Micke Syd was a guest on Oppland Arbeiderblad’s podcast, Backstage the other day. It’s a Norwegian podcast, so the questions were asked in Norwegian, the answers were given in Swedish. Since these two languages are so close to each other, there is no need for an interpreter to understand each other. Here comes the English transcript of the chat between Micke and Frode Hermanrud. Listen to the podcast HERE!
Gyllene Tider had a concert in Gjøvik on the Moderna Tider tour in 1981, so a bit more than 40 years ago. Micke says it’s a lot and he informs that they are going back to Finland also after more than 40 years on this next tour. He says it’s great to come back and say hello. When GT was there last time, 41 years ago, the reviewer wasn’t too happy, Micke says. He explains he got a clipping of a review from Frode and from that he sees that the reviewer didn’t think GT was that good. Frode reads from the review that the music goes straight to the heart of teenagers in the Nordic region, it’s built on worn-out clichés with lyrics that address youth love and all its variants. „Jag vill känna din kropp emot min…”. It can’t be Swedish top music and the vocalist wasn’t shining either. Micke laughs and says here we are 41 years later and the singer has had three careers and GT is still there. He thinks it’s awesome and it would be fun to meet this guy who wrote the review. His name is Tore Hansen, Frode says. Micke thanks him for the review and says maybe they see each other in Fredrikstad in summer. He puts the guy on the guest list, he promises. „Let’s see if you feel the same way now.” Haha.
Micke says it wasn’t unique that guys didn’t like them back in the days. It’s because the girls thought they were cute. But what could they do… They were nice, sweet and kind. They were on the Swedish charts and so there was a lot of screaming girls. It has evened out over the years. Now the girls don’t scream as much and the guys are much happier these days. Haha.
Frode says what a tour it was in 1981. Micke says it was amazing and just think about that they went all the way without GPS or mobile phones and they set up and took down everything at the concerts themselves. He just watched a film 2 weeks ago when he was at home in Halmstad and did Christmas shows at Gessle’s hotel together with Tommy Ekman from Freestyle and Lili & Susie, Swedish eighties artists. So, a friend of his parents had filmed them in 1981 in a folkpark in Falkenberg which is another town in Halland where Micke Syd comes from and then he saw all the work and all the people. It was a lot of work. And it’s so funny because they did all that job during one year in 1981, then in 1996 they went to „only” 21-22 places and played for as many people. The ’80s were very different.
Frode says Gyllene Tider had 6 concerts before their incredible break-through with Flickorna på TV2. Micke says there was a TV program called Måndagsbörsen, which was huge in Sweden at the time because there were only two TV channels. If you had the chance to be on Måndagsbörsen then there was a big chance to break through. Gyllene Tider appeared on the program as a replacement of an English band, because they couldn’t come. Micke can’t remember who they were. They had Flickorna på TV2 with the lyrics „tänk att få sätta på flickorna på TV2”, but „sätta på” (turn on) has this double meaning, although that was not what it was about. It’s about turning the TV on. Per is good at those formulations. And to appear on the TV was enough for them to make it happen. It’s only them five who sound like them, they had a unique sound already back then. So what Frode said regarding the gigs is true. They had booked some gigs because they had a record deal and were going out to play. They were paid very little, but that was a few years before they were on TV. And then they got paid more after TV, because then everyone wanted to book them. Micke Syd has a friend he has known all his life who was 16 at the time. He organized a gig up in Rottneros which is outside Karlstad in Värmland and he had booked GT for 2500 SEK before the TV program. 2000 people came. There was big chaos and it was overcrowded, because everyone wanted to see GT. Micke’s friend said he has never had such a good evening.
