"Enter the garden of Eden - Joey Tempest speaks Out"
"Europe are certainly no stranger to the word of Hard Rock or Heavy Metal, since the band were formed back in the 70's under the name of 'Force' by Joey Tampest and John Norum these guys finally got the right musicians to form 'Europe' in 1982 and later on members John Leven (bass), Mic Michaeli (keyboards) and drummer Ian Haugland completed the final line-up. The band have come a long way since the bands formation, with their debut album 'Europe' in 83 been their debut album saw the lift of the band career and soon followed 'Wings of Tomorrow' 84 certainly impressed international press and at this point the band were ready for the next album 'The Final Countdown'. This album certainly broke the band into the big time with the chart hitting success of 'The Final Countdown' made it to in the top 10 of so many countries and the word was certainly out. There was no stopping these Sweden rockers when a further 4 more single appeared from this album 'Love Chaser', 'Rock the Night', 'Carrie' and 'Cherokee' all had the success the band so rightly deserved. After the release of this album guitarist John Norum left the band to pursue a solo career to which he still releases his solo album in between playing for Europe. More albums were were released without John who was replaced by Kee Marcello and in 92 saw the band breaking up. In 2004 the band were back together with the original recording line-up and they hit back hard with a dark and heavier album 'Start from the Dark' in 2004. One more album followed after the success of the re-union album before the band released their stunning new album 'Garden of Eden' in 2009, which is a awesome album that features some impressive guitar riffs, powerful vocals and a good solid rythem section. I managed to catch up with the band just before the current UK tour and popped some questions to front man Joey Tempest to find out more about the band. As this was my first interview I was really looking forward to finding out what Joey had to say about the new album and much more.. If you don't have the new album then you really need to check it out, it's awesome. Whilst you at that, please check out the current live gig review in Leeds (UK) on 18.2.10 on this site. I'd like to thank Noble PR and Joey for their time in setting this interview up. Here's what Joey had to say"
of all I’d like to thank you Joey for taking your time out and for doing this
interview. As this is the 1st time I have interviewed the band I would like to
start by asking you, at what age did you start been a singer?
"Started to play around with guitar, piano and singing when i was around 8 and 10 years old. My older sister had taken some lessons and the instruments were there...."
Did any instruments come 1st before the singing?
"No, Guitar and Piano and singing at the same time. I was always interested in writing or copying what I heard on the radio."
Were there any members of your family who were musicians or singers when you were growing up?
"My uncles and aunts were playing folk music."
Did any particular singers inspire you to become a front man?
"Elvis Presley, David Bowie."
Your bands you grew up on? What about any Heavy Metal bands? Which ones stood out for you back then?
"Led Zeppelin. Deep Purple, Mot the Hoople."
So where did you meet John Norum to form Force?
"I heard about him and went to see him play. I was blown away. I think he heard about my band as well. We started to hang out and soon formed the band 'Force'."
The recent death of Marcel Jacob must have been a real shock to you all, how did you feel when you heard the news?
"John Norum called me about this when I was doing promo in Spain. I was shocked! He was a good friend to us in the band Europe, a great musician and an intelligent man. I wrote Scream Of Anger with him and it was real sad news. I think he knew Norum and Leven the best."
What ideas did you all have as a vision to what Europe should sound like in the early days?
"We were inspired by British bands and loved guitar driven melodic hard rock."
How would you best describe Europe’s music? Hard Rock? Blues? Heavy Metal?
"I'd say Europe is a hard rock band or simply a rock band. When the term Heavy Metal came from England we never really thought it fitted us. We saw ourselves coming more from the classic bands like Zeppelin, Purple and perhaps Aerosmith and Journey who we considered being rock or hard rock bands."
If you were a listener of the band or a journalist who would you say Europe sound similar too?
"It's hard to say for me. We have our own thing going on I suppose. It's combination of all the band members input."
Lets move on…, what memories do you have of the recording of the debut Europe album? How excited were you to be signed to a Hot Records, where they part of a major label?
"It was an independent label. We didn't have a big budget. we had a lot of fun recording it though with a lot of partying. Young punks expressing themselves the best way they could."
How old were you all when that album was released?
"I was 19 when the first album was released."
The band released ‘Wings of tomorrow’ in 84, did you see this album as a progression from that of the debut album?
"We had done some touring by then and we were getting better at writing songs. We got into a better sounding studio and worked with a good engineer/producer Leif Mases. (polar studios). We listened a lot to MSG at the time and we played Assault Attack to Leif and said that we liked the sound of that album."
Next came ‘The final countdown’, I remember see in the video on MTV back in the day, and I mean every metal head was talking about this unknown band from Sweden who had just released a awesome single/ video. Nobody really knew about the band here in the UK till that was released. How did you feel about the band exploding with success and the fact that people were talking about you for years to come?
"By then we were touring constantly and we wanted to take our music to UK and US and the rest of the world. The song TFC really did the job. However to us it was just an album track and a great show opener, but it connected with a lot of people around the world. We had a major deal with CBS/SONY in New York. The album was mixed for American radio which gave it a broader appeal I guess. The guitar were mixed a bit low and keyboards a bit high which Norum wasn't too keen on I remember."
What songs from that album stand out for you and why? Any least favorite songs and why?
"We play Final, Rock the night, Carrie and Cherokee from that record. We have on occasion played Danger on the track. I guess those are the standout tracks."
This album also saw the departure of Jonh Norum, why did he leave?
"I think he had some personal reasons although I don't think he was to keen on the guitars being lower in the mixes. He also wanted to make a solo record."
Did you part on good terms?
"By then we had stopped communicating. We were talking through our tour manager. We in the band have learnt a lot from this period. Always communicate about how you feel. Nowadays we help each other with the music and also with the personal stuff."
