Conversations with Ralph Engle of This Flight Tonight at 2:24 A.M. (Interview)



Ralph Engle talks about the situations that shaped This Flight Tonight and the joy of having a band.

At 2:24 a.m. you can’t really expect a sane answer from any tired artist but Ralph Engle of This Flight Tonight seemed to have pulled it off. After viewing the videos off the band’s site and listening to the music, I was convinced that I need to pin his ideas. He is young and passionate about what he does, so passionate enough that it must have taken a lot of energy on his part trying to establish a new home-base in another country just to continue making music.

Robert Frost said that  “A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a love sickness. It finds the thought and the thought finds the words.” Yes we all go through the process of curiosity that gives birth to knowledge…we start with discomfort to find comfort…and a sense of exile so we may find something that makes us feel like home. This is music as exemplified by This Flight Tonight.

You have  a knack you for creating  both amazing tunes and videos. How did you become a musician?

Thank you. I’ve always had a “melody” inside my head. I am known to “not sing existing songs properly” because I am always remixing melodies and lyrics, changing them as my own – I am not the best karaoke guy because I would not sing the original lyrics by mistake.

Also, I remember being really little and playing around with a microphone and a tape deck. I was experimenting and found out that if I had two tape decks I could overdub my voice and layer it. So I was always creating something from a young age, and didn’t realize I was naturally doing it. In fact I remember my mum used to tell me “stop singing, you are out of key”.

So I guess that means I’ve been musically-inclined right from the word go!

In the London “studio” working on album #2 with the new band.

Nothing but Tears is my favorite. Can you share a little of what inspired this track?

Well it’s amazing actually that the song was finished. You see, I write a lot of songs and sometimes I forget some of them. But my girlfriend bless her heart, gets to hear every detail of all the songs I’m making – for bad or for worse. It was a matter of timing, that I was skimming through some unfinished demos. She heard a few seconds of Tears, which was just a melody at the time with silly lyrics. I felt like I had bad writer’s block that day, and my girlfriend suggested I develop that unfinished melody as an exercise for the day.

And I don’t know how but that song just came about then because she forced me to “try finish the song”. If you read the lyrics you can tell it was bit of the fact that I was “frustrated I had writer’s block”. The lyrics “you say I’m noise I don’t pay you any notice” for example highlights the conflicting voices I had in my head that were fighting against each other from frustration. Then I just developed and captured that “frustration” and turned it into a story.

You are from the same part of the world as Radiohead and Muse. What can you say about the current plight of the British indie scene in terms of those relating to your kind of music?

Well I came to Britain because I love British guitar bands, so London is the perfect place to be right now, so inspiring. There’s a certain sound that’s different here, especially if you compare it to any other guitar music from anywhere else in the world. I think the British indie scene, from what I’ve heard so far from being here, is that it’s got that sound that makes you want to nod your head and smile like you are riding a bicycle with a leather jacket. London is the centre-piece of such an amazing melting pot of talent. There’s so many great ideas right now it’s hard not to be inspired.

You are originally from New Zealand. What’s amazing being in the UK and what are the things that you miss about home?

I love the fact that in London you can gig every day, 7 days a week. And because of the population, 20 people at a gig is your bare minimum. Where as in New Zealand 20 people at a gig is an extremely good turn out. Well for me anyways, I’m still trying to get out there. What I miss about home however is my networks. I have great friends back home that also put a lot of creativity and work into This Flight Tonight, pushing it to the next level, such as my friend Matthew Redmond, he did so much for TFT, like create videos with no budget! I had a lot of generous friends that did things for TFT, create logos, take photos, film, all for little or no money. Passionate kiwis drove TFT to what it is right now! I miss that kiwi ingenuity!

Keeping indie music alive.


This Flight Tonight is actually your own baby where you sort of dictate everything that happens musically and you call other musicians to collaborate. What can we expect happening to TFT in 2013?

Well my London band here is amazing and I am so grateful to have found them pretty much from day one of arriving. New songs are coming along nicely, so we are working on establishing our “song factory” here so we can churn out some new songs. You’ll be seeing more crowd-funding pleas because the first round of funding helped so much. You will also see our VIP-members pages grow on our official website, I’m really building that up to be the ultimate recording of every detail regarding the project, so if you donate a very small amount per month you can unlock all those goodies so check it out: – go to donate page.

Thanks for your questions, it’s now 3am and probably time for me to sleep! But hey as Radiohead would say “Nice Dream” – yes I am obsessed with that band – I want the world to know! Haha.


Video samples.

Bigger and Better Things

In this issue: Eric McGrath, This Flight Tonight and The Paper Kites

This Flight Tonight: Photographer: D. McKissock-Davis

With the brush of fingers, a stroke of musical ideas, singer/songwriters can create cathedrals of imaginations. They somehow subconsciously satisfy that part of us that screams of unrequited love and loss. For me, owning an album is like taking that part of a musician with you. It is like a personal note a friend has slipped inside your pocket, and you take it with you to keep you warm through the cold months of uncertainty.

This is what’s music supposed to do. To fill that empty space and take you out of the depths of madness into the blazing light of self recovery. The following are young artists who are making waves and they are aiming for bigger and better things. And yes, they aim to inspire and enrich.

Eric McGrath

I got the link to his video through Dublin based singer/songwriter Fiach Moriarty. This man is creating smooth tunes that makes me think of the good ol’ songs half a century ago. His delivery is genuine and there is something about his voice that’s unpretentious. After scanning more videos, I found more and more of his style that makes me conclude that this is a fine example of Irish pop music: intelligent, melodic but also mature. He made a great impression alright.


Born in Dublin to a Spanish mother and Irish father, Eric was raised on a healthy mix of music from around the globe. With a strong love of Latin grooves, 1920’s North American song craftsmanship, and 1960’s Surf harmonies, it wasn’t long before Eric began to blend his diverse inspirations through his own unique compositions. After completing an honours degree in Chemistry at UCD, Eric finally succumbed to his true calling by obtaining a Masters in Music and Media from Trinity College Dublin.

He recently supported Bic Runga at The Cork Opera House and The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, as well as supporting a host of Irish musical luminaries, including Cathy Davey, Dave Geraghty, Vyvienne Long and Tiger Cooke. In July 2011 Eric was invited as guest performer to the American Ireland Fund’s Summer Event in New York where he performed every night from 17 -24 July, including the main event on the 21st.

A wider audience awaits…

More info here:


This Flight Tonight

Ralph Engle formed a band that is steeped in visual music. People who are fans of Radiohead and most 90’s bands associated with the genre will really warm up to This Flight Tonight. I saw the video “Barb Wire” featuring interpretative dance and I was like Holy Shit! These guys really take their artistry to the next level.

Apart from the Thom Yorke-like vocals, Ralph has this theatrical quality about him that calls for expansive compositions and challenging vocal acrobats. The music is spacey but intense that it makes you want to listen repeatedly in order for you to interpret rifts and layers of the notes that they worked into the songs.

I’d say discover more of their music and I am sure this band will grow on you.


The Paper Kites

Someone posted this band in the chat room where I frequent. My taste is eclectic and that includes sweet ballads from Australia.  Well, this band doesn’t need further intro because a LOT has been written about them. At first I thought they are from the UK but their facebook page says they are from down under. Members are:

Sam Bentley
Christina Lacy
Dave Powys
Sam Rasmussen
Josh Bentley

But no corresponding instrument is mentioned opposite each name. Sigh. They have two sites in case you are in the mood for music hunting: