Per Gessle interview from 1985

A fab interview with Per Gessle was done by Elisabeth Elle Sandberg on 9th February 1985. Elisabeth, who was 18 when she did the interview at Per’s apartment in Halmstad, decided to make it available online after 31 years. Great decision, I must say. What an interesting reading after all these years knowing what Per achieved in his solo career and with Gyllene Tider, as well as with Marie in Roxette. Awesome! Thanks a lot, Elisabeth!

Elisabeth starts the article with placing the interview in a time perspective. In 1983 Per released his first solo album, Per Gessle. The following year, in February, 1984 came Gyllene Tider’s English album, The Heartland Café, which did not sell particularly well. During this interview in 1985 Per started working on his second solo album, Scener. Gyllene Tider broke up about a month after this interview and Per and Marie formed Roxette in 1986.

On the day of the interview Per was in the process of looking for images that would illustrate the lyrics of his second solo album. He says it’s really hard. The only image he found good was a picture of his mother. Elisabeth asks if there were no pictures of himself and Per said he wouldn’t dare using them.

Elisabeth asks Mr. G why he is doing a solo album when he is fine with the band, Gyllene Tider. Per says he doesn’t have a good answer to the question, but it’s good to change the environment sometimes. However, there is less reason to make a solo album now than before, because Gyllene Tider’s music is closer to him than it was before. But after doing The Heartland Café album he decided that the next one should be a solo album.

Elisabeth asks if the next GT album will be more full of hits and Per replies that the main difference is that it will be in Swedish again. Another difference will be that he won’t write more than 1/3 of the album and gets the others write too. He thinks that if there is a reason for them to continue to play together, they must move on and everyone should contribute to the creative side, so it doesn’t become 12 Per Gessle tunes. There would of course be songs similar to Sommartider, but he hasn’t written so much yet. The idea is to make it a more danceable up-tempo album.

Elisabeth asks if Per thinks the fans will come back and Per says he hopes so, but he sounds a bit uncertain. Per says they are probably the oldest band at this level in Sweden and the audience they had in 1980-81 are four years older now. At that age musical taste changes quite a lot. According to Mr. G, each artist is just as big as their last song (The Heartland Café album sold 30 000 copies). They have, after all, a fairly large audience still and if they make a good album, he thinks they can be huge again. Per was surprised that The Heartland Café was selling so much anyway, because many people didn’t have a clue that the album was released, but that’s only because it was in English.

Per says Teaser Japanese sold quite well as a single, but he thinks it was totally wrong, a stupid thing. Mr. G says it was his fault that they did an English LP. He just wanted them to invest in Europe, but one shouldn’t throw out 300 000 SEK on an LP that no one wants to buy. Instead, one should record a single and test it. If it doesn’t work, one should make another single. Now he thinks the whole year they worked on The Heartland Café was a waste of time.

Mr. G says the fans bought the album Puls in autumn of 1982 and it is much to ask that they wait for a new Gyllene Tider album. They will release a new single after his solo album. It’s a bit useless to compete with himself. He says a song is finished and its title is “30 skäl” [this is the song Anna recorded in 1986 – PP]. Per says it’s very danceable and is possibly out sometime in July-August.

Per says his songwriting is changing all the time. The biggest change was in 1982 when he bought a piano. Elisabeth asks if it was hard to bring the piano up the stairs (since there were a lot of stairs to reach Per’s apartment) and Per laughs and says “they said” it was. The piano was built exactly in 1900 and he found it in a shop in Falkenberg. Since he bought it, he started to write music using the piano and it allowed him to write differently.

Per thinks it’s great to read his old lyrics. He doesn’t write the same way anymore. He doesn’t know why. Today it would be really hard to write a song like (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän. Blå December was an attempt to write a short story, a narrated story in pictures.

Per says he started writing English lyrics when he was 13-14. He couldn’t play any instruments, so he just wrote the lyrics. He started playing the guitar in 1976.

