An interview with Björn from German Bravo magazine published in 1992, the year that ABBA returned to the top of the charts with their best-selling compilation album ABBA Gold.
In the seventies, ABBA was the ultimate supergroup. With accessible, perfect pop songs the Swedish foursome scored one hit after another. Singer Agnetha Fältskog was married to founder and guitarist Björn Ulvaeus, singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad got married to composer and pianist Benny Andersson in October 1978. Son Peter is now starting his own band One More Time. In 1982, the band dissolved after eight extremely successful years.
Ten years later ABBA fever is in full swing. Erasure are dressing up like Agnetha and Anni-Frid, U2 played ‘Dancing Queen’ at their Stockholm concert, ABBA themselves found themselves in the charts again with their 1976 hits.
Bravo talked to ABBA-founder Björn Ulvaeus about the background of their incredible success.
Bravo: How do you explain the fact that ABBA is completely trendy again after ten years?
Björn: “I can only explain this renewed success with the possibility that people are getting tired of the fifties and the sixties. Lately, they have been milked dry to the last drop. Now it’s time for the seventies. And since we were rather authoritative during that time, it’s only natural that we’re now present again as well.”
Bravo: So what do you think about Erasure’s version and their dressing up as drag-queens?
Björn: “I don’t really look upon that as a parody of us at all. On the contrary, I’m flattered. They are paying tribute to us by doing what they do. I know that they grew up with our music, therefore it’s only natural that they want to play it as well. And I don’t mind them experimenting a little.”
Bravo: Do you miss the old times?
Björn: “No, not at all. Not one tiny bit!”
Bravo: Then there are no plans to take this opportunity and perform together again?
Björn: “I could imagine that their might be something that probably could bring us back together again, but at the moment I have no idea what that something might be. At the time, when we quit, we actually only wanted to take a break. We didn’t rule out the possibility of singing together again at some point in the future. But then the years went by, we all had our own projects, and then one day it just wasn’t to be anymore.”
Bravo: Did you fall out with each other?
Björn: “No, definitely not. We are still good friends and also see each other every now and then. Other rumours are simply not true. Although I write completely different songs today, I am still mighty proud of the things that I did in the past. But I see no reason to get back together again. Many groups have tried their hands at a comeback and mostly unsuccessful. It can even happen that the few good memories that are still left of the old times get tarnished as well. You should also be some kind of an exhibitionist, like Rod Stewart, to carry on. I’ve sufficiently paid my dues when it comes to tours and stress and everything else that comes along with the life of being a pop star.”
Bravo: You always had a clean-cut image and on top of that you got married to each other as well. That almost sounds too good to be true.
Björn: “That’s just the way we were. Things turned out as they did. First Benny met Frida and shortly after that I met Agnetha. We got along great. So it was only natural that we got married later on. Do you really think that Benny and I got it into our heads that we wanted to make music and become famous, and therefore needed two pretty singers that we would get married to. That would have been rather farfetched. And when you go on tour as two married couples, you behave in a different manner than five 18-year-old boys would do.”
Bravo: Together with Benny, you wrote the musical ‘Chess’ in 1985, that ran for years in London. Do you still make music today?
Björn: “I’m trying to get re-acquainted with pop music. At the moment, we’re writing songs for an album by Josefin Nilsson, a promising Swedish singer. And we’re also working on a new musical, that should be on stage in the autumn of 1994. It’s about Swedish emigrants in the nineteenth century and their fate while travelling to America. The book was written by the Swedish writer Vilhelm Moberg.”
Bravo: What are your fondest memories when you think about your time with ABBA?
Björn: “There are two clear things that have strongly remained in my memory. The first one is, when I sat down, thought and tried things and then hit on a good melody. Then I imagined how it would sound, went into the studio and played and played. When it was finished and I heard it through the loud-speakers and it really came out the way that I dreamed it would – that was a wonderful feeling.
The other was always at the beginning of a tour. We didn’t tour very often. During the eight years that ABBA existed, altogether we were less than nine months on the road. But always during the week of the shows, when you go on stage, say hello to the audience and notice how they react, how they go wild... those are impressions that remain.”