Fireworks Magazine Online 51 - Interview with Joey Tempest


Europe have changed considerably since those heady days of the 80s. Long gone are the big hair, the extravagant productions and the screaming teenage girls that if you closed your eyes for a second you'd almost believe you could be at a boy band concert. I doubt Joey and the boys miss those days half as much as some of the old fans still stuck back in 1987, as the Europe of today are a leaner, meaner more organic beast than the slick, candy-coated juggernaut of yore. They always were steeped in the Classic Rock and blues based riffs of their 70s heroes (listen particularly to their first two records) and only now, since their re-emergence on the Rock scene in 2003/04 are they nailing their colours firmly to the mast. With the impending release of their ninth studio album 'Bag Of Bones' it was a good opportunity to talk. Joey openly admits that his voice has changed and the high register so beloved of many fans isn't there anymore, but what he has in it's place is a grittier more bluesey tone that he's happy to be singing with. I was afforded a very generous hour and a half of his time to conduct this interview and one of the things that struck me the most about him was how reflective he was.
With Oxford and Bournemouth from last year’s tour missing from this years’ schedule and Nottingham and Cardiff added in their place, I asked Joey what the thinking was behind this decision.

“Yeah, we wanted to change it slightly. We said to our agents could you try some new things. The venue in Manchester’s changed and also Cardiff is a new one for us so at least there is a little bit of change on the tour for us you know, and hopefully next time we come we’ll do some other changes”.

Yeah. I’m planning to do Bristol and London this year. When you did the DVD at Shepherd’s Bush Empire I was there. It was pretty cool.

“Oh yeah, great. We’ll doing the video now for ‘Not Supposed To Sing The Blues’. It’s in a castle outside Gothenburg and it’s really cool and a born 70’s Zeppelin kind of vibe you know”.

Oh, fantastic! Coz I had a quick look. The single was released on the ninth wasn’t it, and  I was having a look to see if you’d done a video for the song yet and I couldn’t find anything on the Internet for a release for that, so, you’re doing the video now are you?

“Yeah, we just finished editing it. It’s just done. It should be out in a week or so I think”.

Oh brilliant! I’ll look forward to seeing that. It’s interesting Joey that you mention Led Zeppelin because one of my favourite tracks off the new album at the moment is ‘Drink And A Smile’

“Mine too (laughs) It was the last track we did.”

Oh it was the last one that you recorded for the album, yeah?

“It was done at the last minute. I called the other guys and said come on guys let’s do one more. “No you’re crazy we don’t have time”. Let’s do it, let’s do it and, er, me and Mic were just sitting we have any ideas? Well, I have this melody and Mic had this mandolin so we started just doing this old 70’s stomp kind of thing, and then everybody just put their stuff on. I think it’s just basic acoustic. I don’t think there’s any electric on there and it’s really fun, well it’s a kind of a warm happy song. I love it.”

Do you know what it sounds like? I listened to it a few times and I thought that’s a pretty cool song, and then I had it on in the car, and I was driving along with it in the car yesterday because obviously I was trying to get a feel for the album because I’m going to be doing the review as well, and it suddenly hit me in the head...Led Zeppelin. And do you know what it’s very, very similar to? ‘When The Levee Breaks’ from Led Zeppelin 4.

“Obviously I reference that song on ‘Not Supposed To Sing The Blues’ in the first verse...(SINGS)”Just a kid when the Levee breaks”...Yeah, I hadn’t thought of that though...”

You compare the two...

“Yeah, yeah, now that you mention it, when I listen to it in my head, of course... there are similarities.”

It’s very, very similar...

“Obviously I love the last’s a little bit like ‘Stairway To Heaven’...” last line of that song is “Last thing I remember is laughter, I do remember what that’s like”, because in ‘Stairway To Heaven’ it’s everybody remembers laughter, or something like that. Anyway...”

Yeah. I remember you saying you’ve met Robert Plant a few times and one of the things you like about him is he’s very off the cuff, very inspired when he sings, and it’s very much improvised.

“Oh yeah. He’s very passionate and it seems like the first and the last time he sings it’s very much the way he sings you know, live, I love it, it’s great.”

Fantastic. One of the other songs, I mean that I really, really like on the new album is ‘Doghouse’ and of course you were playing that live last year, you were introducing it into the live set.

“Yeah, I was just talking about that to the guys and we like the new version, it’s more on the floor, more straight, Kevin suggested to lay it down slightly differently and we really like it, it turned out really well, sounds really good on the record and it’s also one of the best. It’s gonna be great to play live. It’s a great track.”

Oh It’s great live. Yeah. Yeah. So you’re saying Kevin Shirley suggested actually changing it slightly then? Gave you a bit of direction on that?

“Yeah. That was one of the first songs we cut in the studio, the first song we introduced him too. He was like “Ok., what you got?” and we played ‘Doghouse’ coz we thought we know this song, we’ve played it live for a long time so we played it and he had some suggestions and that was kind of a curve ball for us because, hang on, we just learned it one we had to work on it but then it really turned out better I think. It’s a real groover now and a really cool track. It’s very funny as well. With the lyrics, you know. For all mankind, all the men in the world, always in the doghouse, you know, that’s what we are (both laugh) We can’t help it.”
As we were on the subject of the new album, I asked Joey if he could give me a rundown of all the tracks , how they came about musically and what the meaning behind them was, starting with ‘Riches To Rags’
“Yeah... um, obviously I might miss out bits (That’s fine) It’s difficult to do but er, (from memory if you can) Yeah, yeah, because you’re in a different headspace and different periods from when you write and when you record it but, er, it was one of the first tracks. I got the riff from John Leven and I started building the rest of the track, ok. I had a chorus I put together with this riff, and then it started coming together, like an attitude song, like a statement. It’s actually one of my favourites on the album. It’s got a great chorus but some attitude in the verses. And lyrically it’s completely different to anything I’ve ever done. It’s bury the past and just move on and re-emerge, Actually, yeah, that’s the whole theme”.

Oh right. I didn’t read into that when I was listening to it.

“I mean there’s another twist to this record. ‘Requiem’was connected to ‘Riches To Rags’ from the beginning, for the intro as a piece that Mic wrote in the studio. It was called ‘Requiem For The 80’s’, that was the name for it ‘Requiem For The 80’s’ and it was connected to ‘Riches To Rags’ lyric which basically says “We’re not doing that anymore, this is what we are. We are expressing ourselves exactly the way we want. This is it. We’ve moved on, we’ve crossed the line and we’ve lost our minds, this is it, take it or leave it, like it or not”, you know, that’s the attitude of the song. So that’s ‘Riches To Rags’.

‘Requiem’ comes in at track five and it’s very short with violins and piano and that’s the one you’re on about?

“ ‘Requiem’? Yeah, sure. It was connected, in a way, spiritually to ‘Riches To Rags’ because it was called ‘Requiem For The 80’s’ at the beginning, but ‘Requiem’ was also connected to ‘My Woman My Friend’ because when Mic came up with ‘Requiem’ he was just playing something on the piano, playing around, having fun and we said “We just have to do something with that, and Kevin was on board immediately “It could be an intro to something”, so it was meant as an intro to ‘My Woman My Friend’ but for a while we toyed with, you know, the connection to ‘Riches To Rags’ maybe opening the album with that, but we didn’t. It was happily connected to ‘My Woman My Friend’ musically. That’s it in a roundabout fashion."

