Gessle enligt Gessle – the English summary – Part 2

Part 2 of TV4’s documentary, Gessle enligt Gessle contains a lot of talking about Roxette, footage of Per’s Nashville adventure, including the photo session with Anton Corbijn and also the funniest anecdote of Per and Åsa’s first meeting with Paul McCartney. Of course, Part 2 also contains footage from the Halmstad gig of Per’s En vacker kväll tour.

In case you missed the summary of Part 1, check it out HERE! Watch Part 1 and Part 2 on TV4’s website if you are in Sweden or Part 1 and Part 2 on YouTube if you are anywhere else in the world.

Here is my summary in English of Part 2. All stills are from Part 2.

In the intro Niklas tells that so far he got to know a lot about Per’s upbringing, his guitars, how to wake up a patient in coma, the break-up and if he helps in the kitchen. But he still had many questions. How could he manage being world famous? How low can one hold a guitar? Who has the firmest ass, Per or Paul McCartney? Will there be anything with Roxette again?

STUDIO (Skärmarbrink)

Niklas says he was about 30 when he came by “The Look” and he starts playing the riff. Per immediately says Jonas Isacsson. When they recorded the song, it was built very much on Per’s demo with the sequencer base and all, but they didn’t have the riff then. They asked Jonas to play something George Harrisonish on the guitar. Something in “Taxman” style or “I Want To Tell You”. The Revolver-George Harrison. Jonas came up with different suggestions including this riff.

Niklas starts reading the Swedish translation of the lyrics of “The Look”: Eld i isen, naken intill T-benet, en älskares förklädnad, banka på huvudtrumman, skaka som en galen tjur, hon har utseendet.

Per laughs and Niklas asks if he can recognize it. He states it wouldn’t have been too easy to come up with this text in Swedish. Niklas says he would probably change the last line to hon har ett lok instead of hon har utseendet. The lyrics are very special. It’s a nonsense text. Per wrote “The Look” to learn how to program his new synth, an Ensoniq ESQ-1. The first song he wrote on it was “The Look”. A 3-chord hit inspired by ZZ Top. They were big then. Then Per came to that half-rapping text.  “Walking like a man, hitting like a hammer, she’s a juvenile scam.” That rhythm became the whole song in some way. Mr. G put together a nonsense text to remember the rhythm. When he tried to write a real text, he felt he could not. He swapped out some words in the nonsense text and gave it some kind of logic. Niklas asks if there is any logic in the text. Per says there is, some kind of tumultuous experience of love. He thought there was a certain “I Am The Walrus” feeling about it. Like “Goo goo g’joob”. There is almost no real logic, but that’s what makes it exciting. When “The Look” became a hit all over the world, it was said in the English-speaking countries that no English-speaking person would have been able to write that text. But it was to Roxette’s advantage and to the advantage of the song. It stands out.

Per’s demo to “The Look” is called “He’s Got The Look”. It was supposed to be sung by Marie, but when she started singing, she felt that it was not for her. She couldn’t identify with it. Almost all the songs Per has written for Roxette he had written for Marie to sing them. The songs Per sings are those Marie didn’t want to sing. At the same time there were more regular duets like “The Big L” written for two to sing.

Niklas says the first real Roxette hit was a coincidence, it wasn’t meant for Roxette. Per says it’s true. There was an ambition that Marie and Per had talked about for many years, to do something together. But what that would be, they didn’t know. Per had written a song to Pernilla Wahlgren called “Svarta glas”. But she never recorded it. Per’s demo circulated a bit and then one day Per bumped into the head of EMI, Roffe Nygren at the EMI office and then he said how good “Svarta glas” is. “Write an English text and record it with Marie, so you have the song you’ve been talking about to do with Marie for all these years.” So Per did it and presented it to Marie. They made a duet that became the summer hit in 1986.

Per had started talking about making his third Swedish solo album, but EMI was not interested, so he had no record company. But Per had met Clarence Öfwerman who would produce the “possible” record. So he produced “Neverending Love”. It became such a big success that they recorded the first Roxette album.

Niklas has 11 questions about when “The Look” became No. 1 in the US. First of all, he is interested in how Per found it out. Mr. G says he was in Halmstad and someone called. Probably Thomas Erdtman as they worked with him since a few months. He jokes he has so many No. 1s, that’s why he can’t remember exactly. Marie Dimberg and someone from EMI went to Café Opera and celebrated in the evening but Per wasn’t there.

Niklas asks if Per remembers what he was wearing. Per says of course not. But Hallandsposten took pictures and on the photos he is wearing an ugly dotted shirt.

Next question is whom Per called first. Per says probably Marie. Niklas says it must have been totally crazy. What did Per do in the evening? He was sitting at home and watched Rapport (the news) on TV. As usual. Niklas asks what happened the next evening, where did they go. Per says there was a big press conference in Grand Hotel. Niklas asks what they were drinking. Per replies he doesn’t know, but probably champagne. Niklas asks who paid the bill. Per doesn’t know, but it was certainly their record company. Niklas asks if they stayed there long. Per says certainly and asks Niklas if he was there too. Niklas thinks he wasn’t there.

Per tells Marie and he were never together when any of their songs became No. 1. “Listen To Your Heart” was the second one. Then Per was in Halmstad again and they talked on the phone. When the third song, “It Must Have Been Love” became No. 1, Per sat with Jonathan Green at EMI in England. Per called and checked if they stayed No. 1 for one more week. They did. When “Joyride” became No. 1, Mr. G was in Paris.

Per asks who has come up with these smart questions. Niklas replies it was him.

Niklas is sitting and talking to Per Gessle in the old EMI studio in Skärmarbrink, outside of Stockholm. They are talking about Roxette’s huge success. Niklas is curious about how one can handle this success. Per says they were of course a bit shocked by the success. At the same time, they were a bit older. Marie was 30 and Per 29 when it happened. They already had some experience, but they had no classical management that guided them. They did a lot of weird stuff. E.g. they went around and sang playback for radio stations and their guests. Playback in the radio is fun, haha. They didn’t know how it worked and they felt it was not what they wanted. Eventually, their experience and being good live were something that differentiated them from their competitors at the time. Milli Vanilli, for example. Niklas asks if Milli Vanilli was their worst competitor. Per says there was Paula Abdul, Richard Marx and The Bangles. They were quite OK live too, but Marie was a wonderful singer. Roxette’s record company abroad, also in the United States, was convinced that Roxette was a one-hit-wonder. A Swedish band in 1989. But when they came with their third single the record company loved it. It was “Listen To Your Heart”, which also became No. 1. Then the door was open. Then came “Dangerous” that was 2nd on the charts. Then came “It Must Have Been Love”.