To Elisabeth’s question regarding what Per thinks about Swedish music he replied that it’s exactly the same today as when Gyllene Tider had their breakthrough. There are great artists like Ulf Lundell, Dan Hylander, Eva Dahlgren and others who survive, but nothing new appears. He believes that a new generation of 17-18-year-olds will do great things soon. The record companies working with them will be great. Today the record companies are run by older people. The record company Stranded woke up now with bands like Ratata.

Per says many people wonder how he can write songs for Herreys och Pinks, but after all, those are the most-selling artists in Sweden and Per makes a living from writing music.

Elisabeth asks Per which producer he would choose for his next solo album or Gyllene Tider’s next album. Per thinks Gyllene Tider needs a producer more than himself. His solo albums are much clearer than Gyllene Tider’s. He thinks there are tons of good producers, but perhaps above all two. One of them is Trevor Horn, who is a tech pro. He produced Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes. He is fantastic. The other is a guy called Robert “Mutt” Lange, who did The Cars’ latest LP. Per was stunned when he heard The Cars’ latest LP. That’s exactly what they should have done long ago, but they don’t have the resources.

Per says it’s so ridiculous that the record company still wants to have a new album in English. But they can’t spend more time on it, because then it will be the same thing again. Abroad they are competing for airplay time with all other Capitol artists such as John Waite, Tina Turner and David Bowie. And it is impossible.

To the question if he is interested in writing soundtracks or musicals, Per replies that he would like to do soundtracks and also instrumental music, it would be fun, but about musicals he thinks they are so boring.

Elisabeth asks Per if he remembers the first time he was standing in front of an audience. Mr. G says he was always singing Staffan Stalledräng. He and a guy called Peter Nilsson worked as troubadours and were singing at hospitals. There he learned how to sit with a guitar and sing for people. He says it was useful and helped when they played with Gyllene Tider. But he thinks he is still nervous. But that’s just because people have other requirements today in any context. Per says if you are at a family party, people always want you to sit down at the piano, sing and play. Stuff he hates, because he can’t. He can barely play the piano.

To the question which concert he was fascinated by, Per replies that there are several. Bruce Springsteen when he was in Sweden last. It was an incredible concert. He is just like an artist should be. He captivates his audience. Then Joni Mitchell when she was in Sweden. Per says he saw David Bowie on his recent tour in France. Randy Newman alone with a grand piano is the best there is. Staffan Scheja and Björn J:son Lindh are also beautiful. Per says there are so many ways to experience a concert, however, actually he doesn’t like to go to concerts. It’s rare that he goes to one and almost never at Scandinavium, because it’s so boring.

He is asked if he goes out to dance and his reply is he does. If he likes dancing? He says it depends. He thinks it’s fun to dance sometimes, it depends on what mood you are in. He tends to go out in Halmstad, but he doesn’t go out to dance only, but to eat.

Regarding what he produced so far Per says Rita & The Rip-Off. He would really love to produce more, but it’s hard when you work with yourself. This new album he is doing he produces it together with Lasse Lindbom. He thinks it’s good for all bands, no matter how much experience they have, to have a producer. You need an objective person all the time. If you work for a long time with your material, you become snowed in what you are doing. Producing other artists would be fun. Per thinks he is pretty good at it and he laughs. Then he goes off and gets more coffee saying he always drinks so much coffee. It’s part of his plans to produce more. The problem is that he likes working in Halmstad. He finds it boring to stay at a hotel in Stockholm.

Elisabeth asks Per what he would like to be able to do what he still can’t do. Per says he would like to be a better musician than he is. He would also like to be able to read music. No one he knows can do that. When one is working with other musicians, often older musicians, it’s an incredible advantage to be able to write and read music. When Per hears or knows what he wants in a song, he is humming it out. He thinks it’s a handicap. He would also like to be able to sing better, to have a larger vocal range. He went and took singing lessons four times, but he says he is not one of those who can do it, for example, every Tuesday. It’s rare that he is home. Mr. G says he had season ticket for Drott’s matches, but he saw only one game during the season, because he wasn’t home. He says it’s useless this way and he can’t have anything definite.

