'Muzik Spezial’ magazine
3 March 1985
New Hope for Europe by Christian Wagner
More than 10 years ago, three guys from Scotland, only thirteen years of age, met in Glasgow and decided to form a band. They were Fergus Harper (Bass & Vocals), Colin Woore (Guitar) and Geoff Dugmore (Drums). They made the first moves for the music that The Europeans play today.
The Europeans. That is a name you have to remember. With the help of an advertisement in “Melody Maker,” keyboard player Steve Hogarth from Yorkshire was found. He and Fergus Harper are sharing duties at lead microphone. Their third LP “Recurring Dreams” made me listen up. I had never heard anybody say anything about the band here in Germany. So, it was great fun when I heard, that the band were to play the Metropol in Berlin. It should be a concert where everybody who was there will be talking about it for a very long time.
Before the gig, a date with Dr. Mambo’s Music TV program. At the soundcheck, it was very very empty inside the Metropol. There weren’t many more people later, maybe only fifty, but it was one of the best concerts I have seen, and I’ve seen around 200. In my opinion The Europeans are THE greatest discovery of 1984. I wish deeply from my heart that they have a larger fanbase. In England they are on their way up, but very very slowly. The Europeans make modern rock music, full of freshness, dynamism and power. There is change between loud and quiet, and between slow and fast. That’s what we miss in most other bands, a variety in sound. The concert is a real Happening. Their record makes you sit up and listen.
From start to finish, there’s a real spark. On the few but excited visitors, an intimate emptiness grows to an abundance of sound. All the people are dancing… and not only because there was so much space, but because you HAVE to dance. Then there’s an enormous quietness where you have to listen again. Steve Hogarth has a fantastic voice. He sings his heart out. He dances like a whirlwind all over the stage. He cannot stand still in front of his keyboards. He crouches at the front of the stage, and at the end of the show he climbs on top of the loudspeaker towers. In his ecstasy, he pushes away his microphone stand, but the roadies are always there to put everything back in place. All for only 35 People in the audience. Anybody who has not seen it has missed out. This kind of music is so unique, and there’s nothing comparable in the British music scene. All the songs have a catchy tune. I am mesmerized by the four people up on stage and can’t wait to hear the next song. I am sad when a song comes to an end. It’s a very rare opportunity where musicians got me so emotional, and were so convincing on stage. Only The Europeans. Especially Steve who gave everything he can. He has a great voice, even better than Fergus. Guitar player Colin Woore walks around the stage during the first few songs. Later he ran over the stage with the guitar down to his legs, playing crystal clear.
There is no sign of a massive instrument overload in The Europeans but the sound is not too thin. The opposite is true. The complicated rhythms ware played as catchy tunes. The Europeans have found their own unique style which could be very popular for the fans. There is a throwback to the old Sounds of the 70s, such as MARILLION, but also new sounds like Talk Talk, U2, Big Country, and even Simple Minds. Modern but without Cliché.
The four members have been playing professionally since 1976, but you can still see a freshness, and they look like they have fun. With nearly ten years in the music business, they have the ability perform professionally on stage, and to improvise. Rather than be ‘just another band from Scotland’ they moved down to London to be closer to the record companies. The band is not that well-known, but in 1982 they got a little fame with their first single “The Animal Song” in Hong Kong, Sweden and Australia. Sadly no-one cares about them in their home country. The Europeans are not a synth-pop band. Their music has a base of guitar rock, with elements of jazz in the background. The rhythms are dominant and the vocals are interesting. There are vocal sections that are astonishing for the listener… musical ideas that other bands would be very jealous of. Their producer David Lord has also worked with Peter Gabriel and Tears For Fears. Together they have created a special kind of music, to prove that it is possible to make a new sound with a foundation of guitars, and with an endless wide sound spectrum. For those that want proof, listen to “Don’t Give Your Heart (To Anybody)” from their latest LP “Recurring Dreams”. It's hard to describe with words, and that’s especially so for music of The Europeans. The best way to hear their sound, is loud, and with headphones on.
Q : You come from Scotland. Has that influenced your music in any way?
Fergus : No, the Scottish influence is more in a spiritual way, not in a musical way.
Steve : Yes, the other three guys in the band hate spending money (he laughs), but apart from that we are pretty similar. The thing we do, our music, has so many historical and spiritual Influences, therefore I don’t think it has something to do with our geographical background.
Q : Do you see yourself as a Guitar Band ?
Fergus : No, we have also lots of keyboard parts in our songs. We are not a straight keyboard band and we are not a straight guitar band. We’re a combination of both.
Steve : I think we are a rhythm band. We work with complex rhythms and try not to drift away to the jazz scene or to float away into different spheres. It happens all too easily for us, and we can disappear into difficult music. We try not to do this. Nothing is more boring than listening to some excellent musicians when they try to float away.
Q : How are your songs developed ? Are you a democratic band ?
Steve : Usually the music comes first. All four of us write the songs, so all of four of us appear on the record cover credits. Yes, we try to be democratic. The problem with democracy is that nobody can go his own way. Everybody has something to say and you have to make compromises.
Fergus : In fact we rarely have different opinions. When there is a good Idea, it is usually good for all of us.
Q : One question about your name. Why did you call your band The Europeans? Do you all feel like Europeans, or are you trying to?
Fergus : It was funny, because we were just asked that at the East-German border. They thought we all came from different European countries. The real reason why we chose The Europeans is pretty easy… back in the day when we were looking for a name, everybody in the band made a list with unusual and funny names.
Steve : We have chosen this name because it fits to the image of the band. It’s NOT that we can tell everyone in interviews that we are Cosmopolitan World citizens, blah blah …
Q : How important is it for you to have success in your home country ?
Fergus : Well, we are pretty much known there. Not a very well known band, but just a little bit. It is difficult, but we’re still evolving. The band is still developing, and we’re not done yet.
Q : Do you have to make many compromises ?
Steve : Up to now we haven’t made compromises, but the pressure is getting harder. If you want to be a very well known band in England, you have to be ALWAYS in the media. You’ll need a chart hit and you must be played on BBC Radio One, because this is the only nationwide station. But there is another way get famous, and that is to get the support of the British press. The music newspaper with the best reputation is the New Musical Express, but in the last few years the British music press has been destroying itself. Back in the day, the NME was a newspaper about music, for young people with enthusiasm. It no longer has any influence on the attitude of young people. It’s now always looking for new “Innovations” and new “Art”. I think they would rather see four people up on stage smashing some coconuts together, than a band with musicians that can play their Instruments very well and write intelligent lyrics. So, we don’t have the support of these magazines.
The Europeans have a hard life, both in England and here in Germany, and in the Newspapers. I hope that I can make you all listen up and support a young band with so much musical potential.
Fergus: Fender Precision Bass, MusicMan, Boss Flanger-Delay
Steve: Yamaha CP-70, Roland Jupiter 8, Yamaha DX7
Geoff: Gretsch Drums, Paiste Cymbals
Colin: Telecaster, Vox 12-String
Thanks to Andre Rostek for the magazine and translation
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