EUROPE Worst to Best - with Ian Haugland and Mic Michaeli
By: Stefan SundbergFrom: Skivsnack - May 26, 2020Translation by: Stein-Vidar

Stefan Sundberg: "How difficult is it really to rank your own discography? In this episode of SkivSnack, we give two members of EUROPE, drummer Ian Haugland and keyboardist Mic Michaeli, this exact mission. To rank EUROPE's eleven albums from worst to best, and at the same time share anecdotes and stories about the recording of these albums. So let's go. This is SkivSnack and I'm Stefan Sundberg."

Stefan: "Welcome Ian Haugland."

Ian Haugland: "Thanks."

Stefan: "Drummer."

Ian: "Yeah."

Stefan: "Mic Michaeli."

Mic Michaeli: "Thanks."

Stefan: "Keyboardist. And you are going to rank EUROPE's albums from worst to best, so I've received a list from each of you, in which you've done your respective rankings, and I've calculated an average score which has resulted in the list that we'll be going through in this program. And you have no idea how it's turned out. Has it been difficult to rank these albums? What do you say, Mic?"

Mic: "What I thought was difficult about ranking the albums was that I couldn't remember the songs on certain albums, so I had to go back and listen to them in order to put this list together, and in the end it worked out."

Stefan: "I thought about just that. We're talking about a production of eleven studio albums from 1983 to 2017. And as you say, Mic, how often do you listen to EUROPE albums?"

Mic: "No. Not often."

Stefan: "What do you say, Ian?"

Ian: "Well..."

Mic: "It does not happen."

Ian: "No, I barely listen to EUROPE songs before rehearsals for tours, even."

Mic: "I've noticed." (laughs)

Ian: "It's like how a baker rarely eats his own buns. You get enough of the dough when doing the baking. (laughs) Mic is like, 'What the hell does he mean?'"

Stefan: "But Mic, you've gone back and listened to some of the older albums?"

Mic: "Yeah, as well as some of the newer albums, actually, that we've done on this side of the millennium change, so to say."

Stefan: "Then let's get started. We're starting at the very bottom. The bottom of the barrel. And here you were touchingly in agreement. Both of you have picked Start from the Dark, your comeback album from 2004 after the 13 year long hiatus."

Mic: "In my case it's because... I simply don't think that the songs don't have the strength they should have had. I think in a way it's an interesting comeback album, because there are no attempts to sound like we did in the 80s and there are no attempts to get a radio hit or anything like that. But unfortunately the songwriting is a bit weak on this album, I think."

Ian: "You didn't have much to do. For the most part you had to make coffee during the recording. There weren't much keyboards on this album."

Mic: "No, there's not."

Ian: "I agree with you. The songs... there are some grains of gold. I think the title track is good. We've played it live several times."

Mic: "I agree."

Ian: "But I feel the album is a bit fragmented. It's a bit of this and that and something in between. We're fumbling for something, like 'Who are we today? Let's try this.' It feels a bit fuzzy."

Stefan: "You'd had a break for 13 years. Was there much discussion before the recording? 'What does EUROPE sound like in 2004?'"

Ian: "We had a meeting at your place where we discussed that ahead of the reunion, didn't we?"

Mic: "Yeah. Actually, if you imagine that we had carried on for these 12, 13 years where we had a coffee break and didn't play together. If we had kept making albums and kept evolving, then maybe we would have ended up in roughly the same place where we were on those albums. But now there was a huge jump from the album we made in 1991 to the album we made in 2004. So that album might have felt like a big departure, but I think we might have ended up there if we had kept making albums."

Stefan: "A lot had happened in the rock world during the 13 years you were gone. There was grunge and there was nu metal with Linkin Park and all that stuff. So it's like you said, Mic, it's obvious that you would have evolved in one way or another if you had kept going."

Mic: "Exactly."

Ian: "What I thought was fun about the recording of the album was that we went back to our roots. The old Soundtrade Studios in Solna where we did my first professional recording session when we recorded the first version of 'Rock the Night' which was released as a single in 1985. That was recorded at Soundtrade. The cult classic single 'Give a Helpin' Hand' by Swedish Metal Aid was also recorded in that studio. So it was a bit like going back our old roots."

