Interview With Bjorn Again Ahead Of Yorkshire Concerts
Graham Clark, Features Writer
The music of Abba seems to continue to appeal to music lovers young and old. The recent success of the film Mamma Mia Here We Go Again can only add to that appeal.
Keeping the flame burning are Bjorn Again who are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year with a tour that visits Yorkshire playing prestigious venues. I talked to the bands Australian musical director and musician Rod Stephen who has a Yorkshire connection you might not be aware of.
It Has Been A While Since Bjorn Again Toured What Have You Been Up To?
Basically we gave up touring for a while, we knew our 30th anniversary was coming up so we decided to leave touring until then although we have been doing some corporate events and festival shows. The show is the best of Abba, if you have the Abba Gold album then that's what you will hear in the show.
We try to pick up the fun and merriment around Abba, there are the two couples on stage, Frida and Benny's relationship went up and down, Frida was always flirting and we put that into the show in a light hearted way.
The Tour Is Coming To Yorkshire, Do You Have Good Memories Of Previous Visits?
Definitely! My dad was a Yorkshireman from Sheffield - he moved to Australia when he was 20 years old. I came from Australia back to England so it's moved full circle really.
What Was The Most Unusual Gig You Have Played?
We did the Sonisphere Rock Festival in 2009, Metallica are big fans of the band, our agent rang me up and asked if we could play at the festival and could we carry it off. He thought we should do something edgy, so we all put on black costumes, had 2 drummers and played the riff to Enter Sandman at one point too. The crowd loved us and we were the big surprise of the festival.
Are Any Of The Abba Songs Difficult To Play?
The songs are deceptive - they appear to be simple but the arrangements are quite complex. The vocals were amazing, there was a lot of emotion in the vocals, especially when the divorces were going on. One of the most emotional songs is Take A Chance on Me. We do things on stage that Abba would never do and add a bit of humour into the show without it detracting from the songs.
Have You Ever Met Benny Or Bjorn?
On one of our first tours of Sweden in the early 80's we got a call from Polar Music , we were a bit worried at first because we thought "oh no, we might be getting told off here" but it was quite the opposite. Benny and Bjorn were flabbergasted we were touring all around the world playing Abba songs. They had given up on Abba, then we came along and we were blazing a trail across Europe. We said to them that your music is more popular now than it was in the 70's, then the Abba Gold compilation came out on CD and it sold in the thousands - the compilation is still in the charts.
Have You Seen The Mamma Mia Here We Go Again Film?
Carla (Agnetha in the show) dragged me along, I wasn't a fan of the first film but I did like this sequel - Cher brought a whole new dimension to the songs.
Are You Excited About The New Abba Songs Coming Out In December?
Of course, we are waiting to see what the songs will be like. I hear that the songs were recorded on 70's analogue equipment. They could be ballads or faster songs. They will be a tour too using virtual members. The band was around for 10 years but you can count on one hand their UK appearances. Bjorn wanted to do more promotional tours rather than live shows, he didn't like live performances as they were not under his control - playing live could always go pear shaped and then the divorces put the icing on the cake to the end of their live shows.
If You Had Not Have Done Bjorn Again What Do You Think You Would Have Done?
I would probably still be doing Research Science in Melbourne - it was a good job but very dull. Carla would still be singing -she can sing all the Motown songs.
What Can We Expect From The New Show?
There is a lot of new stuff in the show with some special guest appearances in there - we do not want to give too much away. There will be some new costumes too. The remit is to do all the stuff from the Abba Gold compilation. There will be fun stuff but there is a lot of melancholy and sadness in the lyrics to some of the songs. It is a good show and we are looking forward to coming back to Yorkshire.
Bjorn Again play:
Halifax Victoria Theatre 20 November
Sheffield o2 Academy 13 December
Leeds o2 Academy 14 December
Interview With Bjorn Again Ahead Of Yorkshire Concerts, 4th November 2018, 15:29 PM