Sunday 20 May 2012

1978: ABBA, to Paris because of love

An old gentleman with a beret is standing still and looking at the four young people who are getting together underneath the Eiffel Tower to pose for a souvenir photo. The dark-haired girl turns to her companion and kisses him on the cheek. The old man is hearing the girl say something in a foreign language and then she prances around the young man and kisses him on the lips.
"Oh, la, la, l'amour," the old gentleman whistles. The man isn't aware of the fact that he has just seen Sweden's most successful pop group under the Eiffel Tower in Paris. He just noticed the youthful happiness of the two couples.
"It's so wonderful to be married and to belong with the man that you love," Anni-Frid says a while after that in a typical French street cafe. "That was also the reason that we still decided to get married after seven years. After all, there isn't much time for romance in the music business. That's why the wedding took place in all secrecy and very quickly."
"But Anni-Frid and I have made one wish of ours come true," Benny interrupts his wife. "We granted ourselves some kind of honeymoon to the city of love, to Paris."
Still, this time the trip wasn't completely free of show business either. None of the four ABBA members can take the liberty of simply wasting too much time. That's why Anni-Frid and Benny mixed business with pleasure. They brought Björn and Agnetha along and turned the trip into a promotional campaign for their new single 'Summer Night City'. An interview at the broadcasting company, a performance in a TV show.
"We have planned everything in such a way that leaves us enough time to see Paris and pamper ourselves," Anni-Frid explains and smilingly she shows a gold necklace that Benny bought her two hours ago during a stroll through the city.
"For Björn and me it was a second honeymoon as well," Agnetha says. "Without the children and without too much fuss. It must be Paris." But there was still some fuss when the four of them showed up in a well-known nightclub in Paris the second evening. It's hard to overlook four ABBA members. And how will the group ABBA continue? "We are going back into the studio. After Christmas there will be a new ABBA album and in the beginning of January we will travel to New York to perform at the Unicef Gala together with the Bee Gees. But other than that we don't want to make too much plans," Benny explains. "In the future, our private life shouldn't take a backseat anymore like it has done up till now."

Thursday 17 May 2012

Bravo, 1979: The truth about us

Bravo: Björn, do you have a new girlfriend? A couple of days ago, you were spotted with Lena Källersjö...
Björn: "I've known Lena for quite a few years now. She works for a record company here in Stockholm, that's how we met - but she is not my girlfriend. Our being together at that party was pure coincidence. A picture was taken while we were having a conversation. That's how the rumours start..."
Bravo: And what about the psychiatrist that Agnetha allegedly fell in love with, that is rumoured to be the reason for your divorce? Was he really the reason?
Björn: "That was Hakan Lonnbak. He has his office in Stockholm and Agnetha and I went to see him in October 1978. We were hoping he might be able to help us to overcome our problems. But it didn't work. It's nonsense that Agnetha allegedly fell in love with him on that occasion. The both of them are not living together either, which was even claimed in some newspapers."
Bravo: It was said that you were having an affair with Liz Mitchell from Boney M in Switzerland...
Björn: "That's a crazy story. We met Boney M in Switzerland when we were filming a television show for the BBC. Since we stayed at the same hotel - ABBA and Boney M - we were just sitting together during our breaks. And I talked to Liz on that occasion. She has a wonderful personality and she's very funny. I really enjoyed myself talking to her. We also danced with each other - but there was nothing else between us."
Bravo: Are you officially divorced by now?
Björn: "Yes, completely official, with a court decision and everything that goes with it. It's peculiar: since then I get along with Agnetha better than ever."
Bravo: Is it true that the release of the new ABBA album has been delayed due to personal conflicts?
Björn: "Perhaps the divorce has played a part in that, after all it isn't easy, but it wasn't the deciding factor. The true reason: Benny and I thought that the songs we had composed were not the best. We know that the fans expect something special from us every time. That's why we decided to get together again to compose some more."
Bravo: Is it true that you and Agnetha are arguing with each other about the children?
Björn: "We have agreed that both of us should be able to see the children whenever we want and have the time. They are living with Agnetha but I can talk to them whenever I want and I also have a say in their upbringing."
Bravo: Is it true that you want to cancel your tour through Germany?
Björn: "Absolutely not. First we are going on a holiday. As soon as we get back, we will decide in which countries we will perform, how many concerts we want to do in each country and when we will start. We are talking about a big world tour that will lead us to Japan, America and Australia as well. And we won't forget about our German fans. I think we will visit Germany in October."
Bravo: It is said that you have changed your lifestyle completely since your divorce, going to a lot of parties and dating a lot of girls.
Björn: "I don't think that's true at all. In essence, I'm quite a homely type of guy and I feel best within the four walls of my home. I actually don't go out more often than I used to. It's only being noticed more nowadays, because everywhere photographers are lurking around and they immediately take pictures wherever I show myself. Everyone wants to take the first picture of my new girlfriend. That gives the impression that I've become a playboy all of a sudden."
Bravo: It is claimed that Benny is angry. He believes that your divorce is hurting ABBA's reputation.
Björn: "No, Benny understands Agnetha and me completely. After all, he has been married before as well. And I hardly believe that our fans are blaming us for making this decision. After all, our music is the most important thing."

Saturday 5 May 2012

Joker, 1979: Anni-Frid: "It shouldn't be about ABBA all the time"

I've often been asked the question what has impressed me the most in our five-year-long international career. I suppose everyone will understand that for me it was not some kind of gold record, big parties or concerts in giant concert halls. I have found my father due to the fact that there was something printed about us in practically every newspaper. I will never forget that moment when we were facing each other for the first time ever in my life. I can't even say how I imagined he would be like, I was simply drifting on air, knowing that in the next minute a human being would come my way that was my father. I never felt as a daughter, more like a good friend that meets a human being she is close to by coincidence again. The nights before our first meeting, I hardly slept at all, wondering how he was feeling. Today we have a wonderful relationship and we often call each other.
Musically speaking, working with the group has given me a lot the last few years after Brighton. We had to learn a lot, we have matured, become polished and we know exactly what to expect from each other.When it comes to the quality of our songs, I'm convinced that we have improved tremendously. When one for instance compares the song 'Waterloo' to the songs that the boys are writing now, even the most naive mind should be able to spot the difference. They are not simple, tied-together harmonies anymore that lead into a good sounding final chord after a couple of minutes. ABBA songs in the year 1979 are musical stories, with climaxes. In short, with a completely different base.
What worries me sometimes is the question that we - especially Agnetha and me - ask ourselves regularly: how long will Benny and Björn be able to come up with new ideas? Working on the new album has been very stressful for them both. It's clear that each one of us is thinking about what will happen when the group is no longer around. A few weeks ago, I have played a small part in a movie in Spain. I enjoyed that very much. Unfortunately I only had a couple of days time. One can actually see it as a tentative experiment to try something different.
But why should everything be about ABBA all the time? Other projects would certainly be equally appealing. To avoid rumours from spreading: I don't mean to say that ABBA should quit in the near future. On the contrary: at the moment everything is going really well, we hardly have any problems. And I'm very proud of the new album. It's the best record that we have released so far. And that's not an advertising slogan, but my firm belief.