Yeah, ok, that makes sense. So you chose to connect it to ‘My Woman My Friend’ as opposed to ‘Riches To Rags’. Cool. And the first single ‘Not Supposed To Sing The Blues’?

‘Not Supposed To Sing The Blues’ is very dear to me lyrically. I just thought let’s just open up, what’s going on you know? I was born in ’63, I was seventeen when ‘Back In Black’ came out. I was told, you know, to go to school, don’t rehearse with that rock ‘n’ roll band, you know, all that stuff. We’ve come such a long way now, we’ve been through everything and I think we finally know how to express ourselves, to do these Rock records and it’s just about that, but it also has another meaning because, it’s also sort of a tribute to these guys like Jimi Page coming from Surrey, outside London, the calm countryside and forming a band and turning the music scene upside down. He was not supposed to do that, you know, and Elvis Presley was not supposed to sing the blues like he was doing, and Malcolm and Angus Young, coming from Scotland, they weren’t, you know, it just came out of nowhere and I just love that sort of attitude. It’s a little bit about that as well because there’s a lot of references to albums, to artists in the lyric. Also, it’s a little bit of a finger to those labels at the beginning that turned us down. It’s a bit of an attitude song as well. They told us to cut our hair and sing in Swedish, you know? We just said “That’s not gonna happen!” (both laugh) Anyway...just a little bit like that.”

I find it similar to ‘Catch That Plane’ from ‘Last Look At Eden’ as a similar vibe, a similar feel.

“It’s the same phrase of music isn’t it, kind of groovy, house of blues knocking on the door, and still a Classic Rock song”.

Yeah, the brooding down-tuned bluesey riffs are similar between the two songs from John, yeah. One of the notes I mentioned Joey was emotion soaked vocals by yourself. I really think there is a lot of emotion expressed in that song from you.

“Yeah, that live take was just in the studio, right there, just one take. I don’t know if we kept it from the live take from the band, because this was the first time we recorded with all five of us in the same big room. Usually John may be in the control room and we always play at the same time but this time we actually stood in the same room, so there was a lot of leakage on Mike, I couldn’t use all of it. I remember going in directly afterwards just belting that song out, that emotion in my head, what it was about lyrically, and yeah, it’s a different vocal, it’s really straight from the heart and soul. I haven’t been able to sing all those lyrics like this before. This is the first album I consider myself maybe speaking English fluently, you know, and thinking in English when I write, so then it becomes more of a soul/blues/rock thing, rather than a Scandinavian person trying to write an English lyric. It’s actually a really honest emotion and that’s the first record I introduced the lyrics and the expression in my voice for the first time and it’s a whole new thing, and you’re right, you noticed it, and especially on that song, it’s sort of a new expression in a way”.

I would say that definitely for this album, you’re definitely singing differently (“Yeah”) Very much in a reflective sort of way. I’ve got reflective written down for a lot of the songs, very reflective vocals (“Yeah”) like on ‘My Woman My Friend”.

“Oh yeah, that’s kind of an emotional, spiritual love song.”

There’s a very reflective vocal from you on that one.

“I don’t think about that too much, we’ve kind of gone in and it needs to be pure, nice sweet lines, forget it, you know? What’s this song about? You just sing it, and you can’t do that as a Swede really on earlier albums coz you’re still searching, you’re still learning. But I think we’ve come far enough to express ourselves, without thinking. We’ve lost our Swedish-ness (laughs) But we still have the melancholic feel though, we are...we come from where we come from. We have that sort of sad melancholic thread running through it but...”

Because of the long dark winter nights...

(laughs) “Yeah.”

Exactly. I noticed on ‘Not Supposed To Sing The Blues’ the Arabian tinged keyboard embellishment by Mic. For a very bluesey song it’s quite an interesting addition.

“I mean, we were thrown off when he wrote it on the spot. You know we need something here and he was doing it without any rehearsal or anything. I mean the song, even when we went into the studio the line, it sort of took you to an almost Arab feel, it took you somewhere else. The connection would be Led Zeppelin because they had a lot of that, those influences (They did)  and even did vocals sometimes, maybe that’s where he found it, the inspiration for it. It’s a great line, for the bridge, a great line”.

Ok. What can you tell me about ‘Firebox’?

“ ‘Firebox’ came a bit later on in the writing. It was Mic who sent me the idea, the riff and I built the verse, and the chorus, and the solo part from it and wrote the lyrics very late. It’s one of the positive songs on the album. It’s quite uplifting and I think it stands out and it’s powerful and majestic, I think it’s got more to do with “Last Look At Eden’ and all the Europe records than maybe most of the other songs. I think it’s got a clear line to the past I think. The majestic rock ‘n’ roll thinking you know, like we did on ‘Last Look At Eden’. It has that sort of vibe to it and, yeah, it’s gonna be interesting to play live, that’s for sure. It has some great energy. I really like it.”

Yeah. There’s some really interesting drum patterns by Ian on that particular song and John’s bass...I’ve written down ‘throbbing bass’ because the bass is very prominent on that song too.

“Yeah, and he does some great bass lines as well. It’s great that everybody plays really great. That was a good day when we did that song. Everybody was really on the ball playing, was fantastic. I’m  proud to put a vocal on that, and hearing this band play, it’s amazing to play on that.”

The harmony soloing by John is absolutely gorgeous with the wah-wah pedal. It’s just really, really gorgeous.

“Yeah. He’s found his thing. I told John the other day, I mean you have your thing now, obviously the wah-wah thing  and putting it into one position like Michael Schenker did a long time ago, but he found his own position and he moves the wah-wah SLIGHTLY during the solo and he’s found his own thing that I recognise immediately now, a thick tone, I recognise John’s playing immediately now. He’s really turned into a really big character in the Rock world I think.”

You’re absolutely right Joey because you can lift any solo from John and play it in isolation and you know it’s John.

“Yeah. Exactly.”

Definitely. There’s a little Indian Sitar in the mid-section on there. Is it an actual Sitar playing?

“No, I think that’s Mic doing it. He gets into those things. He’s got all these things...”

So it’s a keyboard effect ...

“I think he’s got a sampler. It’s a real sitar but I think Mic just got it sampled. But it’s a real Sitar.”

Ok. ‘Bag Of Bones’. What can you tell about this one. Obviously there’s slide guitar by Joe Bonamassa so that’s a very interesting thing to talk about.

