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Band Interviews Interviews

An Interview With Flight

A few weeks ago, I got the chance to review the second effort by the band Flight called A Leap Through MatterAs someone who almost primarily focuses on reviews and classic anniversaries, I was honored when I found out the band was willing to be interviewed for the Vault. For those who didn’t catch my write-up a few weeks back, A Leap Through Matter is easily one of the greatest records I’ve heard this year, and there isn’t a single flaw about it in my eyes. Those who dig classic rock, classic metal, and prog elements all mixed together would surely love Flight.

So, my jibber jabber about how great this is aside, let’s cut the bullshit and get to it. This interview focuses primarily on the background of the band, origins, what influenced them, and how the songs on the current record came to be.

Indy Metal Vault: Hello!  I’d first like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask a few questions for our Vault readers.  A lot of upcoming bands are throwing back to old school styles, with traditional heavy metal and speed metal roots.  One of the biggest things that I’ve noticed with A Leap Through Matter is that it goes even deeper than that, and almost combines this with a more proto-metal or ’70s hard rock throwback.  Was this an intentional goal that was in mind, or did you guys just get together, start playing, and this was how it turned out? In other words, what were the biggest things that drove this style?

Christoffer Bråthen: Hey! It was definitely an intentional effort on my part, and I have a lot of newer material made after the songs that made it on to ALTM that is way more 70’s in style (some of my songs on this album were written as far back as 2012, so we never “caught up” to the newest Flight material I had made). Our style has not been to jam out the songs anyway – almost everything has been made beforehand by either Jonas or me, and then we work out the details while rehearsing together. As for the reasons why we shift more to the older direction than the newer, I simply enjoy older music (from the 60’s and 70’s) more than the newer stuff. I generally feel that I have more to contribute with – musically speaking – in that area, more progressive-minded, “secret melody”-seeking, wanting to express a certain atmosphere that is musically reminiscent of 70’s prog and hard rock fusion. I’ve also been influenced by library music from the 70’s, which has a lot of songs that can actually foster pretty heavy hard hard-rock riffs if you just listen for it – and if you’re open for it. As for the band in general, we all love Rush, Winterhawk, Dust, and many more classic prog-bands from the 70’s, so it seems like it was a natural direction to head in.

IMV: Something that struck me as interesting was the simplicity of the band name.  How did you guys come up with “Flight”?

CB: Less is more! I love it when simplicity creates interest. I’m not completely sure really, but I think it had something to do with the name of the shoe of one of our pals, Magnus (from Mion’s Hill and Condor). The shoe had a big “F” that looked really cool, and I think that shoe-model was actually called Flight. We also fell in love with the simplicity and found it a suitable band name. It also makes associations to traveling, being in the sky, blue skies, clouds, flying, birds, feeling elevated, being taken on a ride, a journey and so on, and this is all things that we enjoy. We’re really influenced by the first Journey album, by the way. Their magnificent accomplishments on that album is almost unintelligible.
Jonas Bye: It was actually my shoe, but it was Magnus that suggested that it could be a fitting band name for us. At the time we were considering calling ourselves Nightrider, after the instrumental song on our debut record, but I’m very happy that we went with Flight instead. It’s a more original name, and as Christoffer pointed out it evokes a lot of associations that we think fit with our soundscape.

IMV: I understand that the band has been together for over five years.  How did you guys come together as a group and decide to start playing music together?  What’s the story behind the formation of Flight?

CB: Yep, it’s probably exactly around six years now. I had always had a plan with a good friend, Henrik, to make a heavy metal band when we were in school (although he tried to sing on a few Flight rehearsals, it sadly didn’t work out). I had also spoken to Jonas and Herman about making a band because I had some heavy metal riffs. When I encountered a personal hell and had to descend into chaos in late 2012, my creativity went crazy trying to make sense of what was going on in my life, obviously cleaning out every dark part of my psyche trying to find, or make, some meaning in the tragedy. I made a few songs in an afternoon and was so psyched about it that I called both Jonas and Herman the same day and said: “We are a band now, and we rehearse tomorrow” (or something like that). We started rehearsing steadily from then on, and the sound was pretty much in place from the start.

