Thursday, July 18, 2024

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Talking Shop: Europe’s Joey Tempest

Must read

Tempest, 46, lives in London with his British wife. Pic courtesy Fredrik Etoall

Swedish soft metallers Europe are best known for their 1986 global smash The Final Countdown.

The song, complete with its huge synthesizer riff, went to number one in 25 countries.

This week, the band released their ninth studio album Last Look At Eden – 26 years after their eponymous debut – and they will tour the UK next February.

Lead singer Joey Tempest, 46, who now lives in London with his British wife and their young son, talks about private jets, poodle perms and writing that keyboard riff.

You’re on your ninth album now. How does it feel to be a rock veteran?

Yeah, we’ve gone through a lot of stuff.

But we built everything from a dream of becoming a touring rock band and here we are and we are still touring the world.

We’re pretty much the same people as we were when we were teenagers – that’s the great thing. It’s a good feeling right now.

The album seems to be a return to your classic rock sound.

Europe pictured in February 1989

Tempest says the band enjoyed “the helicopters, the best hotels”

We didn’t overthink it or over-analyse it – it’s a very spontaneous record.

We didn’t have any restrictions – we just said let’s have fun and therefore influences shine though from the 70s, early 80s and 90s, I think. It’s very much a classic rock album.

The album’s title track would work well as a James Bond theme. Did you set out with the aim of writing an epic track?

It’s got that dramatic, majestic feel. The idea was to write an opening song for our show.

It was always six-and-a-half minutes long and it was more of an album track for us. But it was a happy accident.

I was at a wedding on Saturday night and they played The Final Countdown – the dance floor went a bit mad. Are you surprised that it still gets that reaction after all these years?

Well, we play it live a lot, we do many shows, and it’s a magic song for the live show.

We don’t listen to it privately at home but we do love playing it in front of a crowd – it’s magic when we play that song.

What can you remember about the songwriting process for The Final Countdown?

I was in college and keyboards had started to make their way into rock music. I thought that could be a good idea and so I borrowed this keyboard from the only guy in school that had a keyboard.

Europe at the Bloodstock Open Air festival in August. Pic courtesy Christie Goodwin

Europe played at the Bloodstock Open Air festival in Derbyshire in August. Pic courtesy Christie Goodwin

I went home and tried a few sounds on it and I came up with that riff. I thought it was very special and I kept it in the drawer until we did the third album many years later.

By then, there were some other bands experimenting with keyboards, like Van Halen with Jump.

So on the third album, I gave this demo to the guys and said maybe we can do something nice with the demo and then we had an opening for the show.

I can trace bands like UFO in it, sort of a galloping theme like Iron Maiden had on The Number of the Beast album on quite a few songs.

I wanted to make a combination of guitars and keyboards. That was a statement on that and it sort of worked out nicely.

We were recording in Switzerland and we had 11 or 12 synthesizers midied [connected] together to create that sound.

It was a lot of mixing with the keyboard sound but we got it really good in the end.

How does it feel to have written such a huge global hit?

It was a crazy time. It was our third album and all of a sudden we started going everywhere.

It was a good trip but we kept our feet on the ground and kept thinking of the musicianship and writing better songs and that’s probably why we’re here today

It became a special time for us and it brought us to see people all around the world.

Crazy times, indeed. We got to live and got to do the whole thing – we got to have the private jets, the helicopters, the bodyguards, the best hotels in the world.

It was a good trip but we kept our feet on the ground and kept thinking of the musicianship and writing better songs and that’s probably why we’re here today.

Are you ever embarrassed by some of the hairstyles and clothes you wore back in the day?

Not really, we were very young, we were MTV generation – we were one of the biggest bands on MTV. I just wanted to look like Robert Plant, to be honest.

Joey Tempest was talking to BBC Entertainment reporter Liam Allen. Last Look At Eden is out now.

Latest article