“Yeah, sure. The idea came during the recording as we were...just to finish that off. Joe Bonamassa guest appeared with us on ‘Doghouse’ in Stockholm during the summer of 2011. We met Joe for the first time. He was so sweet, such a great guy, and we all liked him and we got along great and he came up to play, sort of traded solos with John on ‘Doghouse’. So when we started recording with Kevin, obviously Kevin does all the Joe Bonamassa sessions, so when we started recording we sort of asked him if it would be possible for Joe to put something on the record and he asked and Joe was delighted and he was up for it and he did it in New York around the same time we put the percussion down and Kevin was in New York and Joe was in New York at the same time, so they just went into the studio and did it. So we weren’t actually there when Joe did it but we got it sent to us and it’s fantastic, I just love the slide guitar. So that was done when the song was actually more or less finished. The song wasn’t mixed yet but Kevin sort of added it on afterwards. So “Yeah”, apart from that ‘Bag Of Bones’ was the first lyric line that I wrote for this record. I rented and went into this rehearsal place in Shepherds Bush by myself. I brought my strat and I rented a Marshall amp and I just went into this little dark room and I just said to myself “What the fuck am I gonna write about now?”. So, I was actually quite drained after one and a half/two years of touring “Last Look At Eden’ and I knew we were starting a new record but I didn’t now what the hell to do until something came into my head, which as actually ‘Bag Of Bones’. I just felt a bit drained from touring and from that emotional state a lot of the lyrics were becoming more honest like ‘Not Supposed To Sing The Blues’ we talked about earlier . Not about topics but  just the feel, let the music, you know, bring you into a certain feeling so it started coming to me like a nursery rhyme (SINGS) “Bag of bones, bag of bones” so that was the whole thing and the track became bigger and bigger and then, also the London riots were actually around the same time and therefore the lyric line ‘My city lies in ruins’ the whole thing comes from that...”

Oh wow! You were caught up in that?

“It was on the news. Yeah, I wasn’t caught up in it. I was close by. I wasn’t actually in London at the time. I live in London, so you know, it was just all around and therefore those chorus lines, it was connected to that song. I was drained from touring and that started happening and I was thinking “What the hell’s the world coming to?” and it kind of was a real blues song there for a while. So that’s it. And when we went to the studio it started taking shape. Kevin really liked the song so did some of the guys in the band, so we worked on it  and they said this is great stuff, and Kevin came up with the chorus for, what else happened? We worked on the double chorus bit at the end but it was pretty much the way I planned the song in the rehearsal place. For instance ‘Riches To Rags’, ‘Not Supposed...’ and ‘Bag Of Bones’, those three songs I came up with in that Shepherds Bush rehearsal studio by myself and just jammed it really...”

So when you came up with ‘Bag Of Bones’ did you always know that was gonna be the title of the new album?

“No. That came later in the studio when we were in the studio with Kevin. We were all five of us there for a whole month. Kevin wanted everybody involved to work on song by song, you know, not use just drums and bass on the first few days and send them home, it was actually song by song and that was a new method for us and we’ll probably never go back now. Coz you actually pay attention to each song, and it sounds slightly different, and everybody’s there, Ian, (John) Leven, everybody’s there ‘til the last day coming up with ideas, being part of the band. It creates a band feeling. I think it may have been Ian that mentioned it first about ‘Bag Of Bones’ being the title and everybody was “Yeah, that’s great let’s do that”. We were  in that state, working on the song, we felt excited and that just sort of felt nice too, it was, you know, a bag full of Classic Rock songs basically, and that carries a lot of passion, songs with a lot of emotion from the past, our history, and in a way that’s a bag of bones.”

Do you play rhythm guitar on that track Joey?

“Er, I don’t know if I played on that. I don’t remember.  I’d have to ask the guys what I played on. I definitely played on ‘Doghouse’ and ‘Not Supposed To Sing The Blues’. On stereo guitar. The one side is me and the same on ‘Doghouse’, the intro is me, like I did live, the breakdown, then John comes in and I may have played... Oh yes(!), I do play the 12 string on ‘Bag Of Bones’."

I wondered because the rhythm guitar is very prominent whilst John is using the wah-wah pedal effects all over the rhythm. I’m thinking either he played them separately and they were added and mixed by Kevin or you actually played whilst John was soloing. That’s what I thought.

“No, I didn’t actually. No, you know Kevin’s got a great way of adding the rhythm guitar. We do about four or five takes of the song and then Kevin will then sit by himself and listen and he will suggest maybe this take, maybe this version, and then what he does, he moves the rhythm guitar from another take. So he takes John Norum’s own rhythm guitar from take three and puts it into take four, which means, you get a slight change of the take, even though it’s John playing on both sides, you get a slightly different feel, like it’s two guitar players and it gets a little bit bigger. It’s really good, and it’s really fast as well so then we can move on to the next song. And sometimes we add, John has an extra guitar or I go in like I did on ‘Not Supposed To Sing The Blues’, like I did on ‘Doghouse’, or like I did on ‘Bag Of Bones’ when I went in and did the 12 string and all the acoustics. So, yeah, we do some overdubs but a lot of it is from the live takes.”

Ok. Cool. So what can you tell me about ‘My Woman My Friend’? We already touched on the ‘Requiem’.

“Yeah, it’s a spiritual love song with a’s just about the trials and tribulations of relationships, and staying together with the same person for a long time and all that, and how wonderful it can be, what a miracle it can be and, er, obviously what a disaster it can be (laughs) It’s probably the only real love song on the album but it’s not a very heavy song as well. The riff is originally from...the actual guitarist is John Leven, from a bass riff I think he did, he sent that to me, and I loved it but I didn’t know what to do with it so I was digging in my suitcase of songs, and I had an old idea that had that melody and the chorus so I think that song is the only song that’s actually dug up from the past. The melody of it (Interesting...) and the riff and the chorus and the melody of the song and the little bridge, everything’s from an older idea that I had. It all came together when he sent me that riff. I’m gonna put those together and then the lyrics started coming more in the studio, a sort of emotional thing, I wrote that, a little bit here, a little bit there.”

So on the piano refrain, Mic actually copies John then, because the piano and the riff are the same.

“Yeah, the intro is the riff...”

And on the end.

“Yeah, and on the end as well. The intro and the end. Mic just plays the riff. He just took it out. Yeah, it came from (John) Leven. A classic Leven song."

Fantastic. ‘Demon Head’. What can you tell me about ‘Demon Head’?

Hmm. ‘Demon Head’. We just talked about that earlier. It’s one of our favourite tracks because it’s got that lovely connection with (Deep) Purple and stuff. It’s just a great classic rock track.”

Is it a real Hammond organ that Mic’s playing or just effects?

“Oh yeah, he’s got his own B3. Mic Michaeli is one of my favourite Hammond players. I’ve seen the lot. I’ve seen lots of them live and I’ve seen when we’re out touring I always go and check the keyboard players out and he’s got a natural talent. I’m trying to tell him to bring it out live next time, to have that in the middle, to roll the B3 out into the middle and just go crazy. You know, because he is one of the best players and he’s all over this record , I mean, we have the Hammond on a lot of songs.”

Exactly. This is it. So all the Hammond that you can hear on the album is the real B3, it’s not effects?

“Yeah, we played live with the take. We didn’t re-do them. It’s just magic. So we rigged up this big B3 in the studio and it’s right there.”

I was going to say John Leven has very strong bass lines on that song and I think Ian’s drumming is very powerful on that track as well.

