By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV Online
Their songs have touched the lives of countless fans with hits like “Sleeping Child“, “25 Minutes“, “Someday“, “That’s Why (You Go Away)”, “Paint my love“, “The Actor“, “Complicated Heart“, “Animals“, “Nothing to Lose“, “Blue Night” and others; remembered and loved by many throughout Papua New Guinea, from cities to towns, and villages alike.
They broke language barriers and united fans through their music; and as much as they were adored and idolized, their songs inspired millions and could be sung by fans, word-for-word and strummed chord-by-chord on guitars, in all corners of the world.
In 2015, for the very first time, fans of the famous Danish pop/soft rock band, Michael Learns to Rock (also known as MLTR) will have the opportunity to see the band perform live at Port Moresby’s Lamana Gold Club on Saturday 17 January.
Tickets for the MLTR concert are being sold at the Lamana Hotel reception; with prices ranging from K100 for arena tickets and K250 for the club’s balcony tickets.
MLTR has sold over 11 million records globally and have recorded eight studio albums, with several ‘live’ and ‘greatest hits’ albums. The band has won countless awards, earning Gold and Platinum status for their records in various countries. Their single “Take me to your heart” was awarded “most downloaded song of 2006” with more than six million paid downloads.
The band was formed in 1988, and is comprised of lead vocalist, Jascha Richter who also plays the keyboard, Mikkel Lentz on lead guitar and Kåre Wanscher on drums.
In the mid-1990’s during the peak of the band’s popularity, MLTR was described as being “as good (if not better) a band as any current big name group out of America or the UK.”
The band follows a basic music structure, typical of most pop songs, best described as verse-chorus song-form and lyrics that comprise “straight forward and short-length phrasing”.
The essence of the MLTR ‘sound’ is described by Richter as having “verses that consist of either one or two couplets and the chorus often contrasts the verse melodically, rhythmically, and harmonically, assuming a higher level of dynamics and activity.”
Notably, many of their songs contain strong, vocal harmonies and instrumental solos, mostly from the guitar, with a bridge section that follows the second chorus section of the song. The majority of MLTR’s songs are written and composed by Jascha Richter on the piano; which are then taken by Mikkel who makes the songs into final production.
The band has attributed their successover the years to their singing in English as a second language and their ‘clean-living’ image, with lead singer Jascha Richter, maintaining that their music defies geographical categorisation.
Mikkel Lentz insists that “MLTR do not fit to any genre of music except for having a classic pop-sound.”
He believes that the secret behind MLTR’s sustained music career is the non-conformance to any musical trends, “We never tried to follow trends. I think that’s the reason we are still around. There’s been trip hop, grunge, and pop. We never fitted into these trends. What seems to be tough then is now our strength. They’re just songs. The songs don’t belong to a musical wave.”
The band debuted with their self-titled album Michael Learns to Rock in September 1991, which topped the Danish charts in January 1992 and was successul in Asia, selling 25,000 copies and earning gold status in Indonesia alone.
Motivated by the successof their first album, MLTR released Colours in October 1993, which included the singles “Sleeping Child”, “25 Minutes” and “Out of the Blue” and sold over 1.1 million records. The album saw the band touring Asia for the first time and played to their largest audience (at the time) of 12, 000 fans at The Phoebus Concert Hall in Bangkok.
The album combined with the band’s live performances resulted in the band receiving the ‘The Best Performing Act of the Year’ award in 1994 at SEA Grammy Awards in Singapore for the performance of “25 Minutes”, followed by the ‘Gold Preis’ from the German radio station RSH (Radio Schleswig-Holstein) in 1995 for radio hits such as “Wild Women'” and “25 Minutes”.
MLTR’s third album Played on Pepper was released in August 1995, containing hits like “That’s Why (You Go Away)” and “Someday”; the album was the first to be wholly recorded and produced by the band themselves and received worldwide acclaim.
Building on the successof their third album, a greatest hits album Paint My Love was released in October, 1996 and sold more than 3.4 million copies, topping the charts in Asia and South Africa.
The fourth studio album, Nothing to Lose was released in September 1997, selling more than 1.1 million copies; after which the band rebranded under the abbreviated name of M-L-T-R.
During this period, the band took time off to spend with their families and work on individuals projects; it was then that Jascha Richter wrote new songs which included “Strange Foreign Beauty” which was added to the 1999 greatest hits album Greatest Hits – Strange Foreign Beauty.