|Out of this world...|
Bonici From: Metal
Hammer - 1988
Joey Tempest, the man with the face
that launched a million screams, is relaxing in the backroom of Olympic Studios,
his home for the past four months. Has it been worth it? Like hell, it's been!
One spin of EUROPE's new chart demolisher, "Superstitious" is
guaranteed to set eyeballs spinning. It's a perfect single for the summer! The
album, "Out of This World" is a blockbuster event too and rivals not
surprisingly their debut "The Final Countdown". Joey talks about his
music and life with a passion, in an exclusive interview with Ray Bonici.
Ray Bonici: "Tell me what it was like in Stockholm for you, musically. Was there a music scene or did you find it necessary to move out of Sweden?"
Joey Tempest: "The music we liked was definitely from England and America, so we couldn't get enough inspiration from Stockholm. I came from the suburbs, outside Stockholm. There were a few bands there playing before we got together and formed this band, and what we listened to then was English and American bands. The music scene didn't really help us there. We have these folk gigs in parks in the summer, but we don't have the club scene at all in Sweden."
RB: "How Swedish are you these days?"
JT: "I'm still a little Swedish."
RB: "Do you think Swedish anymore?"
JT: "Right now I have been thinking in English, for the last few months. If I go home for a little while I start thinking in Swedish. I think Swedishfood wise."
RB: "You're living outside of Sweden now?"
JT: "Yes, I am a resident of the Bahamas now, we have a house just outside the Bahamas for all the band but we haven't been there all together yet. We are in limbo right now, but that's fine with us because everything we do revolves around this music. We wanna do this 100 % now so it doesn't really matter if we don't have a real base right now. But our hearts are in Sweden and most of us will probably move back."
RB: "When I was in Sweden I used to hear the words 'Swedish military service', did you have to escape it?"
JT: "Yeah, I didn't do it but I postponed it, people do it and like it too, but some people don't. I'm not saying I don't, but it's a neutral country. I think it's pretty stupid with war anyway. I would have done it but I couldn't be away from writing for twelve months, I mean I could write there but I wouldn't feel at home. I need to be at one place that I feel at home, I postponed it for three or four years but they got on my back so by that time I just decided to move out, so it solved itself since I moved out and I don't have to do it any more."
RB: "How much have you climatized yourself to living in the Bahamas, because I heard you were a bit unhappy there."
JT: "No, it was because I couldn't really write there, that was before we got the house. I was renting a place. It was nice though. I had a great time sunbathing, but I felt worried about the new album, I wanted to get going on it, so I went home to Sweden. I stayed with my parents where I had written 'The Final Countdown' and I wrote 'Out of This World'; which is the name of the new album, and that turned out pretty good, so I was a month at home working day and night, putting the demo together and then I came to London."
RB: "How long ago was this?"
JT: "This Christmas I was doing the demos, then we met up here in February, rehearsing the demos and then we went into the studio here in March."
RB: "Didn't the authorities try to keep you in Sweden?"
JT: "No, because the military service thing solved itself anyway. They wanted us to stay away for a while to prove that we moved out, but now we can go home. I went home the other week to my sister's wedding. There's no problem so long as we don't stay there over six months, and we've never stayed there six months anyway, we've been touring."
RB: "So the Bahamas have proved alright for you now?"
JT: "Yeah, I like it as a resort to relax. Working is good there, maybe if I have my own studio there, I could start working there, but I like it as a place to rest."
RB: "So is home here in London
for the band right now?"
JT: "At the moment, yes. It has been for the past four months. Home could be on the road too, because right now I feel like going on the road. Everybody in the band wants to and play live."
RB: "How much under pressure are you from going to and fro?"
JT: "I'm pretty confident at this stage, but I felt nervous in 1987, because after the success of 'The Final Countdown' I tried to write something like it again, but it didn't work out and I realized this is what happens to everybody. If you get successful, you get weird, you want to write the same again, but you have to relax. I just went back to my old routine by playing every day and following my feelings and writing new stuff. This album might be the new 'Final Countdown', but it will be completely different, see what I mean? I had a hard time putting the demos together, I guess, that was a lot of pressure, but now I feel proud and relieved and the 12 songs on it sound great."
RB: "When you can't be so prolific at times, can't you rely on the other guys in the band?"
JT: "Yes, of course I did and they helped me with some stuff on this album, but I've always wanted to do stuff on my own ever since I was a young guy. I want to prove to people that I can do it, that's the problem I'm gonna have in the future because to follow this album out, I don't feel like writing at all now. I just want to put it aside and go out and play it live. The other guys came up with ideas and we have written some things together."
RB: "Do you find that because of the stardom you achieved maybe at one point you were alienated from the rest of the band?"
JT: "No, because I'm the only original member here. John the bass player and I have been here from the very beginning. I have been very determined in this, I know what I have been in this ride, I have been trying to write songs for the albums and doing my best all the time. That's what I have been raised to do, sometimes you put a lot of pressure on yourself, but it's always been a band feeling, there's been a few changes in the line-up, I could go solo, but I don't like the idea at all. I like the band feeling, I like to go out on the road together with the band and I like everybody to bring their feelings when we do recordings. I do demos but when we rehearse and record they can do what they wanna do."
RB: "So you miss the company of the band, the friendship?"
JT: "Yeah, I couldn't be a solo artist. I'd be lonely, even though I'm a loner, I think the band is important for everyone. I think it's great to have that."
RB: "What was it like at home, do you come from a big family?"
JT: "I have one brother who is one year younger than me and a sister who's four years older than me. I spent time with my brother when I was younger."
RB: "So you had someone you could relate to."
JT: "Yes, I wasn't the only child or anything like that, but I always went aside and did things my way, but I like to respect other people and their opinions. I probably have got an ego, but I don't show it, I think that's the way it should be. I don't like people that go around showing that they have an ego."
RB: "Do you think there's lots of rock stars with problems?"
JT: "Yeah, they can't keep their ego inside. They say the wrong things and people and fans react to that."
RB: "But when people flatter you, say, how good
looking you are and all this sort of stuff, and you start floating in the air,
how do you bring yourself back down?"
JT: "I'm my own critic, even if they flatter me 100 % like a gig where I know I sang bad and they say: 'You were great,' I say: 'Thank you,' even though I know I didn't do good. But everybody likes flattery. I try to keep my ego in control, it's dangerous to float out."
RB: "With the pressures of success, what sort of problems were you facing when you came to write the album?"
JT: "I didn't know until I put them together this Christmas how good the songs were. That was the problem and I worry a lot. I can get sleepless nights just because of a bad mix, sometimes I build up too much worry. It's both good and bad because if you worry about things, you wanna do them right all the time, and that could get you somewhere."
RB: "Do you think you are a perfectionist?"
JT: "Yeah, in ways, But I don't say I know everything, I know I couldn't produce an album although I have tried, but I didn't like it. I try my best in everything. I don't get lazy, I can't sit around, but I do a lot of work in my head too. I can sit around for hours planning and I worry."
RB: "When you get your ideas for songs and for lyrics, do you look at your own personal life and experience and write about it?"
JT: "Both, I like the adventure, I like the 'Final Countdown' type. I got some lyrics like that on this album too, lyrics where people can sit down and have their own feelings about it. Two people can think different things to what it's about, but I always like lyrics to have some meaning, it doesn't have to be important or anything like that."
RB: "Do you try and angle some of your songs towards love affairs?"
JT: "Yes I think 80 % of the songs in all the world are mainly about love and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that as far as I'm concerned. It's the way you do it, I think, the words you use, your character, but also on this album, there's a song called 'Tower's Callin'', which is about the Bermuda Triangle. Things like that are interesting and there's also a song called 'Ready or Not'; about the first rock concert I went to and liked. It was a Thin Lizzy concert."
RB: "You're a Phil Lynott fan?"
JT: "Yes, that was the band that we listened to most when we started to play together, I think, Thin Lizzy and UFO."
RB: "Obviously 'Tower's Callin'' has been influenced by your move to Nassau."
