An interview with Per Gessle is to be broadcast on SVT tomorrow at 19:00, but it’s already available online on SVT Play. Program leader of Sverige!, Fredrik Önnevall talked to Per last week in Malmö. The program starts with a few seconds teaser, then the real deal is 7:22 into. Watch HERE!
Fredrik introduces Per’s career summary, showing footage from the past and tells Mr. G is releasing a new album where he looks back on his 44 years of songwriting career. Then the interview starts.
Fredrik asks Per how come he spent his summer with looking back on his music archives. Per says these days you spend a lot of time at home, there is no travelling. Somewhere around Easter he started to get eager to play, so he thought he records something acoustic and tries to play as many instruments as possible himself. Then he thought, shit, he doesn’t have any songs, but then he realized there are a lot of songs from back in time. So he went through his archives, songs he wrote since the early 80’s. He found many songs he still likes and were clumsily recorded or songs he wrote for others, e.g. Segla på ett moln for Anne-Lie Rydé or I din hand for Svante Thuresson. Those he never recorded and so he tested a lot of them. It became some quite nice months in the studio.
Fredrik asks if the songs were available on old reels. Per says they were mainly on cassettes. Mr. G realized that he has been writing songs since 44 years and that’s a long time. Fredrik says Per recorded a lot of songs in the beginning of the 80’s, when he was 20+ years old. Now he is 60+ and Fredrik is interested in how it is to sing those songs now, if Per still approves of the lyrics. Per says he rewrote some of them, because the expressions were a bit clumsy and it’s also important that the texts must be relevant still. Certain old songs have the feeling that feels good, so it was just about to make them maybe a bit more simple. The album is acoustic based, so he tried to make it as minimalist as possible.
Fredrik says it’s not only music from the past, but there are newly written songs. In May Per wrote Mamma and Pappa. Per’s father died when he was 19, in 1978. The day he died, Gyllene Tider broke through. That was the day when the first article about GT was written in Expressen by Mats Olsson. It was a strange feeling. The end of something and the beginning of something else.
Fredrik says many in Per’s surroundings, in his family passed away during the past years: his mother, his brother, his sister. Per says those were hard times and you’ll probably never understand that. It’s always difficult when something ends. It was the same with Marie when she passed away in December last year. She was sick for such a long time and you would think you kind of prepared for that, but when it happens, it’s still very hard to deal with it. Fredrik asks in what way Per reacted differently than he thought. Per says it’s mainly the feeling that Maire is not there anymore. You can’t call her or meet her. It’s an emptiness that changes you. Maybe not overnight, but it becomes a different life.
Fredrik asks what Per misses the most about Marie. He misses their relationship, their friendship and all they went through. They did a fantastic journey together. He misses to talk about that with her and to plan new things with her. So he misses her as a good friend. He knew Marie since 1978-79 when they shared rehearsal studio, Marie with her own band, Per with Gyllene Tider. So it’s a very long friendship that suddenly ended. It’s tough.
Fredrik asks what Per thinks was about the chemistry between them why it worked so well. Per says it’s many things. They both came from small towns and they were pretty much similar. Both of them were ambitious and had the same type of humor. At the same time, they were quite different. They were good at different things. And that made 1+1 = 3. Marie sang much better than Per, Per was more interested in music industry and how it worked. Marie could make the songs immensely much better than they actually were, because she made them her own. It Must Have Been Love, Listen To Your Heart or Queen Of Rain for example. She made them her own, you believed her and it’s a great quality to have as an artist.
Fredrik mentions Roxette also releases new music and is curious about how it is possible. Per says they release a collection, Bag Of Trix which consists of unreleased songs, bonus tracks that were released on e.g. a CD single in Japan or a strange mix from the US. For example, Joyride became No. 1 in the US, but the radios play a different version in the US than what was released in Sweden and that US version was never released in Sweden.
Fredrik says there is a new video to one of the new songs. Per says his wife recorded most of what can bee seen in the video. Those days you had a real camera with you, nowadays it’s much easier. It’s much fun to see those recordings. They were travelling around the world for appr. 8 years. That was the golden era in Roxette’s history between 1988 and 1995. Fredrik asks how far it feels for Per now. Mr. G says it feels like it was a long time ago, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like another person. He is still in that and is still touring all the time. He is reminded of Roxette all the time, many fans are still there. Fredrik asks if Per remembers all the happenings in the video. Mr. G says no, but he remembers when they had that giant fence and gave autographs through it. It was crazy. They had police escort and they had to run all the time. They were there around the whole world, but they didn’t see anything, because they were at the concert, then locked in the hotel room, then at the airport and off to another country. Fredrik asks if there is anything Per misses from those days. Per says he misses it all, it was a fantastic journey. He wouldn’t want to undo that. He would love to do that again, but in a different way.
Fredrik says Per always had the same people around him during his career and asks why is that. Mr. G says he likes long relationships. He says he’s been married since two thousand years, it feels like that now. Haha. He still works with Clarence Öfwerman, Roxette’s first producer, Marie since the 70’s, Gyllene Tider is also an old band.
Per’s home is still in Halmstad. He says you breathe in a different way in Halmstad. He is a small town guy. Fredrik asks how it is when Per Gessle goes out in Halmstad. Per says that’s fine, but of course he is more alert in Halmstad than in any other place. Sometimes it’s like a small event when he fuels his car or shops at ICA or goes to the pharmacy. People are very nice, there is never anything negative. Mr. G says people praise you the whole time and that gives an ego boost. Sometimes he just sits in the car and drives around Halmstad and look how things have changed. He drives around his old area where he grew up near Folkparken, his old schools, Örjans vall. It’s probably a sign of getting old, but he also often collects ideas for his texts. He wants to go back to that, write about it and color it for himself.
Fredrik asks what the word ”safety” means to Per. Mr. G says he needs substance all the time. He doesn’t like to jump around, he is a little ”late blooomer” in everything. He digs deep into things and that’s how he becomes good at them. He can do a very few things, but what he can do, he is pretty good at. It’s typically him.
Fredrik asks how many songs are lying around on old demo tapes. Per says there is a lot of unreleased stuff, but there is also crap stuff. The other day he found an old folder of texts and text ideas from the late 70’s. It’s from the time when GT’s first album was written. It was depressingly lousy. Haha.
Fredrik thanks for the interview.
Stills are from the program.