Pop­u­lar Dan­ish band plans big­gest China tour

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By CHENNAN chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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.”

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