Monday 8 July 2013

Fan Magazin, 1979: ABBA, fun in the snow

Dear readers!
I'm happy that I can have my say here. Because since my divorce from Björn, ABBA has been exposed to the wildest speculations. Although ABBA is involved in our private lives only at the sidelines, it's important when you can take a stand somewhere and finally say what's really true about all those rumours. In many publications there have been lots of wild speculations whether this would mean the end of ABBA or rumours have been spread that I had an affair with a psychiatrist in Stockholm. And many people especially wondered why there has been a divorce in the cleanest group in the world. I want to say on this occasion that we were not the ones who established the image of the 'almost sinless' group ABBA out there in the world. Many people portrayed us the way they wanted to see us. But we merely contributed the music to ABBA. Perhaps there are a couple of rock groups who - with the help of smart advertising people - are working to create a 'divine image'. But all of us are convinced that you can't maintain an artificial personality in the long run. Björn, Benny, Frida and I are not perfect people, like many would like to see us. We too have problems and very personal flaws. That's why you have to look at our divorce as a purely human issue. It was simply more honest to separate than to keep pretending in order to maintain a good reputation. Things weren't working out between Björn and me for quite some time. But we tried everything to get back on track. Yes, we even went into counseling with a psychiatrist who should get to the bottom of our problems. On this occasion the rumours about an affair started to emerge.
We wanted to stop those rumours right at the beginning. Björn and I didn't want people to openly rack their brains about our marital problems, just because we were seen with a psychiatrist. That's why we counseled this man at odd hours. I'm sure someone saw me with him at an unusual hour and therefore believed I had an affair. But there can really be no question about an intimate relationship. Björn and I are merely on friendly terms with this psychiatrist and we still counsel him, by the way.
The only man in my life at the moment is my son Christian!
Agnetha Fältskog

Hello friends!
What Agnetha has just told you is exactly right. The psychiatrist is really a good friend to us both. There is absolutely no romance between him and my ex-wife. And just like there is only one man in Agnetha's life at the moment, for me there is only one woman in this world: my daughter Linda!
Although I seem to have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire by now. In the meantime I have been accused of having an affair myself. Surely you must have heard about my tremendous flirt with the pretty Boney M singer Liz Mitchell. Well, this 'romance' wasn't as hot as it was explained by some newspapers. The saying that things are never as bad as they seem is especially applicable to us cool Swedes. However, Liz Mitchell is really a wonderful woman. A real sport, intelligent, pretty and always in good spirits. I spent a couple of wonderful evenings with her in Leysin, but there absolutely isn't anything more serious between us. Liz has her fiancée that she is very fond of and soon will be married to. And I don't want to be tied up this quickly either. It's not as simple as that!
I met Liz on our second day in Leysin. We danced together a couple of times at the hotel disco and later on we joined the other Boney M members at the table. I got along great with Liz right away. She is a very religious person and that's why we talked about religious matters. I must admit I was really amazed by Liz' amazing mindset.
Later on I took her to her room. But I didn't stay there! After one last 'night cap' I went back to my room. You should have heard Benny, Agnetha and Frida the next day. During our drive to the shooting location they wanted to know all about it and squeezed everything out of me! They mocked and laughed and poked fun at the 'new' Casanova in the group...
Björn Ulvaeus

