EUROPE are leaving Sweden for Switzerland
OKEJ - No. 22, 1985
EUROPE are leaving Sweden for
Switzerland... But just for a while. An international producer, a great studio and a recording-budget on more than
one million Kronor (124 000 US
Under these circumstances, EUROPE are now working
on their third album - "The Final Countdown".
"How can the result become anything but great?" Joey Tempest wonders.
Something is being created right now in a recording studio some miles outside Zurich in Switzerland. Something we will hear very often this winter. Kevin Elson, producer of several great selling Journey albums, sits in the control room. Around in the studio we can see several well-known Swedish faces: Joey Tempest, John Norum, John Levén, Ian Haugland and Mic Michaeli.
Now you might understand that this is about EUROPE and their third album, "The Final Countdown". The album that is supposed to make the band even bigger in Sweden and Japan, two already conquered areas, and maybe make a breakthrough in the rest of the world too.
When I meet Joey Tempest - singer / songwriter /
frontman / actor / benefactor (Swedish Metal Aid) / "cutie" (OKEJ
1985) - just before take-off to the alp country with the dependable watch creation,
he is almost disgustingly self-confident about the final result. Not about the sales part, though Joey implies that something ought to happen
for real in other countries, but about the musical part: "This album is going to be great. Our best album, no question about it."
Well, that's what they all say. "This is our best album". Certainly they just know that we've heard that so many times, that we don't believe that standard phrase anymore? Joey agrees here, but still he doesn't change his opinion one bit: "I'm as honest as I can be when I say that 'The Final Countdown' is going to be our best album."
But on the other hand, if Joey felt that this wasn't going to be the best ever, if he for some reason had had less success with the song material this time, would he then admit it? Would he say: "Well...this is not going to be our best album this time...?'"
"I wouldn't do that. No artist would do that. To say so would be killing the album already before it's released."
But then again, afterwards, when the album had sold what it could, you could comment the things you didn't think were so good about it.
So you can't really rely on an artist
when he says he has
just made his best album ever?
"No, you can't," Joey determines and starts to look at me even more like he thinks I'm questioning what he says. I'm not. I truly believe that EUROPE's third is going to be a real winner. The new songs I heard live in the spring were totally impressive: Everything from harder material like "Danger on the Track" to "Carrie", again one of these fantastic Tempest-ballads.
In addition, EUROPE have really fixed themselves up in the very best way: "We've got a good producer, a good studio and a good budget. That's why I'm so sure: Now we'll make our best album!"
The budget is, according to manager Thomas Erdtman, on just around one million Kronor. And that's just for the recording itself. An amazing sum for a Swedish band. A sum of international size.
"I wrote all the songs except for one, 'Carrie', which Mic and I wrote. 12 songs," Joey continues. "Everyone of them are really good. 10 of them will go on the album, the last two will become B-sides for singles. I don't know which ones, to me they are all good."
(Those 12 songs were the 10 songs that were included on the album, the B-side song "On Broken Wings", and "Where Men Won't Dare", a song that was never finished.)
This means that the plans about re-recording "The King Will Return" for the next B-side are ruined. But Joey likes the idea of re-recording the songs from the first album, like they did with "Seven Doors Hotel" on the "Rock the Night" single.
"The production of the first album didn't do the songs justice."
No one in EUROPE doubts that Kevin Elson will do the
"I like what he did for Journey. We would like Kevin to give us the sound he gave their albums 'Escape' and 'Frontiers'. A pure, airy, easily audible, very American sound, in other words."
Even a long time before the take-off to Switzerland, Kevin Elson showed up in Stockholm: "For about two weeks Kevin was in our rehearsal room, doing the "reproduction". In other words, he went through the rhythm section, song by song, bit by bit. It's important that the bass and the drums are all perfect."
It is easy to see that Joey is very satisfied with his producer's ambitious work. A bit of pride is to be detected: "Kevin had an offer from UFO to do their comeback album. But he chose EUROPE instead."
Some weeks ago I met Joey right after he had been informed that Dieter Dierks had been forced to say "No" to the producer job. Dierks' work with the new Bullet album was taking longer than expected and would keep him busy until February 1986. Then Joey said that he'd like to use Dierks on their fourth album. Now he is not so sure...
"Kevin seems to be doing his job so well that he is more likely to do the fourth album too."
