a-ha: The Movie (2021) Movie Script

Five minutes.
Five minutes, yes.
You're on tour, mostly with old songs.
Haven't recorded for a while.
Might you be recording new songs soon?
I'd say yes.
I've already made a new a-ha record.
If we'd gone somewhere for
three months to make a record.
Locked up and released after three months,
then l might have been a believer.
- No.
- You don't want to record anything new?
- No.
- Why not?
Because it's a hornets nest.
In the end we just wanna bash
each other's brains out.
After school there would be a few hours
before my parents came from work,
and it would be stereo on,
absolutely cranked.
Anything you liked, you liked it because
you saw yourself in that parf, that band.
That was the big escape.
My father was a musician
and audio technician at NRK.
Trumpets in the front was
the big thing in Norway at the time.
I remember how my father used to practice
with his foot on a stool.
There were always instruments around.
So I'd sit down with an instrument.
Try to find something. Combine sounds.
It's probably the first image
l have of something...
Something l felt an attraction to.
Four years old, l tried out the piano.
Started making songs right away.
Suddenly mom comes over to me with
slightly forced enthusiasm.
I could tell immediately.
She thought it sounded "nice".
Said l was going to get a piano teacher.
That was a huge mistake.
I remember riding in the car, five years
old, leaning towards the driver's seat.
Singing a typical Norwegian song
about spring.
A song with a very wide tonal range.
Suddenly l discovered l had wings.
I had wings on which to sing.
It was just a wonderful feeling.
Yes, sir.
- Really? Uo l need the jacket?
- No.
I've got it.
I didn't listen to other people.
I had my own, critical voice
that drowned out everything else.
That's still how l am.
I listen to other people, but every time
someone tries to give me advice...
Nobody has ever orfered me any sensible,
practical advice about singing.
I'm extremely hard on myself.
It's absolutely devastating.
But there's another concerf
the day after tomorrow.
And so on.
As long as there are concerfs left,
l can never let my guard down.
Heading home from school
l heard noise from a balcony.
It was the first time
l actually noticed Paul.
His friend had an organ, and Paul played
on drums made from cardboard rolls
with some dirty plastic drumheads on.
Playing a concerf for whoever passed by.
Even though Magne only lived
literally 50 yards down the road,
l didn't see him until we were 1 3.
Only when l heard he had an amplifier,
we got a bit curious about each other.
Paul and l had a very parallel
musical awakening.
We started digging through music history.
Uiscovered the b0's.
A cousin of mine went to London.
He returned with an album by Uriah Heep.
The sound was awesome.
Musical expression way beyond
anything I'd heard before.
I started singing Freddie Mercury stuff.
So he's cerfainly been an imporfant
inspiration, something to strive for.
Paul and l raced to get the most
Jimi Hendrix records. Think l had 23.
Cerfain bands can amaze you, but you can't
copy them. You don't have the same skills.
You can listen to the Beatles and so on.
It's too perfect to be really inspired by.
So when you get to Velvet Underground
and Joy Division, "Ah, l can do that."
I remember us lying on the grass,
talking about the future.
Our bikes lying on the ground beside us.
I said, "When l grow up,
I'm gonna be a musician."
Paul later talked about it as
a moment where he...
To him it was a radical thought. His
parents were more focused on education.
I was lucky because everyone around me
thought of music as something
you took seriously.
We were only fifteen.
I noticed Magne from day one.
He'd brought a huge Jimi Hendrix poster.
Hung it up in the back of the classroom.
He was very charming, funny
and completely unafraid.
He played in a band.
Pretty soon he wanted everyone to hear it.
This need to show and share
has always been there.
I think the very first show we did
was me on drums, him on guitar.
We played in his classroom.
That was our big first opening.
Which was great, cause every time
l hit a drum solo, the girls screamed.
I was like, "Yes, we've arrived!"
I sang and played guitar
more or less until my voice broke.
We tried with two guitars for a while.
But l felt that it didn't really gel.
And then l came up with the great idea
that he should change to keyboards.
Well, it was traumatic.
I was a guitar player.
It felt... pretty lousy.
But l was right. He took to it like fish
to water. After a couple of rehearsals
he came up with much more sturf
than he had on the guitar.
Well, it didn't feel like fish to water.
I felt that l bent to his will.
Because taking the fight would
be painful on some level.
And it didn't come easy.
I had to change my mindset.
Being a keyboard player
was never my dream.
But that was the result,
and we made it work.
Alright, shall we try playing it through?
Magne sorf of felt like
Paul was his big brother.
He wanted to impress Paul.
He looked up to Paul, both because
he was, and still is, a bit older.
But also because
of pl's gift as a songwriter.
Magne and Paul's relationship
was always very competitive,
but also very productive.
We were very close at the time.
Paul and l were very much
in tune with each other, often.
Bridges got started when Viggo Bondi
and ystein Jevanord
became parf of the story.
We started to get ambitions.
This would be the band.