“Yeah. Kevin had some ideas on the drumming. We didn’t have the drum pattern down from the rehearsal. When we started talking to Kevin and playing him the song he said go a bit more on the beat with the drums and hit and make it more urgent, so Kevin had some great ideas for the rhythm and how it was played and Ian just understood him completely and said ‘Yeah, that’s great. Let’s do it this way” and it turned sounds like a punchy, modern track but still it has such resonance to Purple and stuff like that. It’s great.”

Well, we’ve touched on ‘Drink And A Smile’ and ‘Doghouse’...’Mercy You Mercy Me’...

“Yeah, well it’s a typical Norum/Tempest song. He sent me a riff and I said “That’s great”. Actually he played me the riff in rehearsal and I started thinking “Yeah, I can do something with that” and I remember Kevin came with an idea, why don’t you try and write it...we didn’t have a chorus for it so Kevin said I’m going to go out and have a walk for fifteen minutes so why don’t you guys write something . So we did the chorus for it and Kevin drew up some ideas like a lyric ‘I heard you sing something like rise up’ or something and maybe we could use that, but I didn’t finish the lyric at the time, I did it later when I was working in Shepherds Bush there and it’s just a great uplifting lyric. I like it you know. I got the idea from walking the streets of London and thinking, you know, some people are not fortunate, some people are sad and it takes your heart to extremes, you’ve got to take only what you need with you, but you’ve got to get out. Maybe I was going into myself as well. You’ve gotta get back onto the other side. So anyway, that’s a typical Tempest/Norum track. It’s powerful. I love the riff”.

I’ve written it’s a very sing-along style fist pumping song and I think or presume it’s one that’s going to end up being in the live set I would have thought?

“Yeah, well we’ll definitely try it. There’s so many others we’d like to put in.” (laughs)

Yeah, well I made a note that it sounds like you had a lot of fun singing that one. It comes across on the song.

“Oh yeah. It was quite fun actually.”

It really shines through on the vocals that you’re having a lot of fun singing that...and John Norum’s solo, I made a note saying ‘explosive solo and arpeggio runs’, I think that’s a fantastic solo from him.

“Yeah it is, it is. We’ve had a few of those tracks on most of our albums lately that feature great de-tuned riffs, you know, like ‘Love Is Not The Enemy’ or ‘Getaway Plan’ or ‘Start From The Dark’. ‘Mercy You Mercy Me’ is the same kind of thing, and they’re very important songs for the set.”

Absolutely. And the ballad ‘Bring It All Home’. I made a note that it sounds like a modern day ‘Carrie’ to me. That’s how it comes across.

“Oh...yeah, maybe...” (laughs)

I think maybe you could drop ‘Carrie’ from the set and just play that one now because...

“Yeah, maybe...there’s a story to this song. This song came about from San Francisco in 1990 when me and Mic wrote ‘New Love In Town’, it came from the same jam sessions me and Mic had. We came up with ‘New Love In Town’ and we came up with this one but they obviously didn’t sound like that and they obviously weren’t recorded like that, they were just sort of sketches. Lyrically...”

Is it a song for the fans?

“Yes. In a way it is. Because the song is meant to be played as the last song ever by this band. So, it’s meant to be played at the last show, as the last song, of this band.”

That’s exactly what I wrote here. (laughs)

“Yes, it’s the end song of all end songs. A farewell song of all farewell songs. And it incorporates back into the band. Thank you to the fans, you know, the people that support us, everything. But the idea came when I watched ‘The Last Waltz” with Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Band’, Martin Scorsese the film he directed called ‘The Last Waltz’ and it’s about Robbie Robinson and ‘The Band’ and they played their last concert. It’s very simple. I mean I just watched that movie for some reason lately, I was with a couple of guys from the hotel, and it’s an old movie and some cool guys come up and play with the band, Neil Young, Van Morrison and the idea just came. Why not write a song that’s meant to be for the afterlife, meant to be played as the last song. So whether we play it now or not, that’s the question. That’s the idea of it anyway.. it’s a great song, I mean I like it. I love it. It’s a lovely song.”

It’s one of my favourites too. ‘Drink And A Smile’, ‘Doghouse’ and ‘Bring It All Home’ at the moment are my three favourites on the album. You mentioned just now “New Love In Town’. I heard somewhere, did you write that for your son James?

“For Jamie? Yeah. I scribbled down those words around the date of his birth, it was very hazy of course. It was a lovely moment. I had, musically, I had the idea, I didn’t have any lyrics for it so it just came to me ‘New Love In Town’, that phrase just came to me around when he was born, so it’s definitely... and lyrically I finished it at the time and even though it’s really cool, so he’s like “So I’m the new love in town, mama, was she the first new love in town?” (laughs) He kind of putting two and two together. He calls my wife ‘mama’, the Swedish mama. Anyway, so yeah, definitely connected to my son’s birth, yeah. But it’s difficult though, because you want the song to be a bit ambiguous as well, you want it to be a song that CAN mean something else and it CAN be interpreted in different ways. That’s where you have to be careful. That’s why I like the question where you say “I read somewhere that it might be”. You haven’t automatically assumed that it is, which is good. When you write these songs it’s a very fine line from making it cheesey you know. I can say that it’s about his birth and him, but if you listen to it, you can also say “Oh, it’sbr / about love, or it could be about life”, you know. It’s very poetically put. I’m proud of the lyrics but it’s down to life experience.”
Thoughts turned to the release schedule of the new album with it’s very clever cover that I won’t spoil for the fans, and as the press release stated only a standard CD format and what they termed ‘classy vinyl’ were going to be released I asked Joey if he knew whether or not there were any plans to release a special edition CD version of the album.
“Yeah, there’s going to be vinyl and it’s going to brilliant because the album cover we’re so happy with it and obviously all the details can be discovered and also the music lends itself greatly with the warm sound and the 70’s kind of feel, but...the only thing I know right now, the only extra song we did was ‘Beautiful Disaster’, that’s on the Japanese release, so they have a bonus track. It’s more of an upbeat rock song. I don’t know if you have it on your copy. Have you got it?”

No. I haven’t.

“Alright. It’s basically, what can I say? It’s just an upbeat rock song really, a bit like ‘Doghouse’ in a way I suppose. It’s just more of a fun track. But that’s the only extra song that we finished. I don’t think  we finished anything else that can be used so, that’s it really.”

You mention the cover of the album. Who inspired it? Who’s idea was it? Is it a photo or a painting?

