Talking to the Tempest – Europe Interview
Far from ‘one last look at Eden’, Europe are back with the intention of showing the world a new and determined side. Fresh from a couple of summer festivals, they are spreading their riffs and hard hitting vocals to a new breed of rock and metal faithful.
Europe frontman, Joey Tempest talks to Pure Rawk’s Nix about the brand new album ‘Last Look At Eden’, their recent Bloodstock appearance, covers, the ‘break’ and how they came to create one of the greatest rock party songs of all time – The Final Countdown.
Nix: Europe is gearing up to release the 8th studio album, ‘Last Look At Eden’. Tell us about the album?
JT: It’s a spontaneous rock n’ roll album. We started writing it on tour last summer and it all happened quite organically and spontaneously. We didn’t have time to analyse it and over-think it. So, pretty much a spontaneous classic rock album with a lot of influences from our youth shining through, all the musicianship from all over the years – the experience is in there. We didn’t over-work it but we found some great melodies. We’re very pleased to release this one.
Nix: The album certainly has the classic vibe about it. Is this the direction you wanted for Europe in the first place?
JT: Yes, this is very pure Europe to us. Its not over-produced or over-thought. We found a young producer to help us get out there, the best sound and we mastered it with a guy in New York, USA. We always surround ourselves with the best we can to get the best sound for ourselves. As far as music goes, very classic rock – 70’s, early 80’s. Maybe even 90’s! John Norum (guitarist) lived in LA for about 15 years. I think some of the 90’s bands influenced him and maybe me in a little bit. We do like Chris Cornell a lot – Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots, we liked them a lot. Maybe only a few tracks influenced by that kind of stuff but we grew up in Stockholm and it was British bands we listened to like UFO, Thin Lizzy and before that Def Leppard and Deep Purple when we were very young. On this album, you’ll be able to see those influences.
Nix: Favourite track on ‘Last Look At Eden’?
JT: It’s quite difficult. ‘No Stone Unturned’ I quite like. It’s almost like a movie soundtrack – epic and majestic song. But, ‘Prelude’ and ‘Last Look At Eden’ are great tracks, they really kick ass! (laughs)
Nix: What kind of feedback have you had about the new material so far?
JT: We’re quite suprised. We’re doing more interviews and more press around europe and the UK – especially the UK than we did on the previous two albums. We’re quite suprised. It seems like we’re getting accepted with this album and when people have heard the Last Look At Eden EP. A month ago or so, we started getting contacted by people like Metal Hammer. There has never really been this interest for us in the UK and it really gives signals to other countries as well. We’re very, very happy!
Nix: As you said, you’ve done a little EP called Last Look At Eden to whet the appetites with what is to come from the album. On this EP, you put on a Led Zeppelin cover (‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’), why did you chose that song?
JT: We did a webcast for our fans, well, it was meant to be. It turned out also as a CD and a DVD for our fans called Almost Unplugged which was released last year. We ended up doing four covers of bands that inspired us as kids so we had long discussions in the band to pick one. We ended up doing ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ by Led Zep on this particular show! We listened to it afterwards and we thought ‘Hey, we did this justice’ and we did it in our own way of course but this is one song that we all had in common. It was a difficult one to do but since it turned out well we released it. We might do others but a bit more scaled down. For this one we had a string quartet and it was a different kind of gig!
Nix: Europe’s break before ‘Start From the Dark’ was quite a few years. What made you get back together and start playing again?
JT: It was impossible. We were calling and pestering each other during the break but it was only a matter of time. I was missing John (Norum, guitarist) more and more because we started the band when we were really young. He left the band for a couple of albums to live in LA and do solo albums plus play with Dokken. He was keen on coming back and I was really keen on getting things started again – that helped! In 2000 we did a millenium show which was amazing. The rehearsal before, we thought ‘this is it, it’s amazing’. We had a few contacts to get going and in 2004 thats when the album ‘Start From The Dark’ came.
Nix: Here’s a question you’ll hate me for, I’d imagine its one for every interview. However, it needs asking! Many fans would say that the Final Countdown was your finest hour – did you ever think that it would get the notice it did and how do you feel when you hear it still being played on the radio today?