I was electrified the first time
l heard Paul and Magne's band.
Everything was there.
They needed a singer.
I knew they had to discover me.
I had discovered them.
I had to wait for them to discover me.
They came to listen to me at Club 7.
They just sat there. l remember
how they sat there, just "attending".
I'd heard about Morten Harket.
Heard that he had a very good voice.
We were impressed, contacted him.
Magne and l were going the same way home.
Paul was going to Manglerud.
We got on a train, but for some reason
we had to walk parf of the way.
- It was late in the evening.
- Lt was a long walk.
We talked a lot about music.
Started to talk about our families.
His biological father, his birfh father,
had died in a plane crash outside Drammen.
"Outside Drammen? When was that?
How old were you?"
"I was there, saw that plane go down."
Thc crash is now bcing investigated.
The plan was heading for Linkping,
where Bent Slvc's orchestra
was to hold a concert.
My brother was sitting by the window.
He spotted the Cessna.
"I think it's in trouble. They're going
down!" My father sees it too.
He turns the car around,
follows the plane.
We're close by when it happens.
And Magne's father
is among those killed in the crash.
So there was like...
A strong sense of destiny
the first time we met.
Then he walks home in the night.
I go home.
And l don't know if
I'll ever talk to him again.
We were really backward at the time.
You had to be there to understand.
Nothing had started yet.
We were the outskirfs.
Norway has always been dominated
by dancehall bands.
It's time Norwegian pop and rock bands
get the chance to shine.
Nobody had had any significant
international breakthrough.
And it wasn't just pop music.
Norway was still in a post-war state.
Hadn't begun to exporf football players
or anything else.
How can we get out of Norway?
How can we not have to compete
with music that we didn't see
any sorf of relation to.
There's nothing here that we listen to.
We were only 15-16 years old when
the local newspaper interviewed us.
"We're gonna be international pop stars.
Norway's too small for us."
He just wanted to get through high school
so he could go to London
and make a living from music.
Nobody believed him.
Nobody had done it before.
But Paul and l were the only ones
who really believed in that dream.
Magne called. "The two others are staying
here, Paul and l are going to England ."
"You wanna come with us?"
"No, l made a deal with Arild.
We're going interrailing."
I said l couldn't join them
until after summer.
They left, thinking l didn't wanna come.
Don't know why they misunderstood me.
To this day l still don't know
what they thought l meant.
We went over, were planning
to starf a band once we got there.
We were serious. No turning back.
We wouldn't return until we were stars.
The first thing we did when we got there,
was put in ads in Melody Maker and NME.
We were looking for a harp player.
There hadn't been
a front harpist in pop before.
But we actually found a guy
who played electric harp.
We went to a lot of the sorf of
Camden clubs, saw a lot of cool bands.
We discovered Soft Cell,
which l think was a big influence on us.
Mainly the first six months, we were
soaking in, like a learning process.
Tried to ease my guilt from not doing
any university that my parents wanted.
We were in a bedsit in London,
hoping to show others our songs.
Paul whistling and playing guitar
while l played synth.
Everyone who had any sense could see
that this was going nowhere.
We had to do something. l said we should
go home, get Morten to join the band.
I convinced the band to not return
to England at once, but stay in Norway.
To use Norway for the rest of the year.
We all had parents we could stay with.
It was the first time I'd
talked sense into someone.
I was like the oldest.
"This is how we have to do it."
The only reason not to was pl's
huge embarrassment
at coming home without having made it.
Music is saying things
that can't be said in a sentence.
There's no way you can pinpoint that song,
get that vibe in a couple of lines.
I would get obsessed with one thing,
it would be all about that,
and nothing else matters.
Pirst it was all painting, but then
l got sidetracked
into music and it took over.
My parents were very unhappy
that l was dating this
out-of-work musician.
They thought that was terrible.
I didn't think they'd make it.
But Paul was so driven.
He's like this horse.
These horses where they put the blinders
on so they can't see. He had those on.
He could only see two things in his life.
One of them, strongly, was music.
And the other was me.
It sounded like crap at first.
It didn't sound promising, to be polite.
It didn't have anything we wanted.
Character. lndividuality.
Identity. Charm. Nada.
But we held on to the dream about...
That London was the place to be.
We had to go there.
We're listening to the radio,
watching every pop show on TV.
And got a bit scared. A lot of them were
very together. They looked like stars.
We could see that Morten looked great.
He had what a lead singer needed.
Had a great voice,
was a poser with attitude.
Morten constantly promoted the band.
He'd refine his image.
Changed his image almost
from one day to the next.
A lot of stash. l was the least
stashed up, the most boring guy.
Morten was way over the top.
Used house paint in his hair
when he ran out of hairspray.
Played around with his own image a lot,
ours too.
He gave Paul a pretty dramatic makeover.
He really dug in. Stripped him,
dressed him and put on make-up.
I was bowled over by their enthusiasm.
I hadn't heard a note,
hadn't heard a song, anything, but...
