Michael Learns to Rock, the renowned Danish soft rock band, which has sold 10 million copies worldwide are in India to promote its album ‘Eternity’. In an exclusive interview with Smita Mishra of Spicezee.com, the band’s guitarist Mikkel Lentz shares the ecstasy of being in India, the secret which has kept the band together for over two decades, the reason behind their simple, moving lyrics and the agony of the death of King of Pop Michael Jackson.
Tell us something about your album Eternity that you are here to promote.
We released it in 2008, because it was 20 years since we played our first live concert. The album had 20 year old songs. It was actually sort of funny because they were old songs and people do not like doing old songs. But it was our anniversary album and these songs were a sort of guideline for us.
Who is ‘Michael’ in Michael Learns to Rock? What is the story behind this name?
Actually it was way back in 1988 when we were in school and me, Jascha and Kare had formed a small café band. We needed a name to take part in a concert competition as we were brand new in the field. So we got this name which of course was inspired by the King of Pop Michael Jackson…and then we won and became popular and could not change the name.
So who have been your musical influences and role models? Michael Jackson for sure…?
(Laughs) Oh no…no…not Michael Jackson. As you know ours is a soft rock band and it has stayed away from the influence of Jackson. Our role models are ordinary people and their lives. What we compose reflects their moods and emotions.
Your songs are carefully written with recurring message about peace and joy…
Our lyrics reflect who we are. We are happy and simple people from a country with very little problems. For us, what’s the most important thing is to be happy and to express our joy through our music.
My all time favourite MLTR song is “I’m gonna be around..” . What’s your favourite?
(Laughs) Well it’s…”Someday”…
For more than two decade you have been able to keep the group intact…what’s the secret?
First of all, we are friends. And we never followed any trends that come and fade away. We chose to follow soft emotional music that appealed to the senses of the people. This made it easier for us not to disappear.
But in 2001 three of you parted ways…only to reunite again two years later.
We never really split. Actually, we decided that we need a small break from each other.
You have mentioned in your blog that you have started working on you new album. Can you share the details?
O yes, of course. It is a brand new album with brand new songs. The work is in progress and we are very positive about the outcomes.
How do you remember MJ one year after his death?
Oh…he was a super star. He was the biggest artist, the most charismatic personality known to the world…there was and there is none like MJ till date. The legacy of his music survives his death. He was the greatest music icon known to the world.
What was your reaction on his death?
Shocked…I was shocked like hell. I simply could not believe it as for me he was forever immortal. His loss is a big personal loss to all lovers of music.
You have a great fan following in Asia. Is it in some way linked with your clean living image and your singing in English as a second language?
I really don’t know… we never planned anything like that…it happened and it really is a great thing.
May be both the things have some connection…But I think this should also be attributed to the simplicity of our lyrics. Perhaps, we are able to express the basic emotions in a simpler way than the British and Americans.
This is your third India visit. What difference do you see now and what pulls you back to India again and again?
We haven’t actually seen much of India this time, as we have landed only last night. I think Mumbai looks the same. It is big, beautiful, full of people and very fascinating…just as it was when we saw it last time.
What do you like the most about India?
Oh we just love Bollywood films and music. India is our favourite country. Its people, food, beauty….everything is so special.