During the 90’s pop music was the creme of the music crop! While the Brits produced some of the biggest acts in the world like the Spice Girls, 5ive and Steps, Scandinavia followed very closely with acts like Ace of Base and The Cardigans carrying the flag for the Nordic countries during one of pop’s most successful decades. Another band who found mainstream success during the 90’s was Danish four-piece Aqua. There wasn’t a single person in the world that wasn’t singing along to the bands hugely successful number one single Barbie Girl or any of the colourful outfits following single releases like Doctor Jones, My Oh My or Around The World.
While the foursome enjoyed international success throughout the later half of the 90’s, after the release of 2000’s Aquarius, Aqua decided to go on hiatus for what would become 11 years before they reunited for their 3rd studio album, 2011’s Megalomania which offered fans a much more adult oriented and hard-hitting pop style.
As the band prepare to bring their Greatest Hits tour to Australia, we had a chat with band member René Dif about the bands comeback following 11 years away from the pop scene. We also discussed the bands most recent album, Megalomania and what the band has in store for Australian fans when the land on Aussie shores for several shows later this month. Here is what René had to tell us…
Brendon Veevers: How are you Rene and where are we talking to you from?
René Dif: Hi Brendon. We are in Denmark at the moment, busy with meetings and getting ready for the tour.
BV: Nice one! You will be visiting Australia in a couple of weeks for a brand new tour. How are you all feeling and how have rehearsals been going so far?
RD: We actually started rehearsals today for the tour so we’ve been really busy. We’ve been talking about the set list for the last month; what kind of versions we want to play and how the show is gonna be. We’ve got everything set up now so it’s going to be a lot of fun!
BV: You latest visited Australia in 2012 and the tour was a huge success for the band with you adding additional shows. What type of show can we expect for this latest round of gigs and has the set list been confirmed yet?
RD: You can expect a band with a LOT of energy. We are very positive and we always say that it is always about having fun and it’s about getting the audience to feel like they are a part of the band. It’s always like one big party. So it’s going to be a lot of energy and while I can’t reveal too much about the shows, I can say that it isn’t going to be the same as last time because we want to change things up a lot this time so it will be really cool.
BV: Are there plans to release a new single or album or is the new tour more of a celebration of your work so far?
RD: No, we’re going to be playing some of the new songs that we made for our latest record we did although I don’t think the last album we did (Megalomania) was released in Australia but we will be playing some of them and of course a lot of the old songs like Barbie Girl and Doctor Jones. When you see Aqua perform it is more like a rock band (laughs) because we try to make the versions of our songs a little bit different with some electronic elements in there so it’s a lot of different stuff. We try to mix it all up so it becomes exciting for the audience gives it a new, refreshing kind of kick!
BV: Your last album Megalomania was a lot more risky in terms of lyrics and song topics than anything found on Aquarium or Aquarius. The lyrics and themes were quite different to songs like Barbie Girl. Was it a conscious decision to create a comeback album that was more aggressive and hard-hitting in terms of lyrics and the general sound as opposed to returning with music that was more like your 90’s work?
RD: Yeah, I would say that we like to keep the Aqua sound new and refreshing and interesting so we are always trying to first of all to come up with some great pop songs. One things that we are very good at and that we all agree on together is that we are very good at writing pop hits so you will always hear an Aqua that is trying to take it to another level in pop music and you might hear songs where you think to yourself “Wow, I didn’t expect that” like songs like How R U Doin? and Playmate to Jesus and Robot and some of the new stuff. It’s very new to Aqua – well, it was a couple of years ago because that album is 3 or 4 years old now. We also released a Greatest Hits in Australia.
BV: Was there any hesitation about returning with this new sound. Was there any concern from within the band that the older fans, who were used to tracks like Barbie Girl, Lollipop and Around The World, would not respond well to the lyrical approach and more aggressive style of new material?
RD: Not really. We will always be a pop band that will always be in your face. We tried to do a balance between doing a good pop song and keeping things current and you never know where the lyrics are going to take you because we have four people that are working on the albums and we all have our own stuff that we want captured within the album so we think it was a really great combination.
We think the songs we did on Megalomania are very much upstate in our universe but you never know. We may make another one that will be totally different again.
BV: You were away from the pop music scene for 11 years between the release of Aquarius in 2000 and the release of Megalomania in 2011. How did things get going again for the band? Who decided to get the crew back together?
RD: I think we all always needed music and we always loved making music together. It was actually Lene who started it all. She was watching a TV show with an anniversary for a very popular concert tour that we have been on about 3 times or something. They used Aqua as the main act in the commercial and she saw us from back then performing and she straight away got butterflies seeing us together and seeing us performing our songs. So, she called me and she called Clause and of course she didn’t have to call Søren because they live together. She asked if we wanted to tour again together. We all kind of said yes together, in unison, so it was good. The decision was pretty easy.
BV: Many of the pop acts that merged from the 90’s have since or not long after split up. What has kept Aqua together after all these years?
RD: I think that a lot of our fans are a big part of us getting back together and staying together. There is still a lot of nostalgia and demand for Aqua music.
BV: You have achieved such enormous success together over the last 2 decades including sales of over 30 million records and of course Barbie Girl being one of the biggest pop songs in music history. What’s the proudest moment for the band? Has there been an achievement that tops the rest?
RD: There have been so many moments. There are so many things in the journey of us being together that we are so thankful for. I wake up every day thinking how lucky I am to have gone on this journey.
BV: Thanks for your time René and we can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks!
RD: Are you gonna come?
BV: Oh definitely. We will be there for sure; we can’t wait for the show.
RD: We are like small kids in a candy shop – we just can’t wait to get on the plane and to get Down Under!
Aqua will be performing on the following dates as part of the bands Australian Greatest Hits tour:
Friday 31st October Eatons Hill, Brisbane
Saturday 1st November Enmore Theatre,
Sydney Sunday 2nd November HQ, Adelaide
Monday 3rd November Palais, Melbourne
Wednesday 5th November Metropolis, Fremantle