Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – March 2023

After a well-deserved beachtime, skipping one month of being on air on Nordic Rox, Per Gessle is back on the Spectrum with Sven Lindström. Mr. G is taking a break from recording to make this episode with Sven. He is in the studio at the moment. Also preparing for a big summer tour in Sweden with Gyllene Tider, but he says it’s great to be back on the show. Nordic Rox is where it’s at. Sven asks PG what kind of project he is working on right now. Mr. G says right now he is working on some solo material. There will also be a Roxette musical coming out late next year, so he is working on that one as well. There is a movie coming out about Gyllene Tider next summer, so he is keeping himself busy. No peace for the wicked, Sven laughs. Per says it’s good. He just released the PG Roxette album in October last year, so he is still releasing some singles from that one. Some promotion here and there. Sven says as soon as that one is out, they will play it on Nordic Rox. He asks Per when the EP will be available in stores. It’s out mid April and he is preparing some videos and stuff for that one as well.

The March episode has a special where the guys are focusing on a Swedish group called Atomic Swing. They are a great band that started out in the early ’90s. They were big in Sweden, big in Japan.

The first song the guys play is Sven’s band’s new single, Close To You. The only thing he has to say is „here’s Nordic Rox with some good looking music in the shape of Velvet Beat”. After the song is played, Per says Velvet Beat is a Malmö band.

The next track is Gold Rush, new music from Stella Explorer. Then comes Hey Princess by Popsicle. Per thinks it’s a beautiful song. A classic.

Next one is The Loneliest Girl In The World, one of the hits from the PG Roxette album, Pop-Up Dynamo! Sven says they talked about this song earlier, but he is curious how it came about. PG says he doesn’t know, but when he wrote it, he just felt immediately that it’s got a really catchy chorus. He says you feel that in your spine when you are writing songs, when it hits that a chorus is really going somewhere. So he felt immediately that this is going to be a very strong song. He didn’t have a title or any lyric at the time, but it turned out to be the first single off the album. Sven says Per could have written it for Gyllene Tider. They were making an album around the same time. PG reacts that it was a little earlier, but it is sort of the same style, he agrees. The big difference of course is when he works with GT, it’s a very organic band with five people playing all the time, while with PG Roxette everything is programmed. So it’s more like an ’80s-’90s synthesizer based production. Even though the music is quite similar, the end result is pretty different.

Next is Sergels Torg by Veronica Maggio. Sven says it’s always great here on Nordic Rox to grab the chance to polish up your Swedish with the help of Veronica Maggio. Per adds for those who haven’t been to Stockholm that Sergels torg is the big square in the center of town where you are sort of wheeling and dealing, underworld, dark web. Sven adds it’s a place where you can buy this and that.

The Atomic Swing special starts with the guys talking about the band. Sven asks Per if he remembers when they came out. They were formed basically when Roxette were travelling the world in 1992. Atomic Swing made it quite big in Sweden. Per remembers their breakthrough. He liked the band a lot and they sounded pretty different. Per thinks their sound was really fresh. Good songwriting as well and they are a great band with great singers and great arrangements. The first album was a massive success for them. Sven says they made it really big in Sweden and they also broke through in Japan and Australia. Sven thinks the singer, Niclas Frisk has got a special attitude. Nobody else sounds exactly like him and he is also a very good guitarist. Per agrees and says it was a complete band. A really good band and they looked cool too. The first song the guys play from them is Stone Me Into The Groove, their biggest hit from their debut album, A Car Crash In The Blue (1993). The band was definitely influenced by the ’70s, but still there are some new elements to it in their sound. They sound like the ’90s as well. Sven says it’s just like the way Oasis updated the ’60s, to make it into a ’90s thing.

Per thinks that what made Atomic Swing work was that they had good songs. The next one they play, Dream On is an even better song, he thinks. It was a big success for another Swedish artist called Jerry Williams, an old rocker from the ’50s. Atomic Swing made their own version and it’s from another album. They made three albums in the ’90s and split up in 1997, and then they were gone for like 10 years and they reformed to make The Broken Habanas in 2006. Dream On has a wonderful guitar and organ solo where they sort of overlap each other in a wonderful way. Per thinks it’s a great song. He loves the guitar sound and the Hammond thing as well. They used Hammond a lot in the production arrangements. It makes the whole production sound really big.

The next song is also sort of flirting a bit with the ’70s sound. The guys go back to Atomic Swing’s second album called Bossanova Swap Meet. It was released in 1994 and had a track called Soul Free. There is a great little flute melody in the intro. It’s nice. Per thinks flute is a very underrated instrument. You immediately think about Jethro Thull. The flutes were everywhere in the late ’60s, early ’70s and then boom, off they went.

The last Atomic Swing song they play is Lovin’ Out Of Nothing, which Niclas Frisk, the leader of the band wrote together with Swedish singer Titiyo. She released her version in 2004 and it became a big song. A couple of years later, Atomic Swing released their own version on their comeback album, The Broken Habanas. Titiyo’s version is quite different, but it’s a really good song. Per didn’t know that the Atomic Swing had recorded it themselves, but when he heard it, he immediately recognized it of course. Sven was looking for the word „atmospheric” to describe it. Per says why not, it’s a good word.

The guys go back in time to 1995. Sven asks Per what happened in 1995. PG says it’s a long time ago. He was on the Crash! Boom! Bang! tour with Roxette. Sven says in Stockholm, Sweden a young girl was recording her debut album. He talks about Robyn and plays Do You Really Want Me (Show Respect) from her.

Hollow Talk is next by Choir Of Young Believers, a Danish one man band. It was the theme song for The Bridge TV series. Great TV series, Per thinks. Sven also thinks it’s very cool and it turns out Per didn’t see the last two episodes, because for some reason they stopped showing it on the network. That’s what you call a cliffhanger, Sven laughs. Per says he has to do something about that. Haha.

The guys wrap up, thank the listeners for joining them and Cigarettes by Anita Lindblom is closing the show.

Still is from the Bag of Trix comment videos recorded by Anders Roos.

