Archive for 2017

New a-ha world tour in 2018

Photo by Just Loomis

According to a-ha manager Harald Wiik, the band will be embarking on a new world tour in June 2018 – and this time fully electric. There will be 30-40 concerts in total.

“We’ll start in England in June and continue through Europe, before going to the USA and South America”, he tells VG today.

This may perhaps indicate plans to release a new studio album sometime in the spring/early summer next year?

The first date to be announced is Kongsberg Jazz Festival in Norway on 6 July next year, where a-ha will headline. The concert will be held at Kirketorget (Church Square), with a capacity of 12,000 people.

“Kongsberg will be fun because that’s where Morten is from. It’s also a very cool festival. They’ve kept it going for a long time and created something very special”.

Morten actually attended the Kongsberg Jazz Festival on Wednesday this week, to check out the area and hear current a-ha backing band member Morten Qvenild perform his commissioned piece “Area 51”. The local newspaper Laagendalsposten has posted a picture of him here.

Tickets for the Kongsberg concert go on sale tomorrow through Ticketmaster.

There will probably be two additional concerts in Norway as well, but Kongsberg will be the only one in the eastern part of the country.

“Laundromat” single release

Single cover

In the midst of everything going on with a-ha at Giske recently, Drabant Music released “Laundromat” as the fourth single off Waaktaar & Zoe’s World of Trouble album on 16 June. Available on iTunes, Spotify etc.

“Laundromat easily stands out as the best track on the album”, Norwegian music site Gaffa said in its review of World of Trouble earlier this year. “It is cheeky and sexy, and takes unexpected turns in its buildup.”

As with the previous three singles, “Laundromat” is also accompanied by a music video, which was released on 20 June and directed by Jason Brandenberg and Lauren Savoy.

This is the first video Lauren has done for the Waaktaar & Zoe project, while Jason Brandenberg also directed the video for “Tearful Girl”.

Drabant Music press release

MTV Unplugged – second night

According to fans who attended the second MTV Unplugged concert at Giske on Friday, it was even better and more relaxed than the first night. It was also longer; around 2,5 hours in total. This was partly because they played several songs multiple times. “Hunting High and Low” was played three times, while “The Living Daylights” and “Take On Me” were played twice.

Ingrid Helene Håvik was the only special guest on Friday, joining a-ha on “The Sun Always Shines on TV”. Lissie and Ian McCulloch both had other commitments, but a-ha still played “The Killing Moon” without McCulloch. Alison Moyet also did not appear on stage, as she had already recorded her duet with the band earlier in the day – a version of “Summer Moved On”.

Apparently some of the video screens behind the band malfunctioned on Friday night, but hopefully this will be possible to fix in the editing process, when footage from both nights (plus Alison’s Moyet performance) will be combined into the final version for MTV broadcast and Blu-ray/DVD.

On Saturday a-ha were back at Giske to do a photo shoot for the album cover with Just Loomis, who has been documenting the MTV Unplugged recording. Norwegian director Thomas Robsahm and his crew have also been at Giske, shooting material for the upcoming documentary film about a-ha, which is expected to premiere in 2019.

Video: a-ha walking on stage second night     Alison Moyet and a-ha
A shot from the editing room     a-ha and Lars Horntveth
Ian McCulloch at Giske     Morten and the catering team
a-ha.com: Day 1     a-ha.com: Day 2     Bypatrioten: En a-ha opplevelse

Interview with a-ha at Giske

a-ha on stage at Giske this week.
Picture by Monica Strømdahl for Aftenposten.

Aftenposten has published a big article (subscribers only) about the MTV Unplugged concerts at Giske. Here’s a small summary.

The main focus of the story is how good this process has been for the band, and how they decided to stick together against a “common enemy” – producer Lars Horntveth.

“We have ended up joining forces in a weird way, in a battle against our “common enemy” Lars. Suddenly we’re a band again, suddenly we understand why we’re together, and we’re in agreement like never before. We’re usually always in disagreement, and that’s kinda how it’s supposed to be, but not this time. It’s almost touching”, Morten tells Aftenposten.

“Working with the three of them has been enjoyable and fun and very frustrating. I have been utterly pissed off at times, and so have they. After all, they’re not used to a stubborn bastard like me interfering like this, but it’s been very healthy. Deep down I think they like it, even if they have hated me at times”, Lars Horntveth says.

Paul, who suggested Horntveth as producer, is also very pleased with the process:

“It’s been incredibly inspiring just to sit in the same room and test out ideas on the fly. That’s when you see how much we’re capable of together. When outside elements are introduced, we immediately know when things feel right, and when things don’t work or doesn’t suit us.”

Magne joins in on the praise:

“This has been similar to how we used to work in the 80s, when we lived in the studio, in search of cool stuff. One is pushing things forward, one is holding back, while one is focused on himself. That’s been an important three-headed thing for a-ha, but this current process has given us an incredible team spirit and a creative exchange that we haven’t had in many years.”

Deciding where the MTV Unplugged recording would take place was not an easy task, a-ha manager Harald Wiik says:

“I wanted to build up a whole TV-studio near London, but the band didn’t want that. They wanted to go to the Amazon or the Brazilian city of Belém, but that proved to be too difficult. Then Magne figured we could do something “Norwegian”, inside a stave church, but it would be too small [for such a production]. Morten suggested we solve it by simply using the mannequins from the “The Sun Always Shines on TV”-video as our audience. Finally we ended up here at Giske, which is a completely unique place.”

The article also mentions plans for more a-ha concerts to be added next summer.

As for what this experience could mean for future a-ha collaborations, Paul says:

“Who knows. We’re still like planets spinning around each other, but right now we’re in the same orbit. I can’t remember the last time we had such a natural and easy way of working together.”

Setlist details from MTV Unplugged concert

Picture from MTV Germany on Instagram

a-ha played the first of two MTV Unplugged concerts at Øygardshallen (Giske Harbour Hall) on the island of Giske last night, in front of an audience of around 250 people. Here’s a picture of the band arriving.

The 21-song set included two new a-ha songs; “This is Our Home” (written by Magne) and “Break in the Clouds” (written by Paul), three songs that have rarely been played live; “This Alone is Love”, “Over the Treetops” and “Memorial Beach”, and surprisingly – one song from the Bridges album Fakkeltog (1980); “The Vacant” (jokingly renamed “Sox of the Fox”), but with Morten on vocals instead of Paul.

Additionally, they did a cover version of Echo & The Bunnymen’s 1984 hit “The Killing Moon” with special guest Ian McCulloch, who also joined them on “Scoundrel Days”. American singer Lissie Maurus guested on “I’ve Been Losing You”, while Norway’s own Ingrid Helene Håvik from Highasakite did the same on “The Sun Always Shines on TV”. Alison Moyet was not among the special guests last night, but she will join them on stage on Friday instead.

Mobile phones and other recording eqipment was strictly forbidden inside the venue, so we’ll have to wait for the live CD/DVD/Blu-ray release in October to hear what it sounded like. However, one of the fans attending posted a picture of the stage setlist on Instagram:

1. This is Our Home (New song by Magne)
2. Lifelines
3. I’ve Been Losing You (w/Lissie)
4. Analogue
5. The Sun Always Shines on TV (w/Ingrid Helene Håvik)
6. Break in the Clouds (New song by Paul)
7. Foot of the Mountain
8. Stay on These Roads
9. This Alone is Love
10. Over the Treetops
11. Forever Not Yours
12. Sox of the Fox (aka “The Vacant” by Bridges)
13. Scoundrel Days (w/Ian McCulloch)
14. The Killing Moon (Echo & The Bunnymen cover w/Ian McCulloch)
15. Summer Moved On
16. Memorial Beach
17. Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale
18. Manhattan Skyline
19. The Living Daylights
20. Hunting High and Low
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
21. Take on Me

Also, in keeping with the MTV theme, next year’s tour now seems to have been officially renamed from “An acoustic evening with a-ha” to “a-ha MTV Unplugged Tour 2018”. See a-ha.com tour page.

