Interview with Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings/Transatlantic)

Your latest album Desolation Rose has just been released. How do you feel now that it’s out?

I am very pleased now it’s been released. It’s quite a long process to write and record the music and to then mix it and master it. You then have to send it to the record company and get the artwork sorted. Then you have to wait another three months to release it to deal with other details like digitising it for i-Tunes and to do the stuff with the press. It’s great to finally get to that point that the record is finally out.

This comes hot on the heels of your previous album Banks of Eden which came out just last year. Were you in the middle of a particularly prolific creative period?

This is probably the normal pace for us to work. Some bands take two or three years or even more between albums but for us it’s quite often every year and sometimes we’ve done more than one album in a year.

Banks of Eden marked your first album in 5 years. What had you been doing in the time since 2007’s The Sum of No Evil?

We had a little break from each other as up until that time we’d been going for over 15 years and we’ve toured Europe, America, South America and Japan so many times that we felt like we were stuck in the same position and there were side projects on the go so I felt that it was wise to take a break and do something else. I think that was a healthy thing for us to do at that time. We didn’t decide to take a break for five years we just wanted to take a break and see what happened and it just happened to last for five years. Looking back I feel that it was the right decision even though some of the band members weren’t so sure and I understood their concerns as this was their livelihood but I think it worked out for the best and we came back a better band. I think everyone understands now that this was the right decision. We could all feel it in the studio that we were all on the same page. We wanted to make sure that the soul and the spirit of the music was there and I think we have achieved that.

When did you start writing for this album?

In my case writing is an on-going process. I write all the time and not just for The Flower Kings but also Transatlantic and Agents of Mercy. I tend to write music then I see where it will fit. When the time comes to record with The Flower Kings I present what I have and we will work on what we think is suitable for the band so I don’t write specifically for a certain band. I just write music and then decide where to use it. Sometimes I write music that doesn’t fit any of my current bands including Pop music and even Classical music. I’ve spent 10 years writing Classical music but don’t have the funds to record it with a real orchestra but maybe sometime in the future.

Does the rest of the band contribute to the overall arrangement of the music?

I start with a blank page and write music that I feel is good music with good melodies. We have other writers too with Jonas Reingold, Thomas Bodin and Hasse Froberg all contributing great ideas. This time I wanted to go into the studio with less prefabricated ideas so we didn’t go in with finished demos we went in with very little other than a few outline riffs, vocal melodies and some rhythms. I said to the guys to go into the studio so we could see what everyone had, it didn’t need to be complete ideas but we could meet in the studio and take a chance and see what we could come up with. This was really the Flower Kings in the studio putting our ideas together and piecing together songs like that. This was a different way of working for us and I think it turned out really well.

Desolation Rose is a great title. What’s the meaning behind that?

When we were discussing the title a couple of the guys thought that “Desolation Road” would be a good title. I thought it sounded a bit dark and gloomy. When I saw the artwork I just thought of “Desolation Rose” when I saw the flower on the cover. I wanted to think of something where there was destruction but still a chance to turn things around. I wanted to show that out of the darkness a beautiful flower could grow. It can symbolise the darkness and light throughout your life. Life is ups and downs and I wanted to reflect that in the title. Half of the band thought it sounded too soft but Thomas thought it was brilliant so we won in the end.

What have you included on the bonus disc of the deluxe version?

The label always likes to do a special edition with extra tracks and extended artwork and we have done this with Desolation Rose. The bonus disc includes most of the other songs that we recorded. I saw the main album as a song cycle and the tracks on the bonus disc didn’t really fit into that. We wanted the main album to be cohesive and stay within the lyrical theme of the album. The bonus disc contains more instrumental tracks that didn’t fit on the main album. Some people have said that some of the instrumental tracks should have been on the album but if the fans want they can re-sequence the album themselves on their phones or computers.

Are you looking forward to getting back on the road with The Flower Kings to promote this?

We are but it won’t be just yet as it’s getting too close to Christmas and then straight afterwards it’s not a good time to tour as no one has any money left after Christmas. I’m actually touring with Transatlantic at the end of January in America, South America and Europe and will be playing around 30 shows so The Flower Kings will tour sometime later in the spring. We’ll start sometime in April and will go through Europe and then Japan and maybe America later in the year. We’ll play some of the material from the new album and we’ll be looking back a little bit as it’s kind of our 20th Anniversary next year of our first ever show on 20th August 1994. We’ll do some songs from Banks of Eden and also Back in the World of Adventures, our first record. We’ll also play some from Flower Power and Stardust You Are. I think the fans will love it.

Do you have anything special lined up for the tour?

We’ll be joined by Daniel Gildenlow from Pain of Salvation. We’ll play a show together with them and they’ll play some of their songs with them and they’ll join us for some of our songs. I think we’ll do a big finale together at the end, maybe “Bohemian Rhapsody” or something like that. That should be a lot of fun.

You mentioned Transatlantic. When can we expect to see their new album released?

I think the current release date is 27th January so it’s not long to wait now. It’s just been mixed and we’ve spent hours and hours listening to different mixes and arguing about it. It sounds great and you won’t be disappointed. We try to do our best to make the best music we can in the limited space of time we have. Having Mike Portnoy, Neal Morse and Pete Trewavas in the band, it’s hard to get enough time together but we worked hard and we’re really pleased at how it’s turned out.

You’ll be part of the Progressive Nation cruise next February with Jon Anderson, Transatlantic, Spock’s Beard, Pain of Salvation, King’s X, Tony Harnell. That sounds like a great event. Are you looking forward to doing that?

We’ll go from Miami to the Bahamas in late February. It’s going to be an amazing trip. We’ve arranged a fantastic final ending where Transatlantic plays with Jon Anderson from Yes and we’ll play a load of Yes songs together. I can’t wait to do that but I’ll have a lot of work to do to learn all those Yes songs on top of all the Transatlantic material I have to learn.

What about Agents of Mercy. You did three albums with them recently. Is this still an open door for you in the future?

Nad is very busy with Steve Hackett at the moment and they have a lot more gigs next year. As long as they continue then we can’t do anything with Agents of Mercy. Nad is having a great time singing those Genesis classics. We’ll definitely do another album but it’ll be sometime closer to summer 2014 before we can start working on something together.

With your new album out and Transatlantic ‘s new one out next year you look like you’ll be touring for much of 2014. Have you any other plans for next year?

I think with the Transatlantic tour and Flower Kings shows I’m going to be very busy. I’ll be spending time with my family too of course and will be taking a holiday with my wife to the African west coast to get some warmth. It’s close to the equator so it’ll be pretty warm. That’s what I need before we start touring. I’ll get away from all those emails and get some sun. I think The Flower Kings will be doing some festivals in the summer and Transatlantic will play at the Sweden Rock Festival. I don’t have any other plans for now. I want to keep it open and see what happens.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.