Per Gessle in the “Ramones i Sverige” book

Sven Lindström – together with Jan Lagerström, Petter Lönegård and Kjell Magnusson – wrote a book about the Ramones, Ramones i Sverige, the story of all of Ramone’s 19 gigs in Sweden, what they meant and what happened, told by those who were there. Among the many eyewitnesses there is Per Gessle, who also added his thoughts. The book is 240 pages long and loaded with both setlists and awesome photos, many of which have never been shown before.

It is worth reading the whole book if you are into Ramones. It’s written the way you are used to when it comes to Sven Lindström’s books. His perfectionism shines through when it comes to details.

Per Gessle’s part:

– The first record was a bomb in your life, it immediately became your favourite record – for me it was Ramone’s debut album and Station To Station by David Bowie that was the best that year [1976]. It was like climbing inside a popcorn machine, you got completely thrilled. Really good songs and that distinctive sound, that incredible simplicity. It’s really home-made and spot-on, like a continuation of that three-chord pop you loved in the ’60s – like Wild Thing by The Troggs – and which the Ramones pulled further into absurdity, stuck in that amphetamine tempo and with this brutally incredible sound. I was completely knocked out by the amazing simplicity. It was so life-affirming – and so it felt like a giant stinking fart in the middle of Selling England By The Pound.

– I’d probably put Ramone’s first record second on my list of life-changing LPs. But the closest we in Gyllene Tider got to the Ramones was that we used them as references in the studio: “We need to get a little more Ramones over this song,” which meant a little more energy and the tempo going up. What I have taken with me is that pop music is damn fun. I read a book about Leonard Cohen, where he said that music must be fun, even if you write heavy lyrics.

– I understand that they didn’t leave behind their typical Ramones sound on the first records. Otherwise, it is incredibly common to want to do it. When artists find what is unique to themselves, they often want to leave it behind after a while, to move on to something new and unexpected. But then they often lose what is so special and usually it doesn’t turn out as well.

– The music was fantastic and band members as individuals were at least equally cool as The Rolling Stones in 1971 – which was a great image as a rock band. The Beatles were never as cool as the Stones was in 1971. And then came David Bowie, Marc Bolan and the New York Dolls – however, their image was much better than their music. But in Ramones’ case, it all worked out. Clear and distinct image and fantastic music. And all that nazi stuff people were saying at the time it was just nonsense, a rash of that time – as soon as you didn’t sing about the Pyramid of Cheops, people pulled their ears back. Ramones were so much ahead of their time in so many ways, a very modern band and even in Progg Sweden of the ’70s there was no place for it.

– No other bands had such a strong image as the result of the fact that they so consistently created such a complete and clear entirety. No one remembers what the Buzzcocks looked like, but everyone can see the Ramones in front of them. Not even their friends at CBGB, such as Blondie, Patti Smith Group and Television had such a distinct look… they pretty much looked like everyone else. But the Ramones created a visual brand, just like Bowie. The Sex Pistols followed, but the Ramones went much further than everyone else.

– I wonder if Blondie didn’t take a little influence from the Ramones for their third record Parallel Lines, which was their big breakthrough and where for the first time they have a unified band look with all the guys in the band in black suits, white shirts and ties and Debbie in white dress. After all, it helped them sell the Blondie concept.

– I only had the first and second LPs on Sire – I must have bought them on import. Glad To See You Go, Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment and Pinhead were favourites from Leave Home. Rocket To Russia I didn’t buy in autumn 1977 – I was probably completely engulfed by Low and Heroes by David Bowie, Marquee Moon by Television, L.A.M.F. by Johnny Thunder’s Heartbreakers, American Stars ‘n Bars by Neil Young and Little Queen by Heart at the time. At the end of the ’70s you listened to everything possible, it was one big blissful mess.

– You read Larm, Mats Olsson in Expressen and the English music magazines New Musical Express and Melody Maker. I don’t remember when I heard the record, but it felt like the Ramones were cool, because they didn’t just have nice fuzzy guitars – they wrote such awesome songs too. And that’s what I liked about the Sex Pistols’ first singles too – they were such good pop songs, like Ever Fallen In Love by the Buzzcocks, Gary Gilmore’s Eyes by The Adverts and New Rose by The Damned.

– In retrospect, you hear those surf and early ’60s influences in their music, so it’s only logical that they set out on California Sun. But you didn’t think about that at the time, it was just fun and you were completely happy listening to their music. I think it was Kjell Andersson at our record company EMI who thought that Gyllene Tider could do California Sun in Swedish and call it Tylö Sun, which of course could not be resisted. I had heard the song by both The Rivieras and Ramones. Covers weren’t so ugly in the ’70s, but felt like a good way to show where you came from. We did both SOS by ABBA and, of course, Skicka ett vykort, älskling, which was our version of Send Me A Postcard by Shocking Blue.

Find the book HERE or in Swedish book / music stores!

Listen to Per Gessle’s I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend – Tribute To The Ramones single HERE!

 

RoxBlog interview with Per Gessle – “If you like the songs and you are open-minded a little bit, give it a chance.”

It’s more than a month ago that the news regarding the Roxette In Concert 2025 tour came out and there are several parallel projects going on in Per Gessle’s world, so I asked him if we could talk about all what’s happening around him right now. We talked about Gyllene Tider – the live album and the movie –, Per’s upcoming duet album, “Joyride – The Musical” and of course, the Roxette tour that starts in South Africa next year.

It has become marathon-long, but I’ve created sections, so that you can read it in parts, if you think it’s too much Per at once. I think it can never be too much Per, though. Haha. Enjoy!

I met Per via Zoom on Friday, 7th June. He was in Halmstad, I was in Budapest.

Per Gessle: – Hello!

Patrícia Peres: – Hello!

PG: – How are you?

PP: – I’m good, thanks. I’m impressed you are on time! Haha.

PG: – It’s a first! I don’t know how it feels, but it feels okay.

PP: – How are you doing?

PG: – I’m OK. It’s a busy schedule from this week and upcoming weeks as well, so I’m trying to cope.

PP: – You’re always so busy.

PG: – It’s too much now. This year is crazy, because the musical and the movie came at the same time, which wasn’t supposed to be like that at all.

PP: – Yeah, everything at the same time. Are you in Halmstad now?

PG: – Yeah, it’s nice here, but the wind is pretty cold. I was trying to take a short walk before, but I was freezing. It’s 11 degrees.

PP: – Oh, it’s 29 here. Haha.

PG: – Oh my God! So you need air conditioning.

GYLLENE TIDER

PP: – Thank you for releasing Gyllene Tider live! It will be amazing to relive last summer!

PG: – We did a film as well, but it was just cameras on stage, so there is no footage of the crowds, which makes it sort of boring to watch after like five songs or so.

PP: – Ah, I wanted to ask if there is some kind of material for a DVD, because I remember Anders Roos was using cameras all over the place.

PG: – Yeah, we have the whole Ullevi show on footage, but I don’t know. Maybe we can use one or two songs in the future. We’ll see.

PP: – I’m happy to watch the whole thing. No matter how boring it seems to you. Haha.

PG: – I think it’s nice to have this album coming out. There is no point in releasing live albums, but now that the movie is coming out, you are getting a lot of media attention anyway. I think it’s a good album. MP did a great job mixing.

PP: – I already thought that it would be out last year, around Christmas, when you released the demos of “Good Karma”.

PG: – I don’t know why we waited. It was probably because of the movie. I can’t remember. We didn’t have any proper pictures, so we just made this old fashioned sleeve. We couldn’t find any good pictures in Anders Roos’ archives. There were pictures of me, pictures of MP, pictures of Göran, but there wasn’t a great band live thing, and so we thought we’d do it like this instead.

PP: – This will be out on 21st June and then the exhibition opens on 25th June.

PG: – Oh yeah, I forgot about that.

PP: – What will we see there? Except for your handprints.

PG: – They borrowed my old red guitar, and I think they’re going to recreate Michael’s childhood room he had when he was a kid, because he left it intact in his parents’ house still. Of course, he did, haha. I’m not really involved. I gave them some original lyrics, so they’re probably going to print them on bigger sizes.

PP: – That’s cool. I will check it out. Then the movie premieres in July.

PG: – Yeah, I’m going to see the movie again not this Monday, but next Monday. On 17th or whatever it is.

PP: – The final cut?

PG: – Hopefully, it will be the final cut, yeah. Last time I saw it, they didn’t have the end credits. It ends with Gyllene Tider playing Ullevi, sort of a short film thing, and it wasn’t there when I saw it. There were some additional things that had to be put in, like sound effects and stuff.

PP: – How many times did you watch it already?

PG: – Four times.

PP: – And do you still like it?

PG: – Yeah, I think it’s a great movie. I think it’s just what I hoped it should be. I didn’t want it to be like a big homage to a very long career. It’s basically a story about me, and growing up, and then getting together with MP and forming a band, and then the success happens. It’s really moving in parts and it’s really funny in parts. And the guys who play the band are wonderful. You really love them. And I think that’s the main thing, you get a great connection with those kids.

PP: – I started following them on social media, and it seems that they get along very well, and it feels like they became real friends.

PG: – Yeah, and it’s a good script. Of course, there are lots of liberties taken and not that many things are exactly the way it was. But nevertheless, it’s entertaining, and I think people are going to like it. I hope so. And I like the idea that it ends in 1982. So it doesn’t go on, and on, and on, and then gold records and bla bla bla… It’s not about that, really. It’s about five kids getting together and forming a band, which is a great thing even today.

PP: – You do a cameo in the film.

PG: – Yeah, I’m standing with a drink at Café Opera. Gabriel, my son is there as well. He is walking across the camera with a hat on. He looks really wonderful.

PP: – And the other guys in the band are there too?

