Morten on the climate crisis: “We need to be shook so deep that we don’t dare to not act”

Morten Harket and Harald N. Røstvik in Stavanger, 16 November 2021

Morten visited the University of Stavanger on 16 November, to take part in the previously mentioned screening of The Sunshine Revolution and subsequent discussion together with Professor Harald N. Røstvik.

A video of the whole event is available to watch on YouTube.

The Sunshine Revolution (1991) focused on the enormous potential of solar energy, and how it could play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Although there’s been progress in the field since then, Røstvik pointed out that a lot more should have been done, but he’s still optimistic about the future.

Harald: “The sad thing really, watching this film thirty years on, is that we knew then [that] this could be done in a much more practical and better way than what we’ve done over the last thirty years. So we’ve lost a lot of time, that’s the sad thing. But I suppose that’s the process also. I must say though, I felt at the time I was on a loser’s team. Today I feel I’m on a winner’s team. I think there is a completely different attitude to these issues in the world. And anybody can sense the urgency, and the need to act and not just talk. And that’s the big difference from [back] then.”

Morten: “But not through enlightenment. It’s because we’re scared. That’s the main reason why the world is responding. And that’s what it takes, quite simply, because we knew everything that we’re concerned of today [thirty years ago]. And we were not the only ones, there were a lot of people already back then who were involved in the same issues. But that’s what it takes for us to respond. We need to be shook so deep that we don’t dare to not act. And that’s leaving it very late. And costly. And that’s just a fact.”

a-ha to play in Arendal

Another a-ha concert in Norway next summer was announced today:

18 June: Bryggebyen, Arendal, Norway

This will be an outdoor concert with a capacity of around 10,000 people.

Concert ad (Picture by Stian Andersen)

Both Morten and Magne have played solo concerts in Arendal in the past, but this will be the first a-ha concert in this southern coastal town, which has a population of 38,000.

“Arendal was chosen because both the city and the location where a-ha will play are very beautiful. Additionally, a-ha have never played there before, and I was met by a very professional and friendly group of organizers and financial supporters. It’s also exciting to do a concert in a city whith such strong growth and development as Arendal”, a-ha manager Harald Wiik told local newspaper Agderposten (paywall).

He added that this will be a Hunting High and Low-concert, but in a slightly modified version.

Tickets go on sale on 22 November at 9am via TicketCo. More info about the concert can be found at canalstreet.no.

Eddie Howe on being an a-ha fan: ‘I want other people to hear what I hear’

Eddie Howe

In connection with Eddie Howe being confirmed as the new manager of Newcastle United this week, author Greg Lansdowne has kindly offered to share an extended version of an interview he did with Howe for his 2016 book Living A Fan’s Adventure Tale – a-ha in the eyes of the beholders.

Howe is known to be a major a-ha fan, and has followed the band since the beginning in the mid-80s.

In the interview he talks about his admiration for the band – “The songwriting is incredible and the reason they are still making music now is because it is very interesting”, but also the challenges of being an a-ha fan – “The frustration for me is their music doesn’t have the credibility or recognition that it deserves.”

Read the full interview here: Tyne and again

Update on True North album

a-ha in Bodø, November 2021
(Photo by Lasse Jangås – see more of his photos here)

After several days of rehearsals, it seems the main recording session for the True North album together with the Arctic Philharmonic orchestra took place in Bodø on November 4th and 5th.

Karl Oluf Wennerberg posted a Facebook picture together with drummer colleague Per Hillestad on Friday night, saying:
“The a-ha album recording is now finished. We have both participated as best we can 🙂 Per Hillestad, you’re a great guy in every way. Thanks for the company. Hoping the world will embrace the upcoming album/concert film.”

Another picture posted by Karl Oluf reveals that one of the songs on True North is indeed Magne’s “You Have What It Takes”, while Paul posted a video clip from rehearsals that included the hashtag “#makemeunderstand” – which may also be a song title.

A series of pictures from the True North sessions taken by Lasse Jangås, head of communications for Arctic Philharmonic, was posted on Facebook. One of them includes a glimpse of a list of the 12 songs on the album. Although it’s hard to make out what it says, in addition to “You Have What It Takes” it seems to include Magne’s songs “I’m In”, “Between the Halo and the Horn” and “Bluest of Blue”. Possibly also Paul’s song “Make Me Understand”, if that’s the title.

Arctic Philharmonic has posted an article about the project on their website, with text and photos by Lasse Jangås. It includes some quotes by Paul:

“We have a bit of a chequered past, and instead of going through three months of bickering in a recording studio we wanted to try out a new way of making an album”, Paul says in the article.

