Latest release: Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough (Nuclear Blast)
It’s been posited that the majority of high-profile metal musicians are unadulterated rock ‘n’ rollers at their core. Case in point – members of Swedish metal heavyweights Soilwork (vocalist Björn ‘Speed’ Strid and guitarist David Andersson) and Arch Enemy (bassist Sharlee D’Angelo) evidently having an absolute blast playing classic rock as part of The Night Flight Orchestra. The band’s line-up is completed by Richard Larsson (keys), Jonas Källsbäck (drums) and Sebastian Forslund (guitar, percussion).
They’ve swiftly followed last year’s Swedish Grammy-nominated, catchy-as-flypaper LP Amber Galactic (their first release since signing with Nuclear Blast) with new album Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough, due for release on June 29. Loud spoke to Strid about being “every metal-head’s guilty pleasure”, the creation of the new material, an update on the next Soilwork record and more.
Q: Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough is due for release little more than a year after Amber Galactic‘s release. You’re certainly a prolific outfit.
A: Well, we never really left the studio (laughs). We never really do. That’s the thing, we always get together and do recording sessions where we cook, drink and record some songs. We have two producers in the band with their own studios, so we basically just get together as often as we can. So when Amber Galactic was released, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, let’s take a break’. It was like, ‘No, no, no, let’s just keep going’. Because it’s sort of like a never-ending well of inspiration that’s been there ever since we started this band. And it’s really interesting. I talked to the guitarist David the other day and he said, ‘Oh, I’ve got five new songs for the next album that I just wrote’ (laughs).
So it’s just insane, but it’s fun. The most important thing for us is that we release albums with a good flow, otherwise we wouldn’t put anything out. We would have waited. But after last summer we had like 40 songs, and we felt a bunch of those could shape up to be a really good album. So we were basically just trying to find a flow and it all made sense in the end.
It’s definitely picking up where we left off with Amber Galactic as well, but still with some surprises, twists and turns. I would say it’s slightly more ’80s-oriented keyboards for example, and also there’s more percussion. It’s a little bit diverse. But it’s really a constant thing for us, and we have everything we need within the band; we have the producer and the guy who’s mixing our albums. So it’s sort of easy, you know? (laughs)
Q: You watch some films or TV shows and its palpable that those involved with the project were having a great time making it. Listening to The Night Flight Orchestra, there’s a tangible sense of fun and joy about creating music inspired by an era you’re collectively enamoured by.
A: Yeah, it is very liberating, and it feels like are no boundaries to what we can do. It is very much sort of like a movie soundtrack feel to it. And I think that’s what we wanted to create from the start, like a road trip soundtrack, or a soundtrack of being in motion. I think that goes along very well with of course ’80s movies, but you can also hear it today somehow. There’s a couple of songs on the new one, like “Pretty Thing Closing In”, I could see that in Stranger Things, for example. It has that sort of dreamy feel to it that we really enjoy.
Somehow it’s really refreshing, too; I’ve had people coming up to me saying, ‘thank you so much for creating this band. I didn’t even know I missed this kind of music, but I do because I love it’. So I think we’re providing something that people didn’t even know that they missed.
Q: Do the band members share many influences from that particular era, or do you all introduce various elements?
A: When we started this band we had so many influences. We come from slightly different backgrounds, but it definitely took some time to channel all those influences into something personal in a way. Because I feel like we’ve hijacked an era and made it into our own. But it’s also not just a nostalgia act, or even a pastiche, because it runs way deeper than that. There’s a lot of knowledge behind it, and I think it’s also a matter of creating something on your own even though you can make so many references that you can throw around. Like, ‘Oh, that sounds like Toto’, or ‘That sounds like Journey or Boston’, or whatever.
It took us maybe two albums to find what we really wanted to do with the band. It was like an experiment in the beginning, and it felt sort of like a project, but now it’s really like a band and it’s a very creative unit that communicates very well musically. There’s some really complex arrangements at times, but still the music really speaks to you directly. That’s something that I really enjoy, and always appreciated with Genesis and ABBA, for example.
Q: Being signed to a high-profile metal label and featuring members of Soilwork and Arch Enemy, do you feel like you’re in a unique position that enables you to introduce some metal fans to the era of classic rock who perhaps wouldn’t have delved into it otherwise?
A: Yeah, it’s been very interesting to see. I think with Amber Galactic it seemed like we became every metal-head’s guilty pleasure in a way. It’s just music with presence, and I guess we are provocative with what we’re doing, especially if we’re coming sort of from the extreme metal world, and then we’re just pulling this off. A lot of people get surprised – ‘Is that the same guy singing in that band?’ Pick a Soilwork song like “Long Live the Misanthtope”, and then you take “Pretty Thing Closing In” on the new album. That’s a whole different universe (laughs).
