On 24th December a new podcast interview with Per Gessle was published by Hemma hos Strage. Fredrik Strage is a Swedish journalist and author who writes about pop culture.
Per starts with introducing himself and wishing merry Christmas to all who are listening. He says he is sitting in beautiful Kungsholmen, Stockholm together with Fredrik. Fredrik welcomes Mr. G and asks him to imagine he celebrates Christmas there and asks him what he would wish for as a Christmas present. Per says if it has to be a gadget then he thinks it would be a new iPhone, because he skipped some generations of iPhones, so he thinks he would need an iPhone 12. Fredrik says he hopes Santa brings vaccine for Christmas. Per agrees. Fredrik also mentions a present he would like to have and it’s Anton Corbijn’s new Depeche Mode photo book. Fredrik tells it costs 700 bucks and is wondering if Per gets it gratis. Mr. G smiles and says it can happen. He tells it’s published by Taschen and they have so many fantastic books. Per has a big David Hockney book at home, published by them. Fredrik tells DM fans are quite upset because of the high price of the book. Mr. G says there will surely be a cheaper version of it.
The guys start talking about It Must Have Been Love that it started out as a Christmas song written for Germany. Per tells when they released their debut album, Pearls of Passion they were quite disappointed that EMI Germany didn’t do anything with that. Nothing happened. Then some boss there suggested they should release a Christmas song, because it might be easier to get airplay on German radio with that. Per thought it was a cool idea, so he wrote It Must Have Been Love. They recorded it and released it as a single in Sweden actually the same day as Triad released Tänd ett ljus under the same record label. IMHBL became a big hit, a platinum single in Sweden, but Germany didn’t want to release it, they didn’t like the song. So it felt it was all in vain. Marie then released a solo album and Per wrote songs for a new Roxette album that became Look Sharp! Fredrik points out that when Per wrote IMHBL he was thinking about Christmas. Mr. G says in the original text you can hear „it’s a hard Christmas day, I dream away” and later Christmas day was changed to winter’s day. He says he doesn’t want to go into details too much, but when they were big in the US there was a lunch in Los Angeles where Marie and him were sitting with EMI. The A&R guy told he bought the rights to a movie then called 3000, starring Richard Gere and a new actress, Julia Roberts. It was planned to be a low-budget film. So they bought the soundtrack rights and David Bowie, Natalie Cole were in. They thought Roxette could also be in, they should just write a song. Per said they had no time for that, they were travelling all the time, but he thought they had this Christmas song, he could rewrite the text and update the production. Some weeks later when they were back in Sweden, Marie sang certain parts of the song again, they made a new intro and it was mixed in the US by Humberto Gatica who was a hip mixing engineer at the time. The title of the movie was changed to Pretty Woman. IMHBL became a big hit and the movie even bigger.
Fredrik asks Per how his 2020 was. Mr. G says it was an OK year for him in a way. It’s been very calm and creative, but at the same time it’s tough to live in this world of pandemic. All travellings are cancelled, the music industry is put down. Not the production, but the live stuff. There are a lot of musicians and technicians who can’t do anything now. And it’s not only the music business, but also theatres and so on. It’s terrible.
Fredrik asks which was the last concert Per gave or attended. Per says he can’t remember. It must have been autumn or winter last year when he attended a concert and they had the big Gyllene Tider tour last summer.
Fredrik tells Per just released Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig where he revisits his old songs. According to Fredrik, Nypon och ljung sounds like a bit happier Emmylou Harris. There are some country vibes in it. Per says there are a lot of country vibes in his music and one can easily create it by singing in a certain key or e.g. using lap steel. When they recorded Nypon och ljung he actually thought of J.J. Cale and his drum box. It’s that playful pop he likes a lot. The idea behind GKRA was that Mr. G plays as many instruments himself as possible. At the beginning he thought he would play all of them, but then he realized he is not a good bassist or drummer. Fredrik says his favourite on the album is Viskar that was released on Per’s second solo album. That record wasn’t a big success back then in 1985. Fredrik asks if that was a difficult period for Per during the mid 80’s. Mr. G tells 1984-85 were tough years for him. His idea was to keep Gyllene Tider as his pop project and paralelly start a singer songwriter career as a solo artist. But suddenly, GT was over so he only had this singer songwriter thing that felt uncomfortable, because he wasn’t Ulf Lundell or Magnus Lindberg or others of that quality at the same record label. So he felt a bit lost. He then wrote songs in Swedish for a third solo album that had never been recorded because he didn’t have a recording contract. That later became Roxette’s debut album, for which Per translated the lyrics into English. There was only one song that wasn’t translated into English, Kom ut till stranden. That is now the closing song on GKRA. Back then it was too long and too difficult for Per to translate.
Fredrik mentions that on the album cover of Scener Per looks quite different to the colorful Per in Roxette. He looks more like a singer songwriter on that picture, it could be Leonard Cohen even. Per says there was a new focus, to go away from that Gyllene Tider look, from the pop star look. But that was no problem, because a big part of him is coming from that music style. He loves Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell. They have inspired him as much as T. Rex or the Ramones. Talking about Leonard Cohen, Mr. G picks Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye to be played in the podcast. He chose it because he learned fingerpicking on his nylon-string guitar thanks to this song. Per also sings the first line of Leonard Cohen’s Sisters of Mercy and tells when they are talking about Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell, these fantastically talented songwriters, they always get their credits as fantastic lyricists, but one shouldn’t forget that they are fantastic composers as well. They wrote fantastic music. Both their poetry and melodies are amazing. Leonard Cohen’s first 3-4-5 albums are full of fab songs. Then came Hallelujah, which is a quite hopeless song in his version, but it’s a fantastic song in many other versions. Bob Dylan wrote so many hits for other bands. Fredrik says when you listen to Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues by Bob Dylan, it’s not the nicest, but when you listen to it covered by Nina Simone, it is. Per adds Manfred Mann’s cover of Just Like a Woman, Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright) by The Turtles and Mr. Tambourine Man by The Byrds.
Fredrik says singer songwriters often write depressive texts, but Per is not associated with that. However, there is a song, Billy. Fredrik asks Per if he tried to write more social realistic texts back then. Mr. G says he doesn’t think so. He wrote many texts like that for Gyllene Tider’s first album, but Billy came out already before that on a self-financed EP. När alla vännerna gått hem was also on it, written in 1977 when PG was 18 years old. He was also inspired by Patti Smith. Per says a good way to learn how to write songs was to translate the lyrics from English to Swedish. That’s what he did. He remembers translating Cygnet Committee by David Bowie, Helen of Troy by John Cale, Ain’t It Strange by Patti Smith. He also started writing those heavier type of texts and contemplating teenage lyrics. Per has a whole lot of texts in his archives that result in a blushing face when you read them now, but back then they were important. Fredrik asks if Billy was a real person. Per says not directly, but there was a Billy type in the gang. Fredrik tells: „who doesn’t live anymore”. Per says he doesn’t know. He disappeared.
Fredrik talks about Let Your Heart Dance With Me, the first postum Roxette song and the video to it that includes old footage. Per says they did 3 of such videos to 3 songs on Bag of Trix. All of them are home videos and it’s fantastic, but at the same time it’s also sad watching them. All who knew Marie and are close to them were touched by these videos, also the fans. Fredrik says there are a lot of videos from South America in there and he is curious why Roxette became so big there. Per says it’s owing to different things. In Argentina you didn’t have to be English or American, there was no difference for them between Madonna or Roxette in that sense. In Sweden everyone was convinced back then that pop and rock music must come from England or the US. Another thing is that they had a lot of airplays on radio, but when they went there to perform live it was the Gulf War era. All bands and artists (The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Guns N’ Roses, Michael Jackson) cancelled their shows in South America, because there was no money. Roxette were told they could go there, but they wouldn’t earn money on that. Marie and Per, coming from a small town in Sweden thought why to earn money on that when it’s fantastic itself to be playing in South America. The whole band and crew thought the same, so they went there. They were to play 5-6000 seaters, but when they started selling tickets, the venues were changed to football stadiums in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile. In Chile it was very turbulent politically and Roxette became some sorts of students’ band, a youth band and they still are, based on the communication coming from Chile.
