Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Rocky Das Freizeit-Magazin, April 1980: Agnetha and Anni-Frid: (Not) a fairytale life

Actually, ABBA doesn’t give interviews anymore since a long time ago. But John McFarlane has managed to achieve the impossible. For Rocky Das Freizeit-Magazin, he talked to Agnetha and Anni-Frid in Stockholm – and he got astoundingly honest and shocking answers from both female stars.

Thousands of ABBA fans all over the world would have been ecstatic, if they had been able on this afternoon in Stockholm to sit in the same restaurant and at the same table as Agnetha and Anni-Frid, the location of the interview for Rocky magazine. In a public restaurant? Don’t stars like ABBA get surrounded by autograph hunters immediately in a place like that? No, not in Sweden!
“This is probably the only country in the world where we can act like ‘normal’ people,” says Anni-Frid. “Here, it only happens occasionally that we are asked to sign autographs. Of course we are very popular in our home country Sweden as well, one look in our charts is enough proof of that, but they respect our private life here. In general, the same can’t be said about journalists.”
Anni-Frid: “We’ve had enough of the lies that are being spread about us. Things that are always described in the wrong way – especially concerning Agnetha’s failed marriage.”
However, that’s not the reason why Benny and Björn were the only ones present at the press conferences during the US tour last year. What made Agnetha and Anni-Frid decide to give practically no interviews anymore? “We’ve been asked questions about our make-up and hairstyles more than enough,” according to Anni-Frid. “But we are tired of talking about things like that.”
About what kinds of subjects do they talk at home? How do their family members and children deal with the fact that they are surrounded by world famous stars?
“Of course, our friends and family know that we are stars,” says Agnetha. “But at the same time they see us as perfectly normal people. In our families, we talk about all kinds of things – just not about ABBA. Anyway, my children are far too young to understand what it’s all about. And Anni-Frid’s twelve-year-old daughter thinks it’s ‘okay’ that she has a famous mother.”

Although the four from ABBA have been multi-millionaires for a long time and their immense income is being securely invested – under supervision of their manager – in oil, their own bicycle factory, an art gallery and real estate, they remain economical with their personal expenses. While other pop stars acquire a fleet of luxury cars and are surrounded by bodyguards and servants, in comparison ABBA has a modest lifestyle.
Agnetha: “Because I travel a lot, I have a nanny. But servants? No thanks! When I’m at home, I do everything myself. I hate to sit around and do nothing, and I prefer to cook and do the laundry myself. Of course, we don’t have any worries financially, but that didn’t go to our head. We are living an utterly plain life, we are living in simple houses and are driving ordinary cars. You can see them parked in front of our studio: Anni-Frid’s old BMW 3-litre and my BMW 523.”
After Agnetha and Anni-Frid re-recorded the biggest ABBA hits for a Spanish album, recording sessions for new songs was on their schedule in March. Doesn’t it get more difficult to come up with new and even better ideas every time?
“Do you want an honest answer?” Anni-Frid asks. “It’s difficult to be a part of ABBA. These days it’s far more stressful than it used to be. We are not teenagers anymore. We have to see to it that we don’t repeat ourselves on an artistic level.”
Agnetha: “People don’t have any idea how stressful it can get: the tours, the travelling, radio and television, recording sessions and numerous other commitments. That’s not easy, especially for a woman.”
“As ABBA, we have to live up to our image,” Anni-Frid explains, “and that means perfection. A perfection that demands the utmost from us, physically and mentally. And every time when we have finished another exhausting tour, the big question comes up: will we quit or not? But we can’t quit! Especially now!”
“There have been concerts at which I didn’t deliver the usual ABBA appeal,” Agnetha reveals. “The others have tried to convince me otherwise, but they haven’t been able to persuade me. Then I broke down in tears and said to myself: ‘Just quit, as long as everything is still looking up!’. Everyone has moments like this, when you’ve just had enough – and ABBA is no exception. We are working hard, harder than a random man on the street, and our reward can’t be compared to an average salary either. But for the rest, everything is exactly the same for us. That’s something that is often overlooked by fans and critics. They only see us as four glittery characters on stage, who disappear in a fairytale world after the show. But we are neither fairytale figures nor controllable robots. We are people of flesh and blood. Travelling, recording sessions and rehearsals. Getting to bed at three o’clock in the morning and getting up again at seven o’clock, packing and unpacking suitcases, getting in and out of hotels, and all of this far from home – that’s our life. It’s the career that we have chosen for ourselves, but still we are happy...”


Monica said...

Wow, interesting and honest interview. I liked the honesty of the article. Thanks for translating these articles for us to enjoy.

Unknown said...

wow there life was hard