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1984
EUROPE's second album, "Wings of Tomorrow" was released in February 1984 and was, not surprisingly, followed by an indoor tour. And for this tour, the band had grown from four to five due to the arrival of the keyboard player Mic Michaeli. "Joey played keyboard live, but it didn't always work," Norum says. "The straw (that broke the camel's back) was probably when we played a gig in Upplands Väsby. The keyboard just howled during 'The King Will Return'."

And so, the one whom several members of the band came to think of was Mic Michaeli, who, at that point, played in the band AVALON which was also from Upplands Väsby. "People knew them, and they knew me," Mic tells. "We played at the same music parties and festivals. They needed someone who could play keyboard and I assume I was the only one they knew of. I never went to any audition. I contemplated whether I should join since I had my own band. I also wrote songs. We were gonna make it and become really big! But in the end I came to the conclusion that I could try it. And to come from a hole outside Stockholm and go out on tour, that's where you wanted to go! It wasn't my band, but I got into it really fast."
1984 - Joey Tempest in Finland during the Midsummer holiday

Just before the tour Mic had cut off his long hair, but that wasn't why he got hidden on stage. "We 'hid' him more in the background because it seemed more heavy if we were just four on stage. It looked cooler," Norum explains about the man, who after a while in anyway got a more visible position when it came to concerts.

If the arrival of Michaeli was a relatively easy thing to accomplish, the next step was a bit harder. In the summer of 1984 the drummer Tony Reno had to step aside. "Tony never arrived on time for rehearsal," Norum explains. "Half an hour would be okay, but not two - three hours. Every now and then he didn't show up at all. Then you got a little angry. He had a nonchalant attitude. He thought it was more important to be at home with his girlfriend than to rehearse. And when we told him so, he would just start laughing."

1984 - EUROPE backstage on a Finish rock festival in Jyvaskyla on Midsummer eve. Some of the other bands were Girlschool, Lita Ford and Blackfoot. The last time with Tony Reno.
Was it because he didn't really see where EUROPE could go as a band?

"Maybe that was it," Norum says. "We were really young, maybe just around 17." The message that Tony had gotten the sack came from Erdtman and was sent as a letter. "None of us talked with him about it for several years," Norum says. "Tony didn't do anything about it, but his father called me a couple of times and screamed: 'How can you do this?' It was tough because he was my buddy. I think he took it really hard. It must have been. That was probably why he moved from Upplands Väsby to Copenhagen where he joined a band called Geisha. In Väsby there would always be people who reminded him and asked questions. Today we're in touch again but as soon as I mention EUROPE he won't talk about it."

Tony Niemistö himself says, when Sweden Rock Magazine reaches him on the phone, that he doesn't remember so much about the circumstances of his leaving, since "it's more than 20 years ago. I actually don't know what happened, but I think it had something to do with the manager starting to lead and control," Tony says, who for the time being lives in Upplands Väsby.

Instead Ian Haugland joined the band. "Tony had Brian Downey from THIN LIZZY as a role model. Ian was more into Neil Peart from RUSH. I had seen Ian's Trilogy live and besides playing drums he also was lead singer. In EUROPE we could use extra background vocals because only Joey and I sang. Ian is a darn technical drummer plus he is really fun to be with. He was a really cool guy and he still is."

Ian is born in Norway, but grew up in Märsta, which is situated a few kilometers north of Upplands Väsby. At an early age he got interested in music and started making Trilogy.

 "I can imagine that the lightening spark was Rock SM," Haugland says. "Trilogy and Force played in the same part of the competition. We had met them, and they'd met us. But we were never buddies and we didn't grow up together." Already at that point Trilogy had legend status. They never did anything but rehearse. They were a little cooler than everybody else. They saw the music as something long-termed. The rest of us were a little more here and now."

"Erdtman called and asked if I would meet the guys. We met at the HOT office, talked a little and then I got a tape with four songs to take home: 'Seven Doors Hotel', 'Scream Of Anger', 'Wings Of Tomorrow' and 'Treated Bad Again'. Then there was nothing left to do but go home and rehearse like hell. Then we met again in the rehearsal room. Then we just had to line up and go."

1984 - EUROPE live in Sollentuna on September 9th on the Wings of Tomorrow Tour.


Do you remember your first gigs with EUROPE?