Fredrik mentions that Wham! was the first band to play in China in 1985, then Roxette played there 10 years later. Fredrik asks if they had to change anything in the lyrics. Per says he had to rewrite the text of Sleeping In My Car in the chorus. You can’t make love in the car. Fredrik asks what it was changed to. Per can’t remember, maybe „make up”, „make out” or something like that. It was Marie who was singing, but she was singing the original text. But on paper it was rewritten and that was kind of approved by the authorities.
Another song Per picked for the podcast is I’m A Believer by The Monkees. It was one of Mr. G’s first singles and it’s incredibly good music. It was written by Neil Diamond who is a fantastic pop composer. The organ in it reminds Fredrik of Gyllene Tider. Per says Göran’s Farfisa organ became their trademark. It’s something they came up with in the studio. There was this pop tradition of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, they used a Vox organ. Göran had his Farfisa and the guys in GT thought it sounded cooler than others, because everyone else in Sweden was using Hammond organ.
Fredrik asks Per about synths, if they wanted Gyllene Tider to sound more like British bands during those times. Per says he liked synths and synth pop, but he thought GT wasn’t ready. He thinks that GT didn’t sound like how he wanted them to sound before Det är över nu. Then it was Michael Ilbert who produced them and GT started to sound like Per imagined they should sound. Fredrik asks if that was the conflict why Anders Herrlin decided to leave the band, because he liked new wave pop and synth very much. Per says there were other things that led to him leaving. Anders wanted to move to Stockholm. He had a girlfriend and they wanted to move on, while the others wanted to stay in Halmstad. Anders also thought that Per stayed with power pop, two guitars and the organ sound and that didn’t lead to anywhere. He wanted to try new ways. Which is good, Per thinks. In the end it was good for all of them. Anders became so good at synth and programming that they could use his talent later in Roxette, for example. He was programming Look Sharp! Fredrik mentions the programming on It Must Have Been Love was done on a Synclavier that must have cost a fortune. Per laughs and tells there was a studio in Stockholm, Audio Sweden that had a Synclavier, so they could use that for IMHBL.
When they recorded the first Roxette album, Per wanted to make a synth-based album, but Clarence Öfwerman, their producer didn’t want it. He thought that they were a damn good band, so they recorded with real musicians, Jonas Isacsson, Tommy Cassemar, Pelle Alsing. And that wasn’t a bad idea. Per was very satisfied and it was also awesome to work with Marie’s voice. But when they were to record their second album, Clarence thought they should go on with the same band, while Per didn’t think so. They actually recorded 3-4 songs with the band, but they didn’t use those. Then came Anders and they got a fresh sound.
Fredrik asks how many unreleased Roxette songs there are still after Bag of Trix. Per says he has much material, but it depends what Fredrik means by unreleased. On Bag of Trix there are a lot of demos. Earlier Per released many of his demos, but not the ones where Marie was singing, but now they are out too. There is for example a sketch of how Listen To Your Heart’s verse was written, 45 seconds of it or so, but there are no ready-made songs. Fredrik tells that on Bag of Trix one can hear how they „talked” before the band started playing and asks how it felt to hear these recordings. Mr. G says it was fun. He remembers some silly jokes or a foolish counting in.
Fredrik is curious how many boxes and deluxe editions Per bought himself. Mr. G says he got hold of Tom Petty’s latest stuff. He has a record player and he buys a lot of second-hand LPs. He buys physical copies for the sake of the album sleeves. Nowadays, when he listens to Kraftwerk for example, he has the album sleeve in his hands, but he listens to it on Spotify in his office. He reads the lyrics and looks at the pictures, like before. The boxes he also buys physically because there is a lot of information inside. In the Tom Petty box there are a lot of comments related to each song, Joni Mitchell released a CD box, Love Has Many Faces that includes a lot of her writing, which she doesn’t do often.
Tom Petty is one of Per’s absolute favourites, so he picked a song from him, Something Big, which is an awesome song from his Hard Promises album. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was the band that Gyllene Tider always wanted to be, but never really managed. Per laughs. He says there was something in Tom Petty and his band that all five of them liked.
Per met Tom Petty in 1989 in Amsterdam where Tom shouted from a balcony: „Hey man, I love your record!” The Look was No. 1 then. Marie and Per were doing a TV interview and when they looked up to see who was shouting it was fantastic to see that it was Tom Petty. Back in time Per met a journalist in Los Angeles who knew Mr. G was a big Tom Petty fan. After Tom Petty passed away, PG got mail from that Los Angeles guy and he told he interviewed Tom Petty in 1992. He went through his papers from that interview and found a signed Tom Petty photo where he wrote: „Dear Per, Hope to see you soon. Good luck with everything! Tom Petty” Now it’s framed in Per’s office.