Per tells a story when he was in New York at the Apollo Theater. He got the invitation from his friend, Scott Greenstein who is the head of Sirius XM satellite radio in the US, having 70 million subscribers. Sirius had a concert for Paul McCartney. Åsa and Per went there since Scott had fixed tickets and only celebrities were there. Per sat here, Åsa, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Tony Bennett, Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Simon. Then Scott asked if they wanted to meet Paul. “Sure. I’ve never met Paul McCartney, it would be fun”, said Per. He, Åsa and DJ Howard Stern, who also worked with Sirius, they went in the greenroom to greet Paul McCartney. They walked in and talked a bit and suddenly Paul appeared in his Beatles suit, with his thumbs up. “Fancy a picture, anyone?” Sure. Per stood there, Åsa stood in the middle, Paul on the other side and there was a photographer too. Suddenly, Per felt a hand on his ass. He thought, huh? “Hope it’s Åsa.” Then there was nothing more about it. “Break a leg”. Good to see you. And when they left, Per asked Åsa: “Did you put your hand on my ass?” “Yes. I put my hand on your ass and my other hand on Paul’s to see who had the coolest ass.” Paul had it. Haha. Per says: “Isn’t that cute? My wife in a nutshell. His ass was much firmer, she said.”

 

Niklas introduces the next part by telling in September 2002, Roxette was booked for a press conference before “Night of the Proms”. A huge music event that was going to become a European tour. Roxette would have been the main act. Per was on his way to the airport when their manager, Marie Dimberg called him and said that Marie Fredriksson had collapsed at home in the bathroom. It turned out she suffered from a brain tumor and that was the beginning of a long break for Roxette. Marie eventually became healthy and Roxette came back. In 2011, Per and Marie went on a successful  world tour seen by 1.5 million people in 46 countries. From June 2016, the duo was booked for a major European tour, but Marie had to cancel it for health reasons just two months before the premiere gig. Niklas asks Per how did it feel. Per says Marie made the right decision. She felt it was time to quit and Per respects it to 110%. But at the same time it felt like an end.

Niklas asks if there will be more records or tours with Roxette. Per says tours for sure not, but records… he doesn’t know. He doesn’t think so. It’s hard to make records. There must be a reason for it. Per tries to think positively though. They have had so many amazing things with Roxette. Songs, recordings and concerts. It feels great to carry it in your luggage.

Niklas says when Roxette was put on ice, Per started writing in Swedish again. Something that was originally thought to be a project for Gyllene Tider, but became Per’s solo album, “Mazarin”. Per says in the ‘80s he felt he had reached as far as he could and then it was really nice to start working in English. When he went back to Swedish and wrote “Mazarin” in 2002 it was an incredible kick, because he had not done it for so long.

Including hits like “Tycker om när du tar på mig” and “Här kommer alla känslorna på en och samma gång”, the album became a big success in Sweden. Per says he didn’t want to release any singles from the album. He had worked so long with singles in mind regarding Roxette. Ironically, one of his biggest singles ever was “Här kommer alla känslorna på en och samma gång”. For a while, he wouldn’t even want to have it on the album. It was too much pastiche and it had no real refrain.

Roxette’s career is full of success, No. 1’s, world tours and strange interviews. Niklas is curious about how Per looks back on those times. Per says one of the biggest kicks was when they were doing a TV thing in the Netherlands. There was a guy who stood and screamed from the second floor of a courtyard of a hotel. He shouted: “I love your record!” It was Tom Petty. Then Per thought: “Shit, this is…” Niklas says it must have been awesome and asks for more stories.

Per talks about their tour in South America 1991, no it was 1992. Nobody wanted to play in South America. There was recession and no one was paid. Everyone cancelled their shows, Madonna, Guns N’ Roses, Michael Jackson. If you go to South America, you do it because it’s fun. Roxette thought it’s much fun, so they went there and played. They were planned to play in not too big venues, for 4-5000 people, but when they got there everything exploded for them. They played in 16 football stadiums instead. For 65000 people in São Paulo, 55000 in Santiago and 50000 twice in Buenos Aires. Niklas says they are still crazy in Argentina. Per says it has always been a great place for Roxette. Niklas says probably because they didn’t cancel their shows. Per says they really show what they feel. It’s much fun to play there. They don’t care that Roxette is not from England or the US, they are just music for them.

Niklas tells Per’s inspiration and motivation must have been on top mainly after the first US No. 1. Per says it’s clear that you get a huge self-confidence of success. They knew that it was a very good album. There were many songs on it and Per told Marie: “If we are lucky to get through with one of the songs, we have a good future because we have so many songs that are good.” Per was triggered by success. That was something very different between Marie and Per. Marie was often quite happy with their success, but Per never was. He always wanted more. When it was the worst in the ’90s, they did 1800 interviews in 8 months, around the world. At the same time Per wrote the “Joyride” album. It sounds like it was very hard but it was easy because Per was so terribly motivated. He just wanted to move forward. Niklas asks Per if he ever stopeed. Per says he is not that type. He always wants it to work and get as big as possible. Niklas says Per also wants to decide, he wants to control. Per says indeed, sometimes. Niklas asks if it has ever been a problem in Roxette. Per says it’s hard for him to answer. He has never experienced it as a problem. He’s always been interested in the music industry, how it works and all the craziness that goes on while Marie has never really been into it. She loves to be on stage, sing and develop her musicality. So Per always got more space in a Roxette project.

Niklas says he can get tired of his music. He can feel he is so predictable playing his usual chords, G, C, D, E minor, C and then Am7 like some kind of Italian salad spice. He is curious if Per ever gets tired of his own melodies. Mr. G says that’s why he tries to write as little as possible. If he gets an idea that he thinks is exciting, he can sit at the piano and play in a tone that he doesn’t feel comfortable with. For example, E flat minor or something, so he knows he’ll make a mistake. Within 10 seconds he makes a fool of himself. He is fooling his own mind and he records it, because it often happens that he can’t repeat it if it’s not on tape.

