Europe Secret Society
I will freely admit that upon first receiving this album and being asked to write a biography for the sleeve, I was skeptical. The band has a great reputation as a live act, and they’ve written some pretty decent tracks, not the least of which is the classic rock anthem The Final Countdown. But here, in the twenty-first century I was far from convinced that there was still a place for this band and that they could produce a quality album that would reflect the changing times. Suffice it to say that they took me by surprise ...
They’ve come a long way, these boys from the Stockholm suburbs where Joey Tempest and John Norum first started a band in the beginning of the 1980's. Back then, they called themselves Force, but after entering a nationwide rock competition, they changed the name to Europe. They went on to win the first prize – a record contract - and recorded their self-titled debut album in 1983. The boys were still teenagers.
After selling millions of records and embarking on numerous world tours, they decided in the early 1990’s to take a break after years of constant touring in order to focus on solo efforts. After living in the West Indies for a time, Mic, Ian and John Leven returned to Sweden. John Norum had already moved to Los Angeles and Joey to Dublin - and later to London, where he still lives. You can’t help but wonder to what extent their music and lyrics have been influenced by all those years of living in the U.K. and America.They were invited back to Stockholm to perform their show-stopping classic The Final Countdown during the city-wide millennial celebration. There they were - just before midnight, in front of half a million people in their hometown of Stockholm. It’s difficult to imagine a more appropriate way to usher in the new millennium, and it’s hardly surprising that after that experience, they decided to start up the band again, being joined once more by John Norum, the original guitar player who left the band for a while to record his own solo albums. Joey comments: "I know now how Steven Tyler must have felt when Joe Perry returned to Aerosmith after leaving to record his own stuff. When John came back, it all just made sense, something just kicked in and we were feeling it again.” For a taste of what an important contribution Norum makes to this band, check out the guitar riff on Love Is Not the Enemy, the blues-inspired solo on Wish I Could Believe or the incredible end solo on Devil Sings the Blues. According to John himself, this was the final solo that he recorded for Secret Society, and the whole solo is taken from just "one take".
New beginnings …
In 2004, Europe recorded their comeback CD Start from the Dark. The album had a raw edge to it, giving it a different tone compared to most of their earlier music. As John Leven explains: "We wanted to make a statement, and make sure that everyone knew that we meant business." To our surprise, there was a lot of interest in the band out there. We ended up touring the planet again with over 100 shows. Our fans were really supportive and we couldn't wait to get back into the studio again."The band has an avid fan following, and stays in constant touch with those fans through their web site: europetheband.com. While most of the guys in the band make the effort to stay in touch with visitors to the site, drummer Ian Haugland has gone the extra mile in building bridges between the band and their fans posting regular messages to keep fans in the loop about the band’s activities.In the summer of 2006, Europe began recording Secret Society. Joey reveals that the title can be traced back to a conversation he had with Robert Plant in 2005 – the term stuck with him, and ended up becoming the title of the new CD. Although the band members chose to produce the album themselves, they relied on the support of highly experienced studio professionals. Lennart Östlund, long time engineer at the legendary Polar Studios in Stockholm, recorded the sessions in his new Stockholm studio, Kingside. Lennart has worked with countless international artists over the years, including Led Zeppelin, The Scorpions, just to name a few. When Stefan Glaumann, who has mixed albums for Rammstein and a score of other major bands, agreed to work with them and mix Secret Society, the band was overjoyed - all of the pieces were beginning to fall into place.They chose to master the CD with George Marino at Sterling Sound in New York. George is one of the top names in his field, having mastered countless successful albums for everyone from AC/DC to Coldplay. The band didn't want to leave anything to chance, so they enlisted the legendary Storm Thorgerson to design the artwork for the next Europe cover. As a member of the design studio Hipgnosis, Storm worked on all the classic album covers by Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Peter Gabriel, to name just a few. John Norum reminisces: "Growing up, my favorite covers were done by this guy. The cover of UFO's Obsession and the Michael Schenker Group's first album cover really blew me away.” Storm has recently created the CD art work for bands like Mars Volta and Muse.