Frode asks Micke about their ambitions outside Sweden, in Norway, for example. Micke says it’s been so long ago and to remember anything from the ’80s they have to be together all 5 of them. Haha. But he is pretty sure their record label EMI had an office in Norway. The music industry was completely different back then. The ambition was to come over to Norway as well, because Swedish music existed there after all. Ledin and lots of others before GT existed and became popular in Norway, so it’s clear that they also wanted to go there. They wanted to be as big as possible. That’s why they did The Heartland Café album. So yes, that was definitely the intention, Norway, Finland. Denmark is a bit more difficult because the languages differ. Some Swedish artists work in Denmark and GT also did some TV in Denmark, but that doesn’t happen much anymore. Norway has always taken Swedes with open arms. Micke is in Norway a lot with Tommy Ekman from Freestyle, doing corporate gigs and other stuff. They appreciate Norway a lot and Norway appreciates them too. Also that’s why Gyllene Tider played in Fredrikstad and then in Oslo, on the roof of the Opera in 2019. Micke tells how the opera gig was. They were on the stage that was above the water and played for people on the opera terrace and it started raining cats and dogs. Micke says they are coming back to Fredrikstad again this summer. Gonna be fun.
Frode asks Micke about the concert film, Parkliv! and is joking if he had a stylist. Micke thinks he looked too terrible. His mom was a hairdresser and had permed his hair. Micke didn’t like it, so he was wearing a cap the entire film and shorts and a T-shirt that he got in a rock club in Southern Sweden. So it wasn’t anything he thought about. The others looked quite nice, he says. It’s as usual with the drummers… So they didn’t have a stylist. If you compare it with the band Freestyle, the old Freestyle, it’s a completely different thing. They have really thought well about the clothes and everything. But that’s Micke’s personality, it’s the way he was. He wanted to play and didn’t think too much about other things. He thinks it’s also part of their success that they are quite ordinary. Now it has become different and Per also had his career with Roxette, but they are from the countryside, they all grew up in small towns and have been close to it all the time throughout their career. Micke thinks maybe that’s what makes people like them too, besides making really good music together of course. And they are good at it. They are good at working. They are very good at what Gyllene Tider is and they stood the test of time. Those songs stay with us. You hear this and that song and think about your teenage years when you were in love or anything else. Micke says he can see it when they play that there are a lot of young people too. When he did those Christmas shows in Halmstad, there were many tables with guests who were 20-25 or so. They weren’t even born when GT broke through. Their parents were teenagers then. But they are just as happy as those who are 60 now, because it means the same thing. Micke thinks it’s cool. It still feels a bit unique that you can get the same feelings when you hear these songs now. They are 40-year-old songs, but still they fit into life in a way. That it would be like this they didn’t know. After all, they just did what they wanted to do, it kind of worked and then it turned out well.
Micke says that when you work with music, it’s not like a regular job. He works with different bands and sings a lot and then he doesn’t play the drums. People in those bands can be much younger than he is. They are working with Gyllene Tider songs too and then Micke sings them. He says you forget age then. He doesn’t think about how old he is. He thinks it’s just as fun now. Micke explains they sat and watched Parkliv! on Youtube in 2013. He tells the listeners to watch it if they want to see him in terrible stage clothes. Then they sat and looked at themselves. They were 20 years old on that film. When he sees it now, he realizes that his youngest son Eddie, who turns 30 now, he was the same age in 2013 as Micke was on that film. And a second later he thought „wait, where am I sitting now”. He is as old now as his father was on the film. It was huge and when you still do it what you were doing back then, it’s just as fun. You can carry something like this with you for the rest of your life. Now there comes another tour, they have finished a brand new record, which they all think will be great. They feel that they make relevant music. Those who like Gyllene Tider will like the record, because it doesn’t sound like they are 62 to 64, but it sounds like they are 20. That’s how they sound together and the best part is to be on this journey together and to share it with people.
Frode shows an autograph card and Micke says he appreciates completely different things now than when he was 20. Then he wanted to be a pop idol and wanted the girls to scream. Then he was kind of satisfied. It’s not quite like that now. But sharing this experience of what they went through together with the others and to talk about that means something to others too. Not so much for Tore in 1981 maybe. Haha. For Micke it’s cool, because it feels like they have done something good with their lives and Per has done even more, because it’s absolutely unique to succeed in having 2-3 different careers at an even bigger level. There isn’t that many artists who have done it the way he did. Micke thinks Per has a great career as a Swedish solo artist and also with Roxette. And Gyllene Tider to begin with. Without that, the other things had not happened and that they are still around is amazing. They reunite every few years and they all have the same attitude as they had when they were 20. They think they should do their absolute best.
The guys talk about 2019, the farewell tour. Micke says it was his idea. He pushed the guys for it to be the last tour, because it was 40 years since they started. He thought anything can happen anywhere at any time in life, but the older you get, the greater the risk is that something happens to you and you wouldn’t be able to give your 100% to, for example, playing in Gyllene Tider. They have some kind of long marriage with their audience that actually the audience has taken care of. They broke up in 1985, but in 1995 they realized how popular they still were, because they sold a lot of compilation albums. So they did a gig at home in Halmstad in 1995. A lot of people came and they didn’t understand it. Then they went on the Återtåget tour, which became the biggest tour in Scandinavia. A band that doesn’t exist. So it’s the audience’s credit. And it was because GT made the songs that you listen to. GT and the audience need each other. They don’t exist without each other. So Micke thought in 2019 they end with the flag at the top, because he saw so many bands and artists that he looked up to and they don’t have the force anymore. Then how to play if someone might pass away, so it’s not all 5 of them? The whole thing about them is that it should be the 5 of them playing, because it’s the 5 of them who can make that Gyllene Tider sound. So he felt they should stop and wanted to honor it. They were doing this because Micke’s feeling was that if they go on stage with that attitude, that this is the last thing they do, then they will have another gear when they do it and those who will see them will understand that. It was so important for Micke, because what he appreciates about all of this is that they and the audience have had this long marriage. They still perform the songs in different forms, Per is out on his solo tour, Micke is out as well playing them. But the 5 of them, they played together then and Micke kind of wanted to say thank you very much to the audience. This is how he wanted the audience to remember them, having a lot of fun instead of saying „yes, it was good when I saw them in 1996, but shit, now it wasn’t fun because they don’t have the power anymore”. So then they decided to make a record in France and that it would be a fantastic tour. But then Covid happened and it was terrible. Sitting for 2 years and not being allowed to do anything. Micke was lucky, because he had a buffer to live on. But he has a lot of musician friends in Norway and in Sweden who didn’t get any money. They didn’t know how to survive. For 2 years, it’s completely unacceptable. Not getting to work, not getting out and do what they think is the most fun. Micke thinks his mental health affects him a lot and it was like that for the others too. Per did a seated acoustic session when it wasn’t allowed to be so many people in the audience and they had to sit. He sang GT songs as well. That session at Hotel Tylösand was a huge success, because people got to see music and we got to go out. Then he was visited by 4 girls who have a film production company. They said they want to make a film about the ’80s from when GT started until they finished in 1985. There should be actors and it should be a feel good drama. So the guys had a meeting with them and were surprised the girls would want to make a movie about them. The girls thought GT has a fantastic story. So there will be a movie. Then Per had bought a new guitar and started writing songs. He is always writing songs, Micke says. So PG wrote 2 songs and said they sound like Gyllene Tider. He asked if they could just test them. Micke was very doubtful, but they did it. Just for fun. The guys recorded those songs and they turned out great. So Micke was more in doubt. He was thinking and also talked to his wife about all his doubts. He thought they fulfilled the criteria, he felt the album is great. They are still doing their best when it comes to GT. Obviously, people would be happy if they go on tour. We are living in pretty tough times now so maybe they can contribute to better times with a little joy out there. And they get the joy back form the audience. So he felt OK, let’s do this. That wasn’t the plan, but no one said that he would be locked up for 2 years either. Haha. So if life is stupid to him, then he can enjoy life instead. So they decided to do this and they did it so good. They can do even better than what they did before and that’s right.
Since it’s a video interview, Micke tells Frode that he can see his drums behind, his digital drums. He thinks they are very good. Micke says this room is his mancave where all the gold records and everything from the ’80s and on can be found. He thinks it’s great fun that nowadays, how the two of them are now sitting and talking to each other via the computer or that thanks to Facebook and Instagram you have contact with so many people who have seen them on stage over the years. He is in contact with 2 or 3 girls in Stockholm who were outside the studio when GT recorded their first album. Micke knows they are very happy and as Frode said, he also bought a ticket to Ullevi. For Micke, this is what makes him think it’s worth it. If people are happy, he is happy. Micke says maybe Frode should bring Tore with him to Ullevi. Let’s see if he still thinks the same as in 1981. If nothing else, then at least it’s a nice ending to everything that he gets to come and check on GT again. Micke says he loves such things. It’s great fun to have reviews from a young person who didn’t think it was fun and here we are again.
Frode says he was there in Karlstad in 1996 with his brother and had much fun and it will be fun again. Micke says the same thing again, we have grown older, but the memories also grow in us. He can see from the stage when someone remembers what it was like when they fell in love with the one standing next to them, things like that. And it’s so cool to see and it’s so much fun. We are older and he is not that little guy in shorts anymore. Haha. He says it might be stupid for a middle-aged man, but when he can see a girl who was in love with him in the ’80s looking at him with the same eyes now, then he knows it’s just an illusion, because it is the memory that she is in love with. It’s so nice to see that music has that power. All music has that, but Micke can only talk about their own songs.
Micke says that he is the type of guy who if once said something, he sticks to that. So he really thought the last tour was the last tour. It wasn’t the case that they wanted to get the most money out of it. Some people think that it was the case, but not at all. He thought it doesn’t work for him, once he said that was the last one, then that was the last one. But then he was thinking a lot and it was exactly as Per said that with Covid and everything that happened during that time, they needed to do something to feel good. He thinks it’s fun and, after all, that’s the way it is. The 5 of them have done it all their lives. He has done a lot of other things too, but without GT none of the other things would have happened. And when life goes in a way that didn’t turn out as you had imagined and you sit at home for 2 years, then you just feel that. They still have very high demands on themselves, both how they deliver the music but also with songs and everything. Micke says no one thought Per would have the motivation to write songs for GT again. They recorded the album a little differently. MP has his own studio where he and Per have made demos since long. Mats has been a very, very important person in Per’s life because he has been involved and done Roxette songs and other projects of Per over the years and so they have done a lot together. They had done rough sketches of songs for GT and done a lot of vocals and guitars so the guys got to listen to them. Micke and Anders come from a small community outside Halmstad called Harplinge and 1 km from Micke’s parents’ home there is now a fantastic studio. It didn’t exist back then, but now it’s there and they recorded in that studio for a week. Micke went home and slept in his boy room at his parents each day after the recordings. The room looks the same as it did when he was 16. He was the last to move away from his parents, so everything remained in the room. It’s hard to understand for those who are not making music, but even if he has played with so many great musicians, them 5 have something together that he couldn’t find anywhere else. The sound and everything. That’s what makes it sound like Gyllene Tider and it doesn’t go away. It’s there even though the years go by and once they are at it again, it’s just there. They were going to do soundcheck in the studio, that’s how it should work, but everything sounded good. They haven’t played together in 3 years, so they tested the drums and bass and MP tested the guitar. Staffan, the technician sat there and recorded. They were all sitting in the same room, tested a song the first day. They would just do soundcheck to see if everything worked well to record the next day. So they tested a song and half an hour later another one. And then all the others. Staffan told Micke a month ago that he was completely shocked. He wasn’t prepared for the guys to start recording right away. Micke says it was like they kind of knew what they were going to do. It’s so cool that it works like that for them. He wants to honor what they have done all the way as long as they exist. Now it seems they got another chance to go on. The album release date is not decided yet. They have just signed a record deal in their fifth decade. How nice, Micke thinks.
Frode asks Micke about his parents whether they supported him in being a pop star or they were skeptical and wanted him to have a regular job. Micke says all five of them wanted to do just this, music. They actually all had regular jobs in principle. But they didn’t care. They recorded their first album and went on with that. That’s how it’s been all the time since then. Micke is turning 62 this year and the only permanent job he had as an employee was for 4 years in the early and mid ’80s. Since then he has always been a freelancer. He is coping with his own life and no one believed it would work. He doesn’t know what his parents thought back then, but it’s clear they were worried and that’s right. But it went well and he can see how happy they were for him over the years. Especially after 1996 when GT reunited again and that they have been allowed to participate. It’s only Micke’s and Göran’s parents who are still alive. Micke’s parents are probably the ones who have been at the most gigs from all the GT guys’ parents. For Micke personally, it is also another highlight, to be able to share this with his parents. They sat and listened when Micke was practicing drums in a sauna in the basement with regular drums for whatever number of years and they never said anything. As he said, his mother was a hairdresser and the saloon was in their house. So the clients always asked about Micke and lot of fans, especially after Roxette, came to see where they lived. Fans have travelled from all over the world and sometimes people knocked on the door at home and said „hello, we are from Germany. Are you Micke’s parents?” Then they tried to talk to them in English and they were very proud and even showed Micke’s room to the fans. Haha. Micke is happy to share all this experience with his family, wife and children now. In the video of Småstad by Pers Garage there is a quick cut of a baby. It was recorded in 1989. It’s Micke’s oldest son who turns 34 this year. He was a newborn then. Micke’s father is also in the video in the car repair shop. His dad was 58 in that clip, Micke was 28. Both his mom and dad are very proud of him. His mother had a lot of contact with people who came to their house. In Parkliv! there is this scene where they say a phone number. That was the number of Micke’s mom’s saloon. Even if they beeped it out, it wasn’t the best of ideas, because it wasn’t that difficult to read the lips what number it was. This was in 1981. There were so many people calling. It was Per’s fault, he was the one who said the number. Haha. Now that’s fun, but it wasn’t back then.
The guys talk about Tuff tuff tuff (Som ett lokomotiv) in Parkliv!, how Micke played the drums there. Micke says it’s called youth and testosterone. It’s fun to see himself there and think „damn, is that me?” Micke says that in the movie it’s not visible, but there was someone who threw a coke bottle on stage. He thinks it was during the first song even. So a glass bottle landed on stage and it might as well hit him. There was some guy who wasn’t completely satisfied, so he threw a coke bottle and it landed between Micke’s legs. He was sitting and playing. They have gotten eggs on them too and things like that sometimes from guys who were mad at them. But that’s what makes it so fun to see themselves there in that film.
Micke says it’s a completely different musical world today than it was back then. But that’s what he thinks is so fun about them that they keep going. They make music the way they have always done it. They can do it in a different way now, but what drives them is that they play together. That’s where their sound comes from. That they are 5 souls, 5 hearts that contribute their part to this delicious cake that becomes Gyllene Tider. That mix has only been refined over the years. They are still doing the same thing. Although, they have a little more screens now, but it’s more for the experience for the audience. It’s all about the connection between the band and the audience.
Frode is curious if it has ever happened that Per presented a song that later became a hit, but when he presented it they thought it wouldn’t work. Micke says they had hits in every decade from the ’80s to the ’90s to the 2000s. And it might happen this time too. There are some songs that can be hits, Micke thinks, because they are spreading Gyllene joy. But to be honest, he can’t remember if they ever said to a song that later became a hit that it wouldn’t work. They must have had it, but it’s been so long and he, for some reason, have gained the ability to remember events. He can remember feelings and stuff, but especially when the GT guys all talk. He always says it’s full on the hard drive. There is no space left up in the hub, things happen all the time. He says he remembers that Per wrote Sommartider while all other four guys went for a lunch break. EMI, their record company said there was no single among their materials when they recorded Puls. So Per got pissed off and he sat down and wrote Sommartider. There is a song, Mony, Mony by Billy Idol. They got inspiration from the groove of it and then it was done.
