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With music that was easy on the ear, MLTR was an international sensation in the 1990s. They are back on the road to recreate their forgotten magic

THOSE WHO grew up in the 1990s listening to boy bands and singing along with them don't need an introduction to this Danish group of balladeers who were famous for their simplicity and clean living -- they were model citizens of a world that had started worshipping the straight arrow after decades of decadence.

Their lyrics had an addictive breeziness and a universality that made them instant hits in our part of the world. Here was a Danish band whose greatest following was in India, where it sold a big chunk of the over 10 million records it rolled out for worldwide circulation in its heyday.

Michael Learns To Rock ( or MLTR, as they were called during their glorious career spanning over two decades) is all set to relive those nostalgic moments when they arrive in the country on a three- city tour on Wednesday, June 16.

The trio -- comprising Jascha Richter, Mikkel Lentz and KENre Wanscher -- will be here after nearly five years. For Delhi, it will be a double whammy, for the band will perform here for the first time since its maiden visit to the country in 1996. During its second visit in 2005 too, the band had given Delhi a miss.

Affirms Richter, the band's lead singer: " India is a dream destination for us -- all our albums have got a tremendous response here. It's been over five years since we last came here and we've been wanting to come back ever since." So what made MLTR -- known for hits such as The Actor, Sleeping Child, Breaking My Heart, Nothing to Lose, Complicated Heart, Someday and You Took My Heart Away -- so popular in India? According to the band members, their music defies geographical categorisation.

" We owe our popularity to the fact that people can sing along with us because of the simplicity of our songs. And we have had a lot of concerts in Asian countries, which is another reason for our popularity in this part of the world," says Richter, 46.

Their music, according to media releases, is " the perfect balance of the Scandinavian glow and international pop that's been instrumental in forming the compelling sound of the band." The hype is not without justification, say the music makers of the city.

Iggy, a much- sought- after deejay in the city's clubbing and party circuits, remembers growing up with MLTR's chart- topping numbers. " They were extremely popular," Iggy says. " Their music appealed to a larger audience and the overall packaging was good.

They found a lot of fans especially among young women," he adds.

Subir Malik, member of the rock band Parikrama, also says it was MLTR's mass appeal that drew in the crowds.

" Right from the 1940s and 50s, melodious and soft music has found more listeners.

MLTR's fan base included everybody -- from the youngsters to the elderly. I loved their video for Some day -- it was done with just a single shot without cuts," Malik says.

The Danish band will be in India from June 16 to 21 to promote its latest CD, Eternity . Talking about the tour, Richter says: " One will have to wait for the shows -- but it's going to be a short promo show not exceeding 30- 40 minutes. I am sure people will know a few of the songs on the playlist," he adds. S ONGS THEY will know and enjoy.

Says Amit Kilam, drummer of the fusion band Indian Ocean: " MLTR is quite popular in India.

Almost all music fans who grew up then would have heard about them.

Although I don't remember any of their songs at the moment, they were quite well- known." Their songs may be familiar, but not too many people may be aware that the name ' Michael Learns to Rock' came from their fondness for pop legend Michael Jackson. " We just couldn't think of a better name. And of course we like Michael Jackson," Richter says.

Born out of a small ' cafe band', MLTR's original lineup included singer and keyboard player Richter, drummer Wanscher and guitarist Mikkel Lentz -- all high school students in Aarhus, Denmark. The band was joined by bassist Soren Madsen a year later.

In September 1991, the band released its eponymous debut album, which became successful with the single, The Actor , doing extremely well across Asia and Europe. Their second album, Colors , appeared in 1993 -- it sold more than 1 million records. The singles -- 25 Minutes and Out of the Blue -- from the second album became big hits too. In 1995, the band came up with its third album, Played on Pepper , which received a much greater response, with over 1.2 million records selling worldwide. " Sleeping Child was one of my favourite songs," said Surojit Dev, drummer with the rock band Them Clones. " Most of MLTR's numbers were simple and this was what powered their popularity." Played on Pepper was followed by the Danish band's greatest album, Paint My Love, in 1996 -- it sold 3.4 million copies. Their fourth studio album, Nothing to Lose , was released in September 1997.

Soon after, MLTR's members took a break to spend time with their families and develop projects on their own or in collaboration with other artistes.

In 2000, Madsen decided to leave the group -- to embark on a solo career.

The three remaining members carried on and produced the album, Blue Night . They kept rolling out albums and went on world tours, but they couldn't recreate the magic of Paint My Love . But India remains MLTR's top destination.

" India is my favourite country. I like the people, the food and the beauty of the country. Every moment in India has something special to offer," Richter says. We hope that they will give Indian music lovers something special too.

-- MLTR will perform at the F Bar & Lounge, The Ashok, on June 17


1987: Singer and keyboard player Jascha Richter, drummer Kare Wanscher and guitarist Mikkel Lentz form a ' cafe band' while studying at high school in Aarhus, Denmark.

1988: Guitarist Soren Madsen joins the band as bassist.

1991: In September, they release their debut album, Michael Learns to Rock . 1992: The Actor rises to the top of the Danish charts. This success is repeated in Norway and Sweden, and in southeast Asia -- Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

1993: The band releases its second album, Colors , in October.

1995: Played on Pepper , the third album from MLTR, is out.

1996: The band releases its greatest hit album, Paint My Love . 1997: The band releases its fourth studio album, Nothing to Lose . 2000: Madsen decides to leave the group to go solo. The other three members carry on and produce the album, Blue Night . 2001: The band starts a five- week tour of Dubai, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and China. Just before the tour, a new album, 19 Love Songs , is released in south- east Asia.

2004: The trio decides to return to their original name and the album, titled Michael Learns to Rock for the second time, is released.

2008: The band releases Eternity , its newest album in its second avatar.

2010: MLTR is set for its third India tour.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jun 11, 2010
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