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Progressive Rock Interviews

Roine Stolt

Interviewed by Josh Turner
Interview with Roine Stolt From 2003

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 3 at

I talk to a lot of fans and a lot of fans say when the Flower Kings come to town, they have such high energy and put on a great show… that you guys do that everywhere. How do you guys even keep up that pace? It's unbelievable.
I couldn't tell. That's not the way I see it. I guess when we see ourselves like when we do a recording of a show we always see the bad things. The things that doesn't work. We could not see the energy. We could not see what other people with the fans see. It's a different thing being in a venue with the sound and the lights and the people playing. And seeing me of course. I guess we are blind to what people see. We just see what is wrong with the band.
MSJ: You just finished a tour, right?
Yes we did.
MSJ: In Europe?
Yes Europe, a small one.
MSJ: So how did that tour go?
It did quite well I think. From a music point of view it was the best one. I think we played real well. We delivered the goods. Yeah, we played good as a band. We had a few places where we had some attendance.
MSJ: Really?
But that is very much to the fact that lots of people are touring in Europe right now. We have Camel touring and they say it is the last time they are touring ever. People want to go see them, last chance to see Camel playing live in Europe. At least that's what they say, and we're having Steve Hackett touring. We have Spock's Beard together with California Guitar trio. We have Enchant. What else do we have? We have Neal Morse coming over. We have Symphony X and lost of others. We have Musical Box from Canada, sort of a Genesis tribute band that seems to be very popular. I think they are doing, I think even Michael Rutherford said they are better than the real thing. They are supposed to be good with all the costumes and everything. That's also something people probably wanted to see, because this is their only chance, these guys are from Canada. So, I can understand. There is always a chance to see the Flower Kings, because we're touring all the time in Europe. So, I don't blame them. Still I think the shows were good, we played good. The people that attended the shows seemed to be pretty good and pretty big audience anyway, because the reaction was great. If there is 250 people, if there is 500 people, doesn't really matter. It is more from an economic point of view. Coming home and looking over the economics it is of course terrible, but I mean, just standing there on stage and meeting the audience was great this time I think.

MSJ: Are there any plans on touring the US anytime soon?
Uh, not at the moment. We talked about playing, because last time we didn't play the West Coast. This summer we just played the East Coast. We love to play the West Coast again, at least play San Francisco, Los Angeles maybe, San Diego.
MSJ: The thing to keep in mind is you also have fans in the Midwest as well.
I know, I know. What I really wanted to do is probably going from East Coast to the West Coast.
MSJ: Yeah, that would be cool.
Really cool in order to see America in a way I haven't seen before, like from a bus window. At the same time, it is very difficult, probably because most places in the Midwest, the audience is too small to make it possible, but we'll see. We can maybe hook up with someone else, you know, be like a support band for someone else, someone bigger. We tried last summer; we were trying to be the support for Jethro Tull.

MSJ: Really?
Yeah, we've been talking.
MSJ: That would be a nice tour.
Yeah, we've been talking there for awhile, but it didn't work out that time, because they have, you know for different reasons, but they already had this guy who was just, this guy with a guitar. I think is easy to have someone having a band supporting you. I know from experience it is more complicated and it totally for that reason and for economical reasons and maybe the venues they played also. But I think that would probably be a good thing for the band to do something like we can meet an audience that we have not performed in front of before. Sort of the people who used to like progressive rock in the seventies, some of them know of the newer bands, some of them are not aware that the fact there is a lot of good progressive rock coming out with younger bands.

That is probably what could do a difference for the Flower Kings, being like a support for Jethro Tull or Yes or Floyd or something.

MSJ: ow did you come up with that name The Flower Kings?
Ahhhh, There's no real story behind it, I just think ten years ago I was in the music business recording and producing albums doing session work, and I as you may know, I was in this band Kaipa, and we played something similar to what we do now with the Flower Kings. But, during the eighties I was doing anything but progressive music. I was recording and playing with different bands. I felt in 93 I wanted to record something more like a prog album, but I didn't know there was a market I just wanted to record it for the sake of recording it. So I did it and I didn't have a record deal really so I just put it out on my own label then things started to happen and when I recorded this album I felt like if things are going well but I couldn't imagine that at the time, but if it works than it would be nice to have a band playing the songs live too. So, thinking what could I possibly name the band. I was just sitting down and writing down names on a piece of paper and one of the names on the paper was the Flower Kings.

That is the name I came back to many times. It was always the Flower Kings. That seems to be the right name. It sounded positive and sounded very natural, not something constructed at least in my mind. It sounded like someone could say I am playing with the Flower Kings naturally. Not like I am playing with some string cheese band It's got a natural flow to it, it's got a positive vibe also, sort of a Hindu vibe perhaps. I really don't look at it that way. It sounds like the right name for a good rock band in my head. So, that's the story. There's not really a story behind it. It is just as simple as that.

