"Islands", the 14th album of the Flower Kings, is already the sixth double-decker of the Swedish prog formation - and according to band mastermind Roine Stolt this is completely unintentional. As he explains in the interview, the ambiguous title was created on a trip to Africa.
The Flower Kings have been around for a quarter of a century. If you consider that band boss, singer and guitarist Roine Stolt also has or had his nimble fingers in various other projects such as Kaipa, Transatlantic, The Tangent or The Sea Within, 14 studio albums in this period are a remarkable number, even if he obviously can draw from a veritable cornucopia of musical ideas. Despite the Corona crisis, the slag from Uppsala, Sweden, is "doing brilliantly", as he emphasizes during the phone call: "So why should I cut back when I enjoy being in the studio almost every day and working on new ideas?
Stolt and his four comrades-in-arms - guitarist Hasse Fröberg, bassist Jonas Reingold, keyboarder Zach Kamins and drummer Mirko DeMaio - worked on the 21 tracks of "Islands" for almost a year. A lot of time for an impatient person like Roine Stolt. "But in the end, the fiddling paid off," says the busy musician happily. "But now I would like to get out on stage to present the new songs to the world. Unfortunately, there is an enemy who knows how to prevent this," he sighs.
eclipsed: Why did you choose "Islands" as the title for your new album? King Crimson came up with this idea almost 50 years ago.
Roine Stolt: Of course I was aware of this fact. And it does not mean that I want to compete with the unique men around Robert Fripp. In fact, the idea came to me for a song with this title, which now concludes the double CD, while I was on an island in Africa with my wife. We went for a walk, enjoyed this so exotic, fascinating atmosphere, lived completely in the moment. Spontaneously I remembered this song, the basic idea of which I immediately sang into my smartphone. Maybe I'm ready for the island at 64? (laughs)
eclipsed: The term "island" can also stand for "isolation"..
Stolt: Exactly, in the positive as well as in the negative sense. In times of this bizarre corona virus it is unfortunately also about isolation. This thing makes us humans move further and further away from our counterpart, alienate ourselves from him. I have no idea how all this will continue. Some mornings when I open my eyes, I wish the nightmare was over. I hope my wish will come true soon. (groans)
eclipsed: So Corona had influence on your current production?
Stolt: Unfortunately a big one. We started working on the new songs before the pandemic, the demos were mostly in the can until the beginning of March. Actually we had planned to finish them together in my studio in Sweden. No chance! Suddenly we had to finish it with the help of mails and tools. Whereby it has to be said that the record, which was planned from the beginning, has not changed musically or in content because of Corona.