This is Europe's seventh album and it seems like they’ve finally arrived. To my freely admitted surprise, they’re evolving and still willing to take risks. This CD is modern and contemporary, without losing sight of traditional rock influences. At a time and age when there are so many hard rock tribute bands around, and many others who are simply copying this style of music, it’s a relief to actually hear the real thing. They’re set even further apart from those aforementioned bands by the fact that they’re actually starting to write lyrics with some substance. Europe today reminds me more of bands like Audio Slave and U2 in their lyrical content, touching on subjects like birth, mortality and reflections on 9/11 and other experiences that have made a powerful impact on their generation. There’s a line in Always the Pretenders, the powerful first single, which goes: "Something's lost but for what it's worth, you and me, this is our church. There is still some love ‘round here.” . The song is inspired by a phonecall Joey received on 9/11. There seems to be a common theme which permeates the entire album: if you’re questioning your faith because the world has become an insecure place, you can always find faith in your loved one, your family or a friend. Like their fellow Scandinavians, Norwegian pop icons Aha, Europe also incorporate that melancholy note in their songs that we have heard so often from successful Scandinavian bands over the years.While their 1980's contemporaries Def Leppard are making cover albums and Bon Jovi are increasingly beginning to sound like Bryan Adams, Europe have delivered an inspirational and daring rock album with some surprising twists. The track Let the Children Play features a boys’ choir and the opening track, Secret Society, is constructed around a single guitar riff all the way through (and they actually pull it off!). It’s evident throughout the album that the band is pushing beyond their former limits and exploring new frontiers, and tracks such as Always the Pretenders and Wish I Could Believe and Let the children play reflect this fresh, contemporary musical journey. Then, of course, we have the kick-ass rockers themselves. As Ian Haugland explains: "When Joey and John get together to write, the sparks just fly. And when the rest of us join in, it's like setting off a stick of dynamite. Tunes like Love Is Not the Enemy, The Getaway Plan and Human After All are going to be great to play live." On this new album, keyboard player Mic Michaeli has been more actively involved in the writing process, coloring the music with his synthesizers and keyboards. In collaboration with Joey, he’s created songs that have truly broadened the musical scope of the band, such as Wish I Could Believe, Let the Children Play and the Devils Sings the Blues.
So – here we are in 2006 with one of the few surviving rock bands of the 1980's. Against all odds, they’ve fought their way back and proven that they do have a rightful place on today’s music scene. Or as Joey puts it: "I think this band is going to amount to something one of these days." And I honestly never thought I'd say this but ... I think he might just be right.
Music Journalist, U.K.
Joey Tempest. John Norum. Mic Michaeli. Ian Haugland. John Leven. These names can only mean one thing: Europe are back with their classic line-up. To call this union long-awaited is an understatement.
Recent festival gigs have proved beyond all doubt that the audience certainly hasn't forgotten. They also proved that Europe have never been better. All of this will be confirmed by the new album Start From The Dark and the forthcoming concert tour.
Everyone privileged enough to have been able to catch the band live during the summer all seem to agree. The band is heavy , they are having fun. They are focused and in great shape. They play with authority. And, most important of all: they are hungry for more ,and eager to prove that there are several more chapters in the success story Europe.
Looking back, the strengths of the bands classic line-up seem so obvious. The combination of Joey Tempest melodies and John Norum riffs. The bands exquisite musicianship and friendship. The way their playing fits together. All of this, and a fresh and modern edge, can be found on Europe's first new release in many years. Drummer Ian Haugland described the reunion as simply returning from a lunch break. That says a lot about how tight these guys are.
