Judith Seuma and Kirsten Ohlwein met Christoffer Lundquist in Frankfurt before the show on Sunday. In the following interview you’ll find information about Christoffer’s career, love to music, touring with Per and Roxette and much more.
Judith: How did you start to play music, compose, get in to music?
Christoffer: My parents got me and my sister when I was 6 years old to play violin. And I hated that. I hated every second of it, and I never practiced, never did anything, was horrible, but I sort of discovered it was nice to play notes and find them for yourself, and make up little tunes, so when I was maybe 10 or 11 I skipped the violin and finally dared to tell my parents I didn’t want to do that anymore, and I got an old guitar from my aunt, who also introduced me to the Beatles. From then on I’ve done nothing but playing, try to write arrangements, I am a totally single-minded person, that’s the only thing I do.
J: How many instruments do you play?
C: I actually only play guitar and bass, you know, reasonably well, the rest is sort of just cheating, but since I buy so many instruments, I have the possibility to practice with them. I play a bit of decent flute, half-decent saxophone, clarinet, I got an oboe, that was fun for a year and then it was too hard, so I skipped that. I have so many different instruments in my studio, but they are all kind of keyboard instruments.
J: Was Brainpool your first band?
C: No, I had my own band when I was in high school, we played prog-rock, loooong 20-minute songs which I wrote and forced everyone else to play.
J: So when did you start to compose your own stuff?
C: Probably at the age of 10, when I got the guitar. That’s the reason for playing for me, to try to make your own music or play your own stuff.
J: Did you actually study music?
C: No, never, the three years of violin when I was 6 to 10 is all my music education.
J: And how did you get to Brainpool?
C: David Birde was a friend of mine from high school, he had Brainpool going, the bass player was to go and do this army service, so I just joined as a replacement for him. But it turned out that the four of us got along very well and we liked each other, so when his army was over, he was no longer welcome I am afraid, it’s a bit harsh, but it’s the way it was. That was I think 91. It took a few years until we got a record deal and released our first album.
J: How was it that Per discovered your music in first place?
C: He had just started this side of Jimmy Fun Music which was going to release other music, besides Per’s own. We were one of the first bands to send him some demos, just by chance, that’s just the kind of music Per likes. Besides that, our singer, Janne, he sounds a little bit like Per, a little bit of this childish voice if you like, a bit high pitched, so he just fell for it. Back then Per used to listen to all the demos which had to do with Jimmy Fun, later he got a bit tired of it, and didn’t care so much, but in the beginning he was really into it.
J: So it was actually his decision to publish your music.
C: Yes, his and Ben Marlene, the guy he had hired to run Jimmy Fun Music. So yes, we were the first band he signed.
J: Tell about your first album, Soda, which songs were included?
C: You normally collect the best songs from many years and put them on the first album, so that’s the way it worked with us. The second album was a bit more difficult because we had to write the same amount of good quality songs in a shorter period of time.
J: How did you write the songs? Did you compose them all together?
C: Janne and David wrote most of the songs, I helped with a couple of them, and then I was mostly into the arrangement and producing.
J: The style throughout the albums changed quite a lot.
C: Yes, that was because we got easily bored. Once we had done something, we wanted to try something else, different.
J: Indeed.. you started with some kind of punk and..
C: …and ended up with rock operas! Haha! That’s a huge change, I agree.
J: I actually got the first CD when you went on tour, during C!B!B!, you might not remember, it’s 15 years ago, some fans were waiting outside of the hotel for Roxette to come out, and you came out, all of you four, we stared to talk with you, you looked quite surprised we even knew who you were. How did you experience the touring with Roxette?
C: Well, we came from nowhere and in a couple of months we were suddenly playing to 15000 people in Barcelona, so we were just “aaaahhh!”. It was an amazing adventure. We soon realized it was amazing and fun and learnt a lot. But at the same time nobody really wanted to hear us, of course, I mean, that’s the way it is with support acts. We also realized that after a while, some of the hard-core Roxette fans sort of started to like us, so that was nice. We got a better reaction in some countries. But I remember a gig in Prague, where they had particularly big tickets, and “Roxette” was written on them with large printing, after we had played a couple of songs, people started to raise their “Roxette tickets” .. but well, it didn’t matter, we just played even faster and louder.
J: But I still remember in Barcelona some people sang along. My sister and I had spread your CD … We had lots of fun.
C: Yes, I remember that. That was fun, to find small groups of people at the shows who actually listened and sing along. I remember the gig in Barcelona, we didn’t get much reaction from the audience in general, but Spain is different, you know, so I remember I was playing, I just took a couple of steps to the left and then everybody stood up, I was like “WHAT?”, that had never happened before. Haha!
J: I remember there was even a fanclub, started by a Swedish girl called Annika.
C: Yeah! There was also a girl called Nadja, yes, I think that was the name, from Germany.. or maybe Austria? It was really crazy in Sweden for a year or two, a lot of young girls, like 14-year old girls who fell in love with Janne. It was a bit like Gyllene Tider but on a smaller scale. Btw, the first concert I ever went to was a Gyllene Tider concert, during Moderna Tider, I remember I listened to it in secret because I thought it was a big embarrassing, a bit girly music, and I liked heavy important prog rock, but there was something about his voice you couldn’t resist, couldn’t not listen to it, that hit me.
J: What happened then with Brainpool?
C: It was mainly, the three of us who are still in the band, we drifted apart from Janne, so to say. It’s not that we weren’t friends, but we didn’t have that much in common, didn’t spend that much time together. The three of us are like brothers, so I guess that was the reason, he felt it wasn’t fun anymore. I don’t think he coped very well with the fame and success thing, he just didn’t like it so after a couple of years he felt like he didn’t want to do that anymore.
But we continue, it’s still fun, even though it’s more a hobby band now.
J: Do you still meet and play?
