The Night Flight Orchestra (Sweden)

The Night Flight Orchestra have been gracing the ears of the world for some time now, through four acclaimed releases, two Swedish Grammy nominations, and massive tours. At first considered a side project, The Night Flight Orchestra has quickly become a big name in the scene amassing fans from many backgrounds. Now coming through with latest opus Aeromantic, they are sure to continue their ascendance into the stratosphere.

Metal-Roos: Aeromantic sounds absolutely fantastic! Shimmering and polished, but layered and deep, while maintaining that retro vibe, how are the feelings in TNFO camp? Everyone excited for the new release?

Yeah! I mean, we’re super excited. We’ve been in the studio and writing this album for quite some time now. But there’s always the wait you know? After you get that master, that final mix in your hand and you start listening to it, you get excited! But it’s like four months before it gets released. We have released two singles so far, and people seem to really like those, so far. We can’t wait to share the album with the world. It will definitely take you on a journey. If you’ve heard the singles, you’re in for a treat when you listen through the whole album. It’s always about the album in the end. It’s a very diverse album, some of the songs are very different from each other, but it makes sense in the end, it’s all connected.

M-R: Aeromantic has been called “Decadent, Melancholic but life-affirming”. Does this have anything to do with its lyrical direction?

I would say so, but it’s always been there, that sort of Scandinavian element of melancholy running through the lyrics, but still so euphoric you know? I think that might be the ABBA tradition running through it. Their songs were uplifting and sometimes pretty happy but also very serious subjects, people see them as a happy disco band, but there’s so much more than that, you know? That’s been something very inspiring for us both arrangement wise and also lyrically as well. The lyrics are somewhat melancholic but also uplifting and cinematic; both music and lyrics are pretty cinematic. I guess we play cinematic rock! That’s what I like to call it if I want to get pretentious…haha

M-R: When writing lyrics do you have ideas about what you want to write about? Do you let the song speak to you, or a bit of both?

David (Andersson) writes most of the music. I write some and Sebastian Forslund writes some. I usually express myself better through melodies than lyrics. It always comes with a melody first so that I will create the song first and then I think lyrics. With David it’s a little bit different, I think he writes the lyrics while his composing the song which impress me! I’ve been a singer and a lyricist for quite some time, and he keeps inspiring me, but that’s how it usually works for me. I speak through the melody, and then I need to find the words to sort of fit into that, which matches the vibe of the song, it’s always an interesting process.

M-R: I have read that TNFO never really leave the studio. Having two producers in the band with personal studios definitely influences that, but how do you approach developing an album for the band? Do you just write forty songs and choose the best? Or do you look for a theme?

We usually write separately, it doesn’t sound like it when you listen to the album, but we don’t really jam per-say. Maybe a little bit in the studio, record some of the stuff live, drums, bass and rhythm guitar and then we add everything else afterwards, that’s how it works sometimes. But we write separately. When we communicate with each other, send it out and see what people think, if they like it or not, then we bring it to the studio. It’s kind of like skeletons which are open for interpretation, and it’s in the studio when everything comes alive. As you said we never really leave the studio, whether there’s an album planned or not. We always book these sort of sessions in a long weekend or sometimes two weeks for a longer session because we like it! We like to write music. I think that process removes the drama around creating a new album, because it just goes and goes, that creative process. With Soilwork, for example, you can really feel the album cycle, you do all the touring then break for three months, and then you approach the new album. It turns dramatic, but this is taking the drama away since we’re just constantly moving on and recording stuff and the inspiration is just going completely crazy. It’s really interesting; there’s no writer’s block whatsoever.

M-R: I heard that The Night Flight Orchestra have wicked writing dynamic, is it all positive, or has there been any challenges during writing and recording or Aeromantic?

Not really, no! We could have released a double album if we wanted to! We didn’t want to push our luck… hahaha We’re just constantly working on this vault of songs. I don’t even know how many songs we have currently but some of them we pick up again and say, what about that song? We haven’t heard that for a while. Then we pick it up, and we ask ourselves whether it fits into what we’re doing right now, sometimes we rearrange it, add some different vibes to it. Dead of Winter, for example, is one of the songs that was written for the previous album. It really didn’t fit in anywhere into the album flow, but we all loved the song, then we picked it up for this album, it worked out. We dusted it off, brighten it up and brought it to life! It fit right in. It reminds me of developing a jigsaw puzzle on how the albums come together. It has to fit in, even though we release singles here and there. It’s still about the album and the journey of the album.

M-R: Every release from The Night Flight Orchestra seems to improve and distil the direction of the bands’ sound, how do you think The Night Flight Orchestra has evolved for Aeromantic? I just love the violin on Transmissions

We like to add new elements, this time we added more violins. Who knows, there might be a few more in the future. What we see so much today is people make their line-ups a little bit smaller, “we can do this with three people, we can put stuff on backing tracks” type of thinking. Where we just keep on adding people to our band. By the time we’re sixty, there might be fifty people on stage!