JT: "Yes, I actually landed there once too, so I got the feeling about it and there's a few other things that are on the album, I would say 70% would be about love and feelings around love, but there's also some other ideas."
RB: "Are you a romantic?"
JT: "Yes I am, in my mind anyway. When I write lyrics I'm definitely a romantic. I think it's the way you write it. I don't sing: 'I love you' in my lyrics. I sing around it with feeling. Words are also music, they're an instrument to the song. You have to find the right words to it. That's why when I do demos it takes a long time for me to do the lyrics, because I have the demos without vocals and I listen to it over and over again till I find the right word to fit that little space. Also singers always have a few words they want to sing because they roll off the tongue, like 'down' and 'around'."
RB: "Those are your favorites?"
JT: "There are a few I like to sing, there's also 'before' and 'more'. There's also a typical one I try not to use: 'Way' and 'say'. They're used everywhere but you shouldn't write lyrics just around those things. After you've written the lyrics you can sit down and look at it but then you shouldn't change it, because cause I always write what I feel."
RB: "Because you have a command of English, it must become easier for you now?"
JT: "Yes, but we are also a European band. I think European bands are a little different from American bands when it comes to lyrics. Lyrics over here in Europe are a bit deeper. On this album I wrote what I felt and I haven't sat down for months trying to get the perfect lyric out, because that's not the way it should be done."
RB: "Are you aware how much effect your ballads are having on people, on your fans?"
JT: "I've talked to people about it, but I haven't known about it before, that's an interesting thing because as a songwriter and lyricist you don't think about it, you search for real words for a song, but then people hear it and they really find the meaning in it and the relationship that they have works like it's exactly my relationship to the song. It effects a lot of people, it depends how sensitive you are, but there are a lot of sensitive people out there, and I have met and talked to a few who are not musicians at all, they say that some lyrics just touch them a lot and I think that's great, and also melodies do. So obviously the perfect ballads are one with good sensitive lyrics and good melodies."
RB: "Having been a fan of music yourself, you know the feeling that these fans have towards your music?"
JT: "Yeah, I know that and that's important, nowadays when I write lyrics I think to how people will receive it."
RB: "How does being a pin-up appeal to?"
JT: "It's become a part of it and if I would let it affect me it would only drive me crazy so I don't think or care about it. I just see it as part of the job, in the 80's you gotta do that now. In the 70's they didn't care, they said 'no' to photo sessions."
RB: "What was your reaction when you first saw your face plastered on the walls in the streets, what went through your mind?"
JT: "Oh, 'that was a lousy picture.' I think of the quality of the picture more than what the whole meaning of it is. I remember the first time we got a review in the magazine, I kept it for weeks just looking at it, but as you go along, you get used to it. I don't mind it."
RB: "What's your status right
now, are you a family man?"
JT: "No, I'm all for music, it's hard really to keep a private life going in limbo."
RB: "So you're unattached right now?"
JT: "Almost, I have got a girlfriend but I won't get deep in anything, not yet, because I think this part of my life is so important. If I do something, I want to do it good. If I want a family, I want it done good. I want to be a good father, take care of my kids. I really want to do that good like I want to do the music now, but I don't think I will do both or at least I don't want to try. Of course I will write when I have a family, but I won't go on touring like I really want to go for it now."
RB: "Being single also helps, I mean these days it seems like the 50's and 60's when married musicians used to hide their wives."
JT: "It's interesting that you mentioned that, because some people don't want to be seen married in the public eye. I think that's fine, I think you should do what you want to do."
RB: "So long your life doesn't get dictated, you can't say: 'Hang on a second, if I get married, are my fans going to leave me?'"
JT: "Some people think like that, I used to think like that, but I don't keep it as a major thought, because that's stupid, but I wouldn't get married now anyway, so I don't worry about it."
RB: "But you are married to thousands of fans?"
JT: "Yes, that's my relationship with my fans, and also they send me letters asking me if I want to get married."
RB: "So what age does the audience range from these days?"
JT: "I don't know, I think it's quite broad."
