INTERVIEW: Joey Tempest of Europe
SoCalMusicToday.com’s Chris Loomis recently spoke with vocalist Joey Tempest from the band Europe. Joey talks about being back playing live shows in the US, their upcoming 2016 War of Kings tour, the resurgence of the song “The Final Countdown” thanks to their Geico commercial and his thoughts on Lemmy and David Bowie.
Europe begins their War of Kings 2016 tour in San Jose on January 19 and ends in Atlanta, GA on February 6. For all things Europe click here.
Hello Joey – thanks for taking the time to speak with SoCalMusicToday.com.
No problem. Thank you for supporting the band.
Europe released a great rock n roll album in 2015 War of Kings and you guys came over to the US and did some East Coast dates early in 2015. How did it feel to be back playing in the USA?
Yeah, it felt really good. It had been about 10 years since we last played in the US in 2004 and it definitely feels a bit special. The word has spread that we had done some new albums and we are still the same band. We have an American based management now (based in California) and that helps us with them being on the ground there in the US. And we are starting the next tour in California next week and everyone in the band is really looking forward to it.
Europe also was part of the 2015 Monsters of Rock Cruise. What was that experience like playing on a cruise ship?
Ha, it was kind of crazy. We had never done anything like that before but it was definitely fun. We got to hook up with a lot of bands there we hadn’t seen in a while but yeah the shows were great. It was one outdoor show and one indoor, it was really great. And of course we got to meet many American fans again and it gave fans that came to see other bands a chance to check us out, so I think it was very good for us as a band for sure. I’m not sure how many more of those we will do but it was definitely kind of cool.
You are kicking off a three week US tour on January 19 in San Jose. What can fans expect from this run of shows?
Well these shows will be similar to last year as we will still be playing a lot of the new tracks. We play “War of Kings”, “Second Day”, “Days of Rock n Roll”, so we will play 4, 5 or 6 new ones, our amazing guitar player John Norum will have a guitar feature and it will be mixed up with the old tracks we love playing like “Rock the Night”, “The Final Countdown” – it’s just an explosive show that results from mixing the old with the new. It’s a classic hard rock show, big choruses, big songs, it’s just a good rock show. We have our own light designer with us for some great visuals so yeah it’s gonna be good.
The band will be in Anaheim during the NAMM convention, will you be attending the convention at all?
I personally may not but I have been to NAMM before. I know some of the guys in the band and the crew will be going. The NAMM show is definitely kind of exciting and yes very cool to go and see so many fans and friends.
There has been a great resurgence of the song “The Final Countdown” as a result of the Geico commercial. How did this opportunity come about and what made it the right thing to do for Europe?
Well there were two reasons that we did it. If they agreed to let us present a new version, the one you hear in the commercial is a new version of “The Final Countdown”, also we wanted to be in control of the way we looked and appeared. They agreed to that and were really cool to work with.
We checked out the other commercials they (Geico) had done and thought they were very thorough and very good with a great sense of humor. So yeah we were up for it and it was just a bunch of fun to do it. What we did not know, was how well it was going to be received. We get people calling us saying you’re on TV again . . . that is really a bonus having it be so well received, so that was kind of cool.
2016 is the 30th Anniversary of the 1986 album The Final Countdown. Do you have any special plans to commemorative or celebrate this milestone?
Yes, it’s going to be a busy autumn for us because we are going into the studio to record the follow up to War of Kings in September/October and we are also going to do just a handful, just a few shows regarding the anniversary of The Final Countdown in a few cities in Europe. Hopefully we will record and document those, so yeah we will do something. We will be focusing on the new album so we don’t want to spend too much time on that but yes we will do something for sure.
One of the great things about Europe is all of the members of the classic lineup are still together all these years later. What is the secret to being able to maintain a working relationship and friendship in a band for so long?
It’s hard to explain that, hard to pinpoint the reason I think. It has to do with chemistry within the band, we all got to know each other when we were teenagers so we all have so much in common. We used to go see the same bands together like Rainbow, Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple, all those bands we used to go see together and have a few beers then go to our rehearsals – so we had that sort of foundation. But of course over the years we each go in different directions and do different things but we feel we are the same people as we always were and it feels good to tour with people you know. We realize the best job, the best version of Europe is with these people, and it’s just the way we want to work.
Do you see a difference between playing to US fans vs European/Nordic fans?
There’s a slight difference sometime in different countries. We remember the US as a great place to tour. We did a tour with Def Leppard and we have done our own tours in the US. America is great they really appreciate you. It seems like in the US there is a good mixture of girls and guys that go to shows together. We have always enjoyed being in the US.
Europe released War of Kings special edition back in December with a bonus DVD of your 2015 Wacken performance. What made that performance special?
Well we did decide to film that show for a DVD prior to playing. We hoped it would turn out good and it did. We had our video director with us that does all our videos, he came to Germany with us and assembled a team and made it work. We spent a lot of care afterwards, we mixed it with Kevin Shirley who is an amazing mixing engineer, we worked with the film crew to get the right shots and angles and we are really proud of it. Its 17 songs live, actually the most recent live recordings of the band so in a way it’s kind of cool.
During Europe’s hiatus you release a few solo albums. Do you have plans for future solo projects?
That’s kind of hard to answer. I don’t have any plans now but never say never. I really enjoyed doing that when I did, it was more of a singer/songwriter thing, it was a great learning experience for me as I learned more in depth about lyrics and songwriting. I kind of use that now with Europe, all that experience and knowledge to bring to the band now is great. But I don’t feel the need now for that, maybe on the horizon, you never know.
We recently lost two huge musical icons in Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead and David Bowie. Did you personally know either of those two or have any words to say?
Well I met Lemmy a couple of times; he was a very friendly guy. He was not afraid of giving compliments to our band or anyone – he was a cool guy. He was a very hard working guy who was leading the way for a lot of musicians, he was a good leader. It was very sad hearing of his passing.
David Bowie’s passing was much more personal for me, it was a heavy day hearing the news, it was all over the news here in the UK (he was from Brixton), I was swelling up with tears as he was such a big influence on me. He inspired the lyrics to “The Final Countdown” as my first single I bought was “Space Oddity” with lyrics about space and I always wanted to write my own song like that. So when I wrote the lyrics to “The Final Countdown”, Bowie was in the back of my mind.
Over the years I had seen him in concert so many times. I remember seeing him in Gothenburg with 60,000 people. We actually just came off tour and I took the tour bus an extra 10 hours just to see that show. I never met him, although I did stand next to him in the airport . . . that’s the closest I got to him. He was just such an inspiration.
Joey thank you for taking the time to speak with me and best of luck with the start of the tour next week . . . safe travels.
Thank You and also thanks for the support and spreading the word about the band, we are just really starting over in America again so thank you so much!