Joey Tempest: Read Top40-Charts' Exclusive Interview With The Rock Icon
New York, NY (Top40 Charts) We're here with Joey Tempest of Europe. Their new album is called "Walk The Earth". My name is Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: Throughout the album, there is some really difficult and painful subject matter, and there is an interplay of lightness and dark. I'm curious about how it feels to you.
Joey Tempest: Yeah I suppose there is something like that. Maybe you can say that is some sort of melancholic, but overall you can say that there is a positive side. Well we have a darker side too and I think that... everything happened so fast when we were recording the album, so nothing was planned. It just happened, and we realised that lyrics were coming, melodies were coming, music was coming, and...we haven't done this for 12 years and for us it was like a journey, a great adventure, trying to dive deeper into very good songs and sound and we just tried to have a good time. We had a really great time doing that!
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: Well, one can assume that each song is a form of own catharsis or process for you?
Joey Tempest: I could say that every song carries something from the whole band. I mean there are different songs, maybe an idea can come from the bass player and that evolves into a jamming. Then the keyboardist comes in and we go forward, pictures come in the mind, maybe an acoustic idea from ten years before, and all these gathered, and with the help of our producer, went further beyond. There are songs like "Kingdom United", where there is an inspiration coming for the first time, we talk about politics, and....this is a different EUROPE album, this is new EUROPE. This is something that we enjoy, we explore and is like an inner adventure you know.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: So this is the experience you have got from the whole recordings process?
Joey Tempest: Well yeah! The whole recording was very spontaneous, and everybody in the band helped, with writing, coming up with ideas, and Dave Cobb the producer, he knew exactly how to bring the songs even higher, and in the end we came up with a really cool album.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: So after this recording there will be some unique collaborations?
Joey Tempest: Well, now we have recorded two albums with Dave Cobb, and we may work with him again. When it comes to songwriting, it is amazing, how great the other guys have been as writers. I used to write most of the songs in the past, but nowadays we all write together and that is awesome!
Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: Do you write songs differently now than you did 30 years ago?
Joey Tempest: Yeah absolutely! Now we write as a band. I cannot write as I did anymore, it is impossible. I want to stretch, I wanted to be more adventurous with the use of the choruses and other lyrics. I wanted to be really exciting, I wanted to be strong and right, but now I found new means in the writing, and there is no way for me to go back, I am not that writer anymore!
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: What got in the way of writing or recording new music?
Joey Tempest: I think we are more on the right path now. We just do three or four takes and we take the best out of them. Everything is more spontaneous, and is natural after so many years. Even the lyrics come that way. After being in the U.K. for all these years I feel like English is my native language. I have a better flow, I have some other ideas and everything happens like that.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: What does making music feel like these days?
Does it still make you happy?
Joey Tempest: It makes me feel complete. Especially when we finished Walk the Earth, that song, I am so proud of for the band, us and me, and I think it is an amazing song, a really amazing track, and I feel really positive and happy when I listen to it, and I am sure it will bring joy to lots of other people as well.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: The combination of your troubled lyrics and John Norum's guitars is the core of Europe. Is it the chemistry between you that affects EUROPE's music, or is the combination of all the members efforts?
Joey Tempest: These days all the members have an effect on the sound and everything, but the guitar and the vocals are very important ingredients, and I think people hear that John's guitar and my vocals have always been a very good combination.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: The album came out to these amazing reviews, but the group was already on the rocks. That must have been bittersweet.
Joey Tempest: I think the feeling so far is positive. I heard really good things about the album, so I am just very proud at the moment.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: Is there a storyline to the album?
Joey Tempest: Well, when I started writing the album I was listening a lot to prog music, you know lot of Rush, a lot of early Jethro Tull, even bands like Opeth and King Crimson, and I wanted to start from a more dangerous place, different kind of place, but miraculously I had that idea about the past of democracy, and I wanted to research world's democracy that time in history where democracy started to take shape and done the step forward. You can hear that in songs like The Siege and Kingdom United. They are referring to the past of democracy in England, they are referring to the essence of democracy, and that was a theme in the lyrics that made us want to write a EUROPE rock poetry.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: "Wolves" is a political song about a whistle blower who had to move away with his family because he told the truth about something wolves were hounding him in a situation where nobody trusts anybody. The intro of the song was done with an old recording technique on old tape recorder and it's also different on vocal range and the arrangements. Why?
Joey Tempest: Wolves is a very interesting track. I was jamming in London and I brought it to the guys. I remember John Norum saying "well this is nice, this is different, I like it", so we worked on it together, and brought it into the studio. There Dave Cobb started to work with recording techniques and made it really unique and interesting. I remember we had recorded the vocals really high and checked on them, and then we recorded them low and it was different, and the lyrics came exact and we finally made a really cool track.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: "Election Day" is an observation song about simultaneous elections that they were done (England and United States). Are you afraid of what you see as these effects have had on the future of the Europe & US?
