Interview with Willy Norton and Frederick Thunder - NeonFly

 

 

Nice to have you in interview and congrats to your amazing album The Future, Tonight. How satisfied are you with it and how are the reactions so far?

WILLY: Thank you so much, great to be here!  The response has been phenomenal…it’s been a while since our last album release so we wanted to come back with a bang!  And I really feel that we have! Reviews have been great and the fans seem to be really digging our new songs and sound.  Oh but to play them live…….that day will come. NORWICH!! We will return…….

 

The cover artwork by Korean artist NOMA is outstanding! How did you get in touch with this genius?

FRED: He really is amazing! I actually found NOMA on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/artist_noma/). It took me a very long time to find the right artist, because I wanted to make sure that the style and concept would match what I had in mind visually for the album. I fell in love with his work instantly but it took me a while to finally write to him, because at first, I didn’t think he would agree. But in the end I decided to send him an email anyway, and he got back to me straight away and was very interested in the project, so I was really happy and flattered that an artist like him wanted to take part in this.

 

Let us start with your musical carriers. When did you decide to become a musician? Which bands/artists were and still are your main influences?

FRED: I guess I was still a teenager when I decided that I wanted to make music. The band that got me into playing guitar was Iron Maiden. Guitar solos weren’t really en vogue when I got into metal, so when I first heard Iron Maiden it was like a whole new musical universe opened up for me. So I picked up the guitar shortly after that. I started with a lot of classic heavy metal and European power metal, and I think you can hear a lot of those early influences on our first albums. Now I listen to a lot more modern stuff as well and many other genres of music, which have also influenced my song writing approach for the new album.

 

Who came up with your bandname? Does it have a special meaning?

WILLY: The naming of this band is lost in the deepest recesses of a frightening and feverish place…..the mind of Frederick Thunder, for it is he who came up with it. I have no clue!  BUT…if a Neonfly means anything it symbolises a dazzling cornucopia of dramatic tones, fragmentary shapes and surging melodies, combining shard of colours that buzz around your head in a sublime and moving way…. much like us live and on record! Once you’ve met Neonfly..you don’t forget!

 

You founded NeonFly in 2008 – Willy joined the band in 2010, and in 2011 you released your first album „Outshine The Sun“, 2014 the second „Strangers in Paradise“. What was the reason for a longer break until album no. 3 came out?

FRED: The main reason is that it took me a very long time to write this album. A lot of work and thought went into every song, and that just took a long time. Then we also had to take some extra time to organise the crowdfunding… we were completely independent throughout the whole process, so managing the business side of things was also quite time-consuming. Having parted ways with our previous label, we needed to find a new label for this release, and just when we had inked a brand new management deal, covid struck, and hit the music industry pretty hard, so that delayed everything. We signed with Noble Demon in November 2020, and at that point we finally started planning the release. So with the pandemic and the time it took to sort out the business side of things, that added a good year and a half to the gap between albums.

 

Are you all involved in songwriting? What comes first - music or lyrics or both together in the songwriting process?

FRED: Not really. I write most of the stuff by myself. I always start with the music, and when I’ve got a song finished, I either send it to Willy so he can write some lyrics, or sometimes I’ll write the lyrics. Occasionally I also ask Willy to write the vocal melody in a specific section if I’m not feeling it myself, so he can bring in some cool ideas too.

 

Some song lyrics touch me really deep. What inspires you to the lyrics, are that personal experiences?

FRED: On this album for the most part, we wanted to write about topics that we felt were relevant and important today. Some of them might be inspired by personal experiences or stuff that we have seen, or simply our ideas and beliefs. Some other songs are a bit more light-hearted. Ultimately I don’t think any of the songs are specifically about a very personal experience or deeply autobiographical. They might be inspired by real events but we also take artistic liberties to suit the mood of the song and the message we are trying to put across. But it was important for us to write about relevant topics that we felt our fans cared about and would be able to relate to, as much as we care about them and relate to them too.

 

You had two guest vocalists on the new album Björn „Speed“ Strid (Soilwork) and Kaan Tasan (Heart of a Coward). Both did an amazing job on the tracks. Who is going to sing their harsh growling parts when you will perform the songs live on stage?

FRED: Our bass player Paul usually does the growling on stage… and offstage too!

 

In 2019 you started a crowdfunding campaign to finance the album. It turned out to be more than successful. I guess it requires a big fanbase, what else is important for a successful one?

FRED: It’s really important to plan ahead and to study the subject enough to make sure you know what you’re doing. Unless you’re a really famous artist of brand, you can’t launch a crowdfunding campaign and expect everyone’s just going to start throwing money at you. It’s important to offer something that brings value to your fans and that’s going to make them want to invest in you and buy your product in advance. Engagement is key. Being creative and always thinking about your fans first.

 

Now I think your biggest dream is to go on stage again. Do you already have plans for a tour next year? Hopefully also here in Germany 😉

FRED: No concrete plans yet but we’re working on it! We’ve always loved touring in Germany and it’s one of the countries where we’ve played the most, so I’m sure we’ll get back there sooner rather than later!

 

Can you remember a funny situation on stage, in the studio or at a video shoot?

WILLY: This band has been an hilarious rollercoaster from day one….too many funnys to list…being repeatedly doused in water by our guest star Dani Divine in our video for ‘Venus’ was certainly memorable and hilarious at the time(!)  https://www.instagram.com/p/CLZq0Xep6Hu/…Running through mud and rain in our stage gear at Download Festival with our bass player Paul to make an already massively delayed, and about to be cancelled set, was very funny…but not at the time!!!!!

 

One personal question for you – beside all this music business staff, what are you doing when you want to get your mind off things? What other interests do you have?

WILLY: Books, records, art, people, beer, books, records, art, people, beer continue ad infinitum…..oh and beer.

 

Last but not least, do you have some other news you want to share with us?

FRED: I’m a rabid anti-dentite.

WILLY: I’m a rabid anti-anti-dentite

Thanks so much for your time. Stay safe and hope to see you soon.

 

 

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