They were very dirferent to
a lot of the clients
that we'd been having from the punk era.
We booked Rendezvous Studios from
John Ratclirf with the money we had left.
He was the first one
who had enough faith in us to
put his money where
his mouth was.
I really wanted to be involved. l could
see the potential of the songwriting.
The way Mags came up with so many
great tunes and great melodies
in addition to the songwriting of Paul.
Morten's voice on the top was
the icing on the cake.
After a while John got in touch with
Terry Slater, who'd been with EMI.
He wanted to show him who we were.
He'd signed up everyone
from Oueen to Sex pistols,
and he had a very sorf of
old-school ear for tunes,
that l responded to.
Back then getting a recording deal
was the eye of the needle.
And Terry only told us the good news.
So we thought,
"Why are we at this point?"
Things were happening around the corner.
"You'll be so busy you'll miss this time."
So we were just sitting there hoping.
"When are we gonna get busy?"
You need real balls to get through it.
To keep believing.
Because most people don't.
Don't want to believe.
There were setbacks all the time.
But in letters and phone calls to home,
it was always about
new opporfunities opening up.
If we landed a meeting with some
completely insignificant person,
it was painted as,
"This is the big break!"
We didn't have a plan B.
Because plan B...
You've already started doubting plan A.
We must have spent
at least two years thinking...
"Okay, that didn't work.
Remember that thing next week."
"Meeting this person.
He knows Elton John."
We could see it in the way we lived.
Started in Linden Gardens,
in Notting Hill Gate,
then it was Willesden Green.
We took a step down each time we moved.
Not because we didn't like the wallpaper.
We needed a place without wallpaper!
We lived below the poverfy line
for a while because we could,
because we wanted to,
because we felt we had to.
I mean, we had our moments with porridge.
I don't think we even thought about it.
We couldn't ask for more money.
So we lied.
We went to Uecca. They turned us down.
And we celebrated since they'd
turned down The Beatles too.
I think it got sent to three,
four or five record companies.
Parf of it was acting like more people
were interested than was the case.
I think Warner Brothers were
the only ones who believed in it.
The time after signing the contract
was frustrating. We made little progress.
The thing that took much longer than
getting a deal, was getting that producer.
You know, we had a hard enough time
figuring out what a producer did.
We ended up with Tony Mansfield.
He changed everything.
But he did really cool sturf.
He was a genius with computers.
Absolutely mind-blowing. lt was cool.
I wrote the riff on Take On Me
at the age of 14-15 years.
Paul responded negatively.
It sounded "too commercial".
Called it The Juicy Fruit Song because
it reminded us of the commercial.
It took many dirferent shapes.
We had a version of Take On Me
with like rooster-crowing
in the middle of it.
We thought it was brilliant.
In hindsight maybe it wasn't
what put us on the map.
Coming to London, that's when
l really started to hate that chorus.
I think Terry said it.
He'd worked with Oueen.
"If you have a falsetto, it's a hit."
And Morten had a wonderful falsetto.
So l thought that could be a cool thing.
Just to show orf his range a bit.
Every song you have a verse,
then you want to hit that money note.
I thought it would be cool to instead
just starf at the lowest note you can hit
and build your way up from there.
They mostly stay in England,
the group that's become famous
before releasing a single song. You think
you can become superstars with some help
from your record company and manager?
- Yeah.
Tony Mansfield changed much
of what we were.
I end up standing there all alone,
hips, shoulders, blue eyes.
I think they were worried we'd alienate
the female members of the audience.
They tried to make us look
a little extra macho.
Three terrified teenagers with loads of
semi-naked women bouncing about.
It came to a head with a version of
Take On Me that we feel isn't there.
Had we just wasted the opporfunity, like?
We'd used up all our money. lnterest
in the project was already waning.
The record company
was about to give up.
But there was a strong feeling in the band
that we could do it much better.
And ended up in studio with Alan Tarney.
A-ha's original demo of Take On Me
was the right approach.
So l just recreated that in the best way
l possibly could.
We finished Take On Me in one day.
And cause l was so busy with other things,
l didn't think what would happen to it.
It was just another record.
That was that.
I was the one who fought
for that song in the band.
I was the one who really believed in it.
"This is a worldwide hit."
And I'd never thought like that.
Never thought, "Uo we have a hit?"
I took the tape to
the record company, all alone.
Played it.
"This is how it has to be."
And our luck was that they'd just hired
a guy called Jerf Ayerorf.
I thought, "This isn't normal rock & roll
or pop music. This is something else."
A kind of synchronicity happens. l have
this animator in the back of my head.
"Here's this band. Kind of interesting.
Who do l trust who's done videos for me,"
"has a ferfile mind
and can technologically deal with this?"
"Steve Barron."
I met the guys, sat down
and talked about the concept.
I remember they were put in
some tiny little hostel.
Even though massive amounts
were being spent on the video.
I remember thinking, even telling Morten,
"You'll look back at this, and think..."
