EUROPE’S JOEY TEMPEST ON “THE FINAL COUNTDOWN” BECOMING A SPORTS ATHEM, “IT’S KIND OF A GOOSEBUMPS SITUATION”
Mike Mettler of Fox News spoke with Europe frontman Joey Tempest. Excerpts from the interview appear below.
FOX411: First, I have to say, I absolutely love War of Kings. You guys were able to capture that essence of recording live together in the same room. Do you feel that approach lends itself to a more honest performance?
Joey Tempest: Yeah, it’s much better. There’s something special when you do it live, and you don’t think too much. Obviously, you do four or five takes, and you find the one you really like. You listen to it, and you add bits. But we could not have handled doing it this way 10 or 15 years ago. It comes after doing many live shows, where you get the confidence to keep doing it. I think we’re beginning to get a handle on it. (chuckles)
FOX411: Where did you get the band name Europe from?
Tempest: After Deep Purple did Made in Japan (1973), they did Made in Europe (1976), which is maybe not as good as Made in Japan, but we listened to both of them. And that’s where I got the name Europe from. It was really funny when I told the guys, [bassist] John Leven and [guitarist] John Norum, about my idea of the name for the band that night [in 1982]. I had to get a few beers in them! (both laugh)
At first [in 1979], we were called Force. I think we had gotten that name from a UFO album, but there was also a band called Rising Force with Yngwie Malmsteen. And then I thought, “We should move up. We should do something else.” That night, I was so nervous telling them I thought it should be Europe. They got so quiet after I told them. But as the night progressed, they started liking it more and more.
FOX411: I get that. What was the very first record that you got into as a kid, growing up in Sweden?
Tempest: I’m pretty sure it was Space Oddity by David Bowie, the single [released in 1969]. We had to travel 20-30 minutes on a train just to get to a good record store. I remember my friends talking about it, and when I heard it, I thought, “I have to get that.”
FOX411: That song had a lot of impact on you, because it also inspired one of your biggest songs, The Final Countdown.
Tempest: Yeah, it’s true. He was really fascinated with space, which fascinated me. David Bowie, talking about “floating in a tin can” — I was very taken by that. That was in my mind when I started working on the lyrics for The Final Countdown. I had the music first, and I played it over and over and over again, in my basement. I sang different things until I got to “the final countdown,” which fitted it really well. My thought was, the world is expanding and we’re leaving; we’re going up there in space. So the Space Oddity lyric really sparked that idea.
FOX411: It’s great seeing new generations get into it too. That opening Olympic-style keyboard riff makes it a call-to-arms kind of song. It puts us into that vibe. The Final Countdown has also become a huge sports anthem, something else you probably weren’t expecting either.
Tempest: (chuckles) We didn’t have a clue about that! It’s kind of a goosebumps situation, though I suppose I shouldn’t say that myself. It’s uplifting. People come together, and it makes them feel a certain way. It feels bombastic. I suppose it lends itself to those things. But we didn’t know that in the beginning. We would hear they used it in Formula 1 and other sports like baseball and basketball, in other countries. That was a new slam to it, really.
FOX411: And now we’re seeing you all over TV in America in that Geico commercial. Tell me about how that came about. People just love it.
Tempest: We were approached, and we said, “If we’re going to do this, let’s do a reworking of it and a remix of it.” So we gave Geico a new version. We recorded it in Germany in either 2013 or 2014 at a live show, but we took out the audience. It’s mixed by [noted hard rock/metal producer] Kevin Shirley, who’s been a monster of mixing for us.
That was our criteria. We didn’t want to do the Geico thing with the original because to my mind, that would be too much of a throwback. We said to the ad people, “It has to be fresh. We like what you do. You do good ads, but let’s work together. We want to look the way we want and sound the way we want, so let’s dance!”
FOX411: The Final Countdown is actually about going into space. You read about these billionaires who want to go into space — does that appeal to you? Would you go?
Tempest: It’s funny you say that, because that’s been weighing on my mind for a while now. I’d like to get in contact with people who are seriously doing some projects to go out there. It could work out, you know. We’ll see.
FOX411: Does it matter to you which way people listen to Europe music? Are you cool with Spotify?
Tempest: My personal view is slightly different. I buy music on iTunes, and I do listen to vinyl too. Streaming is a double-edged sword for me. We should be organized in the future so everybody, from the engineers to the producers, can benefit. The streaming thing is up in the air at the moment. But it is important, and a lot of people are streaming, so we can’t ignore it. We can work it out.
Read Joey Tempest’s entire interview with Fox News, here.