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.
Damn, I hated that song when it came out and always avoided listening to it over the years. Now thanks to the TV commercial it’s everywhere and I still hate it lol.
I’m usually a nice guy, but the Dallas Cowboys season is giving me an ulcer, so I’m gonna take it out on the band Europe and their signature song “The Final Countdown”:
I hate that f***ing song so much! It sounds like a six year old with low self esteem playing a $20 used Casio keyboard from 1983. Thanks to a bunch of Swedish meatballs, every dorky high school marching band in the United States was given one of the dumbest songs ever to march to so they can make even bigger fools of themselves at football games and end up getting beat up Monday morning at school even more than they normally did. I can’t explain how embarrassing it was and how difficult it was for me and every other player on my high school team to try to keep our heads in the game while at the same time trying to ignore our already sh***y marching band in the stands behind us trying their best to play that ridiculous song! I have a theory that the doorbell in HELL plays the main keyboard riff of that song! A drunken monkey with a head injury could have come up with something better! Case and point: Ozzy Osbourne came up with the main keyboard riff to the excellent Black Sabbath song “Who Are You”. Ozzy doesn’t even know how to play an instrument! And before someone whines “Uhh, uhh, Ozzy played the harmonica!” It needs to be noted that a harmonica doesn’t count as a real instrument because because no real instrument should be available for purchase at a f***ing dollar store. Europe should have been banned from ever playing that song or else face jail time. Now it’s on a dumbass Geico commercial that plays during every commercial break. I could probably grab a duck, hold it under my arm, squeeze and make it quack that keyboard riff out and it’d sound better than Europe’s version!
I’m done! I need an Advil or a shot of Jagermeister!
You sound as broken up as Romo’s collarbone…….again.
This is why I don’t engage in smack talk about Football, injuries can happen at any second on the field. Plus, I think it is good to be a humble fan. Medved, I am looking at you. 😉 LOL!
Greg Hardy talks nicer to women than you do about Europe.
So I guess you don’t like the song eh? I’m thinking that little riff has made Mike Tempest a pretty rich man. Sorry about your Cowboys though, they are stinking up the league.
I love Europe, great band! Go G-men!!!
I won’t hate on Europe, but the main riff and entire song are quite derivative of so many progressions we’ve heard before–probably why the song is successful. In the commercial I like the way the weight-challenged office lady starts shaking her hips at what’s coming out of the microwave. Back in her day, she might have been a groupie making plaster-casts of guys like Lemmy Kilmister. For ballgames, I prefer the tolling bells of “Hells Bells.” Unfortunately, as a 49er faithful and part of Raider Nation, this year those bells are usually tolling for me.
I got to tell you that JAMES K. is not what you’d call a glamorous man. No, that’s a CRUE reference. Do they still make Jagermeister? I last had that maybe New Years 1989. As for WHO ARE YOU? Great reference. The JAMES K. that we know and love. No mustache on Iommi on that one and someone named THE RICHMAN loves the follow up album. A harmonica is definitely an instrument just uncommon in heavy metal. Be careful James you sound like Robert Durst and that is not a good thing. I like the JETS so don’t dare talk to me about horrendous football. Ironically, Greg Hardy is a fan of hookers and blow just not the classic rock outfit HOOKERS AND BLOW. As far as marching bands getting beat up by bullies and drunk concussed monkeys and hell’s doorbell goes:
It’s like a festive holiday weekend so for God sakes take it easy man. Have a slice of pumpkin pie or a manischewitz or something. Trashing Swedes and dropping f-bombs is no way to live. It’s a little song like THAT SAFETY DANCE or DISTANT EARLY WARNING. Catchy infectious melody type stuff. MYSTERY by DIO as well. The lady dancing in the commercial is pretty funny as well. Don’t give in to hate. It is a path to the dark side. Lay off the Jagermeister and no SLAYER, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES or KING DIAMOND untill after New Years. I’ve been listening to a lot of K.C. and the SUNSHINE BAND and DARIUS RUCKER lately and I’m very mellow and optimistic these days.
Why is Rob Halford the fourth guy from the left?
Ugh, Safety Dance has to be one of the worst songs of all time. GOD AWFUL and that vocal, simply atrocious. It makes Biz Markie sound like Halford.
Hey, I like that song! Several versions, but the original is the best! No love for Canada’s MEN WITHOUT HATS? We all know sometimes bouncers can be party poopers, “The Safety Dance” is a battle cry! Good call Rich…Michael! Who’s Biz Markie?
