Mick Burgess caught up with Joey Tempest to chat about Europe’s forthcoming new album Last Look At Eden.

First of all, I’d like to talk about your new Last Look At Eden EP, which is a taster for your new album. The title track has a real Progressive almost Symphonic Metal vibe to it. Is this Europe spreading their wings and heading into more adventurous territory?

Perhaps!! I think we’ve come full circle with this album. With Secret Society we were finding our way and trying different things and trying to make the record a modern Rock album. Start From The Dark, our comeback album, was more of a raw, debut album if you like. Last Look At Eden is a more fluid progression, very organic. We came off the road and we started work on the new material and we weren’t afraid to show our influences from the ’70s. There’s also links to our ’80s albums on this one but we’ve gone for a young producer which makes it modern sounding. With the title track it turned out as something majestic. Part of that was down to our producer suggesting we travel over to Prague and using a real orchestra and it became a more Progressive song. It was written as a straightforward Rock song with a Rock riff but the orchestration took it to a new level.

It reminded me a little of Kamelot. Is this a band that you admire?

I’ve heard about them but I haven’t really heard a lot of their music though. We didn’t analyse anything when we made the record, it just developed so organically and it’s hard for us to tell exactly where we got the ideas from. It was just something that happened. People like yourself can probably hear these things easier than we do.

“U Devil U” is the other preview from your new album and has a real mature, Classic Rock groove to it. Do you think you will surprise those that only know Europe from the ’80s?

I think so but I also think that we did that with our comeback albums and I think half of them loved it and half of them hated it because we do exactly what we want. I think with this album it will speak more to the older Europe fans but also to our new fans. We have a good mixture here. “U Devil U” is quite a cute little number, it could be a Van Halen number almost. The band is grooving better and is more experienced now and that song shows the lighter more fun side of the album, it’s a bit tongue in cheek and we have some humour in that whereas Last Look At Eden is the more bombastic side of the album. They are two good representative songs on the album.

As well as the two new songs, the EP also includes 2 live tracks which are previously unavailable. The live version of “Superstitious” is literally bristling with energy and totally blows the studio version out of the water. Where were these live tracks recorded?

Ha!! It does, doesn’t it. They were recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon and they were available on the DVD Live From The Dark. We were very happy to do those recordings as when we did them originally we used producers that recorded them a certain way and the way we play live has a lot more power.

Rounding off the EP is your take on the Led Zeppelin classic “Since I’ve Been Loving You”. It’s a brave step for any band to cover a Zeppelin song. What made you choose this one?

We were brave I think but the reason we could be brave was that it was a closed gig and we were going to experiment. It was going to be a webcast and we invited a string quartet and we remade songs like “Dreamer” ,“Final Countdown”, “Rock The Night” and “Superstitious” in a different way with acoustic guitars. We chose four tracks that influenced us when we were younger. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” was one, “Love To Love “ by UFO was another, “Suicide” by Thin Lizzy and one by Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here” and we incorporated these into a set that we called Almost Unplugged, which is going to be released as a CD and as a DVD. We are lucky that it turned out so well, but we didn’t realise how well it turned out. We listened back to it and thought that we’d have to share it and release the recording.

It’s not a run of the mill acoustic set or a full band version, it’s more of a halfway house between the two. Why did you decide to approach the show in that way?

It was meant as a more intimate webcast in front of a small audience. We wanted to do something a bit different and to get John Norum to play acoustic guitar for 75% of the set was amazing. He played acoustic and so did I and we had a string quartet but we still had drums and electric bass. I think John Levin played acoustic bass on a few tracks but it was great to try something different for our fans and we’re lucky it turned out so well.

How did you choose which songs to cover? Did you all chip in with ideas?

No, that discussion went on for a few months. We were arguing over what to choose. How can you possibly choose just four tracks ? We had a long list and we voted and went “we’ll have that one, that one and that one”!! These were the common denominators that we all liked.

I recall a few years back you mentioned how much you liked Magnum. Were there any of their songs you’d like to have covered?

Magnum has done some really, really fantastic stuff. I really liked On A Storyteller’s Night, the first side of that really blew my mind. It’s fantastic work on that. I went to see them play and met them around the middle of the ’80s when we were really big and I thought these guys were really good and they did some great stuff, especially on that album.

As I mentioned earlier you have a new album due out very soon called Last Look at Eden. When will this be available?

