Per Gessle, a fan of order on Sverige!

Per Gessle was a guest of Farah Abadi on Sverige! on SVT. Farah starts the show by introducing Per as one of Sweden’s greatest pop legends. Right now he is in a period when a lot of exciting, unexpected things are happening around both Gyllene Tider and Roxette. This episode also contains a meeting with photographer Anders Roos, who for many years followed Per Gessle’s career closely and the electric guitar maker in the Scanian countryside, from whom musicians from all over the world buy guitars.

Farah welcomes Per and says it’s nice to have him in Malmö. Per says it’s nice to be here.

It was a bit difficult to get him on the program, because he is always so busy. Per says it’s a bit much right now, even for him. There is a lot going on. Farah asks him to tell us more. PG doesn’t know where to start. The Gyllene Tider movie premieres this summer. The Roxette musical has its world premiere in September in Malmö. There is a new album coming this autumn called Sällskapssjuk, off which Per has started releasing singles already. Then there is a Roxette tour that starts in the spring in South Africa. All these are completely different things. The Gyllene Tider film was probably a bit unexpected, because such movies are usually made when you have died.

Here they watch a short part of the movie where Per and his father are talking inside a car and when it ends, Farah asks Per if this is how it happened. Per says, no, not really. He always had quite a lot of support from his parents. Unfortunately, his father passed away in 1978, but he still felt supported to do what he wanted. He wanted to be in this pop bubble. It was a much nicer world than the real world.

Farah asks Per if he always has a song on his mind. PG says he usually jokes that he writes as little as possible. There is no reason for him to sit down at the piano between nine and five and try to write songs. He doesn’t work like that. He has to have an idea, usually a text idea or a temperature as he calls it. He is trying to find what he wants to say with the song. The best songs are the ones where music and lyrics are written basically at the same time.

Farah is curious what Per means by temperature. PG tries to explain that it can be sadness, joy, curiosity, loneliness or whatever it is about. It sets the temperature of the song. It also characterizes the melodies and the choice of chords and eventually how it should be arranged and produced.

Farah wants to know if Per feels like a song he has written is going to be hit. If he feels it right away. Per says he can feel that he likes it a lot, but if it becomes a hit, that time is long gone. He has always been a super bad hit picker. He was the one who didn’t want to include Här kommer alla känslorna (på en och samma gång) on the Mazarin album. He thought it was a bit of a ’50s pastiche and it didn’t belong there. But everyone else was nagging about it, so it was pure luck that he bowed to it in the end.

Farah says in Per’s music there is a lot of love. PG reacts „sometimes”. Farah asks him if it comes naturally. PG says it’s often quite lonely, melancholy and a little dark blue in the lyrics, at least in the past few decades. When you get older, it’s more difficult to write about what these songs in the Gyllene Tider movie are about, (Kom så ska vi) Leva livet and all these tjoho songs. They are very difficult to write now when you are 65.

Farah knows Per has a great interest in rock photography. She is curious how a good rock photo is when it’s really good. Per thinks it’s when you see that the artist or musician is really inside their own world. There are great pictures of David Bowie and Springsteen. All of these classic images have captured the moments where there is something special going on in the room.

Farah says they met photographer Ander Roos and she wants to know if he is the one who has photographed Per the most. Per thinks it could be. He has been around the last few years a lot. In recent years PG has been very active with touring. Farah asks what their relationship looks like. Per says Anders is very easy to work with. He has become a bit of a fly on the wall. He is around in the dressing rooms and backstage, but Per doesn’t mind. Plus Anders doesn’t publish anything without asking first, which is a good trait. Haha.

Sverige! visited Anders in his studio. He says he has been photographing music since the ’80s. He listened to a lot of music and went to concerts. He wanted to take nice pictures of music and artists. The artist he has photographed the most is by far Per. Anders shows his all access passes from different tours.

Anders explains it’s like being a bit of a sports photographer in a way, especially when taking photos of what happens on stage. It’s very much about capturing a moment. He shows one of his favourite photos on his mobile. It’s from Brottet in Halmstad. It was raining cats and dogs at the concert and he thinks it’s beautiful how the audience stands there in their raincoats and cheers. It captures something special. The raindrops almost look like icicles against the black sky.

Anders is asked what he looks for when taking rock photos. He wants to get as close as possible and capture the feeling and expression that he feels the artist has. Being it joy or anything else, on stage, backstage or in the dressing rooms. To be able to depict and tell what you can’t see.

Anders documents and photographs everything not only on stage, but at the studio recordings and takes press photos and photographs book covers as well. The first time he met Per was in 1986 when Roxette recorded their first album. It was in Stockholm and Anders and journalist Jan-Owe Wikström made a report with Roxette. A lot of things have happened since then. Since 2013 Anders has been around and actively photographed what Per does. PG didn’t remember him from 1986. A good friend asked Anders if he wanted to join Gyllene Tider on tour and take photos and of course Anders said yes. Then he got to know Per and the others in the band. He has the most contact with Per, through all the different projects they do. He is wonderful to work with, just like all the other band members. PG likes to do different projects. It’s a lot of fun working with them.

Anders has done many photo books as well. Nine books since 2013. He opens the Hux Flux book and explains some camera angles by showing some of his photos inside the book. The reporter asks Anders what he thinks those people will see who flip through these books 50 or 100 years later. Anders says they will see Swedish music history. These books can help tell a little of it. Then he feels proud.

Farah asks Per how it felt to see this report. PG says it was awesome, fun to watch. He has seen this picture from 1986 of Marie and him, but he never knew that it was Anders who took it until much later. So they met back in 1986.

Farah is curious if Per thinks it’s hard to be in so many pictures. Mr. G says, it depends. Not when you are on tour. He thinks it’s wonderful. It is usually his initiative that they become books. It is a memory of a specific tour and a specific project. He wishes there were more photos of recording Look Sharp! and Joyride and those amazing tours. There are videos, but there are quite a few. You can never take too many photos, he thinks.

Farah switches the topic and asks Per about Lena Philipsson and the new Roxette tour. She wants to know how this collaboration came about. Per recorded a new album that contains many duets. One of the duets is with Lena. Per has known Lena for decades. He co-wrote her breakthrough song in the ’80s, Kärleken är evig. PG had a song that suited Lena and she came to the studio in Halmstad. There and then Per was once again reminded of how good she is. Per has been thinking about what to do with the Roxette songs. He wrote almost all of them and he has been thinking for years how he could manage the catalogue in a good way. When Lena came to the studio, Per thought shit, maybe she could sing the Roxette songs with him. He chewed on the idea a little, then he contacted Lena a few weeks later in Stockholm. She was terrified when Per told her the idea. Farah asks if she said yes right away. PG says, no, she was rather shocked. She wanted time to think about it, but then she came back and thought it was a good idea. That is a damn good idea, Per thinks. Farah thinks so too.

Farah says Marie was the other half of Roxette and she is curious how it feels now that Lena will be standing by Per’s side. PG says it’s special, of course, but at the same time, it’s a different thing. It’s not like he has started a new band or a new duo with Lena. This is a journey that they are going to do to manage the Roxette song catalogue. Lena is hired to do that job. When Per puts that cap on, he sees it in a different way. It has never been relevant for him to start a new Roxette. With a new partner that way. Farah asks why not. PG replies it is something that Marie and he had together. It was a long journey, which had a very tragic end with Marie passing away. She got sick in 2002. It’s been a very long time. Now they are managing these songs. There is a huge world out there that still loves these songs. That alone is fantastic, Per thinks.

Farah asks Per whether it will be calmer or messier now than when it started. Per asks if she means in the dressing rooms or on stage. Farah means both. Per says they were quite calm before too. But it will probably be even calmer now. Farah says they are super professional. Per says they have become professionals along the way. Farah thought it was a bit messy back in the days, playing cards and drinking beer. Per says alcohol and he doesn’t work before a concert. Experience has taught him that. He is a control freak, so he likes when things are orderly. He needs order in his head too. Farah asks if Per has always been like this. PG says he was one of those people who had the records in alphabetical order already at the age of six.

Farah wants to know how Per and Åsa met. When it really kicked in, Per was on a date with another girl. They were supposed to meet secretly and the date took place in Åsa’s apartment, because they were friends. Then it turned out that Per fell a little in love with the hostess instead. He thinks it was in 1984. It’s been a long time. It was 40 years ago. Shit, now he realizes he has to celebrate that. Haha. Farah is surprised Per hasn’t thought about it. PG says he thinks it will be in autumn. Good that Farah reminded him. Farah says she wants to see picture evidence later. Haha.

40 years is a long time. Farah is curious if they are arguing. PG says they do. Farah is wondering if it is because Åsa puts the things in the dishwasher higgledy-piggledy and Per wants them in order. PG confirms it’s a constant dilemma. Farah thinks it doesn’t really matter, but Per says it does. Farah asks why and Per replies because you want the dishwasher to be in order. Farah is curious if Per is freaking out when Åsa has filled the dishwasher and he opens it. PG says he doesn’t get pissed because he is used to it. He knows it is like that. Farah supposes Per takes a deep breath before he opens the dishwasher. PG confirms and demonstrates „now it’s time again. Oh shit…”

Farah says a friend once told her that the best things in life are absolutely free. Love and having kids, for example. But the next best things are insanely expensive. PG agrees with that. He doesn’t come from a particularly rich family. They didn’t have much money when he was growing up. It’s clearly more fun if you have grown up and can afford to buy what you are interested in.

Farah has heard that Per is a rank collector. PG doesn’t consider himself a rank collector at all. He doesn’t really collect anything. It’s just lots of things that end up there. Haha. Farah asks how many guitars he has. Per says maybe a hundred. But he doesn’t collect them. He says if you collect guitars, you think „I have to have a 1958 Gibson Les Paul Special”, but he is not like that. They just end up there. You test them and you think it was nice and then you buy it.

Here comes a report with one of Sweden’s most skilled guitar builders, Johan Gustavsson. Most of his very high quality guitars are bought by musicians and collectors in the US. He thinks a good guitar should inspire you to play better. Per hasn’t bought any guitars from him, he doesn’t know why, but he repaired some guitars for him.

While Per is playing air guitar, he says it was lovely to see this report, Johan is a lovely guy. Farah asks PG if he gets guitars for free. Per says he doesn’t, not these days. But in the ’90s on the Joyride tour they were promoting Rickenbacker guitars and they got some custom-made Rickenbackers that they ordered. Marie got a white one and Per got a black one.

Farah is curious what Per does in his spare time. He watches a lot of movies. He is interested in movies, but he also watches them to get ideas and angles on life and stories. Films are great. He usually likes slender films from the past.

Farah is wondering if she calls Per on a Tuesday he is sitting at home in his pyjamas watching movies. PG says he is not in pyjamas, but he probably watches movies in the evening. Farah is surprised Per is not wearing pyjamas. She asks if he wears soft pants at home. Per laughs and says no. He doesn’t own sweatpants. He is probably sitting like he is sitting here now in the TV studio. Farah is even more surprised that Per is wearing jeans at home. PG says he is going strong in his jeans.

Farah asks Mr. G if he goes to the grocery store and sees an offer, slippers for 99 bucks, and decides to buy 2. Per laughs and says he almost never goes to the grocery store. Farah thinks a lot of people would stop him. Per tries to avoid it. He thinks when you have to do things like going to the post office or the grocery store, you have to be in a special mood. You have to be prepared for selfie time and stuff like that. That’s perfectly fine, but most of the time you might not feel like it that particular day.

Farah understands that Per has a great life, but she also feels a little sorry that Per can never be ordinary. He can’t just sit in a café or on an outdoor terrace or lie on a beach or just be. Per says he can do that if he wants. It’s not as dangerous as it sounds, but he is always on his guard. He has a good life and he is super proud of what he has accomplished. He is also grateful for that, so he is not complaining at all.

Farah says it’s almost time for school graduations. Sommartider is a song that is definitely sung there. She wants to know how it feels. It’s like many other things with his music, Per has to pinch his arm. It is amazing that there will be new generations who will embrace this music and love it. It gets a place in their new life somehow. When he is in Stockholm, they live in a street where a lot of student vans come and then they often sing Sommartider. When he is there and hears it, he usually runs and hides. He certainly doesn’t want to be found there when they sing Sommartider.

Farah thanks Per for coming and PG thanks for the invitation.

Stills are from the program.