PG: – Anders is in there, and hm…, I haven’t seen Michael, but he’s probably in there. I’m sure he is at several spots. Haha.

PP: – You yourself watch a lot of movies. How does it feel that you are the main character in a movie?

PG: – It feels OK. I thought it was going to be different. I thought it was going to be more emotional, but maybe it’s because I personally don’t recognize my parents, because they don’t look like my parents and I don’t recognize the house, because that wasn’t like the house I was raised in. Everything looks different, so I have to remind myself all the time while watching the movie that it’s about me. So at the end of the day, I’m not that affected by it. But Åsa got moved by it and Göran, the first time he saw it, it was just a week ago and he was sobbing.

PP: – He was already very moved during the shootings.

PG: – So people get affected by it. They have some test previews for different audiences, some tests that they do with movies, and they are getting really good reactions from people.

PP: – That sounds promising.

PG: – Normally, you only get the chance to be part of a movie like this when you’re dead.

PP: – Fortunately, that’s not the case.

PG: – You never know. There is always a risk when you do something like this, that it’s going to be terrible, and then you’re going to have to live with that for the rest of your life. But that’s always the risk. It’s the same with the musical or going on tour or doing this thing with Lena. There’s always a risk that it might screw up something.

PP: – Will there be a soundtrack to the movie?

PG: – There is a soundtrack, but I don’t know if it’s going to be released. I know that we talked about it, but I’m not part of it. It’s another company.

PP: – But you said that Valdemar was singing on it and the Roxette band was playing. So it’s not the other guys playing.

PG: – No, they can’t play.

PP: – But I think some of them can. I mean, Lancelot is playing the guitar, isn’t he?

PG: – Yeah, but in the movie, it’s Clarence, Christoffer, Norpan, the drummer, and Magnus Börjeson who is the bass guy, they tried to replicate the Gyllene Tider arrangements, note by note. It’s really hard to do, and it sounds really silly sometimes, but they did their best. And Valdemar is singing along with that. It doesn’t sound like Gyllene Tider, but it almost sounds like Gyllene Tider. You have to be pretty skilled to do that. It’s always funny to hear these guys playing Gyllene Tider tracks. Sometimes I do corporate gigs and we play “Gå & fiska!”, “Juni, juli, augusti”, “Det hjärta som brinner” with this band. It always sounds so funny, because they can’t play like Gyllene Tider can.

PP: – Yeah, of course.

PG: – It doesn’t work. It has to be done in a certain way. And nobody can play drums like Michael does.

PP: – It’s so funny that you call him Michael. Haha.

PG: – Yeah, Michael South.

PP: – Did you record anything together, the five of you and the guys in the movie?

PG: – No.

PP: – Not even “Sommartider”?

PG: – No. Everything was done at Christoffer’s studio. But I wasn’t there at all, I just listened. One of the first things we talked about like a year ago is that – since the movie ends in 1982 – there are so many songs that became big for Gyllene Tider, like “Gå & fiska!”, “Kung av sand”, “Juni, juli, augusti”, “Det är över nu”. How do you get those songs into the movie when they are born too late, so to speak? So what we did was to use those songs as underscores. There are instrumental versions in the movie of “Tuffa tider”, for instance, or “Juni, juli, augusti”, which is really beautiful. And that is the magic of Clarence and Christoffer. They’ve been doing that and then they went straight into doing the musical.

PP: – Sounds exciting. You said in an interview that you hope the movie will make kids start a band. Does it still happen these days that kids start a band?

PG: – No, but I thought maybe we can be the catalyst, the little spark that makes things happen. I just think that when you watch the movie, you feel the power of music and the music connecting people together and starting a band and creating this puzzle, which is amazing to be part of. We are all doing our own little thing in the band and we put it together. We play the same song at the same time. Haha. It’s a great feeling and it’s just something that I wish more young people would experience. It’s so different today when everyone is sitting on their smartphones or laptops and communicating like this, instead of communicating for real. Maybe it’s old school thinking.

PP: – Well, that would be great if this would start something, of course.

PG: – It’s the same with sports. If you play in a soccer team or a hockey team or whatever, you connect and you have your role to play within the team. It’s exactly the same thing. I just think it’s great when it comes to music, because music is so creative. It’s just amazing to create things together and find your own little spots. You feel like this is the right thing for me. When I started out, if those people wouldn’t have been right for me, I would never have had the success of becoming a writer, because you need the support and you need the collaboration all the time. Same with Roxette and everything I’ve done.

PP: – Do you plan any gigs this summer?

PG: – I have a couple of corporate gigs later on during the year, but I’ll wait until South Africa.

SÄLLSKAPSSJUK – THE DUET ALBUM

PP: – Getting down to the duet album…, by the way, I bet you are already working on a new album in the meantime.

PG: – Yeah, actually, I am. Haha. I’m working on a very… How should I put it? Special project. It’s really fun. I’m halfway through it, but I don’t know when it’s going to come out. I’ve really longed to go to the studio and do an old-fashioned record. Some recordings with just a band and being creative. It’s been over a year ago since I finished “Sällskapssjuk”. A year is a long time.

PP: – Last year, when we did the Per Gessle 40 interview in March, you said that the album was almost done, but you wouldn’t release it until in a year. We are used to it by now, because you’re always working like this, but how does it feel to keep something in the can for so long?

PG: – It’s terrible. I don’t like it at all. I want to record it and I want to release it the next day. I hate this thing that it lies around for a year. What happens is that you change your mind so much. Suddenly you get fed up with a song and you take it away. Actually, I recorded one new track this winter. It suddenly is on the album and that wasn’t supposed to be. I just felt like it’s a good song. So that’s what happens. You record new stuff and you put it on the album and then you have to remove stuff. It’s much better to close the drawer and then it’s done. You lose a little bit of your self-confidence, because if an album lies around for a year, you get tired of it. The magic around it when it was done sort of disappears. You get tired of it and you start to think that „maybe I shouldn’t release it at all or maybe I should”. Now I try to keep it fresh in a way, because when I released the singles, I decided early on that we should do videos. There will be a new single coming in August, also with a new video. And I just did the photo session for the album sleeve, which is nice. So you get new energy into it. I haven’t really listened to it for a couple of weeks now. But I think it’s a good album. I hope so.

PP: – One must love the word, “Sällskapssjuk”. At Swedish courses, they say that you can speak Swedish once you can pronounce the word “sjuksköterska”. “Sällskapssjuk” is a great contender for that. Haha. How did you come up with this word?

PG: – I don’t know. I just wrote this song and when I had the song, I had an idea for the cover, how it should look with that title. So the title became the album title as well. Then that idea of the cover didn’t work at all, so I had to do something else. But then it stuck with me. And I just felt – since it’s a lot of duets… When I started making the album, there weren’t any duets at all. It was one or two maybe with Helena, but no one else. But then after a while, I changed the concept and did a lot of duets and then “Sällskapssjuk” made sense as a title.

PP: – Was it the first song you wrote for this album?

PG: – I think the first songs were two old songs from the ’80s that I revisited. Those haven’t been released before, I think. I re-wrote the lyrics and I recorded them again. Sometimes when you go back to the ’80s, the interesting thing is that I wrote songs in a totally different way, in a totally different style than I do nowadays. I wrote much longer songs. Even if you go back to the early ’90s, songs like “The Big L.”, which has a really crazy structure. There are so many little themes. Or even “Joyride”. I don’t write songs like that anymore. If I’d written “Joyride” today, I would have kept the verse, maybe the bridge and the chorus. And that’s it. I wouldn’t have the [here he starts singing] “I take you on a skyride”.

PP: – We are lucky that you wrote these songs so long ago. Haha.

PG: – I see the Spotify top 10 list of favourite Roxette songs and all the songs are really long.

PP: – Those were different times. Now a song has to be only two minutes long, because otherwise many people don’t listen to them. As you say, the songs started out as solo songs. When you realized that these could be duets, did you write more songs as duets or you already had all the songs you wanted to include on the album?

PG: – Well, both. I wrote new songs that were duets to begin with, and then I took in people. I wrote down a lot of names of singers that I like. Then I played their songs for myself and checked out the range where their favourite keys were and if they fit. I called them up and asked if they wanted to sing. Sometimes I couldn’t use them, because then I would have had to re-record the whole track, because most of the time the tracks were already existing. What I did with Molly Hammar, for instance, I had to change the key in her verse. But it was only one tone, so it’s easily done. It’s the same with Marie. If she was going to sing a chorus and I’m going to sing the verse, you have to structure the song in a certain way. Otherwise, it won’t work.

PP: – When you are matching your duet partners to the songs, is it clearly from the sound point of view, that they would sound good on this or you have these lyrics and maybe one would fit this partner well or the other well or how do you decide?

PG: – First of all, when you invite someone to do a duet, the first thing that people ask is, are we going to write something together? Because nowadays everyone is part of the writing process. So that was my first information to everyone that we’re talking about a song that exists already, so it has nothing to do with writing. It’s just about singing. For all of them that I asked, it wasn’t a big issue. They are great singers. I just wanted them to be comfortable in the key, so they could do their best. You don’t really know until you sit down and play and sing together. I remember sending “Beredd” to Molly and she said it’s good, but it might be a little too high. So I transposed it down a bit and it suddenly felt perfect for her. Then the same thing happened with Lena and it was just perfect for her. It’s a little high for me in the chorus, though, but I did it like that, because this is how she’s going to sound the best in the verse.

PP: – How many songs are on the album in the end?

PG: – Thirteen.

PP: – And not all of them are duets.

PG: – No. Let me see. [He is reaching out for his iPhone and checking the tracklist.] I can’t remember them. Nine out of thirteen are duets. But then there are a couple of songs where Helena is singing backing vocals, which are not duets, but you can hear that it’s a girl singing.