RB: "'Carrie' opened quite a lot of doors for you, didn't it?"
JT: "Yeah, but we are going to get it a lot more now because this album is more bluesy, we just brought all our influences into it. We're going to broaden even more now, it's also heavy. I like heavy, I like guitars."
RB: "Is it heavier than 'Final Countdown'?"
JT: "Soundwise it probably is, and some of the songs too, but we have taken the melodies and backed it in with the heavy style, it worked out great."
RB: "You got Ron Nevison producing. What made you go for him?"
JT: "It was suggested by CBS. It was just a coincidence, he was in the CBS building when me and Thomas, our manager, was there and we met him and talked to him, then we we started to think about it and we got together. We met him twice before it was decided and we knew he had done some good stuff, but we wanted to know what kind of a person he was because we like to work with people who are nice and you can get along with."
RB: "Kevin Elson was OK though, wasn't he?"
JT: "Yes, he's very nice, and we are still friends. He was great, but we wanted to try something different this time. Ron Nevison is a little more daring whereas Kevin wants to play it safe. Ron can take it to the limit and that's what we wanted this time: solos, vocals, heavy rock bottom, everything is trying to be pushed to the limit this time."
RB: "Has Ron brought in some of his Ozzy-heavy sounds?"
JT: "Yeah... we like his drum sound a lot and his guitar sound, he can sing as well. We talked about it. We did a lot of good vocal things on this album. If you stand there and sing, and the producer says: 'Well, that was lousy,' and you know that was the best you sang, you still have to take his word on it because he has similar tastes. That was the case with this album."
RB: "Have you got lots of hits with this one?"
JT: "I would say so, this is the perfect combination of being your own band, writing and being commercial. The question now is to broaden ourselves musically and not just try to have hits. We've already experienced that side of it with the previous album. I think it's the perfect combination and the sound is heavy, and I have always been fond of guitarists. There is also an organ in this, so I guess a lot of old people will start to listen."
RB: "Your first single is called 'Superstitious', which I like a lot. It has also some reggae overtones in the middle, probably the Caribbean influence you picked up in Nassau."
JT: "That's right. I think it will be a big hit. I'm glad you liked it. You're the first journalist I played it to."
RB: "Are you superstitious?"
JT: "No, that's the thing. The main lyric is: 'I am not superstitious.'"
RB: "About what?"
JT: "About anything to do with superstition. The lyrics are about love mainly, a story that 'no matter what happens, even superstitious things can't affect it.' If for instance a mirror breaks, it is only a mirror that broke, it ain't gonna change your life. I have no reason to be superstitious."
RB: "Are you maybe superstitious subconsciously?"
JT: "I believe you can affect things that happens around you, and if you work hard, you may be able to pull through things."
RB: "Did you ever have to resort to any medication or religion or anything like that to help you with your day to day affairs?"
JT: "No, but I sometimes wish I could, because I need to relax at times."
RB: "How much are you aware of competition from other bands? Bon Jovi are bringing out a new album soon...?"
JT: "To be honest, I'm not scared or anything, because I know what he have got is real good. We wouldn't like to go on at the same time though, because that's not fair on the kids. They (the kids) can't afford two concerts. I like competition though, it keeps you on your toes."
RB: "Have you ever met Bon Jovi?"
JT: "I met Jon twice. First time I met him was really strange, we met at 'Top of the Pops'. I think they looked a bit big headed, really. That week we were number one and they were number six, and they probably didn't like that. Then I met him in the States and we talked about the tour, we were on tour at the same time."
RB: "I'm glad you made that remark about big headedness. I suppose seeing that in front of you in other people makes you keep yourself level, because you don't want people to start calling you big headed."
JT: "Well, that's why I talked about keeping egos inside. That's very important. I wouldn't like to treat anybody like that. I would say: 'Hi, how are you doing, how's it going?'"
RB: "All in all you seem to be quite confident about your future and the new album. I'm pretty sure it will be a mega success."
JT: "I hope so too. There was a lot of skepticism from people as to whether we could come up with a good follow-up to 'The Final Countdown'. I think we have."