New book about Paul coming this fall

Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and author Ørjan Nilsson
(Photo by Ivar Kvaal)

October 2017 will see the release of the first book focused on Paul Waaktaar-Savoy’s music, life and career.

The book is called Tårer fra en stein (Tears from a stone) and has been written by Norwegian journalist Ørjan Nilsson, based on extensive interview sessions with Paul in New York, Berlin, Hamburg and Oslo over the last two years.

“I have listened to a-ha all my life, and I have long wanted to take a deeper look at Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, a man who usually doesn’t say too much”, Nilsson tells Dagsavisen.

“It took some time before he opened up, but he hasn’t held back on anything. He has answered any questions and talked about everything from religion, family and adolescence, to the inner conflicts in a-ha and his problems with social anxiety.”

According to a press release about the book, Paul opens up about “his work, mindset and music. About art, film and literature. About his adolescence in suburban Oslo in the 60s and 70s, his life in America over nearly 30 years, his successes and failures. About a-ha, Savoy and Bridges. About giant crowds in arenas and stadiums, about concerts in front of 50 people. About politics, The Doors and Gunvor Hofmo. About his wife Lauren. About Morten and Magne.”

Tårer fra en stein will be published by Falck Forlag, which has previously published books about Hunting High and Low and Scoundrel Days in its series of books about the 100 best Norwegian albums of all time. As part of the same series, Nilsson wrote a book about the Kings of Convenience album Quiet Is the New Loud in 2014.

Giske concerts to be part of MTV Unplugged

Universal Music Norway issued a press release today, confirming that a-ha’s acoustic concerts at Giske next week will be filmed and recorded as part of the long-running MTV Unplugged series.

The setlist will include hit songs, rarely-played album tracks, two brand new a-ha songs and a few cover versions.

A number of special guests will also join a-ha on stage; Alison Moyet, Ian McCulloch (Echo & The Bunnymen), Ingrid Håvik (Highasakite) and Lissie.

The concert will be broadcast on MTV this fall, and released on CD and DVD on 13 October.

After working on the acoustic set in Oslo since late March, rehearsals resumed at the Ocean Sound Recordings studio at Giske on 10 June. Check out the Instagram accounts of Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Lars Horntveth and Madeleine Ossum for exclusive pictures from the process.

And here’s a picture of Morten and violinist Madeleine Ossum at Giske on Monday, apparently.

a-ha to perform at Giske in June

a-ha performing for a small studio audience, September 2015

a-ha recently announced they will be playing two acoustic concerts at Øygardshallen on the island of Giske, Norway on 22 and 23 June, which will result in a live album and DVD to be released later this year.

Even though the ticket price was 4000 kr (£361) for one concert, or 6000 kr (£541) for both concerts, all 500 tickets were sold out within 30 minutes when the sale started yesterday. The vast majority of tickets were sold to fans outside of Norway.

“In total there were around 250 tickets available for each concert. Additionally the band has reserved a number of tickets for friends and family”, Terje Erstad at Ocean Sound Recordings told Sunnmørsposten on Monday.

“I totally understand that 4000 may seem a lot for one ticket, but there is a very high cost per person when you’re doing a big production like this for such a small group of people”, a-ha manager Harald Wiik explained to NRK.

a-ha will be joined by the following musicians for the Giske concerts: Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Even Ormestad, Morten Qvenild, Lars Horntveth, Tove Margrete Erikstad, Madeleine Ossum and Emilie Heldal Lidsheim.

Originally the plan was to do four concerts between 26 June – 30 June, but as Jaga Jazzist will be embarking on a US tour on 25 June, that wouldn’t work. Both Even Ormestad and Lars Horntveth are members of Jaga Jazzist.

‘Mountains of Time’ to be reissued in July

The new Mountains of Time album cover

Savoy’s third and most successfull album Mountains of Time from 1999 is set to be reissued by Apollon Records on 14 July, the label announced on its Facebook page today. The reissue will be available on CD, vinyl and digitally. There will also be limited edition T-shirts.

Update: pre-orders can now be made at the Savoy bandcamp page.

