Fans of classic rock and AOR don’t want to miss to hop on board of the sublime journey of “Aeromantic,” the upcoming album of THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA out on February 28th through Nuclear Blast. Make sure your seat belt is fastened and your luggage is stowed away in the overhead bins or under the seat in front of you as we had the opportunity to have a chat with David Andersson about the upcoming album.
First of all, thank you for taking the time again have to do this interview. How are you doing considering you’re releasing “Aeromantic” in a couple of weeks?
Well, I’m doing fine. It’s always exciting to have a release coming up. I mean it’s both exciting and a bit scary. You never know what people will think. I have a good feeling about this one and hopefully, people will appreciate it. For the past two records, we’ve got a lot of good reviews. We even got a Grammy Award nomination here in Sweden two times in a row now. So it’s hard to top that. It’s almost as if you’re waiting for everything to start going downhill. But I think with this album, we’ve evolved as a band, and we’ve managed to make this even more interesting than the past ones. I think for every album we’ve made, our sound has continued to evolve and develop and add in more strange influences and sounds and broaden our scope. I’m happy with the album. I don’t know if you have time to listen to it… What do you think?
Yeah, I actually did have the time and I really liked it. I’m a big fan of this kind of eighties rock sound so it’s really refreshing for me that a band is trying to kind of recreate that sound but you know within the scope of modern times. I actually read in an interview that when it comes down to your sound, you guys still want to surprise both yourselves and the fans. Now, if you compare the new record to “Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough” what would you say is so different about it?
Of course, you can hear it’s the same band. I write most of the song, perhaps 85% of the songs are mine, I consciously try to not fall back to cliches. You know, when you’re a songwriter you have these cliches you always use and it’s really easy to just repeat yourself and do the same thing all over again because you know it works. I think for me personally, with every album I’ve tried to expand my songwriting and I consciously try to write songs that don’t sound like my usual songs, if you know what I mean. I try to challenge myself and try to reinvent my method of songwriting, so perhaps people won’t hear much of a difference but to me, it feels like we’ve taken another step and created something unique because that’s what we were trying to do. Of course, we know you can hear the influences in the music and we’re not reinventing the wheel here, but at the same time, we try to take all those various influences and elements and try to combine them in new and different ways, so even if the music is catchy and easy to get into, you should still feel that there’s something unique about it that you haven’t really heard before.
You mentioned that you write most of the songs. I read in some interviews that you guys kind of arrange the demos you make all together because of all the details in the music. Would you say the songwriting process was the same this time around or was it different?
No, it was pretty much the same. Unfortunately, we all have busy lives and some of us including me have families. I have a day job as a doctor as well, and I play in various bands, so we don’t have much time to get together and rehearse and jam the way you could when you were younger. The writing process for me is so that I usually I sit at my kitchen table, where I’m sitting right now with my laptop, I write a song, and then I record a rough a demo which is to me is like a template for when we’re at the studio. A lot of times a lot of the work is already done on the demo. Other times we work on arrangements and all that in the studio and so, even if the songwriting is 80% me and 20% Björn or Sebastian, once we’re in the studio, everyone is really involved in the way the material sounds and how to make the most out of the material. I think, in the end, the end product is very much a group effort but the songwriting is more of a solitary process. Someone like Sharlee D’Angelo, our bass player, even if he doesn’t write songs… he’s still always there in the studio. He’s sort of like our spiritual guide or advisor. He’s the one who can say which song is a NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA song and which one isn’t. If he doesn’t feel it, we just skip that song. So, even if he doesn’t write songs himself, he plays a huge role in the band shaping our expression. He’s our oracle… When we feel unsure we ask Sharlee what he thinks and if he thinks it’s good it usually is.
You just mentioned that your day job is to be a doctor and also one remarkable thing about your band is that you kind… I feel like sometimes you’re like a song factory because you spend so little time in between releases especially nowadays when there are bands releasing an album like five years later maybe. How do you get to be so productive? I can imagine your day job is really busy as well and being in the bands you’re in… What is your secret?
