Boys to Men

A1 is the same old, brand new band

By Clara Lock, photos by Ratna Masayu

At the Mandarin Oriental hotel where this interview takes place, a group of photojournalists are snapping away at A1 during a photo call.

“How about a boy band pose,” one suggests helpfully.

The boys laugh, and awkwardly strike a few – arms folded, a practiced half-turn, and a pensive “deep in thought” expression.

“What do people do when they pose?” wonders Christian Ingebrigtsen, one third of the group.

Eventually they settle into a fairly convincing attempt at mock-laughter, which seems to ease the tension. With their perfectly-styled hairdos thrown back prettily for the camera, these lads are as pretty as they were when they first graced magazine covers 14 years ago with hits like Same Old Brand New You and Take On Me.

But don’t call them a boy band any longer.

“People have that impression of us, that we’re some kind of dancing boyband. We were never actually dancers, we were musicians who had to learn to dance,” said Mark Read. The band used to pay choreographers $25,000 for a dance routine until they realized they could buy ‘a lot of guitars and keyboards for that’.

“We kind of hide behind our instruments now,” he said half jokingly.

Lyrically, too, their music has evolved along with their life experiences, dealing with breakups and past relationships.

Read’s 9-year relationship, which ended ‘not long ago’, has been the inspiration behind the track Nothing in Common. Their songs, he said, are not always upbeat and positive any longer, as their 2010 release Waiting for Daylight shows.

But for many A1 fans, who were at their concert this week, the best part of their lineup is still the old numbers.

The band may not shell out thousands of dollars for their dance moves any longer, but they were not above putting together their routine for Ready Or Not, which Read calls ‘one of the poppy-est songs we ever did.’

He proceeds to give a demonstration of these dance moves, complete with cheesy hand gestures. “Now you know why we stopped dancing,” he said, laughing.

A1 may be a man-band now, but they’re really still boys at heart.