Elisabeth asks Per if he plays football and Per says they play soccer every Monday in the summer, he and some neighbors. He says it’s funny. He played football when he was little and he always found ball sports fun. He is also playing badminton quite often.

The interview ends with a question about what Per is doing now and he replies he is trying to get an agent in Los Angeles, and it goes pretty well.

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12 Peaks of The Kinks by Per Gessle

1 month after we shared Mr. G’s 12 Peaks of Roxette, now it’s time to listen to another 12 Peaks. Sven Lindström kindly shared with us the program about one of Per Gessle’s favourite bands of all time, The Kinks. You can download the sound file in 3 parts from HERE (link is valid until 26th July).

Per listened to The Kinks a lot when he grew up and he still does. It’s timeless music and great songwriting by Ray Davies. Mr. G’s very first LP was The Kink Kontroversy. Per bought it from his brother (7 years older than PG) who needed money for cigarette. Per still has the album which he thinks is a brilliant one, having a great sleeve with a Guild guitar on it.

Sven and Per talk about what the magic behind The Kinks is. Per says The Kinks come from some sort of British R&B and evolved into a very British pop institution. Ray Davies’ songwriting is the essence of the whole thing, but they are all great musicians and together they combine the band’s fantastic sound. Per thinks The Kinks in general were an underrated band. They were a little bit out of tune all the time, but that’s what makes them so special. They had wonderful guitar riffs.

The guys talk about the band’s drummer, Mick Avory. Per thinks one can hear he’s got his R&B background and he became a great pop drummer. Sven also mentions what a cool voice Ray Davies has, it sounds like he has a perpetual cold.  Per says Ray’s voice is in perfect harmony with his brother’s, Dave Davies’ voice.

Mr. G picked songs mainly from The Kinks’ early days. Here is the list of his 12 favourites:

  1. 12PeaksofTheKinksbyPerGessleDavid Watts (1967)
  2. Till the End of the Day (1965)
  3. Waterloo Sunset (1967)
  4. Sunny Afternoon (1966)
  5. Lola (1970)
  6. Tired of Waiting for You (1965)
  7. Set Me Free (1965)
  8. Where Have All the Good Times Gone (1965)
  9. Days (1968)
  10. Dedicated Follower of Fashion (1966)
  11. Rosie Won’t You Please Come Home (1966)
  12. Sweet Lady Genevieve (1973)

When Sven tells before The Kinks broke through, they made 2 flop singles, Per reacts ”yeah, well, most of us did” and laughs. Per says he adored Till the End of the Day when he was a kid and still does. The guitar intro is the best. Waterloo Sunset is one of the best pop songs ever written according to PG. It has such a beautiful melody line, such beautiful lyrics and it’s just magic in 3 minutes. It was an inspiration for Per and took the characters, Terry and Julie from this song and used them in a Roxette song, Me & You & Terry & Julie. It’s a little homage to Mr. Davies. Per met Ray Davies once. It happened in London at the BMI Awards. Ray had a Swedish girlfriend at the time, so they chatted a bit. Per says Ray is a great guy.

Sunny Afternoon is THE summer song for Mr. G next to Summer In The City by The Lovin’ Spoonful. It was a big hit in Sweden, one could hear it a lot on the radio. Per had it as a single and played it over and over again. Lola is one of those brilliant songs Per wishes he had written. He just loves it. The lyrics have typical Ray Davies phrases with double meanings all the time. Sven says it might be the first ever song about a transvestite. Per says ”maybe… as we know. But we’re from Sweden, so what do we know…?” Haha.

Sven asks Per to list the best pop groups ever, Per’s Top10, but Mr. G says after The Beatles topping the list there are many bands at the 2nd place, e.g. The Kinks, The Who, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys.

Besides talking enthusiastically about The Kinks, the guys even share the recipe of semla cake, NOT. Haha. But they know it’s a bun with some cream in it and has a sweet little thing inside. The sweet bun by the way was offered for Sven by Åsa, ”sweet wife” as Per refers to her. How lovely!

 

Spanish interview with Per Gessle about Roxette

Sebas E. Alonso did an interview with Per Gessle at the end of June for Spanish jenesaispop.com. Here you can read a summary of it in English.

