QUICKIE OF THE WEEK: A short interview with Willy Norton (NeonFly)

written by Marko Jakob

Pix666: Hello Willy. Thanks for your time. How are you doing these days, are you alive and well? How are the other guys of NeonFly?

Willy: Hey pix666 Your’re very welcome.  We’re doing great thank you.  Everyone is healthy thankfully and looking forward to the release of our third album ‘The Future, Tonight’.

Pix666: Please introduce your band to the readers in a few short sentences. How did you get to know each other as a band, what was your inspiration to become musicians? What kind of music does NeonFly make?

I hate categorising what we do, as sometimes I’m not sure myself! But I suppose you could call Neonfly a heavy rock band with a multiplicity of crazed influences that defy categorisation and exceed expectations! The core of the band came together at music college.  I joined later after a very flattering phone call from our band leader Freddy Thunder, he said all the right things, so I joined up!! Inspiration? We are all pretty much obsessed with music, recording it, writing it and performing it. What else is there?

Pix666: You’ve been around with NeonFly for more than 10 years now – what have been the greatest and most unforgettable experiences in your time as a musician?

Neonfly’s had loads of high points, opening for Alice Cooper and getting to meet the great man himself – He is wise…and funny!! Touring with some amazing bands Dragonforce (exciting!), Magnum (an honour!)…Touring with Anvil was incredible fun.  They are hilarious people… very cool old-school rockers. Also we love meeting people..we go out of our way to hang out with fans when we tour and it’s been amazing to get the opportunity to meet people who share your passions. I’m constantly refreshed by just how kind people can be…

Pix666: You signed to the German label Noble Demon? What advantages do you hope to gain from this deal and how did the contact with Germany come about?

Willy: We’ve performed a lot in Germany, recorded an album there, have great memories and made many friends there – we love it! My colleague Freddy Thunder handles the business for the band for the most part and negotiated our deal with Noble Demon.  Noble Demon are a dynamic new force in Metal and bring huge experience and professionalism to the table – we look forward to a long and rewarding relationship with them.  They are also good people…which is important too!

Pix666: A few days ago you released the video clip ‘The Future, Tonight’ – a wonderful video clip. You are all blindfolded – what is the story behind the song and the video?

Thank you.  The song is an attempt to look at the very serious issues around addiction and mental health.  Something we take very seriously as a band.  With ‘The Future, Tonight’ we tried to illustrate the very real agonies of someone who is undergoing mental trauma. By talking about it we wanted to do our part in demystifying the subject, raising awareness and I suppose try to understand it ourselves a bit more.  Our social media posts accompanying the release directed people to resources that could help them if they were struggling with mental health or addiction issues – this is an essential part of the release.

Pix666: The video reached more than 50,000 views on YouTube in a short time. How happy are you with that? Do you generally look at such statistics?

Willy: Yes indeed and its closer to 100,000 as we speak..so we are very happy that people are digging what we do.  I try not to look at stats but I’m only human…so I sometimes take a peek…but to be honest the most important thing is that even if a few people enjoy our work I’m happy…the feedback has been 100% positive.

Pix666: You financed the production of your album via a crowdfunding campaign. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this type of financing for a band? Did many fans participate in the campaign – how did it work?

Willy: The record industry as we once knew it is in terminal decline.  It’s essential that bands grasp this and understand that direct access and communication with the fans via the internet and social media offers an incredible lifeline.  It’s the only game in town for aspiring musicians and Neonfly are totally on board with this type of financing.

We spent years touring and building up a core of fans who enjoy and support what we do, these are super cool people who are willing to put their money where their mouth is!!  The only disadvantage is it’s really hard work to bring these campaigns to fruition…but hey nobody said rock and roll was gonna be easy!!!

Pix666: The album is already completely finished, isn’t it? What can fans expect on the album? When can fans pre-order it and when is the official release date?

Willy: The album is locked, loaded and ready to go! It can be pre-saved on all the usual platforms and is released June 18th.  This album is a statement of new musical intent it’s all about where we’re going musically, not where we’ve been.  We’ve focused on being aggressively contemporary in terms of production, but never losing sight of the fact that good song-writing is ALWAYS where it’s at.

Pix666: The pandemic unfortunately still has us in its grip, in Germany we are even in a lockdown again. Nevertheless, are you already planning some concerts for the album release or a tour later in the year?

Willy: Our management are actively looking into touring opportunities as we speak – we are of course hanging out to play this new music to fans but we also realise that people’s safety comes first.  We are constantly monitoring the situation on the ground and when the time is right rest-assured we will tour this album until you’re all begging for us to stop!

Pix666: What is the current situation in the UK and especially the mood among the people?

Willy: The mood in the UK is febrile…..On the one hand we are fortunate to have an amazing support network which centres on our National Health Service which has performed incredibly.  But sadly we are governed by buffoons who, apart from getting the vaccination programme right, have got almost everything else wrong and are currently mired in allegations of corruption.  I would despair but I have a sunny Irish disposition so I’m optimistic for the future..people always pull through..despite the stupidities of those who govern them..

Pix666: Another question… are there any big problems for British artists after the UK leaves the EU? At least I can imagine that it won’t be as easy as before to deliver merch to the rest of Europe.

Willy: Again the British government despite constantly showing-off to the world how apparently important the creative sector is to this country have done virtually nothing to help those in the arts…they’ve done even less to alleviate the consequences of Brexit on touring performers. There is a huge amount of work to be done here.  They have hung musicians out to dry and should be ashamed of themselves… but again we will pull through, despite the idiots…

Pix666: As a musician, you certainly spend most of your time creating music – but what else do you do in your free time when you want to get your mind off things – are there any interesting hobbies that you pursue? 😊

Willy: I have no hobbies! I read, I write, I drink, I laugh, I travel, I hang out! Staying alive and sane I guess is my current hobby.

Pix666: Do you have any other news, that you would like to share with the fans?   

We are NEONFLY…and this time we mean it!!

Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers – Good luck with the album and stay healthy!!!



photos © NEONFLY