Joey and John met when they were around 15-16 years old. They had two things in common. They liked hard rock and they wanted to tour the world. Together, they went to see shows at Stockholm's Ice stadium, out band like Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Rainbow and Whitesnake. They formed the band Force. When they got fed up with playing covers of their favourite bands, and started to write their own songs. Their confidence grew when they started playing around Stockholm. Rumour started to spread of the band from Upplands Vasby who spent endless hours in the rehearsal space and were an incredible live act.
They soon had a local following playing in schools and small festivals around where they lived for no money at all, carrying their own equipment and having friends drive them around form gig to gig. Those days were fun recalls joey,- it really cemented our belief in ourselves but it was kind of tuff finding places to rehears and there was a lot of people in the establishment that thought we were just a bunch of longhaired criminals. They were told by record companies that they should cut their hair and start to sing in Swedish if they wanted a record deal. but they went their own way and had the strong belief that one day all the hard work would pay of.
Their national breakthrough came through winning a band contest, changing their name to Europe in the process. A friend had, without telling the band, sent a demo. Out of 4000 bands around 80 were chosen to perform live around the country and ,Europe won.. the prize was to record an album.
but just like ABBA would have become big with or without their Eurovision Song Contest victory, Europe would have made it anyway.They simply had what it takes. In Sweden they joined the big league instantly. Their first release soon went gold and from then on they became the touring band they always wanted to be. At the same time they were enjoying their first success in Japan.
Their second album Wings Of Tomorrow confirmed and strengthened their position internationally. Before long, the band signed a worldwide deal with Epic in the U.S. and recorded their third album The Final Countdown, which shifted over 8 million copies. The title track went on to become on of the great anthems of our time and reached the top of the charts in 25 countries. The album's second single, Rock the night , proved that they were here to stay .The final countdown album stayed on the American charts over 70 weeks and had 4 top 40 singles with the ballad Carrie topping the charts as the third single
It was around that time that John Norum left the band, Kee Marcello became a natural replacement. The following album, Out Of This World was a strong album, containing classics such as Superstitious and Let The Good Times Rock. Their fifth (and, until now, last) album Prisoners In Paradise recorded in Los Angeles was followed by another extensive world tour and the band was still on top.but in a way that album was a victim of bad timing ..
1992 was the year of flannel shirts and lyrics of anxiety, "grunge". It was impossible to see who was in a grunge band and who was their audience. The musical climate was definitely wrong for Europe's life-affirming hard rock. Instead of trying to be what they're not, they showed true integrity and took a break. It was also time to put down some roots for a band that had been on the road for 10 years in a row. This break became a lot longer than initially planned. Every member had the time to follow his individual musical path, whether solo or in other band projects. But it's probably safe to say that most of the 90s was spent in the shadow of the memory of this very special band from Uppland vasby by in the northern suburbs of Stockholm. Two short reunion gigs ,one televised outdoors gig at the turn of the Millennium and one low-key gig at Stockholm's Hard Rock Cafe wet their appetite. And when John Norum even described the rehearsals as magical, most of us realised that a full reunion was inevitable.
Now its the fall of 2004 and it the time has come for another dose of the most classic melodic hard rock to conquer the world from these shores. A lot of people are looking forward to this. Joey Tempest was recently (as the only Scandinavian vocalist) names one of the world's greatest frontmen by the prestigious British magazine Classic Rock. John Norums trademark riffs, blues feel and classical equilibrium has influenced a whole generation of guitarists who look for that special bite and tone. And anyone who expect the band to be rusty in any way will be blown away by Michaeli, Haugland and Leven's playing. These guys are friends from teenage years, they come from the same suburbs outside Stockholm and grew up listening to the same bands, got drunk at the same parties. Every member is an important part of Europe's sound.
Today they may still be inspired by the hardrock bands from the 70's but if you asked them what they listen to now they would probably mention bands like Audio slave, Velvet revolver and the Darkness. Classic hard rock music has survived the test of time and is again riding high on the charts around the world.
