Single Luck: The Final Countdown

By: Single Luck         From: Nederland 3 - November 14, 2003

John Norum: "It's kinda like 'Stairway to Heaven'. It lasts forever, it's like a rock anthem."

John Levén: "It has such a special hook to it. The first time you hear it, it's like, 'Wow, what is this?'"

Joey Tempest, outside his parents' house in Upplands Väsby:

Joey Tempest: "We're now at my parents' house, where I wrote 'The Final Countdown'. Moved here when I was 10, and I haven't lived here in a while now. But there's still some stuff in there, so shall we have a look?"

John Norum: "We wanted to be the biggest, best band in the world, you know! (Laughs) Like everybody wanted to... At the time when we were kids. We had big dreams and everything..."

At Joey's parents' house:

Joey Tempest: "The studio was in this room here, and I had some speakers there and some recording equipment. I used to do my demos. All the EUROPE demos. I used to work at night when everybody was asleep. I used to work to four or five in the morning, and then sleep all next day."

Ian Haugland: "We wanted to conquer the world, of course. That was the only aim we had, when we started playing. 'I'm gonna be up there with the Stones and Aerosmith and all those bands.' (Laughs)"

At Joey's parents' house:

Joey Tempest: "This is the corner I used to write all... Used to sit and write all the EUROPE stuff. I used to sit here, and have a keyboard or a guitar. When I come here to visit, I sit here all the time... This is where I wrote it. I had a small keyboard and I tried a few different sounds... And I thought it was good."

Mic Michaeli plays a bit of "The Final Countdown" on a keyboard.

Mic Michaeli: "...Was a long time ago! (Laughs)"

Joey Tempest: "It was a sound that had a sort of sweeping sound... It just fed me, the idea in my head. 'This sounds great. Like a film music or an intro to something...'"

Mic plays some more of "The Final Countdown" on the keyboard.

Joey Tempest: "We used to hang out at 'Berns' Salonger'. We had a rehearsal place there for a while. And we used to go to this nightclub there. And we knew the owners of the nightclub, so they used that piece of music when they opened up the walls for the disco to start at 12 o'clock at night. So they opened up these walls and... (hums some of the keyboard riff) And then we started thinking, 'this is a good piece of music.' It's very powerful. It's very sort of... hypnotic. It draws you in."

John Levén: "And I didn't know about it. I was there with Joey one night, and they started playing it. Then he said, 'I wrote this'. And I said, 'It's fantastic. You have to write a song.' And I think he went home and thought about it and did."

Joey starts playing a piano version of "The Final Countdown".

Joey Tempest: "I had the riff already. But I started to get the melody... 'We're leaving together...' Changed that chord, and... It started feeling like... a bit melancholic. Like a Scandinavian old folk tune, almost."

After Joey's piano version they cut to a clip from the "Final Countdown" video, before cutting to John Norum playing the rhythm guitar part of the chorus.

John Norum: "It's basically... just a galloping kind of thing, you know. Which a lot of bands like UFO used in the old days."

Ian Haugland plays some of the drum track for the song.

Ian Haugland: "I think we worked almost a whole day with just putting down the drums. We're struggling the whole day, and I couldn't get the groove right. And the producer said, 'OK, let's try this just one last time. And then we'll call it a day. We'll continue tomorrow.' And then, on the very last take, it worked."

Joey Tempest: "We did discuss... Should it be a straight beat? (Claps a straight beat) Or should it be... (Claps a galloping beat) ...that beat? And I was very adamant: 'Let's do...' (Claps the galloping beat) Because it bounces, it's really nice. Otherwise it becomes very stiff. So we called it 'The Final Breakdown' for a few days, 'cause everybody was arguing, 'No, we should do this', 'We should do that'... 'Or maybe we should skip the song altogether?' You know, things like that..."

The guitar solo clip from the "Final Countdown" video is shown. Then they cut between Norum playing the solo now and playing it in the video.

