Kristian Döj from Denmark's Antenna webzine recently conducted an interview with EUROPE guitarist John Norum. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
Antenna: A lot of bands from the eighties reunite with an incomplete lineup of only a few original members. Apart from Tony Reno, all original members are present in the EUROPE line-up. Was it important for you to do the reunion this way, and how did you pull it off?
Norum: "We wanted to do the 'Final Countdown' lineup. Actually, the other guys had already arranged it, and I just went along with it. Tony hasn't played drums in 10 or 15 years, so that would be kind of risky to do, and like I said we wanted to do the 'Final Countdown' lineup anyway. Ian Haugland is a great drummer and also a great background singer as well. Tony never sang back up."
Antenna: In 1987, when DEF LEPPARD released "Hysteria", their British fans felt abandoned and claimed that DEF LEPPARD had sold out, and virtually had become an American favorite, leaving their roots behind. In hindsight, even though you were not part of the band at this moment, do you think EUROPE did the same thing when excluding the Scandinavian sound in favor of a more commercial American sound on "Prisoners in Paradise"?
Norum: "Yeah, totally, they kind of wanted to be like DEF LEPPARD. They even toured with them in the States as well. They went along with what was trendy and hip at the time. You always have to pay the consequences eventually. It doesn't last very long with that kind of thinking. You should just do what you want to do, people can feel if it's honest and true, or if you're just trying to make a hit, or be something you're not. 'Prisoners in Paradise' is definitely my least favorite EUROPE album."
Antenna: You briefly played with DOKKEN. What can you tell about this experience?
Norum: "In the beginning it was a lot of fun. I did 'Up from the Ashes' in 1991 [basically a Don Dokken solo album], I stayed with them for about three years. We toured on that album like crazy; it was a lot of fun. Then, when DOKKEN reunited in 1997, I joined them once again, which was also a lot of fun. I felt kind of silly sometimes ripping off George Lynch, but sometimes you just have to play what was written for the song. Then I did 'Long Way Home' in 2001, and everything was totally changed, it was horrible. We did the album, and I went out with the band for one year, which felt like five years. Don used to be this cool person but he became this awful person that I didn't want to have anything to do with. He's got a lot of personal problems, and it was just horrible."
Antenna: I did an interview with Don a couple of years back and asked him about the constant tension between him and George Lynch…
Norum: "Yeah they've been fighting a lot. When I jumped in, in the middle of the American tour in 1997, I remember George tried to strangle Don on the bus. and there was this big horrible scene. They're like kids, Don is just a big baby, and he's never going to grow up even though he's over 50. You can't talk to him nowadays; he's in his own little world. That's just the way it goes sometimes, I guess."
Antenna: Could you inform the readers about the upcoming release of "The Final Countdown" DVD.
Norum: "I don't really know much about it either. I haven't even watched it. It's a live performance from 1986, and there are a couple of interviews. I'm not really interested in it. It was 20 years ago and there's nothing new to it. It's not even a new mix because the television network couldn't find the tapes, so it's just the same thing from 20 years ago, which has been out on video. I don't care about old stuff like that. It's not a good memory for me either; one of my best friends had just passed away before that show, and I left the band two or three months after the show."
Antenna: Will you continue your solo career simultaneously with EUROPE?
Norum: "Yeah, I released 'Optimus' about a year and a half ago. I'll be releasing a new one sometime next year which I'll soon be starting recording. I'm going to get into the studio when I get the time in-between touring with EUROPE. Some of the new material is pretty heavy, and some is more blues-orientated. It's very pure and real. My solo stuff is fun because I can experiment a lot; it's not part of this big machine that EUROPE is a part of."
Read the entire interview at www.antenna.nu.