After the band went on hiatus in 1992, he enjoyed a solo career, releasing three albums before Europe reconvened in 2003. During this second spell they have released six studio albums, including the brand new Walk The Earth. “Everything is running smoothly for Europe right now,” says the singer, “and the end – for Europe – is nowhere in sight.” He’s the British-based singer from Sweden who wrote his band Europe’s signature song that topped the chart in 25 countries in the mid-80s. The man, born Rolf Larsson, gives us his take on life. Joey Tempest was still in his teens when he came up with the riff that powered the song that a few years later gave his band Europe a massive worldwide hit, and for which they and he will be best remembered.
HE FEELS SO BRITISH
“I’ve lived abroad for about twenty-five or thirty years. I’m married to an English woman and have been settled in London since 2001, so I feel less and less Swedish. It took a long time for me to stop waking up in the middle of the night with bouts of homesickness. The UK is my home now. I don’t have a British passport but I’m thinking of getting one. I love the English sense of humour, and it’s wonderful to live in the cradle of rock – The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles… just about all of the real greats”.
I love the North of England. You can frequently hear proper classic rock on the radio stations. Great people too! It’s really good to play our kind of rock up here. The audience really connects.
HE HATES TO BE CALLED “Rolf”
He was given the name Rolf Magnus Joakim Larsson, and his old schoolmates would call him Jocke. To some members of his family, he is Joakim, but for hte whole world he was always – Joey Tempest – since 1983. “I changed it when we started working on our first album, but even in school I would scribble it because I loved the way David Bowie, Elton John and Bob Dylan created a stage persona. I’d met John Norum – Europe guitarist – and we were sitting at the back of the class dreaming about all that stuff”.
HOBBIES ARE A WASTE OF TIME!
I tried the whole golf thing but would always be thinking about being in the studio. Running Europe is pretty time-consuming. Everyone in the band helps out but a lot of the responsibility, ends up on my plate. To relax, I’ve started collecting vinyl again. I’ve also collected wine, but it’s much more fun to drink than collect.
Although we always wrote and decided what music to produce and release, these days it’s even more rewarding. We control all aspects – touring, merchandise and image control. Being on the biggest label in the world in those days, CBS/Sony, there would be compromises. But these labels were powerful. If a band needed an extra “push” they had the capacity. These days it’s very different. The power is in the hands of the artist. You just got to make the most of the opportunities.
We’ve always been like brothers since we started the band together. We have fallen out sometimes but always found our way back due to mutual respect and admiration of each other’s work. It goes a long way!
ABOUT “WALK THE EARTH”
Walk The Earth, Europe’s 11th studio album overall, comes out Oct. 20 and is the follow-up to 2015’s War Of Kings. It found the quintet working again with producer Dave Cobb — who “acts like a sixth member of the band,” according to Tempest and recording at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London. “Everyone got excited; Even Dave and his engineer were like, ‘We’ll come over from Nashville and do it in London!,’ Tempest recalls. “In Abbey Road we knew they had all the old gear, the stuff Pink Floyd used and the Beatles, but at the same time they’re cutting edge, so it was marrying two worlds, the vintage feel with modern punch, which is what we wanted to do. It was a very intense two weeks.”
The clip was directed by Patric Ullaeus and filmed in Europe’s home base of Gothenburg. “Patric has done the last seven or eight videos for us,” says frontman Joey Tempest. “I sent him the track a couple of months ago, and he was like, ‘Oh my goodness. I got goosebumps. I almost started crying. We have a new location here in Gothenburg, let’s do it here.’ It was kind of a rehearsal situation in a big room with great light and a great director who’s good at shooting bands. We gave him some rough ideas for what we felt about the song, and mostly we just had fun with an old friend.”
The resulting 10-track set, according to Tempest, is “very much classic rock. It’s warm. It’s flowing. You’ve got some more peaks. It’s more striking. When we started the record I listened to a lot of prog music. In my iPhone I have the whole Rush catalog, old Yes or (Jethro) Tull, Opeth, Porcupine Tree. I think it’s an interesting record. Probably more extraordinary than War Of Kings.” Some of Walk The Earth‘s songs are also more pointed and topical than its predecessors have been.
“Before starting this record I was really interested in the path of democracy — where does democracy coming from? What events propelled it forward?” Tempest explains. “I thought it could be a concept album. It didn’t end up like that — we’re just a rock band, really — but a few of the songs follow that theme. It’s sort of a grown-up record for us, and interesting departure from what we’ve done before.”
“Hopefully our (new) album will be well-received so we can do that,” Tempest says. “(‘The Final Countdown’) opened so many doors for us. We got to tour the U.S. like our heroes Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy, and we love playing it live as well. To us it was just one of our songs, but obviously it means a lot to a lot of people in different ways, and hopefully we’ll get the chance to play it for them again.”
Thank you, The Press