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.

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.

Per Gessle interview in Dagens Nyheter – ”I hope the movie inspires kids to start a band”

Hanna Mellin from Dagens Nyheter did an interview with Per Gessle about the Gyllene Tider movie.

“Sommartider – Filmen om Gyllene Tider” premieres in cinemas on 17th July and tells the story of the band that became a Swedish pop sensation. Newcomer Valdemar Wahlbeck sings as and portrays Per Gessle, whose childhood and youth are depicted in the film. Per has seen the film several times, but was initially somewhat suspicious of the idea.

Now it feels exciting, but when we first sat down and talked about the fact that there would be a film about the story behind Gyllene Tider, I was quite skeptical – no one in the band wanted to make any kind of tribute film to ourselves. But, “Sommertider” is more about me, how I met guitarist Mats Persson and the film ends when the song “Sommartider” is released.

Hanna is curious how it feels to join artists like Elton John, Amy Winehouse, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin and more and get a feature film about himself.

What felt odd at first was that it is about my childhood – of course it will be very personal and private. But, I don’t have a big problem with that, because what is being told is basically true. When I read the script for the first time, I just felt “wow”, this is fantastic – although of course the film takes some creative liberties, not least when it comes to the chronology. What I hope above all is that “Sommartider” inspires kids to start a band, that the film conveys the fellowship to sing and play music together. It is truly life changing.

To the question how involved Per has been in the film, he replies:

Not much, but I have answered a lot of questions and helped with the soundtrack. The songs are played by the Roxette band and Valdemar Wahlbeck, who plays me, sings himself. I’ve been involved in selecting the songs and I think the band does them very well, as you know, simple things are often the most difficult. I’ve mostly been a sounding board.

Hanna wans to know if Per joined the shootings and she thinks it must be pretty surreal to step into your own life on set.

Above all, it was an experience to go back in time by seeing all the details, props and environments from the late 1970s and early ’80s. It was very nice to experience the work that was done with it in the film. The film also contains a lot of drama and depicts the tragic accident in Blekinge before a Gyllene Tider concert in 1981, where three people lost their lives. Of course, I also had to answer some questions about that.

Hanna asks if Per’s family has seen the movie and how they reacted.

My wife has seen it, she was very moved. But, what I hope for is, as I said, that it can give something to others. There was an alienation in me when I was young and music became in many ways my escape and my reality. Many people can probably identify with it and maybe they get strength and energy from this film, which has a happy ending.

Hanna asks the last question to get to know if for Per as an artist there are things that bother him when he watches music movies. E.g. if someone fakes singing or holds an instrument completely wrong.

Yes it does! Not least, I think that the music industry becomes a cliché on film sometimes. Record company people often become villains so that the artist can be the hero. And when you cut in the music, when a crash cymbal appears when it shouldn’t – I don’t like that. But I can also be bothered by, for example, key changes when I listen to the radio. One can be clearly a fachidiot.

Photo by Fredrik Etoall

Interview with Per Gessle in Halmstad NU

Per Brolléus did an interview with Per Gessle for Halmstad NU, Halmstad’s new local monthly newspaper.

Per Brolléus thinks Marie would have said Per is an idiot if he doesn’t do this. He asks PG what he thinks.

Yes, well, that’s exactly what she had said. Just like that. She had declared me an idiot forever.

The guys are about half an hour into the interview and PB says PG has “written a song text” through his answers to all his questions about the tour, about Lena, about why, about feelings, about whether he knows this works and about the rest of the year before Roxette leaves for South Africa and Australia in February-March next year.

There is one thing that Mr. Gessle no doubt wants to be very clear about – the endless love for Marie. If she is not in every single answer, she is still there as a kind of sounding board or a little bird that nods or shakes its head. She is constantly present, even though it has now almost been five years since she passed away in December 2019.

Either you do it or you don’t. There are no other options if it’s supposed to be Roxette, sound like Roxette and be called Roxette.

That there comes a tour doesn’t feel very strange to Per Brolléus who “grew up” with Per Gessle, Gyllene Tider and Roxette. Per Gessle gives people what people actually want – without sacrificing his own artistic ability or, for that matter, his status. And now people obviously want Roxette. But, this would never have been relevant if it wasn’t for the duet album that Per has recently made.

Lena had agreed to make a song with me and when we recorded it, she knocked me out. Completely. Damn, what a voice she has!!!

Although Lena Philipsson never got to play in the same division as Gessle in the ’80s and, for example, never got to go on Rock runt riket (the 1987 tour with Roxette, Ratata and Eva Dahlgren and a new talent called Orup as support act), but Per and Lena’s paths have crossed a number of times.

We come from the same era and I have written a few songs for her, including the lyrics to Kärleken är evig. And I know her as a damn good artist. But when we got into the studio… Well… Knockout. That voice!!!

After the knockout in the studio in Stockholm, Per invited Lena for dinner in Halmstad. There was food and wine and finally he asked the question: Do you want to go on tour with Roxette? And the answer from Lena? Per laughs and says:

She was shocked and got a few days to think it over. She probably  thought I was crazy. But…, it was not about Lena replacing Marie, i.e. trying to sound like Marie, but Lena being Lena and she would lend her artistic talent to the songs.

And she said YES, says Per in a long exhale.

She ticks all the boxes. She’s got it all, although of course she’s never done a world tour and stood in front of 10,000 wild fans in Sydney. But she has IT. Of course, I did a Roxette tour in Europe with Helena Josefsson, a fantastic singer who has been with me for ages. But she is made for that kind of setup as it was then. Stripped down arrangement with seated audience in an acoustic setup. Now it’s something else and Lena fits in there magically well.

The gang that Per takes with him is pretty much everyone who was there when it started in the late ’80s and onwards.