“The initial idea was to film everything in a regular studio, but then this idea came along, to do it with Arctic Philharmonic in Bodø. And this is really exciting. It’s always fun to work with a good orchestra – it adds entirely new colours to the music.”

Half of the songs on the album have been written by Magne, while the other half were written by Paul. And while Magne’s songs were arranged for orchestra by Kjetil Bjerkestrand, Paul songs have been arranged by Joe Mardin.

To conduct the Arctic Philharmonic orchestra, renowned Swedish musician Anders Eljas was brought in for the occasion. He is full of praise for the True North project and a-ha’s songwriting:

“Two different songwriters and two different arrangers gives the album something extra, different colours and a good dynamic. I don’t like it when an album is too even, and Paul and Magne’s different characters provides the album with different facets and will make it interesting to listen to”, he tells Lasse Jangås in the article.

“This is a band that writes songs with a unique character and that cares about how it sounds. And the songs are really good!”, Eljas says.

a-ha in Bodø to record True North

Magne inside the Svømmehallen concert hall in Bodø
(Screenshot from TV2)

a-ha arrived in Bodø a few days ago, to prepare for the recording of the new film and album called True North during the coming week. They are joined by Even Ormestad, Kjetil Bjerkestrand (who has done some of the string arrangements) and Karl Oluf Wennerberg – plus a second drummer; Per Hillestad, who was a-ha’s drummer from 1990-94. In total, a crew of 100 people will be at work on the project.

Karl Oluf behind the drums in Bodø
(Screenshot from TV2)

Earlier in the month a-ha had been rehearsing at Studio Paradiso in Oslo, the same studio where Paul did some recording sessions with Per Hillestad back in the summer of 2019.

Meanwhile, Arctic Philharmonic recorded the string parts for True North at Store Studio in Bodø on 15 October. This was partly to see if the arrangements were working and partly as backup if something should fail during the upcoming live performance.

TV2’s evening news had a report from the Svømmehallen concert hall in Bodø on Friday, where Magne was interviewed about the project. It can be seen on TV2 Play (subscribers only). There is also an article on TV2.no.

Magne could be seen playing what appeared to be a melody line from “You Have What It Takes”, which may indicate it’s one of the songs that will end up on True North.

“This is a special project because we’re joined by Arctic Philharmonic, which provides a larger pallette to use. We have challenged our own sound in different ways previously as well, but this is where we’re at right now. This is a-ha’s diary from 2019/20/21”, Magne tells TV2.

Over on Instagram, Paul posted some pictures and video clips from a shoot with Stian Andersen in Bodø, which will probably be used as part of the True North film.

The planned release date for True North is late 2022.

Morten to speak at the University of Stavanger

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On Tuesday 16 November Morten will join his longtime friend and partner in various renewable energy projects, Professor Harald N. Røstvik, for a special conversation at the University of Stavanger in Norway.

In 1991 they collaborated on a 15-minute film about the potentials of solar energy called The Sunshine Revolution, which was narrated by Morten.

To mark its 30th anniversary the film will be screened at the university event, followed by a half-hour panel discussion with Røstvik and Harket, moderated by Mehdi Torkaman and Helleik Syse. Afterwards 25 minutes have been set aside for questions from the audience. The event and conversation will be in English.

Attendance is free but registration is required. More information about the event is available on the university’s website:

Join us for a live film screening on campus followed by a conversation between Professor Harald N. Røstvik and Morten Harket. Together they will explore what the status of The Sunshine Revolution was 30 years ago, where we are today, and what will happen in the next 30 years. PhD fellow in Environmental Humanities Mehdi Torkaman and coordinator of Future Energy Hub Helleik Syse will introduce the film and moderate the discussion.

a-ha: The Movie to be released on Blu-ray

Norwegian Blu-ray cover

a-ha: The Movie is set to be released on Blu-ray in Norway in December, exclusively through the online store Platekompaniet. Bonus material will include footage of Bridges reunited and extra interview clips with Magne and Paul. Norwegian fans can pre-order the Blu-ray here (no shipping outside of Norway).

The documentary premiered in Norwegian cinemas last month, to excellent press reviews – including 5/6 from VG (“Robsahm and Holm’s movie is interesting and entertaining throughout”), Dagbladet (“A surprisingly funny and warm film”) and NRK (“An important and well-made documentation of Norway’s biggest band of all time”).
So far more than 18,000 tickets have been sold.

The movie also premiered in Germany, Poland and South Korea last month, followed by Switzerland, Austria and Hungary this month. November will see it premiere in Denmark, while the UK will have to wait until next spring.

