JOEY TEMPEST of EUROPE Reflects On New Single “Hold Your Head Up”: ‘We Always Like to Take Fans On an Adventure’

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Europe has recently released its new single, “Hold Your Head Up,” ahead of a 2024 documentary film about the band’s meteoric rise to becoming one of the greatest rock bands in history.

The song is a vibrant rocker reminiscent of their early hits and captures Joey Tempest [vocals], John Norum [guitars], John Levén [bass], Mic Michaeli [keyboards], and Ian Haugland [drums]continuing to be one of the most influential forces in rock music today. It was produced by Klas Åhlund (Ghost) and mixed by Stefan Glaumann (Rammstein, Def Leppard), who also mixed Europe‘s “Secret Society” album. To purchase “Hold Your Head Up” head over here.

Europe plans to head to the studio this winter to pull their song ideas and riffs together for a new album due out in late 2024 / early 2025. It will be their 12th and first studio album in five years since “Walk the Earth.”

The brand-new documentary entitled “Europe – The Movie” will tell the story of the band, from formation until the present day, telling of their rise to success in the mid-’80s, through hard times and heartache, to coming back in the millennium and the current successes the band has achieved.

Correspondent Robert Cavuoto spoke with Joey Tempest moments before they hit the stage at The Palladium in London last month for their second to last show of their Time Capsule, 40th Anniversary Tour. Joey shared how the band has been compiling song ideas and plans to go into the studio this winter. He also discusses content fans can expect to see in the documentary and reminisces on their heyday of the 80s when they were besieged in the street and the on-stage mishap that led to enlisting Mic Michaeli to handle the keyboard duties in 1984. Listen or read the transcript of their conversation below.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

You are playing at The Palladium tonight in London, a show for your Time Capsule 40th Anniversary tour. It must be close to show time.

It is only an hour and a half from showtime, so it’s getting exciting.  We are on this 40th-anniversary tour of 21 shows. It’s going so well, and I’m excited about playing in London. It’s a hometown gig for me, as well as Stockholm. I have two hometown gigs!

We spoke in 2017 for “Walk the Earth”, so getting some new music from the band has been long overdue. It’s a great song, and we are excited about it.

Thank you, we are pleased about it. We made it in the studio this summer before the tour kicked off. Since we weren’t touring during the pandemic, I was collecting ideas, and this is the one I felt strongly about. I sent it to the guys, and they all liked it and wanted to work on it. We managed to quickly get it done in a few days.

I read you will be putting out a documentary in 2024. I wondered if the new song “Hold Your Head Up” is a retrospective tribute to the band’s career that will be used in the film?

We are featuring the song in the documentary. It just came together that way, and it’s a good observation! It was luck that the song tied it all together. Early in the documentary, you see us in the studio today, but then you get transported to the suburbs of Väsby when we were teenagers dreaming of becoming a touring band and coming up with the band’s name. We also found old footage on VHS tape from hotel rooms and recording studios. We had more material than we initially thought. It all formed into a really good story at the end of the day. We are in the final stages of completing it, and it’s almost there. It will probably come out in early 2024.

Will it be available on a streaming platform or for a theatrical release?

We are involving people to get that together to find the most interesting scenario for it. It could be all of those aspects you mentioned. It will be a serious thing that we want fans to be able to see it. It’s a great story about the era.

There’s also a new album in the works for late 2024 / early 2025. How deep are you into writing and recording it?

We talked about that last week. We have some ideas. One was “Hold Your Head Up,” so we are not entirely starting from scratch. We think this winter, we will pull all the ideas together and send them to each other. If we are lucky, we can get it out, like you said, later next year or early 2025. We are looking forward to recording it. It’s been a while since Walk the Earth in 2017, which was recorded in Abbey Road Studios.

When you go into the studio, do you have all the songs fleshed out, or do you prefer to be more spontaneous in creating songs as a band?

We like to be very well prepared! We like to leave a few things in the air, like breaks, intros, or maybe a song that is less than 100%. We want to be rehearsed on 10 to 15 songs before we enter the studio. That’s the kind of band we are! Sometimes, we can be a bit lazy and write in the studio, depending on the producer. When we have worked with Dave Cobb, he is a good writer; he can join in on a bridge or intro, which works well because we know him. Sometimes, we can write one song in the studio.

I know you are still working on the songs, but will the album have any unexpected moments that Europe is famous for and fans can look forward to?

You sound familiar with the band, and we always like to take fans on an adventure. “Hold Your Head Up” has some punch to it with some old Europe metal edge to it while feeling modern. I have a few ideas that are a bit different to share with the band yet, so there will be some exciting stuff.

Will you be coming to the US to tour in support of the album when it does come out?

Yeah, I hope so! Our management company is in California, so we have an agent who is always looking. As you know, we were supposed to go to the US in 2020 on a major two-and-a-half-month tour, and it didn’t happen because of everything that went on in the world. We have been looking ever since, and it’s about finding the right scenario, band to go with, or package tour. We could look into going back to all the House of Blues venues again. It’s really important for us to get back to the US, and I hope it’s soon!

