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Interview: A-ha say goodbye

Simon Binns speaks to guitarist and songwriter Paul Waaktaar about the past, the future and the one-off reunion that lasted 15 years

Written by . Published on November 22nd 2010.

Interview: A-ha say goodbye

After a quarter of a century, Norwegian pop royalty A-ha are calling it a day.

The band is currently in the middle of their farewell tour, which rolled in and out of the MEN Arena on Saturday. Guitarist Paul Waaktaar admits the time is probably right to be saying goodbye.

“It feels like 25 years,” he said. “It’s been a long time but we’re all still really hungry for making music, all the time.

“We knew each other for five years before we even started the band, we were in our 20s. It’s not like a marriage, although we’ve obviously had our ups and downs.

“This is a good chance to do all the stuff we never had the time to do as A-ha. There are people we’d all like to work with and different directions we’d like to go in. We still get a kick out of it.”

Waaktaar said he might even start another band, and explore different styles of music. The last album he bought? “Arcade Fire. Loved it.”

The band has existed through a fair few changes in the industry too, not least the way music is recorded and released.

“We’ve gone from vinyl to CD and now to mp3,” he said. “I don’t miss the way the studio experience was 25 years ago. It was like a big mystery, and expensive. You had to get it right on your first take, because we couldn’t afford the time. It was really hard to get an album out. Now, you can play around on a laptop.

“My favourite bit was always writing though. We only really learned how to be a live band in the 90s. We had to let ourselves relax a bit more and enjoy it.”

The band’s reunion in the 1990s – which was supposed to be for one show in London - stands out as a highlight for Waaktaar. “The reaction to us getting back together was really nice. It made us feel welcome and we realised that we had more to give as a band. The response was really unexpected.”

Waaktaar and the rest of the band have lived in New York for the last 15 years but they still get the odd chance to get back to Norway and look at the local music scene, which he describes as ‘quirky.’

Being pop royalty does make it easy to get any peace and quiet in their home country however.

“Before us, nothing really came out of Norway and into the mainstream,” he said. “There’s a lot of electro stuff in Norway and some good singer songwriters. It’s less commercial than the Swedish scene. It’s always good to go back but it does get a bit crazy.”

So Manchester – and the rest of the world – may have seen the last of A-ha in their present form, but it’s unlikely their musical legacy is done just yet.

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kezieeNovember 24th 2010.

will miss this awesome band,saw them in manchester on the 20th simply the best

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