Wednesday, February 9, 2000

Tal Bachman high on Abba

By DAVE VEITCH

Calgary Sun

Not too many "serious" musicians admit being influenced by Abba.

Tal Bachman, on the other hand, will gladly shout his love for the oft-ridiculed Swedish pop quartet from the highest mountain peak.

"If people do admit to liking them, it's always with some lame Gen-X irony," Bachman says disdainfully.

"It's the attitude of, 'I appreciate the kitsch.' But Abba has totally classic, timeless melodies."

Last year, Bachman -- who performs tonight at The Palace nightclub -- met one of the Bs in Abba, Benny Andersson, during a quick promotional visit to Stockholm.

"He didn't know who I was because my record was just getting released in Sweden at the time," he recollects.

"We actually talked about animals and stuff.... And this is great. He just put out a three-hour collection of digitally recorded bird calls of birds indigenous to Sweden.

"I said, 'Gee, I had a couple of canaries and my canary just died last week and I'm kind of upset.' I mean, what can I say to the guy?

"It was so great. I penetrated their world for one fleeting moment."

Bachman's own world has been a flurry of activity during the past year.

Headlining shows across North America, a sold-out European tour supporting Bryan Adams and several TV appearances all thanks to She's So High, the first single from his self-titled debut album, which reached the higher echelon of the charts around the world.

The dreamy innocence and charming self-consciousness of the lyric, matched with a catchy, hummable chorus made She's So High one of the most heavily rotated songs of 1999.

"Not to make too much of the song, but I remember that feeling of being unworthy of somebody who you thought was too talented or too good looking for you," says Bachman, the son of Guess Who/BTO singer-guitarist Randy Bachman.

"I don't think I'm the only one that's ever felt that way.

"I remember talking to the prettiest girl in my high school and feeling sort of tongue-tied because we never really talked to her. She sort of moved with the more polished crowd."

Was he tongue-tied when he shared the stage with a scantily-clad Britney Spears at the American Music Awards last month?

"Oh yeah, Britney," he says with a chuckle. "It was totally bizarre. Especially the outfit. I'm pretty conservative. It was like a weird dream.

"I was thinking that there were 50 million 13-year-old girls going, 'Who is that guy?' "