Per Gessle’s parallel universe in Hallandsposten

As it always happens before a tour starts, Jan-Owe Wikström from Hallandsposten did an interview with Per Gessle this time again.

There was a sneak premiere of the Gyllene Tider tour at Leif’s Lounge in Hotel Tylösand last Thursday, release of the new record “Hux Flux” the following day and tour premiere of Gyllene Tider at Brottet in Halmstad on Friday. It is the present.

New solo record already completed for release next year, premiere of the Gyllene Tider movie in 2024 and then also premiere of the musical in Malmö, based on Jane Fallon’s novel “Got You Back” with Roxette’s songs as a basis. It is the future.

Come along into Per Gessle’s parallel universes.

This is how the industry works today. Everything must be planned a year in advance. Least. It’s studios, venues, hotels, staff and everything around that needs to be booked, so it’s important to always be one step ahead.

Per and Jan-Owe are sitting in Per’s house in Sandhamn which, surreally enough, turns 30 this year.

The summer of 2023 lies ahead of Gessle and Gyllene Tider. A new tour awaits. Even though everything was really over that evening on the pontoon outside the Opera House in Oslo on 18th August 2019. Until a red, rectangular Bo Diddley model Gretsch guitar in the fall of 2021 changed everything again. And Hux Flux was Gyllene Tider back.

For some reason, I usually come up with something new when I’ve got a new guitar and these songs screamed for “Gyllene”.

But if he hadn’t suffered from tonsillitis and new covid regulations hadn’t been introduced, there might still not have been a comeback.

That’s how it was. In November, at the end of my 2021 acoustic concert tour, I got tonsillitis and had to cancel the last concerts in December. And when they were to be implemented in January instead, new pandemic restrictions came and everything was moved until April.

That gave me a lot of time to spare, so between December 2021 and April 2022, this album was created. I recorded demos together with MP, where we worked in a completely new way. Since we had so much time this time, compared to the recording of the last record “Samma skrot och korn” in France, we devoted a lot of time to the guitars. We went back, tested, redid and tested again.

Then, when everything was basically ready, we sent the material out to the band. Some songs were just finished in form, but not arranged, then everyone got to make their mark and that’s where Anders came into the picture, who modernized the sound on some.

The rest was recorded at Staffan Karlsson’s Sweetspot Studio outside Harplinge. And the result: an energetic pop album full of string guitars and of course – Farfisa organ.

I was doing the acoustic tour at the time and in parallel also finished PG Roxette, which was an ’80s-90s synth-based pop record. So this became an outlet to play that kind of totally dying guitar pop that I’ve always loved. Old fashioned, a bit punk and edgy where the song “Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig” almost sounds like Plastic Bertrand and Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

It’s difficult to balance between silly and fun, but I try to get on the right side of the line because Gyllene should be a little more fun, a little more kick-ass, which isn’t always easy when you’re 64.

I noticed in retrospect that on the previous Gyllene album from 2019 I had too many songs that were better suited for me as a solo artist. A little more sophisticated and more serious. Gyllene sounds best when it becomes a little more classic power pop, a little more 3-chord fireworks!

And actually, this time I haven’t written a single song that didn’t make it.

Just like the previous record, “Hux Flux” is also available as a vinyl LP in several colors. But the song order on the vinyl version differs from the CD and streaming.

Yes, on an LP there are two opening tracks and therefore you always want a strong, exciting ending on side A to get curious about side B. Otherwise, with the CD and not least streaming, it has easily become that you featured too much music. The LP format is perfect.

The fact that Per still buys vinyl records is due to one reason in particular:

It’s for the album covers. Then I usually play the records on Spotify anyway because it’s easier.

At the same time, he misses the romance of the physical records.

I come from a generation that has a romantic view of the record itself and therefore it is so difficult to accept that it hardly means anything anymore. Without the album covers, the music becomes much more obscure and is consumed in a different way. Most young people probably listen to even more music than my generation did, but they don’t always know WHO they are listening to. Or what the songs are called. Or who wrote and produced. Everything has become one big anonymous stream of music since streaming took off.