Should be called the Sh–ty Dance, and yes, I have NO love for it, or the stupid video with the dwarves dancing in it. So there…LOL!
Dana, if you don’t like the Safety Dance, perhaps you love their other smash hit Pop Goes the World. Another classic as Doug R mentions. Yes they still make Jaeger and unfortunately I have a bottle in my freezer and did enjoy some Jaeger Bombs with friends this past weekend – was in Canada and it’s Grey Cup weekend dontcha know. See how I tied in Men Without Hats and being in Canada? As for the Jets, I want to see Geno back in there, but darn it all if Fitzpatrick and his beard won yesterday. I noticed he trimmed down the beard though which is a better look for him. He was getting way too Lumberjackie with that look.
I mention THAT SAFETY DANCE because THE FINAL COUNTDOWN is as or more of an 80s song than a metal one.
Okay, but The Safety Dance really is terrible. LOL!!
However, if you want to hear a great Europe song, and in my opinion the best guitar tone ever, check out, Let The Good Times Rock. This my favorite Europe song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FckTNOTwEk
Dana, I Beg To Differ, and I’m going to Prove You Wrong, (PRONG references) “The Safety Dance” hit #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts back in Sept. ’83! Can’t be that terrible, so there! LOL! 😉
Like I have said before, Doug, numbers don’t mean much to me.
Most of the public tends to like mediocrity as is proven everyday by what music sells, what movies make money, etc. Sometimes, they get it right, but in my humble opinion, most of the time, they don’t. The Safety Dance is another one of those prime examples. Not my cup of tea, blech…
I respect your opinion Dana, but sometimes people just need to lighten up a little bit, and not be so “heavy” all the time. “The Safety Dance” is just about having fun, that’s all it is, just a fun song, nothing wrong with that, right? 🙂
Not at all, but that tune is stinky, speaking of letting loose-LOL!
I kind went over the top, didn’t I? I appreciate your advice, thanks. I’m cool now, I think. And I to love the follow-up Sabbath album you speak of. What’s wrong with SLAYER and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, other than neither of them has put out a great album is over 20 years? Europe’s latest album WAR OF KINGS, is really good. No cheesiness on that album, very Deep Purple sounding at times. Jagermeister is only for holidays at the James K household. It’s the drink of choice because it’s minty goodness and consuming enough of it makes my girlfriend’s family seem less annoying. K.C. and the SUNSHINE BAND? Thank you for your wise words Master Kenobi. And I take back what I said about the doorbell in HELL because it’s probably not THE FINAL COUNTDOWN but instead it’s probably Miley Cyrus’ WRECKING BALL. I’m gonna be a good boy from now on because I don’t want to ring that doorbell. Baseball season is only a few months away. Hooray!
Have to be honest James, we don’t disagree on much, but I love “Final Countdown!” I get it, it’s over simple, but so are ALOT of other songs, too many to mention. Everybody has some “guilty pleasures,” whether they will admit it or not, but IMO, that song isn’t a guilty pleasure, it’s just a simple pleasure! I know, whatever! 😉 Take care James, cheers! 🙂
Thank goodness. You just needed a break from the same old. You’re a nice man, I hate to see you ailing. I’m in a great mood because my dog had emergency surgery on Friday and the outlook is quite optimistic. Dana is talking football and her GIANTS are great historically but this year not so much. I’m watching SNF and I hate that son of a bitch Rob Gronkowski as much as you hated THE FINAL COUNTDOWN and Dana hates THAT SAFETY DANCE. Are we talking THAT SAFETY DANCE and K.C AND THE SUNSHINE BAND on a metal site? Awesome. I gotta say something metal though. Ok, ah Michael Shenker is great. That said:
WE CAN DANCE IF YOU WANT TO/ WE CAN LEAVE YOUR FRIENDS BEHIND BECAUSE IF YOUR. ……….
…BECAUSE YOUR FRIENDS DON’T DANCE
AND IF THEY DON’T DANCE WELL THEY’RE
NO FRIENDS OF MINE! …You got me started Rich…LOL!!! 😉
Michael Schenker is great and to think he joined UFO when he was only 18, wow.
I will always have a special place for Schenker, UFO, and their album, Obsession, in my heart because my ex, who took his life almost two years ago this upcoming March, worshiped Michael. He also introduced me to UFO by playing me his favorite album, Obsession.