How did you meet guitarist Kee Marcello?
"He produced a charity record I wrote 'give a helping hand'. a few years earlier. He was a natural choice. He was the only one we auditioned. Great player."
Next came ‘Out Of This World’, Kee’s debut album, did Europe fans accept Kee as the new guitarist?
"He did some great work on that record. good sound as well. I think he was well received."
Next album for Europe was ‘Prisoners Of Paradise’ in 91, which was the band last album until the reunion album, why did the band break up?
"We never really broke up. We had a talk about everything.....We had been touring constantly for a long period and felt it was time for a break. I wanted to record a solo record. The break became a bit too long though. We all knew that we would start again though. Sooner or later."
Moving on… how did the whole reunion thing come about?
"The millennium gig was the great instigator. We still had some solo contracts to fulfill though. Therefore it took a while to get the whole thing off the ground again."
Was it difficult to get everybody back together as the classic ‘final countdown’ line-up?
"No problem at all. That's the great thing about this band. Everyone is willing to give 100% at all times."
How long did it take to write songs for the next album ‘Start from the dark’ in 2004?
"Me and John Norum wrote Got to have faith, Start from the dark and Settle for love really quick. These were Norum's guitar riffs that he showed me. I loved them and started writing melodies and lyrics. After that everything fell into place. I came up with Flames, Hero and wake up call and a few more and we had an album to record. it probably took about 6 months to get all the ideas together."
Do you all write the songs as a team effort or do you write the lyrics and leave the rest to the other guys in the band?
"Sometimes we jam the ideas all of us together. I write some stuff myself. Some with Norum and some with Michaeli. On LLAE I also wrote a great track with Leven. We always meet up in Stockholm to try out the ideas with the band."
Why the title ‘Start from the dark’?
"It was one of the titles and it fitted well for our situation. It's also a theory of mine. When you write music...always start from the more obscure and dark angle and slowly move it in to a more understandable sound. Never start from a light, commercial or easy listening angle. Then you have nowhere left to go......At least that works for me."
How do you see ‘Start from the dark’ as a progression from the early albums? It is certainly a darker album in the music, was this a dark period for the band?
"It was just where we were at that particular time......Norum had started detuning his guitar I had moved on a bit with my lyrics and melodies. It was the only solution for us to make a raw and darker record. Then we could take our music to other places in the future. It's almost like a debut album.."
I have noticed that you have a darker hard edge blues feel to your music ever since that album was released, a lot of Deep Purple, do you agree?
"I think we now have the experience to show this side of us. This band is now playing really good."
What songs from that album stand out for you and why?
"Well the songs I really like are: Start, Faith, Flames and Hero are cool songs."
How many labels did you shop around to before releasing that album?
"We had no problem finding a partner. We did however talk to....maybe 8 labels. Since we've come back we own our music and we license it out to different labels. We only work with companies that we feel are passionate about what we do. Most of the time we get it right."
What did Sanctuary offer you that was better than the rest of the labels out there?
"Sanctuary at its best was a great rock label. Unfortunately they went bust during the release of Secret Society."
That album also saw the band releasing their 2nd live DVD, recorded in London, why did you decide to record the DVD at this point in your career - And why London and not Sweden or any where else in the world?
"It just happened that way. It was a practical place to record a new DVD. Easy to get good gear and people on board. We do like playing in London though."
Next came the album ‘Secret Society’, how did that album differ from the last album?
"A very ambitious record. We wanted to make a contemporary, relevant modern rock record. We worked with very talented engineers and mixers etc but produced it ourselves. It was a lot of hard work....but it was worth it! SS seem to be becoming some sort of cult record."
Just before we talk about the new album, I saw you at last years Bloodstock festival here in the UK, and I have to say you pretty much stole the show along side Arch Enemy and Carcass!
"It's funny cause some of these metal bands have listened a bit to early Europe stuff. There is a connection between the extreme metal community and classic hard rock....it's all merging I guess."
What did you think of Bloodstock? I was amazed at your performance and it was the 1st time I had seen the band live. How exciting was it for you to of played that festival? Were you nervous about playing considering the line-up was pretty heavy going.
"We played a similar festival a month earlier, Hellfest, and it went great. We were up for the challenge and it went great. it gave us a lot of good press in the UK prior to the release of LLAE."
Lets talk about the new album ‘Last Look at Eden’, how did the title and record deal with earMUSIC come about?
"The title came up just a couple of weeks prior to the last election in the US. I was thinking is this the last look at civilization or are we going to get a new start. The election went well in my view and the song became just a positive rock song.....Max at Ear Music is a big Europe supporter and has worked with us before. We did speak to other labels but this felt like a great solution."
Did you have any other titles in mind for the album?
"Yes. 'Tom Jones
How do you see this album as a stepping stone from the previous albums?
"It's a spontaneous rock record. You don't makeover think these very often. They just pop up ones in a while out of nowhere. We did not over think or overwork this one. It came naturally and it seem to be connecting with a lot of people."
What songs stand out for you on this album and why?
"Well for this album I really enjoy: Eden, Ready, New Love, Beast and Run with the angels. if I heard them I would find out what band it was......"
The press are right behind the album and has been getting great reviews, how does that make you feel? By the way I love the album!!
"Great connection with fans and journalists on LLAE. It's a great feeling for the band."
So how’s the tour going so far for the band?
"We're having a lot of fun. This tour is more successful than both Start and SS tour. The new songs are fabulous "live" and its a positive feeling in the Europe camp."
Thank you once again one more question. If It was the final countdown, the end of the world, what would you like to do?
"Be slightly concerned...."
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