One of the coolest bands of the moment is for sure Neonfly! I discovered them pretty late and thanks to their new label: Noble Demon. I'm more than happy to present you these great Irish metal/rock heroes on the day of my birthday (getting the answers back on this day is already a great gift)!
My classic starter when I interview a band for the first time: from where did your band name come from? How did you decide on it?
FRED: In the beginning, there was silence. Then a voice came out of the darkness and said: “Frederick Thunder! Thou art the chosen one. Thou shalt name thy band NEONFLY!” … Either that, or I just thought it was a cool name. I can’t remember anymore.
My daughter loves female fronted bands like The Bangles, Sumo Cyco … But when I was playing your album she came to tell me: daddy it’s lovely music and that touched me (knowing her taste). How good is the feedback so far?
WILLY: That’s a lovely compliment - Does she think I sound like a female? That’s cool by me, it’s been said before! Heart were always one of my fave bands (tell your daughter to check ‘em out!)…..….BTW The Bangles Rock! Your daughter has awesome taste! Feedback has been great…people seem to understand we’re taking the first steps on a new musical journey…thus far everyone seems happy to join us for the ride..
My daughter wants to ask you if you have kids and if they also like your music or if they prefer girls music?
WILLY: I have a son and he loves all music regardless of gender – I don’t impose my rock tastes on him and my partner has introduced him to some cool female fronted bands (as have I!) so he sees no distinction….. he just loves a banging tune! But yes he loves NEONFLY and that makes me proud…..and a little weepy!
How did you cope with the whole COVID-19 situation and Brexit on top?
WILLY: With Covid - a lot of sadness because of the people who’ve had or are having such an awful time…I hope we can get back to a degree of normality soon…but it’s horrendous the impact it will have had on so many people. On a personal level I was able to seclude myself away with my family…which allowed me to concentrate on providing vocals to the set of acoustic tracks we recorded as part of our Crowdfund campaign – check ‘em out on YouTube, I’m really proud of them. With Brexit, as a committed European (I’m Irish after all), I feel it’s the biggest self-inflicted wound the UK has ever inflicted on itself in peacetime. It’s entirely unnecessary and will cause untold damage. A national tragedy as far as I’m concerned.
What did you do (when even getting into a recording studio was forbidden)? Read or write books, work in the garden?
WILLY: I have a recording set up at home – so I can record my voice whenever the mood takes me….But in general my recent life has been spent helping to deliver the album, drinking beer (too much?), rediscovering my love of books (with a beer), gardening (with a beer!) and strangely enjoying my independence from people (but spending time with beer)…I’m more solitary then I thought!
The more I listen to the album the more it feels like the soundtrack of a science fiction book. How far am I from the truth? Can you tell to the readers who are not so good in English what’s the whole story and what you are fighting against?
FRED: There’s no science fiction at all in this album, quite the opposite actually. Perhaps some of the metaphors and images that we used gave you that impression. It’s always interesting to hear how people interpret our lyrics and what they mean to them. But in fact this album deals with very real topics, such as the current social and political situation, mental health awareness, climate change, freedom of expression, self-acceptance, among other things. It’s not really a concept album. Each song is independent and has its own message, but there is some sort of common thread, which is also connected to the visual concept in the artwork. The character in the album cover represents the individual, and the abstract shapes and patterns covering his face represent the constant chaos in the world and in our personal lives that sometimes threatens to eat away our humanity. The topics in the lyrics are all part of that chaos and noise that surrounds us while we try to find our own path and peace within ourselves. This also gives me a chance to plug the fantastic artist that painted the album cover as well as the portraits of the band members. Check him out!
With Beating Hearts you made a statement: “It’s a song about following your heart and accepting your choices, regardless of what certain religious groups, social conventions or other people might dictate. It’s a song about passion, that celebrates alternative culture in all its manifestations: music, art, lifestyle, community… and it’s a song about overcoming any personal doubts you might have, and finding harmony within yourself." How personal is this song and what made you write about it?
FRED: It’s not really an autobiographical song, or a song that speaks specifically about my personal experiences, but it’s a topic that I am close to. I have been into heavy metal since an early age, and I’ve been part of the alternative music scene for a long time. Most of my friends and the people I am surrounded with are also part of that scene. I have a lot of friends who grew up in places where people are quite narrow-minded and will immediately point fingers at the first person who is just a little bit different. And many people I know have been judged, bullied, rejected by their peers, cast out… simply because of the way they chose to dress, the music they listened to, or simply for being different. But eventually they might meet other like-minded people at concerts, festivals, online forums, alternative clubs, and when you’re surrounded by those people you realise you’re not alone anymore, they accept you the way you are, and you don’t need to justify yourself for being different when you’re with them. The alternative scene is for the most part a welcoming place where people can be who they are without fear of being judged. And that’s what the lyrics are about, when we sing in the chorus “our sins don’t wash away/we don’t need salvation”. It’s a way to say, this is who I am, and I’m happy with that. And I don’t need to change or conform to other people’s standards just to “fit in”. So that song is a celebration of that.
