A drink with Jonas Isacsson

Bild 169When I decided to meet Jonas Isacsson, my story about him was already written – in my head. Back then I didn’t know that it would take me another seven months to finish this text. Why? Just because some bad things happened, I didn’t have spare time to write it, my iPhone crashed and didn’t let me play the recording of the interview – and most of all I wanted to do it right, it was meant to be perfect. But in the meantime I realized that there’s no way to write a perfect article about a guy who deserves it. The more I try, the less it works. I am, however, happy now that I finally made it. Please be gentle about my English. I did it all alone, I am not a native speaker and tried my best.

My wish to meet Jonas again and write a story about him came two years ago. When I finally got the chance to really meet and talk to him, I was more than happy. Finally, I would make it to Stockholm and could go for a beer with him. Why I wanted to meet Jonas? When we – Judith and I – interviewed him for Roxetteblog the very first time (November 2009, during Night Of The Proms), I had the feeling he has a lot of stories to tell, a lot of experiences to share. When we had met for the interview, we sat more than 2 hours talking to him and we could have gone another 2 hours if he had had the time. I, however, thought that not the complete story has been told. Some months and years later I really missed him during the Roxette tour, although Christoffer Lundquist did a tremendous job. When I saw Christoffer running across the stage, hitting his guitar and making people in the audience go crazy with his acting and watching, I thought about Jonas again and the feeling I had. I thought that he is just a compeletely different guy on stage. Calm, quiet, shy, withdrawn – whatever you may call it. It fascinated me that a guy can be so lost (in a positive way) in playing the guitar on stage that you can even hear it. Every tone sounds like you feel what he wants to tell with it, every break he makes means exactly that: to be silent for a very short moment.

So, after our first interview I was really eager to talk to him again; just to hear what else he has to tell.
We meet in August 2013 again. It is a sunny day in Stockholm. It is the day of the “Tack för musiken” recording with Marie Fredriksson and it feels like a perfect day to talk about his career, life and thoughts about this and that. It is warm enough to sit outside and drink a beer – and so we do. I wanted Jonas to choose the location and he came up with a small diner in Södermalm. I ask him why he chose this location. “Because it’s so lovely and a nice location to sit outside. Many of my friends live here or around the corner.” I have a look around and notice he chose a vegetarian diner. Asked about that he says that he himself isn’t a vegetarian, but many of his friends are, but that he still loves the food. “I don’t eat that much meat actually, more fish and seafood. But this here is good food. You should try it. Although, I think they are a bit modest with spice. You should bring your own spice.” He thinks a lot before he speaks, he seems a bit nervous but still happy that we meet.

When I had passed the diner earlier I noticed a lot of drug addicts. “It’s nice anyway”, Jonas says about Södermalm after I mentioned the drug thing. “More people are around, it’s not that snobby here.” Of course, I want to know where in Stockholm it is snobby. “Östermalm. Old ladies with dogs out there and so on.” He laughs. We look around and think about Södermalm again. I read somehwere that Södermalm is the one place in Stockholm, where everyone wants to live and work. “It wasn’t like that 20 years ago”, Jonas says. He thinks again. “Pelle lives here. Pelle Alsing. I haven’t seen him in a while. I miss him.” I don’t know what to say in this moment and try to switch the topic.

Read moreA drink with Jonas Isacsson

Jonas Isacsson: “I would join Night of the Proms again if they asked me”

Kirsten and Judith met Jonas Isacsson in Hamburg for an interview. He just came back from a walk in rainy Hamburg. After short introduction, we went straight to work.

Yesterday we saw that you are also in the front when you played with Alan Parsons, not in the back behind the orchestra.

– Yeah! I have to come down and play with him as well. That’s fine. He’s an old hero of mine, he was assistant producer of Pink Floyd’s “Dark side of the moon” and he worked with The Beatles as well. So I’m honoured to play with him, actually. He’s a cool guy, and very big, I’m not that tall, I look like a dwarfs. He’s nice, but like 2 meters tall!

Alan Parsons is a new act in the show. There are other new things, for example, Sharon von Adel is not there anymore. So John Miles does “Stairway to Heaven” alone.  We miss her! I miss OMD as well. They played somewhere in town yesterday as well. They were supposed to come to the hotel after the show but they didn’t.

Is it exhausting to play during the whole show, it lasts three hours…

– No, it’s actually better than sitting in the dressing room and wait, because the other guys in Roxette and everybody else have to sit and wait for their moment, kind of boring. The only thing that disturbs me when I come in during the break is that the wine is gone! I’m sure it’s Pelle, Clarence and Christoffer!

Yeah!, We can see that on the YouTube videos.

– Yeah, that happens while I am up on stage you know. It’s kinda funny, stupid but funny. We have a good time anyway.

So we’d like to know about your career. How did you start to play guitar?

– Two elder brothers, Thomas and Mikael, were playing in bands. They both played bass, they would fool around with guitars too. I always tried to be better than them (laughs), so that’s how it started. I went to rehearsals with my brothers, saw the bands, and I liked the atmosphere with amplifiers and all that.

How old were you?

– I was five. There were guitars in my house all around. And my great grandfather played organ at the church, so there was always music in the house and started from there.

Do you play other instruments?

– Yes! Bass and drums. I learnt to play drums at the music school, I could play guitar before that, but drums were the first instrument I really had to learn, but it became boring. I can also play keyboards.

Is it true you played with Joey Tempest and John Norum’s as well, back in early 80ies?

– I lived in Upplands Väsby where they come from. John Norum had a band called W.C., Water Closet, with some friends of mine, he was a great guitar player but  he was a kid back in those days, he was very shy and stood with his back to the audience, but everytime I listened to him play guitar, I thought “this guy is great.” So we lived in the same town and grew up with those guys as well. I also worked with Joey’s first solo album.

You said you lived in Upplands Väsby, but where do you come from?

– No, I was born in Umeå. We’re nearly one age. We moved to Dalarna and I moved to Stockholm in 1975.

You also worked with Eva Dahlgren a long time. How did you start to work with her?

– I worked with Eva from her second album “En blekt blondins hjärta”, from 1980 till 1991. Eva’s producer Anders Glenmark and I were on tour with a band, we played in the same show, a bit like this show wi

th various artists, and Eva was backup singer in one band, so we met then and became friends. Then Anders and me started to work together and we formed a band actually, with Eva. Then in 81 we went on tour with Eva, the woman went rocket skyhigh immediately, with such great songs.

How was it working with her? You composed one song with her, “Älska mig”.

– It was great! We also did music for a children’s movie and worked a lot together those days. I miss her sometimes, to play with her. We have still contact, we live very close to each other in SouthernStockholm, we see each other shopping groceries, you know, so I see her a lot. But she has a new band and works with Lars Halapi, they seem to have a good working relationship, so I don’t want to go and mess things. But if she’d ask I’d say yes , of course.

How did you start to work with Roxette?

– Working with Eva lead to other jobs, I got to do a lot of sessions with other big Swedish artists. I was working in studio 4-5 days a week, with different people and different kind of music, including dance bands, lots of stuff. And Clarence, Pelle and I knew each other since 1977, from different bands, Clarence got the offer to produce a solo album with Per, which then became Roxette. Clarence said “I want to have this band,” which was me and Pelle, and Tommy Cassemar. So I worked with them since 1986, except for the 7 years where Marie didn’t play. That was tragic.

Read moreJonas Isacsson: “I would join Night of the Proms again if they asked me”