Mic: "Plus the fact that we used the same producer that we had on The Final Countdown album."

Stefan: "Right, Kevin Elson."

Mic: "Right."

Song break: "Start from the Dark"

Stefan: "That was number 11 at the bottom of your list and you both picked the same album, Start from the Dark. You're also pretty much in agreement when it comes to the album on second-to-last place. And it's an album that neither of you played on, it's EUROPE's debut album, Europe from 1983. Honestly speaking, is the fact that you weren't band members at the time, a sticking point? Both of you came along on the third album."

Ian: "In my case, it's more the fact that I was just angry. I had my own band around the same time that EUROPE, or FORCE as they were called before, took part in the 'Rock-SM' contest. I had my own band and we competed in one of the preliminary rounds, where we competed against FORCE, or EUROPE, and naturally we lost. And then to see that those bastards who kicked us out ass-first, wound up winning the whole contest and got to record an LP which also sold well... So when I saw that record, I was like, 'Those bastards...' I was angry."

Stefan: "You were jealous?"

Ian: "Yeah. But I should also add that when I listen to the album, it's exactly what it looks like. I'm referring to Joey's pubertal scooter moustache. They look like four rascals from Upplands Väsby, which is exactly what they are. And I think the music sounds like that. It's damn rough and basement-like, 'What the hell, let's drink a few beers and what will be will be!' There's also a youthful charm to it, I think."

Mic: "I agree about the youthful charm, like 'Screw everything, let's just do our thing,' and there's a charm to it. It sounds a bit clumsy at times, but there's a charm to that too. But then I think the songs might not have held up as well as they did back then."

Ian: "Historically speaking, 'Seven Doors Hotel' might be the song we've played the most from that album."

Mic: "Yeah, that's true."

Song break: "Seven Doors Hotel"

Stefan: "Let's move on up on your ranking list. You're also pretty unanimous about the next one, the other album that you don't play on, Wings of Tomorrow from 1984. But both of you still think it's a notch above the debut?"

Mic: "I think Joey's songwriting talent has improved by several hundred percent here. There's some really good songs. I'm guessing that I've ranked that album higher than you did?"

Stefan: "Let's see, Ian ranked it at number 7 and Mic at number 8."

Mic: "That's how it was, huh? As I was saying, there's really good progress here. Sound-wise and playing-wise it's much better. Cool songs, interesting songs."

Stefan: "Recorded at Polar Studios, right?"

Ian: "Yes, exactly. It was..."

Mic: "Same engineer that Led Zeppelin used."

Stefan: "Exactly, Leif Mases."

Ian: "It was recorded late at night and in weekends when the studio wasn't fully booked. So they had a really good basis, apart from the fact that John Levén spilled a glass of Coca Cola straight into the mixing board so that it caught fire and caused a short circuit, but that's another story. So there were some blunders as well."

Mic: "They still had the youthful rebellion. The Polar Studios was ABBA's studio, really, and around that time Benny Andersson from ABBA had a wonderful synth produced by Yamaha, called the G..."

Ian: "GX-1. The 'Dream Machine.'"

Mic: "Exactly. There were only three of them in the whole world or something like that, and one of them was there. So when EUROPE were going to record, they were told, 'But you cannot use Benny's synth!' And they were like, 'No, we're not gonna use it!' And then of course they ended up using it on almost every song! So that's a bit funny."

Stefan: "But like you said, Mic, you weren't in the band then, so you didn't to get to use it."

Mic: "No. But the reason why I ended up in EUROPE was because there were a lot of keyboards on that album, and Joey wanted to concentrate on singing live. So I joined them on the tour following the album."

Stefan: "So that was your debut in EUROPE, the Wings of Tomorrow tour."

Mic: "Yes."

Ian: "But you had to stand at the back... I know there's a video recording of the gig you played at Göta Lejon, and there we can see you standing behind the monitor technician."

