On October 30th, 2020 progressive rockers THE FLOWER KINGS will release their new double album “Islands” on InsideOutMusic, just a year after the group’s much celebrated “Waiting For Miracles”.
Due to the Covid-19-pandemic, the album comes out quite a bit sooner than originally planned as the band’s creative mastermind Roine Stolt explains: “All shows and festivals were cancelled and the future didn’t really ‘unfold’ itself like we had hoped. To sit out the pandemic with no activities was not an option for us! We can’t be stopped by an evil virus! So, with members living in the USA, Italy, Austria and Sweden, the only way to realize this album, was to use the magic of the ‘net’, sending files around the globe and start building what now has become a mammoth-sized double album of 21 songs.”
The 92 minutes long “Islands” features artwork by legend Roger Dean (Yes, Asia, Gentle Giant, Greenslade, Uriah Heep) and all trademark sounds and melodies, the band is renowned for. From vintage keys to epic guitar solos, from odd drum patterns to symphonic elements, THE FLOWER KINGS present a dynamic and complex record that is bold, bombastic and beautiful.
Stolt reveals the following about the concept of the record: “The theme of the album is isolation – so the title ‘Islands’ felt like a most relevant title – as much of it circulates around isolation, loss, and the fear of being disconnected. Having to face this unexpected pandemic will leave marks on each one of us for a very long time and to lose loved ones forces us to soldier on, learning and growing a stronger version of ourselves in this fragile cycle of life.
Musically; the aim has been to create a bigger grand epic piece out of 21 songs – so they are all connected with themes that weave in and out – like the way ‘Sgt Peppers’ or ‘The Lamb’ were built on shorter songs, but yet linked. So view it as one mega song or as 21 separate pieces, it is all tailored to be listened to as one piece – like a cinematic 90min long ride.”
Disc One (49:40) 1 – Racing With Blinders On 4:24 2 – From The Ground 4.02 3 – Black Swan 5:53 4 – Morning News 4:01 5 – Broken 6:38 6 – Goodbye Outrage 2:19 7 – Journeyman 1:43 8 – Tangerine 3:51 9 – Solaris 9:10 10 – Heart Of The Valley 4:18 11- Man In A Two Peace Suit 3:21
Disc Two (43:01) 1 – All I Need Is Love 5:48 2 – A New Species 5:45 3 – Northern Lights 5:43 4 – Hidden Angles 0:50 5 – Serpentine 3:52 6 – Looking For Answers 4:30 7 –Telescope 4:41 8 – Fool’s Gold 3:11 9 – Between Hope & Fear 4:29 10 – Islands 4:12
“Islands” will be available as massive Limited 3LP & 2CD box set with slipcase and 180 gram vinyl housed in two gatefolds, one single sleeve; as Limited Edition 2CD Digipak and Digital Album. Presales will start September 11th, 2020.
We are living in unprecedented times and crossing over uncharted waters, it’s a new world; one we may have to get accustomed to for the foreseeable future.
As of March 20th, there are a reported 255,729 Coronavirus Cases since the outbreak began in December of 2019. 10,495 have died due to the virus and 89,918 people have so far recovered from the virus, of course, these are only the documented cases and the numbers could be much worse; there is no end in sight the short term.
(Covid-19) is attacking the social and economic fabric globally and does not discriminate against race, creed, sexual orientation, political affiliation or anything else for that matter. It has ravaged and even closed down most trades and no industry has been spared, from restaurants to schools, airlines, supply chains, and the entertainment industry.
While this is devastating to all industries, I believe one of the hardest hit are musicians, some of which do not have a second job, they rely solely on tours, music and merch sales to pay the bills. Many musicians have more than one job outside of music to sustain a living however due to the layoff and closers of businesses these musicians are dealing with the same issues as full-time musicians, loss of most all income. Most musicians lack one of the most basic and fundamental needs: insurance!
So we reached out on social and asked musicians some basic questions on how they are dealing with this Pandemic?
