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Interviews

Europe (Joey Tempest)

by: ZOLTAN KONCSOK - 2006-10-30 21:50:28

email: zoltan(AT) metalexpressradio(DOT)com

Joey Tempest

How did it feel getting back together with your old bandmates a few years ago?

 

It was fantastic to start recording Start From The Dark with John Norum again on guitar. It was a special feeling. We had a new start to our career and we’re planning for many more albums.

 

Who came up with the idea of this reunion?

 

I think it was a lot of mutual feelings. Everybody was calling each other during the break, sending solo albums to each other. I think everybody knew that it would happen sooner or later, but I had solo contracts to get out of, John Norum had a contract to do his final record with Dokken and other stuff. So, we had these contracts to get out of, but then I think everybody wanted to get back together, especially for the Millennium show we did in Stockholm.

 

How’s the atmosphere within the band?

 

I’d say it’s very good at the moment, because everybody’s happy with the new album and we keep calling each other and saying, “Fucking hell, have you heard the album? It sounds great.” We just finished it, we did it fairly quickly. We worked very hard through the summer and we’re very excited about it.

 

You mentioned Start From The Dark that you released two years ago. What sort of media feedback did it generate?

 

Well, the thing is that we didn’t expect anything. We didn’t care what anybody thought, because we did it by ourselves completely and we were sort of surprised that we got such a good reception, especially from Rock magazines and Heavy Rock magazines. I think we got some new respect, because we went back to basic, raw, Hard Rock. We took it as a little bit of a surprise that we were so welcomed back. We did over a hundred shows after that album and it was a good feeling.

 

And how about the fans? Did they also like the album?

 

Well, it’s been pretty good, because it seems that we have the old fans with us still and we also have some new fans that started with Start From The Dark, and fans that wanted to experience The Final Countdown live maybe. It’s been great. I mean we managed to tour over 100 gigs all over the world. We didn’t expect that, so the reception from the fans was great as well. We’re a very lucky band.

 

With Start From The Dark, you changed your style a little bit. You could say it was a rawer-edged album ...

 

Yeah, we had a few meetings with the band, and we said if we’re going to start again, we wanted to be new and fresh and we wanted to make it just as we sound in rehearsal and not overproduce it. We don’t wanna do that with any albums really. Even though Secret Society will take it a step further from Start From The Dark. I think it’s a bit wider, a bit better-sounding, so we’re taking it a bit further than Start From The Dark.

 

Do you usually decide on the album’s direction before you start writing?

 

For these latest two albums, I’ve been writing on all of the songs, but some songs I write with Mic and some songs I write with John Norum. And usually what happens is that we meet up in the studio and do demos together, and everybody shows some ideas and we put it down and take it to my studio and work on them there. Or, we send each other riffs, like John Norum would send me a guitar riff and I would work on it. Everybody has been helping out, so to speak.

 

There’s more keyboards on Secret Society, which fits the music well.

 

Yeah, I think it’s still a guitar-oriented album, but on this album, Mic sent me quite a few ideas, so we were lucky to get him involved more as a songwriter as well. So, there’s a bit more keyboard this time, but I think it’s still a guitar album.

 

How did you end up naming the album Secret Society? What’s behind that?

 

When I was in London, I was called by a TV show from Sweden, and Robert Plant was on this TV show. I’ve met him before, so I’ve known him a little bit, and they put us together on the telephone and we talked for a while and he asked me where we’re going to tour? I said we’re going back to America to tour for Start From The Dark and he said, “That’s great. We have to keep going. All Rock bands and musicians have to keep going.” We both said that it’s almost like a secret society. It’s like a secret code: once you start loving music and writing music you can’t stop. It’s like poison. It’s basically from that idea really. I told the guys about the title and they liked it, so ...

 

What are the lyrics of the title song about?

 

Those lyrics are kind of funky. “Secret Society” is just taking from really fast demo vocals. To me, it feels like a young, cocky, Rock guy that nothing can stop. He’s going a hundred percent. That’s the way I feel about those lyrics.

 

And how about the other songs? Do you follow any lyrical concepts?

 

There’s a lot of stuff that happened to the band over the last years. We’ve had some tragic events like some of our parents have passed away such as Ian’s mom and Mic’s dad. Also, John Norum had a baby, and those things really bring emotions out of us that you can’t help putting into lyrics. The “Devil Sings Blues” is pretty much a tribute to John’s first son, and also “Mother’s Son,” of course, and songs like that reflect a little bit about the families and how we’re gonna miss our parents and things like that. Then there’s also events in the world, like I was in London when the bombings happened at 7/7, and also I was very touched by the 9/11 bombings as well. It’s a little bit reflected on this album. I think we’re finally growing up and finally writing some decent lyrics and songs.

 

What is the song on the album that you like the most?

 

I’d probably pick “Always The Pretenders” because it’s kind of a very high energy track, and it’s got a pretty good melody. I really like it. That song is actually touching on a phone call I got on 9/11, the day when the bombings happened. It’s reflecting about the innocence that the world lost on that day. It’s just reflecting that people couldn’t believe their eyes. They thought it was an accident like I sing in the lyrics. People thought it was an accident, but soon they realized it was no accident. But, it’s kind of an uplifting song anyway, however, it’s reflecting on a tragic event.

 

Which song has the biggest hit potential?

 

Oh, I don’t know. We really don’t think like that. Even when we did The Final Countdown, we didn’t think like that. That was just sort of an accident. It was just a song for the show, a song for the fans. The same with this album and Start From The Dark. We just went in and made it quite quickly and we don’t really know what songs are going to progress and stay with us. Sometimes it takes a while before you know which song will be your friend forever. We’ll have to wait and see.