Fredrik tells he heard another story about Tom Petty that once he appeared at a grill party with a Gyllene Tider record under his arm. Per says it was a Swedish girl who was there at the same party, but he doesn’t know if the story is true. However, he saw a YouTube clip in which Tom was asked which is the strangest cover he heard of a song of his. Tom says it’s a Swedish band he can’t pronounce the name of, their cover of I Need To Know. Vill ha ett svar by Gyllene Tider. Per thinks it’s fun.
Fredrik starts talking about Prince and his song U Got The Look from his album, Sign o’ the Times. He says he heard Prince wanted to sue Roxette because The Look was similar to his song, at least the expression in it. Per says he never heard of that. He knows which song Fredrik talks about, but they are not similar except for „the look” being in the title.
Fredrik also tells he met Johan Kinde some weeks ago and he told an old story. He was dating Marie Fredriksson in the early 90’s and he was hanging out with Roxette on tours. He said it felt a bit like being a giggolo, being able to meet Marie only in the suites. They laugh. So Johan told a story that once they were in London and Orup popped up and they were discussing Minneapolis funk and Prince and James Brown. Per was tired of the discussion and said the only black record he had was Kylie Minogue’s first album. Per laughs and says that was a joke. PG says he likes R&B of the 60’s. He bought Al Green’s music when he was young. Sha-La-La and stuff like that. But it was always silent during such discussions, Per laughs again. Fredrik says it must have been difficult for Orup to decide whether Per was so advanced that he knew Kylie had a black inspiration on her album. PG says he was an early Donald Trump. A manipulator. Haha.
Fredrik asks Per if he ever met Prince. PG says he didn’t, but he was at Paisley Park Studio and he met Prince’s assitant. Marie was there too so it must have been during Roxette times. The assitant showed them Prince’s house and Per remembers it had a removable glass roof, a giant bed, a giant white cage with a giant white bird and a dance hall with mirror on the walls. Fredrik asked if it inspired Per when he had his house built in Halmstad. Mr. G says he tried to skip purple color.
Fredrik mentions that Little Jinder once there was on his podcast and she picked Paint from Roxette, because she liked the sound of it, the lightness of the 80’s in it. That inspired the sound of one of her singles. She was tired of modern productions. Per says the whole Look Sharp! album is produced that way. Sleeping Single, Dance Away, there are almost no instruments on those songs. There are guitar phrases and synth-based grooves and effects, a little ear candy. And everything is based on Marie’s voice. Paint is the song that sounds the best on the album.
Regarding sound image, Per thinks there is a band that never sounded bad. They are The Kinks. The first album he bought was The Kink Kontroversy. The next song Per picked is Till the End of the Day which he always liked a lot. The guitar solo is played by Dave Davies and Per has been trying to play it since he was 6, but never managed.
Fredrik says he read Sven Lindström’s book about Roxette and found it interesting. Regarding the 4 US No.1 hits he says no other Swedish artist could achieve this success, but Roxette was neglected by EMI in the US despite this fact. Per tells they were never on speaking terms with EMI in the US. First they refused Roxette, but when Atlantic Records wanted to sign them, EMI popped up again and since they were at EMI in Sweden, they ended up at EMI in the US as well. When Joyride album was released in 1991, the first single, Joyride became No. 1, the second single, Fading Like A Flower became No. 2. The big song that should have kicked in before their US tour was Spending My Time. It was climbing on the Billboard charts like a rocket, but EMI was sold to SBK in the meantime, a record label formed by Martin Bandier and Charles Koppelman. 120 people got fired at EMI US overnight and the next day the SBK staff took over and since then nothing happened with Roxette in the US. Roxette felt it wouldn’t work in the US, so they focused on all other markets instead. Australia, Europe, South Africa, South America.
Fredrik mentions that in Sven’s book he read that in 2000 there was a gig in Omaha, USA for 20 people. At the same time, US radio still played Roxette songs a lot. So there was a huge difference between live and radio attention. Per tells in 2000 they released a compilation album under Edel Records. Then they did a little unplugged tour in the US. They played e.g. Virgin Megastore in New York. It wasn’t really a concert. They played like 4 songs to support radio stations would play their new single. Wish I Could Fly maybe.
Fredrik asks Per about his best memories of the last Roxette tours. Per says Marie got ill in autumn 2002 and it wasn’t in the plans that she would do a comeback. Per did a solo tour in 2009 with his Party Crasher album and when they played Amsterdam, Marie and her husband Micke came to see him. Per then asked Marie if she would like to come up on stage and they would play an old Roxette song. It was a club with maybe 1000 in the audience. Marie didn’t want to, she said she didn’t perform for so many years, but in the end Per talked her into it and said they could perform Listen To Your Heart or It Must Have Been Love. So Marie decided to come up on stage for the encore and Per presented her. The reactions were totally amazing. He could see all the fans were crying and he still gets goosebumps when he is talking about it. On stage they all got emotional as well. The response Marie got was incomparable. Per thinks it was Listen To Your Heart they played. [It was IMHBL.] Mr. G says Marie was thrilled after this experience of course and some weeks later she called Per if he could write songs for a new Roxette album. Per was of course happy about it and the album later became Charm School. Marie wanted to perform more and they discussed how to go on. The doctors advised her maybe it’s not the best idea to go on tour, but she wanted to. They got an offer for Night of the Proms where they played some songs with the support of a smyphonic orchestra. They were the headliners and they thought it wasn’t a bad idea to go on that tour, to start with that for Marie. It was superb for all of them in the band.
Fredrik tells he knows it was hard for Marie to learn new lyrics. He is curious how it worked in the studio when they were recording. Per says it became worse year by year. When they recorded the last album it was very difficult. She could sing one verse at a time, it was hard for Marie to remember things. But the old lyrics were much easier for her. It happened that she missed a line, but that happens to Per too. The old lyrics for her were like a prayer, but it was totally different with new stuff. Fredrik asks if she could use prompter on stage. Per says she couldn’t, because she lost the sight in one eye, so she wouldn’t be able to read. They tried with big letters and so, but it didn’t help her at all. On the last tour they didn’t play any new songs, only the old ones.
Fredrik says he saw a YouTube clip where Marie came up on stage and then fell over, but stood up like nothing happened, hi fived Per and she went ahead performing. What an incredible fighter she was. Per confirms she was a fighter all the time. It took some time for her to decide to sit during the concerts, because she had problems with her leg. It must have been something with the nerves, because sometimes that feeling or pain suddenly disappeared. But after she decided to sit, it became easier for her. It was of course terribly hard for her and for everyone around her, but she was so grateful that she could come back and meet all her fans, the wonderful Roxette people out there and she wanted to perform. It overshadowed all the difficulties.
Fredrik asks Per when they met for the last time. Mr. G says it was about a month before she passed away. Fredrik asks if they worked on something, but Per says no, they were just talking.
Fredrik tells he knows Per lost many in his surroundings over the past 10 years. His mother, sister and brother. He is curious if Per is a type of person who stays positive all the time and how he gets through the dark times. Mr. G says he is quite a positive person himself, but it’s difficult to absorb it when people close to you disappear. Marie was ill for 17 years and there is only one in twenty who survives this illness for 5 years, but she survived for 17 years. She was a fighter. She wanted to tour, so they toured for more than 5 years. It’s inconceivable if you think about it. It’s against all odds. Per’s mother was 88 and then you know the end would come, but it was different with his brother. He wasn’t old, but he had lung cancer. His sister also had cancer, she was a little older. You think that you are prepared for that, but you can’t really get prepared for that. There are questions all the time how he feels regarding Marie. He feels emptiness. He can’t call her up, they can’t chat, they can’t discuss ideas and thoughts. With Marie they kind of lived together for like 30 years and they experienced so much together that only them 2 experienced. Per can’t talk about this or that with his record company or other musicians, because it was their baby, Marie’s and Per’s baby.