Frode mentions that when the EP with Gå & fiska! came out in 1996, there was a new, modern, fresh Gyllene Tider sound. Michael Ilbert was the producer. Micke says they worked with Ilbert already before Gå & fiska! in 1995 when Kung av sand and Det är över nu came out. Ilbert had worked with Per and Ilbert had quite a special way of working. And somehow it fitted them and also how Per wrote the songs. So it became a completely different Gyllene Tider that fit with the times and how they played then. How you play also becomes different with the years. You play differently when you are 20 or 25. It worked so well with Ilbert that Per made an English solo album with him and if you listen to June Afternoon and She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore by Roxette, it’s MP, Micke and Anders who are playing there too. Micke liked that era too. It was Roxette, but sounded like Gyllene Tider, just without Fritzon. Now GT is back to something else that’s more where they come from. Now it’s a poppier album than their last record was. Don’t bore us, get to the chorus. Micke says they really felt like 20 and somehow they got the energy. It was like when they did the Sven-Ingvars song on their previous album. That was the last song they recorded, they had 4 hours until their flight departed. They thought they try it and an hour later, it was all done. Micke says it’s nice to have this extra chance to do it again and say that age ain’t nothing but a number. He says they are lucky that they became musicians instead of sportsmen, because then it would have been over. If you take care of yourself as best as you can and you think it’s fun what you are doing, then you can actually maintain a divine level as you get older. Age has nothing to do with it really. It’s more about the attitude. Tommy Körberg is still out there, for example. He plays shows in Sweden. He sings so well and his presence on stage is amazing. Micke says he went to see Paul McCartney at Tele2 and besides the songs that are amazing themselves, it was great to hear McCartney being able to sing that way. And he still has that energy. Music is like that. It works. The joy of it. And the audience will be just as happy.
Frode asks Micke about Ullevi. Micke says it will be the fourth time they play there and he hopes that there will be a lot of people. That will be the last gig in Sweden on the tour. They played Ullevi for the first time in 2004. They were the first real Swedish band to play at Ullevi. When you keep going as Gyllene Tider have, you always have dreams, Micke says. When they started, they wanted to be on a big stage in Halmstad. They made it in 1981. Then there were some other places, 1996 was Stockholms Stadion. There were a lot of people. There were probably no Swedish bands that had been there before, so they have constantly moved the goals. Micke remembers he was at Ullevi when Springsteen was there in 1982 or so. He was also there when the Stones played there. You think you would want to do that too and you thought it would never happen, then it does. They got there and they broke crowd records and it was 26 degrees and a perfect day. It was summertime as much as possible and everyone who was in town was excited. 15 minutes before they started playing Micke’s wife said this is completely crazy with so many people there. Everyone was very happy. And then they went out on stage, started with En sten vid en sjö i en skog and it starts with the drums. They have never played for this many people, they were the first ones. The only ones who did it until then. It was a great day. Micke’s whole family was there. He says first you are nervous, but then it falls and then it’s just outpouring love. He couldn’t manage to sing at the top of his lungs. It was overwhelming. It’s the same thing for the audience, so the band and the audience take each other to new levels. All those who were there they knew that they were part of something unique. Then it happened with a lot of other Swedish artists after that, but right then they were the only ones. Foreign artists came and they did a gig, but GT did more than 20 shows and had almost thirty thousand people at each gig in Sweden except for Ullevi, where the number of people in the audience was double. So that tour was completely crazy in itself, because there were half a million people attending that tour. Micke will never forget that.
Frode asks Micke what he would suggest someone who has never listened to Gyllene Tider and know nothing about them. Micke says they should just put on a compilation album and start there and see if there is something that makes them happy. Everyone finds their thing, or if they don’t find anything, they listen to something else. But there is surely a song they will like.
Frode says or they just have to see Min tjej och jag in Parkliv! Micke says that’s exactly what he thought about. It’s the first song in the encore. When you watch it, you can see why Göran climbed a lot on Micke’s back in that film. Watching a GT film now, you can see why Göran wouldn’t climb on Micke’s back these days. Haha. He says it with all love. He thinks it’s funny how they have changed as people, both in size and in everything else. Although they are the same in spirit.
Pic by Patrícia Peres, GT40 Tour, Halmstad 2019