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"The way back to EUROPE?" reflects John Norum. "I hadn't started thinking about it before the millennium gig. Then such a cool feeling came up while we were rehearsing. All of us had matured. Then it felt like it was the right time."

EUROPE played on December 31 in 1999 on a stage at Skeppsholmen in Stockholm, where they performed two songs. The discovery that they made was that it was cool to play together and that they were actually friends.

"The thing with EUROPE was that we never became enemies like many others," says Ian Haugland. "We went our separate ways because of all the muddle with the management and the record company, and that we had toured for ten years. We didn't have the glow anymore."

The friendship has always endured. The communication between the members of the band worked well. In the spring of 2003 the talk got more substance. "It has never been so that we felt that we must get this started, but it is more like an extraterrestrial power that has brought us together," says Haugland.

1999 - Kee's last (?) performance with the band, at -20 degrees C on New Year's Eve in Stockholm.
"Maybe we could have done this earlier, like straight after the millennium gig, but for different practical reasons it was impossible to resolve until now," says Levén. "It's great that we can get the band going again, but we haven't exactly jumped from foot to foot."

"Joey was the one who - I can't say that he was against, but it seems that when he is in for something then he is 110 percent into it," says Haugland. "And until last year he wasn't receptive for the idea (of a reunion). But the feeling I got was that when he had made his last solo album, he could climb out of this 'bubble'."

"We have been planning this for a lot of years, but then I still had an album to make," says Tempest. "I wanted to make the three solo albums and thus to have done a journey in music that is rather different from EUROPE."

In Los Angeles, John Norum was sitting and regretting an existence with DOKKEN that was all but fun. "Last year, in March or April, I got an offer to join UFO," tells Norum. "Michael Schenker had left for like the hundredth time, ha ha! Michael owned 50% of the name UFO, but now he had given the all rights to the singer Phil Mogg. They called me and it was a special thing for an old fan like myself. Phil rang to tell me that they wanted me to be the new guitar player and I said 'wow, this is cool, damned cool', and said yes the very next day. Two weeks later, Ian Haugland called me and told me that they would reunite EUROPE. They had already met a couple of times without me (punches in the air and laughs) and discussed if they would do it with Kee or with Norum as guitarist and come to a decision that they wanted to have 'the 'Final Countdown' line-up. Besides Kee didn't have the time. I was interested," tells Norum who got complications due to the oral, though not written, answer he gave UFO. "But I wanted to be in the band if I got the lead-guitar role. This is my sort of thing quite simply. The solos are my voice. I don't want to share it with anyone else. I didn't want to be a Rudolf Schenker," says Norum, and so it was done as he wished.

"In August or September last year we met to rehearse," tells Tempest. "The first songs that we did were 'Rock The Night' and 'Wings of Tomorrow'. It was only to switch on. It felt bloody brilliant."

The question of how the new material would sound occupied everyone's mind. "But we came to the decision that we would not sound like anything particular," answers Haugland. "We have been in different directions for twelve years now and got so many influences and inspiration and life experience. We just got to see what it would become of it."

2004 - Part 1

It is true that EUROPE reunited, but it didn't mean that the five in the band would automatically take the places and positions that they had before. The relationship between Norum and Tempest had changed and it had changed for the better.

"Joey wrote most of the songs at the time. In the beginning of my career I was learning to handle mostly the instrument and the technique. I started writing more songs for my first solo album 'Total Control' and during the last 15 years I have been writing more and more. And it was much heavier than EUROPE," says Norum. "I have learned so much more and not only playing the solo guitar, but I also learned to arrange and produce. I have quite simply been an all-round musician and singer," says Norum who adds that he is singing everything on his coming solo album 'Optimus'. "I sent some ideas over to Joey in London. He arranged and wrote new melodies and texts. In this way songs like 'Faith', 'Dark' and 'Settle' were born. It worked so well that we decided to work on more ideas together. Moreover Joey got a kick and started to write more songs for the album. We worked together a lot and laid the grounds together with Ian in Stockholm and then Joey continued with the ideas in his studio in London."

