Roine Stolt interview regarding Agents of Mercy, The Flower Kings, Kaipa…
1. Thank you very much, Roine for taking your time!
I would like to start our interview with asking you a few questions regarding your childhood and teen years. Where did you grow up and what were some of your influences or inspirations back then?
I was born (in 1956) and raised in Uppsala, Sweden, I had 2 brothers and my mother played a bit of piano and we had lots of music at home- on the radio, but no recordplayer until 1967. My early influences were The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix,The Doors and Procol Harum. I started to play guitar at the age of 12 mostly on my fathers acoustic 6 string .
Was Kaipa your first band, or were you in any other bands before that?
I was in a number of school bands but with Kaipa I became a professional and I was 17 years old and it was like a dream come true to be able to play music for a living.
2. How did you came together with other guys from Kaipa and what can you tell us about recording and producing three amazing LP’s you were part of in the 70’s?
I had read about the band, who was first a trio, in a music magazine, then I met the drummer at a local gig and he told me about the band and that they were looking for a guitarplayer. I was probably shy but a bit cooky too so I called him up a week later and said I was interested to do an audition. I went there for about 2 weeks every day rehearsing the songs – and I got the job.
3. Would you like to share some interesting stories that happened to you with Kaipa?
Oh, maybe too many to mention. We worked around 350 days a year so as you may imagine it’s a universe of memories and fun.
4. After Kaipa you started your own band called Fantasia. What can you say about Fantasia?
It was a band that was similar to Kaipa,we played progrock but we also had a percussionist so we had marimba, vibraphone etc. The band later turned into a more regular pop-rock band and got signed to Warner Bros. We existed for 2 years.
5. In 1983 you split with Fantasia and you slowly started working on your solo projects and among them you also started your own record company in late 80’s called Foxtrot Music. Would you like to share a few words about the beginnings of the company?
I think it was my mother who said- “why don’t you just start your own company instead of go asking the bigger companies to release your music”. After thinking about it I thought, yes-why not, that’ll give me a chance to have more artistic freedom. I’ve never looked back since – but The Flower kings and Transatlantic have been signed to Inside Out/EMI because the band grew bigger than we could handle ourselves.
6. When the 90’s came you decided to start The Flower Kings, out of your solo album with the same title. How did it all started and what do you remember from some of the early sessions you had together?
The first album,called “The Flower King” was written 1993 and constructed in the computer,with me playing most of the instruments, but I had Jaime Salazar and Hasse Bruniusson play drums and it was exciting to hear the songs once they had overdubbed the drumtrax. I worked hard on that album and was very proud of it, but had no idea it would be the starting point for one of the most successful progrock bands of the last 20 years.
7. Sooner then later you started recording Back in the World of Adventures, which was released in 1995. Next year you released Retropolis and in 1997 Stardust We Are. I would like if you could tell us what are some of the strongest memories from recording and producing these albums?
For these albums I had both Tomas Bodin and Jaime Salazar contributing great parts and ideas and my brother played bass on some of it and likewise I invited Hasse Fröberg to sing some songs and Ulf Wallander to play saxophone.
8. Then followed by your solo album called Hydrophonia, which is a bit different album…I can hear lot’s of Zappa influences in it…
Yes it was interesting to record an instrumental album, it’s probably the marimba that makes it sound like Zappa, and there are a few orchestrated improvised bits that may resemble the Zappa music too, more the sounds than the songs. I recorded most of that album in my Foxtrot Records office (except the drums) so it was a new interesting experience.
Flower Kings then released Flower Power: A Journey to the Hidden Corners of Your Mind and many others great albums. Let’s stop at your latest studio album called The Sum of No Evil. Would you like to tell us the concept behind that album and what can we expect in the future from The Flower Kings?
Sum Of No Evil was just an album of songs rather than a concept, besides the more global concept of “peace&love” that has always been part of Flower Kings message. It was a great experience and we recorded live in a room at the Varispeed studio in Sweden, i was just like the 70’s and the music came alive very nicely, great drumming from Zoltan..
9. You are also a part of Transatlantic and Agents of Mercy, which released brand new album called The Black Forest.
Yes this our 3rd album with Agents Of Mercy since 2009 , it has become a real band that have now played a lot of shows. Jonas Reingold was already on the 1st album and after we did a joint venture tour with his Karmakanic band in 2009 Lalle Larsson came in as a keyboardist and he in turn he brought in his friend and drummer Walle Wahlgren just in time for our 2nd album recording, Dramarama, in spring of 2010. So when we got together to record 2nd album we did all feel that the chemistry was right and that we enjoyed to play together as well as have talks about music,life and philosophies. We had many good laughs together- and if a band can laugh it has good chances to stay together. All of them are very genuine musicians. It felt we should strike while the iron was hot so we decided to work on what became “The Black Forest”, a slightly more heavy and dark album. It is both a more hard rockin’ album and also more symphonic, we’ve included more classical influences and dramatic sounds from pipe organ and choirs. I was thinking in terms of a classic Alfred Hitchcock movie, like Black & white and lots of shadows to create more drama.
10. The album is conceptual and I was hoping if we could talk about the concept behind it. What did you had in mind, while writing songs?
We live in a time of uncertainty, there are all sorts of threats lurking out there, this beautiful blue planet is also a scary place where we see wars,greed,famine,uncurable deceases,religious,environmental and economical turbulence reign the world. We tried to write timeless stories with a cinematic quality, there’s good bits of both “Lord Of The Rings” and more modern Tim Burton style surrealism. With the history of The Flower Kings, in my case, it felt refreshing to write music that had a bit of a darker edge and more melodrama.
11. The music is different, then on previous releases…it’s more rock oriented. I mean you still have a lot of symphony in your sound, but I can hear a bit more bluesy or should I say more raw sound, do you agree?
Yes, a lot of the music I’ve been involved in the last 15 years have been heavily dominated by keyboards so it felt good to put focus more on guitars and heavier drumming, to give the music a harder edge but still with bombastic and symphonic orchestration.
12. I would love to hear where did you record it and what can you say about the recording sessions?
We recorded it at Fenix Studios in Sweden- it is a top modern studio but built much like the old 70’s studios to accomodate a band in the studio room,so we could play together just like the 70’s. It’s the magic of analogue tape- like in the 70’s – it’s difficult to tell why, but it just sounds better, bigger and more detailed. Digital eqipment is fine but the “filter” that a analogue tape brings, sort of beef the sound up and make it more 3 dimentional and wide. However the studio is fantastic and had many other advantages and great gear too – only the section of boutique guitar amps was staggering. Great hammond B3, Fender Rhodes etc. so lots of vintage stuff.
13. Another thing I dig a lot is that you create an amazing atmosphere! It really goes well with the name Dark Forrest…
I guess it is the cineast in me that try hard to create a cinematic atmosphere ,to take the listener on a journey.
14. What are some of your future plans? Tour, new album maybe…?
I cannot reveal those- but I have 3 big projects coming up next year, so it looks very,very promising.
15. Ronnie, thank you! Would you like to send a message to It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine readers?
Well, take care of your family and friends – it’s a blessing we unfortunately overlook. Peace to all – peace is a handshake away.
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Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
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