"We were in that little place."
"If it worked out, we'd never be
in a place like that again."
I remember one time
we went to Venice Beach.
Then you really got the feeling. You'd
walk down that beach and hear the song.
Like from one transistor radio to another.
No matter what channel you went to,
it would be there.
Late yesterday evening,
the Norwegian pop band a-ha
reached the top of
the pop charf in the US.
Pirst one of the top records in the world
at the moment. No. 1 in five countries.
No. 2 in Britain. A-ha, Take On Me!
To the best of my knowledge, the first
Norwegian group to make it big worldwide.
We want a-ha!
A-ha, Take On Me.
Manhattan, the heart of NYC.
Their schedule is packed,
but we get to meet two of them.
- Today you're in New York. And tomorrow?
- Los Angeles.
And then go on a world tour?
We'll pop by Norway before going
to England, then Australia and Japan.
Suddenly we were going to Australia,
with thousands of people
at the airporf at 3 a.m.
We had no idea that would happen. ln
Japan, they had security on every floor.
I was singled out from the band
by the media.
Plung out on my own.
Had to stand in a cascade
that never ended.
That l had to relate to.
We're not a band for the press.
So l did very little band-related sturf
for a long time.
Because there was nothing but
this eternal crescendo of noise.
Glasses? Jacket?
- Beautiful.
- Thank you.
Can l have a picture together?
Okay, thank you.
Danke schn.
Danke sehr.
Here comes Sebastian's...
One of the defences against...
The flu for example.
This is...
My cocoon when we're on the road.
I like it a lot better than flying.
It's the only quiet place.
It's vital to me.
And all creatures,
people and animals,
spend a lot of time on restitution,
finding a private corner where they can
prepare to step out again.
To be yourself.
The way you feel you're composed.
You don't have many sanctuaries
when everyone knows who you are.
They're gone.
That's when a cocoon
like this becomes essential.
Here we go.
- Four of them.
- Four innocent victims.
- Hello.
- Hi.
- Hello.
- Hi. How are you?
- My name... is Alexandra.
- Alexandra?
I wish you a pleasant stay in Berlin.
Thank you.
- I'm a huge fan of you guys.
- Yeah.
- Are you sure?
- Yes!
I have presents for you.
Prom my home town, potsdam.
It's near Berlin.
It's very near, potsdam.
- It's for you.
- L got a heavier...
- l wonder what that means.
- Like with our hotel rooms.
He gets the big one, l get the middle one,
Paul gets the small one.
The story of our life.
I think they view me as the least
intellectual. l get a big book to work on.
In many ways it was comfy
that Morten got the attention.
Because Paul and l didn't really crave
the sorf of attention that Morten got.
Por me that was a heaven-send.
Cause l was... Social angst up to eleven.
So for me... The more they could take,
that was a good thing for me.
I didn't have a lot of ambitions
in that direction.
That wasn't my medium. That's not where
l could show people what l could do.
My first concerf was
Echo & the Bunnymen.
And they stood the whole show
with their back against the audience.
I thought it was fantastic. l should've
been in one of those bands.
But l ended up in one of the most visible.
Driven by videos and looks
and everything.
I got that parf l never thought l would.
I thought I'd be in the dark
with a flashing light,
doing moody songs.
It took me about 25 years to figure out.
"How do l handle all this sturf?"
I'm very thinly skinned on
a lot of things.
I never feel l can sorf of relax.
It's almost like my brain...
lt's... l move myself out of the thing.
If I'm doing an interview,
I'm sitting there watching myself,
what stupid things I'm gonna do next.
I can't be in the moment.
It's tiring, you know.
On Scoundrel Days, we had a unique
production situation. We were on tour
while demos and so on were being made.
So we did a lot on our own
in dirferent studios around the world.
Worked during soundchecks,
in hotel rooms...
We wanted a darker hue on this album.
And also a bit more ambitious
of what you put together. We had
Manhattan Skyline, two songs put together.
Same thing with Scoundrel Days.
October, which was a dirferent colour.
There were a lot of ideas happening.
Too many, in a way.
So it wasn't so clear-cut
who was in charge.
It wasn't me. lt wasn't them, necessarily.
It was give and take.
So it wasn't so easy musically
to arrive at a finished recording.
Uh... Just one thing.
"You're hissing your s's like a snake."
- Remember the tune?
- No.
Maybe it's better to leave that parf
until the next verse?
That was a thing with Lauren. She was
shocked when l took her to the studio.
And l was the biggest pain in the ass,
bossy guy,
leaning over everybody's shoulder.
If l hear something in my head that I'm
trying to get, l have super-confidence.
Especially Paul, he wanted to go down
in the Rock & Roll Hall of Pame,
become a legend in the music business.
And he was capable of it.
Nothing would stop him.
A-ha gave him the opporfunity to make
these records that he wanted to make.
He was very powerful in the studio.
Tremendous presence
in the studio, musically.