"The cool thing with John was that he was so enthusiastic," says Tempest. "I noticed that he had a lots of riffs and ideas. This stuff with a singer and a guitarist is something special, like the one between Steven Tyler and Joe Perry (in Aerosmith), for example. Or Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (in Rolling Stones). There is absolutely something between John and myself. It's a special fire."

The choice of the producer 'Kevin Elson' came quite naturally as well. "It doesn't have so much to do with 'The Final Countdown', as that he is very good at finding what is missing in the songs," explains Michaeli. "He has good ideas. At the same time Kevin is a very easygoing fellow and has made albums that we think sound very well, and in the first place with MR.BIG. We didn't want to have some new 'hip' producer, but someone that we know that he can bring a good sound."

"He is on the same wavelength," says Tempest. "He doesn't ask for the hit that is three minutes long, he is an album man. When we were rehearsing the songs he was with us in the process and 'extended' the songs in some cases with a number of new parts. He tries to keep the organic feeling."

2004 - Part 2
We know that EUROPE has made a new album that will be released some time this autumn. We know as well that the band will tour this summer and that the festival gigs will probably be followed by an indoors tour. We also know that the friendship between the band members is strong, that they for the first time ever have total control over everything that concern the economy and that they do things in their own pace. But what about later? How do they imagine the future will be?

"I read an interview with Phil Mogg some time ago," begins Haugland. "He said that if you have a functioning chemistry in the band, he advised to hold on together to death. It happens once in a lifetime that you find this sort of chemistry. And now we understand what he means."

"I am extremely excited," says Levén. "We have an eye on everything in a different way. It feels much, much better."

"It feels as if we take a stride, summarize the old, say 'thank you and good-bye' to it and then carry on," says Michaeli. "This summer we will have a good time and celebrate that we have started playing together again. After that we will take a new stride with new material. We are already on our way there. We have chosen a direction."

"I hope that we can do this for many more years - I have in any case planned a lot of albums," explains Norum. "We are not so old yet and we have along way to go. We develop all the time and get just better and better."

"What you come to in the end is that a rock band must cast down a steep slope and just do its thing," says Tempest. "You do this in the beginning of the band's career. Afterwards probably comes the success that makes it so that you have to take into consideration lots of other things. But there are bands that have been going on all the way like U2, R.E.M. and METALLICA and in the long run it always pays off. But when you are so involved, you don't think about an end. If you put so much time and heart into something that you burn for, there is no end. I see it rather like a beginning of something and that we take it as far as it goes this time. Now let's do it."

Kevin Elson compares then and now.
The producer Kevin Elson was there and made 'The Final Countdown'. Almost 20 years later he is involved in this work that will lead to EUROPE's sixth studio album. "Basically it is a very straight rock'n'roll album with a modern sound. It is probably not as keyboard oriented as before, but the album will sound like EUROPE," says Kevin about the album that will be released this autumn.

Few of us have experienced a plane crash. To talk with someone that has survived a plane crash is just as unusual. EUROPE's producer Kevin Elson who has survived such a crash and can talk about it. And now the story is not about any crash. This one happened on October 20th in 1977 and there were members of the south state band LYNYRD SKYNYRD, as well as belonging technicians and stage staff. The company was on its way from Greenville in the American state South Carolina to Baton Rogue in Louisiana, while the journey ended near Gillsburg in Missouri.
2004 - The producer Kevin Elson in deep thoughts (or about to pick his nose).

"We had problems three or four days before that trip. The problem was obviously not fixed. Although the real reason was that we went out of fuel"! Tells Kevin where we are sitting in a control room at Studios 301 in Stockholm. Six people among whom the singer in SKYNYRDS, Ronnie van Zant, the guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister Cassie died while 20 people survived, many with serious injuries. 

"The plane did not burst in flames. That is why so many survived. A plane crash is similar to a car crash. What kills is the fire," explains Kevin who about 27 years later does not have problems to talk about the accident.

A sought-after sound-engineer

Kevin Elson grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. In school he played the keyboards and saw other musicians in the town whose two maybe most famous bands are LYNYRD SKYNYRD and THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND. With time the groups came to sell albums by the millions.

"I was still going to school when I got the opportunity to travel to the Muscle Shoals-studio in Alabama and work as a session musician. You can say that I was interested in studio work through the band," tells Kevin who gradually began to work as sound-engineer and exclusively for LYNYRD SKYNYRD at the time.

