|No Swedish meatballs|
Hit Parader - July, 1987
|Scandinavian quintet reach American shores after lengthy delay|
EUROPE is one band that's always believed in doing
this their own way. While most hard rock groups would covet the opportunity to
tour the United States as soon as their album reached the American charts, this
Swedish quintet decided to wait nearly a year after the release of their LP,
"The Final Countdown", to hit Stateside concert stages.
But moving to the beat of a different drummer comes very naturally to vocalist Joey Tempest, keyboardist Mic Michaeli, drummer Ian Haugland, bassist John Levén and new guitarist Kee Marcello. After all, hailing from Sweden gives this melodic metal until a unique perspective on the rock and roll scene.
"We became big stars at home about six months after we had gotten together," Tempest stated with a grin. "That may seem hard to believe to people who live in a country the size of the United States. But Sweden isn't a very big place. After you've played Stockholm, and people get to know who you are, you can become national heroes very quickly. But it was never our immediate goal to become stars in England and America. At first we were very happy being famous at home. We've gradually broadened our horizons over the last year, and now it seems like people everywhere are very ready to accept us."
EUROPE's Stateside success story is one of those fairytales that seem better suited to a Hollywood film saga. Released with virtually no fanfare, "The Final Countdown" failed to even register in the top 200 of the Billboard charts for the first three months of its existence. Usually such a fate spells disaster for a young hard rock band, but just as EUROPE's American record label - and virtually everyone else - was about to write off this good-looking fivesome, their video clip for the LP's title cut was discovered by MTV. Soon the song's lush keyboard textures and strident guitar chords were bombarding American rock fans with amazing frequency. Seemingly overnight EUROPE was transformed from a band on the verge of U.S. obscurity into a hot international property.
"I'm not surprised by our success," Tempest stated. "We play a very traditional kind of rock music - the kind of music that bands like UFO, Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy first made popular. It is very European in its sound which is one of the reasons we call ourselves EUROPE. We've always been very proud of our heritage. As far as MTV is concerned, we all felt it was only a matter of time before they started playing our clip. Our look and sound is very different from much of what they play, especially the videos of American hard rock bands. We're not into wearing makeup and putting on a circus-like show. With us the music is the most important thing, and that's what people evidently liked when they saw our video."
"I don't mean to put American hard rock bands down," he added diplomatically. "They have very different influences than us, and they're very good at what they do. It's just that we sometimes wonder what their priorities are. They seem more concerned with having fun than making great music. We like having a good time too, but everything we do in life plays a secondary role to the music we make."
EUROPE's attitude towards American rock - or at least American rock bands - is one of the reasons for the band's late entry into the U.S. touring derby. Tempest and the boys wanted to make sure they had just the right tour before they launched the American leg of their world conquest.
"Touring in America is an amazing commitment in terms of time and energy," Joey said. "We've been able to become popular in places like Japan and Germany by touring there for a few weeks. When a band starts planning an American tour, they know the next four or five months of their lives are going to be spent there. When you're having success in other countries, it's hard to sacrifice everything else in order to concentrate on America. Now we feel we are ready to do just that. We will be touring with a band who share a similar background and understanding of America. Hopefully they will also tell us a few secrets of how to survive all the travel and all the bad food one has to eat on the road."
As EUROPE prepares for their first U.S. tour, they've had to break in new guitarist Kee Marcello, who replaced John Norum four months ago. It seems that Norum felt EUROPE had become too much of a pop band and set out on his own to become a metal guitar virtuoso like countryman Yngwie Malmsteen. While Norum's unexpected departure forced the band to come off the tour trail for a few weeks in order to find a replacement, once Marcello came aboard, the band quickly hit high gear.
"When there is a disruptive element in a band it can be very dangerous," Tempest stated. "John was a good friend who we'd known for a long time, but we knew he felt the need to explore a different musical direction. We were hoping that he would wait at least until after we had finished touring in support of 'The Final Countdown'. It seemed logical to us that if he waited, things would go more smoothly for everyone. But he was determined to make a move."
"We knew Kee for a while, and when he stepped in, things just seemed to click right away," Joey added. "EUROPE is a band where keyboards and guitars share the spotlight instrumentally, but all our members have a chance at the spotlight. Kee understands that. He brings many good qualities into the band, and we're very happy to have him aboard. we all want to work together to make EUROPE one of the most popular bands in the world. We are a team, and when we're all pulling together, nothing can stop us."