Embarking on a European tour, we catch up with Europe Drummer Ian Haugland for a quick Q&A
R’N’L – As a band you guys are coming up on four decades together, did you ever in your wildest dreams think that would be the case when you originally started the band?
Ian – Absolutely not! I don’t even think we had any thoughts about a lifespan for the band. We were just young guys with an urge to do the same as our idols, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, UFO.
We had no idea what touring, or recording was all about. All we knew in our minds, was that we wanted to be part of ”that world” and that we were willing to work our asses off and sacrifice anything to get there.
R’N’L – If you were to describe your journey through the last four decades in one sentence, what would that be?
Ian – Rock’n’Rollercoaster!
Life and career are never gonna be just good or bad, it’s constantly shifting, changing and moving from good to bad, twisting, swirling turning from right to left.
Sometime’s the dips are so deep, dark and steep, that it makes you think that ”it’s the end it all”, when it suddenly and surprisingly turn and takes off straight up in the air, to reach new highs that you never before thought was possible.
It’s untamed, unpredictable, huge and scary, but also mysteriously tempting, fun and challenging. It makes you scream of laughter, cry like a baby from fear and anguish.
You don’t know for sure what’s gonna come next, but you learn along ride that if you buckle up, hold on tight and trust your inner voice that convinced you to make the unsafe choice, and jump on the ride, it will be all right!
R’N’L – Sweden has a really rich vein of producing Rock / Metal talent, what do you feel it is that the country / region consistently produces such high quality musicians?
Ian – some say the rich folk musical heritage, some say the music school system, some say the boredom of the dark and long cold winters, some say that Swedish people are among the best, proudest most ambitious, hard working people in the world.
I’m not sure about all that. For us it was just a “call”. Every single cell in our bodies were already tuned in to the universal frequencies of music when we were growing in our mother’s wombs.
I don’t think we chose music, I think music chose us.
R’N’L – The Final Countdown album release was obviously a pivotal moment in the history of the band, and a huge success – did it bring its own pressures with the following recordings or allow you more freedom to express yourselves musically?
Ian – I’ve always scratched my (now) bald head with a mixed feeling of confusion, dread and awe, over the record company executives weird and stupid expectations of their artists, or indeed any successful commercial company, just counting on ever-expanding sales figures, and economic growth.
Indeed we had the same experience after the megalithic success of the Final Countdown album. Before the ”hit album” we were just some snotty punks from a little weird country called Sweden, where the polar bears roamed the streets, hidden in the dark Northern outskirts of the world.
But after the multi-million, multi-platinum sales, there was a sudden change of “respect”.
When the time came to record the follow-up album Out Of This World, we suddenly seemed to have an unlimited access to the money vault.
Recording in the greatest studios, with a hotshot producer, staying in the fanciest hotels and so on. I guess you could say that we had all the freedom in the world to do whatever we wanted, as long as it was within the frames of the record company’s wishes.
R’N’L – The song itself ‘The Final Countdown’ obviously has taken a life of its own from its release, I have often wondered if it is a double-edged sword, as a proud moment but also a heavy burden to bare as you have probably played it a million times – Am I right or wrong on that as I would love to hear it from the horses mouth!
Ian – for me personally it’s always been a blessing. Thanks to that song we can still go on tour around the world, make new albums and new fans, and just knowing that I’ve been involved in producing a song that became a rock classic, that’s seen as one of the most memorable songs of the decade is just unreal!
And the energy rush you get from the crowd when we play it live, is so overwhelming that it feels like playing it for the first time every time!
R’N’L – Has the journey of the song itself surprised you even today after all this time, with the likes of Classic Rock & Metal songs now being included in computer gaming and beyond reaching new younger audiences it must be unexpected?
Ian – Yes, it’s quite surprising how a song can take on its own life, and become bigger than the artist. At the same time it’s amazing, because it makes it possible for “us” classic rock bands to keep working and be doing what we know and love to do. Seeing young rockers in the audience singing along to our songs from the 80’s gives me hope for the future of the band and for rock’n’roll!