C: We try sometimes, let’s make a new album, but we need time and money and we are busy with many other things, to support ourselves. But we will again, one day, I’m sure. The Junk rock opera is very much alive. The American director who did the show in LA with it, two years ago, is coming to my place in January, we’ll write some new songs for it and develop it. They’ve done like 30-40 shows and now he knows what he feels is missing in the plot, so he’s going to tell us “we need to change this here,” or “this character is not clear enough”, so we are going to record some new music in January. I am really looking forward to it. After that we’ll start working on new Roxette music.
J: So you mentioned The Beatles are your inspiration, what other bands do you like?
C: To begin with, when I was a kid it was a lot of Beatles and a lot of ABBA. I loved ABBA, I still do, I listen to them a lot, I think it’s great music. I was also into all this prog rock stuff, so that was also part of my music information, I listen to that still. But now I listen to pretty much everything. I am not that much into dance music, I don’t get that, I need chords and melody. I sort of discover new music all the time, Per is such a music maniac, so he is constantly playing new music to us when we are working together, I discovered a lot of new stuff thanks to that.
J: How did you become Roxette’s producer?
C: It was a gradual thing which evolved out of itself, and, of course, a lot of luck. For me writing, playing and recording is sort of the same thing to me, the record is the music in my world, so I was really interested in all this stuff, when I listened to music when I was really small I paid a lot of attention to sound, arrangements, all this, so I was always the guy who recorded in Brainpool, and I just slowly started to get requests from small local bands to help them record a demo, and then it just evolved.
J: Have you worked with lots of bands?
C: Yes, producing, arranging and recording. I’ve done more than a hundred albums by now, that’s what I do all the time.
J: I think you also worked with Eva Dahlgren?
C: Yes, she tried me but she wasn’t happy with the results. I thought it was actually great and honestly thought that what we did was better than what was released in the end. I thought it became a really boring album in the end.
J: Yes, it’s surely not one of her best albums. The songs are great, but they sound kind of void, no feelings, or not as much as we are used to.
C: Yes, but I think she strongly felt she hit home with that style, so that was right for her. We recorded two songs, I loved “Äventyr”, I thought we made a fantastic version of that song. I think it became quite boring. But it was very nice to work with her, we had lots of fun, it was nothing personal, she simply didn’t like the music.
J: I think she commented about that on her book.
C: Yes! I checked the parts about me, haha!
J: One could read it was very hard for her to release this album and she was very relieved when she met Lars Halapi.
C: Yes, a long journey. I think she even recorded a full album and scraped all of it, that’s a bad way to make music, you lose spontaneity, recording the same song for 3-4 times. But I think she’s a great artist and has a wonderful voice. I think the collaboration with Anders Glenmark was great, they really complemented each other.
J: Talking about production, how much do you contribute to Per’s songs?
C: That’s so difficult to tell. It’s an organic process, very collaborative, it’s always the three of us in the same room working. I think people who listen to the songs can tell better. I don’t really know who does what when we work.
J: Was it a big difference to record an album without demos to doing it with demos?
C: I really prefer that, without demos. I think it’s a lot better in many many ways. If you make demos, the chance is you are going to listen to them many times, and then your mind is sort of set, you cannot take off from that, then you start to like things from the demos, arrangements, little details, vocals, and then you want to recreate that, so your hands are tied. It ruins a lot of the creativity. So when I get demos I listen to them once or twice and then throw them away.
I believe in the first impression, somebody sitting on the sofa in the control room and playing you the song. And then you go from there with the inspiration.
J: We actually love demos!
C: Haha, that’s fine, you can listen to them, but not me. Haha! But actually, often demos are even better than the final song. That is because that’s the first time the artist records the song, so for him that’s almost the birth of the song, and I like to save that for the record. That shouldn’t be on the demo, because demos aren’t meant to be published.
J: So it was like you said, Per came and played you some songs on the sofa..
C: Yes, the first time he did that was Son of a Plumber, it was the same way of working. That was really really creative. He was sitting in the kitchen writing while we were recording in the other half of the building and so on. That was like a boiling pot.
J: Regarding your studio, when did you start to build it?
C: I bought the house in 1997, thinking I was going to have a summer house in the country side and a demo studio, but then it GREW. I didn’t have a plan to have a professional studio and be a producer, it just happened.
J: And now you get lots of requests to record in your studio, what’s special about it?
C: It’s quite unique, it’s a bit old style in the way that it’s set. Modern music making is people sitting in a small room in front of the computer and doing music on the computer screen. It used to be a lot of people together in a big room, with lots of instruments, inspiration, great acoustics, and that’s what I like and been trying to create, an old style studio with a modern approach. I’ve also got a lot of different instruments, that’s also what makes it special and is rare. Nowadays everything comes out of the computer, and everybody uses the same samples, same drum sounds, leading to a more streamlined, boring, less personality music.
I’ve got lots of bookings and I work very hard, since I started. A bit too hard I think. I am trying to have somebody else use the studio without me being there, so I can have a bit of time off. A lot of French artists have been in my studio, a couple of American, Canadian, Norway. But mainly Swedish.
J: You were also involved in the project Junk Music. What happened with it?
C: It was an early attempt to release music on internet only. That was the idea. It was a great idea but none of us are really business men and it fell apart. The problem was nobody bought anything, so we didn’t earn a penny! So Junk Music is completely K.O.
J: It was fun to read the blog
C: Yes, that’s right. The great thing about it was that there was nothing about music in the blog but about everything else. So that was the idea, attract people due to the blog and have them buy music, but that never happened. We had so many readers, but people didn’t even listen to the songs.
J: Can you tell us about your solo work?
C: I finished my first solo album before I went on this tour, I don’t know how I am going to release it, but I will try. I released an EP that I am sort of semi happy with it, it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.
I enjoy making music so much, but when the music is finished the rest is not so much fun. I am not into working with record companies and all that, so I will force myself to get it released, I really want people to listen to it.
I’ve also got a singer singing backing vocals this time, just because I get bored of hearing my voice the whole time.
J: You seem to love being in the studio, but you also seem to have lots of fun on stage, so if you had to pick up one, what would it be?
C: If I had to choose, I’d stay in the studio. But I enjoy playing on stage inmensely, it’s so much fun. And I think it’s the best education for a musician, I think if you want to be good, you have to play for an audience, it teaches you a lot. Music is about communication after all, and only on stage you have this direct connection, you do something and you feel if you get something back or not immediately. Of course, this doesn’t happen with records. So…, I want to have it all!
J: Well, you DO have it!
C: Yes, that’s right. So far I do. But of course, there’s the other side of touring, the travelling, being away from your family. To start with, it’s great, because we have lots of fun, we like being together. Short tours are great, like last Spring, that was great all the way through. This one is maybe a bit too long, we are away from our families for nine weeks, towards the end it feels a bit sad. But of course, it’s great playing live and spending time with the other guys in the band.
J: How do you actually approach a tour? I have the feeling it’s quite strict and there is not much room for improvising.
C: In this tour there is less room than ever, mostly because of the orchestra. But for example, we planned last Spring’s tour in a way so that we could have more room for this. We consciously tried to do that, let lose a bit, take a bit more chances than normal and hope for the best. What happens is, when you succeed on that, you become stronger and want to do that more often. The communication with the audience then reaches a peak, everybody is in the same moment. Of course, that’s a risk, and sometimes it’s not that great, but I think it’s good to take those chances, that risk. No risk, no fun.
Of course, you can’t do that during this tour.
J: But you still added the “Hey Jude” part during this NOTP tour to “The Look”
C: Yes! True! Marie just came up with it. She just started singing “Hey Jude” so we were all “what?”. It came out of nowhere, and it actually sounds great, so we kept it. She is actually like that, she’s always done such things, she has so much music in her, it’s so natural for her to improvise. I think she always did that live on stage, changing melodies. Of course, if you are that secure with that way of singing, you can get away with mistakes and such.
Kirsten: She sounds amazing these days.
C: Oh yes! We are all “Wow! What happened?”. She is wonderful. She is my idol, I think she is such a hero. After all she’s been through, she still can do this in front of so many people, and she is SO strong, she’s got so much inner strength. I bow my head to her.
J: We all do. You can see it also in the concerts.
C: Yes, and she feels that. It’s so much fun when she is happy on stage, we all feel that so much. It was bad when she got the throat thing, that was hard. But still, she simply went for it, other artists would have cancelled the show, I mean, she couldn’t speak at all, had no voice. But she was like “no no, up on stage, let’s do it”.
K: Yeah, that’s what we thought during the show. So we just screamed even louder.
C: Yes, and she can feel that. I think she has a new sort of dimension in her voice, maybe because of what she has gone through, what comes out is your collected experiences as human being, and she has had more experiences than most of us, so when I hear her singing now, I think it’s even better than before. There is something new there. Some days ago, I don’t remember which concert, I think I heard the best version of “It must have been love” ever, it was like a new song almost, so fragile, so full of feeling. It meant so much in a way.
And when she sings the new songs Per wrote, we are all like “wow!”, it’s so fun to hear the two voices singing new songs together, it’s wonderful.
J: I remember a concert with Melissa Etheridge in Hamburg in 2004 she asked which song the audience would want to listen to and the people were shouting and she reacted like: Hmm, I haven’t been singing this song for a long time, so she just got the book with lyrics…
C: That’s a great performer (laughs) who can do that. That’s a scary thing to do on stage.
J: Could you imagine that with Per?
C: Who knows? I mean he has changed a lot. He developed that side of him a lot since the Mazarin tour when he had to be the single male performer for the first time, he really grew I think. And last spring I think it was amazing. But that’s a big step. It’s a personality thing to be that open. It might be difficult… you have to feel like that..you can’t do that as concept and pretend, you have to be like that. Otherwise it wouldn’t be good.
K: I really liked the new arrangements you did during the Party Crasher tour, especially with “The Look”. It sounded more pure and rough. Like it should sound.
C: I’m glad to hear that. That was sort of the idea, to bring the songs back to where they came from, without using the 80ies production. Which I think is great, but we wanted to sound different. So I am happy to hear this, because it’s very difficult for us, you know, when you love a band and they come with the old songs in a completely new way, it’s likely that you are not going to like it “uh, I want to hear the songs as they should be”. But now on NOTP they are really like they originally were.
K: Yes, and it was great you kept the end of “Listen to your Heart”, it used to be cut off.
C: Yes, but if you listen carefully, there are a couple of modulations in “Listen to your heart”which aren’t there anymore. In the middle 80ies version it gets higher and higher at the end of the song, but that’s not there anymore.
J: Going back to Party Crasher tour, I was a bit afraid of listening to Roxette songs without Marie, but I was totally surprised. Even with songs which are mainly sung by Marie. It was also great to get the chance to listen to songs we had never had the chance to hear live before.
C: But that’s great to hear. It was also fun to play. Per did that little survey online and asked the fans what they want to listen to. He got a lot of requests for the rocking stuff.
J: Were there any songs you would have liked to play, which you didn’t?
C: Actually not. The songs we didn’t play where those we didn’t manage to play that well. But we had all the songs we liked in the set list. We tried lots of songs and skipped those which sort of resisted.
For example, during Per solo tours in Sweden we tried some older songs from the 80ies, but we only kept a few. We tried Speedo once, but then it disappeared from the set list. During the En händig man tour we put more emphasis on Gyllene Tider songs.
K: I preferred the Party Crasher tour anyway, because it was much more relaxed for everyone. We could feel that everyone was much more relaxed.
