Nicola Foley catches up with Magne Furuholmen ahead of A-ha's gig on 10 June at the Abbey Stadium
If you’re of a certain age, A-ha are a band that needs no introduction. Icons of the 80s, their name has been immortalised in the pop canon thanks to Take On Me, a truly monster hit which topped the charts everywhere from Australia to Austria. It was an astonishing debut with a pioneering video to match, catapulting them to fame, acclaim, and onto the bedroom walls of a million admiring teenage girls.
Though often branded one-hit wonders by pop pundits, the Norwegian trio swiftly followed up with another number 1, The Sun Always Shines on TV, going on to record a further ten studio and two live albums, plus their recent, critically-acclaimed fully acoustic offering.
Though they never quite managed to replicate the commercial success of their mid-80s golden days, one thing they have in droves is enthusiastic fans – who are likely delighted at the news of the band’s 2018 tour, which will see them playing Cambs Glass Stadium next June.
“This kind of tour is a first for us, with lots of outside venues, so we’re really looking forward to it – it’s going to be a blast,” enthuses Magne Furuholmen (above, left), the band’s keyboard player.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have very loyal and enthusiastic crowds support the band over the years, and that’s a privilege you don’t take for granted. You want to do the best you can at all times. Ultimately, being on the road is about the two hours a day that you’re on stage to connect with an audience and perform songs that, in many ways, belong to them. Sometimes after 30 years you feel like you’re performing their songs back to them.”
A-ha have been touring on and putting out music pretty much constantly since their breakthrough, give or take some time off when the band temporarily dissolved in the mid 90s. Magne used this downtime in his musical career to establish himself as a visual artist; a path which has seen him exhibiting his work across Europe garnering considerable plaudits in the art world.
“I kind of jump from one medium to another in the space of every week,” he says of the balance in his life between art and music. “But when I sit down to write a song for Morten (A-ha’s lead singer), it feels like putting on an old work glove, your hand fits right in there. I didn’t think I’d miss when we disbanded, but I discovered that I really had when we reformed.”
As well as writing new music together, the band have recently begun revisiting and revitalising their back catalogue, putting a new spin on their material which has included a much-shared acoustic version of Take On Me, transforming it from upbeat pop number to dark, yearning ballad. All these years after the original’s release, Magne remains surprised by the track’s enduring appeal.
“I don’t think it’s anything that we imagined would be such an important part of our career in general,” he says. “It was the first song we released, and it’s just one of those soldiers, it’s been out there for 30 years on our behalf. And the fact that people still love it and listen to it is a great thing.”
We can’t wait to see them belting it out here in Cambridge on 10 June – if you want to be there too, you can pick up tickets via Ticket Master.