Europe are back in the UK this week taking their hair metal classics and blues rock standards across the nation for the second time in 12 months.

We’ve been following one of the most remarkable comebacks of the past decade every step of the way and this week we chat to keyboard player Mic Michaeli about life with the Swedish chart toppers.

rushonrock: We heard a rumour you’ve been rehearsing hard for this UK tour?

Mic Michaeli: We’re not the kind of band that’s much into rehearsals! But we haven’t played some of these songs for such a long time. We could play a decent set without rehearsing after all of these years but we’ve put some new songs in and we wanted to get it right.

rushonrock: This is your second full headline tour of the UK in a year – what’s the secret?

MM: It certainly seems like the band is more popular than for some time right now. We’re in demand at the moment but we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Right now we’re just trying to come up with something special for our UK fans.

rushonrock: Do you still feel most at home in the UK?

MM: When we were growing up all the bands we listened to were English bands or British bands and so playing the UK is always a big deal for us. If we get the chance to come over and play in your country we will always take that chance. We might use this tour to play one or two cover songs by the bands which have influenced us over the years. It’s something we’ve been talking about and there’s at least one song we want to do as a homage to one act in particular.

rushonrock: Your 2009 album Last Look At Eden continues to sell – were you expecting it to be such a big hit with new fans and old?

MM: We didn’t know what the reaction would be to Last Look At Eden but it hit number one in our home country and we’re still touring on the back of that record two years after its release. We’ve done three albums now since getting back together and with each one I feel like we’re taking a little step upwards. The lifespan of each new album seems to be a little longer and we’re very pleased with our gradual progression. It’s a great feeling and, perhaps, even more so because we don’t have huge expectations. And we’re so thankful that we can still do what we love for a living.

rushonrock: Last Look At Eden has brought Europe back into the limelight more so than the previous two ‘reunion’ records – why is that?

MM: We don’t know why LLAE, rather than the previous two comeback albums, really sparked the imagination of the public. We have talked about it but we don’t really have a clue as to why that is. Before the reunion we hadn’t played together for such a long time that it took us a while to rediscover the old spark. I think we’re slowly starting to glue together more and more every day and discovering just what the core of Europe really is.

rushonrock: Do you feel like you’re back where you belong now?

MM: Even as recently as a year ago there were a lot of people in Sweden who didn’t realise Europe was back. We were doing interviews talking about making records and the public was saying to us ‘are you still actually working?’. I think that’s starting to change now. After seven or eight years people realise we’re back!

rushonrock: Have your festival appearances reminded rock fans in general of your quality?

MM: The festivals we’ve been playing in the last few years have been a huge help in getting the Europe name back out there. Back in the 80s we hardly played any festivals – there weren’t so many out there. But they’re a great means of reaching lapsed Europe fans and winning new Europe fans. Sonisphere was a huge success for us last summer. I’m sure there were people in that crowd who didn’t know we were back and people out there who had never heard of us. But if we can still play to new people that’s great.

rushonrock: So will you be back on the festival trail this summer?

MM: We might play one or two festivals but we’ll be spending most of the summer starting to write for the new album. We’ll be recording it later this year.

rushonrock: Looking back can you equate Europe in the early 80s to Europe in 2011?

MM: We went on a fantastic journey as a band in the 80s. We went from being a bunch of punks in a Stockholm suburb to worldwide stars – not quite overnight but it felt that way! We did struggle for a couple of years back in Sweden but then it was a big leap from being fairly well known in our home country to becoming an international act.

rushonrock: Would you have done anything different 30 years ago?

MM: When you’re caught up in that whole music circus you do take things for granted but these days I think we’re a lot more humble. We realise how privileged we are to be doing something we love. We’re functioning better as a band and we’re having more fun. We actually have a really good time together which, looking back, we didn’t necessarily have way back when. I think you can actually hear that in the new records. At least that’s how it feels to us.

rushonrock: It’s the 20th anniversary of Prisoners In Paradise in 2011 – any plans to celebrate that record?

MM: We have been thinking about giving some of the songs from that record a new lease of life. It’s an interesting record. I certainly didn’t feel that comfortable when we were recording it. It wasn’t the best feeling in the world recording that album – we weren’t enjoying our work as much as we used to or as much as we do today. But as far as the quality of the songs is concerned I can understand why people still say it’s one of their favourite Europe records. We really should revisit it properly now that we’re in a better place as a band. It’s probably a really good album but because of what went on around it I don’t really know. I haven’t heard of any plans to release an anniversary edition but we still have a great relationship with the record label and they know we’re always happy to help and add a couple of new tracks or whatever. Who knows?

* Later this week Mic Michaeli talks Carrie, fatherhood and that song! Look out for the second part of our Europe exclusive here very soon.