Niklas says his theory is that the best songs are written very fast. Per says the best songs are in A. All Motörhead songs are in A. Niklas says AC / DC songs are in A too. Per says the best ideas, the essence of a good song come fast. Often there is something that is the soul of a song. It can be the hook, or a rhythm that is the essence of the song. It usually comes very fast, but everything else doesn’t have to go fast. If Per is stuck or if he doesn’t think it’s good enough, he’ll leave it or throw it away.

Here comes a little footage from the photo session with Anton Corbijn in Nashville and then Niklas asks Per about being on stage. Per says he has never really felt comfortable on stage until the last few years. It has always been difficult to be on stage, because he is not good at it. They should have had more time for that with Gyllene Tider, but they had done six gigs in front of people before they became No. 1 on the charts. Per has learned it the hard way, doing hundreds of gigs to see what works and what doesn’t. Today he feels comfortable on stage. One should think as little as possible and try to be as natural as possible. Now that he is getting close to 60, it has been a long journey, maybe now he starts to understand how it works.

Niklas asks Per how low can he have a guitar hanging and if it goes up with the age. Per says it does. In his case, he started holding it higher in 1996 when he had a slipped disc because his whole body was crooked. The doctor said Mr. G should raise the guitar 10 centimeters higher. I was doing this on my head.

Niklas asks Per how good he is as a guitarist. Per says on a 10-point scale he is still only 3. He says he sounds best on acoustic guitar and when he plays alone, without a plectrum, with his fingers. He shows how it goes and starts playing “Småstadsprat”.

The guys are talking about titles. Per says a title he likes triggers his imagination to become a story. Niklas asks how Per finds the titles. Mr. G says it can be something a taxi driver says, an article in a newspaper… “Flickan i en Cole Porter-sång” is from a movie. “I want that girl in a Cole Porter song”, says Jack Lemmon in “Save the Tiger”. Per has always had an archive of titles. Everything from “How Do You Do!” or “Small Talk” to “Listen To Your Heart”. All those songs started with a title. Mr. G says if you look at the song titles on Spotify’s top 50 list, it’s all bad titles. They don’t give anything. Per always tries to avoid the anonymous. In pop or rock music format, anonymity is the worst to be used. You only have three minutes to be ready with a song. You need to make it packed so it grabs attention all the time. A catchy refrain, great production, the intro… It shouldn’t be too tedious, nor too ineffective.

Here comes a little Nashville footage again.

HOTEL TYLÖSAND

Niklas asks Per if he can feel that kind of strong emotion in the studio when what they record becomes so good so that you start crying. Per says it happens. Those are the moments you are in the studio for. The creative process must have a goal and a purpose. It’s to feel that what you’re recording is good. Sometimes when Per has written a song or text and it’s been a while, and then he reads it or listens to it again, he can’t remember that he has written it. He can’t understand how it became the result. It’s recorded, it’s there in the song or the music, but he doesn’t really know how it all resulted in it. It lives its own life.

Here comes a little Nashville footage again. Niklas says, for many years, Per has recorded his solo albums in Christoffer Lundquist’s studio in Skåne. When it was about to record again a year ago, it became Nashville instead. It resulted in two new albums, “En vacker natt” and “En vacker dag”. Niklas asks Per if it was as much fun in Nashville as one could think it is. Per says  there is very much music. The first week they concentrated a lot on the recordings. The second week they started to go out to have dinner and go to clubs. There are so many. Acoustic clubs where three undiscovered talents play every night and everyone sits there and they think and drink beer. Of course, the music culture characterizes the whole town. Per wanted it to be a very personal record. His heart was heavy and maybe it was partly because his whole family died. His mother, brother and sister.

TYLÖSAND BEACH

Niklas asks how Per handles his loss, losing his mother, brother and sister in a very short time. Mr. G thinks it’s a tough question. In both his mother’s and sister’s case, they were sick for a very long time, so he had kind of time to prepare himself. But it’s hard of course, when it suddenly happens. Shit, they are no longer there. But time is healing.

HOTEL TYLÖSAND

Per wanted to make a record about how he felt at that time. The album is not really about it, but it has put a color and a tone on the entire recording. Per wanted to go somewhere else and they talked about England and France. But then someone came up with Nashville and it wasn’t a stupid idea after all. He liked it. He thought then he could make an even bigger change using local musicians. The Nashville sound fit him pretty well with pedal steel and violin and so on. It’s close to the singer / songwriter tradition Per has always loved.

Niklas asks if the American musicians thought it was good. Per thinks so. He was afraid they would think he came in with some kind of division 2 country songs. But it wasn’t the case. They were there for a few days, so they became friends. Then Per told them he was a bit afraid, since they had worked with Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson and all the amazing people. They liked it very much. It is noticeable on their part. Stuart Duncan is dancing ballet on his violin. Stuart Duncan, what a guy!

STUDIO (Skärmarbrink)

Niklas tells Per worked together with Lars Winnerbäck, who is both there on the album and was a guest artist on Per’s tour. Niklas is curious about why it became Lars Winnerbäck. Per says he met Lasse at a concert he played. He is a nice guy. Then Mr. G saw him in Niklas’ program on TV where he played a Gyllene Tider song. They became friends, he is really a lovely guy. Per immediately thought of him.

Per is so used to writing either for Marie or for singing duets with her. You usually interpret a duet like a guy and a girl singing to each other. Per didn’t write “Småstadsprat” as a duet. But when two guys sing a duet, then they don’t sing to each other. They are singing about the same thing. Lyrically, it becomes quite exciting when two guys are singing.

TYLÖSAND BEACH

Everything Per has done has made him a different person. Sometimes it feels like he has just begun. He wants to do more stuff, he is always looking for something, he always has stuff going on. It’s very much him in a way.

 

 

Thanx a lot for the technical support, János Tóth!

Gessle enligt Gessle – the English summary – Part 1

Gessle enligt Gessle (Gessle according to Gessle) is a 2-part documentary on Per Gessle, covering the story of his early life, musical career including Gyllene Tider, Roxette, solo, songwriting and his En vacker kväll tour. The docu was recorded during the summer tour and in September and it was broadcast on 18th-19th December on TV4.