It’s due out on the 14th of September and there’s 11 new tracks on there. We’re really excited with the new album, it feels like we’ve come full circle. We’ve worked hard now for a few years and we feel maybe it’s starting to pay off. We’re starting to get a lot of attention again and we ‘re getting requests for interviews in magazines like Metal Hammer. In the 90s they wouldn’t even mention us so it’s amazing all of the interest we’re getting at the moment. I think with all of the hard work we’ve put in, people that wouldn’t have listened to us before are warming up to us now.

Your previous couple of albums Secret Society and Start From The Dark have a much darker feel than your earlier albums. We’ve heard the two tracks on the EP. What can we expect from the rest of the album?

We were touring and writing between gigs and we have a lot of experience now and we decided to do something on a whim, to do something that we really, really liked. With Secret Society and Start From The Dark we were really into finding a good mix and doing a modern Rock album and it was something we were consciously trying to do. With Last Look At Eden we just let everything go and subconsciously we let our influences show and we also had links to our ’80s albums too but in a modern way with a punchy, young producer. It’s like two worlds that meet and bring Classic Rock to a modern level.

How have you approached the song writing this time? Are you all bringing ideas to the table and contributing or do you tend to write with individuals in the band?

Yeah, everyone chipped in a bit. What we did this time was we met up between gigs and tried out ideas. I also wrote in London and John would send me ideas on CD so we wrote that way as well. We worked in various ways but we worked quickly without analysing and in that way it became a very interesting album.

In the past you’ve worked with some big name producers including Kevin Elson (Journey) and Ron Nevison (UFO, Kiss) This time you’ve worked with Tobias Lindell who has worked with Britney Spears and Rachel Stevens in the past. How did you come about working with him?

I think he doesn’t want that side of him to be recognised anymore… ha!! About 4 or 5 years ago he started to work only with Heavy Metal bands, he doesn’t work with Pop bands anymore. He’s built himself a new career and he won a Grammy for producing a real cool Swedish band called Mustache and we heard that. We approached him and realised he’d actually approached us a few years back. He was actually a Europe fan when he was growing up. There was a great mutual respect when we worked together and he got this great modern/retro sound. He’s very talented. The guy who mastered the first Audioslave album mastered last Look At Eden so not only does it have interesting musical nuances but it has a very punchy sound too.

How different was he in his approach to production compared with others you’ve worked with?

Well, he’s a young guy and he’s a Rock ‘n’ Roller and he likes to try new things and pushes us to try new things. Sometimes when you work with these big producers they are safer and stick to what they know and they know it very well. Tobias wanted to take chances so he was saying “Why don’t we go to Prague to record some strings?” and “Why don’t we try this and that on these songs?”. And he pushed us to try different things.

Since you officially reunited in 2003 you have progressed musically and have embraced a more contemporary sound without sacrificing the use of melody and harmonies that you became known for. Was it important for you to grow as a band and not just settle for the nostalgia circuit that so many of the ’80s bands seem to settle for these days?

Yes, that was very important for us. I remember when we started again back in 2003 we agreed that we wanted to have some longevity to this. We had to build up the trust with the listener again and with Start From The Dark we started again from scratch and we wanted to build it back up from there with new material and not just rely on what we’d done in the past.

What plans have you for going out on the road to promote your new album?

We start the Last Look At Eden tour in Germany in November and do 3-4 weeks there and then we’ll do some Scandinavian gigs and then we’ll do a big European tour after that with the UK and Ireland at the end which will be around February.

You’re headlining the Bloodstock Festival in the UK on the 16th of August. This has a pretty heavyweight line up including Cradle of Filth, Kreator and Sodom. Musically you’re a lot different to these guys. What are you going to do to win over some of the more heavy duty fans that can’t see beyond your ’80s image?

We did a similar gig a month ago in France, an Extreme Metal festival called Hellfest and this was the first time we’d tried something like that and it was the first time they’d invited Classic Rock bands to play and the audience loved it. They did a similar thing at Download where they had an evening with Classic Rock bands. I think we can go to Bloodstock and really convince people and do some damage there. There was quite a reaction on the Bloodstock forum when we were announced and we thought that was very funny, some people hated the idea and some people loved it but we are very much up for it.

You and John Norum have worked together since you were teenagers. How did his absence after the release of The Final Countdown impact you and the band?

