Jono

Jono are a thoroughly original band that performs a quite original amalgam of artful rock, with prog and pomp and circumstance all taken into account, while they started out as a vehicle for singer Johan Norrby to have a career, they evolved into a full time band. Following glowing reviews by pretty much eveyone – their fourth album “Life” was picked up by Frontiers and they now seem to have their chance to shine and get discovered by a whole lot more people (we need not remind you that their previous album got a glowing review here on Grande Rock and a distinction of being album of the month) Nicka, Johan and Stephan took terms to answer our questions, so here they are ladies and gentlemen on NY eve, Jono! Enjoy!
Jono band pic

Hi Nicka, Johan and Stephan – it’s good to talk with you again about your new album “Life”. It’s really one of the top symphonic prog rock albums of 2017.
 
Nicka: Thank you so much. Really appreciated!
 
 
Hence, what has changed since “Silence” and what are the new elements that you introduce with “Life”?
 
N: We have been trying to take next step of what we already do, sort of. We think the production and the arrangements are a bit more developed. For every recording we do, we try to set the bar a bit higher.
 
 
Do you think that “Life” is a step forward in all parts (musically, lyrically etc.) in comparison to your previous works?
 
N: It’s hard to tell. But Johan (Norrby) feels that his songwriting is gaining a bit more “edge” to it for every album we do. And as a band we try hard to work on arrangements and the production as a whole.
 
 
This time your new album is released via Frontiers Records, one of the biggest independent labels. How did you reach an agreement with the label and do you think that they can help you reach out to a bigger audience?
 
N: When we got in contact with Frontiers they already knew about our albums “Requiem” and “Silence”, and they liked them, so they gave us an offer about co-operation. Of course, with an international label we will have the chance to grow an audience, and get new opportunities as a band.
 
 
And why did you call the album “Life”? Is there any deeper meaning behind the album’s title?
 
Johan: The Idea of the title came from the thread that leads through our previous albums, “Requiem” (death), “Silence” and now: “Life”. It’s not a concept; it’s just an idea that flows through.
 
 
Which are these elements that make Jono’s sound distinct and more personal?
 
N: Oh, that’s hard. I would say that it’s the sum of everything. We wouldn’t sound the way we do if it wasn’t for every tiny part of it. Of course, Johan’s voice is in the center of it all. His voice, and his expression lead the way. The bombastic production is very much about trying to enhance how we sound as a unit in our rehearsals. I believe that one of the keys is that we don’t want to sound like any particular artist, and we all got so many different influences, from so many different genres. It all adds flavors to the mix.
 
 
Please give us a hint about each track…
 
N: I’ll try. But it’s hard to describe one’s own songs…
 
“Sailors”: It’s a bit of a fast rocker, but with the ordinary “Jono twist”. We chose it as the first song out on the album since it’s quite “direct”. Great with the two guitars sharing the riff, sort of (Leo and Stefan).
 
“Crown”: Some would say we’re onto new ground here, but it’s a lot of Jono elements, like the build-up and the big last chorus.
 
“No Return”: Without being “catchy” in that sense, it’s a song that a lot of people stuck with as their favorite. It’s a bit dark, but yet hopeful – Jono mood going on here… This was the first “single” from the album.
 
“On the Other Side”: We’ve seen several reviewers refer to it as “The Tango”. They are not too wrong there. The rhythmic figure is very much a four-on-the-floor thing with a tango feel to it. Johan Carlgren’s piano work is great, I think!
 
“Downside”: Heavy guitar riff, Norrby on fire. The long outro may represent some of the more “progressive” elements in our music, even if we see the songs mainly as (hard) rock songs. Here the ending – with the almost suggestive instrumental parts – is about making dramatic and atmospheric feeling.
 
“To Be Near You”: Lots of space and time to breathe. This may be a “ballad” – but it’s not your everyday love anthem. It’s darker & tenser. Listen to Johan’s voice; it’s almost despair in some parts. As for drumming it’s important to get the flow, together with bass player Janne. We don’t want to interfere or “overplay” anywhere. The whole song turned out great, I think. Stefan’s guitar solo is fantastic, in my opinion.
 
“My Love”: A steady rocker in 6/8-tempo, with some surprising sounds and turns. As for example. The nice guitar solo or the awesome singing by Johan in the end of the song. Nice organ by Carlgren, heavy, laid back bass playing by Janne.
 
“The Magician”: This might be the heaviest song of the albums. Someone called it “an ode to Dio”. Johan’s voice and the guitar may remind of this type of melodic, metal era.
 
“Trust”: Another long, winding song. It starts very much as a rock song, with a strong chorus, but then it turns into a new direction. Like “Downside”, the song “Trust” contains some of the elements some call “progressive”, without being flashy or filled with notes…
 
“The March”: A beautiful orchestrated song. If you take your time to listen you will hear a fantastic arrangement for the woodwind- and brass instruments. Really nice work form some of the great musicians of The Gotland Music Orchestra. Of course awesome singing of Johan N and excellent grand piano by Johan C!
 
 
So, the recordings and the mixing have been done by Stefan again. He also produced the album along with the rest of the band. Do you feel more assured and confident of your sound when Stefan takes care of things?
 