MSJ: In the mainstream I really like Sting. What I remember is Grand Old World sounded a lot like a Sting song with your voice and the instrumentals. I was just wondering if that was intentional.
No, not really. I have heard a few people say it sounded like Sting and I think what they are talking about is perhaps it has a slight jazz cross between jazz and rock music vibe to it. I think very much the soprano saxophone made it sound like Sting, like early Sting, because he had this guy playing soprano saxophone on a couple of the records, so I think that is what people are thinking of, if they are thinking of his first albums, Nothing Like the Sun or Dream of the Blue Turtles, it is lots of any of the live album, a lot of soprano sax on that one. It is played by a guy who is playing classical music on saxophone, so it is not really jazz saxophone, and I think the same with this guy that we are using. He is not really a jazz saxophone player; he is playing folk music, having a more European vibe, not coming from more like a jazz background. So, it is probably similarities I guess. That was never the intention. The intention was to write a good Flower Kings song. Then it turned out to be a bit like that, but still it is a nice song, a little bit off side, but I like it.

MSJ: You got Daniel Gildenlow to sing on the album. I was a little shocked to see his name in the credits, because I discovered Pain of Salvation before this album came out, and I was really impressed with this guys voice and then you came along and brought him into your album. I am just wondering how did you get him involved in this album.
You know, they're our label mates. We knew of them. And I think Jonas Reingold even recorded or produced their first album or something like that, so we knew of them, so we played together on a few occasions, I think one in Portugal and one in America in I think on Prog day if I remember right. You know, kind of spotted then that this guy has talent, this guy is great singer and he is writing his songs and when the time came for Transatlantic to tour, Mike and I wanted a fifth guy. Handle some guitar, some percussion, some keyboards, this and that, I think the first name that came up with Mike Keneally.
MSJ: Really?
Yeah, but he had commitments with his band and then we tried someone else, we tried this guy It Bites if I remember right, but he was just a keyboard player. So, we came up with nothing really. I said okay let's have a try, and we can check a few guys in Sweden and I was checking Patrik Lundstrom who is now the singer on the new Kaipa album, but he had other commitments. Then, you know, I was thinking of Daniel. I think I mentioned it to Jonas who mentioned it to Daniel and Daniel called me and said I heard you were talking about me, probably could fit in the Transatlantic playing singing, you know whatever you need me to sing and play. And I said, yes, that's right and do you think you can do it and this is the time we are going to tour and this is the money and he said sure I'll do it. So, I told the other guys and Mike already knew him because they met before and I think Mike is also a fan of Pain of Salvation and he said, why didn't I think of that. That's perfect. That's great. So, that's the way he came into Transatlantic, touring with Transatlantic. We got to know each other better doing that tour and you know, he is a nice guy and talented. By the time we were starting to record the new Flower Kings album, I just felt we needed to add something new. We were adding trumpet. We were adding a few jam sessions and said it would be nice with another singer too, someone who is doing backups and a few lead spots. So, it came very natural thinking of Daniel at that point. There was never a plan that he would be a part of the live Flower Kings thing. It was more like asking if he could contribute on the album.

He did and it worked out nicely and then I asked him how he felt about coming with the band playing songs live and he said sure fine no problem, because they weren't touring with Pain of Salvation. He is working full time with music also.

It was kind of a mutual thing. We are nice guys too. It all worked out really well. Since he has a good sense of rhythm, he can add some of the percussion stuff that Hasse Brunionson normally does also. The tour worked out really nice I think.

MSJ: Okay. Along the same lines of Unfold the Future, songs like The Truth Will Set You Free and Devil's Playground are pretty complicated. I am wondering how you come to putting these songs together.
Those songs, let's just say they're complicated. Normally, there are one, two themes I usually start with and it doesn't necessarily mean it is the beginning theme of the song, it could be the middle. But at that time I don't know where it is, if it is the beginning or the end or the middle or what it is. I just come up with themes and idea and I put it into some kind of a sketch, normally in the sequencer and I go back and listen to what I have. If I tend to go back and find one specific part interesting time after time I say okay this is something that I seem to like, maybe I should work more on this. Then you just start building from there. This is a nice theme, this is a nice melody, or rhythm or whatever it is and you just start building from that. I say this could be an instrumental part in the middle of a song or this could be a nice intro to a song, or if this is a vocal melody… I say this could be the first verse or this could be the chorus and I just have to build around that. Then, you keep them building, you find new themes. It is nothing that happens over a day, it is more like it happens over a month or more. I'm not working on the same song each and every day. I work for a couple of hours come up with new ideas and then put the song aside and then if I like it the next day or the day after that, you know, and if I like it I start building again, finding a nice beginning to a song, thinking up themes doing them in a different tempo, pretty much like classical music. It is variations on a theme. Then overlooking the big picture so there is a nice flow, you know, there is more intense sections, and there is more like a relief for this. You know, the vocals parts, you know, need to be put in the right places. The key changes and the tempo changes or the time signature changes need to be worked out really well. That's what takes time. I suppose at least half of the time I spent on Unfold the Future was put into those two songs, especially The Truth Will Set You Free took a long time to put together the way it is.

