Wednesday, March 25, 2015

a-ha! The Band is Back Together

Here's an unexpected bright spot in an otherwise difficult March! 

I'm so excited!

From the press release at
"The new album, Cast In Steel, will be the band’s tenth studio album, and the first new music by the group since the critical and commercial success of 2009’s Foot of the Mountain. Cast In Steel will be released on 4th September 2015, three weeks before the band return to play the Rock in Rio music festival in Brazil, and thirty years since their debut single, Take on Me, reached number one around the world."

"When a-ha played the Oslo Spektrum in December 2010 to close the ‘Ending on A High Note – Farewell Tour’, it felt a definitive full-stop on the band’s activities. As Morten Harket says, ‘it has been a genuine and real disbanding. There has been no a-ha in the sense of the word during that time.’ For Morten, Paul Waaktaar and Magne Furuholmen, the five-year break has allowed them to explore a rich seam of various creative projects, both musical and artistic.

The return came about in a simple, organic way, as Paul explains: ‘it started off very easy and low-key with Morten dropping by my studio at various occasions, and I would show him songs that I was working on. He would sing on the songs he felt a connection with and leave the ones that didn’t and it just went like that until we had done 10 or 12 songs.’

The lack of pressure and deadlines was definitely a bonus, and reminded Paul of when the band first started out: ‘The beauty of it was that we could do this totally under the radar; there were no deals in place, no contracts, tours planned or deadlines looming … just our shadow endeavours. It was back to exactly how we started in my parents cabin way back when in the 80s. Some instruments, a song, a voice.’

This nod to the band’s early years wasn’t the only one during the recording process. Paul also got back in touch with Alan Tarney, the producer who worked on a-ha’s first three albums, Hunting High and Low, Scoundrel Days and Stay on These Roads: ‘I made contact with Alan to get his input at a stage where I felt an outside opinion would be valuable. I always had tons of respect for his musicality and know-how and thought it would be a cool thing to get him involved now that we’re starting up again.’

For Magne, the last five years has seen him focusing on both his visual art passion and a myriad of musical projects. But even so, the band were never far away from his thoughts: ‘Writing and recording for a-ha is obviously a big part of my creative DNA, and every once in a while a song would come along that I felt could have been perfect for a-ha. Once I decided to do this, I was surprised to see how much I enjoyed shaping it with a-ha in mind.’

That sense of enjoyment and belief in the new material is clear from all three members: ‘The making of our album has so far been such an uplifting experience,’ says Paul; ‘It is a really unexpected pleasure to be writing songs for Morten’s voice again,’ says Magne. ‘I knew sitting down with Paul and Magne,’ Morten says, ‘that this would be a real genuine effort. We have never been ones to look back so you can take for granted all three of us are doing this because we know we can create something new. The songs have to be good: the benchmark is always the same.’

As Foot on the Mountain showed, a-ha are a different beast to the vast majority of their contemporaries – still at the peak of their songwriting powers, rather than living off past glories. Cast in Steel picks up where their last studio album left off – this is the sound of band relaxed and refreshed, at ease with themselves and ready to take on the world once more.


Morten makes it clear that ‘we are not getting back to stay together. We’ve agreed to come back for a set period: one album, one tour. It’s a great opportunity and allows us to write another chapter.’

Yet whatever these talented individuals do next, either together or alone, the achievements of their extraordinary thirty-year career are difficult to ignore: ‘No matter how far or fast we try to run,’ Magne admits, ‘the a-ha legacy is always there. I think it is a sign of mental health to wrestle with your own legacy, but perhaps also not bad to embrace it sometimes.’

Over the next twelve months, with anniversary concerts, a new album, reissued material and international tour dates, both band and fans will have the opportunity to embrace the remarkable music of a-ha once again."

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