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Interview conducted June 29 2018
Interview published July 3 2018

"When we started the band we didn't really know what we were capable of."

Swedish retro outfit The Night Flight Orchestra put out their 4th record, Sometimes The World Ain't Enough, on Nuclear Blast on June 29th and as the band threw a release party at the ABBA Museum in Stockholm on that very same day, Metal Covenant got some time with guitarist David Andersson and lead vocalist Björn Strid, both known from their work with metal band Soilwork.

Tobbe: You put out records quite frequently with Night Flight, I think, considering you play with other bands too, and what makes you be so creative?

David: We're inspired. This is fun. We're not doing this for the money. [Laughs] No, but this is really fun and personally I'm always in the mood for writing a Night Flight song and we have such a wide spectrum to work in so anything can become a Night Flight song. We play metal as well and that's a little bit more limited, but with Night Flight we can do whatever we want and get away with it.

(Björn:) And there is really no such thing as an album cycle to us and we just keep going because it's fun. Regardless if we have a new record in the works or not, we just keep going, you know. (David:) If we have an opening and everybody is available, we just book a session and record a little bit of something just for fun. It's the most fun band ever. We really have a good time together.

Tobbe: Do you think that you have created a more modern sound on the new record, in comparison to your other records?

David: Well, we slowly go into the '80s along the road. (Björn:) It maybe fits with what's going on right now, but it's nothing that we have looked for, you know. But that vein has kind of been there somewhere all the time and it takes time to channel all the influences we have. We met for the first time about 8 years ago and it took a while to kind of grind down all these influences and make your own thing out of it and we've really done that on the last two records. There's of course nostalgia involved, that element, but there's also something very personal and refreshing in a way and the reaction I get from many people is "I didn't even know that I missed this, but at the same time it's very refreshing.".

(David:) When we started the band we didn't really know what we were capable of. We knew that we were gonna do classic rock and I and Björn had some visions. So we started with some riffs and then we realized that we could do very much more. And then [in 2017] Anna-Mia [Bonde, backing vocals] and Anna [Brygård, backing vocals] joined and, you know, our palette is expanding all the time. We realize that we can do more and more different stuff along the road. (Björn:) Yes, there's really no limits. It's just so limitless in a sense. You get high from it, you know.

(David:) It's a little bit like the band Queen. Queen is fantastic, even though it never was a favorite band of mine, but you can't say that it's not a very good band. But it's great to have a record that might go from some kind of acoustic song to some bombastic metal and to disco, you know.

Tobbe: About the wide spectrum you mentioned, David: The song Lovers In The Rain is almost close to a pop song.

David: Well, we like that kind of music too. You know, those old '80s pop songs can be fantastic. But Sharlee [D'Angelo, bass] is our, you know, sensor. He doesn't write music himself, or hasn't been so far, but it always has to be a little melancholic, like "I don't like happy music." and as long as it passes through Sharlee's filter, it works out. Lovers In The Rain is that kind of song. I made it and thought that it would maybe be too poppy, but he said "No, it's good. It's a little bit sad; that's good.". So Sharlee is the filter, you know. We have made all kinds of weird stuff and Sharlee says no to a lot too, you know, and then we know that we're not on the right track.

Tobbe: You've got female voices talking a couple of times on the new record, and you've had that before too, and what significance does that have to you personally and for the records in general?

David: You know, I like female voices, and it becomes a little more like… I don't know, there's something luxurious about a woman's voice. A good female voice sounds so good, you know. So it's, you know, people we know around the world, and it's like …what's its name? The Agnetha Fältskog song that you always play, Björn? Where she is talking. Well, never mind. It's with a terrible Swedish accent, but it's so strong. You know, a great female voice puts something extra to it. And then there's some odd languages in there as well.

(Björn:) Well, it's become kind of a tradition now to collect, you know, women's voices from all over the world. It's really awesome, but it's nothing we planned and it just turned out that way and then we just continue doing it and it feels right.

Tobbe: If you're not gonna write really odd music that no one cares about, might the only way to create something new today be to get influences from something old?

David: You know, we work with kind of 12 notes and Western harmonics. There are limits, you know. I really like weird jazz and fusion. But what we're trying to do is we take a lot of influences and mix them together in a new way. I have never heard a band that sounds like Night Flight Orchestra, even if you always can say "This riff sounds like… This vocal line sounds like…", but that's the way it is, you know. There's a limited number of notes and chords, but we mix them in a way that probably is unique.

(Björn:) I've said this in thousands of interviews before, but I believe that this specific era… In the late '70s/early '80s there was a way to compose songs, produce songs and perform songs that is very timeless and which we've been able to capture. And it's not only about nostalgia, but it's a way, almost like a lifestyle.

(David:) We want to create some kind of atmosphere when we do this. I don't see this as a retro band, in that sense. Nowadays a lot of, what I call, modern AOR bands, who are on Frontiers in Italy, are really good, but it sounds massive with downtuned guitars and powerful drums and it's a very homogeneous genre, neo-AOR, and it's really great and they are often great players. But we don't want to sound massive; we just want to create some kind of atmosphere with what we do and create something that not really exists. Music that doesn't exist is what I want to do. And I want to do that with Soilwork as well.

