Interview date

14 Novembre 2012


Didier et Philippec


Interview Joey Tempest (face to face)

Hello and thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, we are the french webzine

Hello guys.

First of all, let's talk about Europe as a band, it's been around since the 80s. Did you ever think that you would still be around with Europe 30 years later?

Oh no. When I met John Norum, he was 14 and I was 15 and we started a band when we were 16 or something like that. And when you are 16 years old, you think that people that are 30 are already old [laughs]. And 40, that was ancient. And 50 would be like relics. So no, for sure, we didn’t. You are bulletproof, you don’t think about anything really, just play rock'n'roll. All we wanted to do was tour like Thin Lizzy, UFO or Deep Purple. We wanted to go on the road. So in that sense we are very happy, and very lucky.

It seems like a fair amount of old bands from the 80's, even from the 70's, are still around. How do you explain such a phenomenon? For example UFO is still around…

Yes true, Phil Mogg is quite productive actually. He is a good lyricist and a good singer. The thing is: the record business is down. That’s why the live business is where people want to make money. They are so many bands playing… But the live scene is healthy. Some bands from the 80's, are not so believable, because there is only one or two original members left. The good thing about bands like Europe, is that you have 5 guys that met when they were teenagers. And we are also a band that has made its own come back. We have not just done it for a reunion tour. We have done it for starting all over again. Four new albums, it’s a new journey, it’s not just a quick cash cow, you know? So I think that there are not so many bands that are doing exactly what we are doing but there are plenty of bands which are trying…

It also seems like that there is a fair amount of great bands coming from Sweden, do babies grow listening to hard rock over there?

I don’t know, maybe the dark and the alcohol together! There is something in the Swedish culture maybe, that makes Sweds want to be good at what they do, they want to impress, so they work hard. There is something in the genes as well, for the melodic side of things, that comes from the folk music. It’s hard to explain those things. But nothing compared to England or The United States. That’s the cradle of rock. That’s where it came from.

You mentioned the comeback, did you initially expect the break that you took in 1992 to last until 2003?

No. We had been around ten years and done five albums. We wanted a break and I wanted to make a solo album. But we never said that we quit or anything. But yes the break took too long. But you know some of the guys had started to get on tour with others, and John was still living in L.A. doing a lot of stuff. I was living in Ireland at the time, writing. Mic and Ian came to Ireland to see me a few times, we were always calling each other. We knew it would happen sooner or later. John was just finishing a solo album, he also played on one of my solo albums.

Have you also kept in touch with Kee Marcello?

Yes we met him sometimes, but not so often these days. He lives in Göteborg, and the other guys live in Stockholm. It’s quite far away. And I live in London.

So the comeback was a sort of rebirth for you?

Yes it was. As far as friends and brotherhood it’s the same thing but musically we wanted to have a new expression. Find new ways of playing and get a deeper dimension to the band. Sometimes things are only in one dimension. It’s important as a band to find different layers and play with different feelings and find like in my voice which has more of an expression maybe, some pain, and blues… That comes from all the touring and all the albums, we could never have done "Bag of Bones" earlier. You have to live to make an album like that. It’s experience.

Before we talk about this tour, I wanted to come back to your show at Hellfest. I was not there unfortunately, but I have heard it was one of the best show that year. How was this festival for you?

Yes it was great. I would love to play Hellfest again, it was fantastic. It was great backstage too, we bumped into a lot of bands. Bands like Black Stone Cherry, John Sykes, and many others, it was great to hang out. The gig was fantastic because we didn’t really know what to expect. It was the first time we played that sort of festival. A month later we played Bloodstock, in the UK, that was also a metal festival, a really heavy one. But Hellfest was the first heavy festival for us. We had done other festivals before, but that was a big one. So we didn’t know what to expect but when we started playing, people started come from other stages, from everywhere. It was amazing, we didn’t expect that. That gave us a lot of confidence for the French market as well. And we realize now when we play Strasbourg, Paris or Lyon, a lot of people come, and there is a lot of enthusiasm in France. Maybe even more than before. So we are really excited about it. So yes, Hellfest helped us a lot.

So do you plan on participating again in 2013?

Maybe. We haven’t had a request yet, but maybe.

Today you are touring for "Bag Of Bones", how is the tour going so far? You had a good night in Paris yesterday?

