Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 09:55 UK

Talking Shop: A-ha

A-ha
A-ha - Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, Morten Harket and Mags Furuholmen - originally got together in 1982

Norwegian pop trio A-ha rapidly rose to fame in 1985 with their debut album Hunting High and Low, which spawned worldwide hit singles including Take On Me.

More than 25 years since they formed, Morten Harket, Mags Furuholmen and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy are back with their ninth studio album, Foot of the Mountain.

Lead singer Harket - preparing to celebrate his 50th birthday this year - and Furuholmen discuss going back to musical basics, surviving in the business, and getting older.


Does your new album return to your original sound of 1985?

Mags: There was definitely an ambition to reintroduce ways of working and a sonic landscape that we left quite early on, which defined A-ha. It wasn't so much a return, but a recognition of how we worked as a trio, building the songs up from scratch.

But there are people in the band who want to veer in different directions, so the album brings both things together. It's more of a cohesive effort.

There's a freshness to the album which has been missing for a while. It's less mellow than the previous two and has more of a British pop attitude.

Did you ever think about making a big pop album and trying to repeat your success of 1985?

Mags: No, not really. You try out different things to find something that excites you. We tend to think everything we do can be a potential single, but that's not always the case. Foot of the Mountain had a great riff and a great chorus and started to sound like a hit song.

A-ha's Morten Harket performing on Top of the Pops in 1986
I don't think I've ever stopped ageing myself
Morten Harket (pictured in 1986)

We started recording with the album in mind, not with living it large in mind.

What effect has getting older had on your music-making?

Morten: None whatsoever. We are what we are and we respond to music. It's not that I'm aware I'm approaching 50, I'm just me. But it's a taller order because you get more picky.

Do you think that making pop music is more of a young man's game?

Mags: [Laughs] Music doesn't belong only to the youth! I find that extremely funny!

But it's completely different going on stage in your 40s - you know what you're subjecting yourself to. To some extent it is a young man's game, but it gives you the chance to adopt the attitude of a younger person.

Morten: If you respond to pop music as an older person, then it's your game. But this business has a tremendously visual focus.

Which begs the question, how do you manage to stay so young-looking?

Morten: I don't know what to say, I'm just me. I don't abuse my body - I don't drink much alcohol, don't smoke and never have, but that's the same of many people. I don't think I've ever stopped ageing myself.

Mags: Lucky genes, Morten.

Morten: I'm attracted to people who are older rather than younger, and all ages have their potential and limitations.

You have a major tour coming up. How do you approach such a big commitment these days?

Mags: Stock up on the Ibuprofen?! Pretty much the same way we always have done. When the Rolling Stones were touring Norway, their head physician was a professor in geriatrics. We're not quite there yet.

Morten: We're looking forward to it. It's great to play live, I love it and appreciate it more than I did in the early days. It's a central part of being in A-ha.

It's miles better than it was back in the 80s because we couldn't hear ourselves for all the shouting and screaming. The music suffered.

Alexander Rybak
Harket says he could advise young Norwegian star Alexander Rybak

Mags: Since then it's been less and less about the show and more and more about the music.

Has your original fanbase stuck with you?

Mags: If they were with us at the start, the chances are they're multiplying now. We should be getting four fans for the price of one. You just have to live with it for long enough.

A new Norwegian star, Alexander Rybak, was born at the Eurovision Song Contest. What do you think of him?

Morten: I know the guy quite well, he's very musical, upbeat and young at heart. I'm curious to know how well they're going to look after him as he's been thrown in at the deep end.

With all your experience would you consider being a mentor to him?

Morten: I certainly have things I could tell him or anyone new in the game, having been around for a quarter of a century. It's important that someone points out how the media works.

You were Eurovision co-host when it was last staged in Norway in 1996. Would you consider it next year?

Morten: No. Back then, I thought it might be good for me to be a presenter, which is a different focus to being in a band.

What does the future hold for A-ha? Is there a five-year plan and how about the 25th anniversary of your first album?

Mags: That's too far ahead. We're going on a two-year plan and then we'll see.

For the anniversary, we want to do something creative and revisit material in a different way and make something special for the fans.

Foot of the Mountain by A-ha is released on Monday 27 July. Morten Harket and Mags Furuholmen talked to BBC News entertainment reporter Michael Osborn.



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