Tobbe: Do you guys ever feel, when you watch some TV series from, like, 1978, that your music would have been quite fitting to those kind of shows?

David: A couple of weeks ago I got such a great feeling. I was at home watching music videos and then I saw Flashdance… What A Feeling with Irene Cara. When she [Actress Jennifer Beals as Alex Owens] runs out of the dance academy after she's been accepted, on a day in the fall in New York and her boyfriend is standing by his car waiting for her, I got the goose bumps and became a little bit tearful and that's the moment you want to capture. And you don't get that when you watch movies or videos anymore, but somewhere around that time, in the beginning of the '80s, you got those epic moments that give you the goose bumps, even though you know it's fake and no one is that happy, ever, really.

(Björn:) I've been thinking about it sometimes and I think that especially TV series and their openings were among the best things I knew when I was a little boy. Like staying up late on Tuesday nights, or Thursday nights, or whatever day it was, which was the only night where I was allowed to stay up until, like, whatever it was, 10 o'clock, and Hill Street Blues came on and that piano melody, you know, something happened there. In the same way as when I bought The Number Of The Beast on some fucking gas station with my mom when I was 7 years old. Like the same way as when Invaders took off, the same way Hill Street Blues has meant exactly as much. I think that that somewhere kind of sums up a little bit what I like, you know.

Tobbe: Do you think that people maybe focus too much on the band being retro, instead of focusing on that the music is good maybe?

David: I think there is less and less talk about retro. In the beginning, when we made the two first albums, there wasn't many people who cared about us, because we were on a smaller label [Coroner Records] and we disappeared a little bit under the radar. That was okay because we did it just because it was fun, you know. But at that point there was a lot of talk about Soilwork and Arch Enemy, but now it feels like this has become an own entity. So there's not so many questions about retro.

What's good about the music scene looking the way it does is that there's room for everything. You can play post-grunge or whatever odd music and there still is some kind of scene. No one will become like the new Maiden or Metallica, but there's room for everything and that's kind of nice in a way. It feels like people don't care about genres anymore and most metal fans are very open for all kinds of music. It's just cliché that the metal scene is so self-centered and there's just some trolls on the web that complain about everything, but that's just a small minority. Most people we meet, Soilwork fans that we talk with, think Night Flight is really good as well, you know. Those people who sit at home by their computer and write mean comments are rarely coming to the concerts, you know. [Laughs]

(Björn:) To me it's kind of like "Well of course you like this.". But in general, a lot of people have told me "You know, I really don't wanna like this, but damn it's good." and that sums up a lot, I think, and maybe because we're on a metal label it's been coming that way, you know. But I think it's great that we open up, you know, a box.

Tobbe: Do you know some other musicians who actually also want to broaden their music, but don't dare to do what you guys do because they're afraid of losing their reputation?

Björn: We certainly do. Maybe they haven't spoken out loud about it, but damn it, you know, I think there are many musicians who want to do other stuff as well. (David:) This might sound cocky, but, you know, everyone can't do it. I have played almost every genre there is and so has everyone else in the band. We've been doing this for a while; we're not young anymore. So we could record a jazz record, you know, and not so many metal bands can do that, to be frank. But we can actually do that, but we choose not to. We can actually play whatever there is, because we've played in cover bands and all kinds of weird bands, jazz bands, you know. And that's what's fun; that we know that we can do a little bit of everything.

Tobbe: Most musicians that play with different bands rarely say that one band is better or worse than the other, but you guys right now actually seem to be more positive to Night Flight than to Soilwork.

David: Well, they're different things. We are currently working on a new Soilwork record and that's fantastic too, but that's a completely different expression, you know. There's something about metal that you don't get out of playing Night Flight songs, you know. So, you know, they're not comparable.

Tobbe: If Night Flight some day becomes bigger than Soilwork and Arch Enemy, would it be weird that the fans to Night Flight would consider your other bands secondary?

Björn: It has kind of happened already. You know, when we did our last European tour a lot of people asked me "You know, you and David: Do you have a metal band as well?" and I'm like "Yes, we have.". [Laughs] But it's fun to see it go in that direction too, because usually it's like "I heard you Soilwork guys have this '80s Miami Vice band together.". So it's great that it can go in both directions, but at the same time no way is better than the other, and it's great to see that people find the way through metal or through the other side.

(David:) And we want to capture the same feeling with Soilwork too. We want to create some sort of emotion there, which would be hard to create with Night Flight. It's a completely different thing, but it's still as much fun to do metal as well. We try to do something different there too, but it's harder because we can't completely freak out and make a soul song with brass instruments. With every Soilwork record, at least since I joined the band, it feels like we've tried to make something new. Maybe it doesn't become so outrageous as with Night Flight, that you suddenly get a synth-pop song, but we nevertheless try to do something different. And it's the same thing there too; that you want to create music that doesn't exist.

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