Photo Credit for Image above and bottom right: Patric Ullaeus /Revolver
Far from being in the rock wilderness, Europe have been mighty busy in the last few years. After recording 'Last Look of Eden' in 2009, the band embarked on a massive world tour, taking in some massive festival gigs including Sonisphere at Knebworth. Despite the aches and pains following that gruelling schedule, the band went back into the studio to produce their latest work 'Bag of Bones' and are now gearing up for the opening night of their European tour. We spoke to drummer Ian Haugland to talk about the new album and the upcoming concert in Wrocław.
GG: Welcome to Wrocław Uncut Ian! So Wrocław is the 1st gig on the European tour, how much are you looking forward to going back on the road and playing the new album?
IH: We are really excited to get out there and play the new songs from Bag of Bones. The problem is not to decide which new songs to play, but which not to play! Simply because we think the whole album kicks ass! If you'll enjoy hearing the new songs half as much as we enjoy playing them you'll be like one big happy family on May 1st.
GG: Of course you will also be taking part in the world record, where thousands will line up in Wrocław's market square to play the Hendrix classic "Hey Joe". What's the largest group of people you've ever played with?
IH: The largest crowd we ever played for was on the millennium eve when we played an outdoor show in Stockholm in front of the whole city 1 million people. It was surreal and f**king freezin'!
GG: You guys have played a hell of a lot of gigs over the past two years, and I've heard the title of the album 'Bag of Bones' came about because you basically felt like that come the end of the tour. Is that true?
IH: Yeah, that's right. It's how you feel after a long and exhausting tour, just like a Bag of Bones.
GG: You've stated that you don't want to do the same thing from one album to the next, so what direction did you decide to go with the new album? Did some of the revitalizing and dynamic tracks such as firebox, just come about naturally in the studio?
IH: As you probably know Europe have the roots in the 70's blues-based hard rock bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and what we wanted to do this time was to make an album just like they did back then, just us jammin' in the studio. Not too polished and over produced. We also used the studio as a "creative instrument". Instead of bringing in finished songs to the studio we worked on the songs right down to the final take, that way the whole recording process was also part of the writing process. Firebox as you mentioned came together in the recording studio. Very exciting!
GG: From what I've heard everybody managed to get involved in the making of the new record, despite some periods where people were in different places at different times. Was it difficult to piece everything together?
IH: Not at all. First we sent song ideas between us on the web and then we got together to rehearse the song ideas a week before we went into the studio. The final shape of the songs came together more or less as we recorded them.
GG: What was it like working with Kevin Shirley? How much did his influence as producer shape the album's sound?
IH: We knew about Kevin since way back but I think we first really took notice of him when he produced Black Country Communion. We all thought, "cool, can you really make an album like that in 2011?” So we got in contact and asked him if he wanted to produce for us and he was happy to do so. We couldn't have picked a better guy for the job, Kevin's so cool and experienced, he really made us feel relaxed in the studio and his production skills took us to the "next level". I do hope we'll get to do the next album with him as well.
GG: Music trends will always come and go, and the demise of Rock n Roll has forever been muted in the media, yet it always seems to thrive regardless. Wrocław's guitar record is further evidence of Rock's eternal popularity, do you think Rock n Roll will live forever?
IH: Rock n roll will survive any trend because it's not a trend, it's a lifestyle. With "Bag of Bones" I think Europe got revitalized, Now we will keep on rockin' till the end of time
GG: Thanks for taking your time to answer our questions Ian, we are looking forward to the gig, it should be rockin!