Kirsten and Judith met Clarence Öfwerman before the show in Munich on Saturday. In the following interview you will find information about the Night of the Proms, Clarence’s musical roots and family and much more..
Kirsten: So we heard the Olympia Halle is not standing anymore since yesterday.
C: Hm. Maybe not haha! It was fantastic.
J: Even better than Frankfurt?
C: Maybe the same, but the crowd was a bit wilder yesterday. Second and third in Frankfurt were excellent too. The first wasn’t that good. Stuttgart was the best so far, and the 2nd in Munich.
K: We are going to top it today. The balloons are ready to be used.
C: Balloons! We saw some of them yesterday as well, it’s great you are doing this.
J: It’s actually just 1 week left of NOTP, how do you feel about that?
C: Yeah, Dortmund next Sunday is the last one. It’s kind of sad, we’d like to go on forever.
K: Christoffer mentioned last week it’s quite long time away from your families.
C: Yes, that’s true, but at least we had the family come down to us a couple of times in between, so I think it’s ok. All in all it’s great, when you get into it it’s wonderful to be on tour.
J: What are you going to do through Christmas?
C: I will be home with my family and Santa Clause..
K/J: ..and Kalle Anka..
C: Yeah! Do you know that? Haha! Well yeah, it’s typical Swedish. Specially if you have kids.
K: How did you start making music, playing instruments? Your family is quite musical, too?
C: My father did kind of the same things that I do, he played piano, jazz, and got into producing Swedish artists and later from all around the world. He always said to me “don’t become a musician, it’s very difficult to make a living on it”, he thought I should study economy, because he actually wanted to do that but never succeeded. He once produced an album with Toots Thielemans and he came down to Rotterdam and they hung out one night together, which was great!
But I started to play in bands when I was a teenager anyway. I started playing guitar, then I met a guy who was a lot better than me playing guitar, so I switched to piano. I think that was around 73, 74. You weren’t even born then I think!
Then I started to play with different people in Sweden, as a session musician in the studio, later I started to produce some albums. Then I met Per in 86, and from then on it’s been Roxette all the way.
J: How did you meet Per?
C: I met him once a couple of years earlier, when I played with Ulf Lundell on his tour. We were in Halmstad and Ulf gave a birthday party after the show, the Gyllene Tider guys joined us, and then we were introduced. Anders and Göran and I became friends.
The idea to produce Per’s third solo came actually from Kjell Andersson at EMI. He told Per “Why not try Clarence”, because I did some productions before for EMI, like 2 or 3 albums, so I was the new guy around.
I actually didn’t like his previous solo albums, I hadn’t listened to them very much. I liked the early Gyllene Tider, and Marie. Marie was involved in the first song, “Neverending Love”, so we did that one just to try and see what happens. It was actually Pelle who told me to go for it and take this production job, because I wasn’t much into this Per Gessle type of music.
J: And you brought Jonas and Tommy along.
C: Yes, I had known them for a long time, so I always wanted to have them as a band in the album. So I told Per, I wanted Pelle, Jonas and Tommy. Per himself wanted Tommy as well, but he preferred other guys on drums and guitar. So we reached a compromise, and we kept Tommy to record “Neverending love”, which was a success. Then for the album Jonas and Pelle joined, as well as Alar Suurna as engineer.
J: Were you also oin tour with Rock Runt Riket?
C: Yes, in 87, with Ratata and Eva Dahlgren. Each of us, Jonas, Pelle and myself played with two bands each. I played with Roxette and Ratata. Pelle with Roxette and Eva Dahlgren. Jonas with Ratata and Eva Dahlgren. Jonas couldn’t play with three bands, and since Roxette was the newest band for him, he went for the other two bands.
J: What can you tell us about this tour?
C: Each artist played a bit longer than one hour. We also had a support act, Orup, who became successful after that. Then Eva Dahlgren, Ratata and Roxette played. It was about ten minutes break between the acts, so after Ratata I had to go and change my clothes and make me ready for Roxette. It was kind of strange.
J: The pictures from that time are also kind of…
C: Strange? Yeah, that’s true. 80ies. Specially Per and Marie looked strange. Eva looked very different to now.
K: It’s interesting you’ve all been in the same band for such a long time.
C: Yes, it’s very unusual. But it’s very good as well not to have new people coming and going. Christoffer joined in 96, so it’s also a very long time. The band changed a lot when he joined, to the better, of course. He is an amazing guy, he can play anything.
Judith and Kirsten met Christoffer Lundquist in Frankfurt before the show on Sunday. In the following interview you’ll find information about Christoffer’s career, love to music, touring with Per and Roxette and much more.
Judith: How did you start to play music, compose, get in to music?
Christoffer: My parents got me and my sister when I was 6 years old to play violin. And I hated that. I hated every second of it, and I never practiced, never did anything, was horrible, but I sort of discovered it was nice to play notes and find them for yourself, and make up little tunes, so when I was maybe 10 or 11 I skipped the violin and finally dared to tell my parents I didn’t want to do that anymore, and I got an old guitar from my aunt, who also introduced me to the Beatles. From then on I’ve done nothing but playing, try to write arrangements, I am a totally single-minded person, that’s the only thing I do.
