Saturday, 6 September 2008

Pop Foto, December 1980: Pop Foto's David managed to get many secrets out of ABBA

Pop Foto’s comic strip hero David has been friends with ABBA’s Agnetha for years. When the Swedish group showed up in Paris recently for a television performance, our Dave was the only European who could persuade the foursome to do an exclusive interview. Clever as he is, he managed to get many secrets out of Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Frida.
About 15 million Frenchmen watched the brand new music programme ‘Stars’ recently. No wonder, since only top entertainers such as Julio Iglesias, Olivia Newton-John and ABBA appear on the show. The successful Swedish group performed their new single ‘Super Trouper’, a track from the album of the same name. During their stay at the picturesque Nogent-sur-Marne, only Pop Foto’s comic strip hero David managed to persuade the four to do an exclusive interview.
Benny, about the last album: “Without a doubt, all four of us think this is the best one we’ve done so far. With all previous albums, we always thought there were one or two songs that we had our doubts about. We don’t have that feeling now!” The others nod consentingly.
David: Where does the title ‘Super Trouper’ come from?
“A supertouper is a gigantic searchlight, like the ones they use in the army. Recently, we used one of those big ones at a photo shoot,” Benny says, “and the results were fantastic! Apart from that, it’s a pleasant sounding word that fits the image of the group.”
When asked about the origin of the tracks, Björn answers: “Most songs are the results of experiences in your life, that you want to express in one way or the other. But you do need inspiration! That’s why Benny and I went to the Caribbean Islands a while ago. Barbados, for instance, is a guarantee for good songs, as far as I’m concerned.”
In what way do the lyrics of ‘The Winner Takes It All’ relate to you, Agnetha?
She sighs, before she answers reluctantly: “I don’t like to talk about that, you know. When we taped the promotional film at the marina in Märstrand, I was close to crying. Yes, it was really difficult for me.”
Frida, who is sensing that the subject is rather painful for Agnetha, steps in: “We’ve had problems with our promotional films more often! We wanted to make some recordings at Piccadilly Circus in London, with wild animals, clowns, jugglers... we wanted to create a real circus. But we couldn’t go ahead with this idea, since some stuffy clerks dug up a law from some archive, that declared it’s not allowed to walk around disguised or abnormally in a radius of three miles around that area. Alas, we had that party at the studios near Stockholm.” You have been able already to see some of that footage.
After Benny revealed that he likes the Stones, Queen and Kate Bush, it’s Björn’s turn to name his favourites. Smilingly he says: “First and foremost ABBA, then there’s a big gap, well and then... I like the Eagles a lot. Fleetwood Mac too, but their latest album is horrible!”
Agnetha thinks they actually have too little time to listen to other people’s music. Frida adds: “Except for the groups that do their recordings at our studios. Genesis and Led Zeppelin for instance. We’ve witnessed the realization of the last Led Zeppelin-album from start to finish. That’s why the death of drummer John Bonham was a big shock for us. We’ve had so much fun with him in Stockholm...”
David: Is there any truth in the rumours that you want to leave Sweden? For a while, all four look at each other, wondering who is going to answer.
Agnetha: “Actually, we did think it over, yes. Only two countries were considered: England and Holland. We just think those are the cosiest countries in Europe. But when we were about to go out looking for a place to live and work over there, the disadvantages became clear: the economical climate in England is not that great, and in Holland there’s the language barrier. Especially for our children, attending school!” Frida puts forward that she still prefers Holland, so if there are any plans to move in a few years time...
Björn (jokingly): “But we’ve become a little lazy, that’s why we won’t be visiting Holland for promotion. We will only travel to France, Germany and England. For the time being, there are no plans for a world tour either."
David: Are you still able to make ends meet?
“We can’t complain,” Benny laughs. “In ’82 or ’83, we will be on the share market. People will be able to buy shares in Polar Music International, a company, founded by us, which trades in real estate, loans, food, bicycles and... art!”
David: Do you have anything else to add?
Frida reacts spontaneously: “Don’t forget to give our best regards to all ABBA-fans in Holland!”

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