Magne appears on new Janove Ottesen album

Janove Ottesen and Magne in Bergen, May 2016.
Posted by Ottesen on Instagram.

Kaizers Orchestra vocalist Janove Ottesen released his second solo album Artisten & Marlene in Norway on 10 February.

According to a review of the album in newspaper Fædrelandsvennen (for subscribers only), Magne makes a guest appearance on one of the songs:

“[The song] ‘I Natt Blir Du Fri’ includes some very a-ha sounding synths, played by none other than Magne Furuholmen.”

The album was recorded at Duper Studio in Bergen last year.

Ottesen posted a picture of himself and Magne on Instagram last year, in connection with the a-ha concert in Bergen in May. He also attended Apparatjik’s Day of the Dead performance the following month.

The 15-track Artisten & Marlene album is available on CD, double vinyl and digitally.

In other news, Magne appeared at the Stockholm Furniture Fair on Friday, to present his new “Imprints” limited edition rug collection. See some pictures from the furniture fair here and here.

For more info on the rug collection, check out a new interview with Magne by Architectural Digest.

Songwriting session in Lillehammer

Morten with his trusted Everly Brothers guitar
(Picture by Peter Kvint on Facebook)

Morten and producer Peter Kvint have been spending some time at a mountain cabin in the Lillehammer area this week, working on new songs. Kvint has posted some pictures from their stay on Facebook.

“This week I’ve been on a cabin trip with Morten Harket in Lillehammer. We had fun and it turned out well!”, Kvint wrote.

Time will tell if the songs end up on Morten’s next solo album or if they will be used for a-ha.
“We’ll see”, Kvint said in the Facebook comments.

When asked by a fan if it’s hard to come up with new songs, Kvint said; “It’s quite easy, we just have to make sure to set time aside and choose the right environment.”

Paul interviewed in D2 magazine

The cover of D2, January 13th

The cover of D2, January 13th

Paul is on the cover of today’s issue of D2, which is the weekend magazine of financial newspaper Dagens Næringsliv. Inside there’s an extensive 12-page interview with him, in connection with Waaktaar & Zoe and today’s single release of “Tearful Girl”.

You can buy/stream “Tearful Girl” here and watch the new music video here. The video was directed by Jason Brandenberg, who previously did “Whalebone” and “Isotope” for Savoy.

The D2 interview touches upon the upcoming World of Trouble album, his life in New York, the status of a-ha and his thoughts on Donald Trump.

Waaktaar & Zoe is an exciting project for him, as it offers a chance to start afresh:

“I like to start from scratch. That’s a conscious choice I have taken many times, for instance when I incorporated Savoy into my last name. You get a lot of free energy – you clean your soul and empty your desk. One of the great things about Zoe is that she’s never recorded anything before. It’s like I’m hearing the music with her ears and rediscovering some of the enthusiasm and glow I had when I first started out.”

2017 will be a busy year for Paul, as he’s also got several other projects in the works:

“Now that my son is about to start college, my goal is to release two albums each year. In addition to [Waaktaar & Zoe], the new Savoy album has been mastered and will probably be released in September. I’m also mixing the second Bridges album from 1981. I think it sounds surprisingly vital. It was recorded on tape, so the sound is good, and it’s a very alright documentation of the transition into what would eventually become a-ha.”

From the interview in D2

From the interview in D2

Although he enjoyed last year’s Cast in Steel tour and is ready for the acoustic tour next year, Paul feels that a-ha is a bit “up shit creek” at the moment – especially when it comes to the chance of recording another studio album.

“We have been active for a very long time, maybe longer than any band should. I sometimes get the feeling we’re keeping it going on life support, that we have taken it too far. Our most successful days are behind us, and the dynamics and roles within the band no longer function like they used to. I guess we’ll just have to settle for doing a few gigs now and then.”

He goes on to say that the current a-ha concept contradicts his need for a fresh start: “We have done everything at least a 1000 times, and it all references something that’s been done before.”

“But I don’t think any less of the other guys’ talents now than when we started. So if it can result in good material, I’m willing to take the chance – despite the fact that I’m not too happy with a lot of our recent output. If we could manage to create just one more great song, that alone would be worth another ten mediocre songs. Yeah, that’s how it is: “If we could just get one more!”.

With only days to go before Donald Trump takes office and uncertain times ahead, Paul hopes that people will take to the streets and protest:

“The next four years are bound to be different, but I choose to be an optimist about it. I hope we’ll get to experience some of the same uprising, the same demonstration- and protest culture that characterized the 1970s. Everything can’t all be reality-TV, can’t all be business, can’t all be for sale. Trump is a caricature of everything that’s horribly wrong [in society], so if those same protest feelings aren’t awoken during his term, I fear they are gone for good.”

The closing song on World of Trouble is called “The Sequoia Has Fallen” and is a song title Paul first came up with while on his honeymoon at Redwood National Park in California in late 1991. Originally conceived during the era of George Bush Sr. and the Gulf War, the song was picked up again for this album as Paul felt it resonated with the times we are currently living in. (Incidentally, a fallen Sequoia was in the news this week).