C: That’s true. I am happy you liked it. For us it was a very special tour. I know Per says that all the time about every tour but this time it’s actually true. I hope we can do more of that some time in the future.
J: It’s great to listen to the live CD. It’s really like going back. I saw the two concerts in Stockholm and it is like going back to the atmosphere.
C: That’s great to hear.
J: Yes, it doesn’t happen a lot on many live albums.
K: Yes, but I am not happy that Party Pleaser was left out (laughs)
C: I can’t remember why, haha. It wasn’t my decision, not my fault (laughs). But it’s weird that the end of “Listen to your heart” was cut off. That was bad. He wanted to cut that out and I said “no, keep it in”, but he said no, it’s gotta go.
J: And then you have the DVD, where it’s complete…
C: When I sat down listening and choosing versions from the different cities I was really surprised to hear that it was a lot different. It was really different. Normally they’re not. You feel the difference when you play it, but when you listen to it it’s normally same same same same..but not this time. It is really good, I think.
K: Cologne was great..
C: Yes, that was a special night. But unfortunately the recording from the gig in Hamburg went wrong. So we couldn’t have “Hello Stuttgart” on the record. I would have loved that (laughs).
J: You made some kind of jokes in Stuttgart last week?
C: Yes, the “finally Stuttgart” sign. It’s in the tour bus now. It must be weird for fans from Stuttgart who don’t know it and ask “why is Stuttgart so funny?”. But Per recovered great. He said “it’s great to be here in Stuttgart..and Hamburg, and Cologne.” So he really saved himself in the last minute. But he will hear that for the rest of his life.
K: I think it didn’t matter on that tour…
C: No no no, that’s another thing that’s good. Just great.
J: So talking about having fun, we see a lot of your backstage adventures on YouTube… Is that the wine or…
C: They are getting worse and worse I think! Haha! When you tour, a certain silliness enters your brain because there is really nothing else to do. So your mind goes a bit empty, that’s what happens.
K: Jonas told us last week he was happy he was on stage during the NOTP show, because he doesn’t have to be bored backstage.
C: Yes, that’s true. The break between the first song and our second part is very long, so we sit there for hours. I think Per counted the hours and realized we are going to sit backstage a total of five full days. It’s so difficult to do anything, you try to read books, but you can’t, you can listen to music, that’s the only thing. It’s the same in hotel rooms, you can’t do anything there, it’s so difficult to concentrate and get going. It’s like… BLANK. And then silliness takes over.
J: Are there any videos we don’t see?
C: The silly videos are actually only boring, those don’t make it. But that’s Per’s decision, he does that on his own. He also goes around with the camera all the time, so always when he comes in the room it’s like “Hellooooo!” holding the camera, he never stops. He’s got this energy, I don’t know where he gets it from, it’s like an infinite source of positive energy, he’s amazing in that way. I’ve never met anybody who is like that actually. He never gets tired.
J: How do you like the NOTP concept?
C: It’s different from my taste of music and style of performing, but getting to know it all and being part of it made me realize how incredibly well everything is organized and how difficult it is to do something like this. And they have done this for such a long time, and people keep coming. They are very nice and really good at what they do. So I appreciate it a lot.
The audience in Antwerp was great, everybody was dancing, ages ranged between 5 and 80, everybody was totally into it, like a huge family party every night. The audience is very different in Germany, it’s a bit older, but at the same time Roxette has more support here, so for us that’s great.
K: And yesterday we even had balloons.
C: Yes that was fun! Marie talked about it, she thought it looked fantastic.
J: Do you have a lot to do with the other artists?
C: yes, we slowly get to know each other. Our dressing rooms are next to each other, and we also eat together. They are all very nice. But maybe the choice of artists was a bit better in Belgium and Holland. Toots was great, I liked him a lot.
J: What’s the part of the Night of the Proms that you like the most?
C: In the German part I am sort of getting into the Alan Parsons project part a bit more. I haven’t listened to it before. The second song is really nice (sings a part of Silence and I). The instrumental section in the middle is nice. Maybe that would be my favorite. And before it was Toots Thielemans.
K: I got tired of him in the end…
C: Yeah (laughs). Yes, maybe you shouldn’t listen to him too many times. I think it was a bit long maybe. The film music medley was going on and going on..
K: He’s great, of course..was just too much. Especially the Wonderful World part and then If I could with John Miles.
C: But the one before is great. The Bluesette was great. Jazz is not my thing. I don’t know much about Jazz, but he is a melodic jazz player.
K: And he’s 87…
C: Yes. And he plays something new every night. He has had a couple of strokes as well and he comes on stage, improvising, in front of 10.000 people. And he has some Swedish connection. In the 60’s he was working a lot with classic Swedish jazz singer Monica Zetterlund, who is fantastic, and also a pair of Swedish comedians, who everybody loves and knows, Hasse och Tage. He wrote music for their films and they made lyrics in Swedish for them. His jazz tunes are very well known in Sweden. He speaks Swedish. He comed and says “hej, hur mår du?” (laughs). And he was in the bar and was singing the theme from Swedish children’s movies that he made the music for. He was fantastic.
J: I missed that one. I have to check it out on YouTube…
C: Yes, check it out. Even though, he had a couple of bad nights when he didn’t play that well. So make sure you find a good night.
J: Regarding the arrangements for Night of the Proms: Did you do them yourself and then the orchestra came to it…
C: Oh, Clarence and I wrote the arrangements this summer. And they have an arranger and he added some things here and there. But we wrote the main part. And also they added things for “The Look” and “Joyride”, we wrote less for these and they said that we have to keep people in the orchestra happy, they have to play something, so we added a bit of stuff that maybe we wouldn’t have written to keep people play. But it’s still stuff that we like. That was fun. We actually wrote arrangements for the songs we were supposed to play in 2002, too. They were never used in the end. So there were arrangements for “Crash!Boom!Bang!” and “Anyone”. They were put together to one song for the huge orchestra.
