Joey Tempest – The next Europe album will be out in 2011
It must be frustrating to be Europe. Here is a band that has recorded 8 studio albums, and live ones to boot. Yet, it seems no coverage of their work seems complete without a few paragraphs that harp on about their 1986 mega-hit The Final Countdown.
One recent interview, ostensibly meant to promote their latest effort Last Look At Eden actually spent more time discussing The Final Countdown, leaving true fans pulling their hair out in frustration. When will the media recognise as talented musicians, not one hit wonders?
I put the question to, vocalist and songwriter extraordinaire, just before hit the stage to Ludwigsburg, Germany. The frontman is surprisingly circumspect about the whole thing: “It’s a special song. We love playing it live and it’s a great connection with the audience. We don’t really listen to it at home or in our cars you know! We don’t really care. Some broader media will focus on that song because that’s the only thing they know but in the rock world people know that Europe is back with new albums and songs.”
To simply say that they’re back would be an injustice to the rambunctious rocker that is Last Look At Eden. Epic, heavy and groovy in equal measure, it still rocks just as hard 3 months and umpteen listens later. When the first riff of the title track kicks in, you can’t help but jump off your seat and pump your fists. This is a class apart because Europe have managed that rare feat in rock – write a song that is a melodic, stadium-rock anthem you can sing along to, but still has enough aggro to bang your head to. Everything about the song says I shouldn’t, as an extreme metal fan, like it – soaring vocals, relatively clean guitar tones, an uber-melodic chorus. I was expecting glam but what I got was closer to goth. And that’s brilliant.
“I came up with the music for it in London, in my studio but it really took a new shape and majestic feel when we started rehearsing it and then went to Prague to record with the Czech national symphony orchestra. So during recording, it became even more majestic but the main riff, verse and chorus I already had on the demo,” reveals Joey.
Not surprisingly, he calls Last Look At Eden one of their best albums ever. It represents a progression that began with Europe’s reunion in 2003 and the two albums since then – Start From The Dark and Secret Society. “We knew it would take years and years and more albums to establish ourselves again. Start FromThe Dark was a raw diamond and with Secret Society we tried to make a cutting edge modern rock album. On Last Look At Eden we started writing on the road, didn’t overthink it and just had fun in the studio. It’s a modern classic rock album. It’s got all our influences from when we grew up but it’s also got a modern sound.”
New Old Beginnings
The aforementioned reunion had its roots in the millenium celebrations in Sweden, where the group got together for what was then a one-off gig. But it wasn’t just the fans who were happy to see the quintuplet reunited. Never did the band imagine when they went on hiatus in 1992 that their beak would last the better part of a decade. What was meant to be a short break to catch their breath and reingite their individual and collective flames quickly snowballed into something much longer – something that was at least partially down to the hectic touring schedule of the band, and the burn out such a schedule produces.
“We wanted a break and I said I might as well do a solo album then, but we didn’t know it was going to be a long break like that, it just turned out that way. It was really good when we met for the millennium celebrations in Stockholm, and I realised we can’t live without this so lets do it for a long time now and build it up again. In the end the break was quite important for us because we got a lot of other influences and brought it back to the band,” recalls Joey.
The break also worked in the band’s favour in another way. Reuniting 10 years later meant everyone was a little wiser, a little more level-headed than the first time around. There is a worldly-wise wisdom about them, that only experience can bring, which means they’re not afraid to discuss issues rather than hide them behind rockstar bravado, or worse – alcohol and drugs. “We try to talk more about these things in the band, communicate more, see how much we can tour and where. We don’t go on 9 month tours anymore like we used to. We usually take a break after 3 weeks for about 1-2 weeks. So we tour quite a lot, we’re a hard working band but we also plan to take time off for our families,” Joey explains.
A lot of that experience was required before their appearace at this yearsfestival. Many fans had been left bewildered by the choice – a classic rock group headlining what is primarily an extreme metal festival. Many punters, unaware of the band’s extensive and rocking discography, had commited the age-old blunder of pigeonholing Europe on the basis of “that song”, and came in to the festival fearing the worst.
There weren’t many complaining by the end of that night.
“Before we came to Bloodstock there was a lot of negative press but afterwards a lot of people changed their minds,” laughs Joey. “When you see us live it’s pretty heavy. We’ve grown up with guitar based hard rock music and it really went down well there. We’re back to the UK in Feb for our own tour and very excited.will be supporting – we’ve never played with them before so it’s going to be exciting. They’re a great band with a lot of cool songs.”
Speaking to Joey, what’s interesting, yet not surprising, is the hunger in his voice. He’s used the words “we want to tour and establish ourselves again”, or some variation thereof, at least 8 times already. Not bad for a band that has enjoyed multi-platinum success globally, and is about to embark on its umpteenth tour of Asia. I’m not surprised at all to hear, then, that Joe already has the next 5 years of Europe mapped out in his head. “We’re gonna keep working at this rate we’re working at, which is pretty good. We’ll probably come out with an album in 2011 and tour in 2012 again. We’re looking 2-3 years ahead all the time, and in the next 5 years I see Europe with 2 more albums, 2 more world tours and hopefully having established ourselves even better in a lot of territories around the world.”
There it is again, the statement about re-establishing the Europe brand. It’s almost like a mantra that Joey keeps repeating to himself, to keep focussed. And that’s what scares the living daylights out of me. With that kind of drive, they’re going to become one of the biggest bands this side of the Y2K as well – and then we’ll never stop reading about The Final Countdown.
Very special guest is Diamond Head
. Leeds 02 Academy (Feb 18)
. Birmingham O2 Academy (Feb 19)
. London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire (Feb 20)
. Oxford O2 Academy (Feb 22)
. Bournemouth O2 Academy (Feb 23)
. Bristol O2 Academy (Feb 24)
. Manchester Academy 2 (Feb 26)
. Newcastle O2 Academy (Feb 27)
. O2 ABC (Feb 28).