JT: (Laughs) Lets put it this way, I don’t think we put on ‘The Final Countdown’ and listen to it privately in our cars or at home! We don’t need to rehearse it! We were talking about it in the band the other day, we do need to play it live. It belongs in a live show, it was meant to be. For our third album we wanted an opener and I had it from a tape in my draw from high school so we worked on it and we still enjoy playing it. Its an important song for the fans and the show.
Nix: You mention how it started, so, how did ‘The Final Countdown’ song come into existance? Spill.
JT: It started in high school, I was already in a band messing around – we were called Force before being called Europe. A guy in school had a keyboard and I borrowed it from him. There was something in the air about mixing rock bands and keyboards at the beginning of the 80’s. I came up with it, sat on it at home for a long time and on the 3rd album we wanted something majestic so I demoed the idea and it became what it is today. It wasn’t ever supposed to be anything more than an opener, it was 6 and a half minutes long so its rather a happy accident. We did work with an American Producer (Kevin Elson – Journey/Lynyrd Skynyrd) for that third album and he mixed it more for American radio – that’s probably why it is a bit broader in the sound. Our other stuff is more heavier in my mind so The Final Countdown album allowed us to reach to more people.
Nix: What would you say is your biggest achivement to date?
JT: I think its re-establishing the band again and getting some good reactions in the UK. Especially for me, I live in England! We’ve done some great things. We did Top Of The Pops. We toured with Def Lep when they were touring ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ , we were special guests. We’ve done America. We played with Metallica at the Tokyo Dome. There have been a few things that we really love to remember. The thing we’re really happy about now, is on this 3rd come-back album we’re getting people used to the fact that we’re a good rock band that will be here for a long time. Quite a few bands who started playing in the 80’s have always had problems, we’ve had a few but if you’re a healthy rock band in this life, in this climate you can do good.
Nix: You played Bloodstock Open Air at Catton Hall recently, tell us a bit about that?
JT: Yeah! We had no idea what to expect from that show. There were however, strong reactions for and strong reactions against us playing by the people that go there but we did one similar to that one – Hellfest in France a couple of months before and it went really well. We were hoping this one would turn out great and thankfully it did. We went straight on the forum afterwards to check how we did and we found that some people were converted! Some people liked us. In our view, it was a success and we’re looking to do more festivals now and coming back to England for an album tour.
Nix: The thing I like about Europe and many bands that started in the 80’s is that you’ve had to rely on really working hard on promoting yourselves and globally, I guess the MTV generation was one that helped out. Europe are back now in an internet age, do you think that will contribute to your success?
JT: We work a lot on the internet. If you check the website – www.europetheband.com – you’ll see loads of links to loads of community sites. We’ve had a strong following in our outset years when the internet was getting more widely used. Its so good because we’re so close to the fans so when we have some news or a video or song we can get straight reactions back. We check our forums too! We have a good dialogue. So far so good anyway (laughs).
Nix: We love our new bands, what advice would you give to anyone trying to get up to anywhere near the levels Europe have reached?
JT: There are a number of things. The music side – practice and learn your instrument! If you’re a guitar player, read up and check out the best guitar players and really find out how they do it. That’s what we did early on. Then, there is the business side. Try to control things and have many people you trust around you. Its very hard. We’re very passionate about our instruments and our art. As a lyricist, I like to learn more about lyrics. So, study other bands and get dedicated. Don’t give up!
Nix: What new bands have you come across that get the Tempest-Seal-Of-Approval?
JT: They’re not new, but I do like them. I really like Muse. They push the limits and try new things which is always a breath of fresh air. There is a Danish band called Mew and they’re more avant garde I think. I do like Black Stone Cherry – they’re very promising indeed and they sound very good.
Nix: Here’s some food for thought, where do you see yourself in ten years time?
JT: Well, we’re going to keep going (laughs). In ten years time, we’ll be fully re-established I hope! (laughs). We haven’t set a sell by date, we just plan two years ahead. We know we’ll tour in 2009 and 2010 but we’ll keep going.
Nix: Wrap-up time, whats the plan for Europe for the rest of this year and when can we expect you to be doing a UK tour?
JT: We start the Last Look At Eden World Tour in Germany in November for 3 weeks. Then some Scandinavian dates in December. Then we’re coming to the UK at the end of the European tour that we do in January/February so the UK will be in February.
Last Look At Eden will be released on 14th September 2009 on Edel Germany’s international rock music label, earMUSIC. Images courtesy of © Christie Goodwin 2009