Fredrik tells there are 2 songs on Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig: Mamma and Pappa and he is curious if this wonderful image in the lyrics of Pappa – Han la en sönderriven lapp i min hand / ”Vind och vatten, himmel och eld / Var snäll mot allt, var snäll mot dig själv” – is self-experienced. Per says what he writes in his lyrics did not necessarily happen, but he always tries to make them interesting. Regarding the image Fredrik asks about he says he likes this image, when someone leaves a note and „be kind to yourself” is written on it. He likes it because it’s so easy to blame ourselves all the time for many things in different situations and everyone would feel better if we wouldn’t blame ourselves in some situations. It’s a reflection he thought is very nice. When he wrote it he could identify with it very much, but he never got such a note from his father. Fredrik tells Per’s father died very early, in 1978. He was the fastest plumber in the West. Per tells his father’s father was a plumber as well. Per says he spent the 60’s in Frösakull and Tylösand with his father and grandfather, because that was their work territory. They had a little shed and Per was there often. Fredrik is curious if Per learned how the fix a leak. Per laughs and says no, he is lousy when it comes to such things, but he wishes he would be a handy man.
Per picks another song and tells one of the artists who meant the most to him is John Holm. He made 2 of the best Swedish albums: Sordin and Lagt kort ligger. Per could have chosen any of the songs on those two albums, but he picked Sommaräng, which he thinks is a masterpiece. The album is produced by Anders Burman and there is a lovely sound on it. It’s warm and there is a lovely burning fire. It’s like the early Pugh Rogefeldt albums, there is a wonderful analog feeling in those. Fredrik tells he often thinks of John Holm when he passes Sabbatsberg. John has a song called Ett enskilt rum på Sabbatsberg, the closing track on his first album. Per says that song also affected him very much when he grew up. He loved John Holm’s voice and his expression. Per started singing in Gyllene Tider because no one else wanted to. There were a lot of people commenting on his voice, because he has a special voice and a lot of people compared it to John Holm’s. Per never thought of himself as a great singer. He always thought John Holm’s special voice is magical. Over the years, Per’s voice also became some kind of trademark. He says he got self-confidence from John Holm’s voice when he started singing. Fredrik says John Holm still has a bright voice. It’s not as deep as Leonard Cohen or Ulf Lundell. Per says he himself can sing in different keys. In fast songs he picks the keys that are the most suitable for him, but he has a wide range. He can sing quite low. Not like Leonard Cohen though. Per says he always liked Cohen’s voice because it’s easy to add a female voice to his one or two octaves higher. Mr. G used it also with his voice during the past 20 years with Helena Josefsson, but even in Roxette they used it as well. E.g. in IMHBL it resulted in a very effective sound.
Fredrik tells a British author and well-known feminist, Caitlin Moran has the motto: ”Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” Fredrik says that is how someone should live, as it is in the title of one of Roxette’s compilation albums. American manager Herbie Herbert told this to Roxette. Per can’t remember in what context Herbie told this to them. He thinks maybe he played a song to them and it had a too long intro. He was the manager of Journey and he was Roxette’s manager in the US for some years. Fredrik says Per has quite a strong pop focus and the chorus is very important there. Mr. G says he is listening to different types of music and he likes different types of music, but when he is writing, his home ground is melodic pop music. It’s about choruses, gimmicks, something that makes you interested.
Per says a good example of effective pop music is Ever Fallen in Love by Buzzcocks. He always loved it. It was released when they started with Gyllene Tider and they played it all the time, together with New Rose by The Damned.
Fredrik asks how important punk was for Per. Mr. G says it was very important. Punk came in several stages. When he was 17 in 1976 it was the Ramones, then there was Horses by Patti Smith, then came British punk, the Sex Pistols. That was what reached them in Sweden if one wasn’t a Television or a Talking Heads nerd. The most important what punk gave Per besides very good pop songs is that it was OK to play even if you weren’t especially good at playing. It suited Mr. G very well, because he wasn’t especially good. Gyllene Tider was a quite good band except for Göran’s and Per’s playing when they started. So the punk gave them some sort of justification. Those were exciting times. The whole decade in the 70’s was filled with so many fluctuations in music styles. There was commercial music and glam rock, disco, black music, progressive music, hard rock, you can think of Kraftwerk or David Bowie or Berlin. Everything happened in the same decade and there came punk, a lovely hybrid of noise and ingenious choruses. Buzzcocks is a good example for that. Fredrik says Gyllene Tider sounded more like Buzzcocks than Sex Pistols. Fredrik thinks GT’s most punkish song is Rembrandt, and he finds it fun that Per used Rembrandt for the most punkish song, while Bruce Springsteen used Rembrandt in his least punkish song, I Ain’t Got You (I got a house full of Rembrandt and priceless art / And all the little girls they want to tear me apart). Per tells he knows he listened a lot to Jonathan Richman and his song Pablo Picasso (by the Modern Lovers) was the inspiration to use Rembrandt. He can’t remember exactly, but it was kind of an insider joke to write something in Swedish about Rembrandt. Fredrik asks Per if he has any Rembrandt in his house. Mr. G says unfortunately, he doesn’t have any. He says he should call Bruce and laughs. But Fredrik tells Per has Warhol in his collection. Mr. G says no large originals, but some Polaroids and graphics.