It has also been screened at a number of film festivals since its world premiere at Tribeca in New York in June, including in the USA: Seattle International Film Festival and Nashville Film Festival, Canada: Calgary International Film Festival and Edmonton International Film Festival, South Korea: Jecheon International Music & Film Festival, Sweden: Nordisk Panorama in Malmö, Greece: Athens International Film Festival, Iceland: Reykjavik International Film Festival.

Coming up next is the Doclisboa International Film Festival in Portugal tomorrow, where both Thomas Robsahm and Aslaug Holm will be present.

More info about a-ha: The Movie is available on the movie’s official website.

True North: New a-ha album, film and world tour

a-ha announced a new album and film today:

‘True North’ is a filmed live-performance for future streaming release with new music from a-ha.

Set in the awesome landscape of Northern Norway and recorded in the town of Bodø up above the Arctic Circle, the music from the film will be made available as a new album from the group for the first time since ‘Cast in Steel’ (2015).

“We chose this location as a way to showcase some of Norway’s most spectacular nature – where majestic mountains meet the raging sea – far up north, but right at the centre of the dramatic effects of climate-change.”

“We want this film to be a poetic homage to the importance that nature holds in Norwegian culture, and in particular the ocean, which has provided us with a privileged life up here, from the early fishing boom to the troublesome riches extracted from the seabed in the form of oil,” says Magne.

The album and film will be recorded over two days in November 2021, at the Svømmehallen Scene concert hall in Bodø, and planned for release in the autumn of 2022. It will include 12 new a-ha songs, with songwriting contributions from all three members.

a-ha will be joined by the Arctic Philharmonic orchestra on all the songs, and there will be a total of 36 musicians on stage (including a-ha and their backing band).

“The concept of True North was originally inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars. Our idea was to create a Norwegian version – a film which is a sort of a travelling letter from a-ha, with the ocean as a backdrop and with brand new music”, Magne tells Avisa Nordland (paywall).

“Long periods in the studio has usually lead to quarreling and frustrations for us. In deciding to create a film and do it as a live performance I think it will be much easier. Initially we planned to do it with an audience, but for logistical reasons it will be a film instead – with only the crew as “audience” and the finished film being the concert experience for our audience”.

“This is a live performance that will be filmed, and the music from that film will then be released as a new a-ha album. If we achieve what we’re hoping for, I think it will appear considerably more spontaneous and fresh than years of studio polishing”, Magne says.

The release of the film and album will be followed by a True North world tour, starting in late 2022 or early 2023.

“This is something that will fit into the aesthetics of a-ha. It’s not coincidental that we’re doing this in Bodø and Northern Norway. The album, film and subsequent world tour will be called True North”, a-ha manager Harald Wiik tells Avisa Nordland (paywall).

“The ways of releasing music has changed in recent years, and physical formats are almost completely gone. That’s why a-ha wants to release the music as a film experience first. We’ll have a crew of 100 people during the recording and aim to have the film available on Netflix or one of the other major streaming services. In addition to the material from the live performance, we’ll use footage from the nature around Bodø”, Harald Wiik says.

“I can’t really imagine a better way of using our music than making an artistic statement that embodies both worries and hope for the future”, Magne tells VG.

Over Oslo Festival: extra a-ha concert added
– all sold out

The festival site at Grefsenkollen in 2014, with Morten as headliner (Picture by Jakob)

The tickets for Over Oslo on June 11th 2022 – with a-ha and Simple Minds as headliners – went on sale through Ticketmaster at 10am today.
All 6000 tickets sold out in a matter of seconds.

Therefore an extra festival day, featuring the same lineup, was added on June 10th 2022. Those tickets also sold out very quickly.

“The number of people who wanted tickets *far* surpassed the capacity at our venue”, the festival organizers said on Facebook.

Beforehand there had been speculations in the press about how many additional days of a-ha concerts there would be, but according to the organizers June 10th and June 11th will be the only ones.

a-ha to headline Over Oslo Festivalen

Picture by Stian Andersen

A new 2022 tour date was announced today, bringing the total number of a-ha concerts planned for next year up to 40:

a-ha will make their first ever performance at the Over Oslo festival on June 11, 2022 which will be a celebration of the event’s 10 year anniversary. We are very much looking forward to performing at this extremely beautiful place with its world class view of our hometown. Very happy to be joined by our good friends in Simple Minds and loads of very talented and successful Norwegian and Swedish acts.

This festival concert will take place just three weeks after a-ha play two concerts at Oslo Spektrum on 20 and 21 May, but will obviously be a completely different experience – outdoors and with a spectacular view overlooking Oslo.

Morten previously headlined the Over Oslo Festival in June 2014, as part of his Brother solo tour.

6000 tickets will be available for June 11th next year, and they go on sale via Ticketmaster on Wednesday, September 15th.

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