Why this documentary is different to most of those we could see in the Roxette World is that it’s Niklas Strömstedt, well-known musician and a good old friend to Per who is doing a long interview with Mr. G. Niklas and Per know each other since long and Niklas has always respected Per, his creativity and ability to write music. You can feel this admiration during the whole docu. The program is very natural, 2 friends talking about their passion, i.e. music. Per said Niklas asked questions in the documentary as a friend, as another musician, so it was indeed different vs. previous docus.

After seeing this documentary, recorded by Grumpy Productions (the same company that recorded the latest GT DVD), covering a lot from the summer tour as well, one doesn’t really need a separate tour DVD. But if a decision is made to release the Halmstad concert one day, we will of course be very happy about it.

A real hardcore fan won’t hear too much new information, but there are a few new anecdotes and the structure and the mood of the whole docu is just perfect. The interview is nicely interrupted by footage from the EVK concert in Halmstad. All in all, it’s very enjoyable and a real delight to all fans.

Watch Part 1 and Part 2 on TV4’s website if you are in Sweden or Part 1 and Part 2 on YouTube if you are anywhere else in the world.

Here is my summary in English of Part 1. You’ll see the ”chapters” according to the places where the actual scenes were recorded. (Part 2 summary comes soon.) All stills are from Part 1.

TYLÖSAND BEACH

After a short tour scene, we can see beautiful Tylösand, Per and Niklas are walking along the beach and Per starts talking. He says he likes Halmstad, he likes being there. He has been travelling a lot ever since Roxette broke through, but he always has to come back to Halmstad to breathe out. It’s a special feeling. Besides that, his mum was there, MP’s studio is there. He just belongs to Halmstad and Halmstad belongs to him.

Niklas tells he has known Per Gessle since appr. 40 years. First time they met was on a chilly Tuesday in August 1979 at the EMI studio in Stockholm. They have occasionally written songs and played together. Niklas has a great respect for Per’s creativity, artistry and his ability to create hits.

They talk after Per came back from Nashville and was on a successful tour from Piteå to Helsingborg.

While walking at the beach, Per says the first thing he is thinking of when he wakes up in the morning is having the job done. And it’s music. Niklas is kidding and says not like others of their age to be thinking: “It doesn’t hurt so much today.” Per takes it for granted that it doesn’t hurt, fortunately. He says you look at the emails and what has happened during the night, there are always things to do and it always has to do with music in some way.

Niklas feels it’s time to dig deeper in Per’s upbringing and amazing career. It’s more than 40 years since Per conquered Sweden and a bit later the world with his music. Niklas knows for example that Per sold 85 million albums, but he still has tons of questions. E.g. how he celebrated his first Billboard No. 1, if he helps at home, how he felt when Gyllene Tider split, what happens inside when one loses his closest.

Niklas asks Per if he ever rests. Per says he does. He doesn’t work as much as it seems. He is not sitting at the piano between 10 and 12 each day. He doesn’t write every day, but he always has his antennas out. If he hears or reads something he likes, he takes notes and later either he uses it or not. Niklas asks if it’s hard to have the antennas always out. Mr. G says it’s hard, but probably harder for those around him than for himself. He just works like this. He can’t switch it off.

A WALK IN HALMSTAD

Niklas starts the next chapter by talking a bit about Per’s family. Per was born on 12th January 1959 in an incredibly cold Halmstad. His sister, Gunilla was 14 and his brother, Bengt was 7 when Mr. G was born. Per’s father, Kurt was a plumber and his mother, Elisabeth was painting porcelain.

The guys are taking a walk along the river, Nissan in Halmstad. Niklas asks Per about how he remembers the Halmstad he grew up in. Per says it didn’t look like this. There are many new buildings. He grew up in Furet district by the way. It was a ’50s-’60s villa area. It was a little idyllic in its way, but Per didn’t like it. He liked most his record player back then too.

Niklas asks Per if they played a lot of music at home and what Per’s parents were listening to. Per says his parents weren’t really interested in music, but his brother was. He was born in 1951 and grew up with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, in the middle of the ’60s. His sister grew up with Elvis and Tommy Steele. So it was a lot of pop and rock music in the house. Per liked them all. He bought Melody Maker and New Musical Express magazines as a 12-13-year-old and was following the charts. In the ’60s he liked almost everything. The Monkees, Herman’s Hermits, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Tages. The first LP he bought was King Controversy. He bought it from his brother who needed money for cigarette. It cost 5 crowns from his pocket money.

Niklas asks Per what is his first ever memory. Per says he remembers having all his toy cars in the pantry in the kitchen. It’s a good memory. He was laying there and crawling. He had a little Goldfinger and an Aston Martin.

HOTEL TYLÖSAND

Niklas asks Per in what way he was mommy’s boy. Per says his mum always supported him. She bought his first guitar. She said: “If you want a guitar, we will buy a really good one.” There was an old steel-string guitar in the house which couldn’t be played. So his mum bought a Bjärton nylon-string guitar.

Niklas asks which was the first song Per wrote himself. It was “Symbol of the autumn”, a song in English. Niklas is curious if Per has all his old demos. Per thinks so, but he can’t remember if he threw them out or just ignored them. He then tells the story of he and his friend being Sweden’s first troubadours employed by the city council. For 3 months they were playing at nursing homes for old people and so. He had his little Bjärton guitar and they played “Drömmen om Elin”, “Svarte Rudolf” and “Så skimrande var aldrig havet”. Niklas asks if Per could play “Drömmen om Elin”, but Per isn’t sure about it, so he chooses “Svarte Rudolf” instead. He says he played it for a radio a long time ago. Niklas gives the guitar to Per, but keeps the plectrum for himself. Per starts playing the song, but he can’t remember the text.

Mr. G says they got a schedule for each week and he has lots of stories from those times. One of them is when they had to go to the long-term care at the hospital in Halmstad. They had never been there and when they got in, there was no one who greeted them. They just entered a hall where there were two patients on the two sides so they sat in the middle and played. The patients didn’t move, they were just lying there. Per and his friend played “Man borde inte sova” or “Streets of London”. Suddenly the staff came and wondered what they were doing there. Just then, one of the two guys woke up, it was a young guy. It was a big thing, because he had been in coma. He woke up when Per and his friend played. Maybe they played “Proud Mary” or something he recognized. Then came like 20 doctors and staff and asked “Can you come and play here too?” It was a big deal because the guy woke up from coma. During those three minutes Per and his friend managed to wake him up… Fate is strange.