“Well, it started backstage. Mic came to me and presented this band. He said “You have to hear this Joey”. It’s a Gothenburg band called Graveyard and we’re trying to get them to tour with us now. I hope that will work. But anyway, we heard that music and I thought “This is great stuff!”. It’s kind of 70’s stuff, kind of progressive 70’s, kind of weird, but it’s really good. And then I got hold of the cover and I thought “My God, that’s a great cover” and the album’s called ‘Hisingen Blues’ or something and I saw the cover and I thought “Who the hell has done this cover?” and then I found out who it was and I asked my manager to ask him. He’s called Ulf and he lives in Gothenburg and he has his own band called ‘Bombus” if you wanna check them out. I think they’ve only done an EP or something. Anyway, so he’s also working as a designer and stuff, so, he was delighted and he wanted to do this cover. We went back and forth quite a few times but we ended up with this cover. I just told him to do what you’re best at. Do what you did with Graveyard, I mean the detail, the fun stuff, things you can notice, the feeling, and he came back with this in the end and we were so happy. And he told me, he’s a younger guy and he’s in a band and he’s saying there’s a lot of young bands who are thinking vinyl again, they’re thinking about the artwork as well. They’re using it for  posters as well as on their albums. It’s coming back more and more because there was a period now when everybody said “Oh, it needs to be very simple, and you need to see it on the shelf in the record store and then you lost everything, you lost the connection with the music, you lost everything, so a lot of new bands actually are thinking again, “Hang on, let’s make something interesting that’s connected to the music”, and the interesting covers will be discovered and that will create the mood, so yeah, we were very happy.”

It goes back to your youth and my youth when we first started buying vinyl albums. We’d look at the cover for ages and ages, at least I certainly did, and one of the things I like about the new album is that the logo’s very prominent, and it’s also the famous logo.

“Yeah, I did that. We do. (looking at album covers) It’s becoming a trademark finally (laughs) Yeah, we’ve done some crazy things, we changed it to a more Eastern European style on ‘Secret Society’ with that straight block letters. It was kind of cool though. We like to throw some curveballs out there, but we’ve done that with all four albums. We’ve changed producers, we’ve changed the mood of the band, it’s been different so we don’t care what anybody says, this is what’s happening now, this is where we are at, this is what we listen to in the dressing room, it’s what we feel like, so I think that’s why we survive, I think that’s why we’re having a bit of success again in our musical career, because we’ve gone our own way. We didn’t copy ourselves, actually we even turned more away from it, but we have the same band, we have the same spirit, but maybe we’re expressing it differently.”

Yeah, but you always were a blues based Hard Rock band, always, even when you were doing all the big 80’s stuff, the keyboard effects and all the big harmonies and everything else, the undercurrent, all the old albums are all blues based because John Norum is so embedded into that blues vibe, and so is yourself that it was always there...

“Yes. Yeah, you are right.. Even stuff like ‘Superstitious’ had that, and with the chords, steeped in that history, but what I think what happened in the 80’s a bit, there were too many toys in the studio, delays and things, and so you went on that high journey for a while, because that warm sound that most of the good 70’s records have, that’s the most, long lasting rock ‘n’ roll sound. We’ve noticed that now. Even AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ album, that’s kind of warm sounding (analogue) and it’s, yeah, kind of analogue and it’s still Mutt Lange, he didn’t modernise it too much, he didn’t go overboard and that’s what made it so cool, and that sound, from a lot of the 70’s records we love, obviously they were all recorded a bit low and the resolution and stuff is not so good, but that’s where we get the inspiration now to do  the modern punchy sound that we have, the studio we went into, in Stockholm, Atlantis studios only had gears from 60 to 70, it’s the old leaves that we record on, old compressors, everything, the whole room, the whole place was built in the 70’s, but this guy, he’s sort of a nerd, but he owns it and runs it, he only has old gear and that is such a great marriage with all the digital world that we go in, that we record on now, coz we’re not doing tape anymore, no ifs or buts, we’re going through the old stuff, so we at least get the old world with us, when we present a product.”

What is this guy’s name who owns the studio?

“Er, his name is Janne, I can’t remember his last name right now, he owns Atlantis studios in Stockholm. You can google it and then you get his full name. He’s a good friend of ours. I’ve known him a long time. I’ve done some demos there before, I did some from ‘A Place To Call Home’ there, I did, er, that’s when I remember how good it was, that sound,  I did ‘Under The Influence’ and ‘We Come Alive’. It was also my first solo album, and then I did some demos later on so I remembered how great the studio was, so when John asked, it was suggested why don’t we check the studio out, and Opeth just finished when we came in so Opeth did their last album there as well, their new record. I’ve started talking to Micky (Mikael Ackerfeldt) now a lot, coz I told them “You guys have really opened up your world. That album’s just gonna open up your future, I mean, you’re gonna find fans from the Classic Rock world now together with all your heavy based fans” , so Opeth’s got a bright future with that album but that was recorded there as well.”

They’re a great band, yeah.

“Yeah, and also Hives were there just now, all these bands that recorded live and want to be in the same room and want to have that old energy, they go to that place. Fantastic studio.”

It’s interesting to hear you say that Joey because a while back you were talking about Euphonic converters in the studio and about all the Pro tools that they are using now and although as great as that is I think it’s probably making it sound too perfect.

“They have. It has for a while but I think people are beginning to realise now you have to mix both worlds. You HAVE to!”

Yeah, because you take away too much of its soul otherwise.

“Yeah. It becomes sort of plastic and hard. And I think a lot of Rock bands are realising this. But you know, it’s got to do with budgets in studios. It has to do with smart thinking. You have to choose the right studio and the right producers and mixers. You have to be a nerd. We are a bit nerdy like that. We learned that from when we did ‘Secret Society’. We decided to produce it ourselves. We had to do everything and we realised, you know, what you HAVE to do and it might cost a little bit extra but you get that warm tone, more of a timeless product that people can live with for a long time instead of their ears getting tired with it.”

Yeah. So the album was recorded with a mixture of modern technology and the old 60’s/70’s analogue from this studio?

“Yup. Everything went through old analogue 60’s and 70’s gear, Everything, and then down to Pro tools. And then Kevin mixed it in Los Angeles in his studio at home in January, so we were done somewhere in February with the mixes.”

Oh, he did a fantastic job because a lot of the emotion and the soul of the album is still there. I mean, obviously it just comes across that way.

“Yeah, we are really pleased ourselves. He e-mailed me a video the other day where he was working on Joe Bonamassa’s solo record. I’m really excited about this one. So this is special to him this record. And I happen to see a journalist told me the other day that this is his best production apart from Joe Bonamassa which is great, John Henry and some great stuff he’s done earlier but as an album this might be one of the best things he’s done and I tend to agree. I think he did a great job with this production, because sometimes he works fast so he puts out a lot of stuff, Kevin, but when he likes something, because he came to us the second day, “Who’s writing this stuff?” because he hadn’t heard everything, he’s only heard a couple of songs and, I mean this is great. He started, sort of, he was a bit, sort of, taken by surprise. I don’t think he knew about us, he respected us, he knew about our past, and he’d heard a couple of songs, but he didn’t know that we were still hungry, still passionate, and had great songs. Coz he works for many artists, big ones and much smaller ones and he knows what’s good and what’s not good and he got excited about this project. And I told the guys the other day he really put his soul into it and worked hard. He didn’t just put it out quickly, he mixed it with care, and I really appreciate that.”
Having read a previous interview with Joey in Fireworks magazine I was intrigued to know if he still sent text messages to his mobile/cell phone at home of song and lyrical ideas that he comes up whilst on the road and out and about in daily life.
“Oh yeah, absolutely. Before that I had a notebook. I used to send text messages to myself from old times as soon as I thought of something so then I’d know I get it. At home I have a lot of messages and just check through and go through them, so yeah. I collect lyric ideas constantly. It could be from the news, from an experience, from my own thinking, from all the time so it just goes in all the time for my songs.”