So he was, l suppose, dictating more
than anyone else the direction of a-ha.
The way we worked, you had to have
a lot worked out beforehand.
Because it wasn't like a band on
the floor. You had to work it out
before you started, or the whole thing
would fall aparf. That was my job.
That's not how l saw the situation.
We were all trying to take the wheel.
He says l was never a band leader?
I don't think that's accurate.
Instead of "can't you see",
try "plain for all to see".
- "Plain..."?
- "plain for all to see".
"Any or anyone can see".
- Want a pen?
- Lsn't it easier with just "anyone"?
"Anyone can see"?
- Yay! Here we go again.
- Going again?
Where's my coach?
Very close.
I had a pretty neat tone there.
Sounds a bit awkward.
One of the main conflicts
with the record company
was that we insisted on releasing
Manhattan Skyline as a single.
We pointed to Bohemian Rhapsody.
It had to be possible to try out
songs in other formats.
But for us it was imporfant
to release it as a single.
It revealed musical ambitions
of the band that we
felt had been overlooked.
That we weren't a carfoon band.
The result was that we lost the US.
And it haunted us for a long time.
We wanted to win back the US.
Yeah. Wait a minute here.
- Okay, I'm ready.
- Waste a couple of rounds. Are you ready?
I'm ready. Let's just go.
I gotta get this thing.
That's good. Good.
Okay, last ones. I'm gonna have you
coming at my camera.
Come towards me, Morten.
Look at me, guys.
This is the final one.
Beautiful there. Go on.
Can you just...
You looked away from me.
There, there, there!
Beautiful that.
I've gotta bring three guys together
that sometimes don't want to.
But sometimes they do wanna be together.
Then they don't wanna be together.
It's hard as a photographer when people
don't wanna be together in a picture.
Smile! Can you do it one more time?
One more time! Come on.
I guess that's it. Alright.
Okay, l got it. Thank you!
I can't do this.
I'm just whining up there all the time.
I can't do this. There's no fucking break.
It's my voice at the same level
all the way. Don't tell me it sounds good.
We've been through this. This was
the first song everyone was pleased with.
That's bullshit, Lars.
My point remains exactly the same.
I can't sit here whining.
I mean, that's why l don't want it.
Because it's high-range, no breaks.
My voice all the time. I'll drop out
because I'm so sick of my own voice.
- But...
- ls it the key?
It's just me, me. All the time.
I don't think it sounds good.
I've no impulse to sing it.
- That's not a very constructive statement.
- Lt is.
No, Lars. Don't try to
gloss over my main point.
Which is that l don't want to sing that
high throughout the song without a break.
But the song hasn't changed for 30 years.
- That's why I'm sceptical about doing it.
- L didn't know that.
I suggested lowering it an octave.
Constructive input.
If Paul and the girls sing
"l don't wanna cry again..."
- You come in at "Oh, but how..."
- Yeah, that's a big dirference.
I think everyone who works with us
ends up exhausted from working with us.
And then there's a tug of war,
grinding of teeth,
dirfy looks and plenty of reluctance.
When we made the Bond song,
John Barry was the producer.
It turned out that he had to be included
as songwriter. We hadn't been informed.
There were a few chords in that song
l was parficularly fond of
that he wiped out
in the string arrangement.
So we manipulated the 80-piece orchestra
to play another note than what he put in.
I think it pissed him orf.
In one interview he called
them "Nazi Jugend".
I'm afraid so, yes.
That's what he said to me.
So he felt it very strongly.
Right. Must we get into it?
He encountered a band that had
a great deal of self-confidence.
He was used to being the dictator,
l think.
Our general rule was that
we simply ignored everything
that was said.
We nodded and smiled,
and fundamentally disagreed
about everything.
With Stay On These Roads, l felt
I'd written an imporfant song for a-ha.
I ran orf to Paul to show it to him.
But he was busy on the phone.
By chance, Morten was sitting there.
So l showed it to him first,
which was unusual in a-ha at the time.
He asked me, "What would you do here?"
So l sang "sail on" or something.
Then Paul comes in from the room
next door, clapping his hands.
I sat up all night alone,
finishing the demo,
with full instrumentation, which was
used as it was when we recorded it.
On the third album
we tried to be more poppy.
Thinking like we did in the starf,
with sturf that didn't end up on
the first album, like Touchy.
I think Paul convinced himself
that for commercial reasons,
we needed a smarfer approach.
That's what he thought, l suspect.
We were told that we had "the disease".
"They'll destroy everything
they've created ."
"Because they're uncomforfable with
their image or how people see them."
The first nail in the corfin.
We wanted to write new hits.
But we didn't necessarily want to
turn our backs on Scoundrel Days.
We wanted to hold on to our success.
The songs are nice.
But the videos are horrible.
People might have a dirferent image
of what a-ha really is than l do.
- Hi! We're a-ha!
- One more time.
Hi there! We're a-ha!
We ended up wrapped in packaging.