J: How many instruments do you play?
C: I actually only play guitar and bass, you know, reasonably well, the rest is sort of just cheating, but since I buy so many instruments, I have the possibility to practice with them. I play a bit of decent flute, half-decent saxophone, clarinet, I got an oboe, that was fun for a year and then it was too hard, so I skipped that. I have so many different instruments in my studio, but they are all kind of keyboard instruments.
J: Was Brainpool your first band?
C: No, I had my own band when I was in high school, we played prog-rock, loooong 20-minute songs which I wrote and forced everyone else to play.
J: So when did you start to compose your own stuff?
C: Probably at the age of 10, when I got the guitar. That’s the reason for playing for me, to try to make your own music or play your own stuff.
J: Did you actually study music?
C: No, never, the three years of violin when I was 6 to 10 is all my music education.
J: And how did you get to Brainpool?
C: David Birde was a friend of mine from high school, he had Brainpool going, the bass player was to go and do this army service, so I just joined as a replacement for him. But it turned out that the four of us got along very well and we liked each other, so when his army was over, he was no longer welcome I am afraid, it’s a bit harsh, but it’s the way it was. That was I think 91. It took a few years until we got a record deal and released our first album.
J: How was it that Per discovered your music in first place?
C: He had just started this side of Jimmy Fun Music which was going to release other music, besides Per’s own. We were one of the first bands to send him some demos, just by chance, that’s just the kind of music Per likes. Besides that, our singer, Janne, he sounds a little bit like Per, a little bit of this childish voice if you like, a bit high pitched, so he just fell for it. Back then Per used to listen to all the demos which had to do with Jimmy Fun, later he got a bit tired of it, and didn’t care so much, but in the beginning he was really into it.
J: So it was actually his decision to publish your music.
C: Yes, his and Ben Marlene, the guy he had hired to run Jimmy Fun Music. So yes, we were the first band he signed.
J: Tell about your first album, Soda, which songs were included?
C: You normally collect the best songs from many years and put them on the first album, so that’s the way it worked with us. The second album was a bit more difficult because we had to write the same amount of good quality songs in a shorter period of time.
J: How did you write the songs? Did you compose them all together?
C: Janne and David wrote most of the songs, I helped with a couple of them, and then I was mostly into the arrangement and producing.
J: The style throughout the albums changed quite a lot.
C: Yes, that was because we got easily bored. Once we had done something, we wanted to try something else, different.
J: Indeed.. you started with some kind of punk and..
C: …and ended up with rock operas! Haha! That’s a huge change, I agree.
J: I actually got the first CD when you went on tour, during C!B!B!, you might not remember, it’s 15 years ago, some fans were waiting outside of the hotel for Roxette to come out, and you came out, all of you four, we stared to talk with you, you looked quite surprised we even knew who you were. How did you experience the touring with Roxette?
C: Well, we came from nowhere and in a couple of months we were suddenly playing to 15000 people in Barcelona, so we were just “aaaahhh!”. It was an amazing adventure. We soon realized it was amazing and fun and learnt a lot. But at the same time nobody really wanted to hear us, of course, I mean, that’s the way it is with support acts. We also realized that after a while, some of the hard-core Roxette fans sort of started to like us, so that was nice. We got a better reaction in some countries. But I remember a gig in Prague, where they had particularly big tickets, and “Roxette” was written on them with large printing, after we had played a couple of songs, people started to raise their “Roxette tickets” .. but well, it didn’t matter, we just played even faster and louder.
J: But I still remember in Barcelona some people sang along. My sister and I had spread your CD … We had lots of fun.
C: Yes, I remember that. That was fun, to find small groups of people at the shows who actually listened and sing along. I remember the gig in Barcelona, we didn’t get much reaction from the audience in general, but Spain is different, you know, so I remember I was playing, I just took a couple of steps to the left and then everybody stood up, I was like “WHAT?”, that had never happened before. Haha!
J: I remember there was even a fanclub, started by a Swedish girl called Annika.
C: Yeah! There was also a girl called Nadja, yes, I think that was the name, from Germany.. or maybe Austria? It was really crazy in Sweden for a year or two, a lot of young girls, like 14-year old girls who fell in love with Janne. It was a bit like Gyllene Tider but on a smaller scale. Btw, the first concert I ever went to was a Gyllene Tider concert, during Moderna Tider, I remember I listened to it in secret because I thought it was a big embarrassing, a bit girly music, and I liked heavy important prog rock, but there was something about his voice you couldn’t resist, couldn’t not listen to it, that hit me.
J: What happened then with Brainpool?