You’re an expressive lyrist who can paint pictures in people’s minds and a terrific storyteller writing about positivity and hope. What do you think is your biggest strength as a songwriter?

That’s an interesting question. I don’t know where it comes from, but I know my Mom has always been a very positive soul! I have some of her thinking on that aspect; there is always hope, and there is always light! That sentiment always creeps in even when we write about a tragic event in the world. It’s just the way I am, I suppose. That doesn’t stop us from finding issues that are more serious. At the end of the day, it’s music, and it’s Rock & Roll. I have never gone down the road to do a serious album about a theme. We started in that direction for the “Walk the Earth” about where democracy went [laughing], but halfway through, we realized we are a rock band! There are a few things in there that make you think a bit more.

With that thought in mind, what inspired you lyrically when you first started Europe, and what inspires you now?

You get older, and you start thinking about everything that you have experienced. You have a late-career and an early career, so you can look at things in relation to each other with more depth. You read more and write more music as you evolve. I like to anchor lyrics in reality more than the first album when we were 18 years old. It was cool when it sounded cool, and that was it [laughing]! My Dad passed away, and when I wrote the lyrics to “Hold Your Head Up,” I remember him telling me, “Get up; I know you can do this!” That was the thought behind that song, but I’m sure the album will have new songs anchored around the band, my life, or what is happening around the world. I think that is how you evolve; you tend to write about things that are important to you.

Are you always inspired to create music?

Yes, I think about music every day and listen to music every day. I play guitar and keyboard almost every day, depending on what I’m doing or if I’m traveling. It’s been part of my life since I was 6 or 7. There was always an instrument at home. My sister had a guitar and piano, and she didn’t continue, but I did. I like to express myself musically, and it makes me feel good to write and think of new ideas. I collect lyrics and melody lines all the time.

Keeping the documentary in mind with the history of your career, what are one or two key attributes that you feel have carried Europe through all the ups and downs of the music business and challenges the band faces on a daily basis?

The main thing is that we are all from the same place. We used to watch concerts together, we rehearsed together, and we partied together in those days. We went to different schools, but we were still connected with friends and watching each other’s bands. That is one of the things that we really appreciate after all these years. The band is like one soul with five different elements. It carries us now as the egos have calmed down, so there are no major fights. We feel lucky that we have each other and have this job. In the realm of music, we are all in agreement with the same artists and music styles. That means there will never be a major issue with choosing or writing songs. We are in the same world musically, so there will never be disputes going down with our musical roots. Some bands break up citing musical differences; wow, how is that possible? In a band that has been together a long time, it’s difficult to cite that as a reason. It comes down to the fact that we have so much in common regarding music, direction, and playing live.

Growing up in the 80s and listening to your music was a magical time. Is there anything worth reliving from the 80s?

They were great moments and tough moments, too. There were things we didn’t like to do, like perform on the family TV shows. We didn’t want to keep doing it, and some of us hated it more than others. There are elements from when we started to become one of the biggest bands in the world: going through cities like Rome, Paris, Los Angeles, New York, and Tokyo and experiencing it together, then going out to clubs after the show, we felt on top of the world. That feeling is there! There were a lot of playback sessions and lots of travel when we wanted to be on the road instead [laughing]. We had the down period when Grunge came in. The band went home to Stockholm only to find that some of the members realized they had less money. It was tough for some of the guys for a while. We met each other again and wanted to help each other and carry each other. Now we are together longer than on the first run. It’s about communicating and having the same goal of working together.

That’s a testament to your friendship.

Yes.

When you were on tour in the 80s, was it like Beatlemania when you rolled into a new city?

It was! In Rome, we had to sneak out of a big church when people started recognizing us. We couldn’t go on the streets in Europe for a while. Being in cars to go to and from the shows was almost impossible. Some of the stories are in the documentary. It was out of control for a while [laughing]. It was cool to go through it, it was all a good thing. People were just wanting a piece of us [laughing].

On the first two albums, you played keyboards, and then on the third, you brought in Mic; tell us about the decision to transition to having a fifth member.

There was an early moment in Europe‘s career when I played keyboards on stage. I had a bad experience when the keyboard broke down, and I was standing there with the keyboard misfiring and sounding weird. It was one of those decisions that I’m not going to go down this road again! Even though I played keyboards on the first two albums, in the back of our minds, we wanted to have that extra band member. Mic was a friend from school who was in a band, Avalon. He was the one who lent me a keyboard in college and wrote the “The Final Countdown” on. We were connected in that sense, and he was the only guy in school who had a keyboard [laughing]. Later on, we remembered him. He was still part of the music scene and played in different bands, and one of his bands opened up for us. We went to ask him, and he pretended to be cool about it; inside, he was like, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” He wanted to be in a touring band. So, in 1984/1985, everything kicked off with this line-up we are still with today.

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