|The most famous men in Sweden|
Metal Hammer - 1987
|An interview with EUROPE's Mic Michaeli|
"It's the final countdown, da dada da..."
Twelve and thirteen year old kids, mainly of the female sex, are gathered in front of the barriers of the Grugahalle in Essen and chant their hymn of this year. They throw longing glances up to the windows of the dressing rooms where shadows can be seen moving behind the windows. It is just 4pm, another three and a half hours till the beginning of the concert. In spite of that, hundreds of teenagers are waiting in front of the hall. Screaming, laughing, singing and obviously in the best of spirits. At this time you can see hardly any older fans.
Upstairs, behind one of the windows, Edgar Kluesener is sitting with a female colleague of his who writes for the Japanese "Viva Rock". He is practicing this special technique of small talk, usually known as interviewing. Good old Mic suffered a bit from the fact that, accidentally, four eager journalists were gathered to question two of EUROPE's musicians and found himself cross-examined, a situation he was able to handle with ease, though. But enough of the preliminaries and let's get into the refined game of question and answer.
Let's start with the standard questions. No, of course not those about the color of his eyes, size of his shoes or similar fashion details, but quite respectable ones:
Edgar Kluesener: "Mic, how's the touring going so far?"
Mic Michaeli: "Oh, very well now. We are really content. We only had a few problems at the beginning when the tour started in Norway. The usual little accidents which always happen at the beginning of a tour and which are due to the fact that not everything is perfectly well coordinated. But we haven't had any problems since then. We have every reason to be satisfied."
EK: "You recently played in Dortmund (West Germany) in the Peter Illmann-Show. Everybody performed to a playback at this occasion. What kind of a feeling is it for a rock band like you who depend on their live performances to suddenly act like puppets to a playback?"
MM: "It was rather a strange feeling, but what can you do? At the time we really need this chance to get in many people's living rooms through the telly. We really had to do it, regardless of the question if we liked to do it or not. It is indeed a huge difference between playing and performing 100 % live or pretending to so to a playback. We just tried to make the best out of it and to have as much fun as possible with it. But that doesn't change the fact that we only feel completely well when we perform absolutely live."
EK: "Since your career has really started picking up, EUROPE are the center of attention. All sorts of people want things from you, surround you all the time and run after you, the usual drawbacks of success. How are you dealing with that?"
MM: "I have to distinguish between two different things now: The fans are okay. They guarantee our success and we owe them a lot for that, even outside the concert halls. They are also usually very nice, being fans. What I like much less are these interviews with their questions that are always the same: 'How tall are you?', 'What color are your eyes?', 'What's the size of your shoes?' and so on and so forth. These sort of questions are deadly and tiring, especially when you hear them again every day. If it has to be interviews... then I prefer those that you ask about our music or the band itself, questions that go beyond the usual ones and that gives me, us, the chance to find answers that are not just stereotypes."
EK: "Since the good old times of ABBA, EUROPE have now become the most successful Scandinavian band. Do you think that your success will work as a catalyst for other Scandinavian groups? Are you the forerunners of a wave of Scandinavian supergroups? Or would you at least say that your attack on the charts of the world makes it easier for other Scandinavian bands to find some well-deserved appreciation for their music and themselves in their home countries?"
MM: "I think and I hope that our success will encourage other bands to fight even harder for the way to the top. We have shown everybody that it's possible to thrill audiences beyond the Scandinavian borders in Europe and maybe even the United States. Now it's up to other bands to do the same. They have to be good as well, of course, but there are quite a few good bands in Sweden, so that shouldn't be the obstacle. Maybe our success will really help these bands, at least in that way that people will listen twice when they next hear a record or something from Scandinavia and think: 'Hey, just a moment. Sweden? That's where EUROPE come from, isn't it? Maybe this group isn't too bad either.' Even such reactions would give those bands a further and well-deserved chance."
EK: "It seems that you won't have much of a chance to relax in 1987. Will you be able to find some time for writing new songs for the new LP at all?"
MM: "We are always working on new songs and ideas during our tours. We carry around a four track recorder, for example, Ian has his little drum computer and I have my little synth, my guitar, etc. We are always fiddling with new ideas, sometimes together, sometimes each by himself. We have gathered a good bit of material already and will certainly get some more. We have already almost enough for our next LP."
EK: "What is the secret of the success of a band? What makes one band successful and leaves another one that's just as good behind? Do you have an explanation for that?
MM: "A difficult question. I think, there's no general answer for this. A band will definitely have to be very good to be successful. Then you have to have the right marketing, and the correct image - whatever that may be - will have to be created. But... well, somehow you find that in a lot of bands, and they still don't make it. What they lack is originality. If you can comment on a band say: 'They sound like these or those,' even if they are really good, then something is wrong, then they lack originality. Furthermore, a radiant personality is important for a musician. In our case, I would say the secret of our success is this: We were absolutely determined to get famous outside of Sweden and we worked very hard for it. We also have a very efficient and professional management and a fantastic record company to back us. And we had and have a huge portion of good luck, which I regard as the main reason for success of failure. A band can be very good and original, but if they don't have that bit of good fortune, they will never make it completely. And that is really a shame."
Well, EUROPE have obviously made it. What happened after their concert made that very clear. Instead of going to their hotel or to a party, they had to jump on a plane and go to the Italian San Remo Festival, where they were given a Gold Record - and afterwards straight back to Germany - to their next concert.