Thanks for your support, Sven!

Per Gessle and Magnus Börjeson discuss ”Station to Station” on Bowiepodden

A Swedish David Bowie podcast, Bowiepodden invited Per Gessle and Magnus Börjeson to discuss David Bowie’s Station to Station album. The conversation was recorded at T&A in December 2022 and the guys talked about the album track by track. Listen to it HERE!

After the podcast host, Sebastian Borg welcomes Per and Magnus, he turns to Per and asks him about when Station to Station came into his life. Mr. G says it happened as soon as it came out at the beginning of 1976. He has always listened to David Bowie a lot and followed him. He attended the Station to Station tour at Scandinavium. He remembers they went there with a group and wore platform shoes, because they thought it was appropriate. Then they were a little disappointed when David Bowie entered the stage looking like Frank Sinatra. Haha. There was also Luis Buñuel’s short film, Un Chien Andalou shown, but it was a fantastic concert, Per thinks. Sebastian can imagine it was magical. Mr. G agrees that Bowie was magical. Sebastian thinks Per was the right age to be a Bowie fan. PG was 17 at the time. On the other hand, Per says these albums from 1976 still sound depressive in a way. Destroyer by Kiss is probably the worst. Hejira by Joni Mitchell was quite good, although it was complicated. You can’t miss Hotel California by the Eagles, but it didn’t mean much.

Per says when he was 11 or 12, he bought New Musical Express and Melody Maker every week and sometimes he bought Goal which was about English football. Magnus adds Per probably bought Buster (sport comic magazine) too. Per says indeed, he forgot about that one. Mr. G remembers that there were a lot of pictures of Bowie all the time. Bowie usually travelled by train, he was afraid of flying. Also, you heard that he stocked his urine in the fridge. It was quite a tough time. ”Or a good PR campaign”, Magnus adds. He thinks you have to take it with a pinch of salt, like everything. Sebastian thinks the whole myth-making around how decadently Bowie lived had an impact on him when he discovered the album long afterwards. He feels like it can’t be removed from the music and sometimes he would just like to listen to it without knowing any background to it. Magnus thinks the album is a bit detached. Per agrees and he adds it has very complex texts and there were no texts printed on the sleeve and there was no internet back then. So you didn’t understand it all, all this weird stuff he referred to, especially in the title track. You don’t exactly understand it even when you read it. Magnus says he has read through it a hundred times, but he has got only half of the answers still. Sebastian says you need to have Wikipedia available when you want to keep up.

Per says there is a book called Bowie Books. He collected books and it’s a book about 100 books that were most influential in his life and there is a lot of stuff he refers to in his texts. Sebastian says Bowie was a bookworm, he read a lot. Sebastian thinks it might not be that interesting to dig into why Bowie did things. He thinks it makes perfect sense that Bowie buried these and also his fascination with Hitler. Sebastian feels a bit that it is a storm in a glass of water, because it’s clear that at some point you are interested in those powers. Magnus says Sid Vicious had Nazi ties back in the days. It was the easiest way in England to provoke at that time. There is a PR element in all this, you have to remember that. After the war, it was so present. It was there all the time. Per says that after Woodstock and the Summer of Love, it feels like the ’70s itself was a real mess if you look at Pasolini, books, music, fashion and everything. Sebastian says he read someone who wrote that Bowie was like a roll of film exposed to too much light, because he was good at taking in all the impressions at the same time.

He was so extremely receptive. There were talks about drug abuse and using drugs, his main thing was cocaine. If he had gone hard for heroin, then he might not have survived. Sebastian feels that Bowie didn’t take drugs for partying and hogwash, but because of being extremely productive. So he had it more as a fuel to endure. He wanted to make music, he wanted to read, he wanted to write, he always had a thousand ideas going on. He was also quite isolated. He didn’t meet many people at the time and mostly hung out with himself and his musicians. There is a story about him putting up little piles of cocaine in the studio in different places, so that he doesn’t have to stretch so far if he was sitting by the piano for example. Magnus inserts it was the same with Fleetwood Mac. That was a Los Angeles thing.

Sebastian adds that Bowie also wanted to keep away from rock at this time. He had already done Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs. Sebastian has a quote where Bowie says himself: „I was absolutely infuriated that I was still in rock ‘n’ roll. And not only in it, but had been sucked right into the centre of it. I had to move out. I never intended to be so involved in rock and roll… and there I was in Los Angeles, right in the middle of it.” Sebastian thinks you can feel very clearly that this is a transition album and it’s not so rocky. It has really come a long way from the Ziggy Stardust sound. Per says if this record had come out today, he wouldn’t have listened to it at all. You gave records so much more time in the old days. Magnus adds that this record needs much time. He listened to it so much on a cassette in a car he had one summer. It always went on and after a while he thought, wait, this is damn good. But in the beginning, listening to this long, long, long intro, was not the best thing in the traffic. Per says it’s better to listen to it in your bed with your headphones on. Mr. G thinks it’s not a fantastic album. He thinks there are elements in Stay, for example, or TVC 15 that are damn good, but the other 5 minutes they could have edited a bit more, to make it more effective. Station to Station, the song itself is extremely protracted. Sebastian says that’s a typical cocaine impact. PG says he never liked Word in a Wing at all. Wild Is the Wind was his favourite, because that was a real song.

Sebastian thinks that a large part of the album’s sound and Bowie’s songwriting was also characterized by the fact that he was in the film The Man Who Fell to Earth. Actually, he wanted to make the music for it, he wrote a lot of music. Magnus says Bowie got super pissed off when they didn’t use it in the end. It was John Phillips from The Mamas & the Papas who got to do the soundtrack instead. Sebastian says he hasn’t seen that movie earlier, but he gave it a chance now before this conversation. An alien, Newton comes down to civilization, trying to find water is the storyline, but it’s a bit loose. And that’s how the sound is on Station to Station too. The cover of the album is a still from the movie.

Magnus says that Bowie got the world’s best partner on this record, producer Harry Maslin, who is so extremely underrated and not talked about. Per says Harry produced 2 albums of Bowie, Young Americans and Station to Station. He also produced Air Supply. Sebastian says Young Americans is also much Tony Visconti, but for example, Fame was produced by Harry and David, without Tony.