The Mountains of Time reissue was originally slated for release in May this year, with Reasons To Stay Indoors to follow in July, but both of them seem to have been pushed back a few months.

While the cover of last year’s Lackluster Me reissue was mostly similar to the original, this new reissue of Mountains of Time will feature a brand new cover. The cover image seems to interpret the album title quite literally, showing both mountains and an hourglass.

For more info on Savoy and Paul’s other side projects over the years, check out a new and detailed article written by Barry Page for The Electricity Club.

“Open Face” single release

“Open Face” single cover

“Open Face”, the third single from Waaktaar & Zoe’s World of Trouble album, was released on 7 April and can be purchased/streamed here.

A music video for the song, directed by Jenny Woods, premiered exclusively on the French Rolling Stone website today and can also be seen on YouTube.

For more in-depth info on Waaktaar & Zoe, check out the extensive interview Paul did with the Super Deluxe Edition website last month.

As for possible Waaktaar & Zoe live dates, Paul says in the interview there’s still a chance it might happen:

“I would love to because she has a really powerful voice. I’m just trying to figure out how it could be done. I’m toying with the idea of doing a double show, where Savoy can do one half and Zoe can do the other half… stuff like that, to make it workable for me, as well. (…) The original idea was to do some festivals first, in the summer, but it got a little bit tight with the unplugged thing with a-ha, so we’ll see. Once we get to the end of the summer, the fall period is fairly open for me, so I’m hoping that would be a good place to do some gigs.”

Oslo Spektrum shows announced for 2018

a-ha.com has announced two additional dates on the 2018 acoustic tour:

We are excited to share the news that a-ha will perform their acoustic set over two evenings at the Oslo Spektrum on February 9 & 10, 2018!

We’re told these shows will be the band’s only Norwegian shows on the acoustic tour, so don’t miss your chance to see a-ha perform these special arrangements live in their home town!

Ticket Sales
Fan pre-sale – March 30 at 9am CET
Regular on-sale – March 31 at 9am CET

Still no word on where the four concerts this June will be held, but all three band members have been rehearsing at Lars Horntveth’s Pooka Studio in Oslo over the last week. a-ha.com promises videos and photos from the studio to be posted in the coming days.

One picture posted by Horntveth on Instagram on Thursday shows (left to right) Even Ormestad, Paul, Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Magne and Morten Qvenild working on the acoustic set.

Update 30 March: A concert at the O2 Arena in London on 14 February 2018 has also been announced, with tickets going on sale 7 April. This will be the only UK date on the acoustic tour.

‘The Voice’ taping dates announced

“There’s a lot of undiscovered talent out there – this could be interesting!”, Morten said last month

Last month it was revealed that Morten will be one of the mentors on the fourth season of The Voice in Norway, following in the footsteps of Magne, who lead his team and Martin Halla to victory in the show’s first season back in 2012.

Morten will be joined by Lene Marlin, Yosef Wolde-Mariam (Madcon) and Martin Danielle (CLMD) as mentors this year.

The taping dates for the initial blind auditions have now been announced. Eight episodes will be recorded at H3 Arena in Oslo in late April, across four dates:

21 April (16:00)
21 April (19:00)
25 April (16:00)
25 April (19:00)
27 April (16:00)
27 April (19:00)
29 April (16:00)
29 April (19:00)

Tickets are free, and available at shortaudition.com now. Needless to say, this is primarily for people who live in the Oslo area. The show will start airing on TV2 this autumn, probably sometime in August or September.

Update 10 April: Additional taping dates have been announced on a-ha.com:

Battle rounds:
22 May (16:15)
22 May (19:00)
24 May (16:15)
24 May (19:00)

Knockout rounds:
1 June (16:00)
1 June (19:00)
2 June (16:00)
2 June (19:00)

“Texture” opening in Bodø

“It’s great to be back in Bodø”, Magne told NRK

Magne was in Bodø last Thursday, March 9th, for the opening of another exhibition of his Texture collaboration with HM Queen Sonja. This is the fifth out of six planned Texture exhibitions in Norway and the UK.

