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Progressive Rock Interviews

Roine Stolt

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Roine Stolt from 2009
MSJ: Since the last time we chatted you've recorded with Transatlantic again. How did that come about?
I simply got an email from Neal saying he wanted us to record again and I said, “yes” because I've always wanted to do a third album. However I was a bit surprised because it's been so long since last time, but we really enjoyed it and it was like we've just stopped a few months ago only - very odd.

A great experience and a very good new album is what we have.
MSJ: I'm sure there have been more projects in the world of Roine Stolt. You are one of those guys who always seems to be busy with his hand in one musical pot or another. Can you catch us up?
I'm busy doing so many new projects so I feel it will be a good time to rest from The Flower Kings for a year or two - for me, the band and the fans. Lately too many people have taken TFK for granted and I don't appreciate that so much.

In January 2008 I had some time off and was trying to go through all the material I've been writing over the  last few years. I tried to put it all in to certain categories - and in the end came  up with things like :  "Acoustic guitar tunes" - "Jazz fusion and Afro" -  "70s prog" - "Orchestral" - "Hymns" "Beatpop," etc.

I've recently released an album with my new band/side project Agents of Mercy. It came about because  I decided to start working on an acoustic album   since it was something I'd never released before and it seemed like a   logical step away from the quite dense and bombastic music that was on the latest Flower Kings album (The Sum Of No Evil). So I started to work on that acoustic thing in early summer 2008.

I saw the name “Unifaun” popping up on a few places on the internet and just reviewed their myspace to hear  a few snippets. I instantly liked it and especially the quality of Nad's voice - his timbre reminded me of some of my favourite singers like Steve Winwood, Gary Brooker, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins and sometimes even John Lennon  or Cat Stevens. So I contacted him and told him I was working on an acoustic album and wanted him to do lead vocal on a few tracks.

In the end it turned into a more symphonic rock album where Nad sings lead vocals on 9 tunes and most of the backing vocals. For drumming I asked Pat Mastelotto. He's such a great guy and I really enjoyed working with him on the 2007 Flower Kings tour so I wanted to work with him on an album too.
He was a little busy at the time doing things with just anyone - Crimson got back together and later also with Terry Bozzio and Alan Holdsworth in Japan.

I thought I'd contact Jimmy Keegan too, who actually wanted to join TFK  a while back when we were looking for a new drummer, but it didn't work out then because of the geographical complications but I respect him very much as a musician and love his live work with Spock’s Beard and I'd heard him on Santana’s Supernatural CD too.

Then last I couldn't resist asking Zoltan to play on a few tracks too because I love his playing. He was great as always.

I've also just been part of another new group 3rd World Electric. It was my idea to do a fusion album so I got Jonas Reingold onboard and we've been working on it on and off since last summer. The album is just released a few weeks back on Jonas’ new label Reingold Records (www.reingoldrecords.com). We have fusion giant Dave Weckl drumming on it and percussionist Ayi Solomon and sax player 
Karl Martin Almquist and more - very cool album in the style of Weather Report and Return To Forever.

Plus as you may know the new Transatlantic CD - Whirlwind, will be released on October 25th .
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music, what do you think you'd be doing?
Painting and cooking - I love both but have too little time.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
A lot I hope, a new guitar album, in fact the first I've ever done, plus a new Agents of Mercy is in the writing. Furthermore there will be a Transatlantic tour in spring 2010.
MSJ: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It's been said by the major labels that it's essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales - would you agree?
I think it helps spreading the word but definitely makes all bands sell less. It's too easy to not pay for all our hard work and investment, and people can be anonymous on the internet so they never need to face the musicians they've stolen from.
MSJ: In a related question how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?
These days you cannot stop it anyway and we saw it coming years ago so we just said, "record whatever you want. Trade it, but don’t sell it, or we come burn down your house!” 
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch-nemesis and why?
No idea ... Bono from U2 perhaps.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band, who would be in it?
Drums: Rodney Holmes
Bass: Tony Levin
Percussion: Pat Mastelotto
Keyboards: Lyle Mays & Tom Brislin
Guitar: Jeff Beck (and me)
Vocal: Nad Sylvan,Graham Nash & Oletha Adams
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view, who would be playing?
Oh...that's difficult but I'd guess I would want:

Joni Mitchell and band and big orchestra (doing Travelogue and Both Sides 
Now
songs)

Paul McCartney and band (with Ringo Starr guesting)

Wayne Shorter and band (including Rodney Holmes and Alphonso Johnson)

Jeff Beck quartet (including Vinnie Colaiuta)

Derek Trucks Band

Debashish Bhattacharya

Pat Metheny Group

Jackson Browne (with David Crosby and Graham Nash guesting)

U2

Bruce Springsteen

David Bowie

Genesis (a well rehearsed original band playing Lamb and Selling England)
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?
The ones I've listened to lately would be:

Vangelis - Mythodea - a fantastic album that is one of his few real orchestral works, so not only synthesizers but a real orchestra and choir and opera sopranos.

Coldplay - Viva La Vida - a nice and melodic album

The Beatles - Anthology – discs 3 and 4  - timeless melodies
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Last concert was Alan Holdsworth trio at the Baked Potato in  Los Angeles on October 11th - great playing all over and especially by drummer Gary Husbands.

Before that the real concert was Jackson Browne in Stockholm this summer - really good.
MSJ: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you'd like to get out there?
Well in a half crazy world where people insist  killing for profit or religion  it is not easy to always be in high spirits or ever positive - but I've developed some method of keeping reasonably happy and grateful for the good things in life  - and try share that if at all possible.

I just like to say that we shall all try to keep that spirit whatever happens and love will lift us up.

Much love to all our/my fans out there.
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
You'll find an audio interview of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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