Joey Tempest (EUROPE)
Photograph : Fredrik Etoall
Swedish hard rock band EUROPE has just finished their newest studio effort “Bag of Bones”, 2 and a half years after their previous album “Last Look At Eden”. The new album marks their 9th album (4th after the reunion) and portrays a newer style of their music, adding another masterpiece to their discography. Singer and main songwriter, Joey Tempest talks about EUROPE’s new album “Bag of Bones”.
Photograph : Patric Ullaeus
Interview / Text Mamoru Moriyama
Translation Louis Sesto (EAGLETAIL MUSIC)
It has become common for many of the successful rock bands from the 80s to do reunions. But, the truth is that many of these bands that make a comeback just to go on tour to play their hits from the past. It is a fact that bands also release new material, but find themselves caught in between their new style of music and the fans expecting a sound similar to that from the 80s.
EUROPE made a comeback in 2004. Since their reunion, the band has presented a new style to their music, without hesitation and without turning back to their old style of music. Many of the old EUROPE fans hesitated to this new style, but now have accepted the new sound, while the band also continues to acquire a new fan base. We were able to ask the singer and main songwriter, Joey Tempest, about the new album “Bag of Bones”, which shows that the band has evolved into a newer style in their music.
Muse On Muse : In a previous interview, you mentioned that the next album will be a straighter and harder rock album. I find the new album to be harder and more aggressive than previous albums and the material seems to be deeper and is definitely a superb piece of work. How do you personally feel now that the new album is completed?
Joey Tempest : We took it to a place we’ve never been. The expression the attitude with a touch of blues. We’ve crossed the line and we can never go back……..I’m very proud!
MM : What was the concept for the new album?
JT : We just followed the spirit of the band, our influences and drew from our experience. Maybe a difference from the other “new” albums is that this one goes back further, to our earliest influences in hard rock like Zeppelin and Deep Purple.
MM : The artwork seems to have a magical/spell-bound kind of touch to it. What is the meaning behind the artwork? The artwork seems to be somewhat different compared to past EUROPE albums.
JT : We refer to it as “THE DESK OF DOOM” God knows what that man has gone through. Is he sleeping? Is he dead? We think its great when there are many details to discover in the picture. I saw GRAVEYARDS latest cover (Hissingen blues) and wanted to work with that artist. He was delighted to do this work for us. Great cover! We think its our best.
MM : How was it working with Kevin Shirley?
JT : A real pleasure! We found a great studio for him in Stockholm (Atlantis) that only has old gear from the 60s and 70s. He created a nice atmosphere and recorded a warm classic rock sound with 2012 punch. We all enjoyed the procedure and will never leave this style of recording.
MM : The recording was done as in a live situation, everybody playing at the same time. What was your opinion after recording in this method and hearing the outcome?
JT : We always record playing at the same time but the difference this time was that we stood in one and the same room with headphones. We are usually split up into different rooms (control room etc). But the main difference was that we recorded everything “song by song”. Which means we more or less finished each track before starting on the next. This meant that all of us in the band were there from day one until the last day of recording. It made everyone in the band involved in all he stages of the session.
Great way to record. We will never go back to doing all the drums and bass the first week and then start all the overdubs. Ian and Leven used to be done after 5-6 days…….
MM : I figure that it would take a well experienced band like EUROPE to be able to record as in a live situation. On the other hand, we find less recordings like this in the scene nowadays. What is your opinion regarding this?
JT : For a band that tours a lot and writes their own material this is a great way to record, but you need a bit of confidence.
Photograph : Fredrik Etoall
MM : The opening track “Riches To Rage” features very aggressive guitars by John Norum. I feel that both your vocal performances and John’s guitar performances are in full throttle throughout the whole album. What do you think?
JT : RICHES TO RAGS is one of my favorites. Great attitude, interesting lyrics. When i was working on the lyric there was a sense that we needed to destroy our past in order to move ahead. Hence the strong lyrics. I think Norum did a great job on the whole Bag Of Bones. He told me he didn’t want to over-prepare the solos this time. He wanted to be more spontaneous. Love his sound and tone. What an extraordinary guitarist! It was the first record where I expressed myself without any restraint or control. The vocal performance and the lyrics just flowed. I suppose I no longer translate anything from Swedish. I now talk, think and dream in English. It makes it easier to express things straight from heart and soul.
MM : “Not Supposed To Sing The Blues” is a great composition. The hard edged sound combined with precessions leave a great impression. Did you purposely aim to create a sound on this album that was different to your previous releases?
