Golden Times: Joey Tempest

By: Øyvind Mund         From: Gyldne Tider - August 23, 2002         Translated by: Stein-Vidar

Joey Tempest: "Some rock artists say that... 'I played in a band to get girls. That's the only reason I was in one.' But it wasn't quite like that. The main reason was that we loved music, but of course there were some girls, along the way."

Then he talks about how he wrote "The Final Countdown":

Joey: "I came up with that riff when... I borrowed a keyboard, a Korg one, from the keyboardist who later joined the band. And then I had... (hums some of the riff). I came up with that riff, and then it lay in the drawer for a while. Later when I wrote songs for the third EUROPE album, someone in the band said, 'How about we write a song around that riff?' We wanted a song that could open our show... And people would think, 'Cool, how rocking!'"

A clip from the video for "The Final Countdown" is shown.

Joey: "We were number one in 25, 26 countries... It's a dream. But when you're so young and write a song, you never know that."

After the video clip, they cut to an old Swedish TV interview from 1986, which you can see on the "Rock the Night" DVD:

Interviewer: "It's Joey Tempest who is the engine of the EUROPE going for the USA. He is the very leader of the band who writes the songs. He sings and charms the young, female audience."

Interviewer: "Your real name is Joakim Larsson. Why do you call yourself Joey Tempest?"

There is a moment of silence. Joey smiles and pretends to look unsure.

Joey: "...Joakim Larsson? (Laughs)"

Back to the original interview:

Øyvind Mund: "You were christened Joakim Larsson, right? When did you take the 'Joey' name?"

Joey: "I went to school... We loved rock bands. And when we grew up, there were bands like... Like David Bowie, Elton John. Those weren't bands, but... There were many people who took different names. It was pretty common, and I grew up with that. You almost invented a character who you wanted to show. An alter ego, almost."

Another clip from the 1986 interview:

Interviewer: "My daughter who loves both you and EUROPE, has looked in the encyclopedia, and "tempest" means storm."

Joey: "Yeah."

Interviewer: "Was there any ulterior motive with that?"

Joey: "No, I actually got it from Shakespeare, from his written play 'Tempest'."

Back to the original interview:

Joey: "I saw some books by Shakespeare in the school library. There I saw 'Tempest'. That sounded cool, I thought. And Joey fitted well... I remember when I was in the USA with my parents when I was very young. There Joakim was difficult to pronounce. So it was 'Joe'. I was just a small kid, so I thought, 'how cool, they call me Joe!' (Laughs) I thought that was really cool. And then I remembered, 'Joey Tempest'... That sounded good."

Joey: "I had a vision about us to look like an international band. Now that I've been abroad many years... I've met quite a few people who didn't know that we were Swedish. And that's how I wanted it to be. I don't know why... I had a long vision about this being an international band. You shouldn't be able to tell if we're from this or that country. It could be a little mysterious... It could be just a band."

Øyvind: "Your hair has become a little shorter since the 80s..."

Joey: "Yeah, a bit shorter... (Laughs) That was another vision I had. My first visual idol was probably Robert Plant
. I thought he looked cool... 'Yeah, awesome'... (Laughs) Jimmy Page said once that 50% of being a rocker is how you look like."

(Robert Plant was the vocalist and Jimmy Page was the guitarist in Led Zeppelin, one of Joey's first favorite bands.)

Øyvind: "What's your life without EUROPE like, compared to life with EUROPE?"

Joey: "It's a bit calmer without EUROPE... (Laughs) There was a lot of traveling and concerts... But it feels pretty good. I've lived in Ireland for a while. But I miss the guys sometimes. We meet each other once in a while, and talk."

Øyvind: "Have you talked about some kind of reunion?"

Joey: "We don't have any plans about it, but it's not impossible. We're still friends, so there's still a possibility. It's not like we want to kill each other. (Laughs) But we were pretty tired of each other in 1992. There was a lot of touring and... we didn't live at home, we were traveling most of the time."

Øyvind: "But that was the life you had dreamed about, though?"

Joey: "Yeah, it was a rock dream. It was fantastic. It's an incredible dream that we had since school."

Øyvind: "What kind of style would you have chosen now if you were going to be the lead singer of EUROPE again?"

Joey: "Well, then I would have to reinvent the whole thing. I would never put on a wig and do the same show as before. That wouldn't work. (Laughs) Or let my hair grow again... No, then I would do something new, if there's any soul in the band. If there is, then we'll do it. If there isn't... If there isn't any spark there... If there isn't a little corn to build on... Then there's no point in doing it."

Another clip from the "Final Countdown" video is shown.

Øyvind: "It has to be pretty fun having written a song that still lives on strongly?"

Joey: "Yeah, it's fantastic. It's fun to see when it's played at the discotheque. Then people start jumping to it. It's a bit difficult dancing to it... (Laughs) I think that's charming, when I go some place and it's played there. It's a great feeling. When you're in a band or you're a songwriter... When you hear your song on the radio for the first time. When you're in the car... That's fantastic."

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