We just want to keep on adding new elements. You can definitely connect all our albums we like to develop our sound and break new boundaries. I think that’s the beauty of it. I think with this band there are no boundaries. We always think ‘Can we really do this?’ and of course we can. It’s not about being provocative. It’s coming from the heart. It’s very important that it doesn’t become this sort of pastiche nostalgia act that’s all about doing a Foreigner song or sounding like ABBA even though those bands are inspirations to us it’s about creating our own sound in the end. We might have hijacked an era and made it into our own, but it’s very refreshing.

M-R: Rock bands have a long heritage of making soundtrack for movies, from Queen to Daft Punk, you could easily hear TNFO’s music being a soundtrack to a movie or TV show, is this something you guys would be interested in? Is there a movie that you wish you wrote the soundtrack?

Absolutely 100%! I would love to create a soundtrack for a movie or TV show. I think it would work out really well. I get frustrated sometimes when I see TV shows, and you can hear your own soundtrack to it. Of-course watching Stranger Things and stuff you’re just like ‘Oh my God, Pretty Thing Closing In from the previous album would fit right in!’. It happens all the time. We think that it’s sort of proof right there that we have created something that creates so many pictures in your mind. Its very picture is generating music, which is cinematic in the end.

Oh wow! I mean, I think the ones I would do have already got a really good soundtrack. It’d be from the 80s, you know, Risky Business, Tangerine Dream has a fantastic soundtrack. It would be interesting actually to create a soundtrack for that movie.

M-R: How did The Airline Annas come into the world of TNFO?

Well, they came into the band after Amber Galactic as touring musicians. I guess I came up with the idea, like, wouldn’t it be cool to have two girls doing backup vocals? You used to see that a lot with rock bands of the 70s and 80s, they always had backup female backup singers. I always dreamt about doing that and having to female backup vocalists. It must be such a great feeling to be able to do the lead vocals with female voices backing up. Then when we got together for the first time, it was magical. It sounded amazing. I think I’ve developed a lot as a singer singing in front of them and having them backing me up. I did all the backing vocals on the albums, and I still do, but the Anna’s are also doing it. It’s nice to hear someone else’s voice backing me up instead of my own. Plus having them perform live was a new element that we wanted to bring in. It also works along with the concept as being air hostess’ you know, but that’s what we love, we want to have a full concept, and we want to bring a show.

M-R: The sound of The Night Flight Orchestra is drastically different from Soilwork. How does your approach to lyrical themes change for each band, if at all?

Soilwork have gotten slightly darker ever since we started The Night Flight Orchestra. Now I have two outlets. Even though David writes most of the lyrics, he also is a member of Soilwork. I think for us they’re very separate things you know. I guess since we’ve got TNFO it is a different approach. You can develop lyrics in metal, but I feel somewhat held back or sometimes limited within the world of metal. You can do so many things. I think Devin Townsend is a perfect example of being able to do just about anything which is very inspiring. TNFO, that’s where I can write about whatever I want and that in itself is a great kick for sure.

M-R: You have been involved in a thousand different musical projects, from featuring on countless songs for other artists to fronting two world-beating bands, as well as playing guitar in yet another band. Have you ever struggled with finding inspiration when writing during these projects? If so, how do you work through it?

I don’t know. I don’t get any writer’s block at least for more than a day or two. Of-course you get stuck sometimes, but I just find a way through it. What I’m very proud of is whatever I have in my head, I can get out through either my voice or through my fingers by playing the guitar. I’m not a brilliant guitar player by any means, but I can somehow make it work. Technology makes it easier cause you can copy and paste, so at least what I have in my head I can get out through my fingers. I think that’s very liberating. That’s probably why I never had like writers’ block. Whatever is in my head I can get out. I think maybe a lot of people can’t do that, so I feel very blessed and very grateful that I’m able to do that.

M-R: I believe that you are one of the most underrated vocalists in music, such an epic range as well as being able to turn up the aggression when needed. Are you ever frustrated by the lack of worldwide acceptance of rock and metal? When comparing it to Rap or Pop…

Not really, it’s not something that I think about. I’m really proud of what I’ve done, and I’m grateful that I am still able to develop at the age of 41. Some peoples’ voices are done by their 30. I’m getting a lot more recognition as a vocalist, and a lot of people are name dropping me in their conversations, which is really cool. In the end, the most important thing is that you feel that you’re doing something sincere and that you’re very present in the music that you’re creating.

I mean there was a time where I was frustrated about my bands, you know, why aren’t we up there? We deserve to be there etc. But that’s just wasted energy. I’m really at peace with it. I know what I’m made of. I know how good I am so to speak, and that’s all that matters in the end. Of course, it’s great to get response and recognition, and I think we are getting that and we’ve definitely had an impact—both in the metal scene and the rock scene. We’re filling a void out there. I think that’s where we get a lot of recognition too, so that’s really cool.

M-R: Speaking of worldwide acceptance, I hear that coming down under is a priority for TNFO. Any plans for a future tour, or even a festival slot?

No plans so far! It’s something that we’re pushing for. All we can hope for is radio pickup in Australia if people go and buy the album. Or at least listen to it… the usual deal. Hopefully, the fanbase will grow in Australia because we would love to come there. It would be brilliant we have a great show, and Australia deserve to hear it! It would be so much fun.

Interview Date: 2020-03-02

Interviewer: Jonathan Hurley