If we rewind way back to the beginning, where did your passion for music stem from and how did it all start?
Hearing David Bowie and Elton John on the radio when I was very young made me want to emulate what I heard, learn the chords on guitar and piano. Lucky for me my parents had acquired instruments for my older sister, so I started practicing as often as I could.
You’ve had an amazing journey with Europe – had number-ones, toured the world, played arenas, met and done gigs with your childhood heroes and so much more. If you had to pinpoint some personal highlights along the way, ones that you’ll treasure forever, which ones would they be?
There are so many special moments, but one that sticks out is Europe receiving a prestigious Classic Rock Award and performing in front of all those great artists at the Roundhouse in London in 2015. That made us feel we were an alright band after all.
To most people, you’re of course known as the lead singer of Europe, but you’ve also done a few solo albums with a much more acoustic, singer-songwriter-driven sound. Any more on that front coming out up ahead?
I write all the time different kind of stuff. There is no secret I admire “greats” like Dylan, Robertson, Newman, Young, Morrison, Browne and Waits. Who knows when I will feel like communicating with the outside world that way again. Europe is still my main priority. It’s such a huge part of my life. Now we’re up and running and will be moving forward for a long while yet.
What’s your creative process like? Do you set aside dedicated writing time or do you write when inspiration hits?
It’s a combination and has always been. If you play frequently and have many ideas on the go, the subconscious mind tend to help you sort out the good ones. Generally I try and play guitar or piano for a few hours everyday no matter what, I collect short rough ideas usually on my phone. When I start working on developing these ideas further in my studio, I tend to work for longer hours. Being a family man I do sometimes have to schedule and discipline my work to certain hours in the day. That is something I had to learn and adapt to over the years. Back in the day when I wrote songs for WOT, TFC and OOTW I could work until four in the morning and start again as soon as I woke up. That was a time when I learned the art of playing, writing and recording. There were so many interesting things to absorb that were connected to being an artist.
How does normally a Europe song come to life? Walk us through a typical scenario!
If I don’t finish a song by myself, the other guys in the band have developed into such great writers and often send me ideas. Sometimes just guitar or keyboard “riffs,” but sometimes more intricate full-sounding demos with no vocals. Always with a BPM so I can easily pull them into Pro Tools. Then I go to work playing guitar, bass and keys if needed. I work on melodies, drum patterns, writing new parts and move things around. To me, there is nothing more satisfying than experimenting and finishing up various rough ideas, turning them into fully fledged songs.
On that note: Which Toontrack products do you use and how do they help in the creative process.
After determining the feel and the BPM for an idea I use EZdrummer 2 in my Pro Tools. Superior Drummer 3 If I have more time on my hands to fiddle with sounds etc. EZdrummer 2, it’s just quick and easy, well executed recordings and great-sounding kits with loads of different “feels” and variations. Either I quickly get a beat going with EZ so I can go to work on chords and melody. Or I spend time working on the drum sound in Superior Drummer 3 to get a vibe going for inspiration and work from there.
For every new Europe album, you’ve always seemed to find a slightly new musical angle while still managing to sound like Europe. Is that an intentional thing? Do you always strive to do things differently and go down new musical paths?
Some bands sticks to their sound and way of writing and recording. For us It’s a bit different. We tend to want to move in a slightly different direction when we start writing for a new album to inspire us and help us creatively. We never really planned this, it’s just became our automatic and organic way of working over the years. It’s kind of exiting to know that the next album will be something different than the last yet still part of who we are. Always something to look forward to.
On that subject – what’s next on the agenda for Europe and any hints on where the next album will take you your musical journey?
2022 will be as busy as our comeback year of 2004. Loads of shows and adventures. We’ve already started writing but will continue doing so on the road. There is still a sense in the band to experiment and move forward but at the same time we are now more ready to embrace our earlier songwriting energy and expression. Whatever happens our next album it will surely move down some interesting avenue.
Finally, when not on the road, in the studio or in “Europe mode,” what is a regular day in the life of Joey Tempest like?
Help get the kids to school then walk an hour or so along the river Thames listening to ideas or some music. Then I get into my studio, on to Pro Tools to work on saved ideas or make new ones mostly on my J-45. Then I spend some time working on social media stuff, do some business, call our manager. Then perhaps a Zoom meeting with the guys. When the kids come home from school, I spend time with the family then back on the Gibson in the evening in front of TV news. I’m not alone, some artists write while watching TV. There is something that releases and relaxes the critical mind and thus opens the door and welcomes the muse simply by not being too organized and focused.
EUROPE – “WALK THE EARTH”
Feat. the sounds of the Legacy of Rock SDX by Eddie Kramer.
The multi-track drums from Ian Haugland’s original performance were converted from audio to MIDI using the ‘Tracker’ feature in Superior Drummer 3. All drums heard in the mix are from the Legacy of Rock SDX. Song used with permission. All rights belong to the copyright owners.