You’re less likely to lose them than if you’re writing them down on pieces of paper.

“Yeah, exactly. My memory’s not getting better so it’s good to keep everything. But it’s also, some of them are not so good, but some of them are great ideas but when you start writing music, you look at your notes and then start the marriage of music and lyrics. It can happen magically. One word, one sentence can actually give birth to a whole song. Lately, lyrics or a lyric line start things off for me and that’s back to what I said earlier, more English thinking, lyrics can actually begin the song where before it’s always, always music and always struggle with the lyrics at the last minute. Now it can happen the other way around.”

Ok. One of the things that you said, and certainly with regards to this album, is you’re singing differently, and it’s very obvious to me and a lot of the older Europe fans. Would you say that your voice has changed over the years or do you prefer to sing in a lower register these days, to preserve the longevity of your vocal cords?

“It’s nothing planned. Even some of the notes on ‘Not Supposed...’ and ‘Bag Of Bones’ I think  are higher than the last few albums, but in general I think it’s a deeper voice and maybe the keys are a bit lower on a few songs. In general I think it is. It’s not constant high stuff. I remember, in the beginning, John Norum played his guitar so loud in rehearsal (laughs) The only way to get heard was to put my voice up there, higher than, you know, just to cut through and I think that’s a lot of the reason that I developed that sort of high singing (style) with the long notes.”

Oh really? That’s interesting.

“Yeah. I mean it was just “How do I get heard?” He plays so loud and I don’t think nobody would ever dream about how loud he plays. Anyway, we used to have a small rehearsal room. Yeah, that was one of the reasons. Over the years, like I say, it’s just an emotion now, you just sing the music and I don’t even think is it high or low, it just happens.”

Yeah. I made a note that it sounds like a conscious decision to suit the style of the bluesey Rock that you now play. It’s a conscious decision that you’re singing in that register to suit the style of music that you’re playing now.

“No. Not really. But I think one thing that has affected it is the touring, the last few years coz the crew that’s always listening to our shows and stuff were coming up to me on the last tour and saying “Your voice is different, it’s changed a bit, a bit deeper, a bit hoarser, sort of, a bit grittier and it’s happened on the road. There’s nothing I can do about it. And that’s what you hear as well. So there’s some evolution in the voice that I can’t help. It’s just four years on the road really, I can’t stop that. I can’t sing in that key, that clean cut, it’s not there anymore, a way I like it coz it gives more emotion to the words, it gives more meaning to the songs I think. It’s an extra dimension I think. I can express something that means something deep to me. I can express it easier now. I can add grit, I can add something that wasn’t there before.”
As Europe are a big draw on the European festival circuit with currently seven festival appearances confirmed so far including Graspop in Belgium and Rock Of Ages in Germany, I thought I’d ask Joey what Europe’s plans are for the UK as historically, apart from playing Milton Keynes Bowl with Bon Jovi, Skid Row and Vixen many years ago they’ve only done Bloodstock in 2009 and Sonisphere the year after.
“We’re looking at something in the UK. We’re going to be doing something and hopefully a good one. The festivals are doing well now so there’s nothing confirmed, but you’re know about it soon. There are a few that we have in the pipeline. We’re doing festivals all over Europe in the summer, hopefully one in the UK like I say, and the main touring though, the heavy touring on ‘Bag Of Bones’ will be in the autumn. I think we will be on the road constantly in October/November/ December, maybe from September, so we’re all booking that, it’s gonna be in the UK of course, Europe, Scandinavia and obviously we have other territories as well. Now we need to be there, the heavy tour will be then, but there will be some festivals booked now in the summer to check some new material out, but I would guess that we’ll play more new songs for a more dynamic show in the autumn than in the summer.”

Are you likely to play ‘Mojito Girl’ on this tour? It’s a song I wanted you to play live and you never seem to play it live. Not at any concert I’ve been to.

“We’ve played it only once or twice in South America. We went there a few years ago. It was really cool coz it really fitted the atmosphere down there. It’s kind of a swampy, it’s got a groove kind of thing. It really worked well. Some of the guys in the band are really harping on about it too. It’s just a matter of...we have so many songs it’s just a matter of what you can put in and what you take out. That’s definitely a good one live, well we’ve tried it anyway and it went down really well. In answer to your question I don’t know!”

Haha. Well I keep shouting for it anyway haha. One of the reasons I mention it Joey is because you’ve got an enormous new following now who only really know the new modern more bluesier Europe than the old Europe with your previous sound and you gained a lot of fans, how can I put it? Part time fans when you became massive, people who said “Oh I’ve heard that song on the radio I’ll go to that concert”. So in some respects, I think, some of the older songs, in theory, you could drop from the set list to incorporate more of the newer songs from the last four albums that you’ve done since your comeback. I’m wondering if you’ve ever thought about doing that, to please all the new fans?

“Yeah...we are, in a way, we’ve been waiting for that threshold, we’ve been waiting for that moment for the last couple of years and they’ll be a moment when we drop or change all the songs and do a new type of performance, of feeling, of mood of the show, because we’re getting there. I don’t know whether it’s going to be this autumn or not, definitely not at the festivals this summer, you know, if people are out for a good time we’ll play certain songs certain ways but I think there will be a moment. Maybe autumn is the time, maybe it’s time, coz this album is sort of defining that we’ll never go back again so what’s the point. This is it. We’re stretching ourselves in a new way. This will be a good moment for Europe and that’s a very good question. We’ve discussed that. Whether it’s going to be this autumn or not? I don’t know. There’s a good chance. It’s’s possible.”

This year actually, correct me if I’m wrong, but it marks your tenth year as your comeback and your original incarnation was about ten years, before you went on an hiatus.

“Yeah. 2003 we had the meetings, before 2004 when we recorded ‘Start From The Dark’. Yeah, we’re not far off the ten years. It’s more of a feeling and it’s very interesting that you raised the question, it’s more a feeling that we have. Even our management, the people around us have been harping on now for years and we’re still playing certain songs certain ways and everything. I would love, and you can hear that in the attitude of ‘Riches To Rags’, ‘Not Supposed...’ that attitude that we are strong the way we are, doing it our way, therefore, turning everything upside down, this is our new show and it may be the moment, I hope it is the moment for the UK shows in November to do this. It’s a good opportunity to change things around quite radically.”

Would you ever consider dropping ‘The Final Countdown’?

“That would be difficult, but it could be performed different ways.”

Mmmh. Maybe you could perform a short acoustic version?

“No. We love the song. It’s an album track for us. For us it’s just an emotional album track that we thought was interesting, we’ve always enjoyed playing. It has just always taken on a big meaning that we can’t even go there, you know. No, there’s gonna be a lynching if we don’t play it the right way, but there may be a moment, a break point, where things can be done differently.”

