Über-ABBA tribute band the A*Teens (originally known formed as the ABBA Teens for just their first single) were assembled in Stockholm, Sweden in 1998. Swedish adolescents Marie Serneholt, Sara Lumholdt, Dhani Lennevald, and Amit Paul quickly began work on their debut album The ABBA Generation in the same year and two years later the group topped the European charts with their cover of ABBA’s ’Mamma Mia.’ Incidentally, thus achieving the feat exactly a quarter of a century after the original ABBA hit number one with their own rendition of the song ! The aforementioned LP contained similarly modernized renditions of ABBA classics like ’Dancing Queen,’ ‘S.O.S.,’ and ’Take a Chance on Me.’
After tours with like-minded acts such as *NSYNC and Britney Spears and an appearance on Nickelodeon's ‘All That’ Tour in summer 2000, the group delivered their follow-up album, Teen Spirit, which averted away from all things ABBA featuring instead original material. In spring 2002 they covered the Elvis Presley classic ’Can't Help Falling In Love,’ for the Disney flick ‘Lilo & Stitch’ later performing the single on Nickelodeon's popular ‘Slime Time Live’ in late May. The song was also included on the A*Teens' third album, the just released Pop ‘Til You Drop on MCA Records.
Chatting with both Marie and Amit I first made sure that they had indeed been called the ABBA Teens way back in the day ! Amit ”Yes we were, but actually the name didn’t even last that long.”
Marie ”The first single ‘Mamma Mia’ that was like the only time.”
Amit ”That was us as ABBA Teens and then we switched around ‘Supertrooper’ to the A*Teens.”
How did it all come together back then ? Marie ’We’ve been friends for about eight years now and the group started about four years ago. We met at our dance school where we were really good friends. Then one day some people came to our school and held an audition there. We auditioned and we thought that it would be a really good for our music that we stay together.”
But why ABBA covers ? Marie ”That was their idea. That was the whole point of the audition, because they had this idea of creating a band with two girls and two boys which could sing those tunes.”
Amit ”Basically, the band is created, but we’ve been friends forever.”
How have you changed as a band from those days to this new album ? Amit ”Oh, my God,” he gently exclaims. ”I think the first and the biggest change is the knowledge of what to do in the studio. At first it was like ‘what are all those things with knobs on’ and now it’s like we go in the studio and we know how to handle the modules and all that stuff. We can now get into the production side of things and we’re a lot more confident in the studio now because of it.”
Was it an easy choice to name the new album, Pop ‘Til You Drop ? Marie ”Actually, we were having all these ideas and everybody had different ideas of what it needed to be called. But, the album is like ‘pop’ and it’s ‘pop’ from the first note to the last note … and we’re proud of it,” she herself now excitedly exclaims !
How did the Elvis Presley cover come about ? Marie ”Our management told us that Disney wanted us to do this song for ‘Lilo & Stitch’ the movie. So we did it for them, but we weren’t even considering it for our new album, but then we got told that Disney wanted us to do that song so we just said yes !’
Amit ”It really wasn’t even supposed to be on the album, but when we recorded it it turned out really good.”
Had you sung the song together before ? Marie ”No. Well, we’d heard the song before, of course, but it was pretty late in the day when we decided to add it to the new album.”
Amit ”It was VERY late actually. They needed a song and they were doing these contrasting Elvis songs that would still rock and we have this really good relationship with Disney and they were the ones that contacted us. We were a little scared before though because they told us the story of this alien that had escaped from a prison camp, but it was all okay in the end,” he laughs.
You actually have your own A*Teens dolls on the market too ?! Marie ”Oh yeah. I think they’re very cool. You can’t get them everywhere. You can get them at Wal-Mart and places like that and ebay and stuff, but it hasn’t been like worldwide or anything yet. I just think they’re very cool, but it’s weird to look at yourself as a doll, you know ?! You look at the doll and then you look at yourself in the mirror and your like, hmmm … I don’t know !,” she laughs. ”But, it’s just the fact to have the doll that is cool.”
Sum up the bands music in three words Marie ”Popular, energetic and relatible.”
Sum up the feelings behind these four songs:
‘Floorfiller’ – Marie ”That was just when I got the demo in the post I listened to it and I really like Madonna’s music and it’s kind of the same. Not really, but the same funkiness in it I think that it’s just a really, really big song. It’s really fun to perform and really catchy and it’s just really different.”
‘Hi and Goodbye’ – Amit ”The first time I heard this song I was amazed. I love this song, the melodies and the lyrics and stuff like that.”
‘Oh, Oh …Yeah’ – Marie ”Erm, actually this song, and I don’ know if many people know this, was actually called ‘Shiver,’ but we changed the name to ‘Oh, Oh … Yeah’ because we had a song on our album last year called ‘Sugar Rush’ and then we have a song on this album called ‘Slam’ and then we had a song on the old album called ‘Slammin’ Kinda Love’ so we’re like, we have to change this. So we changed it to ‘Oh, Oh … Yeah.’ “
Amit ”We were actually thinking of changing it to ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’ but then we were like no, you can’t do that.”
Marie ”But, the song, I think is about love, but at the beginning when I first heard it I was like I don’t know. I’m not too sure about this. But when we went to the studio and listened to it on different equipment and whatever it sounded really cool.”
‘Slam’ – Amit ” ‘Slam’ is actually Dhani and Sara who aren’t here who wrote the song together with a couple of other people. It’s a very cool song and really fun to do live.”
Who’s the messiest out of the group on tour ? Marie ”Sara,” both her and Amit agree.
Amit ”She has the capacity to go into a room and five minutes later it looks like she’s been there for a week.”
Marie ”She finds herself better when she’s messy like that and some people are like that.”
Who’s got the worst habits on tour ? Amit ”Dhani, definitely. Cursing !”
What’s his favorite curse word ? Amit ”Oh, the f-word. If he were in here doing this interview with you he’d be like swearing away.”
Marie ”We were in Thailand last year and we were doing some interviews with some fans and there were a lot of people there. A lot of people and then Dhani says the word and everybody like stares, blankly but politely ! But he shut up the room. And everybody was then like ‘shriek’ (right now she literally shrieks !) and then you could literally hear a pin drop.”
Reveal a secret about the band Marie ”I think it would be that me and Dhani have these little invisible pets ! It actually became a hobby because we start talk very weird ! They’re called Asa and Ake and we’re talking like this and we’re doing all this stuff,” she speaks in a high-pitched, cartoon goofyish voice. ”And we’d record movies like in our hotels and stuff. We can do it for hours and hours and we’d just laugh about it. We were in L.A. doing it and it’s done anywhere that it’s possible to be embarrassing,” she giggles. ”So they don’t know that we embarrass each other like that !”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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