Mic: "Not behind the monitor technician, but I was supposed to be hidden a bit and not have so many spotlights on me. And I remember I talked to our lighting technician on that tour: 'Can't I have some more spotlights? Come on!' 'The other guys don't want that, you know. You're supposed to stay in the background.' 'What the hell?!'"

Stefan: "Was it because he thought keyboards were a bit ridiculous because it was hard rock?"

Mic: "Yeah, and in the beginning I wasn't an official band member."

Stefan: "You were a hired live musician."

Mic: "Exactly, so maybe it wasn't so strange after all!" (laughs)

Song break: "Scream of Anger"

Stefan: "Then there's the album which is both your debut as official band members and your breakthrough album. But it ended up being number 8 here. It's The Final Countdown and here you have bit of a disagreement. Ian, you ranked it at number 5, Mic at number 10."

Mic: "Whoa."

Ian: "Wow!"

Stefan: "So explain. Why is there such a difference? How do you feel about The Final Countdown today?"

Mic: "When we were done with that album in '86, it must have been, I was really proud and thought it was one of the best albums that had been made in the world. But now that I go back and listen to it, it's not at all the music that I listen to today. Back then it was the music that I listened to, but not anymore. That's why that album is so low on my list, because I don't think it's that damn interesting."

Stefan: "What kind of music did you play on that album compared to what you're listening to today?"

Mic: "(That album) is too planned out, the songwriting is very square. (Music) feels more alive today."

Ian: "We were following given templates on how to write a hard rock song or a hard rock ballad. We knew how Gary Moore wrote his songs. It was like, 'This is how it should be done!' But that album was also the first time that EUROPE got to work with an international producer. And it felt more like things were for real, in some way. I think if we had made that album on our own, I think it might have sounded a bit rougher, both soundwise and arrangement-wise. I know there were many things that the producer polished up, so to say, like the sound. I think we were pretty much under the influence of Kevin Elson."

Stefan: "He had previously been a producer for Journey."

Ian: "Exactly. And I thought we got to work in a damn cool studio outside Zurich, Switzerland. In a hole called Maur, wasn't it?"

Mic: "Maur!" (pronounced differently)

Ian: "There were two farms and a recording studio right between them. But it was great because when we went into the recording room, there was a panorama window. If you looked out, you could see a long meadow with cows and there was an alp lake, with the Alps on the other side. It looked great and mighty. Maybe not so rock'n'roll, but it was cool."

Stefan: "But you're in a bit of disagreement here, because you've ranked this album much higher than Mic."

Ian: "I think there are many strong songs and I think it's fun to play these songs live, especially because there's such a positive reaction from the crowds. It's such an energy boost for a musician. I always get happy when playing these songs. You never get tired of tapping into 'Final Countdown'. It's like sleeping with your girlfriend for the first time all the time... Assuming the first time was good, that is!" (laughs)

Mic: "It's like you have to explain your metaphors!" (laughs)

Ian: "Well... If..."

Song break: "Cherokee"

Stefan: "Now you've gone through the first three EUROPE albums in quick order, but now we're going to jump ahead a bit. At number 7 we have the album from 2012, Bag of Bones. You're pretty much in agreement on this one, placing it somewhere in the middle."

Mic: "It was one of the albums I went back to ahead of making our lists. I went back to listen to that album and hear what it really sounded like because I couldn't quite remember. And then I felt like it wasn't quite... I thought it would have been better than what I actually thought it was."

Stefan: "You thought it was good when it came out?"

Mic: "Yeah. Absolutely. I thought it sounded damn good. Well mixed and everything. But now that I listened back to it, I thought the songs didn't live up to the standard that I thought they did."

Stefan: "What do you say, Ian?"

Ian: "I remember I loved the drum sound. I love the big, open... When you can hear that there are drums in the room, not the separated sound from the 80s. And this was the first album in recent times where we worked with a proper producer. Previously we had produced... Well, apart from Kevin Elson on Start from the Dark. But it felt like now we could let go of the reins and just play, I can remember. Previously, at least I thought, we were still a bit locked into 'Don't take it too far now!' It was still a bit too safe. But with Bag of Bones and the producer Kevin Shirley who had previously worked with everyone. Rush, Iron Maiden..."

Stefan: "He's done many albums with Iron Maiden."

Ian: "Yeah, and we probably discovered him through Black Country Communion."

Mic: "Joe Bonamassa."

Ian: "Right. He really advocated, 'Hey man, just fucking go for it!' I feel it was our first album in recent times where I felt like, 'How fun! Wow! Just turn it loose!' I also think there were several cool songs on that album, for instance 'Firebox' which we usually play live. I think it's a damn fun song. It's on the verge of sounding like progressive rock."

Song break: "Firebox"

Stefan: "Now we're at number 6 and there's a disagreement here. It's Secret Society, your second album after the comeback. Mic ranked it at number 3 and Ian at number 9!"

Mic: "Eh?"

Ian: "Uh-huh! I usually refer to Secret Society as the band's 'beard album.'"

Stefan: "'Beard album?'"

Ian: ""Exactly."

Stefan: "Elaborate."

Ian: "Every band does a 'beard album', it's the album where they decide to do something wild and crazy, and then it doesn't turn out to be as good as you hoped for."

Mic: "Going back to the songs again, I think it's an album with incredibly many really great songs. So that's why I've ranked it so high."

Ian: "The coolest thing about the album is the album cover, really. We had the opportunity... He died later on... Storm Thorgerson, the brain behind Hypnosis."

Stefan: "Who designed several classic album covers."

Ian: "Yeah, in the 70s. Pink Floyd, Stones, you name it. He did the album cover for Secret Society. It's damn cool that we got to work with him."

Mic: "Yeah, it's fantastic."

Ian: "The hallmark of Hypnosis was that they did... There was no Photoshop or montages. It was for real. This album cover features a guy who has his back turned to the audience, or the viewer, giving a masonic handshake. And there are hands coming out of the walls around him. So it was all the co-workers at Hypnosis who had to stand around, and then a photo was taken with all those hands reaching out. Realy cool, a real handcraft. The thing that might not have been such a great idea was that we changed the EUROPE logo as well. It had a lot to do with the fact that Storm Thorgerson would not allow for the band logo to be printed on the album cover. Instead the band logo had to be put on a sticker on the CD case."

Mic: "Because his album covers were art and he was like, 'Is a damn band going to put their logo on my fine art?'" (laughs)

Ian: "He was a really grumpy man."

Mic: "Really grumpy."

Stefan: "I didn't know that, but now that you mention it, usually there's never been any band names on the album covers that Hypnosis and Thorgerson have designed."

Mic: "I don't think so."

Ian: "It's very rare."

Mic: "There are some that do."

Stefan: "His message was plain."

Mic: "It sure was!" (laughs)

Song break: "Always the Pretenders"

Stefan: "'Always the Pretenders' from the album Secret Society from 2006, which is at number 6. And before I go any further, I'd just like to thank those of you who listen to SkivSnack and have made this podcast the success that it has become! It's really great! Do follow us on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. Now, on to Top 5. Drum roll! Here we have an album that you're pretty much in agreement on. Ian ranked it at number 4, Mic at number 5, and that's Out of This World, your fourth album and the follow-up album to The Final Countdown. Out of This World which came out in 1988."

Mic: "Once again, we have an album that in hindsight might not have the very best production, but the songs on the other hand... There's really many great songs on this album. I think there's good songwriting craft here, quite simply."

Ian: "Yeah. I know that there were great expectations for this album, since The Final Countdown had sold, whatever it was, six or eight million copies or something. So naturally the record company wanted the next album to sell ten million, that's the expectations record companies had at the time. So I know that Joey very much had his back against the wall as a songwriter. But even Kee Marcello who was the guitarist who took over after Norum..."

Stefan: "This was his first album with EUROPE."

Ian: "It was. He contributed with some song ideas. And Mic, you wrote a bunch of stuff as well, huh?"

Mic: "Yeah."

Ian: "I agree, there really are many damn great songs here and we still play several of those songs live. But when you listen to that album today, it really sounds of its time. There was a synth that was very popular around 88-89. It was produced by Roland and was called D-50. I remember you used it a lot."

