Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a member of the hottest band in the world?
“It was really amazing, in many ways. I remember the craziness when everything broke and completely exploded. As it was really hard back then for a Swedish hard rock to penetrate into the rest of the world – it never happened before, no one signed with a major label deal. So when I joined Europe (the band) in October of 1986, it then started to pop up all over in Europe (the continent); we became number one in twenty six countries and I don’t think anyone in the band was prepared for that. How could you? And the way we realised was it became increasingly difficult to play live as there were people everywhere. I remember in Japan, we had no idea how to expect, and this guy came and said, ‘We have big problem…too many people,’ and we were like, ‘What’s the problem with that, that’s why we do this shit…wow!’
And then we got out what he really meant; it was fucking dangerous to get through the crowd. We had loads of body guards to prevent people from pulling our arms out. And we ran into our limousine, there were people on top and bottom of the car, just surrounding us. And I was thinking constantly of The Beatles documentaries that I could relate…and it continued to be like that throughout 1987 and 1988 (during Europe’s world tour), as suddenly we weren’t able to leave the hotel with ten or twenty thousand fans waiting outside, and many were doing camp fires and keeping the hotel guests awake playing our songs – and that’s something we would never forget.”
Kee Marcello reminisced the heydays of being the guitarist of one of the world’s most iconic bands – Europe. Thirty-five years on, he reignites his passion and musical dexterity with his latest band, Out of this World with a self-titled, 10-track debut album. Fans of melodic rock or simply rock will relive in one of music’s greatest era through 45 minutes of end to end riffs, soaring vocals and stellar musicianship that is as nostalgic as the big hair, spandex and hair sprays – but without the cheesiness.
Teaming with the likes of Tommy Heart (Fair Warning) as the lead vocalist, Ken Sandlin (Alien), and Darby Todd (Garry Moore, The Darkness, Devin Townsend), Out of This World is a screw-tight cohesion of a super group. “Ken and I are good friends and we both live in Gothenburg. We’ve been playing together since the beginning of the millennium and almost constantly since then, and Darby in the Kee Marcello Band, who is a great drummer…and as you mentioned Garry Moore, and also Devin Townsend who mastered several hundreds of shows. He plays not only metal and hard rock, but he also plays fusion and jazz. It is such an honour to work with such musicians, as everything becomes easy. And the same goes for Ken and Tommy; and when you have a group of musicians with such a variety, knowledge, and history, it is really easy to create stuff together.”
It is no wonder Out of This World feels like a band that has been playing for decades, fuelling the melodic rock flame which seems the natural progression, given the background of the respective members, as Marcello further elaborates. “I never tried to do anything else like death metal as I wouldn’t do any good. And I’ve stuck with my guns since 1982; I like the marriage between heaven and hell – that is, guitar and keyboard. And I used keyboards to compose. I really love strong songs with chorus and bridges. I really hate plain stuff. I hate predictability and plus it has to be melodic. I think I’m doing the exact thing I wanna do, and the guys share the same love for this genre. I think is just rock and roll. And very melodic.”
Seething through the lyrics, the first single release Hanging On can be likened to be written by a love struck teenager. But Marcello explains, “We’ve all been there before…why do you keep hanging on if you don’t really want me. I think is something that we all can relate to. And it doesn’t have to be about love, it can also be about being in a third wheel. ‘Why am I doing here, you are paying for my job, but what am I doing’…so it comes with identity crisis, and I think that’s what the song is really about.”
It is a power ballad that rings Europe, and like most songs of this flavour, it can only be executed by the best musicians such as Out of this World, as an out of tune ensemble could spew cheesiness of disarray.
The other single release is In a Million Years, originally written for Europe in the Prisoners in Paradise album. “I had a demo from 1990, and I remember Europe’s manager who was also Journey’s manager, loved the song. Looking into the future…is an interesting concept. Quite a lot of my lyrics is about the end of the world or what is about to happen next, and it is just one of those ‘how do we look like in a million years, will we still be here and experiencing the same problem as we are now.’”
Fans of Europe would recognise that the band’s name was derived from Europe’s fourth band, as Marcello explains. “The plan was to find a band that has the recognition for people to know my music, but not necessary to know my new band. So instead of choosing a very anonymous cold new band name, my publicist suggested we should call it, Key Marcello’s Europe. I thought that was a ridiculous idea…I hate when bands do that! So in the midst of all this naming, a Japanese friend of Tommy Heart suggested that why don’t we called it Out of This World…the one that brought Kee to the Japanese fans in the fourth album…and the name grew on us…”
Just like Europe, Out of this World has a massive following in Japan, reaching to number one on their album’s chart. “We went to number 1 on the album charts and we hope we can replicate that with the rest of the world.” But be careful what you wish for, Kee, as life as a rockstar can be dangerous as you had reminisced.
More about life as Europe...
“The reason it didn’t drive us crazy was we got to experience together…we always did the runners, and after we did our encore the tour manager had our ropes, and we jumped into the limo, and if we didn’t we would be kept hostage in the venues for hours and sometimes all night….and we needed to sleep, and we had to use secret runners, and I remember my secret name was K Mann….and Joey’s name was Mr Tongsa. The hotel security was not as good now. The hardcore fans would always figured out where we lived, and we took measures on how to live through this…”
Most rock fans would have seen the rock documentaries that underline the epitome of rock stardom, the one the transcends the hedonistic lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock and roll. So we had to ask.
“And as for the sex, drugs and rock and roll…yes and no. It really got out of hand when we got to L.A. It was crazy back in those days, that’s when the real thing of sex, drugs and rock and roll really came in…was a really weird lifestyle, those elements came quite naturally and that’s why so many rockstars got hooked to alcohol and drugs….that’s why they call it sex, drugs and rock and roll – it was a phenomenon; so the question is, ‘do you want to do that again, or we should continue’; fuck I’ve done it…is enough to experience once in a lifetime, I couldn’t do it and live like that anymore…like getting groceries without getting attacked. It’s something that you might want to experience once in a lifetime, because we had twenty to thirty thousand people waiting for us outside of the hotel – it was scary!”
See the full interview here