IMV: A lot of the songs here contain such a smooth flow and have the perfect amount of harmony as well as intricate guitar solo placement.  Is this difficult to reproduce live? Do you try to make live shows match the studio tracks, or is it a completely different energy on stage?

CB: Hoh. We haven’t tried playing this live yet, but of course, we have a sense of what it would sound like from rehearsing the material. I have to say that we won’t manage to create the sound we have on this album live, but we’ll do the best we can if we’re gonna do it. But yes, there is a lot of extra guitars and details on the album that we would never manage to get in a live setting. That is at least because of me insisting that on a studio album, you’re supposed to make the best album you can manage, not caring whether or not you can re-create that sound live – that should not have any influence on the choices you make in the studio. We followed this philosophy this time, and it was definitely for the best. So the live show(s) in the future will be a “best shot” at making the songs sound as good as they can, and as close to the studio-sound as we can, but it won’t be the same. Hopefully, it’s not that important, and the live shows can have their own feeling.
JB: This time around the goal was to create something that we still could be proud of in 60 years when we sit in our retirement homes, as oppose to creating something that a four-piece could do justice in a live setting. Concerts are temporary, albums are eternal.

IMV: On the other hand, was it difficult to record and engineer the album to make it sound the way it does?  I’m always curious about the gear and the time that it took to make.

CB: I don’t think it was especially difficult, but we had to have the right equipment and make the effort that everyone does when recording an album. We had a good sense of what we were after before going in the studio, so it wasn’t that difficult. The drums and bass were done in about a weekend each, but I needed more time being strict with the guitar sound and playing, not giving up until I was completely satisfied. It was especially important for me to be very precise in my playing – I know how well I can perform if I put in the right amount of effort, and I would have hated myself if I didn’t do my best on this album. We used a Marshall JCM 800, and I played on a Fender Strat, which worked overwhelmingly well together in my estimation. I’m also happy with the old-school drum sound, it is very clear, distinct and well-produced, yet doesn’t sound (completely) “modern.”
JB: The bass was tracked with a Rickenbacker through an Aguilar Agro pedal, set to a quite low saturation setting. And I did some extra tracks like how you’d chords with a synth in the background of a song, and they were done with a Fender P-bass through a chorus pedal. Kristian used a Gibson Explorer for his solos.

IMV: Looking at the debut album, I noticed that it has a bit more of a stripped down formula than the new record.  What made you want to touch it up a bit and give it a more accessible sound that is present on A Leap Through Matter?

CB: It’s interesting to me that the debut album gives off a more stripped down formula because I actually feel that the new record is more stripped down. But there seems to be a difference between following a conscious “stripped down formula” and performing to that standard, and having an unconscious stripped down formula while performing in a manner that makes the overall sound still sound sloppy. So maybe the debut album has a stripped down formula at bottom, in the sense that it was very simple and without much detail, but we still performed to create a sloppy sound and played a bit “all over the place” (I think). ALTM, on the other hand, has a conscious stripped down formula, with details included in the plan, and we followed that plan to make a more stripped down record (more accessible), yet still having it sound more interesting, with a few extra touches. We definitely made an effort to make this album more accessible and interesting than the debut. I am heavily influenced by Steely Dan when it comes to this point – music can be stripped down but still be interesting, and usually more interesting by being stripped down. Me being influenced by the smoothness of yacht rock made ALTM more accessible and interesting, for sure.

IMV: I’ve noticed that the tracks have a more story-oriented theme, rather coming from personal life.  What inspired the lyric writing here? Did something from your actual lives inspire these lyrics?

CB: I have to say yes. It’s probably obvious that although the lyrics on ALTM take a more universal, story-oriented and metaphorical form, they still express a personal journey. I hope that our audience can find their own meaning in these lyrics within that broader framework. I think the lyrics speak for themselves, but as a general remark I would say that the inspiration for the lyrics on ALTM at some level was a need to express something from the depths of my heart in an unpersonal manner – hopefully in a way that the listeners can relate to and find meaning through if they are in need.

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