Jonas, Clarence and as many as possible from the old gang are there. Damn, Roxette should sound like Roxette should sound. And it should be as much Roxette as you can get.

We tested some songs, Lena and I. It sounded fantastic. An own voice, an own feeling.

And now Lena PH is having an international breakthrough at the age of 59. Per laughs and says:

Well, it’s absolutely wonderful.

Regarding the pilot tour he says:

Yes, I want to test the concept. I want to be 100% sure that it works before it becomes something much bigger.

So Australia and South Africa are just the beginning?

We’ll see. Offers are absolutely pouring in, but before I say yes, I really want to feel it first. When we released the news about the tour and about Roxette with Lena, the systems exploded, which is of course great fun.

He pauses for a few seconds, laughs at…

She gets paid quite well too.

Halmstad’s biggest star through the ages has a fully packed calendar: duet album, movie, musical, world tour.

I have videos to make for the songs from the duet album, then it will be exciting when the GT film premieres on 17th July. And then comes the musical at Malmö Opera, which premieres in September.

Per has no direct responsibility in the musical, calling himself a sounding board, but as a reporter Per Brolléus feels that he is not being completely honest here.

I’m involved in the song order and I’ve been down in Malmö and listened. Well, musicals are not my cup of tea, you know, when it gets so perfect. Because for good musicians it never becomes really good, you know what I mean?

Per Brolléus gets it. He was forced to go to some musical about Oklahoma as a child and has never gotten over that shock, so he understands it exactly.

As a last question, Per Brolléus asks Per Gessle, hand on heart, if there could be a test concert with Roxette at Tylösand this winter before they leave for the pilot tour.

It can happen. You never know.

But, honestly…!

Well, it’s quite good to test things before…

Halmstad NU can hereby reveal: there will be a test gig in Tylösand sometime in February 2025. Remember where you read it first.

All interview text is written by Per Brolléus for Halmstad NU in Swedish. Here it is a translation by RoxBlog.

Thanks for the hint regarding the article, Oliver Zimmermann!

Interview with Per Gessle and Lena Philipsson in Aftonbladet

Aftonbladet joined Per Gessle and Lena Philipsson on their promo day and Anna & Hans Shimoda did an interview with them about their upcoming adventures. HERE you can read the original article in Swedish.

The other week the news hit like a bomb; Per Gessle, 65, brings new life to Roxette with Lena Philipsson, 58, at the microphone. The tour starts in Cape Town in South Africa on 25th February and Aftonbladet is the only newspaper to have met both an excited Per Gessle and a somewhat surprised Lena Philipsson.

Per says smiling:

It happened when we made the duet “Sällskapssjuk” for my new album that I thought that “Lena is not that bad”.

Brain tumor

Pop icon Gessle has long considered what to do with Roxette’s impressive song catalogue. Classics such as Fading Like A Flower, The Look, It Must Have Been Love and Joyride had to be put in the dustbin when Per Gessle’s friend and bandmate Marie Fredriksson passed away in 2019 in the aftermath of the brain tumor she was diagnosed with in 2002.

Per says:

In recent years, I’ve been thinking about whether I should do anything at all with Roxette. I’ve been thinking about how to best manage the legacy and Roxette’s song catalogue live. There were two ways, not to do anything with it at all or to try to find a way that fits as well as possible. It was not an easy decision.

Gessle continues:

When I worked with Lena, I felt that she is very talented as a frontwoman, she has a lot of experience, comes from the same era as me and is a fantastic singer. We also have a history together, I was involved in writing her breakthrough song “Kärleken är evig”.

I gathered all my courage and asked her, thinking that she would probably fall off her chair, and she almost did.

‘Only way to do it’

Stepping into Marie Fredriksson’s shoes is of course not easy, but Per points out that it is about managing Roxette’s music.

The only way for Lena to do it is to do it her own way.

Lena Philipsson is sitting on the couch next to Per Gessle and looks sometimes at Per, sometimes at the floor.

When I was asked to do “Sällskapssjuk”, I of course said yes and Per wondered if I would sing it in Stockholm or if I would come down to Halmstad. I went down to be in Pers hoods. A few days later, a message arrived in which Per wrote that he wanted to meet and that he would ask a crazy question.

Aftonbladet is curious about what Lena thought then.

I felt that “Yes, it worked”. But I thought that maybe there could be another song together or a tour, but I didn’t expect this.

She continues:

I was about to fall off my chair, but I immediately started thinking about what the fans would think about it and how it might turn out. I’m good at identifying the problems, but of course I feel incredibly honoured.

Will it sound familiar?

I feel like I’m an invited guest here, I’ll let Per decide. I won’t get into the artistic side that much. But my feeling is that I want to sing the Roxette songs as they should be.

Per turns to Lena:

Stick to your own way.

Lena says:

Yes, I do have my voice, but I don’t feel that I should do my thing and screw up everything. I want it to feel like the original.

Have a favourite song

Lena Philipsson says there is one Roxette song she is particularly looking forward to singing – a favourite:

There are so many good songs, but I have to say “Dressed For Success”, it’s so much Roxette for me and it’s really Marie’s song.

Lena Philipsson points out that she is not afraid of being compared to Marie Fredriksson.

No, then I would never have said yes. The comparison will of course be made anyway. But I have to dare to take it, otherwise I would have had to say no. I care about doing a good job and want the Roxette fans to feel satisfied.

The tour takes place in South Africa and Australia, but if all goes well, it could be any size, according to Gessle.

What we are doing now as a pilot thing. We will see how it feels and if it turns out as I believe and hope, there are no limits to what we can do.

Interview by Anna & Hans Shimoda, photos by Andreas Bardell for Aftonbladet