» Erik Grönwall - New Horizon
« back

Interview conducted March 2 2022
Interview published March 9 2022

"Jonas is better than me in a lot of ways, but he's not a better singer than I am."

New Horizon is a collaboration between musical prodigy Jona Tee and lead vocalist Erik Grönwall, one current and one former member of Swedish melodic metal band H.E.A.T. But make no mistake, this new stuff is a real heavy/power metal blast, and probably not what most people would expect if looking at what these guys have put out prior to their March 11th album Gate Of The Gods.

An interview with Jona Tee was published in December last year and as an opportunity rose to also talk to Mr. Grönwall about the album Metal Covenant wasn't hard to convince to meet up with him just over a week before release date.

Tobbe: For being a rock musician in these days you're kind of young, if you know what I mean? A lot of guys are getting old, you know. Still, you were struck by cancer a couple of years ago. It's of course really unfortunate what happened, but let's focus on today and let me simply ask you, how are you feeling now?

Erik: I feel really great. I just wanna be straight with you that I have no issue with talking about it. You may ask whatever you want to. So I feel very well. I have begun to work my body again and started to work out again. It was one hell of a journey, it was one hell of a slap, and a lot of perspectives and new insights. And thanks to a donor, somewhere in the world, who is anonymous, I'm able to sit here.

Tobbe: So, let's talk about New Horizon. What were your first thoughts, really, when Jonas talked to you about this record? Although the plan initially was that you were going to sing on just a couple of songs.

Erik: I am probably the one, in Sweden within rock music, who knows the least about power metal. You know, I have never listened to that genre. But it's great to work with Jonas and I think that he writes in a very melodic way. Some stuff from New Horizon would work for H.E.A.T and vice versa.

If you listen to the last H.E.A.T album, the song Victory for example, it's a bit crossover and could be on the New Horizon album. So for me it was, like, "Great to do something with Jonas. This will become a great stepping stone from H.E.A.T to something else.".

But we had so much fun in the studio so it became the entire album instead, and then it has developed along the road to me and Jonas making music we think is fun to make. So New Horizon is a window to put out good rock music. That's our goal.

Tobbe: I suspect that it's primarily H.E.A.T fans that will check this out, initially, you know. But New Horizon's music is power metal and heavy metal. How will you get those fans to hop on this journey?

Erik: I think this will come naturally. You know, New Horizon is a brand new band, yet we've seen pretty good response on what we've put out so far and we already have quite a few followers. With all the playlists opportunities there are today people know where to go to get their heavy metal or their power metal. It's just like: Spotify, heavy metal playlist, or whatever, you know. So I think there will also be a new audience.

And I have noticed on my YouTube channel that certain people who have never heard of either me, H.E.A.T or New Horizon, first dig the YouTube channel and then start checking out New Horizon. So I think there will be an evolution there, you know.

Tobbe: Power metal is often melodic and is the melodic part in the music just something that has to be there for you to be able to sing on an album? I'm not questioning your skills, but rather mentally, you know.

Erik: Well, not really. You know, I dig heavier music, actually. Even in H.E.A.T maybe I have leaned towards that, like, "Please, let's do this one, and less AOR.". So, to me, you know, Stronger Than Steel was just pure satisfaction.

And then you have all the more melodic stuff, and that is what I think contribute to something new with New Horizon. Jonas is really an old school power metal fan. So he brings that in and I come in pretty ignorant and just lay down the vocals, you know. But I could probably sing everything unless it's parts with growl. I can't do that. Kind of like that. So, everything else, well, that's just fun.

Tobbe: Jonas had built pretty much the entire album before you came in. So besides discussing your vocals and vocal melodies, was there anything you could actually affect?

Erik: Well, you know, you do your interpretation of it. You have to avoid something I call doing/singing. You know, when you sing without really being there, without being present, but you do it because you kind of have to do it. So, you have to find your vein.

I recall some stuff I did in a way that Jonas hadn't written it and he was like "You know, that's even better.". So we spice it up a little bit, but, you know, to 99,9 percent it's Jonas who has written music and lyrics and stuff.

Tobbe: To what extent does he lay down vocals on the demos, in order for the singer to understand what he is searching for?

Erik: Well, he puts quite a lot of effort in that, so that I know where it should be aggressive or soft or whatever. And that helps a whole lot. You know, you listen and learn. Timing and stuff is very important.

Tobbe: And then you just destroy Jonas' vocals, right?

Erik: Jonas is better than me in a lot of ways, but he's not a better singer than I am. [Laughs] But I claim that he is a musical genius. You know, producer, songwriter. He has the whole package. And, you know, he's a good singer, but if he was better than I then I would have nothing to do. So that's why I got to do the job. [Laughs] And we work well together and Jonas is one of my closest friends. So it's not only work, but we talk almost every day.

Tobbe: And I think that's one of the reasons why people think it's strange that you quit H.E.A.T, you know. I guess you can easily understand those thoughts. Could you elaborate on this a little bit?

Erik: I just found out that I wanted to do something else, and tour less, and try some different things in life. We had delivered all the albums that we were gonna deliver according to our record deal. A new deal was to be negotiated and I saw a window. And I believe in doing things that I think is fun, so I wanted to try other things.

