Abba’s Benny An­der­s­son

Fol­low­ing the re­lease of his solo album Piano, Abba’s Benny An­der­s­son tells Yours about the spe­cial re­la­tion­ship he con­tin­ues to have with his former three band­mates

YOURS (UK) - - Inside - By Ali­son James

It’s not ev­ery day we get to meet a song­writ­ing ge­nius and so spend­ing time in the com­pany of the man who wrote such clas­sics as Mamma Mia, Danc­ing Queen, The Win­ner Takes it All, Voulez Vous and count­less oth­ers, is some­thing of a ‘pinch-us’ mo­ment. We’re here to dis­cuss Piano, Benny An­der­s­son’s solo album, re­leased at the end of last month. On it, the self-taught key­board mae­stro plays a se­lec­tion of com­po­si­tions from his 50-year ca­reer. We’re talk­ing songs from the Six­ties, the Abba years, the mu­si­cals Chess and Kristina and more cur­rent work with his own band, Benny An­der­s­son’s Orkester. But first… have there been times since the Swedish su­per­group split in 1982 that he and Bjorn, Agnetha and Frida have re­ally not got on? “No, not re­ally,” Benny smiles. “We’ve al­ways been, and al­ways stayed, good friends. We’ve met up over the years, now and then, for dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions and also in the stu­dio, and when we’re to­gether the years im­me­di­ately roll away. It feels like the Sev­en­ties again. Hope­fully it will feel like that when we get our ex­cit­ing new project off the ground.” What? Abba is re­form­ing? “In a sense,” Benny goes on. “The en­tre­pre­neur and pro­ducer Si­mon Fuller came to see us in Stock­holm about a year ago with an idea to cre­ate an Abba-es­que con­cert tour – with a band, singers, dancers… and dig­i­tal ver­sions of the four of us. It will be a kind of aug­mented re­al­ity and we may ap­pear as holo­grams or like an avatar form. Ev­ery­thing will be live – ex­cept us – but it will be us per­form­ing our songs rather than trib­ute acts. It’s in­cred­i­bly hi-tech and the four of us are very ex­cited about it. On stage, on screen, we’ll all be 35 again in­stead of 70! But it is an in­cred­i­bly com­plex process and it has to be per­fect oth­er­wise there’s no point in do­ing it. That’s why it’s tak­ing so long to put to­gether and it won’t hap­pen – if it hap­pens at all –

‘When we’re to­gether the years im­me­di­ately roll away. It feels like the Sev­en­ties again’

un­til the Spring of 2019. So… let’s talk about Piano.” Yes let’s! Benny has de­scribed the album as a kind of mem­oir in mu­sic form. What ex­actly does he mean? “Well, I can recog­nise my­self in the mu­sic all the way through,” he replies. “It’s like an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy but in mu­sic rather than words. This isn’t what I set out to do when I started. It al­most came about by ac­ci­dent, ac­tu­ally. I try to write new mu­sic ev­ery day but some­times I get fed-up and play old stuff. “I found my­self play­ing a song from Chess on the piano one day and I liked the way it sounded. So, I de­cided to record some of the songs I’d writ­ten over the years but as sim­ply piano mu­sic. It was a very laid­back ex­pe­ri­ence for me to go into the stu­dio with just a record­ing en­gi­neer. By the end I had about 25 songs recorded which I cut down thank you for the mu­sic: Benny’s new album is, “like an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy but in mu­sic, not words” to 21. I wasn’t plan­ning on re­leas­ing them but thought of it as some­thing to give my grand­kids. Then I played it to the head of Univer­sal Mu­sic in Swe­den, who is a friend, and he sug­gested I re­lease it – so I have.” Will he be tour­ing? “At the mo­ment I’m too busy work­ing on our aug­mented re­al­ity con­cert tour and also the movie Mamma Mia – Here We Go Again,” he replies. “I’ve recorded all the mu­sic for the film like I did for the first one and we use some of the same mu­si­cians we used back in the Abba days. The film is a kind of pre­quel but also a se­quel to the first film. The prin­ci­pals from that pro­duc­tion are back with us, plus some new stars. Down­ton Abbey ac­tress Lily James is play­ing the young Meryl Streep and has an ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful voice with a very spe­cial qual­ity to it. She sings the song I Won­der and I just melt.” And will Pierce Bros­nan be singing again? “Yes!” Benny laughs. “What is it with you Brits and Pierce’s voice? Other coun­tries

‘What is it with you Brits and Pierce’s voice? Other coun­tries don’t have a prob­lem with it’

don’t have a prob­lem with it. It’s just you! He’s def­i­nitely singing. Pierce has a good voice and it has a very fine tim­bre to it. Maybe you re­act in the way you do be­cause you don’t ex­pect him to sing.” Maybe that’s what it is! Mean­while what does Benny, who’s been mar­ried to Swedish TV pre­sen­ter Mona Nork­lit since 1981, en­joy do­ing when he’s not work­ing? “I shop for food and cook ev­ery day when I’m at home in Stock­holm,” he says. “I walk the dog each morn­ing and last thing at night. Ac­tu­ally, I’m very good at not do­ing very much at all. Just ask my wife!” Piano, Benny an­der­s­son out now, rrp £9.99

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