are of course individual songs that I like a lot on other albums.
Progshine – Roine, I would like to thank you for your time, it was really a pleasure to have a few words, even if its by e-mail, and I would like to leave this space for you, be free to send a message for Brazilians if you feel like.
Roine – Hey Brazilian fans – help bring us back to Brazil we love it and we love you. See you soon.