Per tells another story. It’s about Tilda, 91 and Agnes, 97 in a nursing home. The ladies were sitting and eating lunch at a table. Per had a small capo for the guitar. Per and his friend Peter sat there and Per put his capo on the table. They played some songs and when he wanted to pick up his capo, it was gone. Eskil, 101 years old, was sitting there and had it in his mouth. He had dipped it in the soup. He thought it was cracking bread or something. Such things always happened. Haha.

Niklas and Per start talking about clothes. Per says he wasn’t interested in clothes when he was a kid. He was quite overweight and looked pretty grotesque in all clothes. It was only later, in his late teens, in the ’70s when he tried to get some sort of look. He remembers the punk outfit and the new wave look. Narrow ties. A little bit like what Gyllene Tider looked back then.

The guys move on to the school topic. Per says he regrets he didn’t spend much time and energy on school. It was horrible. Where he went to school they didn’t learn anything. It has always been easy for him to learn things. If you had a good result on a high school test, you were booed in the class. Per thinks it was chemistry. They didn’t enter the classroom for a whole semester. The whole class sat outside the classroom. The teacher came out and tried to get them in, but it didn’t work. Everyone received an approved grade, even though they had not had a single lesson.

There is a concert cut from Halmstad where Per tells when he started writing songs in the ’70s he wrote in English. He learned English by listening to pop music. You didn’t learn anything at school, but on the records you found your own language.

STUDIO (Skärmarbrink)

Niklas remembers that one day when he was at EMI’s office in Solna, Gyllene Tider came straight from the studio to record “Sommartider”. Lasse and Kjell had told Per he should write a hit. Per says “Sommartider” and “Sleeping In My Car” are the only songs he has written for those to become hits. He hesitated for a long time if the title should be “Sommartider”, because Magnus Uggla had a song called “Sommartid”. Niklas asks if Per knew it already then that it would become a hit. Per says no. He remembers that they were sitting in Anders’ car in Halmstad and the song was played on the radio and the host said it would be that summer’s hit. They were just screaming in the car: Yes!

HOTEL TYLÖSAND

Niklas asks Per if he cooks. Per says he doesn’t really, but it’s fun to help in the kitchen. With the meat sauce. Or most of the times, to lay the table. Niklas asks if Per would like to have some signature dishes. Per says it would be fun. He thinks cooking is a creative job too and it’s strange he doesn’t cook. But with his traveling lifestyle he eats a lot in restaurants and hotels. He met his wife quite early and she loves to cook. So it became her role to cook. Per is doing the dishes. Niklas jokes and asks if it means Per takes the washed-up dishes out of the dishwasher. Per says something like that.

STUDIO (Skärmarbrink)

Before the guys enter the studio in Desperado style, Niklas talks a bit about Gyllene Tider that started out as Grape Rock, established by Per and Mats MP Persson in 1977. Despite MP’s musical talent and Per’s sharp songwriting skills they realized that they can’t have a band if they are only 2. So they established Gyllene Tider together with bassist Janne Carlsson, Göran Fritzon on keyboards and drummer Micke Andersson, whose name back then didn’t include Syd. The bassist had been changed quite early to Anders Herrlin and GT became the band they still are. GT became local celebrities in Halmstad. They released an EP in 900 copies and the songs of the EP reached music producer Kjell Andersson. He offered the band a contract with the record company EMI.

MP was fond of writing Status Quo boogie songs. “Arabiska nätter” is a bit like that, with the world’s strangest guitar riff. The guys are playing a bit of the song here. Per says it was a little controversial, but very much 1977. Niklas asks why it hasn’t been released. Per says when they got the record contract, Kjell liked some stuff they had, the lyrics and that certain pop style that fit those times. It didn’t include the Status Quo-boogie.

Niklas asks how it went on, if it was easy to bring new songs to the rehearsals. Per says it was. As soon as they got response to what they did, everyone was so enthusiastic. Everyone wanted to move forward. As soon as they had a song idea, they recorded it and sent it to Kjell at EMI. Then they got response. It went like that until 1984. It was only Mats and Per who wrote songs. It’s different if you are Fleetwood Mac where everyone writes songs. Or The Beatles where several wrote songs. Regarding texts, it was only Per who wrote lyrics. Niklas asks how many songs Per has written. Per jokes first and says 4, but in the end he says 800-900.

Niklas says Per has always been very clever and intelligent in his Swedish texts. Talking about “Här kommer alla känslorna på en och samma gång” there are so many words rhyming to “gång”. Per found good words there. Betong, ballong, perrong.

The guys play a bit of “Tycker om när du tar på mig” here.

Niklas says Per makes a lot of effort and asks him if he is fiddling a lot with the lyrics. Per replies Jesus Christ, a lot. It takes a very long time to write texts. The older you get it takes even longer. One tries to come up with a simple and strong feeling in a text. But you usually try to describe it as beautifully as possible. It’s easy to write a love text but to write an intelligent love text that no one has heard before is very difficult. People often ask if Per “goes to work” and writes songs all day long. He doesn’t do it at all. He does the opposite. He writes as little as he can. But when he has an idea, he wants it to go fast and focused. You can’t construct a damn good melody track if it doesn’t help itself. When Per started playing music, it was the punk and the new wave movement era. Before that, one had to be very good at playing. Per wasn’t. The idea of punk was that everyone could play. It was appealing to Per. It made you dare to start writing songs and put together a band. When GT got a record contract a few years later, they had no thought of reaching anything special.

Niklas says GT were very cute. It was everyone’s perception around the guys. They started promoting milk and Jordache jeans. Niklas asks how they got there. Per says it was a way of earning money. Jordache jeans wanted to enter the market and Gyllene Tider was the biggest. They got a lot of money after each sold pair of jeans. It was a good deal. Per says imagine if Jordache jeans had become rocky and tough. Then they would have been rocky and tough guys too. But it didn’t happen.

