By JESSICA A. BOTELHO
After taking a five-year break between recording studio albums, the progressive rock band The Flower Kings recently released a new album, Banks of Eden, and Roine Stolt, the band’s founder, vocalist and guitarist, says it’s in full bloom. Also, the seeds have been planted for a 30-date European tour, which will blossom in September.
Stolt says the hiatus was necessary to recharge the band’s batteries and restore creative juices. It gave them the power to produce a bouquet of quality material.
“We were going on and on for years making new albums and tours and after a while you just lose without a clue why you keep doing it,” he said. “I think it is extremely important to make music for the right reason, and money, while important, shall not be the prime reason to go on. Now, we are back [and] hungry to set the TFK wheels in motion again. There is so much fun ahead of us and so much new music to be written.”
The band, which consists of Stolt, bassist Jonas Reingold, keyboardist Tomas Bodin, singer and guitarist Hasse Froberg and drummer Felix Lehrmann, began recording the album in late January at Varispeed Studios in Sweden. It was recorded in the style of early progressive rock records, with all members playing live in one room.
“It was very important to actually play it together, just like all great bands and records from the classic era,” he said. “It’s about chemistry and interplay – a band that cannot play the music live in the studio will most certainly run into a problem once a tour comes up.”
While Pat Mastelotto of King Crimson, as well as Stick Men, played drums for several live dates with The Flower Kings in the past, the band sought a different drummer for a permanent slot in the band, as Mastelotto lives in Texas and the band is based in Sweden.
Instead, they made a more logistical choice when they hired Lehrmenn of Berlin, Germany.
“It takes only one hour to fly here from Berlin so it is all manageable,” Stolt said. “By the way, he is so much fun and a powerhouse drummer. I think it took me about five minutes to realize [Lehrmenn] is very lighthearted and passionate about his playing. He is a driven professional drummer with great confidence [and] that’s one of the things we were looking for.”
With Lehremenn on board, the band is looking forward to taking with them a vast catalog of songs on tour. Stolt promised fans will be treated to “quite a few” songs from the new album, plus “old favorites.”
“We could, of course, search for songs that are more obscure but in the end everyone is just looking for a good time,” Stolt says. “If I go see Paul McCartney, I’d rather hear him play ‘The Long and Winding Road,’ ‘Penny Lane,’ ‘Let It Be’ or ‘Live and Let Die’ than any obscure song from his vast solo material. I guess we’re just blessed to have really interesting and emotional material to play. We do not rely on a couple of single hit tunes; we rely on a multitude of rock symphonies.”
Following the tour, Stolt says he and the boys will start working on another album. He also said he sees the band doing an American tour in early 2013, with stops in Canada and Mexico. As far as anything else, he’s being a bit tight-lipped.
“The rest I’ll leave ‘open,’ as it’s more interesting to just wait and see where the music takes us,” said Stolt. “There is an awful lot of interest for the band at the moment. I can see great things happening in the near future.”
One thing Stolt is interested in talking about is the fact that the band openly embraces being categorized as a progressive rock band, as there are a lot of bands and musicians who refuse to associate with the progressive rock title.
“I’ve never thought of my music as ‘progressive’ until others said it was, but I’m OK as long as people know what the music is about,” he said. “I’d rather walk tall and be proud of being a progressive musician than hide. When people like Steve Wilson [of Porcupine Tree and Blackfield] say they were afraid of being tagged with the old prog bands I just find it sad and a bit opportunist. I’ve never made any excuses for my music or afraid to admit I once loved the music of Procol Harum, King Crimson, Yes or Genesis. They were part of my musical upbringing, just like Hendrix, Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles [and] ABBA.”
On a lighter note, he says the music, coupled with the freedom to create whatever he wants, whenever he wants, is the best part about being in The Flower Kings.
“Plus, of course, the camaraderie being a band on the road – us against the world. It’s a powerful thing being in a ‘team.’,” he said.