Why do you go to Switzerland to record? There is a
good studio right here in Sweden.
"No, not that one again. We recorded 'Wings of Tomorrow' there, and their digital recording system gave us a lot of problems with the rhythm guitars, which made a lot of the rock feeling disappear. That's what's wrong with our previous album, we miss the rock feeling."
Like we said earlier: Afterwards, when the album has sold well, you can say what you think was less good about the album.
"It's not us, but Kevin Elson who chose to record in Switzerland. He has worked in that studio before and therefore he knows that he can give us a good sound there."
"The Final Countdown" will be released just before Christmas. At that time it will be almost two years since their last album was released. Joey thinks that it's both good and bad. "Marketwise it is too long between the albums. But for me it is probably the ideal thing to let two years go by before the recording of a new album. That is why the songs on our new album are so amazingly strong. I've had the time to make 12 really good songs and then develop them in rehearsals and on stage. But in the future it will probably only be one year between the albums. The record company, especially the American company, are pressuring us for new material. And it's also hard to release albums slowly in the beginning of a career. But if we become really big, I think I'll release in the pace that suits me."
There's no doubt that the home market demands a new EUROPE album. The latest single, "Rock the Night", has passed the sales line for a platinum album. That means 50 000 sold singles!
The people who are mostly responsible for the delay of the album is the American record company Epic, who wanted to release the other album in peace without disturbance from another new album. EUROPE have obeyed and waited nicely. Waited for the long contract signing. Waited for the long US release. Waited for the much talked-about hard-promoting. A promotion that never came. Epic released "Wings of Tomorrow" in the end. It happened last summer and without any sales progress at all.
"It is mostly our own fault," Joey admits. "We sent them some new demo recordings that we made for the new album. And since that material is way better, the terms changed. Now they will do the support when 'Final Countdown' comes instead. Another thing that affected this, was that we never made a video for the 'Open Your Heart' single released in the USA."
But it wasn't that stupid to send over the demo recordings... "No, they got so excited when they heard the new material that they raised our budget for the new album. Now we have two months to spend in the studio."
These songs are even so good that there is no longer room for John Norum's obligatory instrumental song. The one that Norum earlier jokingly said would "play the shirt off Yngwie Malmsteen". "No, now there are only normal songs," Joey says.
The long wait makes "The Final Countdown" the first EUROPE album recorded with Ian and Mic in the band. Even though it's been a long time since they joined the band and are no longer called "the new members" by the fans. The band hasn't had that many changes of members through the years:
"No, we haven't. When I joined the band in the beginning of the 80's, John Norum and our previous drummer Tony Reno were there together with Peter Olsson on bass. Later John Levén became our bassist. Peter Olsson and John Levén ended up in Rising Force after that, Yngwie Malmsteen's band. First Olsson and after a while Levén. Then we had Marcel Jacobs as bassist for a short while. But he went away and then Levén came back. With that lineup we recorded the first two albums. After changing drummer and adding Mic on keyboards, we haven't changed anything," Joey explains and seems to be very calm when talking about old members.
Out of these ex-members, Marcel Jacobs is today a member of Rising Force for the third time. For a long time Marcel was the bassist in the band Power. His replacement there was Peter Olsson. By the way, Power are said to have a bright future ahead of them, according to their latest demo tape. In the end Tony Reno has joined a new hard rock band from Upplands Väsby.
As you can see: EUROPE, Rising Force, Power and several other bands' backgrounds are a mess of basically the same people: "It's good that it turned out like this. It was necessary for us to get to know each other to find out who we got along with better."
EUROPE haven't toured since June, when the "On the Loose" tour ended. But don't think that Joey Tempest is longing for live concerts because of that. "No, right now it's all about the studio. Nothing else."
But in the future Joey looks forward to new tours. The one in Japan, for example. "Of course, I long to go back to Japan. I've been there before to do interviews. A great country. We'll do five or six gigs there in December or January. Then it will be Sweden again in the spring. The dream is to end it all at the Scandinavium in Gothenburg."
That's as far as Joey can see right now. USA tour? Maybe a thought. "Of course we'd do a USA tour. Preferably as an opening act for someone big, and for us, suitable band. But there are no definitive plans yet. It's not a secret that we're heading for the States. People in the business say that we are just the right ones for a try there. And we sound even more right with our third album which is going to have an American sound from our American producer."