Ember Swift ~ China
How are you adapting to the Covid-19 Pandemic? I’m not sure a person reacts to a pandemic as much as a person has to react to the response the society has to a pandemic. The pandemic will occur whether we have a reaction or not. It will just calmly sneak through all our societies and infect some, take some, spare others, etc. The reaction from each country from the government down to community levels is what we all have to adapt to, not so much the virus itself. For me, I have gone through many different phases over the past 2 months, emotionally and psychologically. The isolation, the panic, the fear, the frustration, the eventual calm, and inward thinking, the reshuffling of personal goals, etc. This is something I just wrote about on my blog, but I’ve been chronicling the experience throughout this whole time: http://emberswift.com/lockdown-imposition-or-opportunity/
What type of challenges or opportunities has this presented to you? The opportunity to re-assess the future, really figure out what I want to accomplish when life returns to normal, analyzing my life in a more complete and detached way and then coming to some conclusions about how I want to move forward. There’s nothing like being forced into a “stall” or “pause” that can help you determine which paths to take when you’re finally able to put your foot back on the gas, so-to-speak. On a practical level, I have been studying Chinese again (hope to do my HSK Level 6, a Chinese language proficiency exam, in June), practicing guitar every day, cleaning and sorting my life, doing physical exercise and strength training in the home, and really focusing on my kids and their education–not just scholastically but as people.
Are you working on a new release? My new album was completed late last year but still needed some finishing touches. This got seriously delayed and the originally planned-for release date was March 2020. That didn’t happen, of course, so now I’m slowly tying up loose ends but aiming for a September release. No matter what, I’m still really proud that there are some great songs in the pipe even if it takes a bit longer to release them to the world.
Are you planning on performing via a live streaming platform? I thought of doing this in February, but during that time the rest of the world was going about life as usual and there wasn’t much of a call to do it. Now that everyone is on lockdown, I may consider it! I’ve never done a live-stream concert, but it sounds like a good challenge.
How has this affected you on a personal level? I sort of spoke about this above in how it has forced some self-reflection and re-assessment of goals/direction etc. It’s also challenged my patience and positivity, but I think I’ve become stronger for it. I would also note that pushing myself to do things on a daily basis that are good for me and trying to stick to it in a disciplined way (not that I’m always perfect because, yes, I do miss days!) has been the healthier approach to this. It’s really easy to get lost in TV series or constant media consumption when you’re stuck indoors, but I find this mind-numbing and hollowing. In the end, what’s best for me isn’t best for everyone, but this experience will show each of us, individually, what kind of life we want to life vs. the kind of life we have been living. This is invaluable information for our futures.
Will you continue creating and performing now and after the dust settles? Nothing will ever change the fact that I’m a musician and songwriter and creator. I have gone through worse ordeals in life and, in the end, the music still anchors me and serves as my greatest outlet for inspiration and expression. I often say that music is my essential nutrient and, without it, I’d be depleted. Therefore, there’s not a single droplet of doubt that I will continue to create and perform music indefinitely… most likely until my time on this earth comes to its natural end.
Ember Swift Is a Canadian Folk Pop musician based out of Beijing, China, Ember is planning on releasing her 13th album in September 2020
How are you adapting to the Covid-19 Pandemic? Like everyone really, the worse part of it for me is the ignorance of others who could harvest and pass it to others who might not be able to survive. The other is the hoarding of everyday items we all use and need, selfish assholes in the world instead of realizing there is more than just themselves.
What type of challenges or opportunities has this presented to you? Clearly the biggest one is not being able to tour, live shows and appearances are my life’s blood now. The business used to go hand in hand in terms of albums and sessions to royalties to touring. These days without being able to tour and play live, I just watch the past earnings dwindle at a rapid rate. It’s not so bad but upcoming shows and months of cancellations will turn into desperate times. Are you working on a new release? On several actually, I just finished my next solo album with Frontiers Records, “Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)”, I got my keyboardist/guitarist of SOTO a deal on the same label which I am co-writing and co-producing the album with my producer of the new JSS album, Alessandro Del Vecchio and we have started writing/recording the next WET album. I was stressed I had to do all of this while touring with Sons Of Apollo and my acoustic dates in May with Jason Bieler but the positive of this self-quarantine means I can do it all stress-free now.
Are you planning on performing via a live streaming platform? At the moment no, I don’t want to pressure or stress anyone out now financially that might be tightening their belts at this time. We’re all gonna suffer from this and I personally don’t feel it’s right to ask anyone to invest in me further until we see the light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t feel I have anything to offer in terms of pay-per-view or streaming so I would rather ride it out and hope the end is sooner than later.
Are you offering your fans any incentives to help support your music? I am pushing things here and there, again not asking them to invest money in now, more to remind them I will be returning soon, hopefully! I am trying to do my part in sharing my thoughts on staying the course, follow the advice so we can go back to normal life sooner than later. How has this affected you on a personal level? So far, not much, I am pretty much a homebody anyway, I gather with a small group of friends here and there but am actually quite content I could enjoy being at home during this time. It’s not difficult for me to hole up at home especially as I said, I am leisurely getting things I had to do without stress.