And it has been like that before. Garden of Dreams was difficult to put together to some time. Same thing goes with Stardust We Are and that kind of song takes time.

MSJ: The Truth Will Set You Free had a bit of a Yes vibe to it. Was this something you were aiming for?
Not really, the song started off with more of an African rhythm, like 6/8 rhythm that is going on. Like Ba Da Ba Ba Ba Bah Bah Bum Da Dum Da Dum Gonga Donga Dong. That's probably not something you would expect from Yes. It is more like I wouldn't call it world music, I don't know where it comes from, but you know music that has been around, you know, I have been listening to so many different types of music. So, what happened is I was playing around with a couple of themes and I think the vocal theme, I think, came much later. I think that is the vocal theme that people think sounds like Yes, because of the rich harmonies, and also with Hasse Froberg high-pitched voice and even Daniels high-pitched voice it is a bit like Jon Anderson swirling over the treetops. So, I guess there is probably a Yes vibe to it apart from the fact that of course we used the same type of orchestration that Yes uses with the electric guitars, synthesizers, and Hammond organs and stuff like that. So, I can see where people think it sounds like Yes, probably something they recognize from the early Yes albums: Close to the Edge or Topographic or whatever it is. Which is fine. That has never been a problem with me. This or this always influences and different influences and sometimes it is maybe more obvious that we are influenced by Genesis or Yes, but I mean, looking at the band as I see it from the inside, it is like there is so many different styles. Just looking at myself it has been like fan of the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix and The Doors and lots of the fusion rock in the seventies and I know for sure the early guys are influenced by Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. I mean guys like Zoltan he knows nothing really about Progressive Rock. He knows of UK and that's about it.

Even when Jonas came into the band he knows nothing really. He maybe heard Owner of a Lonely Heart from Yes. Maybe I Can't Dance from Genesis. You know, that's about it. They came from somewhere else you know. I wouldn't say that Flower Kings is a band sitting at home listening to old Emerson Lake and Palmer albums. Or Yes or King Crimson albums in that sense. It is more like that is a part of our history and our taste, you know, and as well as you know, whatever, Elton John or The Rattles. Whatever. So I guess it comes out in different shapes and forms in the music we make and as you say you can hear traces of Sting or traces of Genesis or Yes or whatever. But there is lots in there.

MSJ: I read something about you guys when you go to produce an album, you are not sitting in the same room recording, sometimes you are sending files back and forth.
Yeah, I mean, that happens. Sometimes from the very start it is like sometimes Tomas and we sit together you know and building up the songs, building up the arrangements.
MSJ: Just to get an idea of other kinds of music that you are actually into, what was the last CD that you bought. Or just whatever you have recently been listening to?
Oh, let me think here, uh, could have been, I think probably I bought something weird. I bought one Miles Davis, the birth of the cool sessions complete and I bought another John Coltrane, I think, Ascension I think it is called, it is just one song. Just a bunch of musicians playing something that couldn't probably not be called jazz. That is what was stated on the record cover and this was something that was released in the beginnings of the sixties I think. It is kind of demanding music. I don't even know if I like it yet. I mean, I like the Miles Davis one, but John Coltrane album is kind of weird. I prefer the more jazzy part of Coltrane, but, I mean, still it is interesting, because this same way as we do progressive rock now, that used to be the progressive side of music. So, I mean, it is people like John Coltrane and Miles Davis they had an impact even on rock music, because later on you had people that were influenced by Miles Davis, you know when he went into electric, and even people like Coltrane, I mean, I know that for sure Alan Holdsworth always mentioned John Coltrane as an influence on his playing. So, I am sure that at that time, they had an impact, not only on the jazz music, but also on rock music, so that's what I bought. And then I have this, uh, PowerBook that I have filled up with music and it is everything from, you know, obscure Swedish progressive rock music from the seventies and there's lots, all the Beatles albums, and what else? What do I have? I have lots of Burt Bacharach and I have the Mother's of Invention. I got the We are Only in It for the Money, which is a very hip and cool album that you should checkout if you haven't, because it is really funny, lot's of weird lyrics and it was released at the same time as Sergeant Pepper and they did even like their version of the Sergeant Pepper album cover. It is really weird and they are making fun of the hippies, you know, and stuff like that. So, it is a great album, it's lot's of, I'm smiling all the time when I am listening to it. And what else do I have? I have, um. What do I have? It's like, I mean, I bought on DVD, I bought the, um, latest Sting. Making of the album, I think, or the making of the shows. It is called inside. I bought another one, uh, with Prince, Live in Las Vegas. I bought the Paul McCartney Back in the USA last year.

