Too sexy for rock?

By: Judy Wieder            From: Blast! - August 8, 1987

"There are always girls hanging around," good-looking Joey Tempest, lead singer for Sweden's pretty-boy quintet, EUROPE, says with a blush. "No one in this band is married, but we're also not much of a party band. Sometimes, when we have a day off, we have a party, and then, of course, there are a lot of girls around. Parties and girls just kinda go together."

In many ways, it's a little difficult for EUROPE (currently invading American stages for the first time) to understand what has happened to them in one short year.

"We don't really want to wake up," admits drummer Ian Haugland. It's like a dream. "Four years ago, we were teenagers in Sweden, putting together a band we called 'The FORCE' and fighting with record people because we wanted to sing in English, not Swedish. No one would sign us. Then we won a contest, got a recording contract, cut some songs and... whew! Things just started happening. By the time 'Final Countdown' was released, we were going non-stop."

The record became a number-one single wherever it was released in Europe. The surprise, however, was how hot the band became in America after only one video and absolutely no concerts.

"We know that people think we've made it on our 'good looks'," Joey says with an edge of anger. "But it really isn't true. They say that about a lot of bands. Our music is the most important thing about us. No one buys records if they don't want to hear what's on them. Who cares what we look like!"

This argument falls apart, however, when it's pointed out to EUROPE that their "Final Countdown" album (released a year ago) did very little action in America until MTV began airing the video of the song. When rock fans actually saw the sex appeal behind the voices, "Final Countdown" began climbing the charts.

"It's also true that Bon Jovi's success has helped us," Joey admits reluctantly. "We share a lot of fans with Bon Jovi, and of course, that band has been accused of making it on Jonny's looks. Who cares? Whatever makes people notice us, the thing that will keep them on our side is the music."

Whatever EUROPE's magic is, today they are one of the hottest, most successful hard rock acts in the world. Surviving some crucial membership-go-rounds (current guitarist Kee Marcello replaced John Norum when EUROPE got popular, and Norum was reluctant to sell himself in the promotion blitz that suddenly surrounded the band) and fighting for their rights to sing in English (English is the right rock 'n' roll language! Ian smiles), EUROPE now finds themselves doing well enough to have some serious tax problems.

"We love our home country, but the amount if money you have to pay in taxes is ridiculous. We are seriously considering living somewhere else - America, Monaco, the Bahamas. How else can we keep enough money? It seems funny to be thinking about such things so quickly, but this business makes you grow up," Joey explains, with wisdom far beyond his 24 years.

Admittedly not a party band, EUROPE also has a reputation for their strict health habits. Several typical symbols of a fast rock 'n' roll life (groupies, drugs, alcohol, etc.) are either kept to a minimum or nonexistent in their busy schedules.

"I get a lot of exercise on the stage," Joey tells us. "So I don't have to work out in a gym, but I do try to watch what I eat."

"Me, too," Ian says. "I try to stay away from unnecessarily fatty foods, like pizza and hamburgers. Well, once in awhile I love a hamburger! But generally, I try to eat healthier foods, like soups and salads. I don't eat late in the evening, either. As for exercise, I think an hour and a half behind a drum kit is plenty! That's a hard workout for anyone's body! I know it keeps me in very good shape."

"We want to be ready for anything," bassist John Levén adds. "What has happened to us is wonderful - unbelievable, really. It seems very fast but also right on time. We have always worked hard and made decisions together. Now we are living still another dream. We are here in America. We want our music to be heard all over the world. But America is very special to us!"

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