C: It was mainly, the three of us who are still in the band, we drifted apart from Janne, so to say. It’s not that we weren’t friends, but we didn’t have that much in common, didn’t spend that much time together. The three of us are like brothers, so I guess that was the reason, he felt it wasn’t fun anymore. I don’t think he coped very well with the fame and success thing, he just didn’t like it so after a couple of years he felt like he didn’t want to do that anymore.
But we continue, it’s still fun, even though it’s more a hobby band now.
J: Do you still meet and play?
C: We try sometimes, let’s make a new album, but we need time and money and we are busy with many other things, to support ourselves. But we will again, one day, I’m sure. The Junk rock opera is very much alive. The American director who did the show in LA with it, two years ago, is coming to my place in January, we’ll write some new songs for it and develop it. They’ve done like 30-40 shows and now he knows what he feels is missing in the plot, so he’s going to tell us “we need to change this here,” or “this character is not clear enough”, so we are going to record some new music in January. I am really looking forward to it. After that we’ll start working on new Roxette music.
Kirsten and Judith met Jonas Isacsson in Hamburg for an interview. He just came back from a walk in rainy Hamburg. After short introduction, we went straight to work.
Yesterday we saw that you are also in the front when you played with Alan Parsons, not in the back behind the orchestra.
– Yeah! I have to come down and play with him as well. That’s fine. He’s an old hero of mine, he was assistant producer of Pink Floyd’s “Dark side of the moon” and he worked with The Beatles as well. So I’m honoured to play with him, actually. He’s a cool guy, and very big, I’m not that tall, I look like a dwarfs. He’s nice, but like 2 meters tall!
Alan Parsons is a new act in the show. There are other new things, for example, Sharon von Adel is not there anymore. So John Miles does “Stairway to Heaven” alone. We miss her! I miss OMD as well. They played somewhere in town yesterday as well. They were supposed to come to the hotel after the show but they didn’t.
Is it exhausting to play during the whole show, it lasts three hours…
– No, it’s actually better than sitting in the dressing room and wait, because the other guys in Roxette and everybody else have to sit and wait for their moment, kind of boring. The only thing that disturbs me when I come in during the break is that the wine is gone! I’m sure it’s Pelle, Clarence and Christoffer!
Yeah!, We can see that on the YouTube videos.
– Yeah, that happens while I am up on stage you know. It’s kinda funny, stupid but funny. We have a good time anyway.
So we’d like to know about your career. How did you start to play guitar?
– Two elder brothers, Thomas and Mikael, were playing in bands. They both played bass, they would fool around with guitars too. I always tried to be better than them (laughs), so that’s how it started. I went to rehearsals with my brothers, saw the bands, and I liked the atmosphere with amplifiers and all that.
How old were you?
– I was five. There were guitars in my house all around. And my great grandfather played organ at the church, so there was always music in the house and started from there.
Do you play other instruments?
– Yes! Bass and drums. I learnt to play drums at the music school, I could play guitar before that, but drums were the first instrument I really had to learn, but it became boring. I can also play keyboards.
Is it true you played with Joey Tempest and John Norum’s as well, back in early 80ies?
– I lived in Upplands Väsby where they come from. John Norum had a band called W.C., Water Closet, with some friends of mine, he was a great guitar player but he was a kid back in those days, he was very shy and stood with his back to the audience, but everytime I listened to him play guitar, I thought “this guy is great.” So we lived in the same town and grew up with those guys as well. I also worked with Joey’s first solo album.
You said you lived in Upplands Väsby, but where do you come from?
– No, I was born in Umeå. We’re nearly one age. We moved to Dalarna and I moved to Stockholm in 1975.
You also worked with Eva Dahlgren a long time. How did you start to work with her?
– I worked with Eva from her second album “En blekt blondins hjärta”, from 1980 till 1991. Eva’s producer Anders Glenmark and I were on tour with a band, we played in the same show, a bit like this show wi
th various artists, and Eva was backup singer in one band, so we met then and became friends. Then Anders and me started to work together and we formed a band actually, with Eva. Then in 81 we went on tour with Eva, the woman went rocket skyhigh immediately, with such great songs.
How was it working with her? You composed one song with her, “Älska mig”.
– It was great! We also did music for a children’s movie and worked a lot together those days. I miss her sometimes, to play with her. We have still contact, we live very close to each other in SouthernStockholm, we see each other shopping groceries, you know, so I see her a lot. But she has a new band and works with Lars Halapi, they seem to have a good working relationship, so I don’t want to go and mess things. But if she’d ask I’d say yes , of course.
How did you start to work with Roxette?
– Working with Eva lead to other jobs, I got to do a lot of sessions with other big Swedish artists. I was working in studio 4-5 days a week, with different people and different kind of music, including dance bands, lots of stuff. And Clarence, Pelle and I knew each other since 1977, from different bands, Clarence got the offer to produce a solo album with Per, which then became Roxette. Clarence said “I want to have this band,” which was me and Pelle, and Tommy Cassemar. So I worked with them since 1986, except for the 7 years where Marie didn’t play. That was tragic.