We were very lucky to find Kee Marcello as his replacement, he’s such a great guitar player and he was a good friend of the band. I did miss John when he wasn’t in the band because we did form the band together and he was the spark in the beginning. I was 15 years old when I first saw him play and he was only 14 and he played like such an experienced player with such Blues feeling. I was astounded that you could find a guitar player like that in Sweden. I had a love of songwriting and together we were a great match. Having him in the band is very important and I don’t think that Europe would exist without him. The Kee Marcello years worked out fine as he was a great guitar player but now when John’s back it feels really good. We’re like brothers, we’ve gone through everything together. We’re so connected and share the same vision that when that partnership had a glitch it was kind of difficult to survive. We did two good albums without him but it’s so great to have him back.

Does it surprise you that John doesn’t get the credit as a guitarist that he deserves. He’s got a wonderful grasp of melody combined with an excellent technique. His solo on “Devil Sings The Blues” for instance is as good as anything Michael Schenker has produced.

He’s one of the best of his generation, I’ve always said that. It’s beginning to happen now. He’s done a lot of interviews for guitar magazines over the last few weeks and he’s now getting the recognition that he deserves. If you listen to his playing on the Zeppelin cover on the new EP it’s wonderful, he just blows my mind. He will get the respect that he deserves.

Both John and his replacement Kee Marcello played at a very special show on the Millennium in Stockholm. Was there a moment when both John and Kee could be part of Europe?

We did discuss it actually, to do a tour with both players but it was not to be. It turned out at that time Kee was very busy, he’s a prolific producer, songwriter and he had his own band and he just couldn’t schedule the time. As it turned out we work fine as a five piece with John so it’s turned out really well. I think it’s worked out nice for everybody.

Talking of the Millennium show. You played a couple of songs in front of half a million people in your home town of Stockholm. That must have been an amazing night?

Yeah, that was outdoors and half a million people came out that night. And we played “The Final Countdown” which was a very apt song to play. It was a truly amazing event but I have to say the rehearsals beforehand were so much fun when John came back to the band. It was a magical time and we knew that there was no stopping us then.

I guess that one song that was made for such an event was “The Final Countdown”. Did you ever think that when you composed the keyboard riff all those years earlier that it would have become such a huge hit and an iconic song of the ’80s?

We didn’t really have a clue. I wrote it in college and kept it with me all the way through to Europe’s third album and we needed a song to open the show, something that was majestic. I had this demo with me and it was over 6 minutes long, it was never meant to be a Pop hit . It was actually a Rock song that I introduced keyboards into and we never knew it would be such a classic song. It’s turned out so good for us really as it invited a whole new generation to check us out live. We’ve noticed that at our shows and they may just have heard that song or heard about it and they want to check us out.

Do you ever feel like you’ve been held back by being so associated with one particular song or has it given you the springboard to a long career?

“The Final Countdown” works so well live, it’s an amazing Rock song as well as a radio song so if you see us live you’ll realize what a great Rock song it is.

Many artists can’t stand playing their most famous hits. Do you ever feel that way about “The Final Countdown”?

No, we’re OK as we don’t rehearse them, we don’t need to rehearse them and we don’t listen to them privately but we do like playing them live. They were actually written to be played live and they work so well and people just go nuts when we play them. It would be such an anti-climax for ourselves if we didn’t play them and we actually enjoy playing them.

“Open Your Heart” is a personal favourite of mine. Why did you record two versions of the song, one on Wings of Tomorrow and a newer version on Out Of This World?

I remember recording it the first time, it was a really special moment and was a very important song for us to get signed to America. When we were later recording for the Out Of This World album in London we wanted to make the album a bit broader, maybe we didn’t have enough ballads or something. We were discussing the album and we felt that it was such a great song that it deserved a better, a greater chance so we decided to re-record it and I think it turned out really well.

Just to round things off you’ll be pretty busy with your new album and the tour this year but do you have any plans to follow up your 2002 self titled solo album?

It feels like I did what I set out to do and I’ve done 3 solo albums and did a lot of research for those and I learned a lot about songwriting and lyric writing and I felt like I closed the book after the last one. I can only concentrate on one thing at a time but if there was a break then I may do a solo album but I’ve got so many exciting things on with Europe at the moment that I can’t do two things at once. John Norum is going to release a solo album, he can do two things at once but for me it’s too much work. For now I’m focussing only on Europe, the new album and tour.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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