Niklas says you have to be careful regarding what you are promoting. You don’t advertise just anything. Per says he is right and there are a few things he can’t imagine promoting. Political things for example. And another thing is that the advertisement shouldn’t be crap. You don’t want “Queen of Rain” or “Listen To Your Heart” in a context that downgrades the song. Per can imagine advertising strawberry milk or cars. But it depends a bit on how it’s done.

HOTEL TYLÖSAND

They guys perform a bit of “På promenad genom stan” on one of the suites’ balcony in Hotel Tylösand.

Per tells his first real electric guitar was very expensive. He bought it in England. MP, Per and Janne (first bassist in GT) went to England in 1978. The pound was down and he bought a wine-red Gibson Les Paul Custom. Dave Davies in The Kinks had one like that. MP bought a black Telecaster, Per bought his Gibson and Janne bought a left-handed bass. He was left-handed. Besides these, they bought speakers or amplifiers. Marshall stuff. Per says they had the guitars with them on their way back home and it turned out they should pay VAT. It was before the EU. They had no idea about it. So either they had to smuggle the guitars or pay the VAT. They had no money so they decided to smuggle, but they got caught. Per wrote a letter of apology to the customs and police by hand. He told the whole story and that it wasn’t their intention to break the law. They made the wrong decision, sorry. So they got back their instruments, but they got a fine of 2000 crowns. Niklas asks if it was worth it. Per says absolutely.

The guys had no money so they worked. Per thinks MP worked with his dad who had a construction company. Per worked at Fammarps mushrooms and weighed mushrooms. Mr. G worked there for two summers. All the money went on buying guitars, strings and new capo. Here they laugh remembering the nursing home incident where the capo got eaten.

Per says the only thing that existed was music. That wonderful, parallel universe called pop. It was better living in that world than in your own.

Niklas says Gyllene Tider reunited every now and then and asks why. Per says it’s fun to play together. It’s a fantastic little pop band. There is some timelessness in what they have done. There is this magic that occurs when an artist has fun with the audience. It differs very much from anything else Per does. It’s a lovely time trip every time they play together.

Per says when they start rehearsing with the band they can’t really rehearse the songs. They just know them. It’s an awesome band. Per hopes there will be more Gyllene Tider, as long as everyone is alive. It’s them 5 who can do it. Per plays some songs on his own tours and it’s also good, but it’s not Gyllene Tider. Niklas asks how is it playing those songs with others. Per says in summer he played some greatest hits from his catalogue and of all the songs it was the GT hits that were the hardest to play.

STUDIO (Skärmarbrink)

In 1985 Anders Herrlin decided to leave Gyllene Tider. It was the end of the band, at least then. At a meeting Anders told GT wasn’t fun anymore. Niklas asks Per how he reacted on it. Per says MP and he were driving home in the same car and they were sitting silently during the whole way. They were wondering about what happened. They just felt it was over in a way. Per went home and started thinking about the next step. It was obvious to him to make a solo album. Which he later did, including songs like “Blå december” or “Galning”. The latter was actually recorded by GT.

Niklas asks Per if he wrote about this break-up, if he used this feeling of being disappointed and sad in his songwriting. Per can hardly remember, but that album is quite sad. The last thing Gyllene Tider did before that was the English album and a rather half-good tour. It felt a bit like it might not be so stupid to quit, after all. Niklas says as it may be in relationships. It just happens. Per jokes “it’s not my fault.” Niklas says he means “it’s not your fault.” Per says “Vi passar så bra isär” (we’re so good apart). Haha. Niklas asks if it was Per who wrote that song. Per says it was Hasse Alfredson.

Per continues his story-telling. He made another solo album that didn’t go well and he tried to find his place in the music industry. He started writing songs with Torgny Söderberg, “Kärleken är evig” and something else.

Per’s solo album, “Scener” didn’t work at all. Niklas is curious how he felt back then, if it was a tough period. Per says it was horrible. When you are successful, when things work, it’s easy to make decisions and new steps. But when things are not going well, you’re stuck. You simply make wrong decisions. Per felt very confused, especially musically. “What do I want to do?”, asked himself. Niklas asks if he ever thought about doing something else. Per says no, it never went so far. One has to survive in a way. He remembers he was asked to form a band and play in a pub in Halmstad over a summer. He thanked no and the question went on to The Husbands. It didn’t fit Per. He didn’t want to play in such a band. He wanted to write songs and develop his way of writing. He has always prioritized songwriting. So it’s really tough when it doesn’t work. Those years, 1984 and 1985 were tough.

Then there was the opportunity to start working with Marie. Niklas asks how it happened. Per says it was back in the ’70s. Gyllene Tider and Marie’s band shared a rehearsal studio. Marie and Per have always been very good friends. They have always talked about doing something together. Marie sang on some Gyllene Tider songs, she was on TV with GT. “Vandrar i ett sommarregn.” And she eventually ended up on the same record label as Per. They have always supported each other’s careers. In 1985 Marie broke through as a solo artist. It wasn’t obvious for her to work with Per. What attracted her to cooperate with Per was that it was in English and maybe to go abroad. Niklas says Per must have been thrilled that Marie wanted to work with him. Per says he was happy for every song they recorded. He knew that tomorrow it could be over. All the time it was like that. They released their first LP “Pearls of Passion”, which was Per’s third unpublished solo album that he basically translated from Swedish into English. So all the first Roxette songs, e.g. “So Far Away” was called “Som i en dröm”,  “Soul Deep” was called “Dansa nerför ett stup i rekordfart”. Per wrote English lyrics and Marie sang. Mr. G had never heard Marie singing that way. She was also a singer / songwriter. “Sjunde vågen”, “Het vind” and “Ännu doftar kärlek”. But now there was another Marie. Per was proud and happy about that he could get it out of her via his songs. She got another type of material, which was exciting. Per thinks that was the driver why she sticked to Roxette.

The guys play a bit of “Dansa nerför ett stup i rekordfart” here.

Per says it sounded pretty bad with him, but when Marie sings it… Per always had the feeling that Roxette was a bit on loan, that it wasn’t that important to Marie. But Per had nothing else. After the first album, which became a big success in Sweden, Marie went back to her Swedish career and released “Efter stormen”. But then they had such success with “Pearls of Passion” that they decided to make another album and focus even more on abroad. Then Per wrote what became “Look Sharp!”.

