In the second part of our exclusive chat with legendary Europe frontman Joey Tempest we talk new record Last Look At Eden, long-time friend and band mate John Norum and the career in the fast lane that never was.
Look out for more from one of rushonrock‘s fave melodic rock acts in the near future plus a full review of the album which looks set to propel Joey and his buddies back into music’s big league very soon. Far from being The Final Countdown, it seems this is simply the build-up to an exciting new era in Europe’s glorious history.
rushonrock: You have described Last Look At Eden as more of a Europe album than the previous two records but that they were albums you had to write. Can you explain?
Joey Tempest: We had to start from the beginning in a way. When John came back into the band he had a new style – he was detuning a bit more. I had developed as a lyricist and the other guys were more groovy if you like. With Start From The Dark and Secret Society we were conscious of rediscovering ourselves as musicians. We were also keen to make two modern sounding albums to show that we could be up there with all of the new groups out there. Once we did that it meant we could be let loose on Last look At Eden. The sound and style of the new album wasn’t something we planned and we didn’t have time to analyse it. But what we’ve come up with is a pretty organic sounding hard rock record with a modern punch.
rushonrock: You’ve already gone on record as saying there would be no Europe without John Norum. Just how important is he to you and the band?
JT: We started the band together all those years ago and we’ve always been into each other’s music. That’s essentially the root of our friendship and our partnership. John was in another band when I first saw him play – he was about 14 or 15. I wondered how any Swedish-based guitar player could do what he did. When we got together he encouraged me to write because we quickly realised we couldn’t just play covers. My love for songwriting and John’s love of playing the guitar made it a perfect match and straight away there was a certain chemistry in the band.
rushonrock: Is John playing better than ever in 2009?
JT: Nowadays he plays with more authority and of course he has the experience which he didn’t have 20 years ago. John will analyse his work more now and make sure everything is perfect. He’s very clever the way he thinks things through and constructs guitar pieces. And while I always liked the naivety of his early work there’s no doubt he’s a more powerful musician now.
rushonrock: Do you feel Europe are judged as a serious rock band?
JT: I think so. It’s a very nice feeling to have people respecting you for your new music and not simply appreciating what you did in the past. The interest in the band right now is immense and this time it’s more about the music and less about the image. Back in the 1980s our record company obviously felt the whole Europe package would sell a lot of records and they were right. We were very young back then and just went with the flow. It would have been cool if we’d said no to a lot of the stuff around the music but we knew we were good musicians in a great rock band and the image thing didn’t affect us. I know we became an easy target but we were able to make fun of ourselves as well. The people who mattered knew there was more to Europe than big hair and big choruses and that’s certainly the case now.
rushonrock: If you hadn’t had a huge hit with The Final Countdown where might life have taken you?
JT: If I hadn’t gone to that gig and seen John Norum there would have been no Europe and no Final Countdown and I would have just spent my nights playing in some local rock band. But just before I got into music I was doing a lot of go-karting. From the age of seven or eight I was always in and around racing cars and karts because my dad was a mechanic. We travelled all over Europe doing big races in front of a lot of people – I was doing quite well and developing a pretty keen interest in the sport. It’s definitely something I could and would have done for a little longer had I not been so rudely interrupted by John Norum! I still follow Formula One now but that’s the life I never had.