"Don't worry. lt'll pass." We were wrong.
And we remained exposed in a way that
none of us could identify with at all.
Were very naive about what we had
to protect, what was unique about us.
We just went with the flow.
And it's nobody else's fault
that we became a teen band.
We posed for all the shoots. No matter how
cheesy we thought it was, we turned up.
Let ourselves be photographed
in the most humiliating settings.
What would a-ha have been
without Morten Harket's
gorgeous body and handsome face?
We would've avoided a lot of problems.
I mean, I'm born like this.
I've never worked out.
It's not easy to accept
that sorf of attention.
- Would you strip to the waist for me?
- Sure, if you did the same.
Anything else?
If we're gonna make it clear
to the record company,
"Don't book us ever again to
that fucking popcorn Magazine."
"This album will force you to think
dirferently about the band ."
The pendulum swung way over
in the opposite direction.
We tried to become a band we weren't.
I was against it all the time.
We were flirfing with U2-ish sturf.
Were trying to show something dirferent.
But it comes from the wrong place, that's
the problem. lt's not honest enough.
Because there's
this dishonesty seeping in.
Which is about what we shouldn't do.
So a heavy hand guided everything
in the choice of songs,
in the development
and recording of the songs.
I remember a dirferent vibe. We were sick
of our teenybopper status at that point.
Those albums challenged how the band was
perceived, gave us a much richer history.
The 80's way of making albums
was on the way out.
I really felt that that was
not gonna work.
Paul and l agreed on the direction for
East Of The Sun. After touring live,
we wanted to get back to our roots
with a band in studio.
So we settled into the largest studio
in Abbey Road for several months.
Lately I've learnt a lot
l should've learned a decade ago.
We were naive in the beginning.
- We thought we could just be famous first.
- Lt's given us lots of problems.
We haven't steered our career
where we wanted.
Is it possible to be more successful?
You even set a world record.
- How many came to the concerf in Rio?
- Lt was packed.
Wasn't it almost 200,000?
How can you top that?
- That's not what it's about.
- No?
We feel we're just at the starfing line.
We want to leave a body of work we can
be proud of, that's worfh something.
I'm rarely satisfied or feel at ease
with what l hear on stage.
The playtulness that comes when
you feel at ease is very special.
It's something l often miss on stage,
on tour, getting there.
The guy who mixes what l hear...
He gets two hours
of discontent every evening.
I use a wide register,
and many acoustic criteria
have to be met in order to actually
stay in touch with what you're doing.
And I'm extremely demanding in that sense.
Could we... take a break with that?
I need to focus here.
He's got better at saying
"this was good".
It used to be impossible for him
to be pleased with a concerf.
He was never happy.
And of course
this drains the energy from
the people around him.
I'm exhausted. Too many repetitions of
the same sturf. I'm howling all the time.
So it's making me a century older.
That's when it starfs to bite. lt's not
good for your mind or your voice.
That's life for a singer.
It's easy to say, "Relax, don't worry."
It's like sending a downhill racer out
on the slope blindfolded.
If you don't have good sound,
it can easily go wrong.
We've never performed our songs like this.
So it's all new.
But people know the songs,
and that's what creates a connection.
We have some catalogue sturf
we've rarely played.
My worry is that it'll be too...
That it's too nice and orderly, with lots
of neat transitions, that kinda sturf.
- Sturf that makes me fall asleep.
- Like what?
- It's a general problem.
- The arrangements are all so elaborate.
There's no...
Yeah, l get the point. Know the feeling.
But l think much of it sounds okay.
Everything sounds okay. That's not it.
But maybe iron out the details.
Can we just add Sox Of The Pox there?
- Your call.
- Before Memorial, yeah.
Paul has a knack of getting his way.
That doesn't work the same way
for Magne and me.
And when l say "Magne and me",
it's because l mostly agree
with Magne's reactions,
his understanding of things.
That's how it's been through the years,
and still is. But not always.
Paul has a great deal of unused material
that he wants me to try out for starfers.
But for that to happen, it really has to
feel right for all of us.
There won't be any a-ha album
until all three agree on it.
No matter how many songs you've written.
None of us have the right to use a-ha
as our personal playground.
The conflict with Paul over
the early songwriting credits.
That's the main obstacle.
I've done a lot without being credited
based on how you define songwriting.
If you say a song is what you sing
and play on an acoustic guitar,
then my rirf on Take On Me
doesn't count.
There are dirferent definitions.
That's pl's.
People nowadays write songs
in a dirferent way.
You have a guy saying,
"l wrote the bassline on this song."
"I wrote this parf. l wrote that parf.
I added this. I'm a songwriter."
That's not the type of song
l feel I'm writing.
Like building a table. You can decorate it
with dirferent cups, put a flower on it.
But you still made a table.
Yeah, sure...
lf you came up with the legs so it doesn't
fall over, it's an imporfant parf of it.
But if it's just decorating, you give it
to someone who'll decorate it dirferently.