Per says it’s true that the sound of Young Americans is very different to Station to Station. There is a distance, STS is a little more metallic, a little cold. Magnus says it’s hard to get into it. PG says when the lead single, Golden Years was released, it was very surprising. He gave it like 30 chances and then finally put it away. It’s not an obvious single right away. For Magnus it was in the late ’80s when he discovered it and started listening to it. It was after Ashes to Ashes, so it was another Bowie.

As a fun fact, Sebastian mentions that Bowie was together with a designer named Ola Hudson who had a son who later became famous as Slash. So Bowie nursed little Slash. His real name is Saul Hudson.

The guys here get down to this epic album, which opens with Bowie’s longest song in his career, Station to Station. When the intro starts, Per says here comes the train. Magnus asks if this was the sound that was during the movie screening. Per says no, the whole concert started with this train and then it was Earl Slick standing in the front of stage doing the intro. Bowie was standing at another place and started singing [here Per demonstrates how deep his voice was] „the return…” It was fantastic.

Still listening to the intro, Per says you would like them to sprout up the song a little bit, get a little tough. Magnus says maybe that was cocaine. PG says, but then it should be fast. There is a little turn though, but you feel like it’s at 4 BPM. It gets a little faster, Per says. Magnus adds you get the reward when Bowie starts singing. Sebastian says the singing starts only 3 minutes 16 seconds into the song, so it’s a massive intro. From the first lines you get a little goosebumps, but musically, it could have been more cheeky. At one point Per asks Magnus what instrument is the one that comes. Magnus thinks it’s melodica, but he is not sure. Per says it sounds like being played with the mouth, so it can be. Sebastian says that when he heard this song for the first time it was at KB in Malmö. A Bowie tribute band was playing with Fredrik Karlsson. The opening lines were inspired by Aleister Crowley, an occultist about whom there is a story that he lured a young couple into his apartment and terrorised them until they died.

Sebastian thinks that there is something strange about the „return” of the Thin White Duke, because it was the first time we heard about him. Who is this guy that he was apparently talking about? Magnus says these characters always come back and descend and come back to take over. It was the same with Ziggy. Per says Bowie is such a storyteller in his lyrics. There aren’t many love lyrics in David Bowie’s catalogue. Per can’t even remember if there is any. Wild is the Wind has beautiful love lyrics, but it’s not Bowie’s song. All the lyrics are about… it’s impossible to say what they are about. Sebastian feels like this is Bowie’s way of tying together a lot of song ideas. It’s a little patchwork that applies to songs like this that have many parts in them. Like a symphony. Magnus says it kind of has a small connection to symphonic rock. It’s not symphonic rock at all, but the form is close. It was big back then. Such super pop people like McCartney did a lot of this sort of thing and there were other bands that made a whole career out of doing it.

Sebastian thinks the intro is magical. Maybe a bit too long, but the second half of the song brings him to Young Americans land. The transition isn’t that pretty. Per and Magnus think differently. They think it’s damn good. Sebastian thinks it’s a bit Jethro Tullish. Per thinks this part is in the song’s DNA. Sebastian thought about comparing it a bit to the title song on Blackstar, because it was also almost 10 minutes long. It’s funny that Blackstar was actually over 10 minutes, but they had to cut it down to 9 min 57 sec, because iTunes didn’t sell singles that were over 10 minutes.

Sebastian thinks Blackstar works better. The parts there fit together more neatly. Regarding why these songs have to be so long, Carlos Alomar talked about it in an interview. It was because he found out on Station to Station that they pay you extra money if your song is longer than three minutes. So it was because of more money.

Sebastian thinks there is a lot to talk about in terms of Station to Station‘s lyrics. They don’t need to talk about every single line, because it’s almost too much, but there are some things that are very interesting. For example, Bowie sings „such is the stuff from where dreams are woven” from The Tempest by Shakespeare.

Above all, he was into Kabbalah and there is this mysticism. It’s dark, but it feels pretty harmless. Then he sings „here are we one magical movement from Kether to Malkuth”. Sebastian says it was hard for him to figure this out without internet. Per agrees that it’s difficult to understand that. He looked it up on the internet too, but he must have forgotten it. It is a reference to the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, where Malkuth is the lowest branch and represents the physical world. Kether is on the top of the Tree of Life. It means crown. Life is a journey from one to the other.

Talking about the title, Station to Station for Sebastian it has a train reference, but it’s not really. He thinks Bowie is referring to the Stations of the Cross. It also fits better. The journey goes from station to station, he is on his way from the dark to the light. But it’s a bit misleading that they start with train sounds. So it can be both. Per has always thought that it’s Bowie’s life, he is on his way, but from A to B or from A to F and it’s really wonderful, simple and effective to illustrate it with a train. It could be a boat or any other vehicle, but it’s also like a mental journey. Magnus says Bowie always had a lot of themes going on at the same time, overlapping one another. It might be a dream game. It’s just that things go on and on and on. Per thinks that is the magic of pop and rock music in general, that you can interpret texts in so many ways. Sometimes you can think that it’s all about you. Of course it isn’t, but you interpret it that way and that’s the power of this. Magnus says texts should stand on their own. They can always rest in the music and you can just throw in a line to hold it together. If you have listened to a song a lot, you’ll eventually get into the lyrics too. Every now and then it starts to stick and then you try to draw your own logical conclusions.

Sebastian says that in the lyrics, Bowie was very figurative and has poetic descriptions that are now quite straight to the point when he sings „it’s not the side effects of cocaine, I’m thinking that it must be love”. Magnus says it was one of these lines that you were hooked at first, but that was it.

Sebastian says that Bowie’s texts are not really why he bought a ticket for. They are hard to understand. Per agrees. Magnus thinks these texts do work, but on a much more subconscious level. Sebastian doesn’t like this song as wholeheartedly as everyone else. He thinks some parts are better than others. He is curious if this is one of Per’s favourite Bowie songs. PG thinks it’s really good. It’s long, but he has listened to it a lot. As he said, he was 17 years old when it came out and that’s exactly when he really listened the most for the music.

Magnus says he was maybe 20 when he started listening to this record. Per thinks it’s very difficult to say which are Bowie’s best songs. It depends a little on what you are out for. He thinks Life on Mars? is fantastic, even though it is from a certain angle. Drive-In Saturday from Aladdin Sane he loves. It’s one of his strangest songs. Time Will Crawl is also a fantastic one.

Regarding Station to Station, Sebastian says he tried to get into it. He listened to it closely, listened to it a little less closely, but he can’t get over the fact that for him it’s a little too much of a collection of song ideas that he doesn’t think fit together. He can’t see what everyone else is seeing or can’t really hear what everyone else is really hearing. Per says it helped a lot for him that he listened to it when it came out. Back then you gave music so much more time to get into it and like it. If it had come out today, PG would have never listened to it. Magnus says that back then, you’d never heard a song like that before, but today you don’t have that patience with music. Per adds that it was also the case that everything that came out then was new. It felt new.

Mr. G remembers that when he heard stereo for the first time in the headphones, it was fantastic to experience it. Magnus says it was like a new dimension. Per explains we don’t live in such a time anymore. Today there is such a huge range of everything.

Magnus says it’s so funny that even if Bowie is supposed to be experimental, there is always this damn boogie. Both Per and Magnus demonstrate what they mean by boogie. It’s also there on Heroes. That’s what makes it so cool that you get 2 dimensions.

Golden Years is the next song the guys are talking about. These kind of songs are Sebastian’s type of pop songs. He really loves these pop singles and this, of course, was the lead single and it came out before the album was released.

Per thinks it’s quite lovely to hear a live band that plays funk and soul. It doesn’t exist anymore. Today everything is fixed. Sebastian thinks that this is like a groove and it has different perfect guitar parts that sync up so very well. It’s almost like a duel between two guitarists.

Magnus says it’s also very much the ’70s, where everything is a bit messy. Then there is Let’s Dance in the ’80s, but that record is super swingy in its own way and is organized in a completely different way.

Per says he hears a little Elvis echo on here. Magnus says Bowie wrote it with Elvis in mind. Per says he can’t hear Elvis doing it actually. Sebastian confirms that Bowie indeed thought that Elvis might be interested in doing that. Bowie also forwarded it to Presley’s management, but as far as Sebastian knows, he never got a yes or no from them. He doesn’t even think that Colonel Parker passed it on. Sebastian can hear it with Elvis and thinks it would have been cool if he sang it.

It resonates like the electronic music that Kraftwerk were doing, but not as swinging. Sebastian thinks that songs like this must be hard to learn. It feels natural when you hear it, but if you were to stand alone and try to keep up, you would lose track. Sebastian thinks a bit of Beyoncé, too, having such songs where everything is connected. Sebastian is just very grateful that he doesn’t have to learn the formula.

According to Sebastian, the inspiration for this one apparently came from a song called Happy Years by The Diamonds, but there is also a song called Funky Broadway by The Blazers. Sebastian rather thinks that Carlos Alomar was probably right when he said that it came from when Bowie wanted to do something in the style of On Broadway. He also sings a line from On Broadway on Aladdin Sane on the outro. Per says the song jumps out on the album, because it’s rather commercial. Magnus thinks it’s an obvious single. Per agrees.

Sebastian says that Bowie’s childhood friend, Geoff MacCormack has a big role here. Bowie had some problem with his voice during the recording, so Geoff had to sing some parts. It was his idea to add „run for the shadows” as backing vocals. You would think it’s Bowie singing, but it’s Geoff. Sebastian tried to separate their vocals. Per thinks that when Bowie sang live, his singing was perfectly clear, everything was fantastic. PG has never heard him sing out of tune. Sebastian says that it’s strange that Bowie didn’t play this song live from 1983. He wonders if it could have been something with the key, something that made it difficult to sing it. Mr. G says it’s very falsetto. Magnus says he knows they usually liked to keep first takes on the records. It was almost always the case. According to Sebastian, it is said that if you can sing clearly, you can also whistle clearly. He doesn’t know who is whistling here, but it’s just perfect.

Magnus says it’s so much fun to hear vocals from the time before all became so fixed. We are reminded how exciting it can be with singing. Per says he understands that if you sing out of tune or you make a mistake you can correct it now, but if you have the vocal capacity like Bowie, you wouldn’t want these voices to be autotuned.

Sebastian says drummer Dennis Davis plays wonderfully on the whole album, but here he is in his element. The band is in its full power on this song. It’s so incredibly good, it’s so far from swinging. Sebastian thinks this mixture is so perfect, the black band, the white music. Per and Magnus also find it awesome.

Sebastian says this song is not as long as some of the others, but 4 minutes is about right. Magnus says they got more money for this length too. Haha.

The guys start talking about what the song is about. Sebastian thinks there are lines that are either about Angie Bowie or about Bowie’s girlfriend, Ava Cherry. At the same time, as Bowie said himself, he wrote this with Elvis in mind, so who knows. Per doesn’t think it’s about anything special. It’s that you can interpret it in so many ways. He thinks it sounds pretty nice. The song came about very quickly, Sebastian says.

Now the guys are at the last song on side A, Word on a Wing. Sebastian loves that tentative piano that feels like testing the sound. He is also very fond of how Bowie starts singing. Per thinks it’s the world’s strangest arrangement. He never liked this song and always skipped it. He never liked the melody, the construction of the song. Sebastian likes it quite a lot, but he realized that he wouldn’t like it if it wasn’t written by Bowie. Then he would think it’s too buttery. He maybe also has a little difficulty, because there is a very Christian message in it. Sebastian chose to see it as a love song that might as well be a tribute to a woman, but the consensus seems to be that it’s Bowie who turned towards Christianity or religion in general. He himself had never really been an outspoken Christian like Dylan in a period. Here Bowie sings „Just because I believe, don’t mean I don’t think as well / Don’t have to question everything / In heaven or hell”.