Yeah. It would certainly be interesting. Can I ask you Joey, are you still in touch with Tony Reno or Peter Olsson from your first incarnation when you were Force?

“ recently, but I spoke to (John) Norum the other day and he’s seen Tony Reno a few times solo, so we’re on good terms with Tony, but Peter, I haven’t seen him in ages. I don’t know where he is, but er, yeah, Tony was a good guy, he was a great drummer, on the first two albums.”

Definitely, yeah. I’ve talked to a number of musicians over the years and I’ve asked them the same question if they’re still in touch and if they know what previous members of the band are doing. I find that quite interesting. A lot of musicians have told me that they keep in touch and that there’s never been any bad feeling because I remember particularly after ‘The Final Countdown’ you and John went your separate ways for a while but the bond was still there (“Yeah”) and it was only a matter of time before you got back together.

“Yeah. Exactly. You know some of us have met Tony over the years and there’s never been any bad vibes that I know of so...”

Another question Joey. What about your mic stand. How long have you had the current one and is it weighted to enable you to twirl it so well. You know, do you have engineers perhaps working on it?

“One of them goes back to the 80’s. It’s my original. I have one original left, only, because I had a special firm to do those for me. I had a case for them and everything you know, but there’s only one left, and I’ve made a copy of it. That’s what I’m using mostly. It’s a bit heavier but it still works. We try to do work like that, one heavier and one original. The original’s a bit lighter, but it’s getting a bit, er, worn out. It still works though. But that’s the spare one, the original.”

Cool. Well it’s nice that you’ve still got an original. Maybe you need to preserve it and look after it, you know, perhaps don’t use it live in case it gets broken or something.

“Yeah exactly. Don’t take it on tour, maybe leave it at home. I don’t know. We haven’t started doing the production stuff yet but the first festival I think is in Poland on the first of May so we’re getting there, but...then we’re start addressing all those things.”

I know I asked you if you played any guitar on the album, what about piano. Did you contribute any piano to the album or did you leave it all to Mic?

“No. No keyboard on this one. No, not at all. I haven’t played keyboards in a long time. Mic is so great at all that stuff, absolutely fantastic. I have ideas sometimes, I might do something on a demo, I just don’t take it further. Yeah, sometimes I play, sometimes I write lyrics, I have a miligram I’ve had since ’88 and I write lyrics. Sometimes I write lyrics by the piano, it creates a different mood so you’re not disturbed by anything else, so it’s kind of good to do that sometimes. Other than that I have Korg, Roland, Moog as well. Sometimes I put them down as demos but there’s no point really because Mic’s got that all down (laughs) If I have a melody idea I can put it down.”

Then I guess you’ll take it to Mic and he will run with it...

“Yeah, but I mainly write on acoustic guitar. With this record I wrote on my Strat. I have a ’63 Strat that has a really cool sound. I bought it in London at Rick’s Guitar Emporium in the early ‘90’s, the ’63, and I brought it out this time, pushed it to rehearse and started writing for this record. It was with the Strat that I came up with the riff for ‘Not Supposed To Sing The Blues’ and also for ‘Bag Of Bones’...yeah the Strat really helped me...and the J-45, the acoustic Gibson J-45. Those are the two I write with. The Strat’s  the one on ‘Almost Unplugged’, on the DVD. The one I sit with, that’s the acoustic I write most of the stuff with.”      

Yeah. How would you rate yourself as a guitar player then Joey?

“Compared to John? I’m a rhythm guitar player. I mean John is such a great rhythm guitar player but because I don’t play so much I play a bit too hard and I can break strings and things...I get a bit excited. If you’re a great guitar player like John or Yngwie (J. Malmsteen) or anybody who’ve played since childhood... I mean I’ve played since I was seven or eight but I’ve been writing songs, and I’ve been keeping a beat. When I write I keep the beat almost with my right hand. The whole band is there (in my head) the drums, the beat, everything, and I hit hard just to get that beat, that feeling. I don’t really play the guitar as a guitarist. I play it more like the band. I play it very loud and I play it very hard to get the feeling of this to get into that world. I think a lot of singers play the guitar a bit too hard and break strings because they haven’t done it enough to realise that.”

So you wouldn’t class yourself as a lead player then?

“I do it with Europe. I’ve done some solos on demos. With John I’ll put a little lick down and sometimes he uses it and sometimes he doesn’t. Oh yeah I do solo, but I’m a melody man, if I have a melody in the solo part I will put it down, if John has an idea. My solos are all demos, on ‘Superstitious’ I had a great solo and Kee (Marcello) took it further. He took the melody I did but he added his techniques and stuff. Oh yeah, there’s been demos I’ve done with  solos. Definitely.”

The thing with guitar players is they play and play and play. As you’re basically a guitarist yourself as well as a singer, maybe there are times in the studio when you’re chilling out that you might just break into a solo just to amuse yourself and I just wondered if you played really well, but you’ve never committed anything to an album, you know?

“Exactly. But if I have a melody idea I’ll throw it in the demo. Sometimes John picks up on it and sometimes he doesn’t but he’s so great anyway that I don’t have to worry so much about that, but as I said I’m the melody man, if I have a melody line I’ll do it.”

I think an interesting scenario one day will be to see John and yourself duelling onstage, you know? I think that will be a really interesting aspect of a Europe show.

“Yeaahh...(laughs) I’m sorry to be a little bit, er... but I leave that to John. It’s fairer that way.”

Haha. But that would be really cool to see John and yourself trading lead breaks in a live show. That would be SO cool.

“Yeaahh...I’ll check with him you know, he likes my playing and he always looks at me when I play, more for a melody idea rather than technique. You know how it is. When you play as much as he does, you kind of have the technique down, I don’t have the technique down so, er, I’m ok. at solos and can play if I have to.”
Changing the conversation to non musical activities I remember reading that Joey used to do Go-Karting in his younger days before the music kicked in and he was also partial to a bit of football. I wanted to know if the Formula 1 bug had gripped him and whether or not he found the time to follow football these days.
“Yeah, I still follow Formula 1, that’s very much it now really. There’s not really much time for anything else. What with Europe and all its aspects.”

Do you get the races sent out to you? A copy of the Grands Prix recorded and sent out to you where-ever you happen to be in the world or would you try and catch it on a local tv station?

“No, not really. It’s not that hard to catch it on tv if you’re touring Europe. It will be on, you can catch it, otherwise I will sometimes tape it and watch it at a later time and stuff. I used to drive a Go-Kart, my dad was a mechanic. He was the one who was interested in motor sports really, and my brother took it on more, he introduced both of us really but my brother was a dirt-back rider for many years after I drove Go-Karts, so I started Go-Karting but left that for music and whatever. My brother was one year younger and he started riding moto-cross was my dad’s interest in the beginning but we also share that interest. We can watch Formula 1 together and stuff.”

Was your brother successful in moto-cross?

“Yeah, he was good. He was good in moto-cross in Sweden. He was a great starter and often the first one in the first bend which is very good but he happened to end up in the middle in all that chaos, but yeah, he was a good rider.”

