Photo: Patric Ullaeus/Revolver
JT: Joey Tempest
JL: John Levén
A lot of things happened since you started all over again in 2004 with the album „Start From The Dark“. Did you ever imagine at that time that you will „Keep On Walkin’ That Road“, like you did for the last 8 years?
We’re a lucky band, you know! We were fighting hard to come back and we’re gettin some succes again and what can we say?!
We’re following our path! I think we’re going in the direct direction!
I saw you on the „Last Look At Eden-Tour“: It was a very energetic show, full of power! It seemed that you really loved being back on stage again?!
Yeah! I Mean, when we were young we had sort of records of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple and posters of Thin Lizzy touring in the UK or in the US, over Europe. And we used to watch „Rockpalast“ as well! It was a program broadcasted from Germany and we started dreaming hard. We wanted to tour! That was the passion and we’re today! So fortunate to tour around the world and play in front of rock-audiences. It’s fantastic!
Maybe a bit like in the beginning?
Yeah! Well it’s all every time we start a new tour, after a new album, it’s like to start all over again, I think! It’s very fresh and exciting every time!
And there were quite al lot of new faces and younger ones in the audience as well?
(JT / JL / JT)
Yeah! And it’s great to look out, out onto the audience, cause we got a new generation! There’s some teenagers out there and there’s also some parents, they bring their kids. I mean it’s amazing that we can talk to generations, you know! We’re only 29 and we have many generations. It’s a bit strange, isn’t it?! / I’m 28! / Oh, sorry! He’s 28!
Did the success of „Last Look At Eden“ took you by surprise?
We knew, when we made that album and when we’re done with it that we had made something very special! But it’s always surprising when the success comes. We were very fortunate!
It was an important album „Last Look At Eden“. It was really an important album for us! It broaden the appeal again. So, it gave us, you know, some new, a new push!
Last year you released an amazing live-album & DVD from the „Last Look At Eden“ – tour as well!
Yeah! And the DVD from „Shepherd’s Bush“ is a great DVD. It captured Europe as a great live act.
Now you’re comin back with the brandnew album „Bag Of Bones“! Are the songs featured on this CD all brandnew? Did you use some other stuff from the „archive“ as well?
Most, 80% or 90%, is new material. The only think I can think of is „My Woman My Friend“. John Levén sent me a great riff and i put it together with an older idea I had an then we wrote the lyrics and stuff now! So, part of that is an old idea! And the last song of the album, „Bring It All Home“ is an idea me and Mic Michaeli had in San Francisco in the nineties when we were working on „Prisoners In Paradise“! We had that one and we had „New Love In Town“. They sounded completely different! So, those two ideas „Bring It All Home“ and „My Woman My Friend“ are sort of from the past. The rest of it is brandnew stuff.
Describing the new songs in one sentence: What comes to your mind?
(JT / JL)
It’s honest! That’s the best word to describe it, from our point of view! / (Yeah / It’s an honest recording! I mean, we were standing in a room together, just using our experience and passion and every thing we’ve gone through, good and bad, and put it into this record „Bag Of Bones“! So, it’s kinda dramatic, it’s dark and places, but it’s also has lightness and it’s also a classic rock-album!
Your drummer Ian said that the title is „Bag Of Bones“, because, as a band, you lost a lot of „weight“! But in the first place „Bag Of Bones“ sounds „cool“! Right?
Yeah, actually I think he sad it’s not because we lost a lot of weight, but there was this song that Joey wrote and it has a fantastic title and we needed an album-title and thought that really a fitting title for the album.
Yeah, when we were recording in Stockholm, that were just one of the songs. And then the guy said, maybe we can use that for the album. And it feels a bit like that: The „bones“ being the songs, being steeped in history, classic rock history, you know. It’s a a „bag“ of „great bones“!
The album includes 11 remarkable songs. After 41 minutes „it’s all said and done“. It seems that you wanted to go back to „the good old vinyl days“ as well?!
I guess so! Because, when we grew up and started listening to music, we bought albums. And the album-format is really important, or was, for us to have an album in your hand. Listen to the whole album, every thing had a story, all the way thru it. On the contrary just listen to one song, something like that!
Listening to „Bag Of Bones“ it’s like a journey thru time and space. On the one hand the record is bringin back quite some memories, on the other hand, it’s not soundin retro. All is fresh’n’new!
You listen to it, from the beginning to the end, just like the old vinyl! And we actually releasing this on vinyl as well, because we’re so happy with our cover! There’s so many details and „mysteries“ hidden in that cover, that we have to release it on vinyl as well.
The sequencing of the songs on „Bag Of Bones“ is perfect!
Yeah! I mean, it’s a great sequencing. We think we finally got it! We moved things round a little bit, but in the end we got a „nice journey“, you know!
It seems that you’re very happy with your new producer Kevin Shirley as well. He is „the“ rock producer right at the moment! How did you get in touch with Kevin Shirley?