Despite the huge success in Sweden, there was no real interest in Roxette abroad. But on Sparregatan in Borås, the band had a big fan, American exchange student Dean Cushman. He brought the “Look Sharp!” album to Minneapolis, where it got in the hands of Brian Philips, head of the local KDWB radio station. Philips loved “The Look”, which quickly became a monster hit across the United States.

To be continued… (in Part 2)

Thanx a lot for the technical support, János Tóth!

Per Gessle on TV4 – Nyhetsmorgon

Per appeared on TV4’s morning show, Nyhetsmorgon today. He was Jesper Börjesson’s guest together with Niklas Strömstedt. Mr. G entered the studio at 9:53 am and greeted Frederik Zäll (from Eskobar; Frederik is usually cooking on TV4 and he was in the kitchen now again). The 4 guys also took a picture together. They mentioned that they toured together 2 years ago, Roxette and Eskobar. Then Jesper mentioned that they would chat with Niklas and PG after the news in some minutes, about the documentary Niklas did with Per.

After the news they came back at 10:10 am and shortly talked about the fact that Per saw Bruce Springsteen on Broadway and he thinks it’s a very good show.

Then the guys were talking a bit about Niklas Strömstedt’s Christmas show and then about the documentary Niklas did with Per. It will be broadcast on TV4, December 18 & 19, ”Gessle enligt Gessle”. Jesper said Per is a bit mysterious, doesn’t talk too much about his private life. Per said it’s conscious. He wants to express himself through his music. He said, Niklas asked questions in the documentary as a friend, as another musician, so it’s a bit different.

 

Niklas and Per know each other since long. An old picture from EMI studio was shown, it was from the times when they recorded Gyllene Tider’s first record. Niklas was there and Lasse Lindbom as well. Jesper said it was before GT’s breakthrough and asked Niklas where he was in his career at that point. Niklas said he was making demos, actually, also with Per and MP and he almost was there to get a contract with EMI too and they recorded ”Glitter, glögg & rock’n’roll”, the album with various artists at EMI. A short part of the song ”Da’n före da’n” (Niklas Strömstedt & Gyllene Tider) off that album was played on the show and PG was ”dancing” to the rythm while stitting, as well as playing the air piano.

 

Jesper asked Per if his career is different in Sweden and abroad. Per said in Sweden it’s more about Gyllene Tider and Per Gessle, while internationally it’s more about Roxette. Jesper asked him if anyone abroad asks questions about Gyllene Tider. Per said no, they don’t even know anything about it. Except for hardcore fans. To journalists he often talks about how it all started with Gyllene Tider, because most of them abroad think ”The Look” was the first thing that happened in his career.

A tiny part from the upcoming documentary was shown. That’s about Per’s troubadour era and he is telling the story of waking up a man from coma with their music back then.

 

Niklas and Per met a lot during GT times, they toured and wrote songs together in the beginning of the ’80s. Niklas said he always liked PG’s songwriting and knew Per was capable of writing hits and if it worked in Sweden, why it wouldn’t work abroad. He thinks Per and Marie together were perfect, so he wasn’t surprised about their success.

Jesper asked PG what he sees when he looks back on the past 30 years. Per said he is of course very proud, but surprised at the same time that it all became so big, also in the US. Jesper asked Mr. G if he is still as eager to write songs as before. Per said he always tries to do what he really wants to. It’s also nice to cool down a bit, what he did via his Nashville project and try out new things. Niklas said they were thinking if they could come up with someone who wrote a real big hit after becoming 60 and they couldn’t find anyone. Niklas thinks in a songwriter’s life there is one period when he burns on top and then maybe other things come in the way. Per said pop always reflects its own time. When making pop music today, he can make it from his ’60s-’70s roots and producing it in a modern way. Working with young people maybe. His musicality is naturally not from today, it’s from the past.

They talk about Christmas songs and this way also a bit about 30-year-old ”It Must Have Been Love”. Per mentioned the text change from Christmas day to winter’s day and it becoming a soundtrack song to the movie, Pretty Woman.

Jesper said it was nice meeting PG again. Per said it’s always fun to be there.

Niklas performed ”Tänd ett ljus”, a very popular Christmas song he wrote together with Lasse Lindbom and Jesper asked Per after the song what he thought about it. PG said it was amazingly good.

 

 

 

Gessle according to Gessle

I’ve just found an interesting program title on TV4’s December schedule. Gessle enligt Gessle (= Gessle according to Gessle). There is written it’s a Swedish entertainment program from 2017. It’s also written that it’s season 1 and it has 2 parts. Part 1 is set to be broadcast on 18th December, at 21:00 CET, part 2 is on 19th December, at 21:00 CET. Sooo… what’s that???

Well…, Niklas Strömstedt works at TV4 now and he met Per during the summer tour and also in the studio after the tour, as well as in Tylösand in September. So I would say they were working on this program. Sounds absolutely exciting! And season 1… does that mean there will be a season 2 later? OK, OK… First let’s see season 1! 😉

 

Pics are copied from Per’s Instagram: PG and Niklas in the studio & PG and Niklas in Tylösand

 

Per Gessle in Tack för musiken?

Niklas Strömstedt posted a photo on his Instagram account some hours ago with this text: ”Tack för musiken…originalet. Stay tuned!” This is pure awesomeness!

Marie Fredriksson was a guest of the show in 2013 and when Niklas had a Q&A session on AskFM on 21st January 2014, I asked him which part of Tack för musiken with Marie he liked the most and I couldn’t help asking the question if he was planning to invite Per in the future to his show. He said he liked it very much when Marie was singing Sparvöga and to the Q regarding Per he replied ”well…, we will see”. Then seeing the list of guests of the 2014 series I was a bit sad that Mr. G wasn’t there, but now this instapic of the guys looks very promising.

The episode with Marie was incredibly fantastic. Read our summary of the show HERE. For that Tack för musiken we were able to apply for tickets to be in the audience and Marie was very happy to see some familiar faces in the front when the show was recorded in August 2013. Now it seems this option didn’t exist or at least we haven’t heard about it, because for sure there was an audience. It would have been cool to attend such a fab TV recording. If we are talking about it in past tense. But what if it’s a future happening? Fingers crossed!

