Popular Danish band plans biggest China tour
For Chinese pop singers, it’s quite common to cover Western pop songs in the original versions or in Chinese versions to seek international attention.
However, for Danish pop rock band Michael Learns to Rock, its biggest break in Asia came when the group adapted a Chinese song of Cantonese pop star Jacky Cheung, GoodbyeKiss, into an English track, Take Me to Your Heart, in 2003.
“When the song ( Goodbye Kiss) was presented to us, we immediately fell in love with it. It was the first time ever for us to record a song not written by ourselves, so it was a big step for us to try this,” drummer Kare Wanscher says. “Originally it was only meant to be released in China but we were so happy with the song that it alsomadeit to the international version of the album. We had no idea about the success this song would get and it was an amazing experience to see that we had reached out to so many Chinese people and that they all knewour music.”
Since its first live show in China — at Beijing’s Workers Stadium in 1997 in front of over 8,000 fans, the trio has been to China around 20 times. They were back most recently inChina in 2016, when they staged shows in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Now, however, the Scandinaviaband will launch their first large-scale tour in China by performing in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Chengdu. The dates are not all finalized but the period will be end of August 2017.
Titled Michael Learns to Rock 2017 Eternal China Tour, the band — also known as MLTR — will play songs from its new albums and songs that are popular in Asia, such as Take Me to Your Heart, Someday, Paint My Love and 25 Minutes.
With eight studio albums released and global record sales of 11 million physical albums, more than 6 million paid downloads, the band released a new EP in 2016, which features four singles, Dream Girl, Crushing Blue, I’ll Wait for You and We Shared the Night.
Dream Girl, according to singer-songwriter and keyboard player Jascha Richter, is very special. The band had the song for quite some time but could not find the right time to release it.
The classically trained musician, who learned flute and cello and then the piano as child, rewrote the song several times and he is proud to present this version.
“We cannot think of a better time than now to share this with our fans to close off our 25th anniversary celebrations,” says Richter, adding that the song is dedicated to the band members’ wives and children. The band started touring on the occasion of their 25th anniversary in 2013.
Crushing Blue is the drummer’s personal favorite because of the slow and romantic melodies, which is typical of the group’s sound.
The band was formed in the spring of 1988 by Richter, Wanscher and guitarist Mikkel Lentz. That summer the band won a local talent competition and started out on a nearly two-year tour around Denmark.
“We were quite surprised when it turned out that we’d won, andsowehadtocomeup with a name quickly. At that time, Michael Jackson was someone we admired very much, which is one of the reasons we decided to call ourselves Michael Learns to Rock,” says guitarist Lentz.
Unlike almost all other Danish bands at that time, Wanscher says, they started out by singing in English because they were very clear about their goal— to have success all over the world.
The drummer also notes that the longevity of the band came from each member’s different influences. Richter was influenced by ABBA, Supertramp and Elton John, while Lentz was more into the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and Wanscher was listening to Bob Marley and StevieWonder.
“I will say that what inspires our music most is to be alive in the world as human beings trying to bring all we see and experience into our music,” Wanscher says. “The joy of playing music kept us together and we still love that more than anything.”