Flower Kings to the max!!
Their 11th studio album “The Sum Of No Evil” is probably one the finest prog rock albums of the last years. It is vintage style symphonic prog rock at its best and most of the reviews are overwhelming, so it is time to talk with Roine Stolt about this new CD and the future plans of the Flower Kings.
MARTIEN: First of all could you please tell me something about the title of the album as I know that there is a story to it….
ROINE: Yes, well I already thought that you knew something about that, ha ha… Well, when we were making “Paradox Hotel” I was already working on some other songs as well, for the new album that is. Anyway I said to the other guys that as PH was a double album with lots of different things, rock, and experimental stuff and so on, next time the new album would just be symphonic progressive rock, pure! That is what we do best and I said that it would be a single album with different options for graphics and titles and at that time I came up with the title “Love”. And, as you know, the guy before you did not know, the “new” The Beatles album was also called “Love”. So, that was not a good idea, so I twisted the title a little bit and came up with “The Sum Of No Evil”. That is what the Flower Kings are about, seeing what we released so far over the years and not being a dark or dangerous band anyway, so... In fact we are at the other end of evil in fact; we are rather flowery, very nice and friendly, ha ha ...
MARTIEN: I think that "Love Is The Only Answer" would also have been a nice title for the album, or not?
ROINE: Yes, you are right, but I came up with that later, so.
MARTIEN: Have you “stolen” that title from the Yes song “Then”, which is on their second album called “Time and a Word”?
ROINE: No, I really did not know this. It is sung so many times and I even believe that it is an album title of Todd Rundgren, I think ...
MARTIEN: I do no think so, but anyway “The Sum of no Evil” is a real hippie album, it is sheer flower power stuff. How did you experience that time, back in the seventies?
ROINE: Yes, I lived at that time too, I am 51 as you know but I was never a hippie tough. I can feel that there were really things I liked from that period; like philosophy and the music of course. That period was a peak in the rock business, you know, when rock music turned into anything else, it exploded back then with bands like The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and the Herman Hermits. It was all over the place, so I really like that time as there was also a sense of community and the music groups took over from the producers and THEY decided where the music should go! That period, 1967-1975, is very interesting as the musicians were very much in control of the evolution of rock music. I like that and back then the people cared more about the world and about each other and that is good too. It was just the drugs thing that I really could not connect with, as drugs mean really nothing to me!
MARTIEN: What sort of music did you listen to back then?
ROINE: In the seventies I listened to anything but pop music, I found pop music not interesting. So, I listened to Santana, ELP, Weather Report, Yes and King Crimson, that was and is my music.
MARTIEN: So nowadays you still listen to those bands?
ROINE: Not much, actually, to the old guys, ha ha... I still listen to “Close to the Edge” now and then. Today I listen and try to learn something from the music, so I also listen to classical music, jazz and blues of course. I try to be as open minded as possible about music, keep a wide spectrum, so I also listen to and even like metal bands like Meshuggah and Opeth. I also have a softer side and therefore I also like Burt Bacharach, Elvis Costello and Joni Mitchell.
MARTIEN: I think that you can hear all these influences in the Flower Kings music, or not?
ROINE: Yes, you are absolutely right about that.
MARTIEN: The production of the new album is fantastic, how did you achieve this?
ROINE: I think that it has to do with the studio where we recorded the album. It is an amazing place and of course we used a lot of old stuff. Real fifties, sixties and seventies equipment and all these instruments really created that warm sound and that high quality you are talking about. The guitar amps I used were really old, but they sound so amazing, I really would love to record our next album in that studio again.
MARTIEN: How long did it take to finalize the album?
ROINE: Well, from about the end of March till the end of July, so I think that this was rather quick, right?
MARTIEN: Zoltan, the “old” drummer” has returned, why?
ROINE: Why not? Ha ha…. I think that if I will tell the whole story this will be too complicated for the fans, so I will give you the short version. Let’s say that Marcus who played on Paradox Hotel could not commit to this new recording as he had other things to do…. We had already booked the studio so we said, let’s try and ask Zoltan and he said without further ado, I will do it. However during the upcoming tour we will have another drummer as Zoltan has commitments with King Crimson, so there you go.
MARTIEN: Your guitar, really dominates the new CD, at least I think so, was that already `in your mind`, during the writing process of the new songs?
ROINE: No, I think that you are not the first person saying this about the album. I had the feeling that this was rather more a keyboard dominated album…..
ROINE: That is how I felt it. If you were saying that PH was a guitar dominated album then I would say yes, lots of guitar on that one. On the new album are definitely more keyboards.
MARTIEN: Then maybe the keyboards sound too much like your guitar?
ROINE: Ha ha, I really have no idea, but if the album is okay, then it is okay, right?
MARTIEN: Of course, a colleague of mine rewarded the new album with a perfect 10, how about that?
ROINE: You really mean 10 out of 10 or 10 out of 20, which is not so good, of course…..
MARTIEN: No, a real 10 out of 10. I still have to write my review, I am still in doubt…
ROINE: If I give you this (he opens his wallet), will you also please give a 10, please, ha ha…..
MARTIEN: Paradox Hotel was a kind of “weird” Flokis album to me, with some extremely amazing songs, but also with a couple of disappointments. Looking back now would you still “do” the album in the same way?
