INTERVIEW BY MICKI CURTI
PHOTOS BY RON MAIO, EDITING BY MARKO SYRJALA
The Swedish band Europe is again on tour in this second leg of the 2015 released album WAR OF KINGS. On first part of the 2015 tour, the band covered a small handful of cities across North America, which included Headlining at the Monsters of Rock in Miami, then Milwaukee, Cleveland, Chicago, Niagara Falls, New York, Uncasville just outside of New York City and at the M3 Festival. The band continued playing at European festivals in the summer of 2015 and having more shows around Europe in Fall/Winter of 2015. They were in fact in our homeland Finland just last September, hitting Tampere and Helsinki on September 27 and 28 2015. The USA Tour had been very successful to the point the band had mentioned returning in North America in early 2016. Now well into the 2016, Europe has kept the promise made of re-touring the USA and went back one more time to play in more areas of North America, starting from Northern California, spanning from more West Coast locations into the Mid-West, some northern casino cities and the Southeast. The full list of the city was: San Jose, CA, Anaheim, CA, Los Angeles CA, San Diego CA, Las Vegas NV, Chandler AZ, Badlands SD, Lawrence KS, Shawnee OK, Dallas and Houston TX, Ft Lauderdale, Pinella’s Park, Orlando FL, Biloxi MS and Atlanta GA. It seems they will be bound to return to North America again without letting 10 years go by again for another American tour, judging from the great turn out of these 2015 and 2016 concerts. And it looks like this year has an important anniversary: February 15, 1986 saw the release of their most popular, majestic hit single, “ The Final Countdown”. While there is already some talk of celebrations for the occasion, we thought of sitting down with the drummer, Ian Haugland of Europe to hear more about this, before assisting to their Lake Buena Vista Concert at The House of Blues in Orlando.
TOUR TALK AND MORE
Ian, thank you for coming over!
Ian: Thank you for being here!
How is the tour so far?
Ian: It has been going great so far, just, you know, we haven’t been here in such a long time. We did the east coast like a year ago and that was the first American tour in more than 10 years. So being on the west coast for us was also the first time in 10 years. It’s been way too long, since that last tour more than 10 years ago. I think it depended on our old management in Sweden that was based in Sweden and didn’t have good connections with the United States; now we work with an American management, which helps us more in getting back in touch with the USA. So its amazing to be back and to see people still remember us, care for us and see that when they meet us, they keep on asking “ where were you guys in the last 10 years, we have been waiting forever”. This says a lot about the loyalty from fans. That’s fantastic.
Good! And,very true about the loyalty. You have a lot of fans that are now become adults and additionally you now have new younger fans. There is a new alchemy: the new and the older fans: the longtime fans and the newer recently acquired fans. What is your perception on this new alchemy of listeners?
Ian: It’s very interesting, you know. The old ones are really loyal to us from the 80’s. Something happened when in the 90’s when Europe went on hold up, when the internet broke through, Youtube and then eventually with Facebook: that has attracted a total new age of fans. Its fantastic because it has given us a second run and also its amazing because the younger people who discover Europe today don’t care if the music is from THE FINAL COUNTDOWN or WAR OF KINGS, to them all that music is basically new, it’s fresh music. You have to think about that as an artist because, it’s very easy, as we have been on the timespan to think “ oh The Final Countdown” is an old song,” Superstitious”, old song, but to the people out there, especially to younger fans, that is all music they like so we have to remember that. As artists we think it may sometimes be boring to play some of those older songs but watching the younger fans gives back so much energy that it reinforces how important it is for us to play those songs.
As you know, I have been attending some of the shows and it has been amazing to see your album WAR OF KINGS has brought together all listeners and some of them have been bringing their kids, in first row with them.
Ian: yes, they are sending them rocking out! It sure makes me feel much younger than I probably should feel! I try to avoid mirrors these days, since it tells the truth ah ah ah. I put my glasses on and go on onstage.
As Joey said during one of the concerts I attended “ we all look better now, a “few years later, don’t we”?
Ian: yeah exactly (laughs). We enjoy being on stage and it’s a blast to be able to entertain hundreds or sometimes thousands of people. It’s a gift.
Many accomplishments for you guys in 2015: “Best Come back of the year”, “Rock Classic Award” and here in the USA, you have been on top of the billboard charts with your Geico commercial featuring “The Final Countdown”, which has been a very positive move for you. In fact it has bridged some old lost fans by showing them you were back around in case they had missed you in the last albums since your return in early 2000’s but it also prompted other listeners to look you up, to check out your new album WAR OF KINGS and buy it. So, what’s next on the Europe Agenda?
Ian: We are going to keep at it. The Geico Commercial was a great opportunity, it happened by chance, They got in touch with us and we thought it was a cool idea to do a commercial as it was something we had never tried before. Eventually it had a really positive effect for us in USA, like you said. Other than that, we are going to keep on rocking, we are going to play festivals in June and July 2016, not sure how many now as they are being booked, in August we will have a short break from playing live, to focus on writing new songs. In September we will be in studio to make the next album.
How about the Sweden Rock Festival in June 2016?
Ian: No, we are not booked there this year. Maybe next year.
What about the celebration of the 30th“ The Final Countdown anniversary”?
Ian: Yes! After finishing the new album, which will take about a month, in October or November we will do maybe10-15 concerts for The Final Countdown anniversary concerts.