Per and the reporter are talking about the updated sound on “Good Karma”, but keeping the DNA of Roxette. Mr. G says that for this album they have 2 more songs recorded and there are 3 others they didn’t record in the studio. He says if he doesn’t like a song, he leaves it and focuses on something else. To make a song takes a long time. If he makes a demo and he doesn’t like it, he leaves it completely. A song has to pass several processes before reaching the studio.

Per says all songs on the album are special. “From a Distance” was originally a ballad, atmospheric, without a groove. But they had many ballads, so they took Marie’s voice and gave it to Addeboy vs. Cliff. It became an uptempo song, they added a guitar and new voices. What’s on the album is the second version. It was the last song they recorded.

Mr. G says it’s cool that people still listen to their songs and every time he hears e.g. “It Must Have Been Love” at the airport or at the supermarket it feels great.

He talks about the band The 1975 from today’s music and that he likes their production, but he also still listens to ‘60s and ‘70s music. To the question if Roxette is a pop or a rock band Per replies they make pop music, but with guitars.

Regarding “Good Karma” Per says Marie thinks it’s their best album ever, but he thinks it’s rather just a good album. The best they could do now.

About “April Clouds” Mr. G says they had two ballads, “April Clouds” and “Why Don’t You Bring Me Flowers?” and they thought that one had to be the final song of the album. They decided on AC, which is organic, no synthesizers involved but real instruments. They don’t think of it as a farewell song, but many people interpret it so, and this is how things work. You do something and people interpret it as they want and this is how it should be.

The reporter asks about Marie and Per says he talked to her the day the interview was done (22nd June) and she was fine. Sometimes she can’t get up and has to sit, but other days she feels good and can even take a walk. Per says they haven’t talked about a future concert at all. It doesn’t look like there will be more concerts at all. But Marie sometimes surprises us and if she wants to do something, Per is there. But there are no plans at all.

Per talks about the fans, their support over the years and that it was a great rehab for Marie. He says even now when they decided not to do more tours they have their fans’ support.

Regarding how music changed nowadays, Mr. G says today the artist is like a brand, especially in the EDM world. David Guetta and Avicii are trademarks and are presented as brands, and they (Roxette) are not a brand. They want to be a band. Today in Sweden for example, Spotify is 90% of the market. No one is interested in the artists or producers anymore, however, he still buys physical albums besides listening to Spotify as well.

About the US Per says it was lost when their company was sold in 1992. They were planning the “Joyride” world tour, but the guys at the record label only wanted to work with people they knew and they didn’t know Roxette. Since then, things didn’t work. At the same time, to get the American market they had to spend 6 or 7 months there and when Marie became pregnant it changed everything. Since about 1993, when they started recording “Crash! Boom! Bang!” they didn’t do enough to keep themselves there on the market, they were not playing in the US. The last time they played in New York and Los Angeles was amazing, but it was not as massive. Per always says that they left America for the rest of the world. It required too much effort, they should have spent too much time there and Marie refused it.

Regarding “It Must Have Been Love” the reporter asks Per if he gets paid every time Pretty Woman is on TV. Per laughs and says he hopes so. He was asked if he thinks he could have won an Oscar with IMHBL for the best song and Per says he thinks so, but since there was an earlier version of the song, it couldn’t be nominated. And he laughs that it was him who told about the older version, so he should have just kept his mouth shut.

They talk about “Baladas en español” that it was the record company’s idea to record that album. Rafael Gil helped them to pronounce the words correctly and he says they got some critics. The reporter says there were no problems with the pronunciation, but the lyrics in Spanish were rather crappy. Per says he can say only “una cerveza, por favor” in Spanish.

Per closes the interview with the thoughts of being fortunate. If you look at the whole thing in perspective, it’s a miracle that Marie survived her illness. They did a tour of 200 concerts for 1.4 million people and it has been a blessing to work for 30 years in this. Marie doesn’t have cancer or anything, she is simply affected by the disease. Maybe they can make more music together in the future.

