NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA - "We Wanted To Put A Little More Glitter In The Music..."
June 15, 2017, a year ago
Although they released their debut album in 2012, Sweden's Night Flight Orchestra has been around for a decade. The unexpected brainchild of Soilwork vocalist Björn "Speed" Strid and guitarist David Andersson, it's a band that took shape based on the duo's love of '70s classic rock that continues to grow in popularity with each album released. Case in point with Amber Galactic, their third record, which found a home with heavy metal hitters Nuclear Blast and has been enjoying widespread and well deserved exposure. BraveWords caught up with Björn to discuss his music career away from the melodic death metal territory that he played a huge role in pioneering.
BraveWords: Listening to Amber Galactic, it's very hard to come to terms with the idea of two members of Soilwork and Sharlee D'Angelo from Arch Enemy being able to switch gears from full-on metal to something that potentially appeals to a much wider audience, including people who would rather die than listen to metal.
Björn: "If you're going to have another band, in my book it becomes so much more interesting if it's something completely different. Then again, Night Flight Orchestra is not a matter of a bunch of metal musicians coming together saying 'Let's do some kind of '70s rock thing.' There's so much knowledge and so much great musicianship behind this, and I've always been 50% rocker, 50% metalhead. This is the best of both worlds and I think David feels the same because we've bonded so much over classic rock. It's a never-ending well of inspiration and our music is deeply rooted in that era. It comes from the right place. It also makes sense to have a band like Night Flight Orchestra out there and I think it's really needed these days. There aren't very many bands playing music like this anymore that are authentic. This is a real band recapturing that '70s era, and the reason it works is because of our love for the music."
BraveWords: If the knowledge and the musicianship weren't there, it's fair to say you probably wouldn't have a third album out. Maybe not even a second album.
Björn: "That's true. I think that's a very good point because this was a fun thing from the very beginning. David started touring with Soilwork in 2006 as a session guitarist and we really connected over music. We were definitely not listening to metal in the back lounge of the tour bus when we were done playing a show. Night Flight Orchestra was one of those drunken ideas that actually became a reality. It was an excuse to drink together, share stories and listen to music. And in the end this became the most amazing jam I've ever experienced. I had to start taking it seriously but there was so much fun behind it. When we got together for the first time and jammed it was one of the biggest kicks in my musical life, just like trying screaming vocals for the first time and actually being able to make it work."
BraveWords: We spoke years ago about how Fredrik Nordström (producer) told you to take vocal lessons before you recorded A Predator's Portrait (2001) because it was the first time you used clean vocals with Soilwork. Listening to Amber Galactic and A Predator's Portrait back-to-back, you can really hear how you've evolved as a singer.
Björn: "Thank you for recognizing that. Singing for Night Flight Orchestra is a totally different expression. For a while in Soilwork it felt like I wanted to be Lou Gramm and Tom Araya at the same time.... I mean, it could potentially work out (laughs). Now I can be Lou Gramm in Night Flight Orchestra and Tom Araya in Soilwork. I think this new album really showcases my personality and me as a vocalist. It took time to gain that confidence. I practice a lot and I don't really stop singing when I'm home from touring, so I have developed as a singer and I'm really grateful to be able to do this now. I'm 39 years old and I can actually keep developing; some singers lose it after 35 or 40."
BraveWords: At this point most Soilwork fans are aware of Night Flight Orchestra, but do they accept Björn "Speed" Strid as a '70s influenced singer?
Björn: "I'm always curious to hear what young fans of Soilwork feel about Night Flight Orchestra and their interpretation of it. Do they think it just sounds strange or do they actually get something out of the music that makes them go 'That's cool...'? It seems that a lot of them do appreciate it and understand that this music has been a part of me the whole time I've been in Soilwork. Maybe the surprise isn't that big after all. But, I think that this new album would be the biggest surprise to those Soilwork fans out of the three we've done. There's some serious '80s stuff on Amber Galactic as well, and it's like 'Wow, we can actually dance to this...' (laughs). I think this album is going to get some people saying 'I hate this but I kinda like it' and 'I don't wanna like it but I do.' It's interesting to see people's reactions."
BraveWords: Amber Galactic is a step above and away from Skyline Whispers (2015) and the Internal Affairs debut (2012). Maybe a bit more pop in the rock this time out, there's definitely an early '80s feel to some of the new songs.
Björn: "Even though we like early '70s rock we got sick of the whole hyped genre of early '70s sounding bands that have been popping up - like the pseudo stoner rock bands, which I don't care for - so we wanted to put a little more glitter in the music.... and I can't believe I just said that (laughs). This definitely sounds more cocaine than weed. And I'm not promoting drugs by any means when I say that (laughs)."
BraveWords: So, in the day and age of studio technology enable musicians to get away with murder, was this new album pieced together or did you actually record as a unit?
Björn: "We did three recording sessions in two different studios, so we were all together. I recorded some of the vocals on my own but the rest of it was done together. Our keyboard player Richard (Larsson) has a studio with a jam room, so we set up some mics and some of the stuff was recorded live. There were also some late nights where we were just jamming and decided to record on the spot, so this is a very creative unit."
BraveWords: Any plans for serious touring? It would be a shame not to be able to bring this new material to the stage. It pretty much begs to be played live.
Björn: "We're trying in every way to bring Night Flight Orchestra on the road and give people a real rock show, because that's something missing out there. We'll probably have background singers and go the whole nine yards to deliver the real deal. You have some bands that look the part, they have vintage amps, and they go through the set but they don't make an impact on people. We want fans to leave a Night Flight Orchestra blown away by what they saw and heard on stage."
BraveWords: Finally, what's the timeline regarding a new Soilwork album versus what you're doing with Night Flight Orchestra?
Björn: "It won't be easy, honestly, but I think we might enter the studio with Soilwork in March next year and release a new album towards the end of the summer. I'm definitely not putting Soilwork aside but it really is 50-50 for me. I'm very grateful that I have two bands that cover everything that I like, and I'm committed equally to both."