Listeners will want to know: where are those “The Final Countdown anniversary” concerts going to be held?
Ian: I am not sure yet. The only two we know about now, are Paris and London We are going to try to spread it out to Italy, Germany, Spain maybe.
Ian: maybe yes. I guess there will be an announcement when the locations have all been conformed. It will be a chance for fans to hear the whole The Final Countdown album from start to finish
How about the USA and Canada?
Ian: No we won’t be able to.
WAR OF KINGS AND THE FUTURE
Talking about your latest album WAR OF KINGS, which is truly an incredible album that truly shows your connection to your influences, Thin Lizzy , Ufo and more, there seems to be a general liking consensus among fans about the song “Nothing To Ya”. How did this song come about?
Ian: It grew out of a riff that John Norum came up with and then we built the song around it. It’s a heavy song, I like that song a lot and it has got a very special groove to it, its fun to play. It seems that people truly get our new album “War of Kings”, even if it sounds very different from our older work, from example to our album LAST LOOK OF EDEN, WAR OF KINGS is more connected, like you were saying, to our roots. Its fun when you create new music and someone comes up with an idea and from nothing, from hearing that idea, one starts creating from that piece of music or riff. Just a little piece of music can trigger a song. It’s an interesting process to create music. Another example of this is the song “ Angels from a broken heart”, which also came from a riff that John Norum came up with.
Great Rock Ballad, too bad it’s not on the set-list.
Ian: Yeah, that’s the problem when you become a band with too many songs to choose from, it becomes difficult to choose what to put on the set-list. When you become like Bruce Springsteen or Rush, then you can play for 3-4 hours. That would be really fun!
I think you guys are totally ready for that
Ian: well maybe, thank you.
I have read somewhere that the song “Days of Rock’n’Roll” was actually written years ago, but it got put aside? Can you please tell me more?
Ian: Yes.It was written by Joey on keyboard in 1988. The song was supposed to be the title track for our album OUT OF THIS WORLD, it had that kind of fanfare pattern like “ The Final Countdown”. So that was supposed to be from the beginning, like a fanfare type of song but for some reason the song never came together. Weird how sometimes an idea doesn’t feel right at that time but then 10 years later we thought “ oh yeah, that’s how it should be done”. It was supposed to be the song following “The Final Countdown” and supposed to be the title track of the album OUT OF THIS WORLD and as you know, there is no song called “Out Of This World” in the album “ Out of this world”; that’s the reason why, we kept the name but there was not the actual title track song. For me personally, it’s one of the great songs of WAR OF KINGS, it’s a great live track, even when you haven’t heard it before, it has that “jumping” feeling thing about it.
Very, very true. Now that USA and Europe territories are pretty established for you, any other countries you shoot for reaching out to?
Ian: We need to spend more time here in America to start with and it takes more than 3 weeks to win them over. So hopefully we will be able to do that, especially now with this management. I still think we need to spend more time in SouthAmerica as well, I know we have a great fan-base there, and also we want to be in Eastern Europe , we did a couple shows there.
I am aware you played in Vilnius, Lithuania and Tallin, Estonia.
Ian: Yes, correct and totally undiscovered for us. We also need to go to Russia again. We have gone to a lot of places but there is much more to do and a lifetime is not enough for all these places Europe needs to conquer. We do this with passion, for our loyal audience. It’s really fantastic when you go to America and people have flown from Puerto Rico or Indonesia, Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Italy and it happens everywhere. If we go to Japan, we have people flying from America…. it doesn’t matter where we go, people follow us from al over the world and this is the sign we have a very loyal fan base. We have all means to keep doing this, we need to keep on doing it. It’s not just our work, it’s our life.
That is simply great. Now, is Canada on that list of countries to return to? It has been more than 10 years since you went there, only on the Canadian west coast last time, in Toronto in May 2005.
Ian: Yes true. Canada is definitely on that list. Some of the best bands come from there in my opinion, Neil young, Brian Adams, Rush. Canada and Sweden have lots of similarities too” mentality,climate etc. Yeah, we want to return there. As for North America, we will try to come here more than in the last 10 years and we feel bad that we haven’t toured here in these years and as I said, people have been asking us why. We didn’t think there was a market here and our management said the same thing “ why so long”. Therefore we plan on coming here more, the door is open now and we will continue. We will do more shows in Europe as well and yes also in Finland. Finland is a great country to go to, perhaps there we will do some festivals, nothing booked yet, but we always do festivals there. Finland, is very rich musically and is also secluded, magical, mysterious, we love playing there.
Agreed! I love Finland too. You guys are pretty much at the end of this tour. There is still a concert tonight in Orlando at House of Blues, then one in Biloxi MS then last in Atlanta GA: good luck with these concerts. This concludes out time together, thank you so much Ian! Have a great end of this USA tour and see you guys again soon!
Ian: Thank you! See you guys soon!
FEB. 4 2016 SET LIST
House of Blues Lake Buena Vista-Orlando Florida
1) War of Kings
2) Hole In my Pocket
3) Rock the Night
4) Scream of Anger
5) Last look of Eden
7) The Second Day
8) Firebox,*Desperado* Tribute to Glenn Frey
9) Sign of the Times
11) Girl from Lebanon
12) Ready or Not
13) Nothin’to ya
14) Drum Solo
17) Days of Rock’n’Roll
18) The Final Countdown