‘Cast In Steel’
When a-ha played the Oslo Spektrum in December 2010 to close the ‘Ending on A High Note Farewell Tour’, it felt a definitive full-stop on the bandís activities. As Morten Harket says, it has been a genuine and real disbanding. There has been no a-ha in the sense of the word during that time.í For Morten, Paul Waaktaar and Magne Furuholmen, the five-year break has allowed them to explore a rich seam of various creative projects, both musical and artistic.
The return came about in a simple, organic way, as Paul explains: “it started off very easy and low-key with Morten dropping by my studio at various occasions, and I would show him songs that I was working on. He would sing on the songs he felt a connection with and leave the ones that didnít and it just went like that until we had done 10 or 12 songs.”
The lack of pressure and deadlines was definitely a bonus, and reminded Paul of when the band first started out: “The beauty of it was that we could do this totally under the radar; there were no deals in place, no contracts, tours planned or deadlines looming, just our shadow endeavours. It was back to exactly how we started in my parents cabin way back when in the 80s. Some instruments, a song, a voice.”
That sense of enjoyment and belief in the new material is clear from all three members: “The making of our album has so far been such an uplifting experience”, says Paul; “It is a really unexpected pleasure to be writing songs for Morten’s voice again”, says Magne. “I knew sitting down with Paul and Magne,” Morten says, “that this would be a real genuine effort. We have never been ones to look back so you can take for granted all three of us are doing this because we know we can create something new. The songs have to be good: the benchmark is always the same.”
As Foot on the Mountain showed, a-ha are a different beast to the vast majority of their contemporaries, still at the peak of their songwriting powers, rather than living off past glories. Cast in Steel picks up where their last studio album left off, this is the sound of band relaxed and refreshed, at ease with themselves and ready to take on the world once more.