K: This was played together during the Room Service tour in 2001…
C: Yes, it’s the same arrangement, just for the huge orchestra. I hope we can use that some day.
K: Anyone. I can’t remember the lyrics. Too difficult..
C: Yeah, very difficult (laughs). But it’s a great song. It’s one of the best songs on “Have a nice day.”
J: With the orchestra it’s much more difficult to play than just with five people. Would you like to do that in a full concert with Roxette?
C: I’ve done it once. We performed “Junk” with Brainpool and a symphony orchestra once. That was like the concert of my life. I never had so much fun. When we started the project I thought like “oh, this is going to be scary, it’s not going to work” and I remember maybe two or three songs into it it just felt like “yes, this is right, this is how it should be”. But that’s because it is a rock opera. But touring with Roxette or maybe a whole Per Gessle concert with an orchestra doesn’t really make sense. In this context it’s good, but otherwise not. The whole idea “Classic meets Pop” is very rarely successful, I think. A lot of bands have done it, Metallica etc etc. And it feels like something bands do when they get bored. “We have to develop. Let’s get an orchestra”.
J: Even though, the whole Metallica thing is really good..
C: For me, it’s not my style, but it’s very well done. They use it in a good way, I think, but I prefer Metallica without the orchestra.
K: So going back to the new Roxette songs. If you take wishes, please, don’t use many synthesizers and more guitars.
C: Haha! Ok, I’ll pass that on. But I think it normally decides itself. All the bad records I’ve heard, or those which didn’t turn out that great, are the ones where someone had a real fix plan. “This is like it’s going to sound like”. This prevents creative things from happening. So for me my only idea about producing is just being open to whatever might happen. If something feels good, that’s it. Be it a synth or a drum kit or retro sounds, more modern. What feels right at that moment, that’s what you must do, go for. That’s the only way to make good music.
J: Was this the problem with “Have a nice day” or “Room Service”? Having a fix idea of what they would be like.
C: Could be, we had a bit more a restrained idea. For me, when I listen to those records now, they aren’t as good as they could have been. There are some really nice songs, but the records could have been better. How do you feel about that?
K: I was quite shocked when I heard “Crush on you” and the rest of the songs, but I didn’t skip any song. I really loved “Wish I could fly” and “I was so lucky”. Then I also loved “Beautiful Things”.
C: Yeah, that’s one of the simplest songs on the album, without many things going on in it.
J: For me the album was a love-hate relationship. Sometimes I loved it, others I didn’t like it at all. Currently I love it. Actually “Room Service” is the one I listen to the least. I think the feeling is missing there.
C: I wasn’t much involved with “Room Service”, except for playing bass, some guitar and backing vocals with Marie. But I might guess the reason is it wasn’t as much fun as it used to be. I guess that’s what you hear. I think that’s more important than which instruments you are using. You should have fun when recording an album, then it’s surely going to be good.
J: How are you going to record the new album then? All together in the studio playing live or use a lot of technology.
C: I really don’t know. We are talking about it all the time, it might be a mixture. This time we might have a bit more or real playing, more than in Party Crasher where we used programmed drums. That was fun to do, we hadn’t done that before, but we’ll see.
J: Do you listen to the albums years after they are finished?
C: Yes, right after finishing them I listen to them a lot. And then I also listen to them a long time after they have been finished, released. I learn a lot from this process. I often realize when I put on a record which is like three years old, and I haven’t listened to it for a long time, then I realize new things in the songs which I didn’t realize before, because I was so much into the producing and working on it. How do you feel about the Party Crasher album?
J: For me it was like coming back home again, finally like something Per does solo. I wasn’t much into “Mazarin” or “En händig man”.
C: And how about you?
K: Well, I’m trying to remember the songs.
C: Haha! So you don’t like it much.
K: I didn’t like it much when I first listened to it but then it grew on me. I fell in love with “Doesn’t make sense” immediately and I really like “Stuck here with me” and “Perfect Excuse”.
C: “Mazarin” and “En händig man” are a bit of retro, old style. That was the reaction to “Room service” or “Have a nice day”, where there was more like a conscious attempt to make them sound modern. With “Mazarin” we just allowed ourselves anything, we did what we felt like. It turned out to be a bit more retro. When you work like that everything goes faster, when you work trying to make modern music everything lasts forever. So it’s difficult to keep the feeling when you work on a song. It was a blast to record like that, more live. I remember when we were working on the Party Crasher, we thought it sounded a bit Roxettish.
J: Yes, so maybe that’s why I loved it. So looking forward to whatever is coming. I love the “Mazarin” demos.
C: Yes, I remember sitting with my wife in the kitchen, listening to them for the first time. I just played them in the background, not paying much attention, after a while we were “hm, what is this?”, next song “huh, what’s going on here?”. So from a song writing point of view it was like finding the source again, real inspirational sounds.
J: And I think Helena did a great job in the last album.
C: Yes, well, she opens her mouth and I am happy. But yes, she got more space in this album. And she did a wonderful job.
K: That’s one thing I didn’t like much. If I buy a Gessle album, then I expect Gessle to sing. But I also think she does a great job, better than the other albums.
C: I think it would have been better to call the Party Pleaser album a “Son of a Plumber” record, because that would have made more sense. Would have been a nice step, from the first double album to the more disco sound, could have created an entity. But they decided to release it under Gessle, because people would recognize his name and would be easier to get it through in radio stations. But who knows, all this marketing radio strategy stuff is so difficult to guess. I have no idea.
K: I have to get back to Aimee Mann again. She started her own record label when she was fed up with the whole music business and I think she’s much happier now. She’s doing everything by herself: distribution, logistics…
C: That IS the new way and it’s good. But the bad side is that artists that aren’t good with that stuff, they can go and die in a corner, because they can’t do it all by themselves and it’s a bit sad because you not only have to be a good musician, but you have to be so much else.
