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Roine Stolt

Interviewed by Steve Alspach
Interview With Roine Stolt from 2006
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 6 at

How have the tours for Paradox Hotel - and the album itself - been received?
The album has received very good reviews, the best in many years, if not the best ever for us. We're thrilled. The tours also have been very successful, with many sold out or next to sold out shows and a great response.

Also I think we have played well and found a nice balance within the new and older material and also between the rocking and the soft dreamy stuff.

MSJ: The cover art for Paradox Hotel was rather charming and humorous. Do you think the artist captured your essence?
Yes definitely, this is something that was created over last Christmas, so I had a daily contact with the artist Andres Valle, who lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I really felt we should go out there and try something new.

Everyone seems to have enjoyed it quite a bit.

MSJ: How do feel your sense of songwriting has changed over the years? My take is that the Kings' music has become more complicated over the years. Would you agree with that assessment?
No, not more complicated, perhaps more detailed, or the details are more worked out and less "layer upon layer," so in the end it is hopefully easier to understand. We're trying to be both accessible and yet sophisticated on both composing and playing. It's been our trademark, sort of.

MSJ: The Flower Kings are noted for some epic, 20 to 30-minute pieces. How do you bring these pieces to the rest of the band?
These long tracks have been pretty much done whenever I present them to the rest of band, but I suppose it is both good and bad. I mean it's good in a sense that they are really worked out into the every tiny detail, but on the other hand there might be less of an input from other members.

For "Garden Of Dreams," Tomas and I wrote it together so that one was different, very much a 50-50 collaboration - much fun too, creating that way, very organic.
MSJ: Could you tell us more about "Elaine" (from the Rainmaker CD)?
Not much to say really, it was just a beautiful little acoustic guitar tune and I wanted it to be different so I wrote the lyrics about a fictitious girl named Elaine. The odd thing is that she is not thought of to be that beautiful so the world treats her with less respect, (than if she'd be a real hot babe). The world is cruel. You can't really choose your looks, you can work on them, but you're pretty much stuck with what you've got. It's grim, Elaine was thought of as the guardian saint for all us ugly people. But it's innocent, too - for someone who does not know about the competition out there and the race to be beautiful, to be accepted.

MSJ: Could you tell us about your routine in composing songs? A song such as "Mommy Leave the Light On" is rather simple compared to some of the other songs ("Monsters and Men").
Yes. "Mommy..." I wrote in perhaps 30 minutes, but I like it a lot, it has a certain vibe - haunting. "Monsters and Men" took me many, many hours, days, weeks - I work on many themes simultaneously and change tempos, keys, rhythms until I find it to be complete.
MSJ: You said that the Paradox Hotel album dealt with our lives and having "checked in" to this strange global hotel. Besides the title track, what other songs on the album address this concept?
Well, in fact that statement was something that got a bit twisted in the translation. The Paradox Hotel is more like a housing for all these different stories. I mean each song tells a story in a way - different people - they are not us; we just give them a voice.

Short fictitious stories or observations, under one roof - The Hotel was a nice housing.
MSJ: Have there been other albums that are thematically based? The Rainmaker seemed like a rather dark album - maybe it was just the cover art.
We've never restricted ourselves to doing a complete concept CD’s, we've always put the songs first, if the songs are good the album ix gonna be good. But yes there are threads; there are links between songs. There are fragmented themes.
MSJ: You've been playing guitar for some 30+ years now. Any tips or ideas on how to approach the guitar with a fresh mind and search for new ideas, tricks, sounds, etc.?
As far as I know Transatlantic is "put on ice" because Neal wanted to pursue his Christian solo career. I have no other information, because that's what I've been told.
MSJ: In "Progression" magazine you were quoted as saying that the break-up of Transatlantic was somehow laid at your feet. As an outsider with no information rather than hazarding a guess, I would have guessed that Neal Morse's "career shift," brought on by his Christian beliefs, were just as important, if not more so. Please feel free to make any comments you wish to make regarding Transatlantic.
As far as I know Transatlantic is "put on ice" because Neal wanted to pursue his Christian solo career. I have no other information, because that's what I've been told.
MSJ: Your work with the Tangent was, I felt, stellar, especially The Music that Died Alone. How was it working with Andy Tillison and David Jackson? With Zoltan and Jonas on board as well, did it feel a bit like a pseudo-Flower Kings project?
It was really a favor for a friend, Andy Tillison, he's a kind guy and I wanted to help him record his solo album. That later turned into the Tangent. However I didn't plan to be in his band forever. I had to leave, I don't have the time to stay in projects like that - it's too close to TFK.

MSJ: Have you heard any good music lately?
Oh yeah, Elton John - Captain and The Kid, Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach, Spiraling – Transmitter, Weather Report - 8:30, Roseanne Cash - Black Cadillac
MSJ: How about movies or DVD’s?
“Constant Gardener,” “Hotel Rwanda,” “Fun With Dick and Jane,” “Crash,” “Matador,” “Memoirs Of A Geisha,” “Kingdom Of Heaven” (by Ridley Scott), and most anything by Tim Burton.

Music DVD: Flying Food Circus -Tour Deville

MSJ: What's on store in terms of future projects? When will the Kings reconvene (i.e. when will you all start writing new material)?
Oh, I've written truckloads already and we'll get together in March to record. We might do some demos before that. I also have another project coming up with a few interesting international collaborations from musicians who play Chapman stick and electric violin - and flutes - more like a world/symphonic rock thing.
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