MLTR : `We’ve been waiting to come to Kolkata for 20 years’
They are easily Denmark’s biggest contribution to international pop music in almost 30 years.Popsoft rock band Michael Learns To Rock (MLTR) -comprising Jascha Richter, Mikkel Lentz and Kare Wanscher -is currently on an extensive tour of India, and is expected to mesmerise the Kolkata crowd this evening, having played to sold-out venues in Gurgaon, Guwahati and Dimapur, before heading out to Goa for their last gig of this tour. Sayan Mazumder and Shounak Ghosal catch up with the trio and find out about their inspirations, their expectations of Kolkata, the secret to their longevity and whether, at all, Michael has learnt to rock!
MLTR started its journey in 1988 and has stuck together for the last 28 years. What is the secret behind this `stickyness’?
Apparently our music has been able to remain relevant to our audience and that is the main reason for us still being around. We see young people catching up on our music these days and that tells me that our music still has the ability to cross borders and to make people emotional. I guess there is not one single reason for this, but to me the music is the key.
All the support we get from fans around the world makes it impossible to quit and we still love touring and meeting new people.
How did you guys motivate each other, both musically and personally, for so long to create a unique musical experience that MLTR stands for?
I think the key to a long-lasting relationship is mutual respect and tolerance. That also goes for a band, and we have seen many ups and downs together that is all a part of our mutual history as musicians and human beings. We try to use both our mutual experiences and our differences to motivate each other to continue making good music.
How did `Eternal Love’ shape up? What is the inspiration behind it?
`Eternal Love’ was written for a Korean TV series where we had a few words about the series and then wrote the lyrics, based on that inspiration.
Over the last three decades music has changed a lot. In the course of your long journey, who inspired you the most and what, if any, disturbed you?
It’s hard to name a few artists who inspired us, since we get inspired from almost all the music we hear. However, it was somewhat annoying that American grunge music became the big thing right after we had our first hits since that made it very hard for us to get success in Europe and America in the early 1990s -but at the same time we discovered Asia and India, so we just looked to the East, where people were not so influenced by what was going on in America.
After the Paris attacks, especially during the concert by Eagles of Death Metal, do you feel unsafe now du ring shows?
We never felt unsafe playing concerts and we still don’t. A few mad men can never take away the joy of sharing musical experiences.
How has your India experience been?
We have been to India a few times, and every time we have been overwhelmed by the love and support from our Indian fans. But we have never been to Kolkata, so that is going to be really great to meet our fans there in person.
Kolkata is crazy about your concert.Any message to your fans here?
We have been waiting for 20 years to come to Kolkata and we are excited that it is finally happening. We hope our fans in Kolkata will come to the show and share an evening of music and romance with us and show us that they, too, have been waiting for this for 20 years.
How much are you looking forward to performing in Kolkata? Do you have fans from this side of the country reaching out to you on social media?
We are extremely excited to come to Kolkata. We get a lot of messages on social media from fans in Kolkata, so we feel we have to come and meet them in person.
This will be your first time to Kolkata. What do you know about the city?
We don’t know much about Kolkata except that it is a very big city and it has been famous as the cultural capital of India, the City of Joy, etc.
What are your expectations from the Kolkata crowd?
We just hope that people will have a good time and enjoy the show. Hopefully, they will show their enthusiasm and help us have a big party. We hope to see joy in the eyes of the crowd.
Do you have any favourite musicians from India? What is your take on the music scene in India?
We love hearing Indian music and seeing the dances in movies, but all the names are really hard to remember.
Lastly, how did Michael learn to rock?
He never has, and never will. Every time we try to play rock, it ends up being a ballad after all, so I guess we have to live with the way we make music.