MSJ: Yeah, that's a good one.
Yeah, so I mean you can see it's lots of different styles of music, really and there is some African music, and I have some classical music and I have some opera, and you know. There is many different styles really and of course I get records from InsideOut, so I have the new Neal Morse album and I have the albums that I've played on like The Tangent of course {we both laugh}. You know, what else? I think when I buy music it is usually, um, I try to buy albums that I had in seventies or the sixties that I liked, you know, and there is occasionally an new album I have. I've got the latest one from Jackson Brown that I like very much, The Naked Ride Home. It is a great album and some of the Sting stuff, you know, yeah.
MSJ: So how many CD's would you say you have?
Oh, I couldn't tell, not that many really, maybe 500, not more. I have a fair amount of, you know, the classic, progressive, like most of the jazz albums, a few of the Pink Floyds, uh, most of the Genesis, most of the Beatles, some of the solo stuff from Yes members, preferably Jon Anderson stuff I think. That is like the prog section. Then I have lots of classical and opera and I have, you know, some old like Crosby Stills & Nash and Buffalo Spring and I have Fleetwood Mac and fusion stuff like Weather Report and Herbie Hancock, that kind of thing too, and a little bit of psychedelic. I have of course stuff that I have been sent, like the people I play with, Dream Theater and Marillion and Spock's Beard. That stuff, but really not that much of metal or even prog metal. I am not a big fan. I think the good prog metal bands as I see it now are Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation, I think they are really different. I am not a big fan, of let's say, Symphony X. I think it's, I mean I can see it is well played and they're clever guys and everything. To me, it is too much… too much {we laugh}. I guess I am just looking for something else, you know, and I think I can find it, I can appreciate the heaviness and everything, but I think I appreciate it in Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation, because it is mixed up with other some stuff, you know.

If I want to hear something really heavy, then I think I Dio or something like that. Or even old Deep Purple albums. I think Dio is probably one of the best if not the best heavy metal singer.

So I think that is probably what I like. I am not a huge fan of other metal bands either, the Death Metal definitely… not. So, I would say I like many different styles, but I think I prefer pop music with a good hook, you know. Or music with good lyrics, like pop music like Don Henley for instance. And I like lots of jazz and classical and, uh, music that is good relaxing music. When I've been working hard, it's like I can put on something that is very relaxing, that's important too.

MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment.
My biggest Spinal Tap moment oh Jesus. I think, in fact, I was playing that was totally Spinal Tap. I was playing with this female singer and she is kind of a Janis, a Swedish Janis Joplin type of singer and we were playing a place up in the northern part of Sweden and at that time I was producing an album here and I took a train up to the gig and the other guys were already there and they had setup and prepared the gig and didn't know exactly what kind of a gig it was, but it was said that there was lots of people, you know, business people there, you know, it could be important to play a good gig… blah blah blah and it was time to go on stage and we went on stage and there was like this current in front of the stage and she was presented by some guy and he said, okay, blah blah blah here's the band. We started playing and the curtains were supposed to, what do you say, it's like um, I don't find a word in English now. It's like when the music starts and like almost like a movie or, uh, I'm sorry I don't know what it is called in English. Anyway, the current got stuck for some reason. They couldn't make them to move, you know, to, we were standing behind the curtains and playing the music and she started singing and the audience was just thinking what the hell is going on here. There is a band playing, but we can see nothing. They are playing behind the curtain and then there is this guy coming on stage, and you know, trying to make the, you know, to move the curtains and he tried and tried and he couldn't. So, we were gradually going one by one trying to lift up the curtain and stand in front of the curtain and that was kind of the Spinal Tap when the bass player is in this kind of cocoon trying with everything, you know, to get out of there.

So, we felt real silly, but t wasn't an important gig. We kind of laughed. That was real fun, that was completely Spinal Tap, you know. So, that is probably is my Spinal Tap moment, but if I try to recall, I think I can probably recall a few more of them, but at the moment I could not really now.

MSJ: Well, I have a few things to ask you about your side projects. You brought up Transatlantic earlier and Transatlantic was a huge success. Probably a lot of fans just like myself actually discovered the Flower Kings just from this project. When you are doing a side project is this part of your intention to get kind of recognized and get some attention for your Flower King's band?
Uh, that's difficult to tell. In the case of Transatlantic, I think that came about at the time, I had been in contact with Neal Morse and I said vaguely we should maybe try doing something together, because there was some mutual, you know, admiration of, you know, I liked Spock's and he liked Flower King's and I was trying to helping out with addresses for gig places in Europe, you know, and stuff like that. We were basically keeping in touch via e-mail and uh, I said maybe we should try to do something in the future, you know, but you know, nothing happened at the point. Then I think there was a journalist in America who said, you should probably send your album to Mike Portnoy, because he likes Progressive Rock. You know, Mike Portnoy is the drummer to Dream Theater. I knew Dream Theater, but I haven't listened to the albums. There was just a friend of mine who played a tape of Dream Theater couple years ago and I thought maybe too much metal for me, but I liked the drummer. I think it sounds interesting, he was a good drummer. So, anyway, I sent a note to Mike Portnoy and he really liked it and then suddenly one day I got an email from Mike and he said we are doing this project, we're doing it together with Neal Morse, and, uh, so, you know, suddenly all the pieces fell into place so to speak and he said this is something we are going to do this summer and are you interested? At that time, we didn't have a tour coming up, we didn't have an album coming up, so I thought why not? That gave me an opportunity to work together with Neal and I knew that Mike was a good drummer, and you know, like a prolific person within the music scene anyway.