The irony here is that I became sick, and I don't regret leaving, but I became sick and reached the understanding that I didn't wanna do anything else rather than touring, rather than doing shows, rather than singing. So that's the dark irony in this. With that being said, we are here now with New Horizon, so things will turn out great anyway. [Laughs]

Tobbe: Jonas isn't against bringing New Horizon out on the road, yet he's not interested in a club tour or starting over and build things from the beginning. What's your take on touring?

Erik: Well, I agree with him. We were pretty clear from the beginning with New Horizon, that if we were gonna do gigs we would do it because it's fun. There are no must dos, you know what I mean? I won't start crying if Jonas prioritize H.E.A.T and is out playing with H.E.A.T, you know.

But we have gotten some offers to the table, that are not official and that are not confirmed yet, but we're thinking about it. Stuff between different touring periods and so. But the goal is that we're gonna go out, in some way, but we won't do, like, a lavatory tour in the U.K., you know. [Laughs]

Tobbe: Well, it's just that requirements change. You're certainly not old, but you're neither 20 anymore.

Erik: Absolutely. You know, when we went out on the Address The Nation tour it was like living the dream, even if we maybe played in a rathole, you know. That didn't matter, and we didn't give a shit, because we were able to be out on tour, with free beer, and who doesn't want that when you're 20 or 25? [Laughs] Today we're looking for more comfort and it's more like a job now rather than a bit more of a party.

Tobbe: The album was recorded quite some time ago and to what extent have you guys already started looking on a second album?

Erik: I think we have 5 songs done for the next album. Well, I said we, but it's rather Jonas who just comes up with stuff all the time. But it's gonna be even heavier. Great songs. I haven't laid down the vocals yet, but it's with Jonas' demo vocals now. So I guess it will be out in a year or so.

Tobbe: Have you considered going back and doing something on TV? I mean, you've done that before, although I can't remember when to be honest.

Erik: It was in 2009. Well, I've done some stuff on TV later than that, but I realize that it's Idol who is still on people's mind. Well, I don't know about this, really. TV is fun, if it's under the right circumstances. I can tell you that I've been getting various offers for a few years in a row now to do Mello (The domestic Swedish qualifying round for the European Song Contest). [Laughs]

I'm not one who opposes the format itself, but I won't go in and do it just for the cause of being seen. I mean, the song has to be right, and if I go there I wanna win. Still, if the music is great, and I have fun while doing it, and I can stand for it, then maybe the end result doesn't matter, although in the end the goal would be to win.

But I would never go in to just bring back my name to the public again, and just do a random song, and then go out on some lame ass tour. It's a package you get there, because you do Mello, to be seen, then you go out on tour in the summer, and then it goes away and you have to find something new, like doing Mello again maybe. I don't feel an urge to do it, but it would be fun to do it, and I don't oppose it, but I'm rather for it, if the song is right.

Tobbe: I guess you're kind of a recognizable face in your home country even to this day.

Erik: But I think it has become more and more so because of the music I do and for H.E.A.T, rather than just being known for being on TV like in the beginning. Which I totally get that I was. I was just singing cover songs and hadn't released anything that was mine, So I was more known for being on TV, rather than being an artist.

This career of being an artist takes time to build up. You know, 12 years with H.E.A.T and now we're doing something else. The majority of my career has been with H.E.A.T, and that's why my defection is something I need now. I feel like "What else is out there, before it's too late?", if you know what I mean?

Tobbe: I think many people still remember what a surprise it was when you joined H.E.A.T. I wouldn't say it was chocking, but very unexpected nevertheless. It came right out of the blue for people outside the inner circle.

Erik: Exactly. There were many doubts and a lot of stuff there in the beginning, but I think we managed to convert most people. And what's funny now when Kenny [Leckremo] is back is that fans who were there during the first Kenny era, and maybe didn't like me joining the band, have come back. And the new fans also think that it's great. So it feels great. And I and Kenny have an awesome relation too. It's almost like a wrestling match when you high five each other, you know.

Tobbe: So when Kenny quits again, are you ready to come back?

Erik: Well, let's see about that. We're already joking about it, like "Should we go out with 2 singers?". No, we have really not talked about it, but it's just me and Jonas who are joking about it. But, well, you never know.

Tobbe: Maybe it would be a little delicate for him. I mean, Kenny is the band's singer now and you would probably occupy a lot of space on stage, I would say.

Erik: Well, Kenny has his feet on the ground. There is no prestige between us. Some people like Kenny more, some people like me more, some people don't care and just see it as H.E.A.T and think it's good. You know, it's probably the way it should be. I mean, do you like Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth the most? Do you like Bon Scott or Brian Johnson? I mean, Brian Johnson is still the new guy to some people even if he has been in the band for over 40 years now. [Laughs] So this is just a common thing in the music industry.

Tobbe: But I guess the chance is greater to see you and Kenny on the same stage than it is to see David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar sharing the same stage again.

Erik: That I can guarantee. Absolutely.

Tobbe: So, musicals and stuff like that. Any thoughts about that?

Erik: Same thing there. I thing it's fun, for the most part. As long as it's music that I like. Jesus Christ Superstar is amazing music, so that's fun. But I have a hard time seeing myself dressed as a cat in Cats, you know. [Laughs] That won't happen. We Will Rock You is also a fun musical.

So doors are open, yet more now than ever I feel that I need to stand for it. Maybe I bent over a little bit more in the early days of my career just to be able to work with music, but now when I'm there maybe I at least ask them to put on a condom before they put it in. [Laughs]

Related links: