Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – June 2023

In May it was only Sven Lindström on Nordic Rox, but for the June episode, Per Gessle got back on track and joined him.

The guys focus on one of the biggest legends in Swedish rock history, Pugh Rogefeldt, who unfortunately passed away a couple of weeks ago. Sven says he left a mark on Swedish music and changed it more or less forever. Per agrees. Pugh was probably the first Swedish rock act to sing in Swedish. Nobody did that. Everyone in Europe thought that they had to write in English. Except in France, PG adds. Haha. In Sweden, in the ’60s, all those bands that were big, were either singing Middle of the Road songs in Swedish or they were doing rock and pop music based on Brit pop from the ’60s. Pugh Rogefeldt was the one in 1969 who did an album in Swedish. It took everyone by surprise and it earned him a Grammy. The first three or four albums he did were truly amazing, Mr. G says. Pugh actually influenced him a lot and lots of his peers too. Sven says Pugh made a massive impression on the scene. The guys will play 4 Rogefeldt songs and talk about them in a little while, but before that, they play some fasten-your-seatbelts songs.

Our Own Revolution by Brainpool is the opener. Per says it’s a sadly missed band. Sven adds they were discovered and signed by Per. Mr. G says oh yeah, he forgot about that. It happened once upon a time in the ’90s when he had a publishing company. Per says they were great writers and a great band. He thinks they did three or four albums. Christoffer Lundquist is on bass guitar here. Later he became Per’s producer and also lead guitar player in Roxette. He started out as a bass player. A very cool guy according to Sven.

Driving One Of Your Cars by Lisa Miskovsky is next. A great track according to Sven and Per. Then comes Just Kids by Lowland Circus.

The next song is (Do You Get) Excited? by Roxette. It’s one of the tracks from the massively successful Joyride album from 1991. Those were the days, the guys say. PG says Sven had hair those days. They are laughing. (Do You Get) Excited? is one of Per’s favourite songs from the album. He loves the sound of it. There are great guitar parts by Jonas Isacsson and Marie, of course, is singing the shit out of this song. Sven is curious if Per remembers writing and recording it. PG can’t really remember, but he says they had a big argument, because there is lots of modulations in this song. Per was really into modulations at the time and so he tried to use that in the arrangement of the song a lot. It’s got a little Led Zeppelin riffs, combined with a little drum machine here and there, it’s pretty special.

Broder Daniel’s Underground comes next. A lovely song, Mr. G thinks. Then it’s the Darkest Hour’s turn by Astrid S.

The guys get down to the Pugh Rogefeldt session. Sven says he was 22 years old when he made his debut album. He came from a small town and he was the father of two children. He didn’t expect anything, he didn’t really think anyone would listen to the album. PG says Pugh was lucky in a way, because there was a Swedish producer, Anders Burman, who had a record label called Metronome and he discovered him and put him together with two guys, Janne Carlsson on drums, who came from Hansson & Karlsson. Sven states that Hansson & Karlsson made the song Tax Free that Jimi Hendrix found about and recorded as well. To continue the story, Per says then there was this bass and guitar player called Georg Wadenius, who eventually became a member of Blood, Sweat & Tears three years later. So there is a slight American connection there, Sven says. PG says that Janne Carlsson on drums, Georg Wadenius on guitar and bass and Pugh on everything else, it was a great trio and great songs, unique songs. Like Per said earlier, Pugh was the first one to write in Swedish and he even created his own language on the second album. So three or four songs on that album are in his own language. Weird but nice, Mr. G says. Sven says Pugh was a very creative guy. He didn’t expect anything to happen, but as the months passed in 1969, more and more influential people in the radio and in the newspapers started to discover him. Then suddenly he became declared a complete genius. He said that it took him half a year to come down from that. He was elevated up to the stratosphere. Here the guys play the first Pugh song and it’s from his debut album. Här kommer natten was his breakthrough song. Per thinks it’s very good.

Sven says what happened after this album came out was that Pugh basically opened the door single-handedly for rock artists to express themselves in Swedish. And suddenly, from having been deemed impossible, everyone started to discover that Swedish was not that bad. PG thinks it’s cool. He did a couple of albums after this first one of course, which were very successful as well, and the second one was called Pughish. Pugh sort of invented his own language and that was the first album Per heard from him. It was the same for Sven. Per says he was about ten or eleven years old back then, maybe twelve. It’s a tremendous album. Then Pugh did an album called Hollywood, which was probably his bigger success up until the Bolla och Rulla album came in 1974. Sven says that was more of a straight ahead rock album and it was really successful. After that a couple of Swedish artists went on tour and recorded a Pugh song called Vandrar i ett regn (walking in the rain). The backing vocals on this are half crazy. It’s typically Pugh as well. Mr. G says it’s an homage to the Doo Wop ’50s style of music. This live recording is really special for Per, because he was at the show where they recorded it. They played in Per’s hometown and Pugh was a superstar at the time. PG was in the 8th row and just mesmerized by this concert. He really loves this double LP, Ett steg till.

After this live recording from 1974 is played, Sven says he and Per are celebrating Pugh Rogefeldt, the father of rock music with Swedish lyrics in Sweden. Per thinks that the most famous of Pugh’s songs is coming up next. Små lätta moln is also taken from the 1969 debut album. It has been covered by a lot of people, even though it’s a pretty strange song, but it’s beautiful. Sven agrees. He says Pugh is singing it with this original twist. Nobody sounded like him before that. Playful and inventive he was. PG says Pugh has got this very high-pitched voice, using falsettos and he is just doing his own thing. It’s a trademark sound, Mr. G thinks. Sven wants to know if there is anything Per as a songwriter picked up from Pugh that he is aware of. Mr. G says Pugh is a pretty unorthodox writer. He is not following any rules at all. Per was more rooted in the classic songwriting style when he started out, but he was influenced by Pugh for sure. Especially when it came to writing lyrics. Per started writing lyrics in Swedish and Pugh was definitely one guy to look up to. So if Per should say he was influenced by Pugh, it’s more about the lyrics than the music. Små lätta moln is translating into tiny light clouds, the guys say.

The last Pugh song Sven and Per play is from 1974. Per says it’s from a very raw album called Bolla och Rulla, which is a sloppy Swedish translation of rock ‘n’ roll. Sven says it’s also the typical Pugh attitude, twisting the words. By this time he had a good band. Both Per and Sven saw this tour in the summer of 1974. Per adds that Pugh toured Sweden all the time. He remembers going to this show as well and it was really good. The lead guitar player was actually his younger brother, Ingemar. He had a great Les Paul Special and it sounded amazing. Sven says to top it all off, the bassist was Roger Pettersson. He performed this show that Sven saw in a denim skirt. Per says he had that in Halmstad too. Sven says he always thought that Roger lost a bet or something, so he had to perform in that. But then he realized that it was a stage outfit. Per says he looked cool. At the time, it was the glam rock days, anything went. So it was cool. The song the guys play is the opening track on this album, and it’s called Hog farm. It’s about a hippie commune from the States that came to Sweden. Per says it was lots of scandals and drugs and minors and this and that.

Lambretta’s Bimbo is played. Ifrån mej själv by Dundertåget is the next one. Such a great one, Per loves it.

The guys thank everyone for listening, then as usual, Cigarettes by Anita Lindblom is closing the show.

Still is from the Bag of Trix comment videos recorded by Anders Roos.

Thanks for your support, Sven!