PP: – It must be challenging to work with so many different partners. What was the most difficult in the process from a songwriter’s point of view and from a producer’s point of view?

PG: – There weren’t any problems at all. The songs that I chose to be duets, I could easily see if it was going to be sung by a girl. Does this lyric work for a girl to sing? The thing is, when you do a duet, a guy and a girl singing a duet, as a listener, you always think that they are singing towards each other. If it’s two guys singing, you sing out to someone else. That’s the perception you have. In “Sällskapssjuk” it feels like Lena is singing to me and I’m singing to Lena, right? If I would have been singing with Michael South, it wouldn’t have been like that at all. It’s more like a lyrical thing, if it works. Because the lyric itself changes its meaning when the conception is that you sing towards each other. I also think that at the end of the day, it’s good that you, as a listener, can decide yourself if they are singing to each other, or to me as a listener, or they are singing to someone else. You have to decide yourself. It’s easy to overthink things like that.

PP: – You probably won’t reveal any remaining duet partners, but I am guessing that, because earlier you posted a picture with Albin Lee Meldau at Hotel Tylösand, he might be one of them. He also has a song together with Molly Hammar now.

PG: – It’s not a good or bad guess. Hahaha.

PP: – And there is a wishful thinking, which is probably not only from my side, but a lot of fans were thinking about Agnes. Your “It Must Have Been Love” duet at the Marie tribute gala was simply amazing. Your voices fit very well.

PG: – Yeah, she’s really good. There are so many amazing singers out there. It’s been really a treat for me to hear them sing up close, so to speak. I haven’t been in the studio with Lena Philipsson ever, so I never really studied her technique or how she sings. She knocked me out totally when she was singing. She’s so professional. She is listening to suggestions and she makes them into her own style. She is doing all the right things.

PP: – Helena is singing backing vocals on several songs, and you also mentioned that she is singing on some songs where it’s kind of a duet between you. When there is a duet and you are singing with someone else, why is it important to have a backing vocalist? What makes a difference in the song?

PG: – When it comes to this particular album, it’s because the backing vocals were recorded before the lead vocals. Molly is also extremely professional, and she is really fast in the studio, so she was singing harmony vocals as well, overdubbing Helena’s. Then we used both of them in the song. Helena had already done it, when that song wasn’t a duet. It was just me singing and Helena was singing some ah-ahs and other stuff in the solo.

PP: – Interesting.

PG: – There are no rules. If it’s already there, there is no point in redoing it.

PP: – Malin-My Wall is also singing backing vocals on “Hjärta av glas”. Does she sing on any other song?

PG: – Yeah, she is singing backing vocals and she is playing the fiddle on one song.

PP: – Which do you think are the best female-male, female-female and male-male duets?

PG: – Oh, shit… Haha. Well, most of the early Beatles tracks were sort of duets, because John was singing the lead and then Paul was singing the bridge for the beat theme or whatever you want to call it. But the first thing that comes to mind is “Islands In The Stream”, the wonderful Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers song written by the Bee Gees. When it comes to guys, The Beatles tracks, “A Hard Day’s Night”, where John is singing the verse and Paul is singing [and here Per is singing] “when I’m home”. It’s beautiful. Or “Under Pressure” by David Bowie and the Queen, great stuff. Crosby, Stills & Nash. They sing harmonies and they are doing various leads.

PP: – Female-female?

PG: – Female-female… [Here he is thinking for a long long time.] I’m thinking about this. I can’t remember their names. K.D. Lang and two other girls were doing an album. “Atomic Number” is a song with three girls singing. Do you know that song?

PP: – I’m not sure.

PG: – It’s a great track. I can’t remember their names, but I can find it out. [He is reaching for his iPhone and googles it.] Lang, Case and Veirs. It’s just the surnames here. Doesn’t matter.

PP: – OK.

PG: – There is another great duet, which is actually not a duet, because it’s three people singing. It’s Don Henley, Mick Jagger and a girl singing. It’s on the last Don Henley solo album, the first song. I can’t remember the name. I’m sorry, I’m old. [The song is “Bramble Rose” and the girl singing with the guys is Miranda Lambert.]

PP: – Getting back to “Hjärta av glas”, it’s a B side, but what made you come back to this song again? You recorded it several times over the years. Why again now?

PG: – Very good question. I just listened to my acoustic version and I said that we should do a proper version. It was really early on. It was probably the first or second song we recorded for these early sessions. I felt immediately that I’m not going to use it on the album, but we finished it. And then I sped it up. It’s actually interesting, because I think the Spotify version is faster than the vinyl version.

PP: – Really?

PG: – Yeah, I think so. If you check the time, I think the one on Spotify is shorter, because it’s faster.

PP: – But how can it be? Don’t you send the same track to put it on the vinyl and put it on Spotify?

PG: – It’s the same mix. It’s just that after I’ve done the vinyl, I told MP to speed it up a little bit. So he did like four different versions with different tempos and I liked one of them. Then I said to Johan at Warner to use that one for Spotify. It’s a little bit faster. Nobody noticed, because it’s exactly the same mix. It’s just a little bit faster.

PP: – Tell me more about the recording team! You worked together with Andreas Broberger, Anton Ekström, Magnus Helgesson, Gicken Johansson, Per Thornberg…

PG: – The only songs that Andreas and Anton are involved with are the two current singles. The rest of them have nothing to do with them. So it’s made by me and my little band, which is basically Magnus Helgesson, Gicken Johansson on bass and lap steel and myself and Ola Gustafsson on guitar. Ola is also playing lap steel. MP is playing mandolin. There is lots of mandolin on this record. Clarence is playing piano and Hammond organ here and there. And there are saxophones and trumpets and there are lots of people.

PP: – Are the musicians from Halmstad?

PG: – No, only Gicken and Magnus. And MP and me. Haha.

PP: – Will there be more uptempo songs on the album as well?

PG: – Yeah. If you listen to that Pugh Rogefeldt song that I did, “Vandrar i ett regn”, that sounds very much like how the album sounds. The same people, except for Linnea. She is singing on another song as well, I think, in the backing vocals. She doesn’t sing in the lead. But that’s the lineup, how it sounds. It sounds more like that than it sounds like “Sällskapssjuk”, because that’s more programmed.

PP: – As you mentioned, the recordings went very fast with Molly. How was your cooperation?

PG: – I recorded her at the Sweetspot Studio, because MP was unavailable at the time. She is just wonderful. She is quick and she is just singing and it sounds amazing. Did you see this little short film that I published? That’s just the first time we sang the song together and it sounds perfect.

PP: – Yeah, it sounds perfect.

PG: – Other singers need to get into it a little bit more. Perfectionists, if you want, do a lot of takes. But I feel immediately if it’s going in the right direction or not. When it came to Molly, it took 10 minutes. That’s why she did all the backing vocals as well, because everything went so fast.

PP: – So it was like “we have one hour studio time left. Could you do some backing vocals?” Haha.

PG: – Haha. Exactly. I wish I had more songs for her to sing.

PP: – The B side of that single is actually the same song, but only sung by you. So was it how the album would have sounded if it stayed solo?

PG: – Yeah, well… “Ingen förstod vad som hände”, I called it that way to make a difference. But let me think. I think that song was done by me and MP first. And then we sent it to Andreas and Anton to finish it. Then they sent it back to us to do vocals. “Sällskapssjuk” was different. There I did a version which I didn’t like and then I sent it to Andreas, who started from scratch. He sent it to me and then I kept it. He wanted to continue, but I wouldn’t let him. I finished it myself. Every song has got its own story.

PP: – The first single came out in February, then the second in May. You said the next one will be out in August, right?

PG: – August yeah, mid August.

PP: – And the album is out in …?

PG: – I think late September.

PP: – OK, so not much time left until we can hear it.

PG: – Nowadays, when you release albums, you also have a lead track for the album. So I guess the fourth single will be the lead track from the album. I don’t know what song that’s going to be. Nah, I know, but I won’t tell you. Hahaha.

PP: – Regarding the singles, I’ve been wondering why the names are written like that: Per + Molly, Per + Lena. Why not Per Gessle feat. Lena Philipsson or Per Gessle feat. Molly Hammar? It’s your songs and I guess the album will run under the name Per Gessle.

PG: – It’s just that it makes it a little bit more personal. Everyone knows what our last name is anyway.

PP: – Yeah, sure. You wrote the lyrics of Lena’s breakthrough song, “Kärleken är evig” in 1986. How do you remember those times? How did you work together back then and how did your lyrics get to her?

PG: – It was actually through the guy who wrote the music, Torgny Söderberg. He was Lena’s producer. I think he was the one who found Lena to begin with. He wanted me to write the lyrics and he had this request that it had to be called “Kärleken är evig”. I thought that was a really silly title, so I suggested that it… Let me show you. [Here he is reaching out for a pen and paper and he starts drawing.] I suggested that if it’s going to be called “Kärleken är evig”… I wanted it to be called like this. Three symbols. Can you see this? [He shows the paper to the camera and I can see a heart, an equal sign and the symbol for infinity on it.]

PP: – Love. Is. Eternal.

PG: – I thought that this should be the title instead of “Kärleken är evig”. He said it’s too complicated, bla bla bla. Anyway, since I was stuck with that title, I had to follow the rules. The line [here he starts singing] “Kärleken är evig när vi är tillsammans”, it’s not written by me. It’s written by Torgny. He had to have that lyric in, because he thought that was so musical to sing. It was those two years in my life when I was really lost. I didn’t know what to do. I wrote the lyrics and then I forgot about it. But I remember having dinner with Lena. She must have been, I don’t know, 18-20. I was 27. I remember having dinner with her and Torgny and Alla Pugacheva. Do you remember Alla Pugacheva?