Mic: "There was a lot of that, yeah."

Ian: "I also know that when we recorded, we had a producer called Ron Nevison. A real sourpuss! (laughs) He had worked with UFO, Heart, KISS, everyone. He advocated the D-50 warmly. I recall there was a song, a ballad.... It could have been 'Coast to Coast'. It was a song where you played the Hammond organ anyway. Really fat-sounding, B3 or C3 or whatever the hell it's called. Really analogue-sounding, with Leslie speakers and everything. Very organic sound. And (Ron) was like, 'What the hell, why not just use the D-50? It has a really good organ sound, you know!'"

Mic: "No, I refused."

Ian: "Yeah!" (laughs)

Mic: "Or did I? Did I refuse?"

Ian: "Yeah, you put your foot down."

Mic: "I did, huh?"

Stefan: "So he got cranky?"

Ian: "Yeah!"

Mic: "He was always cranky."

Ian: "Wasn't it his birthday around the time we were recording? Wasn't it you and Joey who passed by a pawn shop or something and bought a birthday present for him?"

Mic: "It was a prank, really. We bought a really strange-looking cat. A tree sculpture of a cat with its head tilted to the side. It was grotesquely ugly. But it was just a funny thing."

Ian: "He had no clue at all. He just threw it away, didn't he?"

Mic: "He slammed it into the wall so it just went to pieces."

Stefan: "Really?"

Mic: "Yeah!"

Ian: "A real git."

Mic: "Totally humorless."

Song break: "Sign of the Times"

Stefan: "Now we're at number 4 and once again you're in a bit of a disagreement when it comes to the ranking. Ian ranked it at number 6 and Mic at number 2. It's Last Look at Eden from September 2009."

Ian: "I think this was the first album where everything fell into place again."

Stefan: "Since the reunion."

Ian: "Exactly. And we got our first big hit since the 80s, with 'New Love in Town' which was a big hit in Sweden. In terms of style, I think it felt like we had discovered the 'new EUROPE' in some way."

Stefan: "But Mic, you've ranked it at number 2."

Mic: "Yeah I think it's an incredibly strong album. We were focused. Furthermore, if you compare it to the previous albums that we talked about earlier, this is an album that both has really great songs and a good production. It's a well produced album. We worked with a guy from Gothenburg as our producer. Tobias..."

Stefan: "Lindell."

Mic: "Lindell, yeah. He had many cool ideas. He had mixed many pop albums and had some fun tricks that he could throw in. It was fun to do that in a hard rock production. Furthermore, it's the first album where we've used a symphony orchestra on several songs."

Stefan: "A real symphony orchestra?"

Mic: "Yeah, we went down to the Czech Republic to record. At first I sat down to put together some rough ideas for arrangements, like 'This is what it should sound like.' Then we sent that to some crazy guy in Vänersborg who wrote out scores and notes. He was like a crazy professor! So he wrote that out and then we went down to Prague in the Czech Republic to record. It was really mighty!"

Ian: "We showed the arrangements to the conductor and said, 'Czech this out!'"

Mic and Stefan: "Oof..."

Ian: (Laughs)

Song break: "Last Look at Eden"

Stefan: "'Last Look at Eden' from the album Last Look at Eden at number 4 when Mic Michaeli and Ian Haugland rank all of EUROPE's albums, and this happens to be my personal favorite EUROPE song. I think it's fantastic. Now, on to Top 3."

Mic: "Exciting!"

Ian: "Up on the victory podium!"

Stefan: "Up on the victory podium, and at number 3 is the album that you might disagree the most about, I reckon. Ian ranked it at number 1, but Mic at number 7. It's Prisoners in Paradise from '91, the last album you did before the hiatus. There's a big difference between your opinions on it now, nearly 30 years on. Let's hear from Ian who thinks it's EUROPE's best album."