N: Stefan is a wizard. Yes, it’s way of keeping the control. We see the songs and the production as our common babies. Keeping it in the family is a conscious choice. We might let a great producer be involved in the future, but we still want to keep some control.
 
 
Are there any specific things that inspire you to write music?
 
J: I write songs all the time. The lyrics come from the way I see and reflect over the world around me. A melody, or a riff or some chords may pop up at anytime, and I just go from there.
 
 
Do you plan to give any live shows this Spring or Summer?
 
N: Oh, absolutely. We are about to sign with a booking agency, which probably will help us getting some nice gigs.
 
 
Which are your expectations from “Life” and what do you wish to achieve with JoNo over the next years, especially now that you have signed to a big label?
 
N: One of the things we obviously want is to reach a new (and bigger) audience. We really hop that the signing to Frontiers will help us getting our music out there. We’d like to tour some, continuing to make music, and eventually record the next album.
 
 
OK, time for our “weird questions”!!! Which music kind can’t you bear to listen to at all?
 
N: Really nothing. There are good songs and less good songs in any kind of genre or music style, I think.
 
 
What are those things that you do not like in the music industry nowadays?
 
N: One thing that comes to mind directly is that it’s a shame that there is so much fantastic music out there, but it’s still only a few artists (the ones the major record companies wants to push) that get to be seen and heard of. At lest that’s the case in many countries. Another issue is that it’s of course hard to make any money out of music, but is still costs a bunch to produce stuff like what we’re doing. You could easily do some electronica with your laptop and some talent, but to record a full album of melodic, symphonic, bombastic rock, played in a great studio by six people… it takes time, effort and some craziness!
 
 
If you found a genie in a bottle and you only had 3 wishes what would they be?
 
N: Perhaps a boring answer, but… Peace on Earth, End to starvation, A clean/healthy environment.
 
 
Top 3 sci-fi movies of any era?
 
N: I’ll let Stefan answer. He’s the Sci-Fi dude.

Stefan: Interstellar, Aliens, 12 Monkeys, Edge of Tomorrow. Damn that’s four. I don’t know which one has to go.
 
 
Is there a particular book you can’t recommend enough?
 
N: Oh. That’s tough. There are too many. But, if you just need a good time and haven’t read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, it’s about time you do it right away. Or, by the way – a classic: George Orwell’s ”1984”. It’s in a terrible way very up to date at the moment.
 
 
Which are the top 3 Prog Rock albums of all time according to you?
 
N: It’s tough. Just to decide what is “Prog Rock” is hard for me. You’d better ask some prog rock expert. But, a couple of albums that comes to mind are these classics: “Leftoverture” (and “Point of Know Return”) by Kansas, “Selling England by the Pound” by Genesis and a hundred more… I mean… bands like Rush, Pink Floyd, Yes, Dream Theater, Dixie Dregs (or are they “fusion”?). There are soooo many bands, artists and records that easily could get into the list. Are they Prog Rock? Sometimes bands like Queen or Saga (Saga is one of the most underrated bands ever if you ask me) show some really progressive sides, but they usually we don’t count them as “progressive rock bands”. One thing for sure: Both are brilliant in their own way. Or… Zappa, the ultimate genius. He would probably fit under “Prog Rock”, but also to any other genre you may come up with.
 
 
Fill in the phrase… “Prog Rock wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
 
N: … people with too much time, getting incredible good at playing and making it all a bit complicated. Haha. But, I also like the fact that any kind of music one would call prog rock could contain elements of metal, jazz, classical music, reggae… you name it. The evolution of any music is because of brave and free thinking musicians.
 
 
Who is the sexiest female Rock Star of all time?
 
N: I think that’s up to anyone to decide for themselves. I really don’t know. And you know… performance is more important than looks.
 
 
Which do you consider to be the best female & male vocalist in metal history?
 
N: Hmmm…. There are plenty of great vocalists! Very hard to pick just one or two… Most of us in the band would agree on Ronnie James Dio, if you’re looking at “metal”. But you have to let Freddie Mercury stand next to him (even f he didn’t do “metal” in that sense). Just to name two! Female vocalist – If Janis Joplin would have been active during the metal era, she would have been stunning!
 
 
If you had the opportunity to invite any famous person, living or dead, over for supper whom would you choose and why?
 
N: Since we’re talking music, and I get to grab this question before any of the other guys in the band get a chance to stop me, I’d go for the late Jeff Porcaro. I would like to hang out with him, and maybe, maybe some of his impeccable groove would rub off on me. A true genius!
 
 
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
 
N: I think I would go back in time, to see some of the great bands and artist live in their prime. I would want to hang out at the great festivals, see the stars before they were stars. I just have a feeling that travel to the future could make you a bit disappointed and also less eager to form your own future!
 
 
Thx for taking the time to do this interview Nicka, Johan and Stephan. Say anything you feel like saying before we close. Take care – wish you a Happy New Year!
 
N: Thank you so much for letting me and the guys talk to you. A very Happy New year to you and all the Grande-Rock readers. See you out there, hopefully!

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