Text: Jiří Olszar, Eva Houšková
Foto: NeonFly archive, Hanka Fišerová
British band NEONFLY is more and more popularized for fans in the Czech Republic and for music media. After their successful show at Basinfirefest last year, where they introduced themselves for the first time to the Czech audience, they've appeared on Masters Of Rock and Rockování festivals this year; but this is not the end of their concerts in our country this year. During upcoming tour with legendary Magnum band they will return to the Czech Republic again. Not only about passed shows and return to Czech stages but also about their relationship to our fans and their future plans the composer brain of the band, likeable guitarist FREDERICK THUNDER spoke in this interview.
NeonFly hasn't been too long on the metal scene, but your last year debut album Outshine The Sun shows that you don't have lack of the musician experience. Where did you get this experience?
Thank you, well the band was formed in 2008, and by then I already had written some of the songs that ended up on Outshine The Sun. I never stopped writing throughout all that period until we recorded our debut album in 2011 I had a lot of time to write everything so I really worked hard on all the details and arrangements. On the live front we were very active as well, we played a lot of shows, and toured as much as we could while we were still unsigned, and continued after our album came out. The live show is really important for us, we're not one of those bands that spent months working in the studio and then got signed after having played only 2 or 3 shows, with no live experience.
The album earned very good responses not only from fans but from musician reviewers, as well. Was it a surprise for you or were you sure that this material is extremly strong and high-quality?
We really believe in what we do, and I think when we finished the album we were all really proud of what we had achieved, and we knew that we had a good album. But that doesn't mean people are going to like it, so even though we were very happy and pleased with the work we had done, you can never predict the reaction of the public. So it was good to see so much positive feedback, we really appreciate it.
It's quite clear that you don't miss talent for composition of quality songs. What's your own point of view? Are you so talented or is it a lot of musicians' work firstly?
I write most of the songs on my own, then I submit the finished demos to the rest of the band, and they interpret the parts, with their own knowledge and skill on their instrument, and obviously the songs really come alive at that point, when they are played by the whole band together. Sometimes we change some arrangements in the rehearsal room… Willy Norton also contributed to the writing with a few vocal melodies and lyrics. The other guys are welcome to write stuff as well, but they are a bunch of lazy bastards so they leave all the work to me! (laugh)
Czech fans could assure of your musician qualities, as well. You experienced your first-run gig in the Czech Republic at Basinfirefest last year. What were the fans' responses and what were your feelings?
That festival was really great! We were playing on the Main Stage even though it was the first time we came to Czech Republic, and I think there was a bit of curiosity towards us so quite a few people came to see us, and that was a great feeling! We really had a lot of positive feedback from that festival, we were signing a lot of stuff next to the merchandise stand, and we knew right then that there was something special with the Czech fans, that's why this year we really made the effort to come back for more shows! And it's been great so far, the Czech crowd has never disappointed us!
You appeared on Masters Of Rock and Rockování festivals this year. This time you knew what to expect from the Czech audience. Have your expectation come true or has there been anything surprising?
As I was saying, Czech fans have never let us down. At Masters Of Rock, it was raining a lot, and we didn't know if people would be there to see us, or they would be taking shelter on a beer tent instead, or something, but when we went on stage we saw there was such a big crowd in front of us, that we didn't even get the chance to do our line-check because people were chanting „Neonfly, Neonfly“ and we just thought… ok we have to go now, we can't leave them waiting! Rockování was also a great festival, smaller obviously but the organisation was outstanding, and it was a very friendly and fun atmosphere. The festival has been going for many years, but this was the first time they got an international band to play, and we are really happy and proud to have been there too.
In your opinion – are the Czech fans somehow exceptional in comparison with the others?
I think all fans are great… as long as they are our fans! (laugh) No but seriously, I think Czech fans have really adhered to our sound very quickly, and the response has been great over there, so it's always a pleasure for us to come back and play for you!
What is the differece between the Czech and eg. English fans?
I think English fans are a bit reticent when it comes to new bands, it's like they don't trust them, or they don't think that you'll be good so they don't want to listen to you, unless they hear about you so many times that they can't ignore you and finally decide to check you out. I think the difference here as well is that there are so many bands and so much competition that everyone's neighbour is in a band here, so people get tired of having to listen to so many bands that aren't good, and they lose their patience.
The mentioned concerts aren't the last in our country allegedly. What are you preparing in this context?
That's right, in fact we already have 2 more shows confirmed in November. We are going on tour with Magnum, they are taking us on their European tour as support band, and we will be playing in Pilsen and Zlin on the 12nd and 13th of November. Needless to say we are very happy to be doing those 2 shows!
Can we infer that you like playing in the Czech Republic?
For sure! (smile)
Do you think that your appearance in our country should become your yearly tradition?
I don't know… maybe you guys will get bored of us! (laugh)
Foreign tourists admire Czech historical monuments, musicians admire beautiful fans and all of them sure love excellent beer. What do the members of NeonFly admire for here?
All 3 things that you mentioned! Before Rockování festival, I took a couple of days to visit your capital city of Prague, and I really enjoyed all the sights there, it was great to have the chance to do that. Beautiful fans are always a pleasure to see at our concerts, and Czech beer is great to have after the show. That will be Pilsner or Gambrinus for me please. (laugh)
It seems that you enjoy your gigs enormously. Is live performance the most important thing you do the music for?
I wouldn't say it's the most important thing, because I also spend a long time composing and arranging songs. The song-writing element is very important for me, and I always work very hard on all the songs that I write, I don't want to have any filler tracks on our albums. And in the studio I always spend long hours making sure every sound is exactly how I want it. I'm very picky with all the details. But when it comes to playing live we try our best to be entertaining, because nobody wants to see a bunch of guys standing still playing their songs perfectly but without excitement. So we just rock out, have fun and really try to share a moment with the crowd that is standing in front of us. And that's always very fun and rewarding for us too.
Contact with your audience is sure important for you. Are you pleased when the fans come after concert for autographs, collective photos or just come around to have a chat with you?
Yes we love to meet the fans, we're always available and we're happy to sign anything and take pics so don't be afraid to ask!
Are you in contact with your fans out of concerts, e.g. by internet, fan club etc...?
We are really active on social media. We manage our page on Facebook and Twitter etc..., and we always make the effort to reply to everyone. We don't have a fan club yet… maybe someone out there wants to start something! Let us know. (smile)
NeonFly is marked a modern power metal band. In spite of that it's possible to hear elements of classic hard rock, heavy metal and even rock'n'roll in your music. What is your attitude to old rock or metal music?
Well I'm glad that you should say that because we have indeed a lot of different and eclectic influences. It's not just metal. I love music, and obviously good music. I listen to everything, from classical, to hard rock, AOR, black metal, even some pop or funk or soul… I'm not afraid to get influences from other styles of music as long as it's good.
Are among the 70's and 80's bands some ones, which would be called your models?
Definitely, I love bands such as Journey, Foreigner, Night Ranger, Meat Loaf… I love a lot of 80's hair metal as well!
When you have a free time, what do you listen to from contemporary production?
I really like the latest Theocracy album, which I think is one of the best power metal albums of the last years, I've also become a big fan recently of In This Moment. I love bands like Turisas, Within Temptation… outside of metal I also like some Infected Mushroom, I think the new album is great.
What about NeonFly and future? Have you been composing any new songs for possible next album yet?
Yes! Working hard on them at the moment. We hope to be able to record the second album at the start of next year… I just need to make sure I finish writing the new songs on time! (laugh)
Will the new material be similar to your debut or are you getting ready to surprise fans with anything?
It will be a logical follow up, but I think the songs we have written are some of our strongest material to date, we are going to work very hard on the production on this album, and we're all better players now than we were when we recorded the first album, so that will show as well. So to sum it up, we expect our second album to be bigger, better, more bombastic… everything the first album was but 10 times bigger! (laugh)
Thank you for this interview and we and your fans are looking forward to your next visit!
Thanks to you, and don't forget, see you in Pilsen on the 12th of November and Zlin on the 13th!