Dear ABBA-fans!
To tell something about a new ABBA album is almost more difficult than actually composing the songs. It's not that everything that we have pieced together during months of hard work has to remain a secret, like it is often assumed. Usually we ourselves only know shortly before the album's release what is actually going to be on it.
For starters, the most important thing: the new album will be released at Easter. To us, that's a very important date that we can't overdraw. Around that time, the programme 'Snow Special' will be broadcast, that we filmed in Leysin. And according to the people from the broadcasting company, this programme will be watched by more than 500 million viewers in 16 countries. You can surely imagine that that will be a priceless promotion for our new record, that we don't want to miss out on!
A couple of months before an album is released, we are often asked about the title of the album and about the individual songs. As usual, I will have to keep these questions unanswered this time as well, because I don't know myself. Experience has shown that we agree on the title for the album shortly before the cover is being made. Sometimes even after the photographs have been taken. At least that's how it was with 'Arrival'. With our previous album it was something different. The title 'ABBA - The Album' was linked directly to our feature film. Not only because it was its soundtrack. We racked our brains for nights on end about the title for the movie. Over and over again we were looking for a suitable title for 'the movie'. Until we decided to keep it that way in the end. Naturally we applied this brilliant idea to our new record and our book as well. So you shouldn't be surprised if we decided - out of lack of originality - to call the new ABBA record 'The New ABBA Album'!
It's far more important for you to know if we more or less stay true to our sound on the new album. Or if it suddenly sounds like Led Zeppelin. Indeed, this British rock group was in our studio recently and recorded their new album there. On this occasion I must put an end to a rumour that a clever Englishman put in the papers. He actually thought that we had rented our studio for free, with the intention that this would be mentioned in the newspapers. We all make mistakes, but Led Zeppelin paid 650 Swedish kronor per hour, which is about 300 German Mark.
But now back to our album. I can assure you, it still sounds like ABBA, but not the way you have been used to. On our new album we try to put as much variation as possible into our arrangements. The voices of both our girls however remain the same as usual. But additionally, Björn should be featured more as a singer too. Until now, eight songs have been completed. In March we are going to record four additional songs that Björn and I have written already. It won't be until we have recorded all the songs that we decide which songs will be included on the album. There will probably be eight songs on the album - perhaps we will put together another song out of some song idea that we already have. Who knows, either way there's still a lot of work to do... Let's get to it! Cheers, your Benny.
Benny Andersson

Hi there, you all!
Before I will reveal something about our big world tour, I will explain something about our new album. Many people would like to know why Agnetha or myself never compose any songs. Many people think we are not able to do that. But that's not true! Agnetha used to compose a lot of beautiful songs in the old days and I have thought about song material myself before ABBA started. With ABBA, we deliberately don't get a chance. Which means that neither of us has ever had the need to compose our own songs since we got together with Benny and Björn. Until now, we've been completely surprised and won over by the brilliant ideas of our two writers, that there has never been any need for our efforts.
So much on my own account! Now, as promised, some concrete plans about our near future. Like Benny told you already, we will definitely be in the studio until shortly before Easter, so that the album will be ready without a delay. Subsequently, Benny and I will go on a fourteen day holiday to West India and immediately after that we will return to Switzerland once again where we will hopefully find a spot with snow so that we can indulge in our big skiing hobby. Not later than the beginning of June the first rehearsals for our world tour will begin, that's going to kick off in the early autumn. Since we are not an experienced live band, the preparations last much longer in our case. Until the concept for the tour is decided on. Until all the technical aspects work fluently, the crew has been put together, all of this last much longer with us than with other groups. Apart from that, we want to offer a perfect show, our songs should sound the same live as on the records!
We are often asked by what criteria the performance locations are chosen. That's really not easy. Likewise, television performances and press conferences have to be selected carefully, so that no one in any country is being short-changed. That's also the reason why we participated in the Unicef Gala in New York, or why we decided to travel to Leysin in Switzerland. We choose the occasions where we can reach as many people as possible with one appearance. On the tour, we will restrict ourselves to the largest cities as well. That's the only way to get back home within a more or less tolerable amount of time. Anyone who knows that we will travel to Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, England and America on this tour will understand why! If we would only do one concert in every country, we will be on the road for ten days already without counting the days that we travel. That's exactly the problem. We don't want to be separated from our children for too long. Well, something has been decided on already. In October, we will visit Germany, Austria and Switzerland! Until then, bye for now, your Anni-Frid.
Anni-Frid Lyngstad

A for Agnetha: "On the occasion of shooting our television special, I was in Switzerland for the first time. And it certainly won't be the last time, because we are all very impressed with this country. And apart from that, it's ninety percent certain that we will visit this country during our world tour in the autumn."