“It’s fun for me to see this exhibition [in Bodø], as it includes some works that haven’t been shown before. Particularly the monotypes, unique prints that we have made together with double signatures, are quite special”, Magne told the audience at the opening in Bodø Kunstforening.

“Some of these works were made in New York, some at my atelier in Asker, some at the Queen’s atelier at Mågerø, some in Helsingborg and some were made in Copenhagen.”

A gallery of pictures from the opening has been posted on Bodø Kunstforening’s Facebook page, along with two video clips of Magne speaking (Video 1 / Video 2).

Press reports from the opening include an article at bodonu.no and a short clip on NRK Nordland‘s local TV news.

The following day Magne made a visit to Kjerringøy near Bodø.

The final stop on the Texture exhibition tour is at Gulden Kunstverk in Steinberg, where it opens on 29 April.

———————

Sadly, this weekend also brought news that the poet Henning Kramer Dahl passed away on 7 March from heart failure, at the age of 54. He was part of a-ha’s inner circle and knew the band members from early on.

In 1986 Kramer Dahl wrote the book Så Blåser Det På Jorden together with Håkon Harket, which chronicled the beginnings of Bridges and a-ha in the late 70s and early 80s. He would later collaborate with Magne on a number of projects, including Blåtoneboulevardene (1997), Stjerneskutt (2004) and In Transit (2013).

He also co-wrote the song “East-Timor” for Morten’s Wild Seed album in 1995.

Magne, Håkon Harket, Lasse Kolsrud and Fredrik Skavlan have written an obituary about Kramer Dahl in Aftenposten. “We have lost a very special person, an important presence in our lives, and the world has lost a distinctive poetic voice and an extraordinary intellect”, they write in the obituary.

Jason Lytle of Grandaddy praises a-ha

Jason Lytle
(Photo by Ryan Smith)

Jason Lytle of critically acclaimed indie band Grandaddy has recently been promoting the band’s latest album Last Place, released on Danger Mouse’s label 30th Century Records. During the interviews he’s been quite vocal about his admiration of a-ha, and in particular the Cast In Steel album.

In an episode of the podcast Fidelity High posted last week, where musicians talk about albums they love, Lytle picked Cast In Steel.

“Believe me, I felt the pressure to take the Beatles or Rolling Stones or The Who or The Kinks- route. And there’s a lot of modern records I really like, that could have made the list. But I always feel compelled to mention a-ha, because they have been a favorite band of mine for a long time”, Lytle says in the podcast.

The California musician, who has also released several solo albums, is intrigued by the a-ha members’ ability to keep writing good songs:

“The fact that they can make a record this far into being a-ha, and have it still be of such high quality, is really intriguing to me”, he says.

Lytle produced the Band of Horses album Why Are You OK last year, and says he’s especially impressed by the production on a-ha’s later albums:

“Paul Waaktaar, who is one of the chief songwriters and handles a lot of their production, he’s pretty good at enhancing moments and just cranking up the drama level in certain key moments, when it needs to be. And Morten Harket, who is their lead singer, he has a freakin’ amazing voice. They write the songs perfectly to suit his voice, so that helps.”

The Grandaddy frontman picks “Under The Makeup” as the featured song in the podcast, and says he’s definitely inspired by a-ha’s music:

“There’s something soaring, it just glides and it soars. I like music that I can get easily lost in, and they seem to hit a lot of moments like that. And I get inspired by that, definitely.”

Here are links to some other recent interviews where Lytle mentions a-ha:
loudandquiet.com    diymag.com    vice.com    telerama.fr

Paul interviewed in Musikkpraksis

Cover of Musikkpraksis, #1/2017

Paul is on the cover of the latest issue of Norwegian music magazine Musikkpraksis. Inside there’s a 10-page report from Paul’s home studio in Brooklyn, where he recorded the newly released Waaktaar & Zoe album.

“When you hear her sing, she sounds like she could be 20, 30 or 40 [years old]. I find that really cool”, Paul says of Zoe Gnecco.

“I tend to write songs based on where I’m at in my own life. When I get someone else to interpret them, who’s in a totally different place, it does something to the songs. You feel like you’re hearing them from two different angles. Something that means one thing from my viewpoint, means something else from hers.”

