Words –  Izzy Church


In-flight Safety is a Canadian indie rock band, which began in 2003 and contains band members: John Mullane and Glen Nicholson. The group met at Mount Allison University, in Sackville, as undergrad students. The bands newest album, Conversationalist released in October of 2014 and showcases a new side to the bands melodic indie rock style. Luckily for us, this feel-good band recently signed to Ooh La La Records located in Brooklyn, New York.


Who came up with the band name In-Flight Safety and what does it mean to you?

I came up with the band name before one of our first gigs because we needed a name. I have never been the best airplane traveler and have always been fascinated by the cartoons on those safety cards. Also, I was listening to Music For Airports by Brian Eno a lot and I personally love the aesthetic on those record covers. Between all those things I arrived at In-Flight Safety and pitched it as a band name. We are stuck with it now.


I read that your new album Conversationalist came about literally over thousands of conversations between Mullane (Vocals/guitars) and Nicholson (Drums). What is the coolest thing you discovered during those talks and how did those conversations shape the sound of the new album?

Glen and I discovered that we simply were not talking or perhaps we were not able to talk as a band. Our record before Conversationalist we did a lot of doing and not a lot of talking. Therefore, sometime before we began recording Conversationalist we started texting and talking on the phone a ton. In that process, we circled back to how we started the band. This involved conversations on beer-stained second hand couches listening to Sigur Ros and The Smiths. That was in our rented house of the early days in the small town of Sackville, NB. When the band began there was less distractions, less blips and beeps on the phone. So in a lot of ways we worked hard to return the clarity of the early days to our process. We hung out and listened to music and analyzed it. That is how we kick started work on Conversationalist.


In-Flight Safety has such memorable melodies. What do you feel as you play/write music?

When I am writing I am looking for just that, a memorable melody. I look for the way it falls over the chords. When I hear it I know there is something to it. I always look for melodies that feel brand new and familiar at the same time. When I am playing a show I am following the narrative in the song step by step. That can be a bit emotionally draining, but it’s part of the performance for me: to be able to convey the characters as they were written in the song as best I can.

CMJ is a great to be a part of. Apart from yourself, what act would you recommend people check out?

We played with this really great band and great dudes called Carousel. Check it!

Who are your role models in the music world?

I have so many different role models in the music world (Twin Shadow, Savages, Interpol, Wild Nothing, The Walkmen, Chvrches). I also truly admire a ton of local and Canadian musicians like Mardeen, Rich Aucoin, High Ends, The Darcys, Arkells, Hannah Georgas. I could go on forever. We take so many cues from so many different artists and for different reasons. Fashion ideas come from some, musical ones from others, and live shows give us other ideas. It’s a constant state of paying attention to great acts. I see that as a main part of my job. .
What is the one thing that makes In-Flight Safety stand out?

I am really proud of our ability to write big melodies, but not be an ostentatious band. I think our music references a lot of great introspective stuff of the past 2-3 decades, but it has these extroverted qualities that are also attractive. I love that duality.


You guys recently started playing in Europe. What has that experience been like and is there one memorable show?

Europe is a really amazing place to play shows. Especially Germany. Germany has such great music fans, and the hospitality extended to bands is so amazing. England is also amazing. I love the musical history there. It’s my jam. We recently did a show in Leeds at this cool place called Oporto Bar, which is run by great people. They play such great music there. I was scratching down songs to check out. During the gig our snare drum broke and I had to fill about ten minutes, so we invited up a member of the audience and interviewed them like silly people. It was super fun and one point we acted out a scene from Empire Strikes Back. That’s the kind of stuff I remember.


Did you guys grow up in a musical family?

John: My mom’s side is the Italian side of the family. They were super musical and I’d like to think that some of that rubbed off. My grandfather (who I never met unfortunately) was a guitar and mandolin maker. He played in bands as well. I have this great picture of him in the 50s playing in a band and I cherish that.  My mom is a great piano player and loves music. My dad is tone deaf. So we can’t explain that one.

Glen: Absolutely. Playing piano was non-negotiable in my home, each child had to take turns after school playing for at least one hour. School concerts and jazz band started in grade 7 and ended in grade 12. I was the only member on my hockey team to have to manage piano and trombone practice amongst our season schedule. But I loved it, wouldn’t have it any other way.

You recently signed with Ooh La La Records in Brooklyn. What makes Ooh La La Records the perfect fit for In-Flight Safety?

Ooh La La is such great people. I met Theo for about 4 minutes during SXSW. Clearly we hit it off and later signed to the label. The bands on the label all love melodies and have a way with them. Check out Fort Lean or Go Wolf for example. Theo’s signed bands from Ireland, Canada, and all over the world. There is a melodic musical thread, which seems to run between all the bands. And who doesn’t want a home base in Brooklyn? We are really excited about signing.

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