Fondly nourishing a genuine friendship between comrades Alternative Rock and Indie-Folk, London's Night Flight is a composed bunch of four musicians that sail through their music, favouring melodically pretty songs while hitting those high notes to keep an element surprise. Sam Holmes, Dan Webb, Harry Phillips and Oliver Halvorsen's mutual respect can be explicitly heard in their playing, even after a forced Pandemic pause. As we come through to the other side and with a tour in October and new EP Songs From Echo Zoo now in our ears, I find out a wee bit more from Ollie and Sam.
Dear Night Flight, impart your wisdom, and do tell me one valuable lesson or truth you acquired from the unknown reality of a pandemic?
Ollie: I’d say one thing we’ve learnt is to become more resourceful. We weren’t seeing each other face to face for most of 2020, so we had to rely a lot more on sharing demos and ideas electronically for some time. While this wasn’t ideal, it really meant we had creative freedom independently to try things with absolutely no pressure, and I think some positive things came from that.
Can you describe the first moment that you were allowed to create and share the sheer pleasure of playing instruments together in unison after Lockdown?
Ollie: We actually managed to escape London for a week last year in between two of the seemingly endless lockdowns to record our new Songs from Echo Zoo EP. I think there was initially a little worry because what we recorded was a handful of songs that had existed very much in demo format, most of which had barely even been touched in a rehearsal room. We also hadn’t really seen each other or played together for months, so I guess there was some worry of being rusty and underprepared. However, what ensued was probably one of the most positive experiences we’ve had together as a band.
I think the fact we hadn’t been together in a while to play or create music made that week incredibly refreshing and relinquished any pressure to meet some sort of expectation or kick any goals. We spent a lot of time experimenting with the songs, playing different instruments, finding sounds that excited us and in general, just laughing a lot and having a good time in the process. It was wonderful.
Songs From Echo Zoo is a delicate assembly of four tracks that allows the listener to gently ride the vibrations and feel at one with the world. I especially admired the Roxy Music leanings of Sleeping in California. How did you end up writing about two places on our extraordinary planet: Canada and California?
Sam: I've always loved storytelling and songwriting that is evocative, especially of a certain place or time. The two narratives in both Canada and California completely encapsulate how I feel about those locations and the feelings they elicit. I hope that people listen and find themselves lost within that nostalgia or that it resonates in an entirely new way.
Lyrically, can you single out one song that was the toughest to get across or took an age to cement into place?
Sam: On the whole, the lyrical process is one that I leave until last when writing a song, mainly because the music often dictates the emotion I'm trying to convey and feels less forced. I wouldn't say any of them were particularly tough, but I certainly spent the longest on Dreaming because I wanted to get the emotion and excitement of two people falling in love just right.
Would your sound have become pared back in any way as part of your musical journey, or did the remote working influence this? How has this shifted from your last works?
Ollie: In some ways, our sound has become more refined. I think there’s a lot more emphasis on the ‘less is more’ approach in terms of developing parts for each song. However, we’ve definitely gotten a lot more experimental in terms of how we can push all the sounds in our music to a different level. And I'd probably agree that remotely working definitely influenced that. Personally, I've always been quite interested in experimenting with synths and sounds in general, and I think working remotely allowed a lot of that in this batch of songs.
Not that I ever would have expected thrashing moss pits and bouncing off the walls ferociously, but can you predict if your forthcoming tour may have a respectful, tranquil atmosphere due to the nature of your new EP?
Ollie: I’m unsure about this. Without sounding pretentious, I think it’s a fairly eclectic mix of songs in terms of vibe. If anything, we’d like to make all the shows as exciting as possible. I think the songs have a bit more scope in terms of sound and production now, and we’d like to try and harness all of that energy when it comes to playing live. Don’t get me wrong, i’m sure there will still be calmer moments.
I spy with my little eye that you are stopping in Newcastle upon Tyne! Have you played there before?
Sam: We've played once before at a festival in 2019, so we're looking forward to heading back. I used to be a childhood fan of the football club, so I have a loose affinity for the city. Eventually, my Dad demanded I follow Charlton Athletic instead, which made more sense considering I lived 350 miles away from Newcastle!
Wed 6 Brighton, Green Door Store
Thu 7 London, Colours Hoxton
Fri 8 Bristol, Rough Trade Bristol
Sat 9 Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
Mon 11 Manchester, YES Basement
Tue 12 Sheffield, Record Junkee
Wed 13 Glasgow, Broadcast
Thu 14 Newcastle, Think Tank? Underground