We have wanted to interview Pelle for a long time, and we actually did last year in April, just right after Marie’s tour. We hadn’t found an appropriate time during the tour and when we were waiting for the Arlanda Express to take us to Stockholm the day after Marie’s tour last concert in Umeå , Pelle just showed up and offered to do the interview right there, right then. So we found a place on the train and we started to shoot questions. Unfortunately, some technical issues made it imposible for the interview to be published so we went for an e-mail interview instead and sent our questions to him towards the end of last year. Pelle’s been very busy with touring with Roxette and finalizing the first album with his own band, Down Harrison, so understandably, it took some time until he could sit down and answer our shocking number of Qs some days ago.
Down Harrison’s debut album with the same title as the band’s name was released on March 28th. The band, besides Pelle Alsing on drums, consists of Tommy Cassemar (bass), Jesper Willaume (singer, songwriter) and Mikael Wedberg (guitar, keyboards). Ola Gustafsson joins the band from time to time on guitars and pedal steel.
Now back to where we started, here you can read the interview with Pelle, the “keep-it-simple” guy. Most of his answers will make you smile or even laugh and some of his extra short replies will leave you curious to know more about Pelle Alsing. Don’t be shy to ask him if you meet him on tour. At the beach or in a bar. 😉
RXB: – Hi Pelle, thank you for your time. How are you doing after the first two legs of the Roxette 30th anniversary tour?
Pelle: – I’m doing fine! Both legs were great! It’s always great to come back to Australia! 2 weeks left until the European tour, yippie!
RXB: – What have you been doing between tours? You recently came back from New Zealand and Australia with Roxette…
Pelle: – Working with my own band DOWN HARRISON! Both before and after NZ and Australia!
RXB: – Let’s go back to the beginning. When did you start playing the drums and why?
Pelle: – My big brother Hans bought a drum kit when I was 9-10 years! I couldn’t resist the kit!
RXB: – What do you think makes a drummer unique?
Pelle: – The groove!
RXB: – When you listen to another drummer, what do you listen for?
Pelle: – The groove!
RXB: – What are your favourite bands and who are your favourite drum players? Which ones made the biggest impact on you?
Pelle: – Wilco, The Band, Little Feat, Jackson Browne, and a thousand more bands and artists! The Beatles!
RXB: – Do you attend many concerts? If so, you rather go to pubs to enjoy live music or to see big bands performing in arenas?
Pelle: – No, not that many. Both!
RXB: – What was the last big concert you watched from the crowd?
Pelle: – James Taylor.
RXB: – Which is your most memorable concert (not necessarily Rox-related) of all time?
Pelle: – Gentle Giant 1975 and Genesis 1977 in Stockholm.
RXB: – What other bands or artists do you play with besides Roxette, Marie or The Husbands?
Pelle: – Billy Bremner live and my own band DOWN HARRISON in the studio.
RXB: – In April last year you mentioned you were recording an album with your band. Do you have any news for us?
Pelle: – Yes I have! We have just released our first album with DOWN HARRISON on iTunes, Spotify and Tidal! Check it out!!! Enjoy!!!
RXB: – What kind of music do you make?
Pelle: – Americana with a touch of pop and country.
RXB: – What are you the most proud of during your career?
Pelle: – Many things! DOWN HARRISON and Roxette for instance.
RXB: – Is there anything you would skip or change if you could start it again?
Pelle: – No.
RXB: – Do you listen to a lot of music? New music? What’s your actual favourite album?
Pelle: – Yes, sometimes! Right now Jackson Browne and Jeff Tweedy’s new albums.
RXB: – We know you are into sports. What was the last sports event you went to see and where?
Pelle: – Hammarby football club in our new arena in Stockholm!
RXB: – What do you think you bring to the bands you play with or is your trademark?
Pelle: – Humor and play simple.
RXB: – What is it like to be in the back on the stage? Do you concentrate on your drums or do you have time to look at the audience, see what’s going
Pelle: – Fantastic! Both.
RXB: – Has anyone ever asked you to teach him playing the drums? Have you ever had “students”?
Pelle: – Yes.
RXB: – When we did an interview with Mikael Nogueira Svensson, he said he decided to play the drums after he met you as a child, backstage in Gävle on the Joyride tour. How does it feel knowing that someone started playing the drums because you made an impact on him with your playing?
Pelle: – It’s great when people get inspired by what you’ve done!
RXB: – We know guitar strings are changed very often, but how often is it necessary to change the heads on your drums?
Pelle: – Every 5-6 shows.
RXB: – Is there any special exercise to keep your wrists fit on tour?
Pelle: – Tap dancing at 6 o’clock, every morning!
RXB: – Did it ever happen during your long career that you got injured during your playing? Or if the drumsticks fell out of your hands so you had to stop playing for some seconds or longer time?
Pelle: – I put the stick up my nose last tour and started to bleed, haha! Sometimes you loose a stick, then you have to play with one stick for a couple of bars, until you get a new one!
RXB: – It’s strange that now there was no song when you came to the front. Even during “The Heart Shaped Sea” and “Queen of Rain” when everyone else came to the front you stayed in the back. Was it you who insisted on staying there?
Pelle: – No, but I prefer to sit behind my drums!
RXB: – You have been playing drums with Roxette for many years. In between you also joined Marie during her solo tour last year. What was the biggest difference for you?
Pelle: – All the songs I’ve never played before.
RXB: – You have also known Clarence for many years, and of course, also Marie and Per. How is it to play with people you know for so long? Are you afraid it may become a “routine”?
Pelle: – No, never! I love working and hanging with these guys!
RXB: – You also work in the studio with Roxette, not only on tours. Do you come up with the beats “on the fly” in the studio, or give ideas how something would sound better?
Pelle: – I listen to the songs, to be prepared! It differs from time to time.
RXB: – What about live? Do you like to improvise?
Pelle: – It depends on what music you play.
RXB: – Which Roxette song is the most fun for you to play live? And which is the most “boring”?
Pelle: – “Joyride” and “Listen to your heart”. “Goodbye to you”, hihi!
RXB: – Any tricky songs where you have to concentrate more on your hands or when to join in with the drums?
Pelle: – No, not really.
RXB: – How much are you involved in the design of your drum kit? Do you have several set of drums and for example, the one you play on the Roxette tour is only for Roxette and you play another with other bands? Or do you use the same set with all acts?
Pelle: – I’m involved in the design, but also open for ideas. I have several drum kits and use a couple of them with Roxette only!
RXB: – How many drum sticks do you use during a concert? Do they become worn during one concert or you can use them at more gigs?
Pelle: – 2-4 sticks per show and I can use them again.
RXB: – Do you have any drum sticks from any of your idols? If no, whose drumstick would you love to have one day?
Pelle: – No. Ringo Starr.
RXB: – Once you said you also like to visit the places you go to when you are on tour. What did you see during this tour so far?
Pelle: – Bars and Beaches!!
RXB: – Do you plan these trips or visits before going to the countries or cities or is it more a spontaneous thing depending on weather, mood?
Pelle: – I plan it.
RXB: – You grew up and live in Stockholm. I think it’s a beautiful city and every time I am there I just love the view from Slussen/Fotografiska. What do you like about Stockholm?
Pelle: – I live just above Fotografiska! Södermalm where I live and the Archipelago!
RXB: – Do you try to “discover” new places in your own city as well?
Pelle: – Yes, everyday.
RXB: – What do you like the most about tour life? And the least?
Pelle: – Everything! Nothing!
RXB: – Per is often kidding you in backstage videos and interviews that you are always late and you tell the same about him that you all always have to wait for him. So who of you is more of a late person?
Pelle: – Definitely Per!
RXB: – Does it happen nowadays that you play e.g. table hockey or any other game during the tour, like you did in the past? Or is it like everyone is rather on their iPhones and you meet up only for a walk or having dinner or a drink together?
Pelle: – More bars and iPhones nowadays!
RXB: – We heard how the plush koala got on stage in Russia and since then we could see it next to your drums on each concert last year. Did you give a name to him?
Pelle: – Yes, Sibyllfibia!
RXB: – Thank you for the interview and your awesome drum playing! See you soon again.
Pelle: – Take care and see you in Europe this summer! Tell everybody you know about DOWN HARRISON!!!!
Interview by Patrícia and Judith.