Micke Syd Andersson on Made in Halmstad

Christian Albinsson did a podcast interview with Micke Syd for Made in Halmstad. Listen to it HERE!

Micke talks about his name that it’s really Micke Syd Andersson. Syd was his nickname, because there was another musician, guitarist Micke „Nord” Andersson and it was confusing that they had the same name. Micke says the fun thing is that they both had hairdressers called Maria. Micke Nord is from Dalarna in the North and Syd is from Halmstad in the South, so that’s how they got their nicknames.

It turns out that Micke Syd loves driving. He was driving the tour bus on the GT tour and Christian tells it’s hard to imagine a band doing it nowadays. Micke says they are from another generation, they learned everything themselves. In Gyllene Tider all of them had different qualities. MP and Micke Syd were always the ones who fixed and controlled everything themselves. Their fundamental personalities haven’t changed much. The band brought the instruments themselves to the concerts and set up things for the gigs. They did 150 concerts in 1980, if he remembers right. They had Anders Herrlin’s brother as lighting technician and a friend from Gullbrandstorp as the sound technician.

Micke is 59 years old now and was grown up in Harplinge.

Christian asks Micke about his salary. Syd says when they broke through with GT they had Janne Beime to help them with the financial things. Janne was 35 years old then and they were 18-19. Janne still works together with Per. Micke Syd says he has never had a steady job and never really knew what he would earn money on in the next year. He has what he needs, he is not interested in cars or any other things that cost a lot of money. He has a Plug-in Hybrid Ford Kuga.

Christian asks Micke what he is interested in. Syd says „life, music, my family, my wife”.

Christian is curious if Micke has always been positive. Syd says he is not always positive, but he tries to be. He has been working a lot on it. He is the type who sees the opportunities and thinks how he feels on the inside can be seen on the outside. At the age of 35 you realize that you are not as hot as you were at the age of 20 or 30 and you start managing your life differently. Then he had kids, he divorced. Micke says he is tender on the inside. He says he e.g never drank alcohol or used other stuff. Looking back he thinks he took the right decision, how he has lived his life. He says life is tough anyway, sometimes even for him.

Christian says GT broke through when they were very young and there must have been many parties. Micke says Halmstad was very lively back then and there were indeed a lot of parties and alcohol and he doesn’t know why, but he ignored it. He was driving the tour bus, MP also did that during the first year.

Christian asks what Micke thinks when he says the word Halmstad. Syd says it’s home. He says it’s very strange, because he has been living in Stockholm now for 35 years, so for more years than in Halmstad, but home is still Halmstad. His parents still live there. Stockholm will never become home. Micke says all of them in the band are hillbillies, Halmstad characterized them and how they dealt with their career. They had those un-popidolish pop idol genes and even if they were so different personalities and they still are, they made awesome pop together. There is something very special about them.

Micke Syd is a HBK fan when it comes to soccer. He talks about his favourite players and tells he always had a dream to play in HBK, but he stopped playing football when he was 17. He thinks there is a similarity how you pick your instrument and your position in a football team. Micke was a goalkeeper and says drummers are usually goalkeepers. If you look at it from a psychological point of view, the goalkeeper is a quite exposed position and if he makes a mistake, it’s seen immediately. That’s the case with the drummer too. If he doesn’t do his job well, then the whole band won’t be so good. Micke likes that challenge. He says he has always been a team player and loves teams.

Christian mentions QBTQ (four brave bulls in Spanish), Adam Alsing’s house band on his talk show. Micke Syd was a member of the band in the 90’s for 5 years. Micke tells a story when an adult film actress was on the show and after the program the band went to the swingers club with her where she met other adult film people and partied with them. That was surreal, Micke says.

Christian asks Micke about Halmstad. Micke says summer is Halmstad. He tells that when they had the rehearsals before their last tour with GT, he lived in a house in Frösakull with his wife, Helena for almost a month. It was near Prins Bertils stig and it was magical that each morning he could walk through the woods, along the beach and up to Hotel Tylösand. Christian says he heard the guys rehearsing, but didn’t dare to disturb them. Micke says they tried old songs they never played. One of them was Sista gången jag såg Annie from their debut album. Christian thinks that was their best album. Micke Syd explains when you are young and you just want to make music and your creativity is on a high, it can be heard. For the second album they thought much more about how they should sound, how they should play, etc.