He is also pleased with the World of Trouble mixing process, which was done with Steve Osborne.

“The good thing about Steve is that I can give him a bit more than he needs. Whereas many others want to include absolutely everything in the mix, Steve isn’t afraid to remove things. He knows what might potentially hinder the melody, and what might strengthen or weaken the groove.”

Among other things, the interview also covers Paul’s current preferences when it comes to microphones, amps and guitars. As for future releases, there is a lot of material from the last few years that’s just waiting to be heard.

“I have a lot of songs ready, and it’s only now that I’m starting to release things. But I can’t just release everything all at once, that would be too much. I need to release [Waaktaar & Zoe], then Savoy, and then the next one.”

From Musikkpraksis, #1/2017

A few more translated quotes from the interview have been posted on a-ha.com.

The magazine is now available in selected Narvesen stores across Norway. The price is 149 kr (£14).

Magne interviewed in Krigsropet

Cover of Krigsropet, #9/2017

Magne is on the cover of this week’s issue of Krigsropet, which is the Salvation Army’s magazine in Norway. Inside there’s a 6-page interview with him about his Imprints sculpture park at Fornebu near Oslo, which opened in June last year.

(Update: The full interview is now also available online.)

The park is comprised of around 50 ceramic elements, including the world’s biggest jars, with many of them incorporating Magne’s own poetry.

“Using those poems is somewhat risky, as they are of a personal, private character. In my way of writing there’s an inherent melancholy. That’s the case with a-ha as well. We look at melancholy as a force, a longing, something that liberates you from something heavy”, Magne tells Krigsropet.

The interviewer mentions how people have pointed out that his writings are often influenced by religion and theology.

“Wondering and searching for meaning is closely related to faith. Shifting between doubt and faith is a necessary principle to embody a message. I have done a lot of reading and I use things from my own upbringing and culture. As a visual artist I visit the churches in every city I go to, to get inspiration. There isn’t much difference between sitting in an atelier or a chapel, transported away from all outside noise. In concentration I find silence. The church room opens the door to contemplation, it creates a room for thought. But I’m more into asking the right questions than finding the right answers. Faith and doubt is something you’re always thinking about”, Magne says.

From Krigsropet, #9/2017

The interview also mentions that new features have been added to the sculpture park in recent months, in the form of clouds of steam that suddenly appear, to make the sculptures appear as living and breathing entities.

“This isn’t a park that shows itself off, instead it’s hiding. Sometimes we have to walk around and search for things. It’s a journey of discovery, and I hope it triggers a sense of wonder.”

As always, Magne is busy with a variety of different projects. In January he spent a week in Denmark with HM Queen Sonja, continuing their collaborative work on graphic prints. Their joint exhibition Texture will continue its tour at Bodø Kunstforening in Bodø (9 March – 2 April) and Gulden Kunstverk in Steinberg (29 April – 21 May).

And this summer he will hold a solo exhibition at Galleri G Guddal in Rosendal (1 July – 20 August).

‘World of Trouble’ now available

Album cover

Waaktaar & Zoe’s long-awaited World of Trouble album is released today by Drabant Music, and is now available digitally on Spotify, iTunes, Tidal etc. through this link.

If you prefer physical formats, the album is also available on CD, black vinyl, purple vinyl and blue vinyl. All formats can be ordered from Drabant Music (worldwide shipping).

In a review in Vårt Land’s paper edition, music critic Olav Solvang writes that Paul “delivers several rock solid applications for new pop classics” and that Zoe’s vocals “fit perfectly with Waaktaar’s quirky, and at times demanding, songs”. He feels that “Beautiful Burnout” is “a powerful pop song that should become an international hit” and that she sings it “with an impressive maturity and presence”.

Other Norwegian album reviews so far include Aftenposten (3/6), Dagsavisen (3/6), Gaffa (3/6) and VG (3/6).

Zoe was a guest on NRK P1’s Kveldsåpent last night. The radio interview can be heard at radio.nrk.no. There is also an interview with Paul in Dagsavisen today.

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.

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