ROINE: Well, that is very difficult to say, looking back now, maybe, maybe, I would do something alternative ... The song “Monsters & Men” never came out the way it should have. The way we recorded it, there were a couple of things as I feel that Marcus (the drummer, MK) was not really happy with the songs. Lots of things happened but you cannot have full control all the time. Do not get me wrong, I am NOT saying that PH is a bad album because it has lots of great moments, but looking back now I would probably cut some songs ...
MARTIEN: Thanks for your honesty about that. Now, for this evening at the first Symforce Festival, how long will you play tonight?
ROINE: I think about 2 hours maximum ...
MARTIEN: Is it not difficult to come up with a set list, as you have so much material to play?
ROINE: It is one gig only, so we are not going to play any new songs as almost nobody, except for you, lucky guys of the press, has heard these yet. So, we will play old stuff that Zoltan knows, ha ha ... I am sorry, but we will actually play one new song, so be surprised which one it is ...
MARTIEN: Who decides what the set list looks like?
ROINE: Normally Thomas and me, this time I suggested to only play old songs and not to overdo it, so it was me who pulled the strings for tonight’s show.
MARTIEN: When will the official “Sum of no Evil” Tour start?
ROINE: It will start in Norway, in Oslo on 6 November and from there we will tour through Europe till 27 November.
MARTIEN: With or without a support band?
ROINE: It will be a Flokis only evening!
MARTIEN: Do you already have plans for a new solo album?
ROINE: Uhhh, that is one of those things. I work with music and I do not want to mix up too much of the same music. I work on some things, but I rather would not tell about that. I work and if something comes up then I release it, but there is no point in releasing too much. Like, when I was with Kaipa, The Tangent, Karmakanic and Transatlantic at the same time, It was good but it was also a bit of overkill, too much of the same actually. Therefore I quit with Kaipa and those other projects, it is better for me not to do that much with the same people as lots of that music sounds the same, That is also the reason why, when Jonas and Thomas asked me to play on their solo albums, I said no, as I would be doing the same sounding solos on their albums ...
MARTIEN: What about a Transatlantic reunion? When I last talked to Mike (Portnoy, MK) he told me that there are rumours about that ...
ROINE: Really, I heard some rumours among the fans, but nothing from Mike, It is already a couple of years ago and I actually gave up on that reunion. It is too long ago, it is not going to happen. I did not lost interest because we really made two great albums with Transatlantic and then suddenly the band stopped. I never knew why, so…. A true shame!
MARTIEN: Last question, could you give a definition of the term prog rock?
ROINE: Ha ha, that is really Zoltan’s speciality (Zoltan had entered the room a couple of seconds ago, MK). I can see it in two ways. If you use the term prog rock to describe the music of certain seventies rock bands then you must mention bands like Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, Pink Floyd and ELP. For me personally, progressive rock is rather music that tries different things, like the Beatles or The Kinks. So, experimenting with music, use jazz, pop, classical and blues elements in rock, so you can do anything with rock music that you like. That is progressive rock in the true sense. In fact this does not matter, but people want to know what kind of music you play.
MARTIEN: People want to label music!
ROINE: Yeah, and I can understand that, because that is easy, you know what you can expect then.
MARTIEN: What is your favourite track on the new album?
MARTIEN: Yes, of course ...
ROINE: The drum solo, ha ha ha (and he starts hitting Zoltan on the back) No, I really do not know, I am happy with all of them.
MARTIEN: The reviews I've read so far were all overwhelming ...
ROINE: Yeah, well, let’s hope that it will stay that way, you never know if it goes downhill later on, ha ha ... but if people love it then I am happy, we are doing our best!
MARTIEN: There is nothing more you can do. Thanks for your precious time.
ROINE: Always a joy to talk to you. Thanks.
Interview for DPRP by Martien Koolen
& Live Photographs by Bert Treep
The Flower Kings
The Sum Of No Evil Tour 2007 (featuring Pat Mastelotto of King Crimson on drums)
06.11.2007 - NO-Oslo/Rockefeller
07.11.2007 - SE-Uppsala/Katalin
08.11.2007 - SE-Gothenburg/Sticky Fingers
11.11.2007 - GB-London/Carling Academy
13.11.2007 - BE-Verviers/Spirit of 66
14.11.2007 - D-Oberhausen/Zentrum Altenberg
15.11.2007 - NL-Zoetermeer/Boerderij
16.11.2007 - D-Rüsselsheim/Das Rind/Rindprogfestival
17.11.2007 - D-Bielefeld/Movie
18.11.2007 - NL-Hellendorn/De Lantaarn
20.11.2007 - IT-Treviso/Sonny Boy
21.11.2007 - IT-Rome/Stazione Birra
22.11.2007 - IT-Voghera/Milan/Thunder Road
23.11.2007 - CH-Pratteln/Z7
25.11.2007 - FR-Paris/Locomotive
27.11.2007 - SE-Lund/Mejereit
The Flower Kings Official Website
The Flower Kings MySpace Page
DPRP Review: The Sum Of No Evil (Duo Review)
DPRP Review: The Flower Kings - Paradox Hotel
DPRP Concert Review: The Flower Kings
Interview with Roine Stolt by DPRP's Dave Baird