Mic Michaeli: "I remember when we had the album finished, when we had mixed the album. We were talking about... 'Which song is gonna be the first single?' And someone mentioned 'The Final Countdown'. I remember saying, 'No. No way, that's never gonna work. Let's go for 'Rock the Night' instead. That's a more heavier song, and it's more us...' But, it turned out I was wrong. (Laughs)"

Some pictures of EUROPE from 1984-86 are shown.

Adam Curry (Dutch TV host): "There were a lot of hair bands, let's put it that way. From the States we had... Bon Jovi was up and coming at the time. Mötley Crüe, Skid Row... Definitely bands with lots of hair. And all of a sudden there was a European band with lots of hair. And at the time I also was quite a hair man myself... (Laughs)"

Joey Tempest: "All of a sudden we had phone calls and faxes - at first from Holland, actually - saying that this song is climbing the charts, and there are DJ's playing it... How crazy."

Adam Curry: "The National Dutch Top 40 at the time... I don't really remember how fast it climbed the chart. But it was within a matter of two or three weeks, it was number 1. And it went really quick, as far as I can recall."

A clip from "EUROPE in America" is shown, where John Levén plays some of his bass solo in "On Broken Wings" live.

John Levén: "And the first time I ever heard it on the radio was in Holland. We were out on tour in Europe, doing promotion. We came to Amsterdam, and I was in a cab... All of a sudden I hear 'The Final Countdown' on the radio, in Amsterdam. That was a great feeling. I had to tell the cab driver, 'I'm playing the bass!' (Laughs)"

Ian Haugland: "I think it went to number 1 in 25 different countries all over the world."

John Levén: "Previous to that, we had quite a following in Sweden. So we toured a lot in Sweden. But now, all of a sudden we were touring all over the world. And we were extremely busy, traveling all over the world, all the time."

Clip from "EUROPE in America": The band meets the fans at a record signing at a big mall.

Joey Tempest: "We managed to play (in) Indonesia, Taiwan, Iceland, Taipei... Places that... They haven't seen much rock before. And it was great."

Clips from "EUROPE in America":

TV host at "Hit Video USA": "All the way from Stockholm, Sweden: EUROPE!"

EUROPE receive a platinum record. The fans are screaming.

Radio host at "Rockline": "This rock'n'roll like you play, it sounds unusual in Swedish?"

Joey Tempest: "Yeah, if you sing like "The Final Countdown", it would sound like..."

EUROPE: "Det är den sista nedräckningen!"

Joey Tempest: "That sounds pretty weird. You can't put that on vinyl, man! (Laughs)"

Back to the original interview:

Ian Haugland: "We started climbing like this (Moves his hand up in the air slowly), and then 'The Final Countdown' came, and we... whoosh! (Raises his hand high up in the air)... took off like up here, right immediately. So we had a lot of success for a short while, as long as the song was up on the hit charts."

Clip from "EUROPE in America": EUROPE are running in the street, and then they cut to more fans screaming.

Fans: "We love your videos!"

Back to the original interview:

Ian Haugland: "Then when it started going down on the charts again, we didn't have a solid fan base to fall back on."

John Levén: "You had to follow it up. Everything that you do afterwards, is gonna be compared to that in terms of success. And even if you think you've managed to produce songs that are equally as good, they're always gonna be compared to... 'Well, this one sold this and this much. This one sold not as much!'"

Joey Tempest: "Well, everything afterwards will be judged against that. And people in the record companies and friends and everything was, 'Are you gonna write another one?' That's sometimes a little bit hard."

Clip from "EUROPE in America": Joey plays the acoustic intro to "Open Your Heart" live.

Mic Michaeli: "I think we all felt that pressure. Especially Joey felt it. 'Cause he wrote that song, he wrote most of the songs on that 'Final Countdown' album. I believe he really struggled, trying to follow up that success."

Clip from "EUROPE in America": The band sing "Heart of Stone" a cappella backstage, and then cut to the live version.

John Levén: "The manager we had
(Thomas Erdtman), he was with the band from the very first record. He was like a 6th member. And then all of a sudden we started wondering, 'What happened to all the money?'"

Ian Haugland: "Well, the way the contracts were written... It was very beneficial for the management, but not as beneficial for band members."

John Levén: "We signed contracts that we shouldn't have signed with him. We were young and naïve. You should never sign a paper without having your own lawyer look at it. But we didn't."

Ian Haugland: "We didn't actually think in the terms of money at all. We didn't have any clue about the business side. We just cared about the music. You know, get out on tour, play music... Get all the chicks, go to all the parties and have a good time. That was the main thing."

Clip from "EUROPE in America": All the members are at the front of the stage, greeting the fans.

Joey Tempest: "We will meet again. Take care!"

Back to the original interview:

Mic Michaeli: "I think that happens to all bands. When you're young, you're just interested in playing rock'n'roll and having fun. The music is all you care for. If someone comes with a pile of papers and say, 'Sign this, and you'll get your record out!' OK, great, we'll sign! And then go back to the studio and keep playing and having fun. That happens to all bands. It happened to Rolling Stones. Everyone's been through this, more or less."

Clip from "EUROPE in America": The band fool around backstage. Then they cut to Mic playing the live ending of "The Final Countdown" on keyboard.

Adam Curry: "Quite honestly I'm surprised that we didn't hear much more from them. I do know that when I moved to the States in '87 to go work for MTV, that EUROPE of course was well-known. But at that point, in America hair bands were already starting to move out. And by '89 it was a whole different vibe. I don't think they had the opportunity to break into the US market again the way they did."

Ian Haugland: "The grunge scene came and totally killed the music of the 80's. The more polished, AOR oriented rock music, that EUROPE also were connected with. So the whole business side, all the record companies and everything, they just turned away from the 80's scene and went into the grunge thing."

Clip of Nirvana playing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" live.

Joey Tempest: "It was something happening. It was a reaction against the big 'anthem rock'. It was a reaction against it. The lyrics were more introvert and more depressing. And the bands drew into themselves much more, whereas in the 80's we were very outward to the audience."

Clip from "EUROPE in America": Ian plays his snare drum solo.

Ian Haugland: "So we said that it's better to call it quits now, and see what happens in the future."

Joey sits in his parents' basement, playing his acoustic guitar. Then they cut to him taking out a big double platinum record from his closet. He looks at it.

Joey Tempest: "Switzerland... Interesting."

Joey starts playing an acoustic version of "The Final Countdown". Then they cut to the live version from "EUROPE in America", then to Joey standing with two of his old jackets from that period.

Joey Tempest: "That's one of the 'Final Countdown' jackets... (Laughs) I found a nice design I liked, and I used it."

Back to the clip from "EUROPE in America", before cutting back to Joey playing the song on acoustic guitar.

Joey Tempest: "It's not so bad to know that I will never write a big song like that again. 'Cause it's great to have done so. But of course you want to challenge yourself and write good songs that are in a different feel, and not exactly like that. So you keep trying as a writer, not as you keep trying, keep pushing, keep writing all the time. You hope to write something that lives on, and sometimes you do. But... it only happens one time, when everything clicks."

Clip from "The Final Countdown" live in Stockholm at New Year's Eve 1999, mixed with clips of fireworks from different countries. Then they cut to Joey playing the piano version, while showing clips of each band member from that concert.

Joey Tempest: "Right now... I've just finished my third solo album. I've developed some new contacts, maybe to write for other people as well in the future. So I've started to do that a bit as well."

John Norum: "I'm working on a solo album right now. I have about nine songs ready. It's about seven or eight solo albums I've done now, since EUROPE."

John Levén: "I'm doing different studio work. Just different stuff all the time. Session player."

Mic Michaeli: "I'm working with DVD films... music DVDs. Recording bands live and making that into a DVD."

Ian Haugland: "Right now I'm working for a radio station in Stockholm, called '106.7 Rockklassiker'. It's a rock'n'roll radio station, and I'm hosting the morning show. The radio, that's my work, that's what I do. But I still consider myself a musician."

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