K: I think – as far as I remember – she decided that because the record company told her to change her style because they thought they couldn’t sell her stuff and said it’s not radio friendly enough and she was like “well, then..
C: ….go fuck yourself, yes.. But it is like that. As soon as there is some big record company involved…but that’s great about Per and Marie. They don’t care about that. They do what they like. They have always done things that feel right in their hearts and never compromised. Never released anything that was an attempt to please anyone. And that’s a huge thing and for me it’s an explanation why they both are so successful.
J: Is there an artist you would like to work with?
C: I have never thought like that. When I start working with someone I sort of get into it and realize what it’s about. I haven’t really dreamt about it. I think it would be scary to work with your own idols or something like that. I would probably be afraid.
J: So one of the instruments you play is guitar, you have a quite different style to play guitar than Jonas. Do you also play like these kind of riffs, or or heavy metal..
C: No, not really. I sort of play what sounds natural to me. I haven’t listened to so much music of that style. No, that’s not my thing. But I like riffs. I like all the riffs Jonas plays and that he came up with (sings the The Look intro). That’s brilliant stuff I think. For me that sounds like it comes from The Beatles. It doesn’t sound like it comes from heavy metal. It’s a bit of both actually, but for me it sounds more like a Beatles riff. Jonas is such a great musician, he’s so technical and he can play so many styles. I am not like that at all. He’s just a hundred times better than I am.
K: And Alan Parsons sounds Roxetteish now..
C: Yes, Jonas does that great. Yeah, Jonas is the best guitarist they ever had. I hope, Alan Parsons realizes it (laughs).
J: Yesterday it was really great. I thought, it was even better than in Hamburg, what he played…
C: Yes, you can see that he likes it. He’s into it, improvising and having fun. Playing with Jonas is great. He’s so musical, he has such a good ear and listens and adapts and always comes up with great stuff and this is wonderful.
K: Maybe we can catch some Alan Parsons with Jonas on YouTube. Unfortunately the most Roxette videos from the Proms you find on YouTube are from the 2nd night in Antwerp… I just thought of Marie’s voice ..
C: Ah, when she had the throat thing…
K: There are dozens of videos of that night..
C: There is?
C: No….get rid of them. Put some new ones there (laughs).
K: On our site we have a blog post for each and every gig where we link to the videos, too. And for that night it’s just….many videos.
C: Oh no (laughs). The first couple of nights I got the stomach flu and I was bluaaaaah all over the place and I couldn’t be in the same dressing room like the others, so I wasn’t actually there in the first four nights. I sat in my own little isolation cell, no contact with anyone, no idea what was going on…
J: You also had some problems with your back?
C: Yeah, I am getting old. The guy I met in the reception was the back fixer. I haven’t been able to sleep because my arm hurts. It’s hard being a rock musician (laughs).
J: Is it because of playing the bass?
C: I think it’s a combination of that and stress, maybe. You are tensed and then the muscles and nerves get squeezed..
J: Two more weeks…then Christmas. You said you have plans to do some stuff next year with your solo project and Brainpool, maybe..
C: Yes, Brainpool in January and then I hope to release my own stuff in the Spring. As soon as possible. I am not sure if I am trying to find a record company. Record companies are no much use anymore. They just want money and don’t release the records. I should try and do it myself, maybe.
K: I have a friend who uploads his songs to iTunes…
C: Yes, you can do it yourself. And you can put it on Spotify and everything. But I am an old-style person. I like the records, I want to look at the record and the lyrics and watch pictures and so on. I really want to do that.
J: Yes, I love that. I always read who’s playing in which song…
C: Yeah, I always do it, too. And I sort of remember it like “Oh, that guy wrote this one but not that one”. That’s fun.
J: Yes, just to see who has composed which song…and the connections between producers, musicians, artists.
C: I think you should always write that on records. As much detail as possible. The designers of the covers – they don’t want that. They want it to be clean and beautiful and I always fight them.
K: I liked on “Mazarin” that Per added the dates of when each song was written…
C: Yes, and he also wrote who played what on each song and then he got tired of it. So on the last record there has been nothing of that.
J: The Americans – they always have like a full list of names. I suppose this has to with copyrights and as soon as somebody contributes to a song has to have the name as songwriter or composer…
C: Oh, you mean in the songwriting credits? Yes, they have lists of names. Sometimes I think it’s politics. All those people haven’t written the songs but they have contributed in some other ways so you credit them on a song and give them a little piece of money to even things out. I think it’s rare that so many people write a song. I think it’s often an economical, political thing.
J: Yes, but it’s still fun just to find out, ah so this one also contributed to that song from the other artist.
C: Yes, I think so, too, I love that.
J: Talking a bit music geek, did you buy the Beatles mono and stereo…?
C: I did buy a couple of the stereo records and being a total nerd I have listened to them. Clarence and I listened to them in the dressing room and we both reacted the same way: “It’s changed! It’s not the same”. I am really big on that. You should never change a record, you shouldn’t try to improve them.
K: So it has changed to the worse?
C: Well, you can’t improve something that is already done. When it’s done it’s done. It’s like you add a new color to Mona Lisa.
K: And the songs are 45 years old..
C: Yeah. And they haven’t remixed them or anything like that. I think they want back generations in the masters, which changes the sound a lot and you sort of hear details that you never heard before. And the levels changed like the piano isn’t that loud..
K: I think it’s the same with the Roxette remasters.
J: It’s great, actually…
C: But that is most subtly done I think. Less change…
K: I can hear the differences..
C: Yes, there is a difference, but it’s not that big.
K: On Look Sharp!, there’s “The Voice” on it, which was a demo, actually. And now Marie is so much louder on that one. I was like “uh, it’s a new song”.
J: And there are new sounds in the background which you only could hear when you were listening to it on a MP3 player.
