Start from the Dark
On October 2, 2003, a big announcement was made: EUROPE
had reunited. But this time it wasn't just for one concert. Plans for a new album and world tour
were announced. At the same time the official website, www.europetheband.com,
was launched. The band had switched back to the The Final Countdown
lineup: Joey Tempest, John Norum, John Levén, Mic Michaeli and Ian
"Deep down we always knew that we would get back together again," Joey
said, "When we did the rehearsals for the millennium gig, we realized that
the magic and chemistry was still there." But Joey had to finish his third
solo album first. "Contractually I had to do that album. So that came out in 2002, and then when that deal was over, I decided that I wasn’t going to renew it. I knew that by then I was ready, that the timing was right to do this again. So in the beginning of 2003 we had a band meeting, and from then on it was just a matter of moving forward and writing songs for the new album. That was always our intention. We though that if we were gonna make a comeback, we wanted to do it properly, and that meant we wanted to write and record some new songs, a new album."
"We felt that if we wanted to do this right, we should do it with the lineup that had the right chemistry," Ian said. "I started missing my partner in crime, John Norum," Joey said, "Even though Kee Marcello did a great job playing guitar on Out of This World and Prisoners in Paradise, when John was not around I always felt that something was missing." Kee claimed he was too busy with other projects, including a new solo album, to join the reunion. "We talked for a while about doing a six-piece with both me and John Norum," Kee said, "I can only speak for myself, but that wouldn't have worked. Not for me anyway. And I think Norum would feel the same way." Norum expressed himself similarly: "I was cool with Kee doing some shows, but I said from the beginning that if there was gonna be a studio album I had to do it on my own."
The songwriting for the new album started early in 2003. "Norum and I started bouncing ideas back and forth to each other," Joey said, "The first two songs we wrote were 'Start from the Dark' and 'Got to Have Faith', both of which originated from his riffs. I finished the songs off in my studio in London, wrote the lyrics and came up with the melodies, moved things around a bit... Then I sent them back to Norum and he was like, ‘Hey, this is great.’ At that point we sent them to the management and to the rest of the guys in the band, and everybody was like, ‘Wow, this is exciting!’ So we knew we were on to something."
On March 3, 2004, the 2-CD "Greatest Hits" album and DVD were finally released in Sweden, although not as a box set, but sold separately. They were both titled Rock the Night. The DVD was the first official EUROPE DVD ever, and included all their music videos from 1986 to 1992, plus live footage and interviews from 1982-88.
Later that month EUROPE went to the Studios 301 in Stockholm together with the The Final Countdown producer Kevin Elson to record their new album. "It doesn't have so much to do with The Final Countdown," Mic said about the choice of Elson, "He is very good at finding what's missing in the songs. He has good ideas. At the same time he is a very easygoing fellow. We didn't want to have some new 'hip' producer, but someone that we know can bring a good sound". Few people knew about the recording of the new album. "That's how we wanted it to be," Ian said, "We didn't want any people from the record company or management to interfere."
"We did the whole song writing bit in probably six to seven months," Joey said. "Then we went into the studio and did the whole recording thing in 40 days. We didn’t want to drag this out. We called Kevin in America and said, ‘Let’s not drag it out, let’s record the whole thing in 40 days and then mix it quickly to try and retain that live vibe. Let’s make this a point in time and not drag it out for years.’ So we recorded it pretty much live. It’s just a mark in time really."
On June 11, 2004, EUROPE played their first full-length concert in 12 years in Vallset, Norway. It was the premiere of their reunion tour, which included various festival dates around Europe, and the highlight was the concert at Sweden Rock Festival on June 12, in front of more than 20 000 fans. The concert setlists included several old classics, but also introduced the title track from their new studio album: "Start from the Dark". Another interesting fact was that they didn't play any songs from the album Prisoners in Paradise. The B-side track "Yesterday's News" was the only song played from that period. "I guess you can blame it on me," John Norum said, "I don't like that album at all. It's the worst EUROPE album ever."
"I think the band grooves much better on stage now," Joey said, "When you’re young, you play quite fast and you’re very excitable, which can be a bit unpredictable up on stage, but now all that sits very well, the band grooves and plays great together."
In September, "Got to Have Faith" was released as the first single from Start from the Dark. The music video featured the band rocking out in a garage, mixed with clips from the cult films Ghostrider and Ghostrider 2. Start from the Dark was released in Sweden on September 23, 2004, by Sony Music Sweden, which also released it in the rest of Scandinavia. Internationally EUROPE had gone from Sony Music to Sanctuary Records, record company for bands like Iron Maiden. The album's style was hard, using detuned guitars and pushing the keyboards more into the background. Many fans were surprised. "To have remade The Final Countdown would have been the dumbest thing possible," Norum said. "Mic was tired of the old 80s style keyboard sound," Ian said, "He always wants to do new things. There are actually a lot of keyboards on the album, but they have a guitar-like sound and melt together with the guitars."
