A-ha at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.
(photo credit: NAOMI GRANT)
a-ha – the Norwegian ‘80s band best known for the song ‘Take On Me’ – said Tuesday that they came to Israel to perform for their fans and not get involved with politics.
Ahead of their show at the Ra’anana Park Amphitheater on Thursday, the trio gathered to answer questions at a press conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv.
Keyboardist Magne Furuholmen and vocalist Morten Harket (the band’s third member, guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy made a brief appearance but didn’t speak) both said that coming to Israel was an easy decision for the band, and that they weren’t swayed by any voices calling on them to avoid Israel.
“Fundamentally, we believe that music is a bridge builder and we believe that you go and play to an audience, you don’t ask them their political views,” Furuholmen said.
“Anywhere in the world you go, you go to play to people who [have] a relationship with our music and it’s the same here for us.”
The band’s music and videos have long been popular in Israel, and their music is played regularly on local radio.
Harket agreed that a-ha’s visit to Israel was solely about the music.
“There’s a lot of noise about it but the decision to come was never hard,” he said. “We come here to play to people. It’s not a political move by us and it would be wrong if we started to mix that in. You have to be very careful because all of the sudden, you end up playing nowhere in the world.”
The stylish band, arguably Norway’s biggest musical export, has sold over 55 million records over the course of releasing 10 albums.
Harket said he briefly visited Jerusalem in 1993 and would love to go back, though he’s unsure what his plans are for the rest of his time in the country.
Recalling the band’s origins, Furuholmen said they were intentional about the naming of the band to set itself apart.
“We willfully played with our Norwegian-ness... we didn’t want an English word; we wanted something that signaled that we were different from all the English bands around at the time,” he said. “Same with ‘Take On Me,’ it just sounded different and catchy because it was an oddity.”
Harket added that ‘Take On Me’ means “be my challenge, let me challenge you.”
“That song is much better at being a popstar than we have ever been.”
But a-Ha, featuring a string section among its nine-piece backing band, are still doing their popstar best.