C: …and now they are jumping out of the picture…But it’s bad when artists remix their old records or improve them or update them. Don’t change them. They should be as they always were.
J: Did you get the Beatles stuff in mono, too?
C: No, I never listened to The Beatles in mono. When I was kid I was listened to it in stereo. So I don’t care about the mono, even for the albums that are supposed to be mono. I like the band there (points at the right ear) and the voice there (points at the left ear), because that’s what I heard when I was 10 years old, that’s right for me. I am actually so nerdy that…there’s a Japanese guy who got old Beatles records and transferred them to digital without touching them, straight into the computer and sold that as a bootleg. I got those, so I can listen to them..
J: Huge files..
C: He turned them into MP3, but good quality MP3, but it sounds more like you’re used to. I prefer that. No new Beatles remastering for me (laughs).
J: You also collect albums?
C: I did when I was a teen. I bought a lot of records. But now – it’s not so much fun anymore. I do as everyone else – I have the computer and iPod and sort of stuff. But I bring out the vinyl sometimes. Then I play the music I loved when I was a kid.
J: What do you think about the copyright and copy protection and things like that?
C: All these stuff they put on records, that’s bullshit of course, you can’t do that to people. And it’s the same when you buy stuff on the internet. Before you could have a file only on a couple of computers and so on. I mean, come on – you buy it and it’s yours. Like they do with movies – all the region stuff is idiotic, that’s bad and that’s how they are ruining their own life, because people download it illegally then. I think it’s just off the track.
J: I think, it could actually be good. Because many people first download it and then decide to buy it if they like it..
C: It’s that part of it, too, for sure. So it works both ways. But the main thing I think is, that there must be a connection between the people who get it and the people who made it, who should get something for it. That’s the only important thing. And downloading is fine, when it’s not 90%. But Spotify is sort of difficult, too. It’s a great great concept and so much fun, but you get something played 4 million times and then you get 1000 Euro for it. I mean, no one can survive. And about the whole downloading discussion. You mentioned people first download and then buy when they like it, that’s true, but the people who suffer the most aren’t the big ones. That people always say: “Oh, we steal from Madonna, who cares , Michael Jackson, Roxette, they have so much money”. But smaller artists just disappear. They earned just enough to be able to make a new record and now they don’t anymore. So you get no new music. That’s really sad. It’s more about the small ones for me.
J: Even though, I’ve never bought a song as MP3, only some releases of Roxette on iTunes that haven’t been released on a CD. I only buy the real CD.
C: I prefer that, too. It’s more fun, but it’s disappearing. I mean, our kids they don’t care anymore. They want the good songs and skip the bad songs. Things change..
J: Have you talked to Christina Stürmer?
C: Just a little. She’s like super big in Germany.
J: Even though she’s Austrian..
C: She’s Austrian? Oh…!
J: The Germans don’t like to tell that much out loud…
C: Ok, but her career is in Germany largely? She won the “Idol” thing in Germany?
J: No, it was in Austria and she didn’t win. She just got second but she was the only one who made a big career out of it.
C: Oh yes, it’s the same in Sweden. The second is just more successful than the winner. I think she performed “The Look” on Idol?
J: Yes, with the guy who won. I sent the link to Per, so maybe he has had a look at this performance. I think it’s kind of fun.
C: Oh yeah, he showed it to me. It’s fun that all the young people play Roxette covers. Per is really into that. He checks all that stuff. “Oh, look at this. We got this Japanese “The Look”” (tries to sing Japanese).
J: I think it’s difficult to cover Roxette..
C: It’s difficult to cover anything. If you really love an artist you can’t take the cover versions. I don’t want to hear Beatles covers. It’s horrible.
J: Even though – Marie and Roxette made a nice one with “Help”..
C: Really? Did they?
K: They even recorded it in the Abbey Road studios..
C: Did they? I never heard that.
C: Is it good?
K/J: Yes, it’s great. It’s really great.
K: It’s Jonas, Marie and Clarence in the studio..
J: .. and Per was in the control room.
K: It’s really great.
J: It’s really Marie-like..
C: Have to check it out. Have you heard the Japanese “The Look”? In Japanese. It’s hilarious.
K: Is it on YouTube, too?
C: Yes, I think so. Per sent the link. It’s like…(tries to imitate Japanese sounds). It’s fantastic..
K: So, it’s time for the show now…
C: Yes, we start at three, so we start at quarter to four. Are you going today as well?
J: Yes. First row, sitting.
K: I don’t have a ticket yet.
C: Oh, it’s sitting only. Yeah, right. It’s the matinee family show. How much earlier do you have to be there to get in the front row?
K: On Friday we have been here around 3pm.
C: …and you were the first in line then?
K: Yes, yeah, it’s much more relaxed than on a usual tour. I remember Gyllene Tider.. we were there at 12. But it’s ok here. Though, it’s still three hours until the doors open.
C: It’s impressive, I think, in the cold…
K: No, we could wait inside the building.
J: But it’s not always like that.
K: No, no, but I got used to freezing during the last weeks..
C: And The Party Crasher tour you didn’t have to be there early, too?
K: In Cologne it was quite full. People stood around the whole building, around 200 people one hour before the doors opened. But as it is in Germany, everybody stood in a line and waited..
K: Yes, of course. No pushing. It was cool.
J: The last time, I was involved in such waiting and queueing was in 2001, I think, when Roxette did those showcases and they came to Barcelona.
C: The club gig, yeah, in the small rock club.
J: Yes, it was around 1000 people.
C: At the most..and that was the first gig since 1994. Kind of a small comeback.
J: Really good, was around 1 hour? Not too long. You couldn’t buy tickets but won them on a radio station.
C: It was so fun to do those gigs because everyone felt: Yes, let’s do this.
J: So, maybe an idea for the next ones…
C: For sure. Everyone is hoping for that. But one step at a time. But everyone wants it.
