This week’s featured Meet The Band artist is the power metal group New Horizon. Songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Jona Tee (H.E.A.T.) introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of New Horizon.
Jona Tee: It started out as a sort of passion project for me. I’ve always written heavier stuff than what suited H.E.A.T. really and the songs were piling up. So eventually I kind of just decided to make something about all the ideas in my head. At first I was gonna do it more like a project with different singers, Erik (Gronwall) being one of them, but after hearing him doing two tracks we decided that it would be awesome to keep working together.
Describe the songwriting process for Gate Of The Gods.
Ideas usually just pop into my head. Can be anytime and anywhere and be inspired by random things. I rarely sit down and go, “Let’s write a song,” but rather dive into the voice memo bank of random phrases and ideas. “Stronger Than Steel” was a soundcheck riff I just played when I had bought a new amp. “Call Of The Underground’s” chorus popped into my head while I was jogging home from the studio, and I brought my phone up while running and recorded the idea to a voice memo.
How did you decide on the guest musicians that appear on the record?
Laucha Figueroa and I met in Buenos Aires when we were playing there with Martina Edoff. We followed each other on Instagram and when I saw this dude playing I was like “I NEED to work with him at some point”. And here we are. I’ve worked closely with Niko Vuorela producing his main band Temple Balls. He’s a fantastic guitar player with his own awesome flavor and a great songwriter in his own right.
Sam Totman (DragonForce), we’ve met on shows in the UK. A funny dude and a great player. I asked if Sam wanted to co-write a solo part and do some solos. The result can be found on “Fearless” and it’s a beauty. Love Magnusson is one of the sickest shredders from Sweden, and that is saying something. Fun fact: We went to high school together. And, couldn’t do the album without having my oldest friend and my own personal guitar god Dave Dalone joining in.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
When we were tracking “Event Horizon,” Erik had just gotten back home from South Africa and was feeling bit ill and complained about being short of breath and having pain in the side. I diagnosed him with Covid-19. Two days after he did a blood test and was later rushed to the ER. Turned out he had leukemia. We could never have guessed. So when you listen to that track, you can hear the roaring of a true warrior singing like a champ with an enemy in his blood.
How did the pandemic affect the process?
To be honest, not that much.
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
Like a blend of classic and sometimes modern power metal, and even with some hints of classic heavy metal from the ’80s.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
The title track is about Belshezzar’s feast, the writing on the wall and the fall of Babylon. “Event Horizon” is inspired by Interstellar. “We Unite” and “Stronger Than Steel” are just about standing up for what you believe in and do your thing. “Cry For Freedom” is just a storyline I made up in my head, I guess you gotta fill in the blanks on that one.
How did you come to sign with Frontiers?
I was doing the Crowne album and I was talking a lot to them and I felt, “why the hell not see what they think about my power metal-project?” And they loved it! And here we are.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
We just wanna have fun and hope that people can appreciate and enjoy the album for a long time, as much as we enjoyed creating it.
Do you have any plans to play live shows?
No official plans as of now, but we have said that it would be awesome to go out and play these tracks at some point!
How did you get started in music?
Me and Dave Dalone kind of decided when we were like 11-12 or so that music was our destiny. Always dreaming about “the road”.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Iron Maiden, Guns n Roses, Axxis, Helloween, Hammerfall, Manowar, etc.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Hammerfall, U.D.O, Edguy at Klubben in Stockholm.
Who are some of your favorite power metal bands?
Hammerfall, Edguy, Freedom Call, Stratovarius, Rhapsody, Beast in Black, etc.
What are some of your non-musical interests/hobbies?
Don’t have time for that much but I’m a gamer at heart and I’m usually on the Playstation daily.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Just hoping everyone enjoys Gate of the Gods!
(interview published March 12, 2022)
Watch New Horizon – “Stronger Than Steel” Video