Michael Learns To Rock, better known as simply MLTR, doesn’t actually know who Michael is. It was just a band name that came to them 25 years ago when they submitted a tape (yes, tape) for a contest.
Little did they know, they would win the contest, shoot to stardom, and be forever known as Michael Learns To Rock.
Would they have had it any other way? Maybe.
And while people often joke about their band name, them including, there’s just one thing that’s no laughing matter – their music. After all, how many bands can stick around for this long and still produce easy-to-love, delightful to sing along to, evergreen songs?
Like this one:
Recently, the multi-platinum Scandinavian band was in town as part of their 25th anniversary tour. Their Michael Learns To Rock “25 Live” The Anniversary Celebration in Malaysia concert was met with high demand from their Malaysian fans as ticket sales shot up immediately upon announcement, after which, MLTR extended their tour dates in Kuala Lumpur to 2 nights.
Thanks to our friends from Warner Music Malaysia, we got to speak to the legendary band right before their show and ask them all the questions that we’ve waited, well, more than a decade to ask 😉
Here’s what went down:
Welcome back to Malaysia, guys! How excited are you to be back in Kuala Lumpur?
Kare: It’s always good to be in Kuala Lumpur. The first time we were here was in 1994/1993 – it was the first time we were in Asia together as a band. Everything was very new to us, all these impressions like the smells, the air, the heat..and now it’s like almost coming home cause we’ve been here so many times. We feel very attached to Malaysia. And we can walk around the city without a map now! (laughs)
You’re celebrating your 25th anniversary this year so congratulations! What’s your secret formula to staying together for this long?
Kare: Well, we love music and we also like each other. It’s almost like a family, like brothers, because we know each other very well and we spend a lot of time together. You know, we don’t really think much about it, it just feels right. And of course, the fans. The fans are the real reason we’re here now. Especially when we’ve been together for 25 years and we’re still here, it has been a privilege.
Mikkel: We get several hundreds of messages every day on Facebook and all that. People just keep telling us that they like our music and they want us to come and play at their countries..it just gives us a lot of energy. And when we sit at home, and think about it, should we go on? Yes, of course, we have to go on! Because these people really want to see us.
Also, MLTR is one of those groups who have never had any scandals or bad rumours at all. How do you maintain that image?
Mikkel: We just don’t tell people about what we do! (laughs) No, but really..it’s funny enough that we’ve ever had any scandals. Maybe it’s because we don’t throw TVs out of windows, we don’t feel the need to do that. As human beings, we don’t feel like..we’re not so rebellious. We don’t feel like we need to be in the papers all the time.
Kare: I think people would be really disappointed if they saw the lives we live back home. Because we have families, we’re fathers..we go to the grocers and buy food..we lead very normal lives..
Well, now you’re telling us too much. Now, we have something to write about!
Kare: (laughs) We have kids..
Mikkel: We cook food for our wives..
Kare: I mean, yeah, that’s the wildest I can tell you.
If you could go back to a time 25 years ago, what’s the one thing that you would change?
Kare: The name! Oh my gosh, the name.
Yeah, who’s Michael?
Kare: (shrugs) I don’t know? It has been years! It’s quite funny, you know, we were taking part in this music competition and we just needed a name. We recorded our demo on a cassette tape and Jascha wrote “Michael Learns To Rock” on it and we won the competition. And we felt famous. But it was too late to change the name. Actually, I like it now..
Jascha: I still don’t like it.
You have so many Asian fans though, and MLTR primarily focuses on the Asian market. Why is that?
Mikkel: In the beginning, it wasn’t a decision that we made. It was because our songs became very popular here and it was all due to radio requests. Then after the 2nd album, MLTR’s success in Asia just grew and grew..and then we saw that there was definitely something going on in Asia. And then we started promoting here and doing concerts here but in the beginning, we weren’t deliberately focusing on Asia alone.
My personal favourite MLTR song is “25 Minutes” because it tells a nice story. How do you guys come up with stories to write into your lyrics?
Kare: “25 Minutes” is like a fairy tale, yeah!
Mikkel: Jascha wrote that song. He’s the songwriter.
Jascha: I think many of our songs weren’t based on real or true stories. They’re made up stories. But when it comes to writing the songs..the melody always comes first. Then I make up random words that don’t exist, that probably aren’t English, and match them to the song. Then I change the words later.
Kare: To something less meaningful (laughs)
Thanks for the chat, you guys! It was quite a dream come true to meet the “original gangsta” pop rock stars, we must say 🙂
Special thanks, again, to our awesome friends from Warner Music Malaysia for making this interview happen.