Joey Tempest: Well, I am not going to talk bout my political beliefs. I read a lot about politics and my mom and dad were very interested in politics. I heard stories from them all the time. I am myself really interested about politics nowadays, but I am also in a rock band and we are entertainers, so I will not put my views out there, but I could not resist reacting about the elections in America and the elections in U.K. Both of them were very high profiled in the media, they were very different, very crazy, and they brought some things that affected the world, or may affect the world in the future.
So, I called my friend Chris Difford, he is a lyricist and a songwriter and he is in a band named Squeeze in England. For me he is the best lyricist in England, and sometimes I have worked with him. We worked together in Election Day, because I wanted to write something about the elections and do something together with him, so that song came, which is more like an observation of the situation around.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: Which songwriters do you like? Have you ever dreamt collaborating with them?
Joey Tempest: Maybe the songwriter that affected me the most is David Bowie, and since he died recently it will be rather difficult to collaborate, but I remember the his first single I bought, it was Space Oddity and then I bought the album and I became a big fan. I am also very proud and happy to play with Deep Purple in their Arena Tour here in the U.K. I think Ian Gillan and Ian Pace and Roger Glover are also my heroes. Everything they did in Made in Japan, and when they did Perfect Strangers we went to see them for the first time, and what we saw was amazing. It gave us so much inspiration, and I think that they are still leading the way. They are very professional.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: Which of your albums is the most autobiographical?
Joey Tempest: Sometimes it feels like that. Some parts in the lyrics are, the music is definitely as it comes from our soul. We write together, we rehearse the songs and people understand that this is our soul you know. And in lyrics, of course you can find things coming from my private thoughts or from the band or people around us. It is poetry, it is also pain, it is rock and you know everything. You can definitely find parts of me in all the albums.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: What makes you feel proud?
Joey Tempest: I think keeping low profile and be able to still do what I do and have the same fire. The last three EUROPE albums make me feel proud.
I think Bag of Bones was really great. It gave the mark of great rock band and I am very very proud that we did this.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: Your fans are famously obsessive. Do they ever cross the line?
Joey Tempest: Well I lived in Ireland for a while. There was someone from Southern Europe that travelled all the way up there and broke into the house next door, my neighbour, as he thought it was my house. He was caught by the police in front of fridge. He thought he's was at John Tempest's fridge, that was crazy. Well Europe fans are great. In the beginning there were many that were moving to Upplands Väsby from different places in Europe and we have moved away, but they are still living up there somewhere.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: Do you think that rock music nowadays is the music that can open new roads to listeners? Is it the music that can lead the path?
Joey Tempest: I think it can, but there are some structural things that need to be solved, but i believe that rock can still find the way and I think that there are bands, like for example Rival Sons, that are really interesting, there are many other new bands that a re really exciting, and even us that we have the luck to work with great producers, and we record our songs with techniques that have been invented in the 70's and still feel the flame of the adventure it is when writing. Everyone in the rock business tris to work really hard. Producers, bands, journalists, everybody tries to work really hard and that to me is more important.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: As a fan, it is hard not to mourn the "Final Countdown"... We connect with rock 'n' roll not just through the music, but also through the people and the images of them. Do you still consider yourself a rock star?
Joey Tempest: Only, well you know sometimes when I am on stage. I am a very very private person with my family in London. I have two boys, I have a three-year old and a ten-year old, I am very much a family man, but I work very hard on EUROPE because I love this band, I have been there since I was a teenager and I feel very proud for this band. As
I said though, I am a very private person and spend most of my time with my sons, so maybe I feel like a rock star sometimes on stage.
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: When you started out in the late 70s, would you ever have guessed the band would still be going 35 years later?
Joey Tempest: Nooooo, never! When you are young and you only think to do, you know, one album at a time, and then you just do the best you can, you learn the world and you have no idea, we had no idea that we would have been here today. When we met in 2003 and we decided to start again, we just said to each other well let's do this long term and make it a wonderful journey of recording and song writing, making ourselves better and better and do it our way. We all agreed to that and from then we took all decisions ourselves. No record company, no people around us telling us what to do, we just liked to work on our stuff. And it helps a lot when you do your own journey and do your own things. We feel absolutely happy for what we managed to do. We work with people we like, we write songs, we tour and we make people interested in our new records. It's amazing!
- Giorgos "Musicvelocity" Pardalis: So what are the plans for the future as far as it concerns the band?
Joey Tempest: Well, immediate plans, that we will go on road for Walk the Earth tour, which starts in November. We will do some shows with Deep Purple here in the U.K. but we will also do some European dates, and our tour will continue all through 2018 and we will go all around the world.
Thanks to Joey for coming by. Thanks, and congratulations on your new album, Walk The Earth! (Europe's first single "Walk The Earth" from their up and coming new studio album WALK THE EARTH out October 20th).