Wasted on the Youth Guest Blog: Plants and Animals’ Matthew Woodley on a-ha | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, September 30th, 2020  

Wasted on the Youth Guest Blog: Plants and Animals’ Matthew Woodley on a-ha

Sep 27, 2010 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern
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(Under the Radar's Summer 2010 Issue is a special issue named the Wasted on the Youth Issue that features musicians and actors talking about their childhood memories and things they loved when they were kids. We're also posting web-exclusive essays that were not printed in the issue, including this one by Matthew Woodley, from the Montréal-based band Plants and Animals.)

When I was 10, I sprouted a planter's wart deep in the heel of my left foot. Weight-bearing activities became painful. I had to go under the knife. So my mom took me to the hospital, and I sat upon a bed covered with loud paper while a nurse anesthetized my leg from the calf down, then a doctor dug in with a drill and removed my planter's wart.

On the way home, my mom and I stopped at the Halifax Shopping Centre, where she offered to buy me the cassette of my choice for taking it like a man. I chose a-ha's Hunting High and Low. I waited in shotgun while she did the buy.

Thus was born the soundtrack to the next six months of my 10-year-old life. That's five percent, and when you consider that I only started remembering things around three, it's almost double. When you're 10 in the late '80s, you listen to your new tape, and it stays in rotation until you get a newer one. Easy.

Keeping with the spirit of the era, I'm going to skip Googling a-ha. (It's even possible that I was, say, six when that tape came out. Fifty percent of my remembered life!) So I know now what I knew then: They were from Oslo, Norway, which was weird. They also had a massive hit called "Take on Me." It had a catchy synth riff-a transcendent, signature stroke on par with Beethoven's Fifth, Europe's "The Final Countdown," and anything that came before or after.

Their other single was called "The Sun Always Shines on TV." Funny title. A Norwegian inflection? Maybe TV should have been pluralized? Or they were talking about television as a whole? Anyway, I remember the lyrics like this: "Touch me/How can it be?/Believe me/The sun always shines on TV/Hold me/Close to your heart/Touch me/and give all your love to meeeee."

They had videos for both songs. One was a mix of live action and animation. Radical. The other involved a set with plenty of televisions and sun rays darting through billowing curtains. Why, if memory itself were to look like something, it could well be that room. They were clearly onto something. Uh huh! Bravo brave Nordic explorers, and may the sun always shine on you.

(Matthew Woodley is the drummer/vocalist for Montréal's Plants and Animals. The trio's latest album, La La Land, was released in April by Secret City Records and was nominated for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize. Trio a-ha formed in 1982 in Norway and scored its biggest hit with "Take on Me," which wasreleased in both 1984 and 1985 and taken from 1985's debut album, Hunting High and Low. The band is currently on its farewell tour, the Ending on a High Note tour, which will finish with three final performances in Oslo, Norway, December 2nd through 4th.)

(www.plantsandanimals.ca; www.a-ha.com)



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