We are coming from Italy and Germany. Paris was great.  We enjoy to play Paris. They have been behind us from the start. We used to go to Paris a lot in the old days. Quite a lot. So yes, it was a great show.

Are you also going to the US after this?

We hope so. We are always looking for opportunities. Right now we are touring Europe, up until the 21st of December, we are on the road until Christmas. Then we take some time off, then we tour more next year, in Europe on "Bag of Bones", and we do a few festivals, big festivals. And then we are going to start doing demos and write for our tenth album that would come out in 2014.

A few months ago you released "Bag of Bones", first of all, why this title? It's a bit of a mystery…

It’s a bit of a mystery to me too… [laughs]

No, I was in London, I was starting out writing, and I felt really tired from touring, so I said to myself: I feel like a bag of bones. I was repeating this, then it started shaping into a song. The lyrics is more about the London riots, a few years ago. It was chaos in London and I was there. It was a bit scary for my young boy and everything. So this gave “my city lays in ruins…”. So yes it’s partly from the riots in London and partly from being tired.

I reviewed and really enjoyed this album, and found it had a Led Zeppelin touch, very vintage, do you like this comparison?

Yes, I think that this is the album that we tapped into our earliest and most profound influences. Because when you are a teenager, that’s when the most important influences come and then will stay with you forever. You forget them for a while, you go through life, but then it will hit you again and come back at you. When we were recording "Bag Of Bones", it was automatic. Everybody felt the same way, and also Kevin Shirley, who is in that world all the time [laughs]. So yes of course this is the album with the most roots to Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, definitely.

I really liked "Drink And A Smile", how did this one come up?

Very, very fast. We just thought we’d really like to have an acoustic 70's kind of style song on the album. And I had this riff, and Mic had some ideas, so we put it together very fast and everybody played just for fun, really. We didn’t analyse it, or thought about it too much. That’s why it sounds so spontaneous. I really like it too. There is a lyric at the very end of it that is a reference to "Stairway to Heaven": “Laughter, I do remember what it’s like” I say. Robert sings something like “Does anybody remember laughter?”.

I liked the fact that it's also a very bluesy album, or at least blues-rock, is this a return to your roots?

Yes it is. It came up naturally. It was something we wanted to do. But I don’t think we are going to dig deeper into it, on the next album. We always try to do something slightly different.

You mentioned working with Kevin Shirley who also produced artists such as Black Country Communion. Do you think he had a big influence on this album? And how different was he from other producers?

Yes we used Kevin Elson, and other people too. Kevin Shirley is more spontaneous, and faster, he is more intuitive. Everything is done on the spot, when you have the feeling there. So I did the vocals immediately after the take. So he was still in that world. When we did the music, we did four or five takes and we chose the best one. And we only fixed it a little bit. So it’s a very honest, raw and spontaneous album. And that's how he works. The other producers such as Kevin Elson or Beau Hill or Ron Edison belong to the school where you do the drums, then you do the bass, then you do the guitars, and Kevin Shirley doesn’t work that way. He wants to grab as much as he can from the live takes. And we really enjoyed that, and I don’t think we are going to go back to the normal way. We will always record like this now.

There is another song I really liked called "You’re Not Supposed To Sing The Blues" and I was wondering if it was a true story?

Maybe. Maybe that’s also a reference over the years that we had. We are quite shocked ourselves that we could do an album like this. I mean with this expression. I never knew we could do it until I heard this song. Of course, there is something to be said about where we come from, it’s not Mississippi you know. But it works.

You mentioned the record crisis. How is this latest album doing? Did you receive good press coverage?

It’s one of our most successful. At least from the reviews and people getting back into Europe. It’s really helping us getting a broader audience, maybe tapping into the blues rock, classic rock and attracting younger people. So it’s really cool.

It's probably difficult to sell albums these days, especially when you think about the million copies of "The Final Countdown" that you sold. Isn't it frustrating to have folks always mentioning "The Final Countdown"? Do you sometimes wish you didn't write that song?

Not really no. We wouldn’t be here. Because that made us tour the US, the UK, France, Germany, big musical countries. It opened a lot of doors. For us it’s an album track you know. We don’t see it any other way.

Do you still enjoy playing it live today?

Yes, yes, it’s great to play live.

Any other work going on from any of the members of Europe?

Yes, John Norum will be doing a solo album next year, in between two Europe albums.

We thank you very much and wish you a great concert in Lyon tonight.

Thank you!


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