Twenty years in the biz and still learning
It's rare to see artists survive the modern music business for more than 20 years, but soft rock group Michael Learns to Rock have managed to make it.
The Danish band, comprising vocalist Jascha Richter, guitarist Mikkel Lentz and drummer Kåire Wanscher, are one of Scandinavia's biggest music exports, having enjoyed hit after hit with tracks such as Someday, Something You Should Know, Paint My Love and That's Why (You Go Away). Despite being away from the spotlight for the past four years, the trio finally have a new studio album out, entitled Eternity.
Emirates Business chats with Wanscher about Dubai, the industry, and the band's new musical direction…
Your last album, Take Me To Your Heart, was out in 2004. Where have you been the past few years?
That album became a best-seller, particularly in countries such as China, so we spent a large amount of time touring in those regions. After that, we decided that we all needed some time away from the band to do other things we love. So we spent time doing that for a while before returning to the studio.
What were you doing?
The other guys were working on other musical projects, such as producing film and television scores. Personally, I went back to my original profession and worked as a lawyer.
Impressive. Okay, if you could sentence anyone to jail for crimes against music, who would it be?
Haha, good one! Hmm, that's not too hard. It'd be the Paris Hiltons of the world where it's more about the looks and celebrity status than the voice and talent.
So what music do you enjoy listening to?
I listen to a bit of everything really, but I don't enjoy modern jazz or death metal. I lose interest very quickly.
Tell us about your new album, Eternity – it's quite a different sound for you?
Yeah. It's a very exciting time for us, because we recently celebrated our 20th anniversary. The album is more electronic in a way. We produced it ourselves – actually our guitarist did most of the production, but we all agreed on the final result. It's a look back on our career in a way, because the CD includes some songs that were written before our very first record back in the 1980s. So essentially, Eternity is an inspiration of old material mixed with a new feel or sound.
So what is the key to your longevity?
It's the fans. Their support is incredible.
Are you concerned about how well the album will sell?
You know what, over the years when we toured, we saw the worst kind of crises in Asia, for example, where there was real suffering. I'm sure the music industry will recover at some point – touring is what keeps us going, and live entertainment is the core of the music business, so we're not really worried. The artists that tend to suffer in these economic times are the ones who come out of reality shows or have only released one or two singles. They tend not to tour, hence they don't make much money.
So where do you plan on touring?
We're planning to tour Denmark, and then go to Asia in the late summer. We'd love to return to the Middle East as well.
I really hope so. We've enjoyed some wonderful concerts in the UAE. I think we've played three or four gigs over here. The place is one of our favourites.
Where else have you played in the region?
We've done Bahrain as well, but that's about it, I think. We'd love to visit more places, such as Lebanon. But we'd really like to return to Dubai because we love it there, so if you know any promoters…
We could start a petition online for you to play here, like the one for The Jonas Brothers…
Yes, that would be fab. We have a lot of fans from the UAE who visit our website so let's start that!
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