Start From The Dark has come to life organically, without the interference of A&R people. The band went for the "why fix it if it ain't broken" principle and asked Kevin Elson (whom they had worked with on The Final Countdown) to produce. -He is a good friend and is a great believer in recording albums pretty much "live" says John Leven.
The band recorded in Stockholm, where they feel at home. They have put the quality of the songs before any ego. And what songs! The first single off the album, Got To Have Faith, is a real statement and a great introduction to the album. But even if you had closed your eyes and pointed at a title, you would have found a great track. The album is guitar based, with some of the heaviest guitar riffs the band has ever come up with. The combination of Joey's voice and John's guitar sound makes you realise why this band can move so many people.
The Songwriting started with Tempest / Norum finishing three song s together "Got to have faith", "Start from the dark" and "settle for love". After that everybody in the band knew they had something great to build on. Joey then got inspired and started writing new material for the rest of the cd that resulted in songs like Flames, Hero, Underdog and America. A very interesting and perhaps unusual song for the band is "Reason", written by Tempest / Michaeli. "The song is not political but touches a little bit on the fear that exists in the world today" explains Joey. l
yrically, Joey's focus is about the strong bond with his friends in the band but also a communication with the fans and reflections of what the band has gone through over the years, John Norum says that these lyrics are the best and most gripping joey has ever come up with. That could also have something to do with that Joey has lived abroad in English speaking countries for over 16 years.
To sum up Joey says," being in rock band is like throwing yourself of a cliff and doing your thing 100%". I can see no end to this, you have to put everything else to the side and go with the soul of the band". This seems to be echoed in the words from the song "Flames" "Here it comes again, the desire to go down in flames".
This band comes from a generation where it's a matter of course to make an album that's strong from start to finish. And album for the fans. An album for themselves. The music is a bit meaner, a bit leaner. Any unnecessary sweetening has been removed. But the melodies remain. And the almost telepathic interplay between the members. Rest assured: everything that was great about Europe then, is great about them now. If not better. Listen for yourself.
HISTORY from Secret Society Season
Old Biography 2001
Can a highly successful hard rock band coming from the 80s take a long break, return into the new millennium and re-establish itself in a stunning way? Many tried and failed. But Swedish supergroup EUROPE is a big exception to the rule. Decades after they came together and dozens of millions albums sold, Joey Tempest (vocals), John Norum (guitars), Mic Michaeli (keyboards), John Levén (bass) and Ian Haugland (drums) are about to release “Bag Of Bones” – their brand new studio album – and that sounds so fresh, so focused and motivated that even producer Kevin Shirley (Journey, Black Country Communion, Black Stone Cherry, Iron Maiden) didn’t need arguments to bring blues superstar Joe Bonamassa over for a guest appearance.
“With ‘Bag Of Bones’ we've made a hardcore classic rock record with the blues knocking on the door”, says Joey Tempest. “We're proud of it. Very proud. Straight from passionate hard rock souls of Scandinavia, this almost feels like a ‘prequel’ to our very first album, with a 2012 punch.” And as John Norum remarks: “This was the first time since the early days of Europe that we all were standing together in the big studio room, playing through the new songs with Joey singing. I was so fascinated by the long forgotten feeling that I even got a couple of electric hits from my headphones. But that didn’t really matter. The result is a Europe-album that goes completely back to the basics and… even my mother loves it!”
