a-ha will release a brand new studio album called Cast In Steel on 4 September 2015.
They will also do an international tour next year, in support of the album.
This was announced at a press conference at the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin today, which was streamed live on several Norwegian news sites.
After a photo session, Morten, Magne and Paul sat down with writer Tom Bromley to discuss the new album. Bromley started by quoting some lyrics from one of the new songs called “Open Face”: “It’s been some time since we’ve spoken / guess you’re wondering how I’ve been”.
“The songs I’ve heard so far are fantastic”, Bromley said of the new material.
Paul: “There are so many ways to make music now, you can make a very professional product on just a computer or whatever. For me it was very important to step away from that and make everything handmade. There is nothing on this album that is from a drum library or a preset, everything is made from scratch.”
Some of the work on Cast In Steel so far has involved an old collaborator from the 80s, British producer Alan Tarney:
Paul: “He did the first three albums. I just always felt that he really understood our thing, you know. We did a show at Royal Albert Hall and I invited him for that. He sat next to my parents and said: ‘I’m the one they used to quarrell with in the 80s’. He knows us from before we were us. So it’s kinda cool to go back to him. You can set back the time and make it a little more naive again. It’s all about just the song, how that chorus hits and how Morten sounds in it. He’s got a lot of knowledge about music. He’s just got that no-nonsense feel that I like and respect a lot. So it’s been great to be in contact with him again, and I hope he can be a part of this album.”
Magne: “It may be worth interjecting that Paul is the one who’s been working with Alan. We’ve worked in very different ways, which is not something that’s new to us. We have made quite a few albums like this, where we are based in different places, working on our own material – but with a-ha as the overriding factor. I think the main difference now is that Morten, through his work over the last few years, has found a center for his creativity – mainly in Stockholm, I would say. So we’ve had three camps shaping an album, where the left hand hasn’t really known what the right hand has been doing – which isn’t new, but has been embraced slightly different this time. I think there are colours and differences on this album that may not necessarily fall into that warm, handmade version. I certainly have to own up to using some presets and drum machines on this one! But I think to a certain degree, it’s the type of album we can make at this point. Part of the reality is that we live very different and separate lives. But a-ha is a legacy that we have together, it’s a common fate. And we can run as far away from it as we want to, but it’s always there. Every day you’re reminded of it.”
Morten: “As you may understand, the album, Cast In Steel, is being molded today – as we speak. We don’t know exactly how it’s going to turn out either. There’s a lot of songs to look into, and productions and directions to sort of taste your way through. So it’s very much still in the mold. But it’s also taking shape. We know very well what we’re sitting on, but we’re curious where it’s going to land.”
Morten: “To walk on stage at Rock in Rio and not do anything new, feels very wrong. It doesn’t mean that we’ll use it as a stage to present a lot of new material. But not to have anything that is *now*, feels just wrong.”
In addition to Rock in Rio, a-ha will also be embarking on an international tour next year, in support of the new album.
Paul: “I’m really hoping we can introduce a lot of the new stuff into the set. We have released maybe 30 singles, but we have to carve space for the new stuff as well.”
Fifteen tour dates in Germany, Austria and Swizerland in April 2016 were announced today, with pre-sales starting this Friday. But the band will be touring South America before that, according to Paul.
The whole press conference can be viewed again at tv2.no.
And read the full press release about the comeback on the re-designed a-ha.com.