PP: – I do [and I look at him surprised].

PG: – She was at this dinner in Halmstad. I don’t know how. I think Torgny and that record label were signing her for Sweden. So for some reason, we were dining with Alla Pugacheva. Lena Philipsson 20 years old and Per Gessle 27 years old. Haha. Really weird.

PP: – You do have some strange moments in your life. Haha.

PG: – I wish there were pictures. Nowadays you take pictures of everything you do. But from those days you just have your memories. I can’t remember anything, I just remember which restaurant it was and I remember that Alla Pugacheva was there. I’ve seen pictures of when we were interviewed at the Eurovision Song Contest, but I can’t remember that at all. I’ve seen it on TV, so I know that it exists.

PP: – It does exist. I also checked out the video of it when I did the interview with Lena. Regarding “Sällskapssjuk”, what made you decide for Lena for this exact song? Was there anyone else on your mind for this song?

PG: – No, I thought the key was perfect for her. Like I said, it was a little bit too high for me. But on the other hand, if I stand on my toes and stretch a little bit, I can do it. It’s a little high to do live, but in the studio it works. I just felt like she’s going to do a great job on that one. And also the lyrics are her style. It just happened. It was fate.

PP: – It sounds very good and your vocals fit very well together.

PG: – Yeah, I think so. I think that goes for all the duets on this record. Every time someone else comes in, it sounds great. And then when I come in, it sounds also OK. Hahaha. My voice is so different from everyone else. But it works. It’s the same with the singles that we’ve done so far. I think it’s a win-win thing for the voices. I can sit listening to Molly and Lena all day, because they are wonderful singers.

PP: – The video you recorded for this song with Fredrik Etoall is really beautiful. There is just one thing we expected, that at the end you meet each other.

PG: – Well, we couldn’t, because we recorded on different days. Hahaha.

PP: – I guessed so. But somehow that last point is missing. But anyway, it’s beautiful.

PG: – Yeah, we talked about that too, but …

PP: – Next time.

PG: – Yeah, next time.

PP: – Fredrik took the sleeve pics for the singles. Did he take pictures of you and all the duet partners, even if they won’t all be singles?

PG: – Yeah, I have pictures. Not with all of them, but a few. [Here he starts thinking what he can and cannot tell, then he rather stops talking.]

PP: – Don’t reveal too much. Haha. The other day you were there with Fredrik to take the album sleeve pictures. Were you also recording a video that day?

PG: – No, it was just pictures for the album. We are shooting a video for the next single in a couple of weeks.

PP: – We saw footage of this photo session on your TikTok channel.

PG: – What TikTok thing?

PP: – Your channel. The one that you said a colleague who works with Marie Dimberg started for you.

PG: – I haven’t posted anything. It’s Dimberg’s team or it’s Warner.

PP: – It’s cool anyway. They should just make it a verified channel. Back to “Sällskapssjuk”, Staffan Karlsson wrote on his Facebook that it’s fascinating how a song can change depending on how you choose instruments. One version was power pop & older, the other was younger. So how was the song when you started with it and how it became different?

PG: – Like always, when you do the demo of a song. If I’m going to work with other producers, I normally just do an acoustic demo, but if I’m going to produce it myself, I have to find a direction. Sometimes you just don’t find it. That’s why I got a little bit lost with that song and that’s why I sent it to Andreas and told him to try out something different from his point of view. And that was much more interesting. It just happens like that sometimes. You get lost. It’s not supposed to be easy. Haha.

PP: – There is whistling in the song.

PG: – It’s not me!

PP: – Yeah, you mentioned in a recent interview that you can’t whistle anymore. Haha. Is that really the case?

PG:[He is trying, but he can’t and he points at his lower teeth.] I don’t know who is whistling. It’s some friend to Andreas. I don’t know who it is. I changed the whistling melody, though. It was something else. So, I played it on the piano and asked to whistle this instead. He is whistling perfectly.

PP: – That’s very funny.

PG: – I wish I could whistle.

ROXETTE IN CONCERT 2025

PP: – We expect you to put back the whistle into “Joyride” on tour. Haha. Talking about your next step with Lena. Do you remember the exact moment when you realized that this is what I need for a future Roxette?

PG: – No, there wasn’t a moment like that. I was thinking a little bit about Lena, even before she sang on “Sällskapssjuk”. Because, to begin with, I think she is almost the same age as me. She is not as old as I am, but she is sort of my generation. She’s got so much experience. She is a great performer on stage. A great singer. She ticked all the boxes, so to speak. But it wasn’t until we worked in the studio when I realized how good she was. Then I felt like this might actually work. In theory, it was like a good idea, but I didn’t mention it to her. After we went to the studio, we had dinner and then she went home to Stockholm. I called her up later and asked if we could have a meeting when I came back to Stockholm. It was like a week later or so. I didn’t tell her anything on the phone. Then I just asked her when we met. I told her I have this idea and wondered what she thinks about it. She was like, oh. You could tell by her face she was shocked. The first thing she said was, of course, it’s impossible to replace Marie. I said, it’s not really about replacing Marie. It’s about keeping the legacy of the songs alive. The fire alive in the songs. It’s not like we are starting a new duo or starting a new band together. It’s more like keeping the songs alive. So she went home and she talked to a lot of people. She even talked to her mother.

PP: – Yeah, I read it in an interview. It’s lovely.

PG: – She was so surprised, because her mother thought this thing was so cool. Then we had another meeting and I said, OK, we’re positive, now I have to bring in Clarence and Christoffer. So Clarence and Christoffer came up to Stockholm. Clarence lives there, but Christoffer doesn’t. So we met the four of us and we sang and played Roxette songs together. To see how it felt. It just sounded amazing. Sometimes we used different keys than the originals, but you could tell that this is going to work.

PP: – Which songs did you try?

PG: – I can’t remember. The only song that Lena felt was really complicated was “Perfect Day”. But it was probably because it was in a low key. It was a complicated song because it’s really high. When you start singing other people’s songs, you have to find your own method. And I remember “Perfect Day”, for instance, when we played that song live, Marie always sang it like a plan B, so to speak, in the melody. In the studio it’s different. You have to adjust a little bit, so it works for you. I do that all the time as well. But it sounded great. I think what is really important for Lena is to make the songs her own, basically. Another thing which I think is crucial is that Lena is used to singing other people’s material. She writes her own songs as well, but lots of her hit songs in the past have been written by other people. It’s not an issue for her. Some singers only want to sing their own songs.

PP: – Yeah, but still, it’s very different for her. When I talked to her, we discussed it will be really different from what she has ever done during her life. Even if she sang other people’s lyrics, it’s now another band’s songs. It’s not like someone writes lyrics for her and she sings it.

PG: – It’s true. There is a difference. Lena doesn’t have any connection to guitar-driven music at all. She is more from the mainstream and the dance scene. But she’s got the capacity in her voice to sing songs like that. That’s also why I think she finds this stimulating, because it’s pretty different from what she’s done before. She is really open-minded when you ask her to try things out. I think it’s going to be really interesting. One thing that is crucial, I think, is that she has never really had a career outside Sweden, even though she’s been working in English. So when she is hitting the stage in South Africa or in Australia, she is going to blow people away, because she is so good. And they don’t know who she is. She is like the underdog here, but she is going to blow their minds, I’m sure. I have to shape up, otherwise she is going to wipe me off the stage. Haha.

PP: – Haha. You recorded “Sällskapssjuk” long ago, so this thing was on your mind for about a year now. How did it feel when the news exploded?

PG: – It felt amazing, because I was a little bit scared about the reactions. But everyone I talked to was really positive. Even journalists, who normally are not that positive, thought it was a really cool idea. Lena’s got a lot of respect from everyone because she is who she is. She’s been doing so many things here in Sweden, doing her own shows. She’s been doing all these festival things and this and that. I think she was looking for something else to do. This was special enough for her.

PP: – For you, it’s not a new thing to sing Roxette songs without Marie, but you never got so far as to what will happen next year. How do you see this, what will be the difference vs. your previous tours where you sang Roxette songs as well?

PG: – The big difference is that last time when I did my European tour in 2018, when Helena was singing the Roxette tracks like “Fading Like A Flower” or “Spending My Time”, we arranged the songs in a totally different way. So it didn’t really sound like the Roxette versions. That was on purpose. That was our intention. This time around, the arrangement is going to sound like Roxette. That’s why I brought Jonas Isacsson as well in the band. It’s going to sound like Roxette did on the “Joyride” tour, basically. We are going back to the original Roxette sound, but with Lena in there as well. So “Spending My Time” is going to be how “Spending My Time” sounded to begin with. I haven’t done that at all, not even with Marie, actually, because during the last five or six years we did the comeback tour, we skipped all the click tracks and all the sequences. We just played 100% live, very organic. So that was not the way Roxette was intended to begin with in the ’90s. But we are going back to the old style now, because we haven’t done that for many, many, many, many, many, many, many years.

PP: – And why South Africa and Australia? Actually, I don’t believe in accidents when it comes to Cape Town. The last Roxette show happened there and now the first one will happen there.

PG: – Yeah, someone told me, I didn’t know that. South Africa is a good place to start, because it’s in the same time zone as we are. So it’s very easy. Then Australia came up with its offers to do the tour there. So we said, let’s do it. Hopefully, we are going to do more. If it won’t be a disaster, we are going to continue. You never know.

PP: – Do we really have to wait until the shows take place? I mean, to wait with the dates for a European tour? I assume the venues have to be booked very much in advance. So I guess they are booked already.

PG: – In a perfect world, I would love to do a couple of shows before I make up my mind, but in the real world, you are right. If you’re going to do dates in Europe or in the States or wherever next year, you have to release those tickets in the fall. You’re probably right. There might be some more, but I don’t like to answer that question.

