In the Sci-fi thriller film The Terminator, the heroine hid from the machine sent to kill her in a noisy Los Angeles dance club named Tech Noir (a name akin in Fench to „black technology„). The name of the club stuck in the minds of some Swedish musicians, who adopted it as the title of their synthesized pop group, the group that later became the internationally famous Ace of Base.
Tech Noir was formed in 1986-1987 and originally consisted of Johnny Lindén and Nicklas Tränk, along with Jonas Berggren. In need of some talented singers, they recrutied Jonas‘ sisters Jenny and Malin to provide the vocals. Nicklas left the group in 1989 to work in TV and 3-D animation. Johnny decided to concentrate on his career as a graphic designer. Around 1990-1991 when Ulf Ekberg began working with the group, the band changed Tech Noir’s name to Ace of Base. The reason was that people had problems to pronounce and spell the name and furthermore there was another band with that name.
Tech Noir’s music continues to appear on Ace of Base releases, and includes tracks like „Hear Me Calling“ and „Young And Proud“. „Walk Like A Man“ once slated for release on what was planned to be Tech Noir’s single „Hipnotize“ is less familiar. Before becoming Tech Noir, the band went under other names like Kallinin Prospect (name of a street in Moscow) and CAD (Computer Aided Disco). Still ealier, Jonas (age 17, 1984) played in a band named G Konrad, but parted company with the group when he wanted to play his own disco songs instead of covers.
The Ace Of Base story started in the early 90’s when the three Berggren siblings formed the technoband Tech Noir. Next to their rehearsal room, Ulf Ekberg played in another band. Soon, Jonas and Ulf hit it off, started to write and produce together and Ace Of Base as we know them were formed. After having recorded a demo of original songs, including „All That She Wants“, the band went to Stockholm where they visited all major record companies. No one showed any interest. (Jonas later remembered somebody explaining that the songs were „too obvious, too simple“). Next step was Copenhagen, where Mega Records immediately saw the band’s potential and loved their positive, uncomplicated and slightly reggae-tinged pop music.
During the production of their first album the band got to know Denniz Pop, an ex-DJ who had enjoyed international chart success as a writer and producer for Dr Alban. Denniz had listened to the demo of „All That She Wants“ in his car stereo every day going to work at Cheiron studios. Denniz got involved in Ace Of Base’s album that was the start for the international recognition of Cheiron and followed by successes like Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, N’Sync and Five.
Ace Of Base’s very first single was „Wheel Of Fortune“, followed by the major worldwide hit „All That She Wants“. „The Sign“ and „Don’t Turn Around“ also became international hits. The band first made it in Denmark, then the rest of Scandinavia, Germany, the rest of Europe and Asia before conquering the US and Canada.
In all, the debut album „Happy Nation/The Sign“ sold 23 million copies and remains in the Guinness book of records as the best-selling debut album ever. Achieving numerous of awards such as 6 World Music Awards, 3 Billboard Awards, 3 America Music Awards, several different European Grammy Awards and two American Grammy nominations! To mention a few!
On April 2 1994 both album and single „The Sign“ topped the Billboard Top 100 Charts simultaneously. „The Sign“ remains number 3 at the Billboard’s Greatest Hits chart (Top 100 Billboard 100th Anniversary August 4th 1958 – June 25 1994), only beaten by Whitney Houston’s „I Will Always Love You“ and Boy’z‘ 2 Men’s „End Of The Road“. When Billboard summed up the most sold albums of the 20th century, „Happy Nation“/“The Sign“ ended up top ten, being the most popular non-American album of all time… „One thing that was unique is that it was the same versions that were played at clubs/discotheques and by radio. No remixes or tailor-made versions“, Ulf remembers.
When beginning to write and record for the second album „The Bridge“, the pressure was on and everybody wanted to have their say. Everyone realized that the phenomenal success of the debut would be impossible to repeat. With the help of hit singles like „Lucky Love“, „Beautiful Life“ and „Never Gonna Say I’m Sorry“ and promotional trips around the world the album „The Bridge“ sold 5 million copies, a number most musicians only dream of. Ace Of Base had proved that they had come to stay. „We reached a level that we’re comfortable with. We’re a pop band and not an industry“, Jenny states. „After the extreme initial success we now have the time to enjoy what’s happened“.
Back in Sweden the band returned to the studio to write for the band’s third album „Flowers“/“Cruel Summer“). The first single was „Life Is A Flower“, which was an immediate success. It got an award for the most played song on European radio in 1998. The lyric was changed in America, where the song was called „Whenever You’re Near Me“. The Bananarama cover „Cruel Summer“ became the title track of the American album, the single reaching the American top ten. Other hits included „Travel To Romantis“ and „Always Have, Always Will“. Notable is the fact that three of the singles from „Flowers“ reached top ten in England, where the band have performed on the famous show Top Of the Pops an astonishing 18 times!
In the autumn of 1999 the greatest hits album „Singles Of The 90’s was released, including all the band’s worldwide hits and some new songs. „Every time It Rains“ had only been included on the „Cruel Summer album and was previously unreleased in Europe.
On 30th of September 2002 the band released the Album „Da Capo“. In 2008/09 they returned with a new version of „Wheel Of Fortune“ and the „Redefinded Tour“. Malin left the band. Jonas and Ulf released the album „The Golden Ratio“ with two new singers under the name ace.of.base.