Europe, a band that is polarised on two quite different levels. To some people, the stupid people, they are the band who played ‘The Final Countdown’, the song that sold millions, released in 1986 from the album, coincidentally, of the same name. To those who are actual fans of music, and not pop fans, they are an extremely important European hard rock band, whose musicianship and song writing ability transcends this track. The band first saw the light of day, well commercially, with their self-titled album Europe in 1983, and they built a following quite organically around their ability and strong material. Fast forward to 1986, and the aforementioned track, and Europe became an international sensation; I still think Out of this World is a better album. However, after the underrated Prisoners in Paradise in 1991, they disappeared until 2004, with the release of Start from the Dark. From the release of this album they have been offering strong material every few years.
Fast forward to 2018, the band have released two very strong studio album in the last few years, War of Kings in 2015, and Walk the Earth in 2017, and they are touring Australia for the very first time, believe this or not, in May. I caught up with vocalist Joey Tempest to discuss the evolution of Europe as well as the impending Australian tour.
Can I please ask first and foremost why has it taken so long to get to Australia?
“A very very good question. We in the band, we have played in South America a few days ago and we sat around and actually discussed this. More or less, it was a management decision from the 1980s. They thought we would be better off somewhere else and so it never happened. We are so much more excited now and we are gearing up to play the tour of our lives! We can’t wait!!”
Have you had much contact with Australian Europe fans over the years?
“We have seen, thanks to the internet and Facebook, visitors and responses from Australia. We know we have fans there and we want to get everybody on board and it is so great that you all want to see us. I am so excited to be able to see our fans down there in the face and their reactions when playing our songs.”
So what can we expect from your debut tour of Australia?
“We were talking about this the other day. So since we haven’t been there before we have to play some old stuff and move on and have of course some later material. We will try and mix it up across our career and obviously our new songs that are working well in the set. We want to be explosive across our career and make some features through the set such as keyboard and guitar parts. We will make sure that we produce a real how for our audiences in Australia.”
Walk the Earth is a great album and in my opinion such a true representation of what is strong about Europe, but being your eleventh studio album, what does it mean to the band?
“The new album means a lot as it is a real team work album and we have all had so much influence. It is so nice to have a whole team experimenting and getting deeper with the melodies and lyrics. It is an evolution and quite experimental and it has an expression that we really want. It is really a miracle album for us. The album was written so quickly and it just works on every level.”
I want to touch on The Final Countdown, both the album and track, did you see it as such a hit when you were writing and recording it?
“Well it is a good question. I did the demo at home with this song and we had the ideas for it for so long. It was a one minute demo since high school for me. On the third album we decided to record the song and we were talking about writing around this main keyboard riff. Initially it was really a sound track type song and not a hit single, and I guess this was good for it. I remember playing the demo for the guys and they really saw the song so strong and it built from there. No, we never knew that this was going to be such a big hit, we opened the album, and the tour with this song, but we really thought this was not the one to be the initial single.”
Do you see it as your strongest album?
“It was one of our strongest albums and it was one of the albums that stands out, it opened up a lot of doors for the band. You know Wings of Tomorrow was a little more naive and stronger in that regard. But personally I think we have done better albums, especially in the last two years. The three last albums are our strongest, but obviously it was something that belonged in that era and something so important to our career and history.”
Now to your later material, and in particular War of Kings and Walk the Earth, how do you see them fitting in to your back catalogue?
“They sort of show that the musician side of the band and the deeper expression of the band, and I am very proud of this. The years between the two periods was so important, as we learnt so much from other bands out there at the time, there is so much to learn as a musician and song writer. From this the later band has been given more depth and so this is interesting as we have moved forward. In the early days we were young and naive and organic and very hungry, but now we have gained who we actually are. This is experience.”
How is the band writing and interacting in 2018, thirty five years after your debut, has things changed or are the dynamics still the same?
“Very much so, I have been interested in writing from ten years old and it is my passion. I have always been a song writer. But these days I can get so much better musicianship and now we meet for a few days here and there when writing. Then in the studio the producer writes and brings things to the songs. This means the inspiration comes from different angles and gives more depth to the writing and now everybody is involved, and everyone is part of the process.”
So where to from here with Europe, is there a plan or are things just happening as they happen”
“Two sides of this really exist. We plan two to five years ahead of what we have to do, you know touring and the structure of the band management wise. But when it comes to music, we are spontaneous, and we see how the writing and the songs just come as they need to, and we move to how we feel and what producer may suit this direction. This is this nature of how we do things.”
Finally, do you have a final world to your Australian fans ahead of the tour in May?
“We can’t say how excited we are to be there. We are all talking about this band and crew all of the time. We have never been there as visitors or musicians, so it is amazing!! We are so excited and we want to share our music with all of our fans down there, and to see Australia. This is the highlight of the year for us.”
What an extreme pleasure! The nature of this conversation has reinforced my opinion of this band and I can’t wait until May. I really don’t know if there will be another opportunity to see this band in Australia, so I strongly recommend that if it’s a possibility, it must be a definite. Bring on May!!!
Interview by Mark Snedden
Europe – Debut Australian Tour
Wednesday, May 16: Concert Hall, Perth
Friday, May 18: Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Saturday, May 19: Palais Theatre, Melbourne
Tuesday, May 22: Enmore Theatre, Sydney **
Wednesday, May 23: The Tivoli, Brisbane