What does he really thinks about The Final Countdown? It’s been 35 years since, Joey Tempest co-founded Swedish hitmakers Europe. Today the frontman can look back at record sales topping 20 million, a smattering of solo success and a little song called The Final Countdown.
Since their 2003 reunion Europe have put out four hard-edged, blues-tinged records, packed venues and (whisper it) earned the rock-scene respect that often eluded them during their keyboard-heavy pomp.
When Classic Rock catches up with Tempest as he enjoys some rare time off at his London home, the fresh-faced 50-year-old is clearly enjoying life as his band continue to reap the rewards of their unlikely second wind.
Who was your musical hero growing up?
Robert Plant was a big influence for me. When I first heard Black Dog it really got me. I wish I had been a roadie for Robert during his solo years. I went to see him live so many times in that period. I met him backstage at one of his shows and he asked me for my autograph. I couldn’t believe it. It was for his son.
What were you like at school?
School was strange. I was always trying to find like-minded people. I remember when I was about 11 a teacher accused me of cheating on a test in music class. It appeared I had a perfect score and nobody else did. I had to go to the principal’s office and do it again – and again I got a perfect score. I guess they were shocked that I got full score since I was average at everything else.
You live in London. Do you miss Sweden?
I’ve lived for longer outside of Sweden than I ever lived there. When I’m back in Sweden I miss England. It takes me about 15 or 20 years to get homesick. We have a rehearsal place in Stockholm and I have family there so I go there a lot. I’m kind of in between though.
What keeps you motivated?
I think it’s the friendship that we have in the band. Me and John Norum have that thing where we trigger each other. It’s been a bumpy ride, our relationship. We’re like brothers. He left the band for two albums, and now we’ve done four albums back together. We’re like-minded souls pushing each other. I have one of the best jobs in the world to stand out there with a great band behind me.
Do you believe in God?
The jury is still out on that one for me. I’ve been on a long, amazing journey. I’m out there all the time and something has saved me and pulled me through all these years. I’d like to give myself some credit for that, but maybe I’ve had some help along the way.
You must be sick of The Final Countdown.
No, we’re okay with it. We enjoy playing it live. It was written as an opening song for our third tour and we wanted to get people’s attention. We thought it was a cool song, it was different. We were playing Download in 2012, and while we were on our way we were stuck in traffic. At this point we didn’t know that we’d also not get to the gig in time, but we were discussing the set and we decided to take out The Final Countdown. We were ten minutes from the stage when we were supposed to be on and they announced that we weren’t going to make it. Since then we haven’t toyed with dropping it again.
What have been the highest and lowest points of your career?
We did Sweden Rock in 2013, we did 28 songs and had Scott Gorham up with us. It was such a nice thing to do. It was amazing. That was a high point. The low point would have to be when me and John Norum stopped talking. We’d be travelling in separate limousines and talking through the band’s road manager. I learnt a lot from that. Now we’re always talking. We had worked really hard to make the band happen, so that time was quite strange.