J: We just take what comes..
K: I don’t think we expect anything big. We know the situation and we’re happy with what we get at the moment. It’s great.
C: But this is so much fun for everyone. The feeling is right. Everyone is hoping that something can happen.
K: Would be cool, of course. Fans would like that. Maybe something like a second unplugged show. Piano, guitar and suitcases…! But we’re realistic to it..
C: It was a fantastic moment when Marie came on stage the second Party Crasher show in Stockholm. It was a magic moment. I was standing in the corner crying.
K: I thought in Amsterdam it was a bit louder..
C: Maybe because it was a bit smaller in Amsterdam.
J: We were sitting in the back behind the families and everybody stood up and was crying in Stockholm..
C: Yeah, it was very emotional, really.
J: Even though you can see people cry even now when Marie comes up on stage on “Wish I could fly”…
C: Yes, I see that, too.
Connie: And all the people just stand up now. The 60-year-old lady to the right and the 12-year-old-kid to the left, both of them sure no Roxette fans and showing respect.
C: And we get a rush of it, of course. And for Marie it’s fantastic, of course, to get all that feedback again.
J: And you meet the same people every night… (no hint at K…yet everyone is laughing)
C: Well, actually, it’s really nice. It’s a feeling of support. It is, we all feel that. It’s a strong emotional support.
K: I think, it’s a bit embarrassing. I have to change my hair…
C: Well, I totally get that…I remember on the Party Crasher tour seeing the guys every night, I asked one – I forgot who I asked – isn’t it boring to see the same thing every night? And the answer was great. “Well, is it boring to play the same things every night and do the same stupid moves?” And I was: Ooops. And I sort of got it. Music is communication. It’s not a performer and an audience. You are doing something together.
J: And when you get out of the concert you’re just feeling happy and you remember when they played that and did see that…
C: …yes, and compare things that were different. It’s a beautiful thing.
J: And you listen to an album also more than once. Going to a live concert is even better. Anything can happen.
C: That’s also a good point of view. If you can listen to a song so many times throughout your life why only see one concert?
K: Besides – the financial aspect.
C: I always want to ask that, but it’s a bit rude. How you can afford to do this? It must ruin your life..
K: I found out about the participation of Roxette before it was officially announced due to some mistake on the website of the Proms.
C: Yeah, I heard that..hacking.
K: No, it was not hacking. The information was hidden in the source code of the page.
C: No, I know it was not hacking, just sort of below the surface.
J: But it was actually shown on Google.
K: Yes. I googled Roxette, 2009 and Night of the Proms and it was the first result.
C: So Google found the code..
K: Yes. And I bought the tickets before it was announced so I paid for them already in April. There are shows I decide to go now and for those I have to pay now but in the end the price is divided in two parts – the tickets I bought in spring and the tickets I buy now. The only expensive thing now is the travelling – by car, by train.
C: Do you drive around in cars? Is that the main thing?
J: We flew from Austria. But it’s so cheap now to fly. We booked the tickets in May, it was 100 Euro a ticket. But I am not doing so many concerts. Yesterday we decided to go to the concert and bought tickets outside the hall. But – other people spend three weeks on holidays and spend 3000 Euros. If it’s fun why not..
K: I will be broke after the tour…but when Marie fell ill in 2002 I promised myself: If they ever come back I will do as many shows as I can. And that I do now.
C: I totally get that.
J: Do you go to a lot of concerts yourself?
C: I used to. Not so much anymore, mainly because I work so much, there’s never time. And when I don’t work I want to be with my family. And then I live kind of off. The place where I live, where the studio is, is in the middle of nowhere. No other people ever. And I have gotten so used to it, I like that so much and when I am home I sort of never leave the little farm.
K: It’s a big difference to tour life, many people, big cities..
C: Yes, I find it difficult in big cities now. I don’t like it. I feel sad. Everything is ugly and it smells bad. When you don’t know the city you only get to see the bad parts, because you don’t know where to go. So you only see the horrible, tall buildings..
J: So you don’t have a house or a flat in a city?
C: No. I have a house even more in the countryside, on Gotland. We have a 400 year old storage building there, with just cold water and no shower and we’re there for six weeks every summer. Not checking emails, if possible (laughs). I have become more and more like that over the years. I am not into buying stuff and all the consumer blablabla. I think it’s a sad development. People should have more time and spend more time with their family and less time with making money to buy unimportant things that are made by kids in China. That’s my agenda. We behave very badly. I’m ashamed every day, actually, honestly.
Connie: It changed so much. I remember my childhood and I remember what I had – limited technical stuff and things to play and when I see now children that age…
C: It’s really sad. A couple of years ago me and wife counted the objects our kids owned when they were 6 or 3. And I can’t remember the figure, but it made us feel “uuuh, we are bad people, what are we doing to ourselves and the planet”. So we are trying hard to change. But it’s difficult..
J: Yes, and they hear from the other kids in school.. Like with cell phones.
C: Yes, it’s a race. But all the people who disagree with that must try to do something against it, or nothing will ever change. With cell phones, and getting a new model every year. I have my personal little cell phone fight. Mine is five years old and I am fighting hard not to buy a new one. It’s our whole civilization, I think, that is going into that direction. And I believe that money is the root of it all, that money has become too important, too influental, too much a deciding factor. It doesn’t mean I am a communist, but maybe we should try to listen to our emotions a bit more. And less towards economial-wise. It’s a fantasy, it’s Monopoly, Roxopoly. Haha..
J: Did you play it?
C: Yes, my kids played it. We gotta have to make the movie, we forget about it every day. Yes, my kids played and there were a couple of fun cards like “been screwed by the official fan club once again”.
J/K: So thanks for your time. It’s time to go to the concert!
C: Yes, that’s right! It was nice talking to you.
Photos during interview by Cornelia Haslinger, concert by Kirsten Ohlwein.