The Waaktaar method

Pål H. Christiansen had a chat with Pål Waaktaar-Savoy about Tessa Weitemeier’s novel Rain is Rain in Manglerud where Christiansen’s own character Hobo Highbrow returns and meets his hero.

It’s March 2022 and Pål Waaktaar-Savoy is soon off touring with a-ha after an unvoluntary break during Covid-19. Fans from all over the world have waited two years to see their favourite group again or for the first time. In the months to come a-ha will do concerts in South America, North America and Europe, starting up in Buenos Aires 25th March.

Out of the dark

The occasion for my chat with Waaktaar-Savoy is the English language edition of Tessa Weitemeier’s novel Rain is Rain in Manglerud that will be launched in May this year. Rain is rain in Manglerud is a sequel of my own novel The Scoundrel Days of Hobo Highbrow, originally published in Norwegian in 2002 (Drømmer om storhet).  

The struggling writer Hobo Highbrow in The Scoundrel Days of Hobo Highbrow is an obsessed a-ha fan who desperately follows Pål Waaktaar-Savoy to his house in Oslo to give him a signed copy of one of his own works, but ends up in the backseat of a police car.

In Rain is Rain in Manglerud we meet Hobo Highbrow again many years later. Hobo now lives alone in a small basement apartment in Waaktar-Savoy’s childhood area Manglerud with his writers block and dark mood, doing nothing much at all. All his a-ha records have been trashed and not listened to in a long time.  When he gets involved writing for a new magazine things start moving in his life again.

Make it a trilogy

– In the interview «I’m like Hobo Highbrow» in 2008 you jokingly said  «make it a trilogy» when asked about your thoughts on a possible new meeting between Hobo Highbrow and Pål Waaktaar in literature. Thanks to Tessa Weitemeier getting ahead of me there are now two books about Hobo.

– Good on you to embrace a curve-ball like that and let someone else take the ball and run with it. I’m not sure I would be as easy going, Pål Waaktaar-Savoy says with a laugh.

– I must admit that I was a little surprised, but the idea of lending my characters and fictional universe to another writer sounded rather fun.

– It must be inspiring to see your story take turns you didn’t foresee, says Waaktaar-Savoy.

Cover Rain is rain in Manglerud

Overcoming writers block

In the mentioned interview from 2008 Waaktaar-Savoy was asked if he, from his own experience, would say that Hobo was a realistic character. His answer was interesting, especially for all fans of Waaktaar-Savoy and a-ha that feel like maniacs from time to time in their approach to their idols.

– Yes, absolutely. I am like that. I can latch onto people for their energy or inspiration to get me going. And it works a lot of the times too. There’s rarely a time where I’m not obsessed about some amazing musician, painter or writer and then I have to know every little thing about them; and see if that somehow relates to me. Anything to get a song out, Waaktaar-Savoy said at that time.

– Tessa Weitemeier’s book is much about getting started writing after a long break. The character Pål Waaktaar exchanges some thoughts on this with Hobo Highbrow in a fictional interview in the book. What do you do yourself when you are not able to make music or write lyrics?

– I accept more and more that songwriting comes with ebbs and flows and I look for things to tag onto when I’m in a slump. The upside is that it makes it more exciting when I do hit a nice stretch, Waaktaar-Savoy replies.

New songs in pipeline

Pål Waaktaar-Savoy has obviously found a good method to keep his creativity from stopping up. His catalogue of great songs is getting longer every year and they are recorded by either a-ha, Savoy or other artists.

– Now that the corona seems to weaken a number of a-ha concerts are planned this year, in addition to a new film and record. Are you looking forward to continuing the journey with a-ha? And can we expect new music from Savoy in the foreseeable future?

– I doubt we’re finished dealing with covid by a long shot, but we are indeed starting up our tour again in a week or so, which will be strange after such a long break. I hope we can send some good vibes out in the world. Apart from that I’ve worked on lots of different material that I will start releasing later this year.

Rain is Rain in Manglerud by Tessa Weitemeier is published by Epubli on 25 May 2022.

Spre ordet: