Interviews > Neonfly
Interview by Athena Schaffer

Neonfly’s debut full length album, Outshine The Sun (Rising Records) does indeed shine with the intensity of a supernova! A variety of influences shine through from pure Power Metal to Prog melodies and orchestral arrangements – everything from fist-pumping sing-alongs to larger-than-life theatrics and everything in-between. This album immediately earned a slot in my personal heavy rotation stack on first listen!

Rock Band players, listen up! The excellent song “Ship With No Sails” is available for download!

Check out the album teaser and road footage on Youtube.

Hailing from London, Neonfly are: guitarist/composer/founder Frederick Thunder, vocalist Willy Norton, bassist Paul Miller, guitarist Patrick Harrington, and drummer Boris LeGal.

Definitely a band to watch, The Crowgrrl sees a great future for these guys. I recently caught up with Fred to delve deeper into this amazing album.

Fred, are you still doing the lion’s share of the songwriting?

Yes, I’m still the main songwriter. I usually write everything on my own and then take the songs to the rehearsal room where the other guys contribute some ideas and work on some of their parts. A good example of this is the drum work, Boris is an amazing drummer so I usually come up with the basic parts and he adds all the drum magic. This time however Willy also contributed to the songwriting, mainly with lyrics and he also wrote the vocal melody for “Morning Star”.

Did the songwriting process differ for the album than for the “Clever Disguise” EP?

I would say the other band members contributed much more this time. I had already written all of Clever Disguise before the band was formed, so when the other guys joined they only had to learn the songs.

Some of the songs on “Outshine The Sun” are improved versions of songs from “Clever Disguise”?

Yes, we felt that some of those songs were too good to be left behind on what was essentially a demo… also we have a new singer now, so it made sense to re record them, and we improved the arrangements a lot. There is a noticeable difference between the old and new version, so people who purchased Clever Disguise should hopefully appreciate the new versions as well. And the production is much better now.

“Morning Star” is probably my new favorite of your songs. What are the influences behind that one?

I wrote some of those guitar riffs ages ago. Some of them date back to 2003 and I remember at the time I was trying to do something that sounded a bit like Led Zeppelin. The lyrics as Willy would say are about “Old Nick”… the Dark Lord himself…

“A Gift To Remember” is awesome as well. Can you tell us more about that one?

It’s a song that talks about relationships gone wrong. I guess a lot of people can relate to that. We all know what it’s like.

The multi-textured “The Revenant” is absolutely haunting! Any comments on this song?

I really like that song it’s quite complex and it has a lot of different parts but the end result is still somehow quite straight forward and catchy, I’m really proud of that one!

“The Messenger” is also complex musically, starting almost as a power ballad before putting the pedal to the metal. How did this one come about?

I really wanted to do a song with a full orchestra arrangement, I love symphonic metal, and also love it when bands such as Metallica or the Scorpions re-arrange their songs for an orchestra, I think it has so much power. So I guess the main idea was to write a heavy rock song and then arrange an orchestra on top! Lyrics again courtesy Willy Norton.

What’s your personal favorite song on “Outshine The Sun”?

It’s really hard to say, I love all the songs in there… can’t pick one to be honest. I think most musicians would probably give you the same answer about their own albums.

How did the deal with Rising Records come about?

I prayed to the gods of heavy metal for a deal that would make my dreams come true. For many nights I looked up to the skies wondering if my turn would come to pick up the steel covered gauntlet of my ancestors… and one misty morning in the distance I heard the call… come to Clacton-on-sea and you will find what you are looking for. Next thing you know we were signed!

Any stories behind the cover art?

I wanted something that looked a bit old school, with a stadium rock vibe… something that would look good on vinyl. I wanted an image that gave you a feeling of immensity, and I thought it would be cool to have a UFO as a main theme, I don’t think it’s been done by a lot of metal bands, and it ties in in a humorous way with our song “I Think I Saw A UFO”.