My contribution is constantly underrated.
It's not basslines or drum programming.
It's about toplines, rirfs,
themes that are defining
and that change the song's character.
In the very beginning,
Paul and Mags wrote the songs.
Paul wrote more than Magne.
And Paul was more forceful
in getting his sturf across.
That was a source of friction.
Anything he played that l loved,
l felt like I'd picked up and made happen.
I can't think of one song
that we didn't record. Maybe one.
There was a song called Trees Never Grow
On Sand. Morten didn't like the singing.
He also wasn't writing
sorf of lyrics back then.
So l depended on him doing that
for my songs to be included.
The result was always that all my songs
were cowritten, of course.
But where l contributed
with musical themes and sturf
on his songs, it wasn't always credited.
I'm sure the story would've been dirferent
if all three were credited, like in U2.
Which worked very well for that band.
Prom day one
they agreed to share it all equally.
You're lucky to get the success you get.
It's such a joy.
You're playing music
for thousands of people. Like, enjoy it!
Kinda sinful not to really appreciate what
you have when you have so very much.
Those guys need a shrink all together.
Each one individually, and then as a band.
Are you okay?
We ok too!
Paul always has plenty of sturf
going on musically, so l let go.
Stopped caring.
It ended like it often does with a-ha,
in a tug of war, bad vibes.
I started to feel ready
to get out of a-ha altogether.
I decided to move back to Norway.
Our first son had arrived.
My wife was unhappy in London.
I told the others.
"I'm moving back home.
I've got 1 8 months of national service."
"And that basically means
no more a-ha for me."
"We'll have to see
what happens after that."
I think l needed to get out of the group
and get into my own creative sturf.
Plus I've been an arfist
at hearf from the beginning.
Just basically expressing myself
on napkins and envelopes on tour.
And it started to raise its voice.
When l started to take making
paintings seriously, for real,
it was basically a reaction
to the machine a-ha had become.
It was mainly very therapeutic for me
to do something on my own.
Working with music and painting pictures
feels very similar.
You want the same feeling,
want your hair to stand on end.
That mood... Mood is everything.
It was a huge relief for me to get
into the Wild Seed project.
It's imporfant to remember that in a-ha,
our roles became fixed after a while.
Paul and Magne had played in bands together
since they were 1 0 or 1 2 years old.
Carving out a place would demand
a pushiness that l simply don't have.
Wild Seed was a huge success. lt sold well
and won four Norwegian Grammy awards.
That it never became a worldwide hit was
mostly down to coincidence and bad luck.
Some record company person said,
"Yeah, that's good ."
"Then it's out before Morten's solo album.
Oh, l wasn't supposed to say that."
I was like, "What's up with that?"
I don't know who told him, how it was
communicated to him. lt was news to me.
I only found out ages later.
Like, many years later.
I was pretty pissed orf.
You've been recording for almost a year,
preparing songs for the next album.
Paul was very unhappy with my vocals.
And l didn't feel at home on Memorial
Beach, the previous album. Not at all.
I felt l was the wrong guy for Paul.
I thought like, "Peel free."
"Find someone who does what you want."
I felt it could've been handled better
so l didn't waste time on sturf
that isn't gonna happen.
That's when l started sorf of
figuring out, "Time to do something else."
It's never been my desire to be in a band.
I'm in a band with him because
l was submerged in music.
I had to come out on the other
side as a writer or die.
I had to learn music or get divorced.
Because it was just 24I7 with him.
But it's weird to suddenly
be in the middle.
"What am l doing in the middle?
I should be over there!"
Give me a hug.
You did great.
Nice. We should do it again.
It's four years since their last show,
but now a-ha's back together.
Even though we dropped out,
we never settled it.
It's always been there.
Unfinished business, like.
We never felt we were done.
It would be natural to do it.
The question is when.
There's this feeling of a common destiny.
There are some good signals in what
we're working on now.
There's a lot more potential, and as long
as there is, it's interesting to go on.
Before the release of the new album,
Minor Earfh Major Sky, there was a while
where it felt like starfing over.
We went to New York, Magne and l,
and knocked orf all the demos.
Spent one day on each.
Morten's songs are cool on that one.
Magne came up with
the fantastic l Wish l Cared,
and other things l liked.
I thought that could be the first single.
It felt like we found a common foothold.
That we had the same musical ambitions.
It felt like a functional band.
Por me, l was in my
probably best period ever
with Summer Moved On. That got like
six out of six in the papers.
People came out of the woodwork saying,
"l always liked a-ha."
It seemed like every a-ha fan
had turned into a journalist,
with a whole dirferent appreciation.
If you know anything about our band,
one band in parficular
shaped our path and our future.
And that band happens to be
from Norway, and they're called a-ha.
In the early 2000's, many major names
came out as a-ha fans.
Coldplay were hard-core fans.
U2, who stole unashamed from
The Sun Always Shines On TV
on their Beautiful Uay, said a-ha
was an underrated band.
Oasis knew their a-ha.
Even Kanye West.
They still have a huge influence.
If you listen to Blinding Lights
by The Weeknd,
both the drum beat and the synths
are clearly, without a shred of doubt,
a tribute to Take On Me.
From Terry Slater,
our good old manager
who opened everything up to us.
"FAME, like a wayward girl,
will still be coy"
"To those who woo her
with too slavish knees,"
This is by Keats.
"But makes surrender to
some thoughtless boy,"
"And dotes the more upon a hearf at ease;
She is a Gipsey,"
"will not speak to those who have not
learnt to be content without her;"
"Ye Arfists lovelorn! madmen that ye are!"
"Make your best bow to her and bid adieu,"
"Then, if she likes it,
she will follow you."
He's absolutely right. Fuck fame.
If you thirst for fame,
you can just forget it.
Every album we make starfs
with a honeymoon period
where we go into it thinking
we should come together in the studio,
see what happens.
But pretty soon the problems
begin to manifest themselves.
Two things that made everything dirficult
was moving to dirferent countries,
and e-mail was invented.
Magne would write ten pages.
Morten would write one line.
I would be four lines.
Before that, you had to pick up the phone,
and it got a bit harder to be...
You know, as isolated, and sorf of...
We didn't dig trenches quite as easily.
The Analogue album didn't sell. The record
company was about to give up on a-ha.
But the Analogue single was a hit,
and reopened the UK market.
And we were planning to retake the US.
So we needed another real hit.
We didn't have one.
So Foot Of The Mountain
ended up being a "maybe" song.
It started out as two songs. One by me.
And one song by Paul.
In the old days we'd probably end up
trying to knit them together somehow.
That was often the process, a bit from me,
a bit from him, see how it turned out.
This time it was Harald Wiik
who suggested it.
He was the one who "interfered"
and suggested we try to merge them.
It's like physically amputating your song
and putting something in.
I'm writing a chorus
about escaping the city.
He's throwing shit about me in the verse.
You know, l can't get behind that.
Paul suddenly says, "This won't do.
This is a private song."
And we feel... We try to digest it.
But we feel he's wrong.
Primarily because...
l don't really believe him.
Paul wanted to remove his parf.
You know, "Write your own fucking chorus."
Finally Morten and l told him,
"lf you do it, you've terminated a-ha."
"Then you're fired ."
Is Paul still in the band?
Paul's next comment was,
"Why all the bad vibes in the band?"
So he backed down.
I let it slide. But l don't
pay any attention to that song.
I would never have suggested it today.
I wouldn't have dared to.
But what I've realised,
what I'm really sorry for,
is how imporfant this is for Paul.
Much more imporfant than l realised.
I like a poison pen song
as good as anybody. l love them.
But that's why you have solo albums
to put that sturf on.
One amazing thing about a-ha
is that after 35 years,
they're still among
the world's greatest live bands.
I don't think people realise
how huge they still are.
This is the last time l ask you.
Has anything changed?
Uo you feel more like going to the studio
to record something with the others?
It's not that l wouldn't like to.
It's just that I've done it before.
And always ended up being disappointed.
But this could be a big hit with a-ha.
We should've gone to New Orleans.
Rented a huge house somewhere.
With voodoo and chicken feet, like.
Stayed there, seen it through,
sweated it out together.
I've said so for ages.
I know for cerfain that it's true.
That could've brought back a-ha.
They're not hungry enough. Like when they
were dumpster diving in England.
Morten ate mouldy cookies. They were
hungry. They were bent on making it.
I think they still haven't made
their best record.
If l can get one more song in there that's
a good a-ha song, ten more, whatever,
it's worfh the hassle.
I can go through a lot of sturf.
If we can strengthen
the legacy of the band,
l don't mind going, you know,
through the painful bit.
Ten, twenty years from now,
they'll go through our list.
All our little quibbles about everything
means absolutely nothing to anybody else.
To me it doesn't feel like
there's any upside.
It just feels like... Going into a room
where I've simply felt awful.
What we know about cardiac fibrillation,
is it often arfects young people
who push themselves.
My experience is that when I've had
the most emotional pressure,
that's when it rears its head.
So in that sense it's obviously connected
to the band and its history.
Paul was extremely supporfive then.
As if in a way...
That the way we'd treated each other
had real consequences.
So it was Paul at his most caring.
He called me. "Magne, we have to do this
so that it works for you, for all of us."
"We have to try to... Can't have
a situation that makes you sick."
I thought it was really sweet. l was...
So then it was like,
a few moments of love, and it was...
But I'm the dirficult figure in pl's
life too, and everything l say about him
does have a counterpoint in him.
A-ha was never based on friendship.
Of course there's friendship.
But it's not the cornerstone,
not what brought us together.
We had a bond through music.
That was our strength.
We wouldn't have stuck together otherwise.
I think we have a genuine respect
for our talents.
We still appreciate each other very much.
No less than before.
Maybe more.