I’ve always loved writing songs. I think having a day job and having a family… I have two kids, they’re getting big bigger now they’re nine and eleven years old, two daughters, so they can pretty much take care of themselves… but I think having a day job like that it’s sort of a release when I come home from a day at work or when I’m free at the weekends. My favorite thing is to sit down with my guitar and write songs, it’s my therapy and entertainment. I’ve written songs since I was a child and I love writing songs. I love having projects to write for, knowing that if I wouldn’t be in a band or bands who release albums and actually get the music out there, I probably wouldn’t be writing songs, but now that I’m in two bands that are reasonably successful, you know that the songs you write will actually have an audience and people will listen to it, which is a big motivation. It makes songwriting really fun. For me, songwriting doesn’t feel like a job even if it’s one since I’m doing it on a professional level. It just doesn’t feel like working, it’s more what I do when I want to have a good time and that’s the best thing. One of the best feelings in the world is when you come up with a new song and you get a natural high from it, which is kind of hard to describe. I don’t know perhaps you write music yourself or do any other artistic thing? Once you create something that you’re really happy with it’s a really great feeling and also being in the studio we always have so much fun in there. It’s not like we… Compared to most bands… I mean most bands they plan an album and book two months in the studio and then they’re there for two months and they start to hate each other after three weeks and the whole album sounds the same… For us, it’s the studio sessions are more like a party. We only book short sessions like one week perhaps two weeks or 10 days every now and then just to get together and have fun and record some music. We have an ongoing creative process that really never stops which is why it’s quite easy to be productive. We already have at least half an album worth of songs that are recorded and mixed, so it’s like we are always creating even if we don’t see each other in person that often except for when we’re touring or performing. We are all like a bunch of girlfriends gossiping away on messenger and staying in touch even though we’re sometimes very far away from each other so it’s nice… The group is built on friendship and having fun. We call it our vacation band because it’s what we do when we want to have some fun and play some music. We want our music to be an escape for the listener since the music is an escape for us as well. It’s like stepping into another universe where everything is much easier and you can forget about the problems of your daily life.
You do have kind of that vacation vibe anyhow because of the air flight theme you’ve got going on (laughs). In May last year, it was also announced that your new record would be recorded with ABBA gear. I was wondering… How has that influenced the sound of your album?
To be honest, it was just a fun thing that happens. We didn’t actively search for ABBA gear, but it was a fun coincidence. We always record and produce our records ourselves. We usually record in a studio called Nordic Sound Lab in a small Swedish town called Skara, in the middle of Sweden. I grew up not far from there, and our drummer Jonas is also from around there. The studio owner Bengan is also a good friend of ours and he’s also Jonas’ cousin. Bengan is a bit older but in the ’80s he was a quite well-known session musician in Sweden. He played on lots of huge records and did a lot of big tours in Sweden. He was or is friends with Per Lindvall, the drummer who played on ABBA’s “Super Trouper,” so somehow he got his hands on that drum kit. I don’t know if he bought it or borrowed it or stole it (laughs), but somehow he had that kit in the studio just lying around for decades. He mentioned it to us and asked if we’d wanna use it? We were like “oh yes,” so it was a very good omen. It’s just a bunch of drums, but they sound really good and it’s a nice story. Hopefully, some of the spirits of ABBA seeped into our songs… We all love ABBA, I mean, who doesn’t love them? At least for some songs, there might be a bit more of ABBA on there, I think or what do you think?
I actually had this conversation once with another Swedish band. We discussed ABBA’s influence on Swedish metal because you know… In Finland like metal is quite melancholic, but Swedish metal always has these crazy melody lines and I was wondering if you also feel they come from ABBA as an inspiration?