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Summer exhibitions at Per Gessle’s hotel

2 exhibitions had their openings at Hotel Tylösand on Friday, 1st July. Legendary British photographer, Mick Rock had the vernissage of his ”THE RISE OF DAVID BOWIE and more” exhibition on the 2nd floor, while Anders Roos opened his ”RoXXXette On The Road” exhibition in the hall on the ground floor.

It would have been probably better from the RoXXXette On The Road exhibition’s point of view if that one had started 1 hour earlier and then everyone could have gone to see the main exhibition after seeing Anders Roos’ 15 fab Roxette photos. Both exhibitions started at 7 pm and Mick Rock’s was an invitation only event. Many people came to meet him and have some words with him about his wonderful David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Debbie Harry etc. photos. He also signed his David Bowie book during the vernissage and was happy to pose for pictures with his fans.

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Photo by Patrícia Peres

Among the guests known to us there was Mikael Bolyos, Magnus Börjeson, Sven Lindström, Göran Fritzon and last, but definitely not least, Per Gessle. When Per arrived, he immediately got some questions from Expressen’s Kvällensposten (see their article and photos from the event HERE) and we also had the chance to talk to him shortly. He was in a very good mood, being excited about meeting Mick Rock. We talked about the RoXXXette On The Road book, mainly about the Roxers limited edition version and he said he asked the organizers to keep the low numbers for Hotel Tylösand, because he knows that we, Roxers pop up here often and would get it at the hotel. He said it took ages for the silver tint to dry when he signed those 300 limited edition copies, but it was fun to sign them. Good it wasn’t raining then, however, he has a glass roof on the terrace, so the books would have survived anyway. Per was kindly posing for a picture for RoxetteBlog and made me laugh how he smiled. Why to say ”cheese” when you can say ”Paul McCartney”? I’m glad I didn’t shoot at ”-cart-” Haha! Then off he went to enjoy the vernissage. The whole event lasted for about 2 hours and it seems that it’s not only Per who had fun with Mick Rock, but vice versa. See picture HERE.

At the RoXXXette On The Road exhibition you can see 15 C-prints from the book in 50×70 and 70×100 cm sizes. They are on display at Hotel Tylösand, in front of the Spa. You can even buy the numbered prints. There are 25 numbered copies of each 50×70 cm print and 10 numbered copies of each 70×100 cm print. The 50×70 cm print costs 6000 SEK, while the 70×100 cm print costs 10500 SEK. Prices include the frame (1000 SEK) and Swedish VAT (appr. 1000 SEK), so if you order from abroad, the prices might be different / lower. If you are interested in more details or you have any questions, contact Tres Hombres Art at info@treshombresart.com.

As Anders Roos told Lokaltidningen, Halmstad (read the article and see some pictures HERE) it was extremely exciting to be on tour with Roxette. He said the band was very helpful and they also wanted the result to be as good as possible. Anders tried to choose different images to get a good balance of pictures with both Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson, as well as the band members. Anders, who considers RoXXXette On The Road as a dream project also told Lokaltidningen that nowadays, when everyone goes to the concerts with their cameras and mobiles, it’s not the live photos that are the most interesting, but rather the backstage shots.

The exhibitions are free to visit until 31st August, so if you are near Hotel Tylösand, make sure you don’t miss them!

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Photo of PG & Mick Rock posted by Mick Rock                             Anders Roos photo by Jens Kassnert, Lokaltidningen

Interview with Per Gessle in Allt om Vin

As we already informed you about it, the July issue of Allt om Vin contains an interview with Per Gessle. The magazine is available in Sweden as of today. The interview was done by Hasse Gänger at the end of April and the beauty pics of Mr. G were taken by Stefan Bohlin at Vingruppen’s office in Stockholm.

In the interview Per says he can understand those who are eager to have their own vineyard. Though in that case, one might decide: “Now this is what I will do for the rest of my life.” This thought has not entered Mr. G’s mind yet, but he says he is still young.

pg_allt_om_vin_2Per is not a super expert when it comes to wines, but he knows what he likes and that’s enough. It’s rather a hobby for him. He is also very curious. For example, he heard that Ornellaia has made a white wine, Ornellaia Bianco, which was impossible to obtain. He called a contact in England he usually buys from, but he was said the wine was sold out, 4000 bottles were gone. That makes one super curious. He didn’t even know what kind of grape was in it, but he wanted to test it of course.