"When Norum and I started writing, it was very obvious this was going to be more guitar oriented," Joey said, "We didn’t write together as much before with EUROPE. He would play guitar and I wrote most of the songs. Now since we’ve been writing stuff together, it’s really triggered off some melodic but yet more guitar oriented and heavy music. It was just automatic! It was something we wanted to do that sounded like the rehearsal we had when we first met."
The European leg of the Start from the Dark tour started in Helsinki, Finland on October 14, 2004. Six songs from the album had been included in the setlist, along with "Girl from Lebanon" from Prisoners in Paradise. The last concert on that leg was played at the Hammersmith Apollo in London on November 15, and was filmed for the DVD Live from the Dark. The DVD also included interviews and music videos, and was released in Europe on November 18, 2005. The single "Hero" was released in November 2004 and was given a nostalgic music video, recreating scenes of teenaged band members dreaming of becoming rock stars. Live clips from EUROPE's concert at Hovet in Stockholm one month earlier were also included. An interesting fact is that Ian Haugland's son Simon and Mic Michaeli's son Marcus appear in this video.
In January 2005 EUROPE went on a Japanese tour. Three of the concerts were recorded for a planned live album that ultimately wasn't released. In March they played some concerts around Europe, including two concerts in Russia. On April 22, they started their first US tour in 17 years. The venue was the House of Blues in Anaheim. Then they did a tour in the UK, as well as playing some more concerts around Europe. In August 2005 EUROPE received a gold record for selling 30 000 copies of Start from the Dark in Sweden.
On June 12, 2006 EUROPE
started the recording sessions for their seventh album, Secret
Society, at the Kingside Studios in Stockholm. The recording
took almost two months. Ian and John Levén recorded their parts in June, and John Norum, Mic and Joey recorded their
parts in July and August. The album was produced by the
band and mixed by recording engineer Lennart Östlund, who's worked
with bands like Led Zeppelin, Scorpions and Genesis. The album was
released on October 25, 2006. "We wanted it to be a little bit
better than Start from the Dark from the point of view of sound and
songs, and we are very happy with the results," Joey said,
"We think it's one of the strongest albums that EUROPE has ever
done. There is definitely some more melodic stuff on this one. Start
from the Dark was very raw and made a statement, which is cool but
for us it felt like a debut album in a way, so we wanted to branch out
a bit on this one and take it to new levels."
EUROPE kicked off the Secret Society tour in Lund, Sweden the day after the album release, October 26.
To mark the 20th anniversary of The Final Countdown, Warner Home Video released the DVD The Final Countdown Tour 1986: 20th Anniversary Edition on October 4, 2006. The DVD features footage from the concerts at Solnahallen in Solna, Sweden on May 25 and 26, 1986, as well as extra material such as new interviews with the band, a visit to the Powerplay Studios where the album was recorded, and a picture gallery from the The Final Countdown tour. The picture gallery includes a previously unreleased song, "Where Men Won't Dare," which was co-written by Joey and John Levén. It was supposed to be included on the album, but ultimately it didn't make it.
On January 26, 2008 EUROPE did a semi-acoustic live concert at Nalen in
Stockholm and called the event
"Almost Unplugged". The band was accompanied by a string quartet and played reworked versions of
their own songs, including hits such as "The Final
Countdown" and "Superstitious", early tracks like
"Memories" and "Dreamer", and the live premiere of
"Devil Sings the Blues". The setlist also included cover versions of songs by bands that have influenced
EUROPE's sound throughout the years – "Wish You Were Here"
by Pink Floyd, "Love to Love" by UFO, "Since I've Been Loving
You" by Led Zeppelin and "Suicide" by Thin Lizzy. The show was broadcast live over the Internet
via www.europetheband.com. "That was solely meant as a
webcast, but it turned out so
well," Joey said, "We were so pleased with the result that we decided to release the
Almost Unplugged CD and Almost Unplugged DVD." The CD
was released on September 17, 2008 and the DVD was released on August 19, 2009.
On May 21, 2008 John Norum's wife, Michelle Meldrum-Norum, died as a result of a cystic growth on her brain that had restricted oxygen and blood flow to her brain, rendering her brain-dead. She was 39 years old. "It's been very tough. The worst time in my life. We were together for 16-17 years and she was my soul mate." EUROPE had planned to kick off a festival tour in Kopervik, Norway on May 31, but due to the tragic circumstances the concert was cancelled. The rest of the tour went on as planned and one of the highlights of the tour was a co-headlining concert with Whitesnake in Padua, Italy on July 23. During Whitesnake's performance of their encore "Still of the Night", Joey joined David Coverdale on stage for the last chorus. Another highlight occured in Sweden when EUROPE played two concerts as opening act for Deep Purple, on August 8 in Linköping and August 9 in Ystad. Norum joined Deep Purple on stage in Ystad for a performance of "Smoke on the Water". In October EUROPE played a rescheduled concert in Kopervik and two concerts in Spain. The biggest surprise on the setlist was an acoustic version of "Prisoners in Paradise". Norum has said in interviews that he refuses to play the song, so instead Joey and Mic performed the song acoustically.