Did you ever follow any of the Swedish F1 drivers back in the day? Stefan Johansson, Ronnie Peterson, Gunnar Nilsson...

“Yeah, I have vague memories of Ronnie Peterson. That was a long time ago now, but usually I caught up afterwards, I would watch movies back about him and everything. I liked the way he was, people liked him on the circuit, you know, fair guy, great driver, and coming from Scandinavia, that’s what I’m saying you know, he wasn’t supposed to sing the blues, I mean he came from a small place in Sweden and he became one of the best drivers there for a few years. Amazing!”

Yeah, it was. I think the only two main ones now are Bjorn Wirdheim and Marcus Eriksson in GP2, and Kenny Brack in Indycar of course. He was very successful.

“Oh yeah! I know him a little bit. I interviewed him for a newspaper in Sweden. For a big daily, not one of the biggest ones, equivalent of the Independent or whatever. They wanted me to interview him for the magazine in the newspaper so I did that and I met him and I think he lives outside London as well, I think he recently moved there. I think I should look him up again. We have some contacts. He plays guitar as well.”

Yeah, yeah. I did hear that. That’s pretty cool.

“I followed him for a while as well but obviously after his accident he tried again, he told me, but, he just didn’t have that feeling any more, that edge that you need to have. He tried to do a comeback afterwards but he told me about everything that happened to him...but he’s a cool guy and really into music.”

Yeah maybe he should consider that as a career change because the driving’s sort of dried up a little bit.

“Yeah. I think he is writing with a good writer and he’s got some sort of project or band, at least a few years ago. I don’t know what’s happening now.”

Well that sounds like a great idea then to look him up and see what he’s up to.

“Yeah. I will have to. We had mail contact for a while after that interview but it has sort of fizzled away but I think he lives just outside London now. I will have to check it out.”

And what about the football Joey. Did you used to play football for fun or did you follow any teams?

“Yeah I played football in the summer and Ice Hockey in the winter when I was a kid. It was good, you know, to stay off the street if you like. It was nice to have something to do. I did the Go-Karts for a while but when I was thirteen or fourteen it was all lost. I met John Norum and I started playing with local bands. It was the point of no return for all that stuff. I did play some football. I remember supporting IFK Gothenburg for a while because my family comes from Gothenburg. I remember they were doing quite well in Europe.”

They were, yeah. They got to a final one time I think.

“Oh yeah, yeah. It was great. I remember that. There were some local teams in Stockholm. One called AIK (Stockholm) that I supported when I was a kid. That was a long time ago now.”

Ybr /strongeah. I still play football myself. And talking about Go-Karts, I had a Go-Kart when I was sixteen and seventeen but I never got anywhere with it, I didn’t really get much  financial backing which was a shame really...

“That’s a difficult one, you need passionate people around you really, (You are so right!) and the travelling and it costs money, it’s kind of more difficult than people realise, you know. You need to get sponsors involved etc., it’s a tough sport.”

Yes. You’re absolutely right. You need people behind you. You need your parents pushing you. You need friends pushing you. You need sponsors. You’ve really got to have the full ensemble.
I turned the focus back onto the band and posed Joey an interesting question. With money being so tight these days and yet with so many bands touring the UK in recent years, if the average Rock fan with no particular band allegiance only had a finite amount of money to spend on gigs and could only afford to attend a handful from say a dozen bands touring at the same time as Europe, how would Joey convince him or her to part with their hard earned and choose a Europe show to go and see.
“Well I think we’ve got a good vibe around the band Europe at the moment and it’s really showing a strong side I mean, but I think we can go back to that discussion you and I had, I think Europe are at the threshold of something special live. We have all the songs, we are evolving and I think there could be a lot of exciting things going on live and I think it would be great. We have returned to Classic Rock and we carry that torch, but we also have a foot in the here and now. I think Europe is a good band if you like Rock and Hard Rock, guitar driven Rock and Classic Rock, I think we’re up there you know. I think it would be a good evening if you’re into Rock music that’s for sure.”

Yeah. Good answer. I was going to ask you, do you remember you were invited by the city of Warsaw to play a free show at the Wianki Festival back in June 2010. How much do you remember about that show?

“I remember quite a lot. There was a lot of people there and we recorded some of the tracks and they came out on our ‘Live Look At Eden’, in that book, the live tracks, we mixed them. I remember the show. It was HUGE, and lots of people from the city. It was fantastic.”

It was Muniek, a Rock solo artist and an electronic dance band called Kosheen from England that supported you which is quite odd really.

“Yes, it was really odd. Some of the festivals are quite odd actually. Either before us or after us there will be a completely different kind of artist (laughs) It’s funny. But people are there to have a good time and to be entertained. It was a good evening that’s for sure.”

I think you did the city of Lublin a month later I think.

“Yeah, we did. Absolutely. That was also a good show. A big show. With Poland I’ve done twelve interviews already for this album. You know, we have a good connection with Polish fans, they like rock ‘n’ roll, one of the first (Eastern European) countries in Europe to open up and have a Rock band come touring there. The first gig we did there was ’92. They had a bit of a head start from some other (Eastern European) countries there, but they’ve been exposed to Rock and they know the structure and they like their rock ‘n’ roll there. Yeah.”

Fantastic. Yeah, I just thought that it was a very interesting situation for a city to invite you guys to do a free show for the people. I thought that was amazing. Really, really good.

“Yeah it was cool. And as I said on ‘Live Look At Eden’ the live CD that comes with the book, perhaps three or four (songs) mixed from that Warsaw show. And actually some of the pictures from the book from that year are from that show.”

I’ve seen the pictures Joey. Yeah. There are some great shots that they took from those shows. Really, really good. So hopefully I will check you guys out in November in Bristol and London. Thanks ever so much for this interview. It’s really, really good to talk to you again. I hope some of the questions were interesting (laughs)

“Yeah, great stuff. I like it. You know your stuff and we get to talk as musicians about the music, and you know about the evolution of the band, you know about the past, and everything, because sometimes when you speak to journalists they might not know enough and some of the questions become repetitive. That’s great and you know a lot of stuff which is important. Some journalists they don’t know the past and some questions become one dimensional really.”

I think it’s very easy when you know, yourself, the likes of Thin Lizzy and bands like this you could probably name all the songs and all the albums and all the line-ups because you’re so into the band and you know everything about them because you retain that information, because you really like it, and the same with me, with your stuff.

“Yeah. Great stuff man. Hopefully we’ll meet up in Bristol.”

I’ll look forward to it Joey. Once again, many thanks and all the best. Take care man.

“You too. Bye”


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Comments (3)add comment

Ali Stone said:

April 20, 2012
Votes: +0

Serena said:

I really enjoyed reading this interview. I've been a fan of Europe's since the mid eighties and have always enjoyed reading their interviews. I thought the questions that Joey was asked were well thought out, relevant and original. I felt that the interviewer had a genuine interest in what Joey had to say and showed a great deal of respect to Joey. The interview is written and set out in my opinion in a very professional manner. The interviewer I feel has a real talent for writing
February 05, 2014
Votes: +0

DRGuitars said:

March 16, 2018
Votes: +0

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