The night before the interview with Allt om Vin was done, Per had dinner with his friends at PA & Co and drank a white wine he never had before and had never heard of. It was Aligoté, a little worse variant of the Chardonnay grape as the waiter explained it to him. It was amazing according to Per. He sent an e-mail directly to Ann Burgaz at WineAgency to ask if she can fix some of that wine for Hotel Tylösand.

Mr. G says that from the beginning he didn’t want to release his wines commercially. There are already a lot of celebrity wines and he doesn’t want to be part of this thing. Moreover, it was the hotel’s wines and still it is his basic idea, to find good wines for their guests. But Ann Burgaz thought the wines were so good. It almost felt as if Marilisa Allegrini produced better wines than what they paid for.

They talk about the wines and champagnes in The Per Gessle Selection and Per explains Kurt & Lisa is named after his parents and has the label with his parents’ wedding photo on it. Mr. G shares one of his coolest memories so far. It happened at a restaurant in Stockholm. Per was sitting there having dinner and three tables away there were some who ordered Kurt & Lisa. He saw how they poured it into the glasses, but they did not know Per was there. It was incredibly special for him and he had never experienced anything like that feeling before in music or anything else. Seeing someone else entirely unknown to drink his own wine was both really strange and cool.

Per tells Hasse Gänger he has no ambitions to become a major wine entrepreneur. He doesn’t want to be in the spotlight, because he doesn’t feel comfortable with it. For example, this interview is the only one he does about wines in the foreseeable future. He wants the wines to speak for themselves.

According to Mr. G, it’s two things that make his wines work. One is that Ann Burgaz has an eye on it and can open doors to high-quality suppliers. The other is Per’s taste. He always tells everyone that one doesn’t need to know so much about wines. The most important thing is to learn what you like. He doesn’t like Zinfandel, for example, but in Bordeaux category, he likes Saint-Julien wines a lot.

Regarding Sommartider wines Per tells the story that it was Magnus Börjeson, Roxette’s bassist who came up with the idea to launch wines called Sommartider. The wines came out first as boxed wines, but now they are also available in bottles.

Then they talk about the alcohol-free wines in the assortment, named after Per’s beloved wife, Åsa. Mr. G says Åsa drinks a lot of alcohol-free wines with her friends. The white and rosé wines in The Per Gessle Selection are called Fru Nordin.

Talking about the labels, as Per is very much of a design freak, he is happy to be involved in the label art. Sommartider wines have his own drawings on the label, Furet has the house he grew up in and Kurt & Lisa’s label colour is changed for every vintage. The latter was inspired by the American Sine Qua Non winery, which each year has new fun designs and names for each vintage.

It was quite difficult to finish the champagne labels, because the regulations are incredibly strict. Per’s own name could appear only in a certain percentage in relation to the name of the champagne, and the images must be wine-related. The 3 champagnes in the assortment are The Convincer, The Pleaser and the flagship, The Improver (which is only available in the restaurant range). 500 bottles of The Improver sold out immediately and the next turn was expected to be available still during this spring. As Per says, The Improver will always be serious shit.

In the interview Per says that he feels he has a little odd taste when it comes to champagne. Many of his friends are in favor of old champagnes, but he likes young champagnes the most. Old champagne tastes almost like a completely different drink. At the same time, his taste changes with time. For a while, he stopped drinking Bordeaux wines and he is rather drinking Italian wines. Mr. G doesn’t really like the new world’s too sweet and strong alcoholic wines. He is very much a Cabernet guy. He likes French and Italian Cabernet, even though they are quite different in taste.

Regarding the future, Per says a Pinot Grigio would fit in The Per Gessle Selection and they are also searching for a South African red wine in Kurt & Lisa’s price range, around 200 crowns.

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