PP: – Yeah, I know, but I’m very positive. A lot of fans are asking you to come to the US, come to Argentina, come to Brazil, come to Europe. When you are in Europe, you can’t miss Sweden. It’s very nice to see it.

PG: – It’s going to be cool. I would love Roxette to be back on the arena circuit, because I would love to have a great production with visuals. We can’t bring a big production to South Africa or Australia, because we are playing lots of wineries and stuff like that. So it’s more like you’re having backdrops. But I would love to do a full production tour with Roxette. I think that would be amazing. Like we did with Gyllene Tider, with screens. You have to go to the arenas to do that. You can’t play the clubs with such screens.

PP: – Were your antennas out all the time checking what singer you could work with in Roxette? Were you doing this search during all your collaborations during the past years?

PG: – Yeah, I checked on a lot of people. I checked a lot of international singers. There are lots of suggestions from lots of people. Maybe you should call her or her, but it didn’t feel right. The good thing, like I said with Lena, is that she is a little older, she is experienced, she is Swedish and we have a history together. It’s actually almost too good to be true.

PP: – It actually is. When I was searching for news from the past and I saw your pictures and the Melodifestivalen video and stuff like that, it felt like it was something written in the books that it should happen.

PG: – Yeah, it’s weird, actually. Lena has always worked as a solo artist. So it’s a big step for her to get into the Roxette team suddenly. I don’t know her that well, but I think like two years ago, she wouldn’t have done it. She is matured and experienced. She probably feels like she has a lot to gain from doing this. It’s a challenge that she can’t do this on her own. It won’t happen at her age or my age to do these things out of the blue. I think it’s a wise move for her too.

PP: – For all of you. Can you mention a band where the original front person is not there anymore, but it works?

PG: – Well, the obvious one is Queen. But there are lots of bands. AC/DC has changed the vocalist, Journey. People come and go. I don’t have a problem with a band doing that. It’s just that for me, I don’t want to start a new band with someone. What I’m interested in is basically to keep the songs alive. That’s also one of the reasons why we are doing the musical. To keep the songs alive. And how do you do that properly? How can I help doing that? The best way to do that is to keep Roxette alive and play the songs. That can’t be done with Marie anymore, unfortunately.

PP: – A new chapter begins. Actually, I love your neverending drive. I don’t know how you always have this energy to restart or to challenge yourself and do something new all the time. That’s very inspiring.

PG: – Like I said, you think about how you could help to support this catalogue of songs. I was in the studio with Mats yesterday on another project, haha. We talked about what’s happening right now. This year is very much like a summary of what we’ve been doing all our lives. The musical is very much a summary of the Roxette success and the catalogue. The Gyllene Tider movie is an homage to when we were kids. And the tour coming up, it’s not about making a new album or promoting new music. It’s about playing old favourites that people want to hear, hopefully. You can only do these things when you have reached a certain age and you have all these hits and music lying around. I don’t really think that I’m being over-energetic about things. Haha.

PP: – I think you are. Haha. You are always very enthusiastic, but now it’s different when I see you talking about this project and also when I saw you in Australian TV interviews. You are shining brighter and brighter.

PG: – And it’s because of Lena and also because Jonas is back. I think it’s great. It’s such a long career. And on the Roxette tree of songs, there are so many songs. I would love to do a couple of them that maybe we didn’t play live ever with Marie. It’s really exciting. And I know the band is amazing. And we sell lots of tickets. That’s also good news.

PP: – That’s good news indeed. OK, so I think the European dates will come much sooner than you start playing the shows. Haha. Regarding the crowds, what do you think will attract the new generations to see you live and what will attract the old crowds to go and see you?

PG: – Obviously, the old ones will come because they like the songs and the songs mean a lot to them in their lives. New ones, I don’t know. It’s really difficult for young artists to get a catalogue like we have, like Bryan Adams has or Jeff Lynne has. It’s really hard to do that. I don’t know who is going to come, but I’m sure the majority will be a little older who experienced a lot of things through our music. We have the soundtrack to a lot of people’s lives. Gyllene Tider is a little bit different, though, because all these students every year sing “Sommartider”.

PP: – Have you heard them singing now? It’s that time of the year now.

PG: – When I’m in Stockholm, I hear them every day outside my window. I checked the Spotify page and 47 percent of everyone who is listening to Gyllene Tider is under 35. So that means that we have a future.

PP: – That’s cool! In 2018, Marie said OK for the Per Gessle’s Roxette tour. And I assume she would have said OK for this one, too. I also think that this will not only be good for the Roxette songs, but also to remember Marie. It feels like that.

PG: – Everything you do with Roxette is reminding people of Marie. It’s the same with the musical. It’s the same with Marie in the Gyllene Tider movie as well. She is so much part of the whole legacy, of course. If you think on the other side of the coin, if you don’t do anything with it, everything gets forgotten. The only thing to do is to work and to promote and to play. That’s why I’m really all the time into getting Roxette songs into movies and series or even commercials, if it’s a good commercial, because it reminds people of Marie and the songs and Roxette. I think that’s the only way to go.

PP: – I agree. I remember when in 2017 you were on your Swedish solo tour and you were singing “It Must Have Been Love”. It felt very strange, because that was already the time when we knew that we won’t hear it live from Marie anymore, because in 2016 she stopped touring. In 2018 it got better, because we already knew that it wouldn’t happen. Then after she passed away in 2019 and Pelle in 2020, and you did the acoustic gigs at Hotel Tylösand, you dedicated “Listen To Your Heart” to them. During the first shows, we were crying all the time when you played both “It Must Have Been Love” and “Listen To Your Heart”. It always got a bit better for our souls every time, but it was really heartbreaking. But remembering them, it was very much part of it all and it felt heartwarming. This time I think it will be very much different, because Lena is very different from Marie. I think it’s also very good that she is not the same style of person. I’m very excited about all this.

PG: – Yeah, the worst thing that could happen is that you look for a new singer that looks like Marie or sings like Marie. Like I said earlier, the best thing Lena can do is to bring her own personality into this team of people. That’s exactly what she is doing.

PP: – She said in the P4 Extra interview that it wasn’t an option to say no, because it could happen that she is sitting on the sofa watching TV and then she thinks that, oh shit, I could be in Australia. Haha. She is very cool.

PG: – Haha. All of us in Roxette, we’ve been touring all our lives all over the world, but she hasn’t. It’s an adventure to go to play Sydney and Melbourne and go to Tasmania. That’s really exciting and of course, you take those things for granted, but it’s an adventure for sure.

PP: – What do you think will be her strengths with foreign crowds and how do you think she will manage it? Because in Sweden, I can see that she can manage people in the audience very well.

PG: – I don’t know. I thought about that too. I wonder how it’s going to be being on stage, the two of us, because both of us are fronting the band and she is fronting my songs and I’m fronting my songs. How are we going to behave? How is the body language going to be? You have to find that out. But that’s also exciting, because it’s like starting anew again. When I did the Niklas Strömstedt show with Molly, that was the first time we played that song together on stage. It was weird, because I didn’t have a guitar and I was just looking around and realized, oh, now she is singing, now me. It can be really confusing the first few days, or at least at the rehearsals. You have to find that out.

PP: – For you, it’s always strange when you don’t have any instrument with you and you are just singing on stage.

PG: – Yeah, that’s scary.

PP: – But you two sounded very good on the show. I liked that.

PG: – That was a great band as well.

[Here he is busy with something on the floor, so I ask him if he is putting on his running shoes. Haha.]

PG: – Haha. No, I’m sitting on a chair with wheels on, and the wheel has just… [he holds up one wheel.] I have to fix it.

PP: – En händig man!

PG: – Haha, I’m the handyman.

PP: – What was Clarence’s first reaction when you told him about your idea?

PG: – First of all, Clarence was like, hmmmmm, to begin with, but then he thought about it and he was really supportive. Like I said, when we were singing, Christoffer was playing guitar, I was playing guitar, Clarence was playing piano and Lena was singing. Everyone was just like, wow, this is really cool. So he is extremely enthusiastic. Both Christoffer and Clarence are probably extremely tired of me, because they have been doing the musical. So they are just fed up with me. But I think at the end of the day, it’s different also when you are doing a musical, because it’s a big orchestra. It’s exciting.

PP: – And you are not there playing. Haha.

PG: – I’m not allowed.

PP: – Jonas Isacsson will also be in the gang this time. You played together at the Marie tribute gala for the first time after a long period and then worked together in PG Roxette as well. What were his thoughts when you asked him to join?

PG: – He was very, very positive. I think the first thing we did after many years, was the Metallica song, right? “Nothing Else Matters”. And then he did “Headphones On”. He was really into it immediately. He doesn’t do that much. He plays here and there, but he is not touring that much. So I thought maybe he doesn’t want to tour anymore.

PP: – Now there will be two on lead guitars, Jonas and Christoffer. How will it work?

PG: – It’s probably going to work a little bit like it did in 2018 when Ola was there. So sometimes Christoffer will move to lap steel or acoustic guitar. It doesn’t really make sense to have too many guitars. Or maybe they play electric guitars and I play acoustic guitar. We have to work all those things out.

PP: – How did you meet Magnus Norpan Eriksson? Can you tell a bit more about him? I only saw him working with you at corporate gigs, so I don’t really know much about him.

PG: – He was a very good friend of Pelle and he plays in a sort of similar style as Pelle. A little bit more pop-oriented than Pelle was. Norpan is actually the choice by Christoffer, Clarence and Magnus. I asked them who they wanted to play with in the band and they all wanted to play with Norpan. It works fine. He is a nice guy. I worked with so many different drummers. Andreas Dahlbäck, for instance. And Magnus Helgesson is now on the new album. Magnus is also pretty similar to how Pelle is as a drummer. Andreas Dahlbäck is not. He is like a jazz drummer, almost. Jens Jansson, he is a bit more like Micke Syd. Michael South. More like a pop drummer. But I think Norpan will be good.

PP: – He worked together with Ulf Lundelll and Lars Winnerbäck. Am I right?

PG: – I think so. I don’t know him that well. I only met him at corporate gigs. Haha. I think he is a good guy.

PP: – Magnus Börjeson got on the Roxette train in later years, but he has a secure place in the team. He is very good at stand up comedy as well. What do you think we can expect from him on this tour?

PG: – He is an amazing bass player, but he is also a great singer. And that is also something important. Clarence isn’t a good singer, Jonas isn’t a good singer. Christoffer is a great singer and Magnus is a great singer. Then we have Dea, we have Lena, and we have me. So we have five people singing. That’s also a very good thing. Magnus is a funny guy. I love playing with these people and hanging out with them. That’s really important too. I just hope that Lena melts in with the team and everyone in the crew. Everyone in the crew that we wanted on board is on board.

PP: – That’s cool. You worked a lot with Dea, she joined you first on the 2012 Roxette tour. How is it working with her?

PG: – She is great. She is very professional and she was really wonderful with Marie. Marie trusted her a lot. At the end of the tours we did with Marie, Marie forgot lyrics and stuff like that, but Dea was always helping her out. She is really wonderful to work with. She is a great singer, of course. We used her for Gyllene Tider as well. She was an obvious choice. And I think it’s great to have another girl in the band as well.

PP: – Regarding the tour name, you used Per Gessle’s Roxette in 2018, PG Roxette when you recorded new songs. Now you use simply Roxette In Concert. Why did you decide for that? And also, why did you decide not to use e.g. Roxette In Concert with Lena Philipsson?

PG: – When this idea came up, I talked to Micke, Marie’s husband about it. I would love to use only the name Roxette. Because that’s what it’s all about. It’s nothing new. It’s just old Roxette songs that we are doing. It’s to make things simple. It doesn’t really mean anything to anyone, Roxette In Concert featuring Lena Philipsson, because nobody knows who Lena Philipsson is.

PP: – Yeah, actually, that’s the difference with Queen + Adam Lambert.

PG: – If it would have been like Belinda Carlisle or… Madonna. Haha.

PP: – Haha. Better not.

PG: – I think this is efficient and straight to the point. We haven’t ever used “in concert” before, for some reason, we always used “live” or this or that, but never “in concert”. So why not?

PP: – From Mexico to Italy, from Argentina to Romania tons of online portals took over the news. How does it feel that Roxette was on the news WORLDWIDE again?

PG: – It feels great! I noticed that there was so much interest in this. I just hope that we can deliver and if we can deliver, I’m sure it will continue. Knowing myself, if it works, it’s going to get big and when it gets big, it’s going to get bigger and then it’s going to get bigger. But you never know. It can also just fall on its face. Haha.

PP: – I don’t think so. The media was very positive. I loved the extreme positivity of Australian media people. But of course, there are also some sceptical comments under the posts and it comes mainly from fans, hardcore fans. How do you deal with these sceptical comments and comments that say it’s not Roxette, because Roxette was Marie and Per? What can you tell them?

PG: – Like I said earlier, this is not about making a new Roxette or starting a new band for me. This is about playing the Roxette songs. And the only option to do that is to work with someone else who sings them. And like I said all the time, if Marie would have been alive, we would have probably been touring all the time, because the music is still very big. So at the end of the day, I think if you are complaining, if you don’t like to hear Roxette songs sung by someone else, don’t go to the concerts. But if you like the songs and you are open-minded a little bit, give it a chance. It won’t sound all the same, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to sound bad. I think some people are really narrow-minded or conservative in a way. They want it to be the way it was all the time. And I can understand that, but that’s not how it works in reality. Like I said, the only other option is to not do anything. And that’s not a good option.

PP: – That’s not an option. Do you plan to do any gig before the tour starts in South Africa? Some gig in Europe, in Sweden, in Hotel Tylösand, in Stockholm, wherever? Haha.

PG: – I don’t think so. We haven’t talked about it. There are so many other things going on right now, the movie and musical. I’ve just put this tour on hold a little bit until at least after the summer. Whole January is a rehearsal month. So we are going to do a lot of rehearsing and choosing the right songs. I don’t think that there will be any shows at all, but I think, of course, we are going to do dress rehearsals and stuff like that.

PP: – Are you already thinking about which songs to play?

PG: – Yeah, I have a list. I think at the end of the day, we are going to do like 25, 26 songs on this show.

PP: – I would be surprised, because you usually play 21, 22 songs. But fingers crossed! Haha.

PG: – Haha. But now someone else is singing as well, so we can do more songs.

PP: – So let it be 30 then! Haha.

PG: – Haha. I think we are going to rehearse about 35 songs and then maybe we just feel immediately that this or that doesn’t work or this sounds exactly like that. I think it would be great to do some Roxette songs from the catalogue that we never played live before with Marie, because then it’s Lena’s chance to do her own thing in a different way. There are really great songs. “What’s She Like?”, for instance, “Vulnerable”, sung by me. We never really played that live.

PP: – I so hoped for it during the acoustic tour. But no, you didn’t play it.

PG: – Haha. “I’m Sorry” is a great song. “The Sweet Hello, The Sad Goodbye”, we never played that with Roxette, however, I played it on my own tour. There are a few options.

JOYRIDE – THE MUSICAL

PP: – Do you still join the rehearsals of the musical?

PG: – They are rehearsing and I was there last week checking out the costumes and dance, some rehearsing as well with the script and everything. I’m basically going there once a week to see what’s going on and to have lunch. Haha. It’s 270 people working on that musical right now. There are over a thousand pieces of costumes being created.

PP: – That’s huge!

PG: – There are eight people who are making the papers when they cut the clothing. I don’t know the English name for it. There are people doing woodwork and electricians. It’s just a big mess, but it’s fantastic. There is this band rehearsing. Clarence and Christoffer are basically in Christoffer’s studio working. Then there is Joakim Hallin, who is the conductor, and he is also in charge of the orchestration.

PP: – How did it work with picking the songs? Were you thinking about which songs to add or everyone came up with what should be included?

PG: – A long time ago, I made a list with the 20 most important songs. And then I did a sort of second division, 10 important songs, third division and so forth. At the end of the day, it’s about the book, the manuscript, and the manuscript has been rewritten several times. The director, Guy Unsworth has done a lot of things and he put in some songs that weren’t in there before. But of course, the key songs are in there. There was a song that I was missing, we talked about it, then he put it in there. You’re gonna get all the goodies.

PP: – What was Clarence’s and Christoffer’s job in this?

PG: – Let’s say, for instance, you do a song like “Crash! Boom! Bang!” and maybe you only do two verses and a chorus, and then it goes into something else, instrumental. All those little things are driven by the script and the actors and the dialogue. Maybe there is dialogue over an instrumental section of the song. So they have to customize all the songs. Also, they have to consider that there are three lead parts, one guy and two girls singing, maybe they have to use a different key. So you start from the original versions, and then you adapt it to what’s going to happen. It’s a hell of a job. And as soon as you change something in the script, you have to change the music. At this point, as we speak, nothing is set in stone yet, exactly which song is going to be in there. Because when you go into rehearsal, you might realize that shit, the musical is 25 minutes too long. We have to scrap a couple of songs, or we have to edit the dialogue or whatever. So it’s not until the last days that it’s finished.

PP: – Yeah, it’s constantly changing.

PG: – It’s really complex, and I’m really happy not to be part of it. Hahaha.

PP: – You don’t make it a secret that musicals are not your cup of tea.

PG: – No, the classic musicals are not. I’ve been to “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”, which is about the Brill Building era in the ’60s in New York. It’s based on Carole King’s songs, but there are other songs from the writers of the Brill Building. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” and all those songs. And I thought that was a really nice musical. It’s just, when you say the word musical to me, I immediately see and hear a certain style of singers and I don’t like that at all. That was one of my big issues when they were doing auditions for the “Joyride” musical, that we should try to avoid that style of singers. Nevertheless, most people who work in musicals automatically like that style. It’s a compromise all the time. We’ve been doing this musical for so many years now, so I just got used to it. It sounds like a musical suddenly.

PP: – And you like it.

PG: – You have to put on another cap. I don’t really have a problem with it anymore.

PP: – Have you seen the “Pretty Woman” musical?

PG: – No, I haven’t seen it.

PP: – I saw it. I think they have been playing it in Hungary for a year or so. I’m very disappointed that “It Must Have Been Love” is not included, because there is a spot where it would fit perfectly. Oh, well, originally, they excluded “Oh, Pretty Woman”, but on demand, they added it later. It was really stupid not to include even that exact song. But I think the musical itself, it’s very good. Also the music is very good. But these two songs… how they included “Oh, Pretty Woman”, you can feel that it was added later. And there is really a spot for “It Must Have Been Love”. Too bad.

PG: – It doesn’t matter, because now we have our own musical. Haha.

PP: – I’m really a big theatre fan as well. I go to the theatre several times a month, also to musicals. I will definitely suggest the local musical theatre people to watch “Joyride” and bring it here as soon as possible.

PG: – That’s the ambition anyway, to get it across to other countries as well. When they did the “Pretty Woman” musical, did they perform it in your native tongue then?

PP: – Yeah.

PG: – Even the songs?

PP: – The songs are sung in Hungarian, yes. But also the “Mamma Mia!” musical is sung in Hungarian.

PG: – Isn’t that crazy?

PP: – Well, the Roxette musical is played in Swedish, but the songs are in English. I think in Hungary it won’t be like that. A lot of people speak English and they know the big Roxette songs, but I’m not sure it would work with singing the songs in English here.

PG: – The “Pretty Woman” musical… hm… it might be a bad example, because the music to it was written for the musical. Those are not famous songs.

PP: – Yeah, but the “Mamma Mia!” musical, it contains famous songs.

PG: – But are the Hungarian lyrics to “Dancing Queen” or “Knowing Me, Knowing You” part of the story?

PP: – Yeah, but it’s the lyrics of the songs translated into Hungarian. It sounds good and it makes sense. It’s, of course, not the same as if I would hear them in English, because whenever I hear these songs, in my head I’m singing them in English. But on the stage, they sing them in Hungarian. I don’t think in Hungary it would work otherwise. So probably, if “Joyride” comes to Hungary, the lyrics will be translated. Well… good luck with “The Look”. Haha.

PG: – In our case, the lyrics in the songs have nothing to do with the story of the musical. It’s not like you write a musical around the lyrics. The lyrics are just the old classic pop songs, which I think is great, because that’s the identity of the song. And I think it would be weird to have “Spending My Time” or “Joyride” in Hungarian. I can understand the dialogues are in Hungarian, but when the song comes, it should be in English, with the original lyrics.

PP: – We will see. Maybe that will be the first musical with original lyrics.

PG: – It’s a delicate subject with the translations. It’s been like that forever. When I grew up, we heard so many songs on the radio sung in Swedish and we thought those were Swedish songs. Then it turned out they were translated from something else.

PP: – Let’s see what happens. I’m very excited about the musical and the movie and the album and the tour. There are so many things to be excited about. So thank you very much for your time during this busy period!

PG: – My pleasure. I’m going to fix my chair now. Haha.

PP: – Haha. I hope you can manage it.

PG: – Otherwise I call Åsa.

PP: – She can manage it for sure. Is she busy with the hotel?

PG: – Yeah, it’s a busy weekend. We opened up Bettans restaurant yesterday, so now there are a lot of people there. But it’s a little cold.

PP: – You need to dress up! Take your coat out of the closet! Haha. OK. Thank you very much, Per!

PG: – My pleasure, thank you.

PP: – Bye-bye!

PG: – Bye now!

Stills are from the interview.

Interview with Per Gessle in Aftonbladet – “It’s a bit too much Per for my taste”

Anna & Hans Shimoda did an interview with Per for Aftonbladet. They talked about the Roxette revival – this time with Lena Philipsson by Per’s side, the great sadness after Marie Fredriksson and the tough journey of illness, the love for his wife Åsa and that he was the weak link in Gyllene Tider.

It is no exaggeration to say that 2024 is Per Gessle’s year. One of Sweden’s foremost pop singers releases a new album Sällskapssjuk, there will be a film about Gyllene Tider premiering this summer, and a musical about Roxette will be staged at Malmö Opera.

In addition, Gessle revealed just a month or so ago that he is reviving Roxette with Lena Philipsson at the microphone early next year.

It’s actually a bit too much Per for my taste. A moderate dosage would have been desirable, but I knew that when this year began. The film and the musical have been pushed forward all the time, and so they premiere two months apart, and that’s a bit unfortunate. Or it doesn’t matter, but you don’t know what you’re up to. Then we release a record at the same time and then comes this Roxette thing. So it’s four big things at the same time.

Aftonbladet asks Per to tell them about Sällskapssjuk, the upcoming album, which is his first Swedish album in seven years.

What I can say is that the recordings were finished last summer. So I’ve been doing other things in the studio that you guys don’t know about. I recorded “Sällskapssjuk” in autumn 2022 and spring 2023, so Lena and I worked together already then.

Anna and Hans are curious if it was clear already then that Lena would sing in Roxette.

No, it came a little later. But when we started working together, the token fell and I thought that Lena is not that bad.

Per and Lena are going on a world tour as Roxette next year. Aftonbladet wants to know whether Per felt it right away that Lena was the right choice or whether it developed with time.

Both. In recent years, I’ve been thinking about whether I should do anything with Roxette at all. My thinking has been how to manage Roxette’s legacy and song catalogue in the best way. After all, there are only two ways to go, either not to do it at all or to try to find a way so that it fits as well as possible. It was not an easy decision.

When I made “Sällskapssjuk” with Lena, I felt that she has all the qualities; a great front person with long experience and she comes from the same era as me. We also have a history together, I was involved in writing her breakthrough song “Kärleken är evig”. She is also a great singer, so I felt it was too good to be true.

Per tells how it went when he asked Lena:

I just took the courage and asked her. I thought she would fall off the chair and she almost did. The spontaneous reaction was how to shoulder Marie’s mantle. I explained that it’s not the idea, it’s rather about managing the Roxette songs. The only way for her to deal with it is to do it her own way.

Gyllene Tider will also be a film this summer. Aftonbladet is curious how it is for Per to see himself.

That is a good question. The first time I saw it I brought a tissue with me in case I started crying, but I didn’t at all. Me and director Per Simonsson agreed early on that he should try to create a “Life on Seacrow Island” [Swedish TV series – Vi på Saltkråkan] feeling, and by that I mean that you should feel sympathy and become friends with these five guys in the band, and you do.

If it has been emotional or nostalgic:

From the beginning I was not particularly positive that we should make a film at all. It’s actually about me growing up. It starts when I fill in the enlistment and ends in 1982 when “Sommartider” is released, so it’s not a tribute to Gyllene Tider’s 40-year journey, but it’s about growing up and starting a band in a small town and trying to get into Café Opera in wooden slippers.

It doesn’t feel like Per has any plans to settle down.

What does it mean? No, I think it’s super fun. I love working in the studio and playing. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t work. I’ve never really had a job, I’ve written music and played and that’s how it has worked.

To the question how he remembers the breakthrough of Gyllene Tider, Per replies:

It was super exciting, we were terrified. The first thing we did was “Måndagsbörsen” which was live TV and we were 20 years old. Everyone watched that show and you could notice it, because we broke through that night.

Aftonbladet asks Per how the celebrity life that came with it was.

What I liked was the romanticism of the pop world. I loved that everything was possible and allowed. Make-up on guys, high volume and the fuzz box at max. I have always loved it. Then there was also this idolatry and having fans. But in reality it was quite difficult. You could never be alone. People stole the laundry at my mother’s house in the garden. They stole number plates from my car, everything that was loose was stolen. We couldn’t go to a restaurant, so Anders and I moved to Los Angeles in the fall of 1981 for six weeks, because we couldn’t be at home. We escaped. On that trip we also ended up at Studio 54 in New York.

We could get in because Expressen’s Mats Olsson’s girlfriend was wearing a short-short leopard skirt, so she was let in. She said “I got these friends with me”. They looked at us and we got in, but we weren’t as tough as she was.

Anna and Hans are curious if it was deliberately provocative to stand out when Per wrote the lyrics of Flickorna på TV2.

Yes, I wanted the lyrics to stand out. All I wrote on the first record were quite odd lyrics, I wanted everything to be special like “(Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän” and “Ska vi älska, så ska vi älska till Buddy Holly”.

I was the weak link in Gyllene Tider. I was a pretty lousy guitarist and a half-arsed singer, but I wrote all the songs, while the others were fantastic musicians.

To the question if he really thinks he is a mediocre singer Per replies:

These days I sound pretty good, because now you can fix it on the computer. I belong to the category of singers who must have a certain type of material that I can handle. I’m no Tommy Körberg. I’ve always felt that my voice has limited my songwriting, that’s why I wanted to work with Marie. The idea of Roxette from my side was that I write the songs and Marie sings them. We all were surprised when we got our first hit, “The Look”, sung by me. Then the whole principle collapsed, but Marie recovered quite quickly.

The breakthrough with Roxette must have been absolutely amazing, Anna and Hans think.

Yes, it was crazy. We were lucky in a way, because I was 29 and Marie was 30 when we broke through. So we had quite a lot of experience, which was very nice. We had already made many mistakes here at home.

Per about his journey with Marie Fredriksson:

Oh my God. Our journey together began so early. Then she got sick in 2002 and was away for seven years. Then she appeared in 2009 when I did my first European tour and was in Amsterdam. I didn’t know she was coming, but she and her husband were. I asked her if we would do a song together, so she and I went on stage and did “Listen To Your Heart” acoustically. I’ve never seen so many people cry.

Per describes their relationship:

We were a bit like siblings. My relationship with Marie was similar to that with my sister and brother who have also sadly passed away.

When she eventually broke through with “Ännu doftar kärlek”, she was together with our producer Lasse Lindbom. When Marie then got an offer to make the first Roxette single “Neverending Love”, no one wanted it. The only one who really wanted to work with me was Marie herself. She told Lasse and the record company that “now I’m doing this with Per” and it became Sweden’s biggest hit in the summer of 1986.

Aftonbladet asks Per how it was when Marie passed away.

It was horrible of course, it became so concrete. But Marie got sick in 2002 and she passed away in 2019, that’s 17 years. I remember that after she got sick, we visited her in the hospital, but no one knew what it was about. She had her head shaved and had a bandage around her head. Then she came a few months later and sang a song called “På promenad genom stan”. She sounded just like usual, then she got sick again and had another operation. After that she lost half her sight, she couldn’t hear anything in one ear and it took away her short-term memory. So after that she went into this seven-year hiatus.

They toured again between 2010 and 2016, but then Marie quit.

When we were reunited, her doctor said she shouldn’t do it, but she wanted to. In 2016 we had a big tour booked and had sold 350,000 tickets. Then she called me out to Djursholm and explained that she couldn’t cope with it anymore. Then we had to cancel.

The reporters ask Per about Åsa. They read that they met at a nightclub in Halmstad.

Yes, it was a long time ago now, it was in October 1984. She had a guy with her who I thought was her boyfriend, but it turned out to be her brother.

It’s been 40 years. Anna and Hans are curious how they make love last that long.

We are quite similar, but also quite different. We are not in each other’s way. Åsa got a job within Roxette when we broke through, so she travelled with me during those hectic years, from 1988 to 1995, then we were never home. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was a smart decision.

Aftonbladet wants to know if Per has ever felt guilty towards his family.

Maybe not guilty, but I think I should have been more involved in my son’s schooling and attended parent-teacher meetings. But my life has never looked like that. I’ve always avoided that because if I go to a parent-teacher meeting, it’s all about me being there. It’s better and calmer for him if I stay away, but that’s my fate. It’s been an amazing journey, I’ve been doing this since I was 20 and now I’m 65. It’s amazing – and I’m not done yet.

 

Per Gessle about…

… a possible Gyllene Tider comeback

You should never say never. The former was the fourth comeback. [It was the fifth. Haha. /PP] But nothing is planned and I can’t see when it will happen. Now it’s Roxette that matters and we’ll see how long it lasts, maybe no one is interested in Roxette.

… how the hit song Joyride came about

My wife had left a note when she went out to town and she had written “Hej, din tok. Jag älskar dig”. I thought it was a nice phrase, so it became the chorus “Hello, you fool, I love you”. By the way, I wrote “Joyride” and “Spending My Time” the same afternoon.

… Pernilla Wahlgren turning down “Neverending Love”

When EMI wanted me to record it, I had to check it with Pernilla’s record company. It turned out that she had refused to record it, but they had given it to Niclas Wahlgren who had recorded it and was going to release it on his record. I said he wouldn’t get that, so there is a recording that never came out. Then we released it ourselves and it became our breakthrough song.

Photo by Andreas Bardell

Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – June 2024

Per Gessle and Sven Lindström do the final countdown of their favourite Swedish and Scandinavian songs from the ’60s in the June episode of Nordic Rox. Now they list the Top 5 songs. Per says it’s a wonderful chart, he is really proud of it.

The guys say they also have some new material just released, pop-rock sounds from the Nordic countries. But first, they go back to the Swedish ’90s and check out a band called Gyllene Tider. Per says he has heard about them. Haha. Sven explains this is Per Gessle’s Swedish power pop group. They started in the late ’70s. The song they play is from 1994, 1995 maybe. PG wrote it while touring with Roxette. He wrote it in a backstage area in Tokyo, Japan, because Gyllene Tider was supposed to release a compilation album of all their hits and they needed some new tracks. So he wrote this one for the band and when he returned from Asia, he recorded it and it became a big song for them. Sven confirms it was a massive hit and totally right with the times. It paved the way for the Gyllene Tider comeback. They had been sleeping for a couple of years. Per says GT broke up in the mid ’80s and then he started to focus on Roxette for many years. Then Gyllene Tider made a comeback in 1996, mainly because of this song and also because of the old hits that had become very popular again with the new generation growing up. Timeless pop, you know what it’s like. Sven knows exactly what it sounds like, they are going to play it now. Det är över nu, translating to „it’s over now”. Strange title for a song to open a show, Sven thinks, but there you go, that’s Nordic Rox for you. Benjamin Button, Per says. Haha.

The next song they play is The Golden Age by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour from their debut album called Fruit. It’s one of Sven’s favourite bands from Denmark in the noughties.

Coming next is Crystal Heart by Kye Kepler. Per asks Sven if he knows anything about Mr. Kepler. Sven says he seems to be an interesting guy. His real name is Max Borglowe. He seems to be a multi-instrumentalist and a producer. He is also a 3D artist and when he is not making guitar pedals, he is busy writing songs and getting atmospheric synthesizer sounds together. Busy guy.

Coming up next another band that Per has got some association with, Eskobar. They were a special guest on Roxette’s final European tour in 2015. They were opening up for Roxette at 33, 34 shows all over Europe. Per thinks it’s a great band, he always liked them a lot. The song they play is a collaboration with Heather Nova, Someone New. Sven says it was a big hit for them. Heather Nova, interestingly enough, was born in 1967 in the Caribbean, where her parents sailed around on their own sailboat. She grew up there in the ’70s and part of the ’80s. Whereas Eskobar, they grew up in a suburb outside of Stockholm. That’s the way life goes.

Live Again by Goldielocks, a Finnish band of which the guys don’t know that much, but they like the song. They are going to see if they can research and check them out in future shows.

Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John is next. Per thinks it’s a wonderful song from 2006. Sven says it was a major hit in America. Slightly underground growing. It’s still played today, especially here on Nordic Rox. This song features whistling and Per is not a stranger to whistling. Mr. G says he was always a big whistler. He whistled on the Joyride track and some other songs. He can’t do it anymore, though, because he changed his teeth. It’s part of history, Sven says. Yeah, so Per needs sample sounds. Sven informs that when the Joyride album or single came out, the vinyl version had a sort of writing by the label saying, „was it really necessary to whistle?”. Sven asks Per to share the story behind that. Mr. G says it was one of their agents who didn’t like Per’s whistling. He said, „was it really necessary to whistle?” and they all thought that was hilarious, because that was like the big hook in that song. So when they pressed the vinyl single, they engraved „was it really necessary to whistle?” just where the label starts. You could do those things with vinyls. Sven thinks the agent would probably have said the same thing about Young Folks. Per agrees.

Now the final five songs on the ’60s list are coming. It’s been really tricky to pick out the top five spots, Per thinks, because there are so many favourites of theirs. No. 5 is Ola & The Janglers from Stockholm with a song called Alex Is The Man, from the album Limelight, written by guitar player Claes af Geijerstam in 1966, which was a great year for pop music. Sven laughs. Per explains they always have this argument about which is the best year in pop music: 1966 or 1965 or the outsider, 1971. Sven says, as most people would agree, 1965, of course. Per says, no, no, no, no, no. Haha. The discussion is ongoing.

The next band on the list is from Stockholm called the Mascots. It’s one of the guys’ favourite groups. They had a song called Words Enough To Tell You. Per thinks it’s a great band and they have great songs. A Sad Boy, is their best song according to PG. He thinks it’s really beautiful. Sven agrees. It’s a melancholy minor song tune. And it’s on an album called Your Mascots. The song is from 1965. Not a bad year for pop music, Per says. Haha. This argument will never end.

The guys stay in Stockholm for the third band, maybe the biggest of all the Swedish ’60s band, the Hep Stars. Per says the band is featuring Benny Andersson on keyboards. He was one of the founders of ABBA. He wrote this song, Sunny Girl. If you have a screen available, you can see the album cover, Sven says. Up there in the left corner is a very young Benny Andersson. Sven what better song to follow a song called A Sad Boy than a Sunny Girl, Sven laughs. Per says you can actually hear the trademarks of Benny Andersson’s songwriting here, which he sort of developed, of course, when the ABBA thing happened in the ’70s. He’s got this wonderful knack of putting a great melody together. And it’s not like what you expect all the time. He does his own thing. Sven says Benny’s keyboard gives this song the baroque pop feeling to it. Sven thinks Sunny Girl was another level of Swedish pop songwriting back then. This song is from 1966, which is a great year of pop music, Per insists. He had this as a vinyl single.

No. 2 on the list is a band that wasn’t really a pop band. Sven is pretty sure, this is their first time on American radio. They were more like an easy listening dance band. But they had a knack of writing songs that got them accepted by the pop crowd as well. Yeah, they had so many hits. Per personally never liked to listen to them, because they didn’t have long hair. That was so important in the ’60s. You wanted all the bands to look really cool and have this attitude. This band, Sven-Ingvars, didn’t have that at all, but they had their own sound. They wrote their own songs. And they truly deserved the runner-up position on this chart, PG thinks. Apart from the long hair, another thing that made them a bit suspicious among the young pop listeners was that the parents liked them as well, Sven says. Per reacts „yeah, terrible”. Sven thinks the song is very charming. Something that might get lost here, because they come from a part of Sweden called Värmland, which is very close to Norway and they have this wonderful Swedish accent. The dialect is very special and they used it a lot when they were singing as well. To their advantage. And this song is called Börja om från början, translating to „begin from the beginning” or „start from scratch”. It’s a breakup song, basically and it’s from 1965.

Before the guys reveal their No. 1, Per says they don’t really have that much in common with Sven. But one thing they have in common is that they consider Tages to be the best band of the ’60s in Sweden. Sven says they had two singers, as they mentioned that before in the last show. Tommy Blom was the major singer. He was the most good-looking, but maybe not the best singer. But he was good, Per says. They had a great bass player in Göran Lagerberg, who was a great singer as well. He also was a great composer, he was the main songwriter. Tommy Blom was singing the verse and Göran Lagerberg came in singing the chorus. Per thinks it’s brilliant. They were produced by Anders Henriksson, a great producer in the ’60s and ’70s. This 1967 song, Every Raindrop Means A Lot is one of the highlights of Swedish pop music from the ’60s, for sure. It’s a masterpiece, a well-deserved number one. The guys hope the listeners agree.

Sven and Per play some more music. The Wannadies is a band from Skellefteå, slightly in the middle north of Sweden. Per considers it the north, but he is from the south. PG says everything above Stockholm is the north. Sven agrees. Stockholm is north as well for those who come from the south. Hit is taken from an album called Bagsy Me. Sven asks „why did the ’90s end?” Every song should sound like this, he thinks. Per thinks it’s a great song, he likes it.

Doing It Again Baby by Girl In Red is next. Then Broken Promise Land by Weeping Willows is wrapping up this episode of Nordic Rox.

The guys thank the listeners for joining them and Cigarettes by Anita Lindblom closes the show, as usual.

Photo by Anders Roos (2019)

Thanks for your support, Sven!

Per Gessle, a fan of order on Sverige!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stills are from the program.