“I always have a lot of songs that I’m playing around with. Sooner or later they find their place”, he says.

These were just a few quotes from the extensive D2 interview. In addition to the print edition, the whole interview is also available online at dn.no.

a-ha announce acoustic tour/album/DVD

Picture from Rock in Rio 2015, taken by Just Loomis

Picture from Rock in Rio 2015, taken by Just Loomis

a-ha will be going on the road again in 2017 and 2018, this time in an acoustic setting, starting with four performances in June next year. The press release announcing “An acoustic evening with a-ha” was posted on the official site today:

a-ha will make a live acoustic album and concert film from a series of intimate performances to take place between June 26 – June 30, 2017.

The album, DVD and broadcast are scheduled for release in November 2017.

In early 2018, a-ha will take this special acoustic set on the road, giving the fans a new way to experience the music they love. Magne, Morten and Paul will be joined by a handpicked ensemble of musicians to embellish and reinvent the classics, as well as present new material in acoustic arrangements.

Morten is excited about the possibilities: “The band is finally coming together for live acoustic recordings of a wide selection of our songs! As we speak, there is palpable growing excitement about this in the group. We had wonderful moments with the fans during our last tour, and as a fourth member of the band you certainly have had an influence on our commitment to this. I really look forward to it all!”

Whereas the concerts on the 2018 tour will be held in large indoor arenas, the four performances in June 2017 will be for a very limited audience of only 300 people at each show. These are likely to be held in Norway, but the exact location is yet to be determined, a-ha manager Harald Wiik tells the Norwegian press.

So far, 10 concerts in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have been confirmed for January/February 2018, with more dates to be announced later:

23 January: Schleyerhalle, Stuttgart, Germany
24 January: Festhalle, Frankfurt, Germany
26 January: TUI Arena, Hannover, Germany
27 January: Leipzig Arena, Leipzig, Germany
29 January: Mercedes Benz Arena, Berlin, Germany
30 January: Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg, Germany
02 February: Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria
03 February: Olympiahalle, Munich, Germany
05 February: Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland
06 February: Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany

Read the full announcement on a-ha.com for more details and ticket info.

Norwegian articles:
VG: a-ha med ny plate, film og turné
Dagbladet: A-ha annonserer akustisk turné
Side 2: a-ha slipper ny plate

Pre-order ‘Lackluster Me’ reissue

“An astonishing masterpiece: dangerously catchy and unpredictably intellectual in its gloomy, monumental beauty” (Stavanger Aftenblad, October 1997)

The title font and band logo on the reissue cover differs slightly from the original cover.

The title font and band logo on the reissue cover differs slightly from the original cover.

Savoy’s second studio album Lackluster Me is regarded by many as the band’s finest album to date, and was hailed by critics when it was released in 1997.

The new reissue of the long out-of-print album will be released by Apollon Records in a few weeks time, and is now available for pre-order from:

savoyaha.bandcamp.com
karismarecords.bigcartel.com (Vinyl/T-shirt bundle)
karismarecords.bigcartel.com (CD/T-shirt bundle)

This is the first time the album is released on vinyl, as a limited edition of 1000 copies.
The CD reissue (jewelcase) will also be 1000 copies only.

The vinyl will apparently also include the CD, but it’s unclear if this is the same regular CD in jewelcase or without a cover.

It seems there won’t be any bonus tracks or other added material, but a Lackluster Me T-shirt (edition of 100) can also be purchased, either alone or as a bundle with the vinyl or CD.

Apollon Records plans to reissue all the Savoy studio albums, but Lackluster Me is released first, as Warner Brothers has been slow to greenlight the reissue of Mary Is Coming (1996).

Paul interviewed on BBC Radio

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Paul was a guest on Richard Green’s retro show on BBC Radio Devon last Saturday, 15 October, in connection with his Waaktaar & Zoe project.

The full interview can be heard on bbc.co.uk (starts at 23:30 minutes).

Below are a few quotes from the conversation:

On Waaktaar & Zoe:
“This project has been going for maybe 3-4 years. […] It sort of started with a few songs, and from the very first session I really just loved her voice and that super rich mid-range. She was also very good at just zoning into the mood of the song, which I’m super sensitive to. I could see for every take we did, she would get closer and closer to where she needed to be. For me that was such a kick as a songwriter, because a lot of the times you have to make that up in the arrangement.”

On plans for Waaktaar & Zoe in 2017:
“[The album] is ready to go, so now we’re just trying to figure out how to present it. We’re gonna be concentrating a lot on videos and stuff, and I would love to do festivals next summer. Zoe can really deliver on a stage and I would love to do a bunch of shows.”

On plans for Savoy:
“We’re gonna be reissuing all the old stuff over the next few months, and then I’ll actually finish the mix on the new [Savoy] album this week, with Steve Osborne. So I’m super excited about that too. So that will be coming out, maybe summertime next year.”

On a-ha’s future:
“With a-ha, it’s the three of us always going in three different directions. I would love to make a new album, so I’m pushing for that. But, you know, there’s other plans, there’s maybe an unplugged album in the making…we don’t know. We haven’t said goodbye, so I know there’s gonna be more. So we’ll just have to see where it ends up.”

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