Interview with Joey Tempest (Europe)

It’s been a busy year for Europe with a sold out UK tour and a highly acclaimed series of festival appearances over the summer. Mick Burgess caught up with lead singer Joey Tempest to chat about Europe’s plans.

It’s been quite an amazing 18 months or so for Europe as a band following the release of your latest album Last Look At Eden. Do you feel that you are reaching a new peak in your career at the moment?

Definitely a good vibe in the Europe camp at the moment. We’re on to something. So NO peak yet. Hell! maybe one day this band will amount to something!

Last Look at Eden seems to have really taken off in terms of not only commercial success but also critical acclaim. Why do you think this album has hit the mark a lot more than Secret Society or Start From The Dark which were both musically very strong albums?

SFTD and SS were quite hard work to make. We really wanted to learn our craft properly. Last Look At Eden was more relaxed. We thought….we don’t want to have to prove ourselves again, let’s just enjoy the ride. That’s how exciting rock albums are made.

Do you think you’ve hit the perfect formula where you’ve captured the strong hooks of your commercial ’80s material with a classic yet modern Hard Rock edge?

It’s just the sound and the writing that came out of the band this particular period. We never try to look for a formula.

I mentioned the critical acclaim that you’ve received for this album, I see that you’ve been nominated for album of the year by the UK’s Classic Rock magazine. How does it feel to be nominated for such an award?

It’s the coolest thing that’s happened to us in a long time. I called everyone up and just screamed down the phone!!!

You have some tough competition from the likes of Kiss, Cheap Trick, Slash, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Scorpions. If you couldn’t vote for yourself, who do you think would be a strong contender to take the award?

My bet is on ‘Maiden’. They’re an institution now. Good on ’em.

The ceremony is on 10th November and will be hosted by Alice Cooper and will feature live performances from Cheap Trick and Alterbridge. It sounds like it’ll be quite a do. Will you be there?

What a great event that is going to be. I was there last year when all those great guitarists were present. That was amazing! However….our lives are so crazy at the moment and we will be touring South America that period. If there is the slightest possibility of us jetting back…we will!

Since you last toured the UK earlier this year you’ve been back a couple more times. Firstly to play at Sonisphere at Knebworth and also at the I-Tunes festival in London. At Sonisphere there was such a huge range of bands from Rammstein to Maiden to Alice in Chains to Anthrax and Slayer. How do you prepare to play in front of such a diverse crowd?

It was such a high walking on stage during the intro of Last Look At Eden meeting this huge crowd. That’s what it’s all about. We listened to some recordings of it in the tour bus the other day. It worked!

Do you have to change your set list when playing at these festivals compared to playing your own headline shows?

Since the show time is shorter we just tend to put together a more explosive, more heavy set list.

Knebworth is such a legendary Rock venue and is associated so closely with Led Zeppelin. How did it feel for you to play at such a prestigious venue?

Absolutely. Two of Led Zeppelin’s last shows in 79 and Freddy Mercury’s last show with Queen in 86 in front of 150.000 people and so many other great bands over the years. There is definitely a “vibe” hanging around that place…..

You headlined last year’s Bloodstock Festival which featured such heavy weight acts as Cradle of Filth, Kreator and Carcass and not only did you come out of that unscathed but you won over a whole legion of new fans. Were you expecting such a positive reaction when you first realized who you were sharing the bill with?

We never expected the positive response and supportive press that came out of that gig, It really kick-started something for us in the UK. We played Hellfest in France a month earlier so we had an idea what it would be like. I also did some promotion together with Cradle of Filth and Carcass a few weeks before the gig and they were such great guys.

I think playing in front of such a crowd gained you a lot of respect from the Metal community and certainly silenced those doubters who couldn’t see beyond your hit singles. Have you noticed a general change in people’s attitudes towards you compared to when you first reunited in the early 2000s?

Yeah, these days it happens that Metal bands come up to us and say they’ve listened to some of our earlier stuff or our latest records. It’s kind of cool. A lot of Metal festivals have started having a sort of “classic rock” night as part of the event. I think the audience likes it. Just have a beer and enjoy something slightly different for a moment.