After the rehabilitation that followed the accident he continued his career with acts like VAN MORISSON and JOURNEY. A remake of a single for the later band introduced him to the producer seat and work with SHOOTING STAR, JULIAN LENNON, DON HENLEY, MR.BIG and AEROSMITH. 

A typical live guy
And EUROPE of course. "Actually I would be making an album with UFO in England, but I went home after about two days as nothing worked well," laughs Kevin who at home in the USA took a swing by the Epic office in New York. "I ran across an A&R guy who thought that I should listen to a new band. I got some demos and an earlier album, I thought that it sounder good and I went to Stockholm. It turned out that I stayed there ten days."

Kevin remembers EUROPE as a very young band with limited equipment ("the only keyboard that Mic had was a Fender Rhodes'") but that they at the same time were comparatively experienced guys. They had played live quite a lot, which is something that appeals to Kevin, since he is a live-engineer in the first place, and likes groups that have a stage routine. A lot of the guys still lived at home. I thought that it was better to introduce the band in a musical environment. That is why it became a studio in Switzerland. There they could just work and make music."

2004 - Mic is testing the organ which did not come to much use during the recording of the new album.
Believed in the success
Kevin believed that 'The Final Countdown', as the album got to be called in the end, would be able to become big in Japan and Scandinavia, as well as in several countries in Europe. Maybe there was even a chance in the USA, considering that BON JOVI had just become known with 'Slippery When Wet', and that groups like POISON were making a name for themselves, he reasoned.

"But when I realized that the single had reached No.1 in 15 countries, I asked why it was not played on the radio in the USA. The answer that I got from Epic was something of the sort that 'it is too heavy'." Kevin talked to the manager Herbie Herbert, who represented EUROPE in the USA at the time, and they both came to a conclusion that this was completely crazy, especially that MTV showed a big interest for the video. Herbie convinced the then boss of Epic, Al Teller, who in his turn conveyed a clear message to his colleagues: "Herbie is the manager of EUROPE, do what he asks you to do."

"They started during the autumn of 1986 and about Christmas time the album had sold in two million copies only in the USA."

Makeshift contacts
Since the recording with EUROPE Kevin has had 'off and on' contact with the band and mostly with Joey Tempest (who recorded one of his solo albums in Nashville by the way) and John Norum (who has worked a lot with DOKKEN in the USA). That is why it was not a big surprise when in November last year Joey called Kevin and asked if he was interested in working with the band again.

2004 - Haugland is doing the drums for the new album and is ready in only a few days.
"I was glad to hear that they had reunited. I very much wanted to hear what material they had written," tells Kevin.

According to Kevin, the advantage to work with the same producer again is that you already have an idea of each other. "You don't need to say exactly all in order to understand what is necessary to be done. 'Disadvantages'? Hmm, I can't think of any. I wouldn't be sitting here if there were such, haha!"

He thinks that the guys in EUROPE have grown up in many ways, that they have all become better musicians and that they really take their creative work seriously.

"They say 'we'll meet tomorrow at 10.00' and they are here at 10.00!" says Kevin who now doesn't have to push and shove the band as was the case with '"The Final Countdown". "Now the band does it."

Sounds like EUROPE
How does it sound then? Although the production at the time of the interview had not come further than Ian and Levén's bases, Kevin still makes an attempt to summarize it.

"It sounds like EUROPE. They are not trying to sound like something they are not. Ever since his leaving the band, Norum has been working with everything from blues to metal. Joey has made his solo albums. Through his job at the radio Ian has come across and listened to a great deal of music. John and Mic have played in an awful lot of constellations."

"I think that because of this you can hear all sorts of influences from STONE TEMPLE PILOTS to THIN LIZZY but that in its base this is a very straight rock'n'roll album with modern sound. It is probably not as keyboard oriented as before, but the album is going to sound like EUROPE. And the ballads that are here I don't quite want to call them ballads. They are something considerably darker."

Some time in the autumn we will all hear how EUROPE's sixth studio album actually sounds.
"What you come to in the end is that a rock band must cast down a steep slope and just do its thing." - Tempest on the future for EUROPE.

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