Fredrik tells one of the first songs he heard from Per was Ska vi älska, så ska vi älska till Buddy Holly. He was 7 years old then and he remembers he thought Per was singing wrong, because he couldn’t get what „till” meant in the text [to make love to Buddy Holly]. Fredrik is now wondering why would someone make love to Buddy Holly, because it’s not really erotic music. Per says he doesn’t know. Sometimes he is wondering why the lyrics became how they are. On the first album there are songs like (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän, Revolver upp about Tony and there was Billy. These are about some kind of persons. Unlike others he knew back then, Per always loved lyrics. He loved David Bowie’s lyrics. Bowie cut up the text with William Burroughs’ technique and rearranged the words to create a new text. Then it became e.g. Watch That Man. Per says he never tested this method himself, but you can test it in a simple way when you just write down things you come up with and then some days later you get back to that list and try to create a story based on those words. It’s a bit like Sjömän and Buddy Holly. Buddy Holly has a different logic than Sjömän though. It’s also a bit like how he tried to write The Look. The first verse is a text to help to remember the rhythm. Per tells „never was a quitter” comes from Nick Lowe’s Born Fighter. Later he read the text and listened to the rhythm and thought the text was not that bad. It doesn’t mean anything, but it’s like I Am The Walrus. So he continued this way of writing for the rest of the lyrics and made it a bit simpler in the choruses. Reading the second verse, Fredrik asks if a person has a T-bone at all. The guys are laughing and Per says he doesn’t know. He says he remembers that in the US he was told no American or English person could have written these lyrics and that’s why it was fun for them. Mr. G tells you don’t always need to be completely logical in the text, it’s pop music for God’s sake.
Per tells you can’t pick songs without picking a song from The Beatles. He chose a song that probably started all his pop romance, his love for pop music. It was the back side of the Yesterday single, Dizzy Miss Lizzy with the world’s best guitar riff and John Lennon in top shape at the mic in 1965. Per says the 60’s sound itself seems to be so far away, more than the 70’s sound. Strong tambourines and many crash cymbals, it’s pretty hard to listen to. Nowadays we are listening to music on computers or mobiles and it’s not really wise. CD quality or vinyl quality is not the same as listening to music on a fucking iPhone. Fredrik says indeed, nowadays you just hold up your smartphone and tell each other to listen to this or that song, it’s very good. Fredrik tells Motown Records, founded by Berry Gordy had a special sound. Their singles sounded effective on radio too. Per says if you are listening to good old mono mixes, they sound much better than old stereo mixes.
Fredrik tells he plays a scary song to Per, from a German industrial music group, Einstürzende Neubauten. Fredrik was listening to them a lot in the 90’s. Their singer is Blixa Bargeld who is most known for being guitarist in Nick Cave’s band. He is exactly the same age as Per, he was born the same day in the same year. Per says it’s fantastic. Fredrik says he always thought they are long-lost twins. Per laughs. Mr. G says he has never heard this music before, but it reminds him of David Bowie. It sounded like a Bowie-riff. He thinks it’s good.
Fredrik asks Per what his plans are after Christmas. Mr. G says he is recording a new English album. He had the idea to make an uptempo pop record he hasn’t done since long. He was a bit away from this way of making music. He wants to make it a bit synth-based. It became a quite lovely trip, but it’s not ready yet. Mr. G says it’s fun to make this album.