Christian asks about the lyrics that they sound different when a 20-year-old sings them vs. when you sing them now at the age of 60. He means Flickorna på TV2. Micke thinks that the songs belong to those who they play them for. These songs still have their audiences and they associate these songs with happenings and experiences in their lives, so when they play them to the crowds, there is a contact between the band and the audience. He tells these are timeless songs and carry the summer feeling. The songs they play are the ones people want to hear. He remembers he saw Tom Petty live once and he expected to hear the songs he was listening to when Tom was the God for them in GT and he got disappointed, because Tom played his new songs from the new album. Syd says Per wrote so friendly texts that they are still working with teens nowadays. They sing along När vi två blir en, for example. Even if life has changed a lot, people still experience these feelings in life and music is their soundtrack to it. Different bands mean different things for different audiences. On the last tour GT played new songs too, which the guys liked, but still they played the old songs and then you could see a different crowd reaction, when they realized it’s this or that song they knew and associated an experience with it.

Micke says he and Helena went to Halmstad’s city entre and it felt totally dead. He says it’s the same with many other city centres, but it’s sad how fun it was back then and how it is now.

Christian asks Micke when he feels the best. Syd says when he is with his family and when he is playing. They have grown-up children now and they don’t meet very often, but when they meet, he sees and thinks they did a good job. Both Helena and him. They don’t have kids together, but their children are like syblings. So it’s lovely when they are together.

Christian is curious when Micke feels the worst. He says at 3 in the morning. Haha. Syd says he is a sensitive person. He is Pisces and Pisces are sensitive. He is thinking a lot about things. He thinks many things are not managed well in the music branch now and it feels that those who should make it better don’t do their job. He thinks it’s the same in the whole world, but since he lives in Sweden, he talks about that.

To the question how he develops himself Micke replies that everyone has their better and worse sides and he is still learning a lot. He learned a lot about life. There is peace that everyone is looking for. You have to be good to yourself and then it will be visible on the outside as well. Positivity comes through and it motivates him. He says you always have the possibility to change yourself.

Christian asks how Micke is as a lover. He answers Christian should ask Helena. But he thinks he is like when he plays the drums: he recognizes, he listens and feels and he wants to please.

Christian says he heard Micke increase the pace in a song when he gets excited. Micke says everyone has their own tricks. Christian realized it when they 5 play together in GT, it’s so much different to when they play the songs in other constellations. Micke tells a story when in 2013 they played (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän, there was a background screen with different images during the verses and the choruses. The lighting technician came to Micke when they had the final rehearsal in Halmstad Arena and said he couldn’t tune it right for the chorus. It worked for the verses, but not for the chorus. Then Micke asked for a little screen in front of him and played in the pace according to that, so that the film came in the right pace as well. Then when the guys listened to the song they liked it, but they thought something felt strange. Everyone was doing what they had been doing for more than 30 years except for Micke, because he was checking the screen and played according to that. He felt like a restrained horse.

Christina asks Micke how he was at school. He says he was nice except towards one guy. He has never been in a fight except for with that one guy at school and Micke’s brother. He tells he has always been fair.

Regarding the band, Christian tells Per and Micke take different positions, but with the same determination, while Anders, Göran and MP are more in the background. Syd says it has to do with their personalities as well. Per and him are different, but they want the same thing, to do something good. And that’s been like that since the beginning. Christian says Micke mentioned earlier he is a team player and on stage they are indeed a team, but he is curious if they are a team off stage as well. Micke says in the band they all have different musical qualities, but the differences were refined over the years, not only musically. All of them developed and they have fun together when they meet. When they recorded their last album in France, Micke was driving to there with a friend and driving back with Helena. It was practical, because there was stuff they couldn’t have brought there on a flight and he also thought that it was the cheapest option for him. Christian asks if you really think about that when you record an album. Micke says the music industry has changed a lot. These days you don’t earn money when people are listening to music digitally. But the creative process, the recordings cost a lot. You can earn on tour then. But ask people if they want to work gratis. Spotify earns millions, but you get nothing. Micke can’t understand that. It’s not OK. So, recordings cost much and you get a little contribution from the record label, but otherwise, the rest is paid by you.

Regarding who is driven to what extent Micke says MP is not that driven, he is more silent, but his musicality is great. He is cautious, he has always been. It’s so nice to see that they got this far in their career and in a way they are still the same. Micke tells a fun story. When they took the press photos in France, everyone was dressed up, then they checked the photos and saw that MP was wearing his slippers. It didn’t really feel like a pop idol, so they had to photoshop the picture and put jeans on him. [Haha. Yeah, one could realize it already back then, when they shared the picture on GT’s Facebook page. See photos: MP in slippers; photoshopped press photo. /PP] No one really thought about that or cared much. There is something charming in that. When they are on stage, they create something cool, but they are still the guys from Harplinge and Åled and so.

