JOHN & A-HA
Although the band's 30th anniversary is this year, for me it is the 32nd. In 1983 I received a phone call from a polite and articulate caller, who although he spoke good English, was certainly not a local lad. He wanted to book my studio, Rendezvous, and could I give him an idea of cost? He said his band would like to get 5 tracks recorded within 2 weeks which seemed a reasonable amount of time for demos. Happy with the price, I explained that a deposit cheque would be required to ensure the booking was honoured - a no-show by a client is the recipe for financial disaster in recording studios. He agreed to send me £50 to confirm the booking and I started to take his details. The first stumbling block was the spelling of his name! 'Pal Waaktaar Gamst' finally made it into the diary but this alone made me wonder whether it was a hoax call from a rival studio hoping to upset our schedules. I thought nothing more of it until 2 days later when a letter postmarked Oslo, Norway dropped through my letterbox. Sure enough it contained a deposit cheque for the booking. The lightly written aha in the studio diary became a firm AHA. The Norwegians were coming to town!
The day arrived for the mysterious Norwegian arrival. I had absolutely no idea how many were coming, only that they were travelling to Sydenham in South London, from a Shepherds Bush flat, north of the River Thames. A long and complicated journey. They arrived a little later than the 10am scheduled start. My studio manager Dave Hayter answered the door and they immediately came into my office to say hello. This in itself was quite unusual. Most bands just trudged in and went straight for the recording area or mixing room without a thought of any greeting. As I discovered very soon, this was no usual band of hopefuls. They were so keen to offer the hand of friendship and had this enchanting accent as they spoke for the first time in a very competent English language. In fact their grammar was close to perfect. I was not going to be needing a translator as I had imagined! Actually, they spoke better English than a lot of the Punk band clients that used the studio on a regular basis. One thing I did notice was that they sometimes used certain words in a different context and this was to reveal itself in many of the future lyrics of a-ha, creating an ambiguity that was weird but refreshing. They immediately stood apart from the general crowd. I was also impressed with their courtesy, politeness and amiability. This was not going to be an ordinary session!