Any video plans for any songs?

Hopefully we’ll be shooting a video early next year… more on that later!

Speaking of videos, you have an Album Teaser & Road Movie and Studio Reports on Youtube?

Yes, we think it’s important to give the fans that kind of content as often as possible, nowadays everybody goes on Youtube to kill some time so if they look for Neonfly I want to make sure they have a few options to be entertained. And it’s obviously also great for promotional purposes.

Also on Youtube is your performance of the Black Sabbath cover “Die Young” as a tribute to Ronnie James Dio? When was that recorded? Tell us more about it?

Yeah that was with our previous singer Tamas, on the last couple of dates he ever did with us. We played that cover on the UK tour we did with H.E.A.T. in May 2010. Shortly after Dio passed away, we felt like many other metal bands at the time that we had to do a small tribute to the little man.

“Ship With No Sails” is available for download on Rock Band?! How did that come about?

We got an offer after playing Bloodstock 2010 (UK festival which featured bands such as Twisted Sister, Children of Bodom, Edguy, Sonata Arctica, Opeth…) That was actually Willy’s first show with us. I guess the Rock Band people were impressed with our performance and offered us to put our songs on rock band, which we were really excited about. But we wanted the final album version to be on rock band so we waited until the album was ready to release it.

We’ve seen bands playing their own songs on Rock Band and Guitar Hero – including Shadows Fall and members of KISS – who don’t do so well playing the game at their own songs. Have you played “Ship With No Sails” on Rock Band, and how did you fare?

Actually I haven’t and I’m pretty sure I would suck at it so best not to embarrass myself. If you ask Boris our drummer however I’m sure he would kick everyone’s ass.

You’ve changed vocalists between “Clever Disguise” and “Outshine The Sun”. How did this come about, and how did you choose Willy as your new frontman?

Willy was actually recommended by Tamás, our previous singer, to replace him. It was a last minute decision just before Bloodstock, and consequently he joined with only 1 week of preparation. He did an amazing job and we offered him the position. I remember the first time I heard him singing in rehearsals I got goose bumps, I knew he was the one immediately. He’s got an amazing voice!

Tour plans?

We just finished a UK tour with Freedom Call and Arthemis which was really fun! We got a couple more headline shows coming up in December in London and Reading but nothing else is confirmed so far. We’re trying to get a big tour support for next year. Fingers crossed!

What is your current live show like?

We really work on our stage performance. I’m really influenced (and proudly so) by 80’s hair metal, I was born a bit late to get into it while it was all happening in fact. I started listening to it in the late 90’s when no one else did! I remember watching the videos and being blown away by all the crazy stage antics and the strong image those bands had. I was already a big power metal fan by then though, so on stage as well as in the studio, I feel like our music and our performance is situated somewhere between Euro power metal and 80s hair metal. We definitely have a lot of energy on stage. We don’t stand still for 2 seconds!!!

What kinds of merch do you have available now?

At the moment we have 2 t-shirt designs, and bottle openers/keyrings. We also have a deal going on at the moment which includes our album. You can check it out here. We dispatch worldwide and our prices are very competitive! Come shop with us and you won’t be disappointed. This message was brought to you by Frederick Thunder and Neonfly, never a dull moment when shopping at Freddy’s!

What do you do on your “down-time” on the road? Do you bring movies or videogames? If so, which ones?

We mainly listen to music, Paul play’s some video games on his mac, I think last time he was playing heroes’ of might and magic… But in fact touring in the UK we always arrange our itinerary so we don’t have very long drives. The drive between London and Manchester for example is only 3-4 hours long.

Any long-form DVD plans yet?

Not really, I think we’re a long way away from releasing a DVD. Maybe after a few studio albums.

How Hands-On are you with your Website and Myspace pages?

We do it all ourselves! Except for the website we don’t actually input the information ourselves, but all the content comes from us.

Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you want to tell our readers?

Paul Miller has pee fright!