We started to talk about, how to record this album, we decided, we wanted to record it live with the whole band in one room and try to capture us as a live-band. We knew Kevin, that he usually works that way and also: We had listening a bit to Black Country Communion and Joe Bonamassa and stuff like that. We thought that he did a great job with them. So we contacted him an he was positive!
What do you like ‘bout Kevin Shirley, Joey?
Because he’s traditional, he’s musical! He works on the song, he thinks about the big picture. So, the small pictures are not so important, but the big picture and the vibe in the room and the band is the most important thing! He doesn’t change too much. He comes in to us, some times, and says: „Maybe we should do this chorus uptempo.“ Or: „Maybe Ian, you could play a bit more this way, or that way.“ But, I think the greatest thing with Kevin that he kept all five of us as a band! From „day one“ ‘til the last day he wanted all of us there, coming with ideas and he made us feel really like a true rockband! He’s a great producer hat way!
Track by track:
„Riches To Rags“
Yeah! It’s an attitude-song! I mean, it’s just an expression of: „Let’s bury the past and move on! Just follow our spirit!“ Yeah: „We just gone down!“ Hahaha!
„Not Supposed To Sing The Blues“
Yeah, it’s a lot of meanings there! It’s also a tribute to „classic rock“, but there are some hints there, references to people like Angus and Malcom Young, to Jimmy Page, to Elvis Presley and people that came from surroundings, you didn’t expect them to go out in the world and turn it upside down and sing the blues! And it’s a bit like for us! We’ve just been very true to ourselves now. We know how express ourselves directly from the heart and soul now. It took nine albums and it’s about that!
(JT) / JL / JT)
„Firebox“ yeah! It’s a majestic track, you know! What can I say? I’ts gonna be fun to play it live, isn’t it / I love it! / It came late to the album. The album was sort of more of a steeped in and sort of a rock with blues-undertones and then we threw in „Firebox“ and it sort of turned everything upside down, to give a spark to the album I think.
„Bag Of Bones“
(JT / JL / JT)
Woow! / Wow! / „Bag Of Bones“, yeah was the first lyric that came to my mind! I remember renting this rehearsal-room in Shepherd’s Bush! I live in London since many, many years and was standing in front of a mirror in a dark room. I didn’t have a word for the album and I was just tired from the touring of „Last Look At Eden“. I was thinking: „What the hell am I gonna write? I feel like a „bag of bones“!“ So that’s how it started! Ant then it was like a nursery rhyme: „Bag of bones, I’m a a bag of bones...“ ... and then started rolling! And then that song came and „Riches To Rags“ came! That was a riff from John that I finished and then „Not Supposed To Sing The Blues“ came. So we had a beginning! It was a sort of a hardcore-classic-rock-album with a blues-knocking-on-the-door-kinda-thing! And then it all started snow-balling and more and more songs came. But „Bag Of Bones“ was the beginning really!
„Bag Of Bones“
Joe Bonamassa is there on slide-guitar! We’ve been a fan of him for a couple of years now! We’ve been following his career. And Kevin Shirley, of course, has produced a lot of his albums. And Kevin asked him to do a guest-appearence and he did. He loved it. And we love it!
Actually Mic is just a brilliant musician, our keyboard-player. All over sudden we did this song „My Woman My Friend“ and after, he just started, very sad man sittin by the piano, doin this very melancholic piece of music. And we’re all like „Yeah, let’s record it, let’s use it“! So it was just an accident. But it’s connected to „My Woman My Friend“! There’s a sort of a controversal sort of thing about it: We actually named it „Requiem For The Eighties“. It was called „Requiem For The Eighties“ we even had it on the cover but than we decided: „Let’s take it away. Maybe it’s a bit too crazy!“ So, that’s the story about that, I mean, it’s just a little piece of music that happened by accident in the studio!
„My Woman My Friend“
Yeah, that’s a spiritual, emotional love song with a really heavy beat! John Levén sent me the riff and I had this old idea in my head since years and I put it together and than the lyrics are finished in the studio more. It’s more about the lyrics, more about relationships, the heartship and the glorious feeling when it works! And the miracle of it. It’s about relationships basicly!
„Demon Head“ is a fun-track! To me it’s ljust ike a typical old Deep Purple-track. I love it! It’s got a great old spirit, you know! It’s kinda crazy lyricly I suppose. I’m not goin into it too much, but the guys in the band think it’s about the male organ, you know, „Demon Head“! I don’t know, they have a dirty mind those guys! (hahaha)
„Drink And A Smile“
(JL / JT / JL / JT)
When we were done with the album and we figured we have one more song to record. So we recorded that after the whole session and I’m really happy we added that to the whole album / Yeah /It’s a fun song, it’s pretty optimistic in it’s lyrics and it’s really nice to have that acoustic song on there as well / Yeah!