Christian mentions words and asks Micke te react on them in one word. To Halmia he reacts Gessle, to Per Gessle he reacts Halmia, to Harplinge he reacts home. Regarding Hallandian dialects he says there are at least 5 and he loves that.

Christian is curious if Micke will get fat again. Syd says he won’t. Christian asks what was it that wasn’t so good in being fat. For Micke the change was about being healthy and of course also being on stage in top shape. He lost 18 kg in 4 months, he gained 5 kg back though, but he still keeps himself fit. It was a good challenge for him.

Christian asks Micke how he ended up in Gyllene Tider. Syd says Per and MP asked him. He played the drums and Janne Carlsson was the bassist. Then Anders became the bassist and Göran joined them. Then there was the Farfisa. Micke says there were many coincidences in their history or they weren’t coincidences at all.

Christian is curious how it was to break through when they were so young. Syd says such things he can’t remember much. They were 18-19 years old and suddenly people started screaming after them. They called his mom’s hairdresser salon or were lying in the ditch in front of it waiting for Micke to come home. People stole washed clothes from Per’s garden. Such things happened. They all lived with their parents at the time. They were the non-smoker generation, however, Göran and MP smoked. But they advertised jeans and soft drink. They were who they were and he thinks that was their key to success. If you watch Parkliv, you can see what outfit they had. Nothing special. Christian asks when they met other artists who they maybe thought were cooler, maybe Europe, what Micke thinks they thought about Gyllene Tider. Doesn’t he think they thought they were frumpish? Micke thinks they rather thought about their platinum albums. Haha.

Regarding the recordings in France, Micke says it was much fun. They decided that it would be their last album. It was Micke’s idea. The others thought it was a good idea when he told them why he thought so. They had a unique career and all of them 5 are still there. They decided to record the album in a totally different way at a different place than ever before. If they travelled only to Stockholm, it wouldn’t have been the same. They had to go further and be in that Gyllene Tider vibe. Christoffer Lundquist was there with them. They didn’t listen to the demos, they decided just to play and see what happens. Per did the demos with MP, so he knew them, but not the others. They had a big space where the studio was, it was very nice. It was just them and 2 French technicians. There were cooks who prepared meals for them, so they could just concentrate on their work. They created the songs from scratch and it was a very creative process. The surroundings were magical. Micke says he is a lonely guy, so they weren’t hanging out together after work. He likes to contemplate and look at things. There was a gym, they could go out in the garden, so they didn’t have to be together all the time. They all loved it and they loved the result of their work as well. It became a very good album. What they created during their career they could do it only together, them 5. And to know that what they did meant a lot for people and also that they did something good in their lives is great. When they were 20 they just wanted to be pop idols, but 40 years later they still had fun making music together.

Christian asks if they sat down to discuss the problems they had before. Micke says not really. You can only sort things out if you are interested in it and it has to come from both sides. The problem stays there until you solve it. Sometimes it would just be about opening that door and talk about it, but sometimes it’s hard to open the door.

Christian asks Micke about money. Micke says it doesn’t mean much to him. It’s important until the point he can live his own life. It was important for him to raise his kids and live where he wanted to live.

Micke knows a lot of people spend a lot of money to see them on tour and it feels nice that they can give back something via their music. On the last tour they invited a group of policemen, firefighters and ambulance, as well as defense veterans to thank for their service. Anders Thornberg was also there. He is the National Police Commissioner and is also from Halmstad. He is the brother of Per Thornberg, great saxophonist. Many don’t know that Anders is also a great musician, he plays the drums. They shared their drumset in the 70’s when they played at the same rehearsal studio. Micke says at one concert Anders was at the mixing board and Micke started playing the wrong song at some point. Shit happens. There were 10 thousand people, he said they start again. It was fun. He says he later explained the rason was that he was nervous because of Anders Thornberg being there. [Haha. That happened in Eskilstuna. /PP] He says he also managed to get tickets for fans from South America. They flew in from South America, but they couldn’t get tickets, so of course he sorted it out.

