Roine Stolt

The Flower Kings

Damian J. Cousins had the chance to speak with Roine Stolt, guitarist and founding member of THE FLOWER KINGS about a month ago. Their latest album "Desolation Rose" had just come out, and Stolt was pretty excited about it. They talked about that, tour plans, what ultimately led to the band's five-year hiatus, and how they write and record their very unique brand of music. Here you go:
By Damian J. Cousins
January 29, 2014
Interview - Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) interview
So, the new album "Desolation Rose" is out. How's the response been?

So far it is very, very good, I think. It seems like people really like it. It's meeting expectations, whatever the expectations were (laughs). I don't know, being in the middle of everything it's really difficult to tell, because you're in the mix, and days go by and sometimes you don't get it right. You know, you just hear the songs so many times that you have to distance yourself from the music, and it's very difficult to do that. So while the album is mixed and everything goes to the record company I don't even listen to it for weeks and weeks, you know? But we've been surprised before. We've done albums that we really liked and the fans maybe not so much. We just do our best, and you can never tell, really. Hopefully the stars align.

And you're still recording live in the studio?

Yeah, yeah. What we're doing is trying to keep the computers away at the point at least when we're doing tracking. And this time we recorded in a studio that used reel-to-reel tape, 70's style. But it doesn't store the music on a reel-to-reel; it goes from the playback head and uses tape compression to filter off the harsh sound of cymbals or treble that can sometimes get annoying when you record digital. This is sort of filtered off in a very natural way like the music of the 60's and 70's. You can't really get that sound from tracking on gadgets to emulate it. You have to run it through a real tape-to-tape recorder from the 70's, and that's what we did. And then of course when we do vocal overdubs we used computers but we like being in a room, the five of us and listen to some demos and decide what to work on. Then we just play it like we do in a rehearsal room before a tour, one guy in the control room pressing record, and that's it. Very simple.

How's it going with Felix (Lehrmann) on the drums? He's been in the band about a year now, right?

This Christmas will actually be two years. Oh, how time flies. We are really lucky to have him in the band, and what he adds is a slightly rockier edge than the previous drummers, all of whom were fantastic at what they do. Felix adds a little extra heaviness, you know? To my ears it's refreshing, and it's something I had been missing a little bit. I like to rock out and sometimes be a bit heavier with a nice backbeat and a steady kick drum. I think he adds something, he's half my age (laughing), and getting to play music together is fine. He grew up in a musical home; his dad is a good guitar player, so he's been jamming from an early age. He's done a lot of session work and tours playing hip-hop, jazz ad fusion, rock, and pop. Whatever comes up he can play it. And I think this band is a new kind of thing for him, getting to play with the same guys and play music with a little bit more freedom and he can hit the drums a little bit harder and play solos. All those extra things you can't do when you're working with an artist, you know?

Did he have a lot of input on this album, having one ("Banks of Eden") under his belt already?

Drums are pretty much him. Of course I did some drum programming on my demos so he'd have some kind of a blueprint. But very rarely would I say, "Can you please play this?" or "Can you please play that?" In the big picture it's all his arranging. Furthermore I would say he's sort of coming up with ideas and suggestions for how we can construct songs, as does every member of the band. We're all very connected like that. And everyone had their say and ideas heard on this album. That goes for him and everyone else, for sure.

So what is the writing breakdown?

Normally it's mostly me, but this album is maybe a little bit more of the others because of the songs we've been writing together. Even if I come up with some lyrics, then the other guys are coming up with ideas so we take maybe one of mine and one of theirs and try to build something. Maybe with something Tomas (Bodin, keyboards) has or something Jonas (Reingold, bass) has, and I think four or five of the songs were done like that, and the opening track is all my music and lyrics. I think altogether it seems that more of the album was written by the band as a unit.

You had the five-year hiatus, then this newest record came a year after the last one. How do you know when it's time to reconvene?

Well, I think making an album a year is pretty much standard for the band. We have a lot of material and we are writing all the time. I think as a unit we can definitely get in the studio at least once a year. What happened was we'd been going for a long time and after a while you go into the same routine of album/your every year and everyone was on auto-pilot, and I don't think that's a good starting point for making music, touring, or anything. I want the band to be hungry for recording or touring, and not just take it for granted.

And I think there comes a time in every band's history when they need to stop. It's sometimes difficult to know when to stop and recharge the batteries. I suggested that we stop for a while, and (laughing) that ended up being a LONG while, four and a half years, almost five. Looking back now I think it was the right thing to do, because we came back with "Banks of Eden", good album, did well for us in terms of touring, and the band is on the same page again. I think it's crucial for a band to stop at certain times so things don't, I don't know, get cold to where there's no love of the music anymore. But here we are now, I think we've made a great album, so obviously it worked.

How long do you plan on touring for this release?

We're rehearsing, relearning the material from the album and we're even going back to some of the earlier albums because we celebrate 20 years as a live band next year. So we're gonna spend some time rehearsing this year and then do two shows in Sweden. Then in early 2014 we'll be going out with Transatlantic for two months in Europe, U.S., Canada, and South America, and in the middle of that we're on a cruise with Transatlantic, and then after that tour I can get together with family. Then we'll play Europe starting in April of next year and look into coming back to the U.S.

Pick up THE FLOWER KINGS' latest, "Desolation Rose" at music retailers or online today. And get the 2-disc Deluxe Version, huh? More music for you!!

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