R’N’L – What do you feel have been the key ingredients in the bands longevity after all these years?
Ian – Great musicianship, great songwriting, great chemistry between the band members, being childhood friends sharing memories and history, having fun, respecting our personal differences and focusing on our common goals, timing and being able to work with the best people in the business, having a sense of feeling that we’re contributing to something good for our audience and maybe most of all… having a shitload of luck!
R’N’L – The music industry has changed massively over your time together as a band; you must have faced numerous challenges over the years to remain current in an ever changing landscape – how do you feel you guys navigated those challenges and what was the biggest lesson you have taken away from the journey?
Ian – I think one of the biggest lesson we learned was, to never trust anyone else’s opinion to be more right than yours. You can listen to them and reflect over them but in the end it’s just their opinion. In order to make it, you always have to follow your intuition and stick to your path, and believe it to be the only way to succees. In the 80’s that was very hard to do being in the grip of the major record companies claws. Today it’s so much easier and enjoyable, when we make all decisions and own our music.
R’N’L – How does the song writing process work in the band, and how do you feel the modern Europe stands against the Classic Europe albums?
Ian – Back in the 80’s, Joey did almost all writing by himself. He used to make demo tapes that were more or less finished songs.
These days thanks to the internet, it’s much more of a team work. If someone comes up with a song idea or riff, he just sends it off to the other guys, so they can bring their input and add their ideas. It’s a very fast and creative way to write songs.
R’N’L – With your upcoming UK & Irish shows, how do you approach a major tour and are there different approaches needed for different countries / continents?
Ian – We always have discussions prior to a tour about what songs to play and how to build the show. In the end we usually settle for a mix of “older hits” and newer songs, and maybe some features, like a drum solo or guitar feature. The routine is basically the same no matter where we play.
R’N’L – Your upcoming show at the Ulster Hall in Belfast has a little bit of history attached as being the first venue Led Zeppelin played ‘Stairway To Heaven’ live in, have Europe any historic facts under their belt you can share with us? (No Pressure)
Ian – Yes we actually have a cool story connected to the Ulster Hall!
As you may know Gary Moore is one of John Norum’s greatest influences and guitar heroes.
In 1984 Gary recorded a live video at the Ulster Hall called Emerald Isle. It was a documentation of the first time he played in Belfast in a decade so it was kind of a special homecoming show for Gary. Many years later John Norum actually got the chance to buy that very Fender Stratocaster guitar that Gary used in his video.
So when we played at the Ulster Hall right after Gary had passed away, John brought the original guitar back to venue as a tribute to Gary and a homecoming for the guitar, that hadn’t been there in over two decades!
R’N’L – Do you have a message for your Irish fans ahead of your upcoming shows?
Ian – Hold on to your underwear, it’s gonna be a blast of rock’n’roll, don’t miss it, and see you there!
R’N’L – What’s next for Europe?
Ian – After this European tour we’ll start sketching for the next Europe album that we will be recording sometimes late in 2019.
Next summer we’ll play festivals and maybe do some more major touring.
The wheels keep on turning for Europe!
Europe 2018 UK Tour Dates
Sep 11: Ulster Hall, Belfast
Sept 12: Olympia Theatre, Dublin
Sep 14: Academy, Manchester
Sep 15: Barrowlands, Glasgow
Sep 17: O2 Academy, Newcastle
Sep 18: Rock City, Nottingham
Sep 19: O2 Institute, Birmingham
Sep 21: St David’s Hall, Cardiff
Sep 22: Pyramids Centre, Portsmouth
Sep 23: Royal Albert Hall, London
Sep 24: Dome, Brighton
Tickets go on sale from 9am on Friday 26thJanuary.
In person at the Ulster Hall Box Office
By Telephone: 028 9033 4455
Book On Line: www.waterfront.co.uk
In person: From 100 Ticketmaster Outlets Nationwide
By Telephone (24 Hour): Northern Ireland – 0844 277 44 55
Book On Line: www.ticketmaster.ie