BraveWords Interview: THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA – Natural Born Nostalgia

By Carl Begai

Nostalgia: “A wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.”

If you go by the textbook definition above, The Night Flight Orchestra can be considered a nostalgia-based band. The term has been used quite often over the course of their eight year career to describe the now seven-piece group, but this shouldn’t be seen as derogatory. On the contrary, it should be seen as a positive that a present day rock band is able to fire up their time machine to deliver shadows and flavours of the past with all original material. Aeromantic is The Night Flight Orchestra’s fifth album, and it pays homage to acts from the ’70s and ’80s – Journey, ABBA, Toto, KISS, Christopher Cross, Asia…. it’s a seemingly never-ending list – while deftly avoiding the retro trend that made bands like Greta Van Fleet the talk of the town for 10 seconds. Not an easy task, but then it’s not like The NFO were trying to do anything more than create more solid material they can be proud of. If people choose to join their particular conga line, so much the better, especially because it gives the metalheads on board a chance to learn about where Soilwork frontman Björn “Speed” Strid, Arch Enemy bassist Sharlee D’Angelo, and Soilwork guitarist Dave Andersson come from musically.

“It’s going to be hard to top the previous two albums in terms of reviews,” Strid says of Aeromantic. “Last time out it was really amazing and it’s the same thing this time around, if not better. People are blown away by the new album, and I’d say that most of the press we’re doing is with metal magazines. It’s really remarkable how open-minded people are in the scene. I’ve heard people say this is a guilty pleasure, but what is there to feel guilty about? People are raving about it. Somehow it works and we have a personable sound in the end. It’s not just a nostalgia act; we’re filling a void in the music scene. The other day somebody asked me if I could name another new band out there that is doing the same sort of thing as The Night Flight Orchestra, and I couldn’t come up with anything. We’re moving this forward with this combination of sound and imagery; it’s very nostalgic in a sense but also very refreshing. I think we’re providing something that’s missing out there.”

“There’s been almost an overkill of these retro rock bands doing Zeppelin-esque or Black Sabbath music,” he adds, “and there are some good bands out there, don’t get me wrong – but I’m wondering why nobody is capturing the late ’70s and early ’80s. Where is it? It’s almost frustrating (laughs).”

When The Night Flight Orchestra surfaced in 2012 with their debut album, Internal Affairs, there was an underlying question of how long it would last. Given Strid’s and Andersson’s commitment to Soilwork, it was easily dismissed as a one-off that enabled them to play around with paying homage to influences that don’t fit within the Soilwork dynamic.

“We knew we had something special from the start,” Strid counters. “When we started jamming it was magical, and I think that day was one of the best days of my life. It was a kick for me and everybody else, and after a while we realized just how special it was. And of course you want to share it with the world… ‘You need to listen to this!’ (laughs). That’s a normal reaction when you start a band, and it gradually became more serious because we are so in love with what we’re doing that we can’t stop writing songs. We always have recording sessions whether there’s an album planned or not. This is a serious band and it’s going to be interesting to see where this is taking us. It’s been an interesting journey, and the best part about it is that there are really no boundaries to what we can do both musically and show-wise. There are so many elements that we can have; sometimes my brain can’t stop thinking about the next album or the next tour because we have a full concept, and I’ve always liked bands like that. Bands that have great music, great imagery and a great show… I think we have all of that. I hope sometime in the future we can bring a 747 on stage (laughs).”

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