So it is quite a kick, but at the same time it runs very deep and I think it’s been there within us bubbling the whole time. I think, yeah, I guess we’re showing people within the metal world, because we’re sort of taking that route too because we’re on a metal label and we’re doing a lot of interviews with metal magazines, and some people might wonder why (laughs). But it’s really cool, I think we’re showing people that it’s okay to listen to this kind of stuff as well. Just look at Kiss; everybody’s obsessed with Kiss pretty much, and they sounded disco as well in the late ’70s/early ’80s with the Unmasked and Dynasty albums, which are some of my favourites. Not everyone did like that stuff; ‘I hated it when Kiss sounded disco’. But I love my ‘Kiss-co’, as I like to call it (laughs).
Q: What’s the dream support slot that The Night Flight Orchestra would want to land?
A: (Pauses) It’s hard to say. We did our first European tour last year and the crowd was very mixed. I think we brought together people that never go to the same show, which was really cool. You saw the guy wearing a Behemoth vest, and then there was this sort of hipster kid, and they were both looking at each other, like, ‘What the hell are you doing at this show?’ (laughs)
So I think without sounding too pretentious, it’s a very uniting band in a way. I don’t know, it’s always boring to just say it’s for music fans, but it’s really diverse and I think it definitely struck a nerve with a lot of people. I think we’ve brought something that people missed. We also have young fans who weren’t really aware of this genre, classic rock or AOR, or whatever you want to call it. But they still really enjoy it. To me it’s a timeless way of composing and performing songs. And it’s like songwriting with so much detail to it, and I think that’s what we really enjoy.
Q: What window of time do you have for touring this album before Soilwork duties beckon?
A: We’re going to do a bunch of festivals this summer in Europe, and then we’re going to do a two-month, full European tour in November and December. So there’s a bunch of stuff lined up, and it’s really a real band to us. I don’t know if I make people worried about Soilwork and what’s going to happen to Soilwork, but to me it’s really 50/50. It’s something that I feel very balanced musically. Both bands mean just as much, and it’s totally different expressions.
So I guess to me it’s a little bit of a yin-yang situation in that sense. But there’s going to be a lot of stuff lined up for The Night Flight Orchestra, and I really hope we could embark on an Aussie tour. That would be amazing, so we’re trying to work on it.
Q: What’s the latest news from the Soilwork camp?
A: We just finished up the new album, pretty much. So that’s going to be released at the end of this year or the next. So sooner or later it might, I was going to say, not clash, but might collide. We have the same booking agent, thank God, otherwise it could have turned into an absolute disaster.
Q: What can you tell us about the next Soilwork album then?
A: It’s very dark and possibly the most epic record we’ve done. I think that the keyboards are coming through a little bit more, sort of like what we did on (2002’s) Natural Born Chaos in that sense. But it’s also very dark, heavy and at times extremely fast. So it’s shaping up to be a really great album. I have a couple of songs left that I’m going to do vocals for and that will be it. I’m very excited about it as well. I think people will definitely recognise it, but there’s definitely going to be some twists and turns in there.
Q: Good to hear. Back to The Night Flight Orchestra for a moment. The accompanying press material to promote the past two albums emanates a degree of tongue-in-cheek humour, but in many ways the band has maintained a straight-faced, non-ironic demeanour in terms of the overall presentation. What’s your mindset there?
A: We definitely have sort of the gimmicks, which we enjoy (laughs) and that’s something that also runs deep. And of course we’re having a laugh. I think that’s really important as well, and I guess that’s sort of liberating. But we’re not mocking by any sense, because there’s way too much love, way too much knowledge and passion behind the era that we’re capturing. It just makes everything more fun, and we want to bring a show as well, a true rock show the way it was meant to be. It needs to be a visual feast as much as a musical feast, because we feel that it’s missing out there and we’re having fun around this.
But there’s so much attention to detail and love behind each and every melody, riff and all of the songwriting. So it’s just something that goes along with it and it makes it more fun. I guess we are liberated (laughs) a little bit because we’re all used to being in the metal world as well for 20 years. And sometimes you can feel a little, I wouldn’t say held back, but limited. I enjoy that with metal as well in a way, but then I also have this which makes it a balance. But it’s a real band; the lyrics are serious as well. We paint up a lot of scenarios and many of them are based on personal experiences, but we aim to bring fun as well. I think that’s exactly what people need.
Q: Any famous last words?
A: We’ll work on that Australian tour, because that would be fantastic. We are very influenced by ABBA, and ABBA had quite a tradition of going to Australia in the ’70s and ’80s, so that’s something that we want to carry on that legacy a little bit I guess (laughs).