It all started in a small suburb outside of Stockholm, Sweden. Joey and John met and formed the band Force. They both were into British rock bands like Thin Lizzy and UFO. Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple also made an immense impact on these teenagers. They recorded their first demos when they were only 16 and 17 years old. Record companies turned them down, saying it was “too much guitars and their hair was too long”. But with the new name Europe they proved everybody wrong. They won a rock band competition and the first prize was a recording contract. When "Europe" was released in 1983, kids in Sweden and Japan really identified with their music. The second album “Wings of Tomorrow” already gained attention from all over the world. Soon Epic Records, New York (now Sony Music) got interested and signed a million dollar contract. When it was time to release their third album “The Final Countdown”, they had Journey-producer Kevin Elson onboard and a major American label behind them. Touring the UK, US and the rest of the world had always been the boys’ dream. They had put in the dog years and it was time for the big success. “The Final Countdown” sold 7 million records worldwide and the single was number one in over 25 countries and still is a big anthem all over the world until today. The album spent 70 weeks on the Billboard Charts and had 4 “Top 40” singles. Europe made it. They were constantly on the road all over the world but eventually found time to hook up with producer Ron Nevison (UFO, Led Zeppelin) to record their 4th album “Out Of This World”. With the new hit “Superstitious” on the airwaves, they embarked on another 2-year-long world tour. In 1990 they relocated to Los Angeles to record their 5th album, “Prisoners In Paradise”, followed by yet another extensive world tour. By then the band had constantly been recording and touring for 10 years and it was time for a break.
2004 the band returned with the powerful “Start From The Dark”. The plan was to slowly build up a relationship with fans and the music world again. The album caused controversy with its raw, heavy detuned sound, but was a great platform to build on. 2006 they recorded “Secret Society” - another heavy rocking album. With this album, the British rock press started to take the band serious and for granted - finally. The band continued to tour worldwide but started to get invited to play the UK on a regular basis – with steadily increasing concert attendees. Their most successful record since returning to the scene was released in 2009: “Last Look At Eden”. With the bombastic title track and the ballad “New Love In Town”, Europe broadened their fan base even more to become one of the most successful bands in their genre and returned to the pole position of the official album charts in their home country. At the end of April 2012, the 9th Europe-album, “Bag Of Bones”, will be released worldwide. Possibly the rawest and most honest album in the band's history, it bursts with vitality, does present sensational novelties - and still is a record in best Europe-tradition. There is so much to be discovered in here. The first single/video “Not Supposed To Sing The Blues”, the deeply touching “My Woman My Friend” and “Bring It All Home”, or the phenomenal “Requiem”, side-by-side with the powerful album-opener “Riches To Rags”. "Finally we express ourselves completely without restraint. Straight from our hearts and souls. It took some time but finally we have arrived”, says Tempest. "We've crossed the line. We've lost our minds and we've started to play some decent rock 'n’ roll. Kevin Shirley did such a great job capturing the spirit of this band. He just let us do our thing and then pushed us and our songs to the max! And we had some fun during the process: just like a great rock record should be made. ‘Bag Of Bones’ definitely is one of Kevin's best productions. It has got that wonderful warm 70’s style-sound combined with a 2012-attack.” The album was recorded in the legendary Atlantis Studios in Stockholm. Opeth just finished its latest album before Europe took up residence. Europe had changed producers on every single record in their career, which has proven to be a winning recipe. Always keeping things fresh and always moving ahead. Europe’s love affair with the UK will continue and the band will be going back for a major tour in autumn, together with extensive touring in Europe, Scandinavia and the rest of the world. "Bag Of Bones" with its typically strong melodies and the tangible joy of playing, is a straight forward rock album, which range still reaches astonishing dimensions - even for Europe: the experienced five-piece managed to develop further and break limits once again, without selling their 'hard rock soul'.
EUROPE — A LEGENDARY NAME FOR A LEGENDARY BAND
Over three decades after they came together and dozens of millions albums sold, Joey Tempest (vocals), John Norum (guitars), Mic Michaeli (keyboards), John Leven (bass) and Ian Haugland (drums).