I mean we definitely have those. There’s something about Swedish music… No matter what the genre it is… There’s always this kind melody or the melodic language in Sweden which is often both melancholic but also kind of happy. If you compare it to Finnish music, it’s a bit darker. Even if you take a really commercial band like NIGHTWISH there is a very Finnish sound in the melodies which is different from Swedish melodies. I don’t think we could write all those kinds of melodies that Tuomas Holopainen, in the same way, he writes them. There’s a certain Swedish way of melodic phrasing that’s… I guess we were born into it. Of course, my generation, we all grew up listening to ABBA and ABBA, in turn, they started out as being very influenced by Swedish folk music. Before Björn and Benny started ABBA, they played a lot of folk music and I guess that melancholic minor thing… So, minor switching between major and minor the way they do which is so prevalent comes from old Swedish traditional folk music. I think there’s definitely a Swedish, a special Swedishness when it comes to melodies. That’s something that I try to… I mean I don’t know how Swedish it sounds, but I like to think that I try to incorporate those elements as well in our music, especially that whole switching between major and minor and perhaps using various modes of the minor scale like melodic minor and harmonic minor. Now I’m getting quite theoretical, I love music theory, and I can go on about this forever. Please tell me to stop and shut up (laughs). In the nineties, there were a few really good Swedish pop bands like POPSICLE and ATOMIC SWING which never got big outside of Sweden, but they’re also a big influence on my songwriting so if you like indie-pop you should check out POPSICLE from Sweden. They sing in English with a Swedish accent so it’s accessible for anyone (laughs), really good indie pop.
Apart from these influences, when I watched your new music video for “Divinyls”, for example, I kind of had this throwback to the movie “Fame”. I was wondering if movies or literature, etc. inspire you guys as well to write the kind of music you write?
It’s a huge influence. I’m very much a book person. I love reading books. I read probably like five to six books a week. I’ve always liked reading ever since I was a kid. I don’t watch many movies. But the movies I grew up with and watched in the cinema were “Top Gun,” “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “Karate Kid,” and “Home Alone.” You know, the kind of eighties movies that are aesthetically very powerful just like a lot of these eighties music videos. Even if I don’t watch a lot of movies, and I mostly watch science fiction, I definitely want to have a cinematic approach to writing music. If you listen to a NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA song, you should close your eyes and get inner pictures, hopefully from a romantic or a sad movie. I want to create a soundscape where you get pictures when you listen to our music. It should almost be a visual experience listen to our music. Is that an answer to your question?
I guess so (laughs), I can’t remember what I asked.
We’re definitely influenced by all kinds of visual elements. In our music videos, we try to… We’ve all come to accept the fact that we are in our 40s and some of us are bold and have beards, and we’re not super fit. I don’t want to watch a bunch of 40+ males standing around with instruments trying to look cool on video. That’s not exciting for me, so instead, we’ve decided to not do performance videos anymore but instead, our videos should be more like short films and instead of featuring us, we try to feature young talented women. We try to create a small movie with some sort of a storyline or an atmosphere, instead of watching a bunch of shabby old rock dudes just mining on their instruments. We create small mini-dramas with strong female characters in there as well. I’m very much a feminist and I think women are the future of the world. I don’t know if you read previous interviews, but our previous album, “Amber Galactic” and “Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough”, are feminist space operas. The new album “Aeromantic” is more of a street opera. It’s very much based on the fact that women are superior to men in many ways and that men are often quite pathetic figures. It’s often written from a man’s perspective but usually, the man is not the victim but definitely the person who has the most to lose (laughs). Do you know what I mean? Most of my songs are about escaping reality, or impossible love or trying to bridge distances between people and somehow the female is always winning.
I do think that comparing your lyrics for example to like a standard love song is a little bit different. I never thought about it really, but you’re right.