Fredrik tells the most successful Swedish pop composers besides Per are Benny and Björn from Abba and Max Martin. All 3 of them made musicals based on their music. He is curious if Per has ever thought about it, a big Roxette or Gessle musical. Per says absolutely and he thinks it will happen. There were some ideas, but most of them were rejected by Per mainly because they didn’t keep the standards in the script or the story. But he thinks it’s a natural way to go and both his solo music, but especially Roxette’s music would work very well in a musical. These are big songs that fit a musical quite well, from Crash! Boom! Bang! to Listen To Your Heart. It’s a long way to make a good musical on a proper level and in the right way.
Fredrik tells Per also mentioned lately that he wouldn’t mind having a Gyllene Tider comeback, which is quite soon after last year’s farewell tour. Per laughs and says everyone was asking if it’s really over and he said yes, they decided it was their last tour last year, but he personally thinks that it’s a pity that GT is over, because he thinks it’s a fantastically good pop band. When they decided to do the last tour, it was Micke Syd’s idea to close this chapter until all 5 of them are in good shape and are healthy. If it didn’t happen, normally they would come back in the next 6 or 7 years and then they are 6-7 years older and who knows if they are still alive then. So it’s better to end it and all of them thought it was a correct and sympathetic idea. But Per also knows when they did their last gig they looked at each other and thought „is it really the end?” Fredrik tells he remembers Per told earlier they decided to do less shows with Roxette, because they were not 50 anymore. Per laughs and says it’s a bit like that, but mainly during this time of pandemic, you miss playing in front of an audience and also playing together with the band you miss a lot. He tried to do different things, e.g. YouTube clips where he is playing live and sings, because it’s fun. When you are a touring artist, you feel like home on tour and you miss it.
Per tells David Bowie was an artist who inspired him very much and was always high up on his list. Bowie’s catalogue is awesome from 1969 to 1983. Until his Let’s Dance album – which Per thinks is underrated and that was the first record Fredrik bought. Per thinks almost no other artist had such a long period of making fantastic music. Per picked Drive-In Saturday, a forgotten song from the Aladdin Sane album. It was a single and Per likes how good Bowie was at the pastiche of the 50’s and 60’s. Absolute Beginners is also a good example of that.
Fredrik is curious if Per has ever met Bowie. Mr. G says he met him in a hurry on his Serious Moonlight tour in Lyon, France and only said hi. Per was there with EMA Telstar (Live Nation Sweden today). He says it was lovely to meet Bowie, but he was super shy. And there were no smartphones those days, so there is no picture of that meeting. Haha. Bowie was quite blonde and it was a fantastic concert.
Fredrik tells he heard it in a podcast that Nitzer Ebb, a British industrial band was asked to join Bowie on his 1987 tour as a support act, but they rejected. Per reacts: „What???” Fredrik says it sounds insane now, but how lead vocalist of Nitzer Ebb, Douglas McCarthy says, people tend to forget how low status Bowie had in the second half of the 80’s. He wasn’t appreciated anywhere. Per says that’s right. Mr. G says he actually stopped at Let’s Dance. Anything he released after that, Per was not interested in. However, Mr. G thinks Bowie made one of his best ever songs, Time Will Crawl well after Let’s Dance. The guys can’t remember whether it was on his Outside or Never Let Me Down or Heathen album. [Actually, Fredrik was right, it was released on Never Let Me Down (1987).] From the modern times, that’s the most played song at Per’s. It’s awesome. The end of the 80’s was a strange time in music anyway, he says. He laughs and says maybe that’s why they managed to break through with Roxette then.
Fredrik tells there is a fun story from the Legends of Rock tour where Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis performed together. They played in Malmö at the end of the 90’s and Little Richard went to the reception at the hotel and asked for the biggest suite, but he was told they have a nice suite, but the biggest was already occupied by Bowie. Little Richard asked the receptionist to show him to the suite and he told Bowie: „David, get the hell out of my room!” And Bowie moved out. Per laughs and says nice to hear it. One must love such stories.
While Nypon och ljung starts playing, Per says it was a fun conversation and wishes merry Christmas and a fantastic 2021 to all who listened. Fredrik wishes merry Christmas to Per and thanks him for all the music and he hopes Mr. G will also have a brilliant 2021 without pandemic and many concerts.
Picture from Hemma hos Strage