Sebastian says that it’s said that you become more religious by getting older. Per says once again that he thinks people put in so many interpretations. Bowie was probably just looking for a good rhyming word with „well” and found „hell”. Haha.

Sebastian reads Bowie’s words: „I had never been so near an abyss of total abandonment. When they say that one felt like a shell, an empty shell, I can really understand that. I felt that any of life’s intrusions would crush that shell very easily. I felt totally, absolutely alone. And I probably was alone because I pretty much had abandoned God.” A couple of years later, in 1980 he says: „There was a point when I very nearly got suckered into that narrow sort of looking… finding the cross as the salvation of mankind.” Sebastian says that here Bowie admits a little that he had at least opened up the idea that there could be salvation in God, but quite quickly realized that it wasn’t for him. Although he was wearing a cross on his necklace throughout his career. He wasn’t an outspoken religious person, but an intellectual. Sebastian says he is not a convinced atheist, but he has a hard time when there are Christian messages like this in a text, but he chose to ignore it and like the song anyway. Magnus thinks that Bowie sings so terribly well and he can do these super theatrical things that still don’t make it too ridiculous. It gets a little ridiculous and good at the same time.

Per says that in the ’80s and ’90s Bowie’s music became so tough and so harsh that his voice disappeared. Earlier PG mentioned Time Will Crawl and he thinks Bowie sings amazingly on that one, but he also has a lot of resistance. The production is so powerful that he kind of has to push through it.

Sebastian thinks the drum accompaniment is strange, some double beats are a strange choice by Dennis. Then comes the part where Sebastian says this is the only song he has a little difficulty with and that’s when you go into this so-called chorus. There’s something about the falsetto that doesn’t work for him right here. Per and Magnus think it’s nice. Sebastian realizes that he and the guys think a little differently all the time. Haha.

Sebastian says if you want to hear a little Springsteen in a Bowie song, here it is. It’s Springsteen’s pianist, Roy Bittan playing here. Sebastian thinks the song as a composition feels a little Springsteenish. Magnus has never thought about it. Per says Bowie recorded Springsteen songs as well, e.g. It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City. Sebastian has never seen Bowie as being inspired by Springsteen, but he has seen Bowie as someone who looked up to Springsteen musically. Magnus thinks they were contemporaries, but they were completely different. Sebastian feels a little Springsteen vibe in this song, but he doesn’t know Springsteen too well. Per says maybe it’s only because Roy Bittan sits at the piano. Sebastian feels that at parts there is a little too much space for the piano. Per agrees, but says it let’s Bowie relax a bit. Sebastian played with the thought that this is what it would be like if pianist Mike Garson was on this record. Per says there wouldn’t be less space for the piano then. The guys are laughing. It became a bit more theatrical and Garson didn’t really fit.

Sebastian says there is this instrument at the end of the song, a Chamberlin. Per thinks it sounds a bit like a Mellotron. Magnus explains it’s almost the same thing. Mellotron was used a lot in Bowie’s songs.

The guys get down to side B and start talking about TVC 15. Sebastian says it was this song that Roy Bittan was invited to play on, it was only meant to be on this one, and then he stayed and played on all the songs except Wild Is the Wind. Bittan had just recorded Born to Run and Bowie mentioned he was looking for someone who could play like Professor Longhair. So David asked Roy if he knew Professor Longhair and he did, of course. Sebastian thinks the intro is very similar to Hey Now Baby by Professor Longhair. Per says there was Elton John and Leon Russell who played this New Orleans style, so to say, Magnus adds Dr. John.

Sebastian says even this „oh-oh-oh-oh” you can find in a song by The Yardbirds, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl. So it also sounds like it had been borrowed, but if you were to look in the history of music, you would find quite many of such things and that’s totally fine. Magnus says Bowie was a filter for all this stuff that was in the air at that time. That happens today too, lifting the vibe from another song and stuff like that. It has always been so, just we didn’t know about it before.

Sebastian loves this chaotic soundscape. Per says you hear a little of that guitar chaos that came later with Robert Fripp. There are no keynotes anymore. Magnus says it’s like trying to get through a chaos. PG says it sounds a bit like how the test picture looks on TV.

Sebastian says the sound pattern creates the airiness that then enters into this wonderful transition part. Per says it’s empty, but it’s fun. Magnus thinks it’s damn good.

This song also became a single, Mr. G says. He thinks that if they had skipped Roy Bittan’s intro, it could have been a very effective single.

Sebastian says that the lyrics were inspired by a dream that Iggy Pop told Bowie. He had dreamed that his girlfriend was eaten by a TV. Apparently, TVC 15 is a TV model. Sebastian doesn’t know more than that. The text can actually be read as a narrative. After all, there is a story and it’s a bit twisted.

Sebastian says that according to Maslin, the mixing was a nightmare with the very many different parts. So he had to make sections by the help of an assistant and then cut it together. You don’t work like that today. They had a 24-track tape, which was also a lot at the time and all the tracks were full of different instruments, so it must have been tough to mix them. Bowie wasn’t involved in the mixing at all. He kind of let them take care of it.

Sebastian thinks it’s one of the highlights on the record. It’s one of Bowie’s classics, one might say.

The guys go into song number 5 called Stay, which was a single in the US. Per thinks it’s amazingly good. It’s enormously good according to Magnus too. Sebastian was sure that the guys would say this. He is a guitarist himself, so he should like the intro, but… he will try. He feels like it could be something that John Frusciante from Red Hot Chili Peppers could have come up with. It feels like a punk riff.

Per has always thought that this intro is promising so much, but then nothing comes out of it. Magnus also thought the same, that it was just building and building, then nothing. Sebastian says it could be half the length, because half of it is just guitars. Per thinks it wouldn’t have gone wrong with a nice melody. It could have been a big hit.

At a point, Sebastian says this is a reworking of John, I’m Only Dancing (Again). Bowie never released it on any record. Per says it sounds like the Young Americans sessions. It’s not that good, but it’s very similar to Stay. Sebastian says it’s the same chords and same arrangement. John, I’m Only Dancing (Again) is also insanely long. It’s 7 minutes.

Sebastian has a clip here with Carlos Alomar where he tells a little about Stay. Stay is John, I’m Only Dancing. The music is the same. Bowie said: „Hey, Carlos, I have a great song. Could you have a new arrangement of that song for me?” And that was it, he got this all new song by changing the lyrics. Sebastian says the album consists of six songs of which one is a cover and this one is a reworking of another song. Sebastian says Bowie started working more and more with soundscapes, ambient pieces and that was of course because he wanted to, but also because he couldn’t write songs. Per says that you can hear that he is moving more and more away from melodies. These are not really songs, but grooves. Sebastian agrees, it feels like he was writing less and less compositions in the way he had done before as a songwriter. Magnus thinks it was a bit like Bowie had ideas, came to the studio and he had the world’s best band and then he wanted to see what they can make out of his ideas.

Per says Bowie is singing amazingly here. There is a fantastic groove to it. Sebastian says that from 3 minutes 50 seconds into the song there is nothing interesting to him anymore. Per can imagine it was very good live. He thinks this part is pretty good, it’s better than the melody. Magnus also thinks it’s fantastic. It sounds like they had much fun.

Here comes the last song on the record, a cover, Wild Is the Wind. Per thinks it’s magical. Sebastian thinks the intro sounds so soft and lovely. It’s also nice that the acoustic guitar comes in. He also thinks that it sounds like this could have been mixed by Tony Visconti. There is something about the drum that sounds differently. It sounds a bit like a Bond song. Per says when there is a really good song on the record, it really pops out. This is really magical music. Bowie sings just amazingly. PG has always thought it’s Bowie’s best vocal performance. Sebastian read it at several places that this is considered as his best and he himself thought so too. Bowie was extremely satisfied with this one.

Per says there is a little slip in there, which is like what you have in Golden Years too. He thinks it is so very attractive. Sebastian says Bowie even got a compliment from Frank Sinatra who came by the studio. He was recording in another part of the building and heard this version and was very appreciative. Magnus says it started with Nina Simone’s version of the song. Sebastian adds that originally, it’s a cover of a song sung by Johnny Mathis for a movie Wild Is the Wind. That version was nominated for an Oscar and peaked at number 22 on Billboard. It was a hit. But it’s Nina Simone’s cover that Bowie actually covers on the album. He was very fond of that version. Bowie and Simone were friends. They had met at some club in 1974 and talked a bit and then later that night Bowie called her at 3 am and wanted to talk a little. According to Nina, the first thing he said was: „The first thing I want you to know is that you’re not crazy. Don’t let anybody tell you you’re crazy, because where you’re coming from, there are very few of us out there.”

Nina Simone told in interviews that Bowie didn’t think he himself was a talented or a particularly good singer, which feels so damn strange, Sebastian says. What Bowie said was „I wasn’t a genius, but I planned, I wanted to be a rock-and-roll singer and I just got the right formula.”

Sebastian thinks that one can understand why Bowie got stuck with this song and this is one of the rare cases of Bowie choosing a cover which is absolutely perfect, because he sometimes had extremely strange and boring choices and here he really does a good version, not just a carbon copy.

Per says it would be interesting to know why he chose a cover. Maybe he felt he didn’t have enough material. This song is a rather odd choice on the album. He heard an interview with Nile Rodgers where he talked about Let’s Dance. He said there wasn’t much coming from Bowie what to make with the songs, but it kind of was like „can you do something about this?” That’s how Let’s Dance and Modern Love were produced. Bowie probably never saw himself as a songwriter like Elton John. It just strikes Per right now that it could be one of the reasons of doing the Pin Ups album to gain time. He didn’t have time. He planned to do an adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, but he was denied the rights, then he was busy with the ambitions to make Diamond Dogs. Sebastian thinks so too. The record company also wanted to strike while the iron was hot, so he could gain time.

Sebastian feels that Station to Station is an album of a rather searching and slightly confused Bowie who still manages to do something that is so comprehensive. Even if the record may not have hit Sebastian the way it would have if he was 16 or 17 when it came out, it’s impressive that Bowie somehow manages to get out of this state he was in. Of course, to a large extent it’s thanks to that now he had great musicians and had a machine that controlled things, but he didn’t care that he was in the studio working and toiling. He wasn’t out there rumbling around like Morrison or Zeppelin. But he realized that somewhere around here he had to find his way out of LA and go further. He was damn lucky that he made that step, because Sebastian thinks Bowie wouldn’t have survived otherwise.

Magnus thinks it’s really incredible that he made a record like this when he was in that state. Even he himself couldn’t remember recording the album at all.

Sebastian feels like this is Bowie’s journey, that he sort of makes his way from the darkest dark up through to lights. The ending is amazing, a positive, beautiful song. It’s a big difference from how the album starts. Magnus says Bowie is really like a Renaissance man.

Per says he met Bowie in 1983 on the Serious Moonlight Tour. PG got down to Lyon, France and had the honor of meeting David. Magnus asks if it was at that gig. PG says yes and it was fantastic. He was blonde of course and he had a pastel coloured suit on. He looked amazing. Per was 23, it was the year after Sommartider. So it was a „hej hej, good luck” before the concert. PG was impressed because Bowie had an environmental manager, a girl who built up those ugly dressing rooms including furniture and stuff.

With this, the conversation comes to an end. Sebastian says a big thank you to Magnus and Per for joining him and he also thanks MP to let him sit in his studio, Tits & Ass in Halmstad and lent them his equipment and the studio itself.

Picture is from Bowiepodden

Per Gessle releases Wrecking Ball and updates Party Crasher

Per decided to celebrate this year’s peegeebeeday by sharing a so far unreleased song of his and update the Party Crasher album on streaming services to include all tracks that belong to PC. Wrecking Ball became a killed darling when the album came out in 2008, but in the EPK we could see part of the lyrics of this song (11m 38s into the video). WB was written on 10th October 2007.

We could get used to the fact that no tracks remain in the can forever in PG’s laboratory and actually, this song we already had the chance to enjoy in another form. Thanks to the many branches of Mr. G’s project tree, part of the lyrics had been recycled by Dr. Robot for Mono Mind in Have Another Go, to which new music was written on 7th December 2013 in Halmstad.

The three additional songs in the Party Crasher family are Theme From “Roberta Right” (released on the Sing Along single previously), I’m Glad You Called and Silly Really (Right Into Your Bed Remix) (remix by Dick Mixon). These latter two were released as bonus tracks on the iTunes deluxe edition back in the days.

Listen to the album on Spotify, YouTube or any other streaming service.

Tracklist of the updated Party Crasher streaming

  1. Silly Really
  2. The Party Pleaser
  3. Stuck Here With Me
  4. Sing Along
  5. Gut Feeling
  6. Perfect Excuse
  7. Breathe Life Into Me
  8. Hey, I Died And Went To Heaven
  9. Kissing Is The Key
  10. Thai With A Twist
  11. I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On
  12. Doesn’t Make Sense
  13. Wrecking Ball
  14. Theme From “Roberta Right”
  15. I’m Glad You Called (AGM – May 5-7, 2008)
  16. Silly Really (Right Into Your Bed Remix)

Wrecking Ball

There’s a neverending line of funny people to watch
Here’s another cup of coffee that I put my trust in
Have another go you gotta go it’s time to move on

There’s hardly any reason to get oversentimental
Some days are really kinda overrated anyway yea
Have another go you gotta go you’d better move on

You hit my head like a wrecking ball
You hit the head you’re a wrecking ball
How could anything remain the same
When I can’t even recall my name?

Whatever happened to the ordinary record store?
I know so many songs referring to you anyway yea
If you want it I can pour them on the table and cry

There’s hardly any reason to get oversentimental
Some days are really kinda overrated anyway yea
Have another go you gotta go you’d better supply

You hit my head like a wrecking ball
You hit my bed you’re a wrecking ball
It would be easy to locate my grave
If I only could recall my name

Pretty much like a wrecking ball
Got quite a touch you’re a wrecking ball
I’ll be forgotten with the setting sun
I wish this conversation came undone

You hit my head like a wrecking ball
A bit like lead you’re a wrecking ball
It would be easy to locate my grave
If I only could recall my name

Pretty much like a wrecking ball
Got quite a touch you’re a wrecking ball
I will never ever be the one
I wish this conversation came undone

Words + Music by Per Gessle
© Jimmy Fun Music

This is a mash-up PC cover by PP. Not official, just for fun, of course.

Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – January 2023

Sven Lindström and Per Gessle had their first chat of the year on Nordic Rox. They wish a happy new year to each other. They ask each other how they are doing. Both feel good and Per adds he survived Christmas and New Year’s Eve… in style, he thinks. Sven had a moment of silence. He thought that would say everything about whether he survived or not. Per says „we weren’t at the same party”. They are laughing.

They think it’s good to be back on the show. This time they plan to turn up the amplifiers till 12, sometimes up to 13.5. The featured band on this episode is The Nomads. Per thinks they are a great, wonderful band. This tradition in punk pop music is just the best there is. Sven says they are kicking some serious ass and they have done that since the early ’80s and still do.

The guys kick off with a wee warm-up here in the shape of Troglodyte by Viagra Boys. They remember The Troggs [English garage rock band] and think they were a great band. Per’s favourite Troggs singles were I Can’t Control Myself and Love Is All Around. „I go for the ballads, you know me, Sven.” PG starts singing Anyway That You Want Me here and Sven says, „OK. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Reg Presley [singer in The Troggs] says hello.” They are laughing.

Holiday Inn by Adiam Dymott is next from her debut album. Mr. G thinks that’s a great album and they played quite a few songs from there over the years. I Miss You, John Denver, Pizza, almost every track. Then comes Sugar, the new single of Tribe Friday.

Sven says they have a kick in the ass section waiting for you out there in the shape of The Nomads and they will play four of their highlights from their illustrious career. But before that, some more songs from the Nordic countries. Smile by Atomic Swing comes next. It’s a great ’90s track, one of their biggest hits.

Headphones On by PG Roxette is next, then Between The Lines by Sambassadeur. Per likes this one, he has never heard that before. It’s a great track. Mr. G thinks she has a great voice and he likes their style and the arrangement. Sven says Per mentioned another track while listening to this one, it was like an indie version of Kiss Me by Sixpence None The Richer. But that’s a little bit more sophisticated and this one is more indie style. Charming, they think. Speaking of charming, the guys get back to Headphones On. It’s the new single of PG Roxette. Per asks Sven if he likes it. Sven thinks it’s cool. PG thinks it’s nice. He is honoured to have the old Roxette lead guitar player, Jonas Isacsson around. He is playing a guitar solo on this one. It’s so rare to record guitar solos these days, he adds. Sven thinks it’s desperately needed. Per thinks so too. Sven asks Per if Jonas was happy for getting the chance to let loose. Mr. G says he is always happy when he gets a chance to play guitar solo. Every guitarist is. „Did you try it, Sven?” Sven says as soon as they are ready, he is going to pick up his guitar and fire away. Haha.

Mando Diao has a new single, Fire In The Hall. Sven asks Per what he thinks about that. PG thinks it’s OK. He thinks Mando Diao has its ups and downs and this is somewhere in the middle for him. But it’s always interesting to hear what they are going through. This song is from the EP Primal Call, Vol. 2.

The excellent new single from Stella Explorer, House Arrest is the next song. The guys think it’s a very, very cool track. They like it a lot. Per thinks this one is also from an EP. It’s very popular to do EPs these days, a shorter version of albums. Sven asks Per if he knows what EP stands for. Mr. G knows it of course, Extended Play. Those things were important to learn back in the days. Per thinks it’s actually good nowadays when you have the streaming services that you can release 4 songs instead of 12. He will always go for releasing albums, but a lot of people are complaining and you can tell by the streaming numbers as well that people are getting bored after four or five songs. He is laughing. Sven says that was a challenge that The Soundtrack Of Our Lives always took up, releasing double albums in the streaming area.

