Meet Johnossi, your new favourite Swedish punk-grunge-blues duo

Johnossi group shot
(Image credit: Fredrik Skogkvist)

Okay, we hold our hands up, we’re a little late to the party here. Stockholm duo Johnossi have been together for well over a decade, with a glittering career in their native Sweden and beyond, so it’s about time we caught up – just as they release their seventh album, Mad Gone Wild

“It’s a concept album about metamorphosis,” says vocalist guitarist John Englebert. “But I didn’t know that at the time of writing. It’s only when I looked back that I saw a pattern emerging, and a character that I’d written about before, Roscoe. We were influenced by the film Joker and also by mental health, and that fine line between ‘normality’ and insanity. I mean, what is normality anyway?” 

Mental health is a topic with which both band members are familiar, having experienced issues over the years with depression and anxiety, but, as drummer Ossie Bonde says: “We had each other to talk to about it.” 

When they started the band as teenagers in 2004, it often felt as if it was the two of them against the world. 

“Being in a duo is amazing, though,” Bonde says. “We had each other to lean on. You don’t really feel like that with three or four other guys in a band. We found comfort in each other, and influenced each other musically, finding our style and pushing each other forward.”

But Mad Gone Wild isn’t buried by the weight of its subject. It’s often uplifting, very melodic and punchy AF. This could be down to the pair’s shared love of bands such as Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine and The White Stripes. Or that, as Englebert says, “my best songs are written when I’m happy”. 

It’s likely also to do with working alongside Hives and Refused producer Pelle Gunnerfeldt, long in the band’s circle of friends, who lends signature punk-infused tone. 

It’s not all full-on riffs and battered kits, though. Lately, Johnossi’s sound has been filled out by Mattias Franzén, their keyboard player live who now brings cinematic colour to the songwriting and studio experience. As Roscoe flows from one episode to another, in a segued track-list, the finale leaves rock behind for something almost… transcendental? 

“That’s the light at the end of the tunnel,” says Bonde. “That’s what we want to show when we might be getting a bit heavy. You have to bounce down to go up again. You have to face the problems to do something about them.” 

After all this time together, they must have many highlights. 

“We’ve had commercial success, yes, but our biggest success hasn’t happened yet,” says Englebert. Bonde is a little more sentimental: “For me, after seventeen years together, creating new music, the energy between John and I playing live and sharing it with an audience is my highlight, my absolute pleasure.”

Jo Kendall

Jo is a journalist, podcaster, event host and music industry lecturer with 23 years in music magazines since joining Kerrang! as office manager in 1999. But before that Jo had 10 years as a London-based gig promoter and DJ, also working in various vintage record shops and for the UK arm of the Sub Pop label as a warehouse and press assistant. Jo's had tea with Robert Fripp, touched Ian Anderson's favourite flute (!), asked Suzi Quatro what one wears under a leather catsuit, and invented several ridiculous editorial ideas such as the regular celebrity cooking column for Prog, Supper's Ready. After being Deputy Editor for Prog for five years and Managing Editor of Classic Rock for three, Jo is now Associate Editor of Prog, where she's been since its inception in 2009, and a regular contributor to Classic Rock. She continues to spread the experimental and psychedelic music-based word amid unsuspecting students at BIMM Institute London, hoping to inspire the next gen of rock, metal, prog and indie creators and appreciators.