I think I went out and bought two Dream Theater albums, because it was a little bit embarrassing to, in fact, I haven't heard your albums, sorry about that, but I think he just figured that everyone have heard of Dream Theater, because they were pretty big in the new wave of progressive and metal. So, I went out and bought two albums, to you know, shake out what he was doing, you know, and then we, you know, started recording the first album. I think that I did it, because I felt like it was an opportunity, mostly an opportunity to work with other people, to work with Neal and to find what was Mike about, you know, and to work with Pete Trewawas, you know, I didn't know anything about Pete, but it was kind of interesting and then at the time we had the record deal already and we had some serious money coming up and of course that is always, you know, you're thinking like okay maybe if we do an album and everything goes well, then even the Flower King's can benefit for people seeing Transatlantic and, uh, if they like the album, maybe they get into Flower King's too, but that wasn't the main thing. I think the main thing for me was probably the chance to work with other people and to record in America just to see how it works, you know, and to, and also the money of course. That's, that's important if you are a full-time musician, you always need to be aware {he laughs} to make money in any way, shape, or form and that seemed to be a very nice nice way to make money, I think, better than producing other people's albums or something. By doing this I got a chance to play progressive music and maybe I can contribute with songs and, you know, maybe there is a chance I get to play live, so, and it seemed like a good opportunity for me at that the time. It's proven now that we got a few new fans for the Flower King's too.

MSJ: When Transatlantic broke up, I was very disheartened to hear that. So, what are your thoughts on the breakup of Transatlantic?
I don't know, I mean, it didn't come as a shock. It came sort of like a shock when I heard Neal was leaving Spock's Beard, because I couldn't at that time figure out what was going to happen to Spock's Beard, because it sounded very much like he was Spock's Beard, but I think it took me a couple days to realize that if he is leaving Spock's Beard, he is leaving Transatlantic too. But, I didn't hear anything and I think he sent me an e-mail and said you probably heard that I'm leaving Spock's Beard, that means I'm leaving Transatlantic too, because blah blah blah. God wanted him to do this, uh, etcetera, and, he said I'll call you within a couple days and we can talk more.

Um, I mean, eventually that didn't happen, he didn't call, and to this day call me.

MSJ: Oh, really?
I thought maybe I should not call him, because I was thinking there is lots of pressure anyway and I don't want to have him against a wall, you know asking all those questions, so I thought maybe just let time pass by and see how it develops and maybe he will change his mind, but it seemed like the band was put on ice, and maybe forever, or maybe just for a year. We don't know. We still don't know. It's like at least from my side I keep the door's open. If there will be another album I'll be there if not, it's not a big surprise. I can see both possibilities really.
MSJ: So, how much of the recent Flower Kings material would say is influenced with your work with Transatlantic?
Well, not really, I think. It's more like as always I am writing songs and if the songs end up like a Transatlantic song or a Flower King's song it's just a matter of who I'm working with at the time. If there's a Transatlantic album, I'm writing songs, and then I present songs to the band, and they for some reason they turn the songs down then I just put the songs aside and when I, when time comes to work with trans, eh, sorry, with the Flower King's album I look at the songs again and then see did I like the song? There could be many reasons why we didn't work, with the song in Transatlantic, and, so it doesn't necessarily mean it's not a good song. And, so I think I used some of the songs I know for sure on this new album, songs like, uh, let's see, Silent Inferno, I think that is one of the songs that could have been on the Transatlantic album.

MSJ: The thing is I remember on the bonus disc you had something called My Cruel World and I thought I recall a piece of that on the new album.
Yeah, that's right. That's the song called Genie in a Bottle, I think, I couldn't make the connection to that one. I picked that one from, that's the part that we didn't use, I think.
MSJ: Yeah, I was kind of surprised, because at first I didn't even know there was bonus discs for those particular albums and I already had Unfold the Future and I went back and heard My Crew World. That was kind of a shock to hear that piece there. That's such a strong piece. My Cruel World, the way it turned out, I could see that making the Transatlantic album. It wound up on the bonus disc.
I think it is just a question of you are in a room with four people and there's, you know, it's like sometimes music takes time, you know, to take in, and I, I think with Transatlantic it's, I mean sometimes because of time restraints, but sometimes just because we, those four people in the room, and for some reason someone was yelling louder than me, you know, and at that point I felt like probably I shouldn't just insist on doing this. I just let it go and see what happens and whatever they want to use, we use it and whatever is not used I can probably use later on the Flower King's album. So, I felt that part could have been used for My New World, but at the time it didn't seem like the other guys felt that was something could be used. Anyhow, it worked out okay. I think for other songs, songs like Monster Within from Space Revolver, I think, was also a song.

MSJ: Really?
Yeah and there's another song from that album too. I think Road to Sanctuary was another one that was for Transatlantic.
MSJ: Really?
Yeah and I think even parts from the Truth Will Set You Free was something I presented to Transatlantic, but, it takes time to listen and to get into the songs and to hear the potential of a certain piece of music. Some people hear it, some people don't. I can remember we were listening, I was touring with Transatlantic, I think, we were saying, I just got the CD's, the Space Revolver CD's from the, the record plant and I think Pete said, oh, can we listen to the album? We started to listen to the album and everybody said, sounds great, sounds great, and we got to Monster Within, and Mike was in the bus and he was yelling that's our song and I was smiling and I said, Mmmiiike what do you mean by that? Our song? This is a Flower King's song. I played this song for you sometime ago, but it seemed like no one was interested. {changing his voice to sound like Mike} Oh, this is a great riff man, this is, you know, this is a great song, maybe we should have done this song. {changing his voice back} Yeah, didn't I tell you? So, it's it's not easy, you know, there's lots of material flying around, you know, and we tried to do whatever comes up and, like I said, probably someone is yelling louder, it's like, there's four guys in the room and everyone wants, and everyone has idea what we want to do, and sometimes if you're too silent, and didn't push your ideas, it's someone else's idea will be there instead. But, I mean, it's not a big problem, I think it's just the way it worked with that band, and in the end it doesn't really matter really, because if I have this song on the Transatlantic album or the Flower King's album it's not a big deal really. If it's a good song, it's a good song, but whenever it turns up or whatever album it turns up.

MSJ: Is there any chance that you'd work with other members of Spock's Beard or Dream Theater such as Nick D' Virgilio or Jordan Rudess?
That's really difficult to tell right now. I mean, I know these guys, but not that well really. I met Jordan and I met Nick a couple of times and I like what they're doing, but that's kind of a tricky question really, because there are lots of people I would like to work with, and maybe one of them, who knows, who knows?
MSJ: Well, who are some of the other musicians you haven't worked with that you would like to work with?
It depends on also what kind of album, there's so many as I've mentioned, there's so many different music styles I like and it depends on what type of an album I want to record. I'd be happy to sit in with Sting. At the same time, I would love to sit in with Peter Gabriel, because it's not much of a guitar music, but it's still just being in there, you know, and playing that music it's a good music.

I would like to work with people like Terry Bozzio. He's a great drummer, you know, and Billy Sheehan, great bass player. And also people like Keith Emerson or Paul McCartney would be perfect. I mean, there's lots of people you know. Don Henley is another great musician, I think, and a good songwriter, but the musics are different from what I do now. Sp, I can I probably start listing people that I would like to work with and we end up with like a list of 25, 30, 35 people, so, and all would be in different styles.

There's nothing like I really want to work with those progressive heroes of mine. It's more like there is so much music out there. I think, if I had a choice, I'd probably work with someone like Sting, because then I could make really good money and spend some nice time in whatever environment just being with Sting, so, that's of course interesting and then of course I'd like to play more improvised music than we look at some other people of course, but time will tell, we'll see what will happen in the future.

MSJ: Now I want to ask you a little bit about Kaipa. The Keyholder album is a really great release. The fans go back and forth, they're kind of torn between the two albums. Like some like the previous approach better and some like the latest one. For me, the latest one, is the one I really enjoy and I see the band took on a totally different approach for this album. I'm wondering from you, out of the two albums, which one's your favorite one?
I like the latest one. I think that feels to me like a complete album where every detail is worked out and it feels like the songs are good songs and the vocal melodies are good and the way they sing it is very much, you know, feels like they are actually singing it, not reading the lyrics from a sheet of paper. I have a bit of a feeling on the first album that it's a little bit stiff, I think both in the composing and the way the vocal melodies are shared. I think that the new one, Keyholder to me, is a much more interesting album in all aspects. It's better production. Sound-wise, I think the playing is better. I think the mix is better. I think the vocals and the lyrics are better. I think, just about anything, I think, is better on this new one. So, for me, is a completely stronger album than Notes from the Past.

Maybe more complicated and maybe that's why some people prefer Notes from the Past, I think, probably, I think that's the reason why.

MSJ: I'm also told that there are five other Kaipa album releases, but they're all in Swedish. So, what prompted the decision to do these new ones in English?
I think basically because in the seventies we were, as I mentioned, we were touring very much in Sweden, basically, we did play in Norway, but we didn't, we were about to go to England and play, but we never toured Europe really. So, you know, trying to about the same audience that Flower King's had was probably the idea, I guess.