Thank you (laughs). I’m actually a frustrated singer, I would love to be a great singer, but I’m not. I always write the lyrics. I think it’s really fun even if it’s not like my lyrics are Nobel Prize material, but I still think I enjoy playing with words and I try to incorporate words that you don’t always hear in a rock song. So to me, it’s great when you come up with nice lyrics and you can do something without being totally straight, perhaps by being able to come up with new words or the combination of words which also have that universal meaning. I hate lyrics that are too straight up or straight forward. I like lyrics to be a bit mysterious and I want the lyrics to paint pictures just like the music. I want everyone to have to be able to at least recognize the feelings in the lyrics because I think we’ve all been there. We’ve all been in love with someone, we’ve all missed someone, or it’s almost always about love in various forms but still, it’s a big challenge to try to write rock lyrics without just going all cliche and then there’s also this element of death in it… That everything will someday end (laughs) I think that’s part of the Finnish psyche. You’re having a party, you’re having the best time of your life, you’re really drunk, you just met your boyfriend or girlfriend for the first time and you’ve never been happier in life but somewhere in the back of your head, you’re also thinking that one day this is going to end (laughs). The tragedy is always somewhere near, even in the happiest moments, you’re still aware of the potential tragedies.
Speaking of Finland… You had your first show a little bit over a year ago at the small club here called On The Rocks, and it was completely sold out so I think a lot of people had been waiting for that show for a long time. I was wondering whether you have any memories of that concert?
To be honest, when you’re on tour, the shows themselves tend to all become a blur afterwards. I remember meeting our local Nuclear Blast representative before the show and she was really enthusiastic. She was dancing during the soundcheck already. I remember that the show was really intense and that Finland is one of my… This is true, this is not because I’m talking to you… but Finland is always great. I really like the Finnish mentality. I always feel very much at home when I get to Finland. I’ve gotten to know a few Finnish people over the years and also with SOILWORK, Finland has always been fantastic as well. It’s one of my favorite places to play it’s always really nice. It feels like Sweden but a slightly more depressed version of Sweden but still in a very nice way if you know what I mean. It doesn’t depress me it makes me happy because everyone’s polite and slightly depressed and then they have some Jaloviina or some Lonkero and they get really happy (laughs). So yeah, I’m looking forward to coming to Finland again.
What are your plans for after the release? Are you planning a European tour?
We’re planning a European tour, quite soon after the release of the album. The album will be released on February 28th and then we start our tour in London on the 6th of March and then we’re playing all over Europe until the 28th. We do some Scandinavian shows in April, so we’re playing… No sorry, we’re playing at the John Smith Rock Festival in Laukkaa on the 16th of July. I don’t see any Finnish tour dates here which is strange but hopefully, we will add some Finnish dates [ed. The band is also playing at Dark River Festival which is held in Kotka on 14-15 August 2020]. At least we’re playing at John Smith Rock Festival on 16th July, so come there! Bring your Jaloviina, your Minttu, and your Lonkero. By the way… they changed the name of Lonkero, it just says Original on the cans nowadays. Did you know that?
Yeah, I believe so, I don’t spend much time looking at the can to be honest (laughs).
We had a few shows with AMORPHIS during our tour with SOILWORK as their support act. We were on the ferry and just noticed that it’s called Original now instead of Lonkero.
I wonder if someone can explain to us why. Anyway, it seems like our time is almost up. Do you have any last thoughts you want to share with our readers?
I sincerely love Finland and I’m a bit pissed off that we don’t have any tour dates in Finland except for that festival in July. I’d like to see the Finnish NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA fans start a massive campaign on Facebook to convince our management and the promoters to book some more Finnish shows for us because that’s really nice. Especially when we play at Finnish festivals in the countryside in summer. It’s always or almost always close to a lake which is quite magical after you played a show and you’re like really sweaty and slightly drunk and really happy and just want to take a bath in a small Finnish lake under the moonlight during a magical summer. I’m hoping that John Smith or that Laukka lies close to a lake do you know?
No, I haven’t been there so I couldn’t tell.
Oh, but you should go there! (laughs) We’re gonna put on an epic show for you and for anyone else who is coming! So see you at John Smith Rock Festival!
Interview by Laureline Tilkin
Interview with Charlotte Wessels — “If you like what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life… or all of the days of your life.”