In 2013 the recordings happened in August-September and the first episodes were broadcast in December. It’s not yet published when the next series of Tack för musiken will be on air on Swedish TV, but hopefully, it is announced very soon and we can watch it still this year. It’s already too exciting to think about what songs Per will perform live and who will be his guests in the show. If it’s really a complete episode about him and he wasn’t ”just” a guest for some other artist. Haha. But no. That’s impossible. He surely has a complete show. Or is this pic about Tack för musiken, the show at all? Or was it a real music show Per and Niklas attended last night (Peter Jöback & Helen Sjöholm’s I Love Musicals maybe) and Niklas just commented the pic with “thanks for the music” referring to that event? Oh, well… Too many “or”-s and “if”-s. 😉 Looking forward to some more details, aren’t we?

Oct 11th morning update: Niklas deleted the photo, which makes it even more interesting. Hm. And it seems that the event last night was Marie’s book release party. 🙂

 

PG_NS_TFM
Pic by Niklas Strömstedt (Instagram)

 

Tack för musiken, Marie Fredriksson

SVT broadcasted the show ”Tack för musiken”, for which the recordings with Marie Fredriksson were on 27th August. Click HERE to watch it!

It begins with Niklas Strömstedt and the band performing ”Tro” live. Niklas welcomes Ms Effe only after this. They are sitting and talking about Marie’s career (solo, earlier bands, Roxette, Per Gessle), illness (she’s healthy now and grateful to be there) and her family. Marie’s husband, Micke Bolyos was sitting in the band, playing the keyboards during the show.

You can see how much Marie enjoyed being there and how fine she is. She was very relaxed, smiling and laughing all the time. Tears appeared in her eyes when Niklas was talking about her album ”Den ständiga resan” that there are 13 songs about darkness, but the last song, ”Till sist” is different. He read up the first lines of the song and asked who these lines are about. Marie pointed at Micke and told it’s about him. They looked at each other with so much love during the whole show.

MF_Tack_för_musiken_01  MF_Tack_för_musiken_02

Marie started singing when she was a little child. She started the day with singing at 7 am, when everyone else would have loved to sleep. Later, at the age of 17 she wanted to be an actress. It was her dream. She was talking about how she loves writing songs, but after her illness it’s not that easy anymore. She talked about Lasse Lindbom, how much he means to her. They had a fantastic time and were writing a lot of songs together.

In the audience there were many familiar faces and at one point Niklas started talking about Argentina and the fans. Marie realized there were fans in the audience from Argentina, too and said that a lot of Roxette fans are here and they are fantastic. The fans are always by their side, following them and they are even here at this show. Marie told the fans know all the lyrics regardless of where they are coming from or which language the songs are in.

Niklas was joking about Marie’s name, Gun-Marie and pronounced it the English way: Gun-Marie from Roxette. Everyone was laughing.

Read moreTack för musiken, Marie Fredriksson

Busy St. Lucy’s day for the fans

You already saved the date in your calendar, as we already informed you that the 1-hour-long part of ”Tack för musiken” in which Marie Fredriksson is the guest will be broadcasted on SVT1 at 21:00 CET, 13th December. The show was recorded at the end of August and many fans could buy tickets and be there in the audience. It is going to be a fantastic show with Marie performing some of her songs live and a long interview with her done by Niklas Strömstedt.

Before you can enjoy watching Ms Effe on TV, you’ll have a chance to see another program on another channel, TV4. ”Gyllene Tider sommaren 2013” starts at 20:00 CET the very same evening. This will be an appetizer from the upcoming DVD. It will contain parts of the ”Dags att tänka på refrängen” tour, as well as some exclusive shots from the backstage. One bad thing about Swedish TV channels – understandably – competing with each other is that the GT stuff ends at 21:30. Fingers crossed that both programs will be available online after they are over on TV.

Oh, one more thing! Hopefully, history won’t repeat itself and we won’t have to wait another year for the GT DVD after this TV cut is broadcasted. 😉

MF_GT_13th_Dec_on_TV

 

Gyllene Tider featuring other artists throughout the years

It is one of my hobbies to keep a sort of database of Swedish artists and their connections. It is a fact that there are many many artists in Sweden, and many of them have worked together at a certain point in their career. I think specially the time of the 70ies – 80ies was a period of many collaborations. I started with this many years ago and I am trying to bring my paper-excel database into a better platform. Who knows where this will end.

I also have to mention that the fact that I started to listen to the Swedish Per & Marie material opened the doors for me to other Swedish music and some of these artists have become a fix part of my music collection. And this collection is growing year after year.

Gyllene Tider is, of course, no exception, so I wanted to share part of these findings here.

Marie Fredriksson – Sang backing vocals on  “The Heartland Café” and duet with GT “Ingenting av vad du behöver” from “Puls”. She also sang “Vandrar i ett sommarregn” with GT on TV and joined GT on stage a couple of times before. On the other side, GT also joined Roxette in 2010 in Halmstad.

  

Eva Dahlgren – sang “Vandrar i ett sommarregn” in “Puls”. As far as I know, GT never played this song (or any other) live together. It’s about time!

Niklas Strömstedt – sang “Da’n före da’n” with Gyllene Tider, taken from Glitter, glögg & rock ‘n’ roll. Played as musician and sang backing vocals on “The Heartland Café” and other albums. On his TV program “Tack för musiken” he and Lasse Winnerbäck performed “Honung och guld”.

 

Christoffer Lundquist – Produced Gyllene Tider’s albums “Fin 5 Fel” and “Det är dags att tänka på refrängen”. Ex member of Brainpool. Brainpool and Gyllene Tider sang “My Sweet Lord (she’s so fine)” on TV together.

Wilmer X – joined GT on stage during Återtåget, sung “Marie i växeln” together. They also formed The Lonely Boys together with some of the GT-ers in 1995.

 

Anne-Lie Rydé – “When Love Is On The Phone” from “The Heartland Café”.

Lasse Lindbom – produced many GT songs and albums. He also recorded some songs written by Per, he performed “För dina bruna ögon skull” on Melodifestivalen in 1980. The song is also recorded by GT.

Clarence Öfwerman – like Christoffer, produced Gyllene Tider’s albums “Fin 5 Fel” and “Det är dags att tänka på refrängen”.