All Systems Go For In-Flight Safety

Photo by Meghan Whitton
Photo by Meghan Whitton

Five years can pass by in the blink of an eye. Just ask Halifax indie-rock band In-Flight Safety.

Released this week, In-Flight Safety’s newest record, Conversationalist, arrives more than a half-decade after their acclaimed album We Are An Empire, My Dear. And while five years can seem like an eternity, especially in the music business, In-Flight Safety used the time between studio records wisely.

In addition to having their songs featured in a myriad of television programs including The Office and Rookie Blue, the group undertook an extensive touring schedule that took them across Canada on numerous occasions. In the last five years, the group was also introduced to European audiences, playing prestigious festivals, including the Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City, both in the United Kingdom.

And while the group could have easily returned to the studio, churned out a record and carried on, fate had different plans. Following the departure of two of its members, In-Flight Safety’s John Mullane and Glen Nicholson decided there was no better time to re-evaluate where the band was going.

The recording process for what would become Conversationalist, the group’s third full-length record, was born from a labour of love for the band and the music they create. Given its title, the album was the byproduct of many conversations between John and Glen concerning where they were headed.

“It was nice to step away and take a look at where we were musically,” John says. “We could have gone in and made a record right away, but it would have felt prescribed and unnecessary.

“We wanted to take the time to discover what makes our music unique, how to modernize the band but also how to bring ourselves where we wanted to be rather than where we felt we had to be.”

While the downtime between albums afforded John and Glen the opportunity to clear the cobwebs and approach the band with a fresh outlook, it also allowed each of them to focus on interests outside of In-Flight Safety for the first time in years. John spent time scoring films while Glen returned to school to study architecture.

When the time came for the duo to reconvene, their focus was on the finer details.

“A long time cohort of the band told me that I should really play the guitar more on this album,” John says. “At first, I didn’t quite get what he was saying but then realized there was a lot of truth to his words. If you go back and listen to We Are An Empire … I was a vocalist first and guitarist second, where with Conversationalist, the guitar is a central character on every one of the songs.”

In addition to making the guitar a much more prominent instrument on Conversationalist, John and Glen also took the time to explore what other colours they would use to help paint their picture.

“We needed to take the time to figure out the colours that synths and other sounds would provide on the record,” John says. “We ultimately felt as though we had the time and space to do what we wanted to do but that involved learning the instruments before employing them.”

The end result is perhaps the group’s most confident and honest record of their career. Conversationalist moves In-Flight Safety definitively forward while stealing glances in the rearview mirror.

Much like We Are An Empire, My Dear opened doors for the band on an international level, Conversationalist stands to capitalize on those investments. The album is slated for release in Europe on September 22, followed by the group’s first official American album release on October 14.

Less than a week following the group’s show at Moncton’s Tide & Boar this Friday night, In-Flight Safety will embark on an eight-date European tour that will take them through Germany and the United Kingdom. In late October, the group will head to New York City to take part in the CMJ Music Festival, a long-running event, whose reputation is built on introducing new acts or expanding the influence with festival audiences.

“It feels as though we have a bit different of a perspective going into promoting this record,” John says. “We are so appreciative of the opportunities we have had come our way so far that we are just completely focused on playing great live shows and meeting all kinds of new people moving forward. It feels as though we are in an exciting place.”

What: In-Flight Safety 
 with special guests Green & Gold
When: Friday, Sept. 12, 9 p.m.
Where: The Tide & Boar Gastropub,
 700 Main St., Moncton