Foreigner seem to have been in a similar position when they played at Wacken a few years ago and talking of Foreigner, you recently shared a stage with them at the I-Tunes Festival in London. How did that show go?

The iTunes show was great! We had our songs mixed by our producer who mixed Last Look At Eden. The mixes sounded so powerful I had to go online and buy them myself. What a cool concept that was. A few days after the show you could get the recordings professionally mixed. That was fun!

I must admit that I was a little cynical at Foreigner being able to replace Lou Gramm but Kelly Hansen is not only a fantastic singer but he’s a great frontman too. What do you make of their new line up?

They sounded really professional. How the hell does Kelly get into those yellow trousers though? The mind boggles!

At the I-Tunes festival you made the announcement that you are making a welcome return to the UK in February 2011 for a series of 9 shows. Why have you decided to come back so soon after your last major tour?

Amazingly we have been asked to return to the UK. We must be doing something right. Can’t wait….

When you played earlier this year you played a well balanced set featuring plenty of old material, lots of new songs and of course your hits too. Will you be pulling out any surprises or any vintage gems from your back catalogue on this tour?

Yeah! We will come up with some new stuff for the show though since we were here not so long ago. Enter the Balls and Banners tour!!!

You’ve dubbed these shows the “Balls ‘n’ Banners Tour” What ‘s the meaning behind that?

We’ve always referred to the design you can see on the flip side of LLAE as “balls” of some kind. We were toying around with a few different flags for a while but we like the look and the design of the English flag so much that we decided to use it only…..

Having married a girl from the North of England, I see your tour ends in Newcastle. Will you be spending a few days up North visiting relatives?

A fun place to end the tour. It’s such a great area for rock music.

Most of my wife’s family now lives further south, But I’m sure there will be a pint or two with someone I know from up there.

John Norum has just released his excellent Blues based album Play Yard Blues. What do you make of it?

His best so far. No question! I like that he is embracing the Blues more. He’s got such a great feeling.

Do you think he gets the recognition that his talent deserves?

He’s finally beginning to. He really deserves to be up there with the best. I first saw him play when he was only 14 years old. It changed my world. I just had to form a band with him.

It’s been a while since your self-titled album was released in 2002. Do you have any plans for another solo album or are you focussed solely on Europe at present?

I can’t really combine the two things. Europe takes up all my time and passion. Perhaps one day.

Have you made any steps to writing the follow up to Last Look At Eden?

We’re at the beginning now. Talking and getting a feeling for we’re we are as a band. Listening to a lot of music in the dressing rooms. Finding a common ground. There is definitely a collective drive towards a more heavy bluesy approach but it’s always an organic thing with us. Once it starts rolling it just happens. You can’t really design it.

Having such a successful album must add a little pressure to the songwriting process. Do you thrive on this pressure?

As an artist….when you are between contracts, lawyers and albums that is a very precious time. It’s important not to try too hard. Let it unfold organically. I think LLAE turned out to be one of the best Europe albums so far….so of course it will be an exciting challenge to start jamming on the next one….

Will you be heading down a similar path or will you just see what happens when you start writing?

I think we’ve touched upon something with LLAE that we all really like in the band so I’m sure there will be similarities. But we want the next one to have its own unique feel. Can’t wait!

Now that the festival season is almost over, what have you lined up for the rest of the year?

South American tour in November and then the UK tour in February. With the rehearsals and preparations for these tours we’ll be pretty busy. Hopefully meet up and write some new stuff as well. We’ve taken a lot of photographs during this summer and recorded a lot of shows. Hopefully we like the stuff and can put something out. No sleep ’till Newcastle!!!

Europe’s Balls ‘N’ Banners Tour kicks off in the UK on February 17th 2011.

UK tour dates include:

Glasgow 02 ABC (Feb 17)
Birmingham O2 Academy (Feb 18)
London 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire (Feb 19)
Oxford O2 Academy (Feb 21)
Bournemouth O2 Academy (Feb 22)
Bristol O2 Academy (Feb 23)
Academy 2 (Feb 25)
Leeds O2 Academy (Feb 26)
Newcastle O2 Academy (Feb 27).

Further info:


  • 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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