B for Björn: "The wonderful region, the friendly people, altogether the entire atmosphere in Leysin was exactly the right thing for the first public appearance after the divorce from Agnetha. Only the weather gods weren't very accommodtive and only gave us one day of sunshine!"

B for Benny: "For the first time in our five-year ABBA career, we were able to combine business with pleasure while shooting this special. Any style of winter sports belongs to my major preferences, but what I like most is skiing!"

A for Anni-Frid: "Benny and I only knew Switzerland from Zermatt, where we already went skiing some time ago. After the recording sessions for our album have been completed, we will fly to West India for fourteen days and subsequently one week to the skiing paradise St. Moritz."

S for Snow Special: "The British broadcasting company didn't only shoot a huge entertainment show in this skiing resort, but also two other programmes with us. A 'Christmas Snowtime', a Christmas programme as well as a programme about our Swiss adventure."

S for snow: "The snow couldn't have been better for beginners. That's why Björn soon found his way on the white splendour as well and turned out to be almost as good as Benny. Though the ski slopes were firm, they were not frozen and therefore not very slippery."

S for Stenmark: "Since Benny showed so much talent on the ski slopes, everyone compared him with the Swedish top skier Ingemar Stenmark. This was meant ironically, of course. But, if Benny hadn't become a star on the world's stage, he would definitely have become one of those people on the planks dashing down into the valley."

P for press conference: "We had barely arrived in Leysin when we found ourselves facing the assembled world press for the first time since Agnetha and Björn's divorce. On this occasion, our British record company presented us with the first gold record for 'Chiquitita'."

P for party: "There is always something going on where the stars are. Almost every evening there was a party at the discotheque 'Casanova'. The greatest celebration however was organised by Boney M at the indoor swimming pool, where Marcia Barrett, Patrick Juvet, Liz Mitchell, Björn Ulvaeus, Leif Garret and Bobby Farrell posed for this picture."

A for arrival: "During our flight from Stockholm to Geneva, an engine of our clipper iced up in such a way that we had to return to Stockholm. With a new plane and with more than six hours of delay we finally arrived safe and sound in Switzerland."

A for autographs: "Autograph hunters were definitely not short-changed in Leysin. It's very rare that so many stars get together on one occasion. Agnetha isn't even spared from them on the ski slope and signs postcards, skiing suits, arms, hands..."

A for souvenir (Andenken): "As a souvenir from our wonderful time in the alpine country, we received a fondue set from the people from our record company, so that we can eat our new favourite food at home in Stockholm as well."

S for divorce (Scheidung): "For the reporters and all gossipers, Agnetha and Björn's divorce was the main topic of conversation. However, they both get along great despite their official separation, like this picture proves."

S for skating: "For the shooting of one of the scenes we are sent onto the ice. Agnetha has major difficulties with ice skating. Several times, she falls on her sexy behind... That's why Denise Bielmann, the Swiss champion in figure skating, gave us a couple of free skating tips."

S for sleeping: "Mostly, there wasn't much time to sleep. Because in the evenings we often had great fun, and the next day we still had to get up early, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to finish the filming. Instead, we managed to sleep in late a bit longer when we were back in Sweden."

S for make-up (schminken): "During all the scenes, the make-up artists, that's how the ones who take care of the stars' make-up are being called, are present. Sometimes it's not an easy job, because often they had to wait for hours in the freezing snow, until they had to apply some additional make-up again."

S for show: "In the gigantic show 'Snowtime Special' we are singing the song 'Chiquitita'. This television programme will be broadcast at Easter and will probably be watched by 500 million viewers."

I for instruments: "Since it is very difficult to play live when one is filmed in the snow, all our songs had to be performed to playback, which means they come from a pre recorded tape. Only in the big tent, Benny and Björn are playing their instruments."