In the past you went on tour to promote the records because it was on the records that you made money. Now it’s the other way around. Major tours are very lucrative. Few people care when old artists release new material because it’s the old hits that the masses want to hear. I can only look to myself and have no idea, for example, about the last decade’s Elton John, Bob Dylan or Paul McCartney records.

Jan-Owe is curious how Per has managed to “survive” despite the fact that the music industry has completely changed, both in terms of listening, consuming and the way of writing.

I don’t know. I’ve tried both to try to develop myself and my creation in the digital world while at the same time “going backwards” sometimes and staying with the acoustic and organic in my music. I’m interested in both ways because they bring out different sides of me and my creativity. I absolutely believe that as long as you have fun and work consistently, a certain amount of success will come naturally. But of course, if you want to reach the top of the charts around the world, all the stars must be aligned. It is completely out of my control.

Jan-Owe asks Per how he knows if a new song fits his solo project, PG Roxette or Gyllene Tider.

I actually try to write as little as possible. But I always have the antennas out. Sometimes an idea pops up when I’m strumming the guitar in front of the TV and I save the idea on my iPhone. When I’m working on a project, I go through everything I’ve collected and use some for what I’m working on at the moment. This is a pretty typical scenario how I write songs. I do puzzles.

I almost never sit down and write lyrics or complete songs if I don’t have a project going on. That way, I almost always know from the start what I’m looking for.

For the audience, Hux Flux, the album is brand new. But for Per, MP, Anders, Göran and Micke Syd, it is already fifteen months old when Per reveals which minute is the most important at a concert:

It is the last 30 seconds before the concert starts and the first 30 after it has started. Then the expectations are maximized and that is why the first impression is so extremely important.

There are more songs that can be played live this time compared to the last record. But at the same time, over the years, we have built up a treasure trove of songs that means we can’t skip “Leva livet”, “Tylö Sun” or “Sommartider”. People expect them as they have such strong nostalgia value and many have lots of memories and connections to those songs.

Then the old songs are on so many playlists. It’s the same with Roxette, we’re constantly increasing on Spotify. If we release a new single, it gets 30-40,000 streams in the first few days, while “It Must Have Been Love” gets 400,000 streams on any given day. Then you think: Why can’t people listen to the new song instead? But it doesn’t work that way.

That Gessle, when “Hux Flux” was finished a year ago, would take it easy and wait for it was not on the map either. Instead, he has spent the winter and spring completing his new solo record, which he just finished with a planned release sometime in 2024.

I wanted to finish this record before I enter the Gyllene bubble that lasts until September.

Per gives a hint of how it sounds:

It has a bit of a summery Mazarin feel. I play many instruments myself but have the help of many new acquaintances. It’s a super exciting project.

The start of filming for the new Gyllene Tider film is in the pipeline with the band bringing the cast to the stage at the sneak premiere at Leif’s Lounge last week.

It starts filming in August with a premiere next year and if the film is as good as the script, it will be awesome. The film is not a documentary depicting Gyllene’s enormously long career, but is about the early years, from when I meet MP and we form Gyllene Tider until 1982 when “Sommartider” is released. A lot of anecdotes and craziness run past, it really was a special time that I hope can be portrayed in an equally special way.

In autumn 2024, there will also be a premiere at Malmö Opera for the musical with Roxette’s song catalogue based on the novel “Got You Back” by the English author Jane Fallon and reworked for a musical script by Klas Abrahamsson.

I have met her a few times and she is fantastic. To my great surprise, I have discovered that my music works perfectly in a musical context. I’ve never been particularly interested in musicals because the style itself can be very pompous and slightly annoying. It’s never been my thing. But songs like “Spending My Time”, “Crash! Boom! Bang!”, “It Must Have Been Love” and not least “Listen To Your Heart” work superbly with a large orchestra and grandiose arrangements. They are big melodies with strong and intense emotions.

So I’m grateful that it happened. Back in 2015, we got the first offer, but it always turned out that the script wasn’t good enough. Up until now. Because this is a wonderful way to nurture Roxette’s music and the ambition is also for it to go abroad.

However, whether there will be a solo tour in the summer of 2024 before then remains to be seen. Per cryptically smiles and says he can’t say anything about it. But in Per Gessle’s parallel universe and future calendar, it may already be inscribed, Jan-Owe says.