Christian asks about the last song on the last concert, how it felt. Micke says it happened in Halmstad and it was very special. The song was När alla vännerna gått hem and when he came to the front of stage he saw there were many people holding up a TACK sign. He is still touched by that. It was nice to close it all at home. A lot of people came who had been following them for more than 30 years and also people from several parts of the world to see them. He cried during the last song and you could see that all the others were so touched too.

Micke is contemplating what if they hadn’t told it was the last one, how would it have been. What would have happened then. He thinks it wouldn’t have been the same. Earlier they never said it was the last tour. They came back several times. They are still good at what they are doing. He says it’s different when he performs the songs separately from the band or when Per performs them on his solo tours. It’s never the same as when they 5 play together.

Micke says he likes meeting people. He likes to perform for smaller crowds and see people’s happy faces and he also likes to stand there at Ullevi. He mentions he took a selfie at Ullevi with 55 thousand people in 2019. That was cool.

Christian thanks Micke for the conversation and Micke says it’s his pleasure and he is thankful he could be on the podcast.

Per Gessle podcast interview on Hemma hos Strage

On 24th December a new podcast interview with Per Gessle was published by Hemma hos Strage. Fredrik Strage is a Swedish journalist and author who writes about pop culture.

Per starts with introducing himself and wishing merry Christmas to all who are listening. He says he is sitting in beautiful Kungsholmen, Stockholm together with Fredrik. Fredrik welcomes Mr. G and asks him to imagine he celebrates Christmas there and asks him what he would wish for as a Christmas present. Per says if it has to be a gadget then he thinks it would be a new iPhone, because he skipped some generations of iPhones, so he thinks he would need an iPhone 12. Fredrik says he hopes Santa brings vaccine for Christmas. Per agrees. Fredrik also mentions a present he would like to have and it’s Anton Corbijn’s new Depeche Mode photo book. Fredrik tells it costs 700 bucks and is wondering if Per gets it gratis. Mr. G smiles and says it can happen. He tells it’s published by Taschen and they have so many fantastic books. Per has a big David Hockney book at home, published by them. Fredrik tells DM fans are quite upset because of the high price of the book. Mr. G says there will surely be a cheaper version of it.

The guys start talking about It Must Have Been Love that it started out as a Christmas song written for Germany. Per tells when they released their debut album, Pearls of Passion they were quite disappointed that EMI Germany didn’t do anything with that. Nothing happened. Then some boss there suggested they should release a Christmas song, because it might be easier to get airplay on German radio with that. Per thought it was a cool idea, so he wrote It Must Have Been Love. They recorded it and released it as a single in Sweden actually the same day as Triad released Tänd ett ljus under the same record label. IMHBL became a big hit, a platinum single in Sweden, but Germany didn’t want to release it, they didn’t like the song. So it felt it was all in vain. Marie then released a solo album and Per wrote songs for a new Roxette album that became Look Sharp! Fredrik points out that when Per wrote IMHBL he was thinking about Christmas. Mr. G says in the original text you can hear „it’s a hard Christmas day, I dream away” and later Christmas day was changed to winter’s day. He says he doesn’t want to go into details too much, but when they were big in the US there was a lunch in Los Angeles where Marie and him were sitting with EMI. The A&R guy told he bought the rights to a movie then called 3000, starring Richard Gere and a new actress, Julia Roberts. It was planned to be a low-budget film. So they bought the soundtrack rights and David Bowie, Natalie Cole were in. They thought Roxette could also be in, they should just write a song. Per said they had no time for that, they were travelling all the time, but he thought they had this Christmas song, he could rewrite the text and update the production. Some weeks later when they were back in Sweden, Marie sang certain parts of the song again, they made a new intro and it was mixed in the US by Humberto Gatica who was a hip mixing engineer at the time. The title of the movie was changed to Pretty Woman. IMHBL became a big hit and the movie even bigger.

Fredrik asks Per how his 2020 was. Mr. G says it was an OK year for him in a way. It’s been very calm and creative, but at the same time it’s tough to live in this world of pandemic. All travellings are cancelled, the music industry is put down. Not the production, but the live stuff. There are a lot of musicians and technicians who can’t do anything now. And it’s not only the music business, but also theatres and so on. It’s terrible.

Fredrik asks which was the last concert Per gave or attended. Per says he can’t remember. It must have been autumn or winter last year when he attended a concert and they had the big Gyllene Tider tour last summer.