I for snacks (Imbiss): "Since our film 'ABBA - The Movie' we know that one gets to eat very irregularly during filming. Likewise, in Leysin we almost exclusively eat sandwiches and little snacks. But in the evenings we are able to find the time for extensive meals."

I for idol: "The youngest participant in our show, Leif Garrett, turned into our idol. In many conversations he emerged as a spirited young man, who is not only able to sing but also to stand on his skis like a king."

M for machine: "When the last scenes are being filmed on Sunday afternoon, our new friend from Boney M - Bobby Farrell - has his photograph taken on a big ski slopes machine. This looked so smashing that we decided to pose in front of this impressive machine as well."

M for make-up case: "The make-up artists have the most difficult assignment during filming outdoors. Even on the highest mountain they tag along a gigantic make-up case, packed with little boxes, applicators and bottles. Over and over again, our red cheekies had to be touched up again."

S for ski elevator: "The most wonderful invention in skiing is the ski elevator. Without this practical help, the ski pass would only be half as much fun. Here, Benny is letting himself being pulled up the mountain by the conveyor belt."

S for stars: "For the British TV show, everybody who is anybody showed up. Apart from us, there were: Boney M, Bonnie Tyler, Roxy Music, Ted Gärdestadt, the Jacksons, Amii Stewart, Eruption, Kate Bush, Patrick Juvet, Leo Sayer, Curtis Mayfield and Leif Garret."

S for scariness: "During a schussboom, Benny loses control over his planks and makes a dreadful fall. When we see him lying in the snow like this, we get a little uneasy. But Benny only smiles. Apart from some scariness, nothing happened. Thank God! He wouldn't have made an especially good impression on stage with his leg in plaster!"

C for chalet: "A breathing pause in a mountain restaurant. While we are getting a sun tan, Benny shows his thirst for adventure by inspecting the romantic chalet, that's how a wooden house in the mountains is being called in this region. Here, he is posing for the photographers, smiling from one of the windows."

C for Christian: "If Agnetha had a new boyfriend already, is what a curious reporter asked her. She retorted that there was only one man in her life: her son Christian."

H for helicopter: "From Geneva to Leysin is about a two hour drive by car. Since we also filmed a scene in a helicopter, we were flown to Leysin. We will never forget the wonderful flight over the snowy region around Lake Geneva."

H for gloves (Handschuhe): "Always and everywhere, Benny is up for a little joke. For the photographers he even puts his gloves into his mouth. That was just what he was waiting for, in the true sense of the word."

H for hotel: "A group picture with the ladies in front of the Hotel Central Residence."

N for fog (Nebel): "Normally, we would have enjoyed one hundred percent beautiful weather at this time of year. That's what the inhabitants of the skiing resort assured us, after we had had some sun for one day out of the five days we spent there. On the other days, the fog was sometimes so dense that we could hardly shoot our scenes!"

N for notes: "Role study on the skiing piste. Once again we mull over our lines, before we dare to get in front of the camera."

N for night: "No one got very much sleep. But Björn got the least amount of sleep. He chatted with the pretty Boney M singer Liz Mitchell, mostly until the early morning hours."

E for warming up (Erwärmen): "Agnetha warms herself up with some glühwein. After that she too has to get back on the planks again, because the filming in the snow has not been completed yet!"

E for idea (Einfall): "Björn had the most daring idea. He wanted to fly to the top of a mountain with the helicopter, to get to a several kilometres long downhill run. Thankfully the fog prevented the take-off attempt."

E for parents (Eltern): "Björn and Agnetha brought their little daughter along to Switzerland. She was also accompanied by their nanny who's name coincidentally is Agnetha as well."

E for all's well that ends well (Ende gut): "All's well that ends well! On Sunday evening, the British broadcasting company arranged a huge party for all participants. First, a luxurious dinner was being served. Subsequently the party continued in the disco until five o'clock in the morning. But we didn't spend the long night in the dance club, we had an early night instead. Except Björn. Guess who he was flirting with again?"