EUROPE Singer: 'We Have More Great Songs Than Just The Final Countdown'

On Track Magazine recently conducted an interview with EUROPE frontman Joey Tempest. Several excerpts from the chat follow:

On Track Magazine: The new CD is called "Start from the Dark". I know it's been out in Europe for awhile and it was just released here [U.S.] in the beginning of June. Taking a deeper look, it seems to offer the premise that you’re starting over from scratch and setting out on a journey to regain the popularity that you once held. Is this anywhere near an accurate observation?

Joey Tempest: "The observation is good. For us, we wanted to make an album that was like the first album we ever made; just make it raw and fresh and to the point at that particular time. We wrote it in six months and we rehearsed, recorded it and mixed it in forty days and forty nights. We wanted to capture the feeling, the exciting feeling of being back together and then move on from there; tour, and start working on the next album when we finished touring. Yeah, we wanted to be doing something at least that was a little bit relevant now; bit of a dry mix, detuned a bit. So we felt like we didn't want to do an '80s album per se, we just wanted to start like a fresh band really.

On Track Magazine: Right, right. And actually, unlike your most prominent work during the '80s era, this CD tends to be a lot less pop-oriented and more straight-ahead rock. Why the decision to go for a sound that is less radio-friendly and more directed toward a harder-edged audience?

Joey Tempest: "It was how we felt when we were rehearsing; it was how we felt that we wanted to project ourselves. It was to make a statement, like a bold statement: 'Either you like it or you don't, we're here.' That's how you make your albums in the beginning of a career, even our first two albums were very sort of spontaneous and raw and when 'The Final Countdown' came we did spend more time writing and producing. So this was more back to finding what we really want to do ourselves, and who knows what the next one's gonna sound like, but that's what we did right then."

On Track Magazine: Now you mentioned John [Norum, guitar] coming back to the band. After the album "The Final Countdown", John left the band and, for many, it seems kind of inconceivable that he would choose to depart at the height of the band's success; eight million albums and all of a sudden he’s leavin'. Are there any fears that the band's current line-up could become unstable again in the face of regained fame or maybe unforeseeable tribulations?

Joey Tempest: "I don't think so, because we've learned a lot and we've talked a lot about it. Even when we started, in 2003, we had a meeting, we discussed everything and we realized where we went wrong. We went from being a rock band… all the dreams when we were kids, was to be like THIN LIZZY and to be popular and tour like a hard rock band. So we did albums because we wanted to get on the road, basically. So the albums were not the first thing that came to our mind, but then when I wrote 'The Final Countdown' for the third album, it was meant to be for the fans, it was meant to be for the opening track and it was six minutes long; it was not meant to become a pop hit. But what happened with the band was we were sort of moving from the rock arena to the pop arena for awhile and I think we're more comfortable being the underdog, we're more comfortable coming from our old influences. I think John really…, he's just a musician, he just wants to play his guitar, and he's not much for the things around: videos or photo shoots and stuff like that. He's much more professional now, though, he's learned a lot over the years but that really hit him hard, he's told me that. And we stopped communicating too, 'cause I was going, 'Come on, man, it's happening now, we gotta do it.' And he was, 'Oh, so many people want a piece of me and I just want to play guitar.' So it was a lot of that; it's exciting when you become that big that fast, but it's also hard for any band, y’know?"

On Track Magazine: Yeah and obviously, in the case of EUROPE, that would have to be "The Final Countdown", which is still one of rock's all-time greatest anthems. I know that you just said it wasn't meant to become a pop hit, so how do you feel about the success of that song standing in contrast to all of your other work?

Joey Tempest: "Well, I think people know, when we go out playing, we play the whole catalogue and we mix in different songs from the past and present some of the older ones sound a bit more relevant now because we play them a little heavier with a bit of a modern twist. I think people realize that we have more great songs than just 'The Final Countdown', which is really good for us because we could have a lot of songs that are no good. That song, 'The Final Countdown' in particular, just took on a life of its own and that happens sometimes. Now we're really happy for it 'cause when we play it live it just communicates so well with the audience and we tune it down a bit and it grooves a bit better now. We don't really rehearse the song, but we play it live because it was written for the EUROPE show from the beginning, it was written for the fans."

Read Joey Tempest's entire interview with On Track Magazine at this location.

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