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Bjorn Again: An Interview with John Tyrrell

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by SocialHummingBird (subscribe)
Life is about the journey - some roads are not always what they seem but you sure learn a great deal from them!
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Thank you for the music

WeekendNotes recently had the opportunity to speak with John Tyrrell, founder of Bjorn Again - who are widely considered to be one of the most successful tribute bands of all time. Bjorn Again will commence their 2013 Australian Tour in October 2013.

One can say that John Tyrrell was born with a guitar in his hand, although he thought that he might not amount to much as a musician. However, while working as a research engineer for Rio Tinto in 1988, John and his friend, Rod Stephen, came up with an idea to create a band that was different. They wanted to create a parody tribute band to the iconic group Abba. Of course, Abba had a lot of history attached to it, with two marriages that ended in divorce and the group breaking up in 1982. John reasoned that this history, together with their well known music, would make the ideal parody. So Bjorn Again was established.

bjorn again
Bjorn Again

It was not all roses in the beginning. John and Rob had a great deal to learn about managing and marketing a band of this calibre. Bjorn Again became a major attraction with local pubs and businesses in the Melbourne area - John tells WeekendNotes;

"Someone approached us to do a live performance in a stadium for almost three times the money that we were receiving. We saw that the stadium was sold out and learnt very quickly, that we had to take control of the band and its direction"

bjorn again
Bjorn Again to new heights!

John took the band to Sydney, which proved to be an even greater success, and they knew immediately that they could take Bjorn Again anywhere in Australia. It was a couple of years after they had visited most of the major cities in Australia that they begin to wonder if they could take this band overseas.

There was a lot of criticism to start, as people told them that they stood no chance. Furthermore, there were not many tribute bands during that time, so they were stepping into new territory. To date, Bjorn Again has visited over 100 countries and performed over 7,000 shows.

bjorn again
Over 100 countries and 7000 shows later!

Four years after creating Bjorn Again, while John was in Sweden he visited Polygram (who owns the Abba's catalogue). While talking to the MD about some upcoming events, John was asked: "Have you ever met the original Abba cast?" Within moments a meeting with Benny and Bjorn was scheduled for the next day. It turned out they were as curious about Bjorn Again as Bjorn Again was about them.

Of course when you have the opportunity to meet people like Benny and Bjorn, you will be tempted to ask if Abba would ever get back together again. Bjorn and Benny agreed that it was hard working as couples in a band and they would never get back together again. In my personal opinion that is probably for the best, as all members have taken a different road in their lives and are all happy with what they are doing.

Bjorn Again

According to John, Benny Andersson is one of those people that could be described as a "favourite uncle". John found Benny to be a very easy going and a friendly person. John was invited back to Benny's studio to give feedback on some of Benny's latest work. And later that evening, when one of the keyboards broke down, "I decided to call Benny to see if he could help, and he said he would organise one. We had a keyboard within the hour."

Of course, while both Abba and Bjorn Again acknowledge each other, John has maintained course to keep the success of the Bjorn Again. And while they met Bjorn and Benny during a stage of their life, John does not keep in close contact with them.

Scheduling and preparing for shows requires a balance between parody and the real thing. As Bjorn Again has increased its recognition world-wide, they maintain awareness of the audiences they are performing to.

John has found that some countries like Australia, South Africa and Ireland, are very quick to catch on to the parody, or comments made within the show. "When you perform in a country like China, you have to be aware of the culture. China would not understand the parody we use in the show with countries like Australia."

bjorn again
Performing to thousands of fans.

John has rubbed shoulders with many celebrities; however the one that stands out the most for him is Nirvana. "Nirvana came to see us perform live and ended up purchasing all of our merchandise!" In 1992, the promoter of the Reading Festival called John to see if they were available to perform. Apparently Nirvana insisted that Bjorn Again was added to the list, or they would not show up. During the Bjorn Again show the girls left the stage for a costume change and the boys got up to mischief by playing "Smells like Teen Spirit". Nirvana was so impressed with their version that they had to have them on stage prior to their own performance.

Abba is an iconic band, and Bjorn Again is a band that not only reminds us of a disco era, but engages with its audience and draws them into an amazing evening of parody. When asked "Where to from here?", John replied, "Maybe a documentary of how it all started". Now that would be a winner that would take it all!

The Bjorn Again performance is a memorable show that will have you wanting it to go 'on and on and on'. You can find out more about their upcoming Australian schedule here, as well as other information about the band and their shows.

National Tour Dates:

Friday October 4
Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW
A Reserve: $69.50 B Reserve: $49.50 Children: $39.50
10% Discount for groups of 10 or more
On sale now or phone 132 849
Group Bookings: 1300 364 001

Saturday October 5
The Concourse, Chatswood NSW
A Reserve: $69.50 B Reserve: $49.50 Children: $39.50
10% Discount for groups of 10 or more
On sale now or phone 132 849
Group Bookings: 1300 364 001

Friday October 11
Civic Theatre, Newcastle NSW

Fri October 18
Canberra Theatre, ACT
Gold Reserve: $69.50, Silver Reserve: $49.50, Child (silver/gold): $39.50
10% discount on groups of 10
On sale now or phone 02 6275 2700

Thurs November 21
Nambour Civic Centre, QLD
Adult: $59.50 Concession: $49.50 (children, student, groups of 10 )
On sale now or dial & charge 07 5475 7777

Fri November 22
Twin Towns Clubs & Resorts, Tweed Heads, NSW
Tickets: $39.00
On sale now or phone 1800 014 014
Sat November 23

Concert Hall QPAC Brisbane, QLD
Gold Reserve: $69.50, Silver Reserve: $49.50, Child (silver/gold): $39.50
10% discount on groups of 10
On sale now or phone 136 246

Sat December 14

The Palms at Crown, VIC
Tickets: $69.50
10% discount on groups 10
On sale Fri Aug 9 or phone 1300 795 012
Group bookings: 1300 364 001
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Why? For a great time and great music
When: Touring Australia from October to December 2013
Where: See the website for upcoming concert venues
Your Comment
Thanks for your article - saw them at Tweed. Was a really good night for my daughter's 11th birthday. She knew many songs from the Mamma Mia movie so had great fun dancing in the isles and singing along. It's amazing how many songs I could sing too since it was the music I grew up hearing. There's not many concerts you can take an 11 yo to, so was a fun night.
by Susan Jackson (score: 2|860) 3233 days ago
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