INTERVIEW: Ulf Andersson Talks The Music Of ABBA + More

Pic by Teresa Nottelmann

Getting the proverbial ball rolling Ulf, Vents wants to extend a hearty thank you for taking time out of a busy schedule to speak with us about The Show- The Music of ABBA as well as field some questions about your legendary career that you’ve surely been asked a million times before! With that said, what can you tell Vents readers about what to expect from The Show – The Music of ABBA?

Our main idea of The Show-The Music of ABBA is to bring back our spectators to experience the ABBA´s shows back in the seventies and eighties.

 With new technology it has been possible to expand the whole stage picture of light, sound and screen effects. Together with  the backing band ”Waterloo” and the ”London Symphonic Rock Orchestra”, it has been possible to reach new dimensions of The Show. !n the frontline we have four great singers and musicians, playing the characters of the originals, Agneta, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid. The first letter of these four names, explain the name of the group ABBA.

What was it exactly about The Show – The Music of ABBA that excited you and enticed you to join their May 2020 tour?

In the beginning of the seventies I was asked by Bjorn and Benny to take part in some of their recordings. In 1977 we did an European and Australian tour.

The success of the tours were amazing and have been described as the peak of ABBA´s career.

The shows at The Royal Albert Hall was for me very memorable. The pop and rock music from The UK ,had from the beginning a great impact on Bjorn and Bennys composing. It is a great feeling for me to return to Britain and rediscover the vibes of my time with ABBA.

ABBA has an extensive catalogue of music to pick and choose from for any stage show; what was the criteria set forth in choosing the music from this fabled band that decorates the stage play? As an original member of ABBA did you have any say so on music selection for the May 2020 tour?

The two singers Katja and Camilla, who formed the group ”Waterloo”, have the responsibility to produce our show. They are behind the work on costumes, choreography and also the choice of songs to perform. The great number of hits from the ABBA songbook, has given us the opportunity to sometimes make some exchanges in the set-list.

The tour is playing some very impressive venues in England that have some bona-fide rock credentials such as the London Palladium which at one point in its long and storied career hosted American rock and roll legend Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Does the history of some of these venues inspire your own live performances?

It is of course a great honour to be able to perform on the same stage as many great legends. That also give us a confirmation of the group ABBA´s long living popularity and the quality of there music.

Much has been made of your sax performance on ABBA’s I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do. What is it about this particular ditty that has endeared itself to ABBA fans specifically and music fans in general? Saxophone is considered by many rock and roll aficionados to be the rock and roll instrument, right behind the Stratocaster, and you are considered one of the best sax players in the field.

Thank you! Some of my first influences on the saxophone, came from Earl Bostic but also jazz-players like Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and so on.Later on even players like Dave Sandborn, King Curtis and Chris Potter.

In 1974, just after ABBA had won The Eurovision Song Contest with the song Waterloo, I had a call from Bjorn, who asked me to get to Studio Metronome in Stockholm. A new song was prepared and some tracks were reserved for my alto-sax. The title of the song to record is: ”I Do I Do I Do”.

Ever since I joined The Show, I’ve played it as my opening number, over a thousand times to date.

7.)ABBA has had such a longevity even as the original band itself has opted out of any new touring. To what do you credit the popularity of the group?

I belive it´s a number of reasons why ABBA´s music has such a longevity.

The components of melody, harmony and rhythm has always the quality and feeling that seems to appeal a great number of people.

The text fits the melody and it is performed by two fantastic singers. The sound of the recordings are made with the highest professional standard with the the best musicians to get.

Not to forget ABBA´s manager Stikkan Andersson (the founder of The Polar Prize) who had this special ability, to spred the message of ABBA´s music around the world.

8.)What do the other original members of ABBA think of The Show – The Music of ABBA? Are they all onboard with it?

Other members of the ABBA-band can not be anything but proud,  to have had the opportunity to participate in one of the worlds most popular bands.

9.)Will you be involved in future tours with The Show – The Music of ABBA?

There are a number of tours coming up with The Show-The Music of ABBA.

Last night I came back from a one nighter-gig in  Kuwait. At the end of March we will do a one week tour in Kansas City and Takoma. A ten day tour is booked in April for Brazil. The whole month of May is reserved for England and Germany. After a well deserved vacation we will be back in the fall for South-America and others.

10.)With the recent advent of rock biopics on 1970s iconic rockers such as Freddie Mercury and Elton John, do you ever foresee ABBA getting the big screen biopic treatment?

The most common question I’ve been asked over the years is: Do you think ABBA will ever have a reunion. My answer is normally: You should never say never. But I should be very surprised if it happens. My opinon is based on the interviews held with the group-members.

11.) What’s in Ulf Andersson’s immediate future? Any future plans you might be able to share with readers and fans of yours?

Beside the tours I’ve already mentioned. I’m about to finish a recording-project with my own music. It is an album with four young very talented musicians.

Rounding this interview of with a fun, irreverent question: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only listen to one album while awaiting rescue, which album would you choose .

Our main idea of The Show-The Music of ABBA is to bring back our spectators to experience the ABBA´s shows back in the seventies and eighties.

Being stranded on a deserted Island waiting to be rescued, I would probably like to listen to a session with Miles Davis and Gil Evans 

Orchestra. For instance: “Sketches of Spain.”

The Show – The Music Of ABBA – tours the UK: May 4th-11th, 2020


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