Will you continue creating and performing now and after the dust settles? Yes, I already answered this and any postponed shows have already been rebooked for upcoming months with hopes those don’t get moved as well. That will be the worst part, everyone clamoring to rebook all of these canceled tours and shows at the same time. People will need time to get their lives back in order before they will be ready to spend as they were before this all went down. I am hoping for everything to come back orderly so we can all pick up where we left off.
How are you adapting to the Covid-19 Pandemic? I have been following the progression for about 3 weeks now, In Canada, they closed everything mostly and we have to stay home. Hopefully, the quick response here will keep the casualties low. In the Studio, we are always locked up anyway.
What type of challenges or opportunities has this presented to you? The biggest challenge was to decide if we canceled the European gigs for Mystery and Huis ( end of March 2020) it was a hard decision to make, did not please everyone, but now we know we took the decision and we are glad we took it before, it was forced on everyone.
The opportunities are that we will have more time for a while to create new music, but at the same time, I think all our 2020 gigs will be canceled now.
Are you working on a new release? Yes, both Mystery and Huis are working on new albums, both were already planned before the pandemic.
Are you planning on performing via a live streaming platform? The band has thought about it, we were supposed to try one this weekend but we had to cancel because everything is closed in Montreal. We are looking at what we will do with that, probably offering more Live videos in the coming week.
Are you offering your fans any incentives to help support your music? Our fans have always been really good to MYSTERY, and now I think it is important that they support their families,
How has this affected you on a personal level? Sincerely, very scared and not optimistic for once. I hope everything will be fine but…
Will you continue creating and performing now and after the dust settles? Of course, I am afraid traveling to other countries will become more difficult, We will see how this will change the world,
Michel St-Pere is a multi-instrumentalist Canadian founder of AOR Prog Band Mystery, a full-time member of Huis and Owner ofUnicorn Digital an independent record label.
What type of challenges or opportunities has this presented to you? Well we just had to cancel playing on Cruise to the Edge and two Canadian dates with The Flower Kings because of the Corona virus. As it is now I have festivals booked this summer with both HFMC and The Flower Kings. At the moment they’re happening but you never know?
Are you working on a new release? I had decided to record with HFMC Corona or not. However, we really had to change plans with The Flower Kings, with the result we’re about to start the recording as soon as possible.
Will you continue creating and performing now and after the dust settles? Corona will not make me stop. When this is blown over I most likely have two albums ready for release.
Hasse Fröberg is a Swedish Guitarist, composer, and vocalist for HFMC – Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion and The Flower Kings
How are you adapting to the Covid-19 Pandemic? Musicians are adaptable, we are used to having to deal with the obscure … it’s harder for others I think, well again it’s about adapting, you cut your cloth according to your needs …
Are you working on a new release? We are working on a new release hopefully for later in the year
Are you planning on performing via a live streaming platform? Possibly, we will look at live streaming and other options.
Will you continue creating and performing now and after the dust settles? It obviously depends on us all getting through it …but we are always optimistic (our middle name ) I hope everyone stays safe.
John Young is the founder, keyboardist, and songwriter for British Prog Band Lifesigns as well as a touring member and or session musician for the likes of Bonnie Tyler, the Scorpions, and Fish among others.
How are you adapting to the Covid-19 Pandemic? Well after the recent surgeries I thought this was the beginning of a fresh new start however this terrible virus has taken us all by surprise, being diabetic I have heart disease I am very vulnerable. I have not had the flue for over 7 years so I do have a strong immune system. I will not take any chances and will remain in lockdown until this thing is under control. I have plenty to do ie writing new music and rehearsing them.
What type of challenges or opportunities has this presented to you? As above
Are you working on a new release? Yes, working on songs for the second part Planetary Overload “HOPE” and my Solo album, “The First and Last” and one other project which will be revealed later in the year
Are you planning on performing via a live streaming platform? Sean and I might do something for the upcoming vinyl release of Artificial TBC
Are you offering your fans any incentives to help support your music? I haven’t thought about it, but I think you will see two new videos released very shortly that will hopefully push the album a little
How has this affected you on a personal level? I am just worried about my family, my Dad is 92 on 28th and my step mum is still alive at home and is completely isolated so that’s a good thing but I still worry about them. My brother has diabetes and Heart disease too so Like me we have to be very careful.
Will you continue creating and performing now and after the dust settles? We are planning to back to the USA in the new year and we are working on a European tour. UPF and UNITOPIA
Mark Trueack is an Australian Vocalist, Songwriter & Producer for both UPF (United Progressive Fraternity) – Unitopia
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