Joey, your voice sounds a bit strange on „Drink And Smile“
Yeah, I just did a different approach, I think a few „Lager’s“! Hahaha, no!!! I wanted to find that old seventies-approach and singing thru a „Leslie“ and just don’t really care about anything. Just throwing the words out there. And it was fun to do it! It was the last vocal I did on the record. And maybe that’s the way I’m gonna sound forever now. Oh, my god!
(JT / JL / JT / JL)
Yeeeah! / Yeah! Yeah, I think there are a few songs back to that seventies-style of rock that Led Zeppelin are very famous for. „Doghouse“ was a track that we did on the tour for the „Last Look At Eden“, or half of the tour, anywhere. / Yeah / And we chased it around a little bit in the studio. But it turned out to be a really great rock song!
„Mercy You Mercy Me“
Typical Tempest-Norum song! Norum sends me these riffs that just blows my mind, like: „Woooowww! What the hell is that?“ And I start singing over it. And usually on his songs the vocals are quite high! Ha! So this song „Mercy You Mercy Me“ is quite high! And just came up with the lyric-ideas walking around in London on the streets really, you know. Seen some happy people, seen some sad people and realisin’, you know, that we need to lift our hearts, you know. Sometimes it’s hard, in some countries now around the world, you know, it’s gotta lift the spirit! But it’s a cool track. It’s one of those Norum-riffs!
„Bring It All Home“
The idea of that song is that: „Bring It All Home“ is supposed to be last ever Europe-song to be played! It’s a „Thank You“ to the band, to the fans, to the whole Rock’n’Roll-circus. I came up with the idea watching a Martin Scorsese directed film, called „The Last Waltz“. It’s about „The Band“ with Robbie Robertson and they’re actually doing their last show ever! And they invite a lot of friends along and I just thought: „What a great idea!“ So I started writing the lyrics and: One day, five years or twenty years from now, when we do our last show, that will be the last song on the setlist. Then we go home!
Looking than & now: What really has changed in the rock-scene, generally speaking?
The internet, of course, has happened. The internet wasn’t around in the Eighties or early Nineties. It’s a great tool to spread the news and spread the music. That is probably the biggest change.
There are some interesting new bands comin up right now, as well as the well known ones, like Van Halen, Journey, Whitesnake, startin all over again. Even Guns ‚n’Roses are back!
The live-scene is doin’ good. If you are a decent rockband you can do some business, do some damage. And we’re so lucky being a decent rockband! We can tour around the world! That still works! I mean, if you can play you can do some stuff. But, like John says, the internet changed everything! We try to keep close to our fans onwww.europetheband.com. You need to work it, it’s well, you need to embrace it. So we sell our music there and we work it the way we can. But: Record-sales are not what they used to be, but as I said, there’s a lot of festivals out there, a lot of rockshows that are great! So: Touring is fun ... sometimes!
I think probably it’s really difficult for new bands to become as big as those bands used to be and still are, because they became so big in a certain time that they can still play and be that kind of a „big band“. But I think it’s probably really hard for a new band to achieve that kind of stature.
Are there any particular young bands you really like, Joey?
Well, we’re sort of in a world of Joe Bonamassa now, hahaha, and also Black Stone Cherry! Yeah, they are quite a young band, I like them! There are new bands. I like a Gothenburg-band, they’re called Graveyard! And they’re really using the seventies as an inspiration. They’re doin it really well! So, there’s this young generation now, using classic-rock and blues and doin it. At the same time we have this young generation doin album-, you know, melodic-rock. So, it’s kinda both worlds comin up, from the youth, you know! And that’s great, that’s great!
Explaining to a very young one what Europe were about than in the 80s!
(JT) Majestic! Hahahah, simply put! Hahaha!
Some details about you upcoming tour this year?
(JL / JT / JL)
It’s really a bit too early to say! Actually, I think and I hope, we’re gonna do a lot of tracks from the new album „Bag Of Bones“. But we haven’t really started to put together a show, so it’s a little bit too early to say. We’re doin festivals all summer over Europe and than we’re comin’g back for an European tour in / probably october, november / October, november! We’re doing Scandinavia and the UK!
It’ll be the „Bag Of Bones“ sort of worldtour, if you like. We start in october, november, december and than into the new year! But this summer we’ll do rockin’ some festivals!
You will play/appear at a very big sportsevent in cologne in may as well!
(JT / JL / JT / JL / JT / JL)
Yeah! This huge event is going on and they were so wanting us to be there! They wanted Europe to be there, to play! So we’re gonna play some old stuff, we’re gonna play a new song as well: „Not Supposed To Sing The Blues“! It’s this huge event, something to do with handball! My father used to be a handball-goalkeeper! / I used to be a goalkeeper too! / Hahaha! / In school! / Wow! / So it’s the champions league finals in cologne!
Your future plans are „playing, playing, playing“! Right?!
Yeah, yeah, absolutely! We’ll tour 2012, 2013 on „Bag Of Bones“, then we’ll go into the studio in 2014! This is our life, we don’t know how to do anything else!