MSJ: You touched upon communicating with your fans. I see you participate in the mailing list {referring to} quite a bit. I'm just wondering how much of that correspondence do you actually read from the mailing list?
Oh, not all of it of course. It's like, if it's something that concerns the band or comments on the touring or comments on an album, or if someone comes up with a something, you know, that's completely wrong I sometimes feel the need to step in and say this is not correct. Hey guys, listen this is how I see it, and sometimes I have more time, sometimes I don't have the time, you know, and sometimes I just leave it. There, have been times where I have commented on what people say or make comments just out of the blue and someone, it's like, opening a can of worms. We say something that makes people, annoyed and maybe I try, I think in the future stay out of that, because it leads nowhere, really. I mean, I said something about America when we toured last time and I said something that people were pissed off. Because we were in the middle of the war and everything.

You know, things like that, but anyway I think it's interesting. The reason for being there is to, you know, just to see what a few fans think. The list is like 20, 25 people posting. I suppose there are a couple of hundred people, you know, just lurking around the mailing list.Still I think every now and then you get some interesting feedback on, on what we do live, or the albums, or what direction people want to see the Flower King's going in the future.

Ahh, so it could be interesting, but it could also be boring sometimes to me. I mean, I don't read everything. I read what would seem to be interesting and leave the rest out, because I don't have the time, you know.

MSJ: If you see from a fan, a suggestion for like a set list or something they'd like to see on an album is that something that you'd take much notice of?
I don't take notice unless there's like 25 people, or if 25 notes, everyone saying you must play Monster Within or Stardust We Are next show's coming up, and then I suppose I talk to the other band members and say seems like many people want to hear this song, how do you feel about it, you know? Or, if 50 people tell us the new drummer sucks then at least we, maybe we won't sack him, but we, at least we, ask ourselves what's wrong, you know, seems like people don't like this guy.
MSJ: I don't think you have to worry about that.
No, no, no, absolutely not, but I mean, whatever comes up, it's like we don't ignore it, I mean we still do whatever we feel is right, you know. It's more like it's interesting to sometimes the fans, the way they see the band, and what they appreciate, and some kind of a positive feedback on whatever new album that's out or live shows and stuff like that. I'd rather not be isolated on an island just releasing album and having no contact at all. That's, I mean, that's another reason for being out and doing live shows, because you get to meet the fans doing live shows. Cause you get to meet the fans, and sign records, and, you get the instant feedback.

I think that's important to know who your fans are and how they think, and what they like about the band. I that's important really, it is, and I think that the Internet has helped us and many other bands to do that.

MSJ: Recently I picked up some Captain Beyond albums. It was the first I ever heard them and then I saw that you guys participated in a tribute album and then looking at your discography online I can see you have also done Genesis tributes and that sort of thing. I'm just wondering what's the motivation of getting involved in tribute bands. Are these bands that you enjoy?
No not really, in the case of Genesis, I was a fan of Genesis, uh, maybe not nowadays, uh, I mean they're no more, but I did like the later Genesis, I did like the Peter Gabriel Genesis era, but in the case of Captain Beyond it was just, you know, a guy that I was dealing with, a record label guy here in Sweden that wanted to do a tribute album with Captain Beyond, and I hadn't even heard them before. This great band from the seventies and we were doing a tribute album, and, and he is also a fan of the Flower King's, so he said how about you guys doing some sort of a version of, of whatever song we did and I said maybe we don't have the time for that, and he said yeah you can try, you know, and I think it ended up just me doing everything with the drum machines, guitars, keyboards, and everything. So, I said okay send me the album so I can hear the song and then I did my version of, of that song, so I had no connection really with Captain Beyond, really. Uh, that was just a name I've seen somewhere, but I didn't know what the band was about, you know.

As for the Genesis, we were asked to do that also from an American record label and, uh, they said, uh, you can do a Genesis song and you get paid for that, okay, fine. I, I was a fan of Genesis, so I, you know, just picked a song that I liked, and I said can I do this song, and they said oh yeah we have and say blah blah blah we have them, Patrick Morales doing this song and we have John Wetton doing this song, and we have this guy from the Strawbs doing that song, and yeah, that's you have the choice of doing that one or that one or that one, so if you take Cinema Show that's, that's fine. You can do that one and, and so we did, and, uh, that's about it. That's how it came about. It was never something that came up, you know, from the band or anyone wanting to do a tribute thing. It's more like someone asks you and we did it.

I think especially the Genesis song, came out pretty nice in the end. It seems like lots of fans like that version. I think it's in a way it's kind of true to the original, but I think we took the instrumental part to maybe another level, more intense and rocking than the original, which was kind of different anyway.

MSJ: Now along the lines of side projects I have to bring up The Tangent. The Tangent has sort of a Transatlantic feel to it kind of in its own way. I'm wondering, was this project meant to fill a void left by Transatlantic?
No, no, not really. This was just something that this guy who is in a British band called Parallel or 90 Degrees. A band that two times played support act for the Flower Kings. We got to get to know them and this guy was emailing me and say I'm working on this solo album and I'd like you to play guitar on a couple of tracks, and I said sure, let me hear the songs first, and they sent over the tracks and I think it sounded pretty okay actually, so I said sure I'll do that, and he said, can you ask Zoltan if he can play the drums. What do you think about that? And, I said sure I think I can ask Zoltan, I think it came about, because he was from the beginning he intended to use electronic drums or some kind of drum machine, and I said if I am going to play guitar, I think you need to put down at least proper drums, pretty good drummer, and he said do you think you ask Zoltan? I did, and then in came Jonas also, so we wanted to have like a professional rhythm section, and uh, he turned out to be three members of the Flower King's on the albums, and then he had already recorded stuff with David Jackson, who used to be in Van Der Graaf Generator. The prospect of the album seemed pretty okay.

You know, we just over a couple of months worked on that more like sending files from England to here and here from England, and it was his solo album until the day he said, I think this sounds like a band and I'd like you to be more involved, even in the mixing process and everything, and he said how about calling it The Something and then he came up with The Tangent, and said fine, it is your album anyway, but, that's okay, so I think this was something that was planned, from inside, to make a more like keyboard-oriented album, and like a solo album, but then it turned out to be a project, he wanted me on it, he wanted to have this David Jackson playing saxophones and flute, and that's, that's the way that album came about.

MSJ: What a lot of people are probably interested in knowing is since this was based on a concept, is this actually a one-time-only event or is this something you guys would consider getting together as this band and doing a future album with this line-up?
We didn't know at the time, it was, I mean, we never talked about that, but, just yesterday I think, it was or wasn't, maybe Friday, he called me, and he said he has been talking to the record label and they talked about doing another album. So, it seems like it is going to be a project that's more a band, whatever you call it, that's going to continue, so he seemed happy about that. He'd been writing songs already, but I think, he can just continue writing more songs, and try to make the next album next year.
MSJ: Are there any plans in the works right now for an upcoming Flower King's album?
Yeah, I mean I'm writing right now, and I'd like to spend some time writing, because I think it is important to have good songs, and we just see, I think beginning of next year, we'll try to get together, and keep on writing and start recording basic tracks and stuff like that, and hopefully have a new album out by September of next year. That's the plan. We'll see if we can stick to the plan or if something happens.

MSJ: Are there any plans for you to have another solo album anytime soon?
As I said, I'm writing songs, and I can see different possibilities. I'm writings songs and, and there are songs turns more towards like the possible guitar-oriented album or even a guitar albums. That could be like a solo album, I think, or a project, I don't know really, and some other songs that are more like, I would say more like pop songs, but with some sort of a proggy vibe, shorter songs, and that's another thing I'd like to do, so, I think before making any big decisions on what to do really, I think I just keep writing songs and if I come up with something that seems to be like a good album any way it turns out if it be a guitar album or like a, more like a pop rock solo album. Then, we'll see what happens. I mean, it all comes down to the songs and of course the time also, but it'd be interesting to do that and, and maybe work with some new people, you know, and see happens, what comes out of that.
MSJ: A lot of people say you are the best guitarist in the whole world and recently when Rolling Stone came out with the top 100 guitarists everybody was saying why is Roine Stolt not at number one or at least we were hearing this on the mailing list in the Flower King's community.
Well, it all comes down to taste, so I mean, I think there is so many people out there playing fantastic, I mean, lots of fantastic guitar players and probably not any one of those people I'm thinking of were on that list either. I mean, it's not a big deal. If Rolling Stones lists guitarists, it's probably, you'll find like the usual, Keith Richards. Maybe Mark Knopfler, you know, and a few other, uh, hard-core, uh, heavy metal guitar players, and people, you know, who play in Pearl Jam or whatever. It's like those guys, Alice in Chains. I guess that's the type of guitar players they list as the great, of course Jimi Hendrix maybe Neil Young is number one, who knows? So, it's like it's a different thing really, it all comes down to taste. Some people like people who play fast and some people like people who play very few notes like Carlos Santana, manages to play five notes last thirty years and still people like him. So, it all comes down to taste, and, uh, some like fingerpicking, acoustic, and that type of playing too, you know. There is so much, great music out there, so I mean, I'm happy, I'm happy to just have the chance to play and record music I like, and it's being on a list is of course nice but, it's not really important to me. I mean, I really understand if people prefer someone else or if they for no reason don't even know who I am, that's of course, understandable.
MSJ: I'm hoping at some point that you get discovered by the masses, and we'll start seeing you in the top 100 if not number one.
Yeah, I mean, that would be nice, and, not for the fame, I think, mostly for the fact if we can have a bigger audience then we can have more money to spend on nicer shows to America or the things that we are thinking we could do with the Flower King's, put on a nice light show, and put on a nice show basically and still keep the ticket prices down, you know. So people can have a nice time, and we can keep on playing the music that we like, that's basically so I, I would welcome reaching the big masses. That would be perfect. That would be perfect, and we can sell lots of records, and we can even make lots of money, and spend some money, and then give the rest of the money away to someone who needs it. That would be in a perfect world, I mean, that would be absolutely perfect.
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