caught up with Europe’s lead singer Joey Tempest before a gig in Germany
on their European tour. The band is promoting their new album “Start from
the Dark” and the band is obviously enjoying the warm welcome that they’ve
received on their tour.
I was in your show in Helsinki just recently and it looked like you really
had a good time on the stage.
Joey: Oh yeah, especially in Helsinki. That was the first gig on the tour
and it’s just show fantastic to play with John again in the band and also
all these guys… we knew each other since we were teenagers. It’s like
a family, we take care of each other and we really enjoy starting this
new phase of our careers too. We want to do this for a while, then more
albums and become a working band again.
Have you paid any attention to what kind of people come to your shows.
Are they expecting more of the old stuff or are they looking forward to
the new material?
Joey: It’s both actually. We are surprised and also very happy that younger
people are coming to see the show. And it means a lot to us that we can
reach out to a new generation. But I think for us, of course a lot of
people still come to see “Rock the Night” or something like that and hear
the old songs. But there are also people that are interested in the new
material who think that we are still good and can write new songs and
play live. So it’s been both. And it’s a period of transition for us when
we have to play both old and new songs and mix it up a bit. And it’s a
lot of fun for us.
Ian’s drum solo is a bit different from the usual drum solos, who came
up with that idea?
Joey: I think he did. He just sampled some records and stuff and then
played to it. Tonight we’re not playing the drum solo, sometimes we do
it and sometimes we don’t. We mix it up.
Lately many of the 80’s rock bands have toured a lot but also the ticket
prices have gone up quite a lot. For example in Helsinki the tickets cost
45 euros. It’s about 400 Swedish crowns. Do you think that the price is
as high as it’s gonna get?
Joey: I hope so. I know how it is myself. If I go to see the show and
sometimes when I pay myself I just say: “Oh my god the ticket prices are
high these days!” I hope they don’t go up anymore because I want the fans
to feel that they can afford to come to see their favourite band.
Despite the prices at least in Finland the shows are sold out quite often
so there is definitely a demand for hard rock music.
Joey: We have a long history with Finland, we played some festivals there
already in ´84 when we were only 20-21 yrs old and we’ve always come back
to play. We’ve noticed that they like hard rock music and most bands,
like Iron Maiden or anybody, will tell you the same thing because the
love playing there, it’s a great hard rock audience.
How’s the welcoming been in other countries?
Joey: We play Germany tonight for the fist time, we played in Denmark
and we had great response. The audience was so loud, 107 decibels or something,
it was some kind of record. We don’t read our reviews often but we had
a good one, it was 5 out of 6 so we’re very happy with the Danish gig.
Scandinavian gigs were fantastic, obviously our home gig in Stockholm
was sold out, it was magic. So we’ve had a good start and now we’re on
to the rest of Europe and we’re looking forward to that.
Your new album is a bit different than the way you sounded in the 80’s.
What was the general situation when you started to write the album?
Joey: We just wanted to capture us in this moment in time. So what we
did was... we didn’t connect with the record label, we didn’t have friends
or family and we recorded it pretty much in secrecy because we wanted
to do what we wanted to do. We wanted to sound like we do in our rehearsal
space. We invited an old friend Kevin Nelson who works with live bands
a lot, he’s a great live engineer, and we just wanted him to record us
the way we sound in rehearsal. The only thing we didn’t want to do was
to go back in time and do nostalgia or to do an 80’s album, that’s out
of the question. We just wanted do something 2004 and make it fresh and
it’s gonna be a surprise to some people. It’s gonna be a surprise to some
of the Europe fans that just like the keyboard and all that stuff. But
this is more guitar-based and this is a beginning, this is a start from
the dark, something new, the new phase. I’ve noticed with lot of fans
that first they were surprised but then they listen to the album 10-15
times and now they begin to find the melodies and find the beauty of it.
And hopefully it’s an album that will last a long time, that’s the idea.
But basically you definitely wanted to step away from the 80’s sound?
Joey: Yeah, and we just want to make a statement where we stand right
now and move on. We kept some of the melodies, of course, like in “Hero”
or “In Flames”. It sounds a bit like Europe but bit dryer sound, a bit
more guitar driven.
Did you have any contact with Key Marcello when you started the band again.
Joey: We contacted him but it seems like he’s a very busy man. He’s got
his own band called K2. He’s a very talented producer and song writer
and he lives in Gothenburg and the other guys live in Stockholm so it
sounded like he was a bit too busy. For a while we talked about having
two guitars on some of the shows but he had too much to do, that’s all.
What kind of process it was in general when you wrote the new songs.
Joey: In general, John and I started. John sent a couple of riffs to me
in London and I worked on them and then sent them back to him and then
he sent them to the rest of the band. Me and John kicked it off with a
few songs, “Gotta Have Faith” and “Start from the Dark” and after that
I started writing myself, again, like I did in the old days. I wrote maybe
4-5 songs and wrote one with Mic. I went over to Stockholm to jam and
then I brought the tapes over to my studio in London. So it was back and
forth between London and Stockholm all the time. It was a fun process
because it was quite quick, we sort of wrote the album in six months and
recorded it in forty days with rehearsal and mixing and everything. We
just wanted to capture the moment right then, we didn’t want to work on
the album for few years and then start over... just capture it right there.
Have you been afraid of how the old fans might react to your new album.
I have here a comment from one fan and I’ll just read it to you as he
states it. “Who came up with the idea of tuning the guitars down for the
new album? And what was it good for anyway? What is the next step, masking
yourselves zombies and going on tour with Marilyn Manson?”
Joey: (laughs) That’ll be fun actually. No, we just did what we felt like
at the moment. The riffs we were writing were detuned, it sounded fresh
to us. We had to detain ourselves in the rehearsal and it sounded cool
to us. It’s just something we did on this album and you never know what’s
on the next one. And as I said, we surprised many and some people like
it, we’re just happy that it’s done and we’re happy with it.
So things are looking up for Europe right now.
Joey: We have a good vibe at the moment. We have a good relationship with
Sanctuary in Europe, the record company there. Sony has done a great job
and also our Japanese record company. It’s like a good feeling at the
moment; people are beginning to discover Europe again, the new stuff and
also the old stuff. So it’s a good feeling for us in the band. The best
thing about it is that we’re building it up slowly from the ground; it’s
just word of mouth and working on tour and rock journalism. We’re building
it up from the ground and it feels really good.
Anything you’d like to say to the fans that are following your comeback.
Joey: Everyone who visits Rockunited.com, thanks for the support! Thanks
for believing in us and not forgetting us. The album seems to be making
waves and it seems that people are getting used to it and liking it. Also
our live concerts, we’ve just started and we’re looking forward to playing
everywhere and I just wanna thank everyone for remembering us, really.
Europe’s official website is http://www.europetheband.com , I just wanted
to confirm that.
Joey: Yeah, that’s the official one. We have a diary there and we mail
out pictures from the shows and we try to write diary every day about
what’s going on with the tour. Also some samples from the new album there.
Thanks so much for talking to us.
Joey: OK, no problem. Thanks.
interview was conducted by Petri Kautto, with additional questions provided
by Endre "Bandi" Hübner. Photos by Petri Kautto and Kimmo
Toivonen. Special thanks to Katja/Sony.