JT : I guess the album turned out like a big long tribute to classic rock as we know it. We had a sound we were aiming for and with Kevins help we got there. Im very proud of “Not Supposed To Sing The Blues”. Glad we finally wrote and recorded such a song.
MM : “Firebox” starts out with a very aggressive guitar and bass riff, mixing with the mystical drum and keyboard sound, creating a very dramatic vibe for the song. The middle part of the song also has a mystical feel and creates a great backup to your vocals too. Parts such as the above, as well as all the other songs seem to have a lot more detailed parts compared to past albums, keeping the listener very entertained. What do you think?
JT : Firebox is a real “firecracker” of a song. It keeps you interested…..Mic sent me the riff and I built a song around it. Majestic song! Cant wait to play it live!
MM : “Bag Of Bones” is a song portraying how worn out you were after the Last Look At Eden Tour. Can you tell us how this song came to be?
JT : It was the first lyric I wrote for the album (apart from Doghouse) after the tour. It started from a darker place and the London Riots also happened as I was writing it. But it got me started. It was new to me to write in this mental state but I kept going and I realized it worked. Then “Riches” and “Supposed” came quite quickly.
MM : Joe Bonamassa plays some great slide guitar on this tune as well. How did Joe end up playing for this song?
JT : We met Joe summer of 2011 when he guest appeared with us on the song Doghouse at our Stockholm gig. During the recording of the new album we asked Kevin to check with Bonamassa if he would be interested in playing something on our record, and he was up for it. Its a great honor to have him on the record since we are all fans of his music.
MM : There is a short instrumental piece “Requiem” included in the album. How do you position this song and what was the aim for this short piece of music?
JT : Mic just sat by the piano and started playing this “dark” piano piece around the time we were cutting “woman” We decide to record it right there and then. It was originally called it Requiem for the 80s.
MM : You show a bluesy feeling in your singing on the song “My Woman My Friend”. You seem to acquire more and more deepness in your style over the years and releases. What is your opinion?
JT : My fellow band members and the road crew have pointed out that my voice have changed the last couple of years. Its gone a bit deeper and is a bit more husky. Its something I cant help. However it enables me to put more depth behind the lyrics and stronger emphasize the meaning of a song.
MM : “Drink And A Smile” sounds like a new type of song that with a style that hasn’t been heard in previous EUROPE albums. How do you feel about this song?
JT : It was a last minute song. We wanted an old style 70’s stomper. Just a fun track really.
Photograph : Michael Johansson
MM : “Doghouse” and “Mercy You Mercy Me” sound like crowd pleasers for a concert. What do you think?
JT : “Doghouse” works great live. We have played it a lot already. “Mercy” is a typical Tempest/Norum heavy rock song. Could be marvelous live….
MM : The last song on the album, “Bring It All Home” is very beautiful, with a warm melody. A typical Joey Tempest song in a good sense. What do you think?
JT : Its the closing song of all closing songs. the idea is that this should be the very last song that we will play as a band on stage, whenever that will be in 2 or 20 years. Who knows……I got the idea for the lyric after watching “The Last Waltz”. A film directed by Martin Scorsese The music idea comes from a jam me and Mic had in the beginning of the 90s writing for Prisoners in Paradise.
MM : Can you tell us about the bonus track for the Japanese release, “Beautiful Disaster”?
JT : Straight forward rocker. Its great to be able to offer our Japanese fans something extra….
MM : By the way, Kee Marcello released a re-recording album of EUROPE songs called “REDUX:EUROPE”. Have you listened to this album?
JT : I have not heard the album. I dont know what it is like.
MM : Please tell us what EUROPE is up to next. When do you think you will be coming to Japan?
JT : Festivals in europe over the summer, including Download in the UK, European, Scandinavian and British tour in the autumn. Other territories in 2013 which should also include Japan.
MM : Can you give your Japanese fans a message?
JT : You have been there for us since our very first album. Before most other countries. Thanks so much for you friendship and for not abandoning us…… I have a feeling you might enjoy Bag Of Bones.
BAG OF BONES / EUROPE
01.RICHES TO RAGS
02.NOT SUPPOSED TO SING THE BLUES
04.BAG OF BONES
06.MY WOMAN MY FRIEND
08.DRINK AND A SMILE
10.MERCY YOU MERCY ME
11.BRING IT ALL HOME
12.BEAUTIFUL DISASTER (Japanese Bonus Track)
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