"It was some public park somewhere in Varmland. We played for about 800 people. It felt big. Before that I'd only played for about 100 people. The second gig was cool because that was on Gröna Lund in Stockholm (for about 5000 people). It was pretty tough to be in the same lounge and play on the same stage as Rush and THIN LIZZY once had. There was a clear faint-warning in that gig. That was when you began to realize that EUROPE was in a whole different dimension."

1984 - The second gig with Ian Haugland - at Grona Lund in Stockholm, on September 9th. Note the classic flower beds!
Though, he is the only one in EUROPE, as far as Haugland knows, who felt unsure of himself as a musician. Once in a while he has wondered what kind of drummer he was and didn't really come to terms with it until EUROPE had stopped touring.

"If Frank Zappa had still been alive and asked me if I'd tour with him, I would have said 'thanks for the compliment, but no thanks' because I know my own limits and what I can do. I was inspired early by Simon Phillips and Terry Bozzio, but I have never really had the technique to be able to do their kind of drumming. My absolute favorite otherwise is Cozy Powell. When I saw Rainbow at Koncerthuset in Stockholm 1976, he was the one who made me understand that this was what I wanted to do."

1985
Thomas Erdtman had grown from being the arranger of Rock-SM to being the manager of EUROPE through his companies Hot Management and Hot Records. He had also succeeded in working up an interest for the band internationally through multinational EPIC in New York. After eight months of talking and negotiating, he could in the spring of 1985 present a contract which the members signed. The upcoming album got a million kronor budget and that included a well-known producer in the shape of Kevin Elson and a recording in a studio in Switzerland.

"When we got the deal in USA, it felt like it was 'really happening'," says Levén. "We would get a producer and go to Switzerland and record."
1985 - the Norum-sign was borrowed and used sometimes during the spring tour - here in Östersund on April 19th.

"The Final Countdown" was almost finished during the fall of 1985, but because Joey had problems with his throat it couldn't be all done before early 1986. During the recording Mic found out that his girlfriend was pregnant. He was the first (but not the last) of the members in EUROPE to become a dad. "We hadn't exactly worked on it," Mic says. "But there was a passion which made it feel like it would work. But there was some phone calls and discussions back and forth before we decided."

Did you experience any negative pressure from the others in the band?

"No, it was fine actually. I didn't feel any such vibes. Maybe there were some who wondered how it would work out, but it worked out great. Of course I was gone for long periods of time, but at other times I was even at home for long periods of time. The feelings of guilt I learned to keep away in time, but that didn't happen with the longing. I regret absolutely nothing today. And I actually don't think that there are any people who regret to have had children."


1986 - Part 1
The trouble with Joey's voice, the delayed album cover and other problems made the band have to start their big indoor tour without the new album. There's a lot to say about "The Final Countdown". The material was strong and spun several hits not only in Sweden but also in the USA (other than the title song also Rock The Night and the cigarette-lighter ballad Carrie) but everyone in the band wasn't pleased with the sound.

"It was a better production than the two previous albums and it was the first 'professional' album," says Levén. "But I think there are too much keyboards and too little guitars. And the drums shouldn't have that reverb sound and crap like that. But that's how albums should sound back then, it's a document of the time. In ten years I'm sure people are wondering what the hell we were doing on this album we're working on right now. I guess you should never be satisfied, if you are the development stops."

All of a sudden things started to happen that would change things for the members of EUROPE for all their lives. "We were in Japan doing promotion," remembers Haugland. "One night we got the news that 'The Final Countdown' had started to climb the charts in Holland. It ended with the song topping the charts in 25 countries and that's something not even ABBA has done with one and the same song."
1986 - 'The Final Countdown' is mixed in Fantasy Studios, San Francisco.

"Doing promotion in Holland I was in a cab," says Levén. "'The Final Countdown' was played on the radio and I went 'WOW!' Here I am in a Dutch cab and they're playing our song!"

"Another thing that happened was at the Monsters of Rock at Råsunda in Stockholm with SCORPIONS and OZZY OSBOURNE. SCORPIONS shared our rehearsal studio preparing for the show and Klaus Meine walked in saying 'You're doing great in West Germany'. Damn they were our idols! We grew up on Tokyo tapes and now they looked us up! And at the concert at Råsunda 'The Final Countdown' was played in the PA system. We were at the VIP-section looking at all these people turning our way going 'YEEAAAHHH' That was a fucking great feeling."

