Interview with Swedish world stars on tour
By: Susanne Guve
- No. 4, 1989 Translated
"Hope that EUROPE will last forever!"
Finally we got to see EUROPE perform in Sweden again. And we can reveal that they were unusually excited about playing at home. "I've never been so nervous before in my life," Kee says. "Before the first concert I was about to throw up..."
"It's even nicer to play at home in Sweden - but it is also more important than ever before to do it well," Kee says. "It is our homeland, our relatives and friends out there in the audience. And here we can't hide between the cliché that we are an exotic band from Scandinavia. The nervousness was worst before the first concert, in Malmö. I felt so sick before we went on that I thought I would throw up."
Luckily that never happened. Everything even went better than expected on EUROPE's tour through the country. We got to see a professional and speeded show with outstanding "goodies", and EUROPE played for, should we say, almost sold-out places. You can describe the tour with one word: Victory.
Even Joey was nervous before the first big meeting with the fans for two years, but he has already forgotten that when we meet him and Kee before their gig in Gävle. "You HAVE to be nervous before a gig," he determines and continues: "Now I just feel proud and happy. So many people have come to see us. I have felt that there are more boys now than before, the girls aren't dominating as much as they used to. But the best thing is when it is like now - the same amount of boys and girls."
The increased numbers of male fans might have something to do
with the band
having toughened up a bit. The EUROPE guys seem to prefer a bit darker rock like
clothes than earlier. And they don't give the impression of being so perfect and
sugar-sweet as then.
"Sugar-sweet?" Joey laughs. "Yes, maybe we were... But it was the media that made us so, thanks to a number of journalists we got a pop image. Of course I stand by 'The Final Countdown', but it did become a bit - yeah, sugar-sweet is maybe a good word. We feel better about ourselves now and feel more like we don't have to be so perfect any more. We do more what we want to now...EUROPE is a hard rock band and we want to look like hard rockers."
Joey tells further about how he and the others have developed since they hit with "The Final Countdown". "The 'Final Countdown' time was just like one long period of shock," he explains. "Suddenly we weren't Swedish celebrities any more, but world stars. I took everything way too serious and pushed myself too hard. For a while I didn't know which foot to stand on."
We all know what happened. "The Final Countdown" sold 6 million copies all over the world. The success was a fact. But Joey, who had strived for this his whole life, didn't really feel ready. "Now, as I look back on everything that happened and have gotten some distance to it, it feels good. I have in some way grown into the roll of a rock star and celebrity."
Someone who helped Joey in the last period - and at least took over some of it - was Kee Marcello. "Since he joined the band, EUROPE have almost become a new band," Joey thinks. "Kee has made me open up more," he says. "Now we work together more in the band than before. And I don't push myself as much anymore either..."
"When we finish touring, the whole band will go away together," Kee reveals. "And make the songs for the next album. The next album will be a cooperation between all of us in EUROPE. We believe that an increased band feeling gives a better result."
But at first the album "Out of This World" has got to sell even better, Joey and Kee agree.
"Until now we have sold 2 million copies of the album, and that's good enough," Kee thinks. "But the game ain't over yet, our third single, 'Let the Good Times Rock', is soon to be released."
"In USA they believe very much in that single", Joey says. "I hope that they are right..."
Support act in the USA
It has lately been said that EUROPE will play at the big arenas in the USA. A tour of
their own. But having sold 1 million records in the big country, that will probably
be difficult...? "If nothing happens with the selling numbers, we'll probably play as a
support act instead," Kee says. "But we are having difficulties finding a
band which fits us musically."
"In USA it isn't degrading to play as a support act," Joey says. "Just look at how long time it took for Bon Jovi to become as big as they are. It takes time to conquer South America."
How will the boys react to articles like the one in "Expressen": "A new USA-failure for EUROPE"?
"Some Swedish journalists ought to find a new job," Joey says and looks, nicely put, angry. "I think it has got to do with the Swedish jealousy, I guess. I mean, it has gone quite well for us and that has got to create a few mean journalists..."
The rumors about EUROPE planning to do a musical are not true. (Written in the evening paper referring to the manager Thomas Erdtman) "There are absolutely no plans about any musical," Kee says firmly. I've never heard anything about such a thing - it has got to be a misunderstanding. Why would we do a musical?"
And Kee's solo career with three albums with Epic Records has been put on ice: "Somewhere down the road I'll use that opportunity," Kee says. "But now I'll first of all bet wholeheartedly on EUROPE. My goal is that we'll sell just as many copies of 'Out of This World' as 'The Final Countdown'. But the offer from Epic is still there. One day I'll get around to that too."
Kee has really succeeded in the hard task of taking over after the popular John Norum. But it hasn't been without worries. "The first two months I was so worried. Had I done the right thing when I threw myself into EUROPE's world career? What would the fans think? But it turned out to be not at all as dangerous as I thought. Not even an angry letter to the fan club. I only remember one incident, and that was that we received a murder threat before a gig in Oslo (Capital of Norway). They didn't like the fact that John who's Norwegian, had quit."
"The hardest part was when the guys in the band wanted me to play those melodic parts in the songs the same way that John did. I had to play "Carrie" the same way as him, for example. That felt really difficult in the beginning. I was scared that I'd lose my own playing style... But now everything feels great. I haven't lost anything by playing like John. On the contrary. I've learned a lot and broadened my own style. Today I don't regret even for a second that I joined EUROPE!"
Like the others, Kee lives on the Bahamas. But he doesn't enjoy it there. "No one wants to live in that devilish place," he bursts out. "Just as little as anyone would want to live in a holiday place like Mallorca. Everyone is so passive there, nothing ever happens! When I moved there, it took five days just to get the recording gear to Bahamas - and four days to get electricity. To go out and order a cup of tea some place can take, at best, four or five hours. Everyone walks around loafing!"
"One or two weeks at a time is okay," Joey says. "You can get all relaxed, dive in the coral reeves, fish and sunbathe. But then it's enough. We will probably move back to Sweden again, sooner or later. But right now it's not gonna happen."
What the EUROPE guys are like
We let Joey, the leader spirit in EUROPE, describe all the members of the band.
"John Levén is the calm one in the band. He is good-looking, I think, and on the bass he is a real pro. John never plays wrong."
"Ian is a guy with a sense of humor. He is free, crazy and does exactly what he wants. Ian is an incredibly good musician."
"Another really calm member of the band is Mic. He always has both feet on the ground. He has a great sense of music and can play great improvisations. He always has new ideas."
"In the beginning we thought that Kee was a little "dark" with his tough humor, but now he has really grown into the band. What a guitarist! A recommended guy..."
At last Joey comes to himself. He makes a hesitating attempt at describing Joey Tempest, the famous singer of EUROPE: "I've got imagination and drive for my goals...a wondering loner. Maybe I can be called a shy dreamer, but still a bit tough. The shyness is not as bad as when we broke through. I've learned to open up more. But I'm still shy, I would rather show that I'm good than talk about it."
Joey often gets the inspiration to write songs when he's alone. Or like later, from the others in the band. When he creates music, he always plays acoustic guitar. "I mostly get lyrics and titles from TV or the cinema," he says. "It can be a phrase that sounds good or inspiring. An example of that is the song 'Tower's Callin''. I saw a program about the Bermuda Triangle and the first plane that disappeared there. And then that became a song...'Ready or Not', for one, is a song which came after a Thin Lizzy concert in Stockholm. The inspiration can come at any time."