In my review I connected the song to the intro of the female Irish star Becky (ex-World Champion aka Becky Lynch aka Becky 2 belts) from the WWF (wrestling). Was that an influence or is it just my rich imagination?
FRED: I watched the video, haha that was cool. I don’t really know anything about wrestling to be honest, and this is the first time I hear about that song or that wrestler. So that was definitely not an influence, but if she or any other WWF fighter wants to use our song for their entrance, I would be more than happy to let them use it!
How was it to get the clips done in these hard times? What was the nicest one to do?
FRED: It definitely wasn’t easy. For Venus it was ok because we did that in September 2020 and there weren’t that many restrictions in the UK at that time, but The Future, Tonight, was done in January 2021, and that was much harder. There was so much planning to do, especially because we travelled far from London for that, everyone needed to get Covid tests a few days before, and it really required a lot of logistical planning and making sure everything we were doing was legal, with insurance, etc… but we did it and that’s what matters. It definitely felt like a big achievement! The most fun video was Venus, without a doubt though. Everything went so smoothly and it just felt good, and Dani was absolutely amazing. She really committed to her character and her performance, and it was really easy and fun to work with her, as well as other friends who are in the video, like Alessio Garavello who let us shoot in his studio in London. Fun fact, in the video, you can see the owner of the Ferrari, he’s a friend of mine and he played the role of the bodyguard!
For “The Future, Tonight” you worked together with Björn Strid. How did you decide to work with him on this particular song? Did he already react towards the rest of the album?
With Björn, I’ve always been a fan of his work, with Soilwork or The Night Flight Orchestra, and other projects he’s been involved in over the years, he always puts on a great performance. I’ve known him for a few years, and I always wanted to have a collab with him, so this was the perfect time to do it. He hasn’t heart the full album yet, but he really liked the song he’s on. He’ll get a copy of the album soon!
Kaan Tasan also appears on two songs. How will you do it on stage without him? How did you get in touch with him and was he easy to persuade?
FRED: On stage Paul, our bass player does all the screaming vocals. I’ve known Kaan for years as well, way before he joined Heart of a Coward. So it was quite easy to ask him if he wanted to do this. His performance was so good, that we had to have him on 2 songs!
The last song is the one with the longest title:The Things We Left Behind (And The Things That Slipped Away). It’s also a very soft but very melancholic song. Question here is: what did you leave behind and what slipped away?
FRED: You know, it’s funny because we’ve always had meaningful lyrics on our albums, but in the past, I didn’t really like to explain their meaning. I preferred to let people either try to guess or come up with their own interpretation. But on this album, we did the opposite, and actually we have explained in great detail everywhere what the song lyrics are about for the singles that we’ve released so far. It was interesting to do that because I found that when we explained the lyrics people seemed to appreciate them much more, and to really connect with them. The Things We Left Behind (And The Things That Slipped Away) is no different, in the sense that it’s a song full of meaning, and I know very well what I was thinking about when I wrote it. But for this particular song, with an enigmatic title, I’m gonna do what I used to do before and let people come up with their own interpretation for it.
How was it to get in touch and sign with Noble Demon? I really like their roster of artists. If they would launch a Noble Demon fest in my country I would go. Do you have any other contacts with other artists from Noble Demon?
FRED: Noble Demon have been really good to us. It’s great to work with such a professional team and to have them supporting this release. We have a common goal, and I think we’ll have a long and fruitful collaboration with them. As for the festival, you’ll have to talk to Patrick about that! :D
I don’t know any of the other bands on the label. It was also the case for our previous label. Usually you don’t really meet the other bands just because you are on the same label, unless you get booked on a tour together or maybe play the same festival and get to meet them backstage. But there are some cool bands on Noble Demon, so maybe we’ll get to meet them at a festival somewhere down the line!
In the past you toured with big stars like Alice Cooper, Sonata Arctica, Dragonforce, Epica, Anvil, Gamma Ray & Magnum. How was that? How does the near future of touring look like? In Belgium The Alcatraz Metal fest should be the first one in August to open its doors.
FRED: All those tours were great and unique in their own way. But one thing they all have in common is that they all happened WAY TOO LONG AGO!!! Haha
So we’re definitely looking forward to the world opening up and being able to tour, and have some good times on the road again. As you know, things keep changing every day, so it’s hard to predict what we will be able to do or not. I’m hoping we can maybe do a UK tour sometime this year, and perhaps go out in Europe next year if everything is open again. And then we’ll see what we can do from there!
Is there something I should have asked? Did I miss something? To close this interview?
To all your readers, “The Future, Tonight” comes out on June 18th, and it’s the best album we’ve ever done, without a doubt. We’re incredibly proud of it, so check it out on Spotify, or your preferred platform, and make sure to give it a like!