Ian: "It's from the era... The thing that has always annoyed me is the fact that Prisoners in Paradise is so criminally disregarded in so many ways. When we started to write songs for Prisoners in Paradise, we had a vision that we wanted to make a real fucking rock album. It was going to be rough-sounding. The guy who was our collaborator at the record company was very hyped up, like 'Damn, this is gonna be great, you guys,' and pushed us in the right direction. So it felt like we had a damn good thing going. But when the album was finished and we were going to play these songs to the record company, it turned out that somewhere down the line, this guy who was our collaborator at the record company had been fired, along with several other people because there was a restructuring (at the record company). So in came two yuppie guys looking like two question marks, totally clueless. They sat down on the sofa and the producer started the playback. Then afterwards, the classic line: 'Well... we don't hear any hits. Think you guys need to write some more songs.' And to me at least, it was like some bastard stuck a needle into a balloon. Poof! Joey was forced to go back into his 'songwriter bubble', and by the time he had coughed up a certain amount of new songs that worked for those guys at the record company, and we had recorded them, almost an entire year had passed by. So when Prisoners in Paradise was ready to be released, those three rascals from Seattle, damn dirty garage rockers who called themselves Nirvana, had just broken through big-time and more or less killed off the entire 80s rock genre, the genre of music that we represented. So when Prisoners in Paradise was going to be released, the record company had completely different priorities."

Stefan: "But despite this, it's still your favorite EUROPE album, Ian?"

Ian: "Yeah. I think that the album has so incredibly many damn good songs and it was never given a chance. The damn album could have gone through the roof if it had received the right push from the record company and the music business right from the start."

Stefan: "But Mic, you're a bit more skeptic to this one?"

Mic: "Yeah, due to many of the same reasons that Ian mentioned, really! (laughs) I agree with you about the idea, we had a thought about making a real good rock album. We had written many songs. Some of the best songs didn't make it and weren't even (properly) recorded, and I think that the songs that were added after Joey started to write with other artists, those songs are among the worst on the album. (laughs) There are many great songs on the album, absolutely. But I think the album unfortunately became a kind of a mishmash. I know that on one occasion a journalist asked me, 'How long do you think you'll be going?' I said, 'Hopefully we'll stop when we don't think it's fun aymore.' And that's exactly what happened. It wasn't so fun anymore, so we put a lid on it. We didn't say, 'Let's meet up in 12 years and see if we can do something again.' It just felt natural (to stop)."

Stefan: "It wasn't like you sat down and said, 'Now EUROPE is split up.'"

Mic and Ian: "No."

Stefan: "It just ran into the sand?"

Mic and Ian: "Yeah."

Mic: "We did the last gig on the tour in Wales or something, somewhere in the Great Britain, anyway. And then it just felt pretty good!" (laughs)

Ian: "We stepped out of the tour bus and were like, 'See ya! Sure thing! Bye!' Then I stepped into my apartment and the first thing I picked out from the pile of letters was a paying-in form from the tax agency, claiming that I owed 3.6 million (Kronor) in unpaid taxes!"

Stefan: "With 3.6 million spelled out in digits?"

Ian: "Yeah!"

Stefan: "Did you get one, Mic?"

Mic: "Uh-huh, we all did."

Stefan: "Have you put it up in a frame?"

Mic: "It's probably lying around somewhere. I seem to remember that I put it in a frame, but I haven't seen it (in a long time). It's probably in a box somewhere in the attic."

Song break: "Seventh Sign"

Stefan: "Then there was a break and you came back 13 years later. Still going strong and releasing albums regularly. We're going to the two albums at the top. It's actually your two latest albums. We'll start with the one that came out second-to-last... which year was it? 2015. In March 2015 you released War of Kings. Ian ranked it at number 3 and Mic at number 4. Maybe not right at the top, but in total it averages out to number 2 on the ranking."

Ian: "It was the first production we did with Dave Cobb."

Stefan: "Who produced Rival Sons, among others."

Ian: "Yeah, that's probably how we found out about him. All of us wanted to go back to a more organic sound."

Mic: "Yeah, exactly. He partially does rock albums, but he also produces several country artists and is huge in the USA. So we felt that there was no way he would say yes if we asked him. The bands who get the chance to work with him sell immensely much more than we do. Those country stars in the USA. So we didn't have very high hopes."