No one in the band fully understood what was underway. "No it all happened so fast," says Haugland. "We didn't have clue when things were in fast motion. Our management kind of took care of that. We just wanted to fuck, play rock, drink beer and have fun. That was all we cared about and as long as that worked and in that order - ha ha- no one cared about anything else."

"In the spring of 1986 we weren't that organized," says Levén. "We took it one step at the time. We'll record an album and then we'll see. But a lot of things popped up."

"You never got a perspective," continues Haugland. "It wasn't until the 90s when we stopped playing you could look back and realize how lucky you have been to get this opportunity."

1986 - Part 2

And when the entire continent of Europe and half the world seemed to be on fire about the band John Norum decided to leave. "Norum is a true musician," says Haugland. "Norum doesn't play guitar, he is guitar. And he wasn't pleased with the production of 'The Final Countdown'. It was too much like pop."

"There was bad communication between us back then," says Levén. "You aren't that good handling conflicts when you're 22-23 years old."

"It grew on us I guess, the vibes got worse and worse," says Michaeli. "He isolated himself more and more so his decision didn't come as a shock. I guess there was too much press and promotion and too little rock 'n' roll. And also I guess that he thought that his guitars disappeared on 'The Final Countdown'."

Do you think so yourself?

"Today I would have mixed the album differently but for that time I think it's a good mix between keyboards and guitar."

1986 - Platinum LPs are presented at Hovet in Stockholm. It was October 11th and the same day Norum did his last concert with the band in Sweden before he left.
"Norum didn't want to do promotion while the rest of us were more in to that," says Haugland. "Our management made us do more promotion than we really should have done. He was late for interviews all the time and showed up smelling like gasoline. The other four of us were serious and started to get annoyed with him."

Levén today agrees that there was too much promotion. "One of the most boring things you can do is to do playback in Europe for a month. We wanted to record albums and play live but then someone said, 'if you don't do this for French CBS they won't promote the album.' But was this what I really wanted to do? To be on the French version of Hyland's Corner? Or to be on a TV show in Spain where the audience consisted of people in suits and evening gowns? What the fuck are we doing here? This isn't us, you know. It sucked the strength out of the band doing too much stuff that wasn't fun. We should have stuck to touring, albums and festivals."

"No I didn't feel good at the time," admits Norum. "I went all out like UFO and THIN LIZZY, boozing like crazy. Four-five years of drinking had made like a balloon and I didn't feel to good doing a playback gig and hardly being able to squeeze into my pants. It was an age thing no doubt. We were young and immature and when you are 22-23 years old it's harder to accept other peoples ways. I had written lots of songs but there were like two sides in the band. Thomas (Erdtman, the manager) and Joey on one side and the rest of the band on the other. You didn't feel like a part of the band any longer and hardly had a say in things. 'Tempest writes the songs' was the word. But what the hell, we started this band together!"

Did you betray the band or did the band betray you?

"We should have listened more to each other and shown more respect. They had changed a lot after all the success but that happens when you're in your 20s and everything goes your way."

The main reason for his leaving according to himself was that his suspicion that Erdtman didn't play fair seemed to prove true more and more. Norum's mother Sofie started dating Erdtman around 84-85. "At first I thought it was cool and so did the other guys but she started telling me that he often had lots of money in his pockets saying 'this is the boys cash but I don't care - lets have fun with it instead'. I thought it was strange that he had so much money and we so little when already had two gold albums. It was all a mystery," says Norum and adds that he has had bad vibes from Erdtman all the time since Rock SM 1982.

Did you ever regret it? Did you ever wake up thinking "What the hell have I done?"

"That's happened a few times - I missed my pals from Väsby! But at the same time it was the best thing I could have done. Immediately after the defection I got a solo deal and could make a solo album with my own songs," says Norum who got around 150 000 dollars for signing the contract. "After that, Dokken called and in 1990 I moved L.A and lived there for 8 years. I wanted to get away and try something new."

"In retrospect you can say that Norum did the right thing," says Haugland. "He believed in his thing and stood up for his opinion. That honors him but at the time I thought he was silly for not going along on our thing."
1986 - The last picture of Norum with EUROPE, after a TV show in Amsterdam.

And on that note Norum was out of the story of EUROPE.


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