Last Look at Eden
In December 2008 EUROPE
went to the Bohus Sound Studios in Gothenburg to start recording their
eighth studio album. This time they decided to go with a younger producer,
Tobias Lindell. "We knew that Tobias was interested in working with us, as he's contacted our management before, and asked for an
opportunity," Joey said, "We were very excited to try this young producer, and that proved to be a very good combination. Tobias records on an old Neve desk, and then mixes on a brand new desk, meaning you'll achieve that old world sound and the new, crunchy sound. When it comes to mixing and producing a record, what he comes up with is really world class."
The recording sessions lasted until February 2009. More is More was announced as a working title for the album early on,
but in March the official title was revealed as Last Look at Eden.
In April 2009 EUROPE went on a mini tour around Chile to play their first concerts there since the Viña del Mar festival in 1990. "It's been a long time but it's great to be back," Ian said, "And it's amazing to meet all these happy fans still being around for EUROPE after such a long time." Those Chilean dates were followed by a festival tour around Europe, including a concert at Sweden Rock Festival. On August 16 the band headlined the metal festival Bloodstock Open Air in Derby, England. The announcement of EUROPE as headliners for Bloodstock caused a bit of controversy. "We had no idea what to expect from that show," Joey said, "There were however, strong reactions for and strong reactions against us playing by the people that go there but we did one similar to that one – Hellfest in France a couple of months before and it went really well. We were hoping this one would turn out great and thankfully it did. We went straight on the forum afterwards to check how we did and we found that some people were converted! Some people liked us. In our view, it was a success."
The song "Last Look at Eden" was released as the first single from the album on June 8, 2009. The music video was directed by Patric Ullaeus, who had previously worked with bands such as In Flames and Within Temptation.
On July 21, 2009 former FORCE bassist and co-writer of the song "Scream of Anger", Marcel Jacob was found dead in his home in Kristineberg, Stockholm. He was 45 years old. Jeff Scott Soto, the vocalist in Marcel's band Talisman, issued the following statement: "It is with deep regret and remorse I, along with fellow members of Talisman, am announcing our brother, longtime colleague and overall greatest musician we've ever played with, Marcel Jacob, is no longer with us as of today, Tuesday July 21, 2009. Marcel took his own life after many years of personal and health issues he was battling."
"I've lost my friend and the best bassist I've ever played with," Talisman drummer Jamie Borger said, "Now there is no future for Talisman." Both Jeff and Jamie had spoken to Marcel only a day before he committed suicide. "We were mere days from starting what would have been our 8th Talisman studio album together, celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the band," Jeff said, "I spoke with him just yesterday about finalizing the details that would get us started only to get the news this afternoon that my friend merely gave up on it all."
"One of my best friends has passed away," John Norum said, "I'm shocked! We have lost one of the world's most gifted and talented musicians of all time. A terrible tragedy. My thoughts are with his family. Rest in peace."
"It is a great tragedy," Ian Haugland said, "He was a very competent musician and songwriter. We are many around the world who will miss Marre."
"He was a good friend of EUROPE," Joey Tempest said, "He was a funny guy, intelligent guy. Good songwriter and bass player. He's sadly missed."
Marcel's funeral was held on August 20, 2009 and was attended by John Norum, John Levén and Mic Michaeli, among others. Later that evening Levén performed "Scream of Anger" with the remaining members of Talisman as part of the memorial night that was held at Pub Anchor in Stockholm.
The album Last Look at Eden was released on September 9, 2009. During an interview with the Chilean radio station Radio Universo, Joey said that "Last Look at Eden is more of a EUROPE album than Secret Society and Start from the Dark. Last Look at Eden is a real EUROPE album." Ian said that Start from the Dark and Secret Society had led up to "Last Look at Eden", and Joey agreed, saying, "We had to make those two albums in order to do this."
"With the two first comeback albums, we were very focused on trying to modernize the sound," Joey said in an interview with the British magazine Classic Rock, "This time we followed our hearts and soul. It's very classic-sounding and melodic. It's almost like we've gone full circle."
On August 6, 2011, EUROPE headlined the closing ceremonies of the 22nd World Scout Jamboree in Rinkaby, Sweden before an audience of 40,061 Scouts and Guides which included King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Silvia of Sweden.
Bag of Bones and 30th anniversary
On July 12, 2011, Europe confirmed that Kevin Shirley would produce their ninth studio album. The recording sessions started on October 3,
2011. On January 24, 2012 the band announced the album title, Bag of
Bones. The album was released on April 18, 2012 in Japan by Victor
Entertainment and on April 25 in Sweden by Gain Music Entertainment. Bag of
Bones debuted at number 2 on the Swedish album chart on May 4,
2012 and was certified Gold in Sweden on July 12, 2012.
The band will play at the Sweden Rock Festival in 2013, with their performance to be recorded for a future DVD and Blu-ray release.