Per Gessle interview by GöteborgDirekt

Kai Martin from GöteborgDirekt did an interview with Per Gessle. He asks Mr. G when the idea for the gigs in Tylösand, then for the upcoming tour was born. Per says the idea came from the pandemic situation. Musicians and technicians had no job due to tough corona regulations. He tried to think positively, take advantage of the opportunity and do something special at Hotel Tylösand. The challenge of playing acoustically for a very small and seated audience was exciting for him. They had done Late Night Concert for TV4 without an audience at Cirkus in November 2020 so he knew he had a great band with good composition and high ambition.

The reaction and response from the audience was absolutely overwhelming, so I felt I couldn’t stop now. This is much fun anyway.

To Kai’s question regarding what it was like to meet the audience, even if they were seated Per replies:

Wonderful and very special for me because it was such a small format. There were about 475 people in the audience every night, everything felt close and intimate, sometimes we answered a question that was asked between the songs, sometimes someone came to the edge of the stage with a gift or flower. The surroundings by the beach in Tylösand are fabulous. Nine out of ten evenings we got to experience the world’s most beautiful sunsets. The band thought it was the coolest “tour” we did. Maybe they’re right?

GöteborgDirekt asks Per how much he has been longing for being on the road again. Per tells:

I’m an anxious soul. When I’m in the studio I’m longing for being ont he road and vice versa. But I really like playing my songs, I love touring. There is a pop romance around this that I never seem to stop being fascinated by. Just this summer, it was not so much a tour for me, I live four minutes from the stage…

Kai is curious how Per picks what songs to play, because he thinks Mr. G has an impressive song catalogue and he could actually play every day of the year without repeating himself. Per explains it started with him selecting 30-35 of his songs and recording acoustic versions alone in the studio to find the right key and feeling. He did it live to experience how it felt to play and sing them. Six, seven songs a day for a week. Then he presented about 25 songs for the band that they rehearsed together. From the beginning, the idea was that they would play 45 minutes + 15 minutes extra, but it ended with the concert being 110 minutes long.

Per also tells that you feel immediately at the rehearsals if a song can wear its new costume. Sometimes it fits, sometimes not. Some of the Gyllene Tider songs felt unexpectedly fresh acoustically, such as Kung av sand and Juni, juli, augusti. He wasn’t sure about it before, but all of a sudden, the lyrics got more into focus and it became a different kind of music that suited this setting.

Kai tells Per that it feels like PG’s curiosity he had as a kid for music still shines through in his creation and wants to know how Mr. G maintains it. Per wishes Kai was right, but sometimes he feels like he is losing interest in new pop music.

I have become like my parents in the 60’s and 70’s who always thought that all the pop I listened to sounded exactly the same. Now, finally, I understand them, hahaha! But it goes in waves for me. Sometimes I get extremely bored of my own record collection and all my old favourites and I’m desperately looking for something new to listen to. Sometimes I look for another type of music; Bill Evans, old country, Penguin Café Orchestra. Found them the other day and they are magically good sometimes.

When it comes to my own creation, I usually say that I write as little as I can! When I go into my “writing mode” I usually have a clear idea about what I want. I’ve just finished a new album in English (with the old “Rox gang”). The idea of this album is to become “the missing link between ‘Look Sharp!’ and ‘Joyride'”. And the record really sounds like that.

Kai refers to Gessles nio i topp (podcast of Per Gessle and Sven Lindström on Swedish Radio P4) and asks Mr. G how much of a pop nerd he is. Per replies:

When I look at myself, I’m 100 percent pop nerd. I’m a self-taught musician who has learned everything I can from the wonderful world of pop. That I would succeed with my own lyrics and music in the way that happened is still difficult to understand for me. But… the more time passes the more comfortable I become in my role as a musician and artist. I probably had not “dared” to do such an unplugged tour ten to fifteen years ago. Now it just feels obvious.

GöteborgDirekt is curious about Per’s creation process. PG tells:

I’m super focused and disciplined when I have a project going on. Then I work mentally around the clock. I go into my bubble and prefer to stay there until I’m done. I become very sad, antisocial and a very unnecessary person.

Kai tells that they who were born in the late 50’s see their role models and idols go out of time. He is curious if it affects Per’s creativity and desire to play in any way, if Per is anxious to take advantage of his time. Mr. G tells you of course get affected by it, but when it comes to his own creativity, it’s mostly an ego thing.

I write and play primarily for my own sake. I actually know nothing else. That there has been an interested audience here and there on the planet for over 40 years is as surreal as Halmstadgruppen*.

[*Halmstadgruppen is a group of six artists that collectively followed and developed avant-garde modern art movements such as cubism, post-cubism, purist, futurist and surrealism in Halmstad. /PP]

Press photo used for GöteborgDirekt’s article by Anders Roos was taken at Hotel Tylösand on 3rd August 2021.