Sven and Per get down to an amazing band that they both like a lot, The Nomads. Sven says they are taking the elevator down to the garage now, the Swedish garage scene. The Nomads kicked off in 1981 and they went ahead of any band in Sweden, against the stream. They kicked off almost alone the Swedish garage rock scene. Per thinks without The Nomads there wouldn’t have been The Hives, for instance. The Nomads were never really a mainstream band. They toured a lot and toured and toured and toured. They are actually still around and it’s amazing. They always kept that garage rock spirit and never really lost their drive or energy. It’s really cool. The guys kick off with Rat Fink A Boo-Boo, showing the listeners a bit what they are all about.

Continuing The Nomads homage, Per says in 2013 they released an EP called Loaded Deluxe and he thinks we should listen to Get Out Of My Mind. This is one of his favourite Nomads tracks.

Then it’s time to slow the tempo down and play not a ballad, but as close to a ballad as what you can find in The Nomads catalogue. The Way You Let Me Down, also taken from the Loaded Deluxe EP is next. It is produced and co-written by a guy called Chips Kiesbye. He is like a household name in Swedish circuit since he produced so many artists for many, many years. And he also started out himself in heavy influence by the new wave era in the late ’70s, in the band called Sator. He tried to polish The Nomads up and the guys think he succeeded.

Sven mentions he wrote a book that came out a couple of weeks ago. It’s about a very narrow subject, the Ramones in Sweden. They played 2263 shows, 18 of them in Sweden. The whole book is about those 18 shows and what the Ramones meant for the Swedish scene. Sven also interviewed Per, for example and he interviewed The Nomads as well. They were heavily influenced by the Ramones. They were actually supporting the Ramones on some shows in 1990 and 1991. They told Sven that once upon a time in a show there Joey Ramone was wearing a Nomads T-shirt, which they of course were incredibly proud of and sometimes he also dedicated the track Pet Sematary to The Nomads while they were playing. During one of the tours in 1990 in Sweden, during the soundcheck, The Nomads went out and played Chinese Rock. Immediately, both Johnny and Joey Ramone were by the stage with a look like you can’t play that track, it’s ours. Written by Dee Dee Ramone. Haha. The guys wrap up this Nomads special with Miles Away from their Solna album.

Get The Moon Up by Daniel Norgren is next. Leaves by Children Of The Sün comes next. Per thinks this is an amazing song. This amazing band is quite new, PG has never heard of them before. When Sven heard them, he immediately thought about Jefferson Airplane around 1969, crossing over to Led Zeppelin between their first and second album. Mr. G says he thought it was reminding him a little bit of the early Heart, which was sort of very influenced by Led Zeppelin, but at the same time when he heard this girl singing, he thought they sound a little bit like ABBA. The guys couldn’t stop talking, they drew in all influences they could hear. It’s fun and it’s very special, they think. Children Of The Sün, they have to remember that name. Great band.

With this, Sven and Per wrap up the first episode of 2023 and promise to be back with more good-looking music. Anita Lindblom’s Cigarettes is closing the show, as usual.

Selfie from Per’s archives (2014)

Thanks for your support, Sven!

Interview with Per Gessle after the Hallandian of The Year 2022 gala

Hallandsposten did an interview with Per after the award ceremony and asked him about how it feels to be Hallandian of The Year 2022.

Since I live in Halmstad and love Halmstad, it feels fantastic. I was born here, so it’s my everything. It has shaped me. Although I have had an apartment in Stockholm since the end of the ‘80s, Halmstad is my hometown. Obviously, all of that shapes me – I’m a small town guy.

Regarding the intense year 2022, PG says:

It’s been a very intense year, but that wasn’t planned. I’m like that, I take it as it comes, as you do when you are as old as me. It started with the single with Uno (Svenningsson) in January and then my acoustic tour continued. It was postponed, partly because I got sick with tonsillitis in December, partly because there were new corona restrictions at the beginning of the year. So that tour didn’t finish until May.

He also released some previously unreleased songs, which he usually does on his birthday in January.

The pandemic also meant time to write more new music:

During this period when there were restrictions and I couldn’t tour, I took the opportunity to write and prepare Gyllene Tider’s new album that will be released next year. So that record was pretty much done by May. Then in summer it was quite quiet, then I prepared the release for PG Roxette, the English record that came out recently. And not to forget, this summer I also recorded the Christmas songs that just came out too. So it’s been quite a lot actually.

Per admits that after all this has been a “normal year” if you look at the workload.

I like to work. I’m so happy to have a job where I don’t feel like I’m “going to work”, but that it’s more of an extension of myself. So I love what I do.

If 2022 has been so active, 2023 will probably not be less busy. New music and a summer tour with Gyllene Tider await. Hallandsposten asked Per what the audience can expect.

A fantastic album! Uptempo, great energy. I’m really glad we made it and that it turned out so well. Anders Herrlin called me the other day, he had listened to it again and said “how the hell did this happen? How did we do this?”. It’s the kind of record that you get hooked on. And so I hope the tour will be amazing.

To the question why he still lives in Halmstad despite the fact that he also has an apartment in Stockholm he replied:

It’s because I like Halmstad, and I feel creative here. I have found a place where I live, on the coast, where I love to be. Then we have Hotel Tylösand, so that means we have a foothold here. Although I’m not involved in the daily operation, I’m still involved, and my wife not least. It also means a lot that we have succeeded in managing it and building it into something exceptional.

Hallandsposten says that the Halland of The Year award seems to be a great response to Per’s love for Halland.

It feels great, but I’ve always felt it. I’ve felt that the people of Halmstad are proud of Gyllene Tider, Roxette and me, so it’s nothing new. But it’s awesome and all the nominees are great, so it’s amazing to win something like this.

Regarding the large portrait that will hang at Halmstad City Airport PG says:

I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I say that’s the punishment if you win, that you get to hang there on a big picture in the arrivals hall.

More photos from the event by Jari Välitalo in Hallandsposten’s article.