WAR OF KINGS is released World wide on German based label UDR, with JVC Victor handling release in Japan. Produced by Dave Cobb, War of Kings has the sound and deep expression that only great musicians with experience can produce. As Joey puts it “War Of Kings is the album we always wanted to make, ever since we were kids listening to bands like Zeppelin, Purple and Sabbath.” A brief history that brings us to now: It all started in a small suburb outside of Stockholm, Sweden. Joey and John met and formed the band Force. They both were into British rock bands like Thin Lizzy and UFO. Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple also made an immense impact on these teenagers. They recorded their first demos when they were only 16 and 17 years old. Record companies turned them down, saying it was ′too much guitars and their hair was too long′. But with the new name Europe they proved everybody wrong. They won a rock band competition and the first prize was a recording contract. When “Europe” was released in 1983, kids in Sweden and Japan really identified with their music.
The second album ′Wings of Tomorrow′ already gained attention from all over the world. Soon Epic Records, New York (now Sony Music) got interested and signed a million dollar contract. When it was time to release their third album ′The Final Countdown′, they had Journey—producer Kevin Elson onboard and a major American label behind them. Touring the UK, US and the rest of the world had always been the boys dream. They had put in the dog years and it was time for the big success. ′The Final Countdown′ sold 7 million records worldwide and the single was number one in over 25 countries and still is a big anthem all over the world until today. The album spent 70 weeks on the Billboard Charts and had four Top 40 singles. Europe made it. They were constantly on the road all over the world but eventually found time to hook up with producer Ron Nevison (UFO, Led Zeppelin) to record their 4th album ′Out Of This World′. With the new hit ′Superstitious′ on the airwaves, they embarked on another 2—year—long world tour. In 1990 they relocated to Los Angeles to record their 5th album, ′Prisoners In Paradise′, followed by yet another extensive world tour. By then the band had constantly been recording and touring for 10 years and it was time for a break.
2004 the band returned with the powerful ′Start From The Dark′. The plan was to slowly build up a relationship with fans and the music world again. The album caused controversy with its raw, heavy detuned sound, but was a great platform to build on. 2006 they recorded ′Secret Society′ — another heavy rocking album. With this album, the British rock press started to take the band serious. The band continued to tour worldwide but now started to get invited to play the UK on a regular basis, with steadily increasing concert attendees. One of their most successful record since returning to the scene was released in 2009: ′Last Look At Eden′. With the bombastic title track and the ballad ′New Love In Town′, Europe broadened their fan base even more to become one of the most successful bands in their genre and returned to the pole position of the official album charts in their home country. At the end of April 2012, the 9th Europe—album, ′Bag Of Bones′, recorded at Atlantis Studios in Stockholm, was released worldwide. Spawning the singles/videos ′Not Supposed To Sing The Blues′ and ′Firebox′, The Kevin Shirley produced record did such a great job capturing the spirit of this band.
With continued touring and an ever growing fan base, Europe entered the brand new PanGaia Studios in Stockholm (the first band to ever to record there) to record ′War of Kings′. In keeping with the vibe of the previous two releases and in hopes to take their newfound creativity to even higher levels, the band chose producer american producer Dave Cobb who had done such an amazing job on recent releases by Rival Sons. Joey adds “And after hearing Dave Cobb amazing production for Rival Sons we simply had to work with him!” And the result is an immense album that corners everything this band is about in 2015 — a huge ′classic′ sound that encompasses the bands talent and draws from all the classic bands and influences from the 70′s, with a vital current sound! ′War of Kings′ the album, featuring the title track as first single (released February 2nd) was unleashed on the public the day the WOK World tour starts — March 2nd 2015, with the band playing Dublin Ireland for the first time in 25 years. What a great way to kick it all off. Joey Tempest: “Hey! We took the long road! But we wanted to re—establish Europe the proper way. It′s taken 10 years and countless tours since the reunion, but we′re finally getting there and we’ve done it our way!
2016 found the band marking a milestone in their career, the 30th anniversary of their landmark album, The Final Countdown. To celebrate this, the band staged a series of special shows throughout Europe where they first performed the entire War of Kings album followed by the entire Final Countdown album. Their sold out show at London’s famous Roundhouse was documented for a DVD releases scheduled for 2017.