The story of JoNo begins with thanks to a band of friends on a small island of Sweden : Gotland. In a first time, JoNo should be a solo project initiate by Johan Norrby (Singer, Keyboarder, songwriter) but finally this project becomes a common project formed by : Johan Carlgren (Keyboard & backing vocals), Stefan Helleblad (Guitar & backing vocals), Nicka Hellenberg (Drums & Percussion) & finally Janne Henriksson (Bass & backing vocals) all musicians since their childhood. If the name of Stefan Helleblad is familiar to you, it’s because he’s a member of the Dutch Symphonic Metal Band Within Temptation ! He replaces Robert Westerholt for Electric Guitar. Before this replacement, Stefan already worked with Within Temptation as Sound Enginer – his first job - on “The Silent Force” & “The Unforgiving”. Nicka Hellenberg, the drummer works on “The Unforgiving” too for all drum records. I talked with him about JoNo & the first album of the band “Requiem”.
So, You live all five on a Swedish Island, Gotland. Do you would sometimes to make a break & leave this island or instead, it's perfect for inspiration?
Yes, we all live here, but both Johan Norrby and myself have been living in Stockholm for some years. Gotland is a beautiful place, but also a very inspiring part of Sweden. The music is really “alive” here. A lot of talented musicians, producers, song writers and so forth live here, but also a lot of writers, film makers and creative people. During Summer in Gotland, it’s one of the most visited place. Tourists from all over the world come here, so there’s a lot going on – even if the tempo is much slower in the winter.
It’s easy for us to take a ferry or an airplane to the Swedish mainland (for example Stockholm), which we do quite often.
About Inspiration, where do you find it? Who write the songs, who write the music?
Johan Norrby writes the songs, but in rehearsals we are all involved in the arranging and ”co-writing”. Much of the music and the texts come from experiences in real life. Johan often get the ideas when out walking in the nature, or when sitting down by his piano, or with his guitar.
JoNo found his name with Johan Norrby. So, your first album "Requiem", why this name ?
Because it’s the name of one of the songs – a very special song. Besides the title felt like it suited the feeling of the music somehow. But you shouldn’t take it too serious.
How begins the story of JoNo? In 2006? Did you know each other since a long time?
Johan Norrby, Janne & myself knew each other as young guys – and also played together on some occasions. Johan Carlgren and Stefan grew up together, playing in bands and all that stuff. We all have been busy playing with different bands, touring, doing some recordings and so on.
Around 2001 (?) Johan Norrby started working on an idea of making an entire solo album. He wrote the songs, arranged them and asked Janne to play the bass on the album. He also chose Johan C and Stefan to join him for the recording. A drummer named Jocke (a friend of Stefan’s and Johan C’s) also joined for the recording. At this time I was still living in Stockholm. But when the record at last was done and to be released, Jocke had moved to Stockholm, and I have moved back to Gotland. Johan N wanted JoNo to be a band, not just a solo project, so he asked all the guys – including me to join him, and to actually be a BAND. We started rehearsing new songs and started recording them around 2007-2008. Due to a lot of reasons ”Requiem” wasn’t done and released only in 2013.
Requiem had a great reception by journalists. Was it unexpected for you? You're often compared with Queen, are you proud of this?
We are proud and glad whenever we get compared to great artists – for example Queen. But we are not trying to make music that is a copy of someone else, but trying to make our very own music and sound.
We didn’t know what to expect. But of course we are glad that so many editors – and music critics liked the album.
You did lot of dates in your town to perform the album in Live. How was the meeting with the audience?
Do you plan dates in other countries? We do have plans to get on tour, but there is a lot of work needed to get there. We have a deal with a booking agency which will try to get gigs for us in Scandinavia – to start with. But, we would very much love to play all over Europe – and other countries as well. At the moment nothing is quite settled yet.
Let's talk about the next future album. How was the recording in studio? Is it the sequel of Requiem or a new way?
We have a lot of good songs (we think) ready and done. We have recorded two of them, and will try to make an entire new album as soon as we can. We can’t tell you exactly when it will be ready. But the first two new songs will be released later this year.
This album is going to be a better album, we think.
The new songs feel great. We are playing some of them live right now. We think the sound will be a bit more raw and fresh. Maybe a little bit more of a sound that reminds the listener about how JoNo sounds in a live situation. But of course, with our typical arrangements and great caring for details and melodies.
Did you find the name or maybe it's classified for the moment haha & do you have a release date?
No name yet. No release date.
You find a Label, is it changes something?
Well maybe, but it’s hard to tell. The most important thing for us is to keep making the music we like. If we would sign any kind of deal with a label, it could of course mean a lot of interesting opportunities. But at the moment that is not the most important thing for us.
You have everybody a band besides JoNo, is it complicated sometimes? By example with Stefan who is with Within Temptation, he’s on tour actually (HYDRA Tour).
So far there’s no problem. We all enjoy playing music in different situations. And for Stefan – of course Within Temptation is important. It’s a big part of his life and job situation. But JoNo is also like our musical family – and very important for all of us. We’ll just see what the future brings. We are sure we can find solutions if any problem arises. When Stefan is leaving for the tour, we will focus on some new songs and maybe releasing some of the new material. Whenever he’s back home (in between the touring dates) we will work together on JoNo.
We really hope to see you in Europe very soon. We wish you all the best for the new album & I really thank you to ask to all these questions. See you soon! Thank you so much. We hope we will get to do some touring in Europe soon.
1 – I Was The One
2 – Judgement Day
3 – Letting Go
4 - Nothing
5 - Symphony
6 - Best Thing
7 - Requiem
8 - Dead Or Alive
9 - Love Again
All that you have to know about JoNo
Where to buy the Album “Requiem” : www.aorheaven.com and iTunes
Pre-Listening : http://jonotheband.se/sounds.html
Website : http://jonotheband.se
Facebook : www.facebook.com/jonotheband
Twitter : www.twitter.com/JONOTHEBAND
YouTube : www.youtube.com/channel/UCOfbG0pZ2GrCxJASMQxxGmg
E-Mail : INFO@JONOTHEBAND.SE
(from the left to the right : Stefan Helleblad, Johan Carlgren, Johan Norrby, Janne Henriksson, Nicka Hellenberg)