Ian: "I seem to remember that he was asked. And he was like, 'Fuck, how cool! EUROPE is one of my favorite bands from the 80s! I grew up with their music! Yeah, I want to work with them!' So to him it was a bit like working with his old heroes. I remember prior to the recording... He had a really tight schedule, naturally, so he had set two weeks or something aside to go to Stockholm where we were going to record the album in a studio that was called..."

Mic: "PanGaia."

Ian: "PanGaia, right. It was totally new. It hadn't even opened. We were the first band, we arrived right after the paint had dried."

Stefan: "So War of Kings is the first album to be recorded in that studio?"

Ian: "Yeah, exactly. So we had no clue about how the studio worked and Dave Cobb had no clue. So it was a lot of 'Let's see how this turns out!'"

Stefan: "What is it that you think is so good about War of Kings?"

Ian: "War of Kings was an album that felt like... If Last Look at Eden was the album where we found our 'thing', War of Kings had the 'turn it loose' spirit, with Dave Cobb as the captain who steered the ship. So it was even more of a refinement of the band's sound, I thought. Many damn good songs."

Song break: "War of Kings"

Stefan: "Now we're at number 1. Tada! Once again you worked with Dave Cobb. It's your latest album, Walk the Earth from 2017."

Mic and Ian: "Right."

Stefan: "Here you were very much in agreement. Mic at number 1, Ian at number 2."

Mic: "I think we're daring in a way that might not have... Even if we've become more and more daring after we started up again on this side of the millennium change, I think we dare to take out the turns a bit. Instead of taking it to the max when the chorus comes in a song, we'll bring it down. We dare to be a bit progressive with our music. There are damn good songs."

Ian: "It's a refinement of our self confidence. A more mature self confidence. EUROPE got some hair on the chest. A bit gray, but still. We believe in our ability to deliver and we notice the reactions we get for both War of Kings and Walk the Earth is, 'Damn! EUROPE has never been better!'"

Stefan: "But if I play devil's advocate, many bands say, 'Our latest album is our best album.'"

Ian: "Yeah."

Stefan: "Is that a sticking point? If we do this program again in ten years, you might say something completely different."

Mic: "Yeah, but I think... Absolutely, there's much to what you're saying, that one tends to say that his latest work is his best. But that's also because one hopefully is developing for the better all the time. At least according to what one thinks himself. And that makes it a natural choice, most often, anyway."

Ian: "One thing we should mention is that the album was recorded in the enriched Abbey Road Studios."

Stefan: "That's right!"

Mic: "I can imagine that it was a dream come true for everybody, because it is one of the world's most legendary studios. The fact that it's still around is fantastic, because it was about to be shut down. But like I said, it's still there and furthermore they've kept a lot of old goods and tape recorders and everything. And we asked to have it brought up, or rather Dave Cobb asked to have every old thing from the 60s brought into the studio! So we recorded the vocals via Beatles' old mixing board. We recorded the guitars through Pink Floyd's old mixing board. It never stopped. We found an old tin can with one knob on it and 'John Lennon' was written on it! Someone had built it for him because he wanted his voice to sound more nasal than what it really was, so it was an EQ thing of some sorts. So there was a lot of that stuff that was fantastic."

Song break: "Walk the Earth"

Stefan: "Number 1, Walk the Earth. The best EUROPE album so far."

Ian: "Yeah, exactly."

Stefan: "Ian Haugland."

Ian: "Yeah!"

Stefan: "Mic Michaeli."

Mic: "Uh-huh."

Stefan: "Thank you so much for coming here to rank your albums, even though I understand that it's a tough thing to do."

Mic: "It was really fun!"

Stefan: "Glad to hear it! Thank you!"

Mic and Ian: "Thanks!"

Stefan: "In the next episode of Skivsnack we're going to meet Fredrik Strage and talk about albums that one has reevaluated over the years, and albums one has tried to reevaluate, but in vain. Like I said, follow us on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. And do tell friends who like music about this podcast. Also thanks to Taket for help with graphic design. I'm Stefan Sundberg. See ya soon. Bye!"

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