 

Can you see any of the new Europe songs reaching the success level of songs like “The Final Countdown” and “Carrie?”

 

I don’t know. That would be nice, but we think that we just have to put in a lot of hard work now. We’ve been away for a long time, so we need to do a lot of albums and a lot of tours, and I think sooner or later there might be a song on this album or the next one that will reach the same heights, but that’s not so important to us. What important to us is to make great albums and great tours and establish ourselves again, because we’ve been away for a while.

 

The music community has changed a lot over the years, as well ...

 

Absolutely, yeah! And we sort of need to break into that community and need to let everybody know that we’re back and this is going to take a little work.

 

How do you see the changes that the music scene went through during this period?

 

There’s a lot of things that happened in the nineties, with Grunge and the Alternative Rock scene. There were a few bands that were actually great that came out like Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, and Soundgarden. These were good Rock bands that came after the eighties. After that ... I don’t know, it was a turn around again and it just happened lately that the live scene has come alive. The Rock bands that are good live got a good chance to tour and I think that’s fantastic. When it comes to music, there’s a whole new breed of Rock bands. For instance, Lost Prophets are pretty good, I also really like Audioslave, and also we like the fact that Velvet Revolver is doing albums as a band, because they’re sort of making the Classic Rock thing that we like. Also, the English band Muse is pretty good and there’s some other interesting new things, but I think it’s mainly the sound has changed. The mixes are dryer, there’s a little bit less keyboards these days, there’s not so much echo effects on vocals and most bands D-tune the guitars a little bit. So there’s different sounds these days.

 

Are you going to release a single off the album?

 

I think there are some countries are releasing “Always The Pretender” as a single. I think the record company thinks that we can get some airplay and that’s good. I hope they are right. For us, we’re just gonna start rehearsing for the tour and we’ve always been that way. We do albums in order to go out on tour.

 

The song “Let The Children Play” has a boy choir. Where did that idea come from?

 

Well, I just came up with the idea when I had the title really. I thought it would have been great to have something like that in that song. So, I had a friend in England, who had a son, that never sung on a record. I asked him if he could ask his son to put down a few tracks and he sent it to us to Sweden and we all liked the English pronouncement and the sound of the voice and everything. So, I called him back in England and said, “Why don’t you put 9 or 10 more voices on there?” ... and the band loved the result. We thought it was a different thing for this band to do.

 

How long have you been in the studio?

 

I think it took about two and a half months to record and mix it. It went quite well. It was a big studio. We started in one room, but then we took over almost the whole studio. There were seven studios in there, and we took over three of them in the end and then we had Stefan Glaumann mixing in the fourth. So, it was quite chaotic. We’ve been working in fourdifferent studios to finish it in time, because we had a deadline on the 3rd of August to master the album in New York. We worked day and night. We slept in the studio, worked really hard. It was a lot of fun. I went smooth, but it was more work than we thought to produce ourselves.

 

Are you satisfied with everything or there are things that you’d like to change?

 

It’s too early to say, but it’s always like that. A year or two after you always think about that you could have done that this or that way and you learn from it, but it’s too early to say now.

 

Which Europe album are you the most and least satisfied with?

 

It’s hard to say which one I’m the least satisfied with, but I think one of the most important albums for the band was Wings Of Tomorrow, because we were learning how to write songs and John started playing some really cool stuff on the guitar. We became a better band and that was a good period for the band. I think that’s my favorite. The most difficult album to make I think was Prisoners in Paradise, because we were living in LA for years and we had to go back and write more songs in the end. It was quite a tough time.

 

You’re a real touring band. How did it feel after more than ten years to go back on stage with the boys?

 

Well, because of the audience, we felt great. Because we got such a warm welcome. And one of the first gigs we did was Sweden Rock Festival with 20-25 thousand people, and I was so nervous before the show, because we haven’t met our audience in a long long time. But, we got a great reception and it was a great show, so we were off and we did about 100 shows around the world. It’s a good band; good players. It’s a good band to tour with too.

 

Do you have a favorite gig of the Start From The Dark Tour?

 

Okay, there’s a few of them. Sweden Rock Festival was very good. I remember Colmar in France was a good gig. It’s difficult to pinpoint why, I just remember in my head. I remember after the gig we said that it was a cool gig.

 

And any gigs you have nightmares about?

 

The gig we did in Stockholm’s Ice Stadium had 10 thousand people and we lost the power. All the electricity got lost during “Rock the Night” and it was really a terrifying moment, because we thought that it wouldn’t start again. But, it started after a few minutes, and during that period Ian was playing the drums and the audience kept singing “Rock The Night,” so we were lucky. But, that was a scary gig though. That was the worst thing that happened on that tour really, but it worked out okay in the end. Everybody thought it was okay.

 

You also played in Budapest. What sort of memories dp you have of that gig?

 

I remember the crowd was really great. I also remember that people were nice to us behind the scenes. The people working on the show treated us well, the concert organizers and everything. And, I think it’s really important for us to go these places to meet fans, because we haven’t gone there often, have we? Hopefully we can come back with the upcoming tour. We just started booking the European leg. We’ll play Europe in January, February and March.

 

I know it’s very early days, but what’s next? Are you going to keep releasing albums in every second year?

 

Oh yeah. I think we can keep this two year thing. That would be great. It’s tough, but it’s possible. But, what we’ll be doing right now is a tour in Europe, then Asia, the UK and US probably, and then some festivals, so there’s a possibility of coming back to Budapest on a summer festival.

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