Fredrik tells Per just released Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig where he revisits his old songs. According to Fredrik, Nypon och ljung sounds like a bit happier Emmylou Harris. There are some country vibes in it. Per says there are a lot of country vibes in his music and one can easily create it by singing in a certain key or e.g. using lap steel. When they recorded Nypon och ljung he actually thought of J.J. Cale and his drum box. It’s that playful pop he likes a lot. The idea behind GKRA was that Mr. G plays as many instruments himself as possible. At the beginning he thought he would play all of them, but then he realized he is not a good bassist or drummer. Fredrik says his favourite on the album is Viskar that was released on Per’s second solo album. That record wasn’t a big success back then in 1985. Fredrik asks if that was a difficult period for Per during the mid 80’s. Mr. G tells 1984-85 were tough years for him. His idea was to keep Gyllene Tider as his pop project and paralelly start a singer songwriter career as a solo artist. But suddenly, GT was over so he only had this singer songwriter thing that felt uncomfortable, because he wasn’t Ulf Lundell or Magnus Lindberg or others of that quality at the same record label. So he felt a bit lost. He then wrote songs in Swedish for a third solo album that had never been recorded because he didn’t have a recording contract. That later became Roxette’s debut album, for which Per translated the lyrics into English. There was only one song that wasn’t translated into English, Kom ut till stranden. That is now the closing song on GKRA. Back then it was too long and too difficult for Per to translate.

Fredrik mentions that on the album cover of Scener Per looks quite different to the colorful Per in Roxette. He looks more like a singer songwriter on that picture, it could be Leonard Cohen even. Per says there was a new focus, to go away from that Gyllene Tider look, from the pop star look. But that was no problem, because a big part of him is coming from that music style. He loves Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell. They have inspired him as much as T. Rex or the Ramones. Talking about Leonard Cohen, Mr. G picks Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye to be played in the podcast. He chose it because he learned fingerpicking on his nylon-string guitar thanks to this song. Per also sings the first line of Leonard Cohen’s Sisters of Mercy and tells when they are talking about Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell, these fantastically talented songwriters, they always get their credits as fantastic lyricists, but one shouldn’t forget that they are fantastic composers as well. They wrote fantastic music. Both their poetry and melodies are amazing. Leonard Cohen’s first 3-4-5 albums are full of fab songs. Then came Hallelujah, which is a quite hopeless song in his version, but it’s a fantastic song in many other versions. Bob Dylan wrote so many hits for other bands. Fredrik says when you listen to Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues by Bob Dylan, it’s not the nicest, but when you listen to it covered by Nina Simone, it is. Per adds Manfred Mann’s cover of Just Like a Woman, Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright) by The Turtles and Mr. Tambourine Man by The Byrds.

Fredrik says singer songwriters often write depressive texts, but Per is not associated with that. However, there is a song, Billy. Fredrik asks Per if he tried to write more social realistic texts back then. Mr. G says he doesn’t think so. He wrote many texts like that for Gyllene Tider’s first album, but Billy came out already before that on a self-financed EP. När alla vännerna gått hem was also on it, written in 1977 when PG was 18 years old. He was also inspired by Patti Smith. Per says a good way to learn how to write songs was to translate the lyrics from English to Swedish. That’s what he did. He remembers translating Cygnet Committee by David Bowie, Helen of Troy by John Cale, Ain’t It Strange by Patti Smith. He also started writing those heavier type of texts and contemplating teenage lyrics. Per has a whole lot of texts in his archives that result in a blushing face when you read them now, but back then they were important. Fredrik asks if Billy was a real person. Per says not directly, but there was a Billy type in the gang. Fredrik tells: „who doesn’t live anymore”. Per says he doesn’t know. He disappeared.

Fredrik talks about Let Your Heart Dance With Me, the first postum Roxette song and the video to it that includes old footage. Per says they did 3 of such videos to 3 songs on Bag of Trix. All of them are home videos and it’s fantastic, but at the same time it’s also sad watching them. All who knew Marie and are close to them were touched by these videos, also the fans. Fredrik says there are a lot of videos from South America in there and he is curious why Roxette became so big there. Per says it’s owing to different things. In Argentina you didn’t have to be English or American, there was no difference for them between Madonna or Roxette in that sense. In Sweden everyone was convinced back then that pop and rock music must come from England or the US. Another thing is that they had a lot of airplays on radio, but when they went there to perform live it was the Gulf War era. All bands and artists (The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Guns N’ Roses, Michael Jackson) cancelled their shows in South America, because there was no money. Roxette were told they could go there, but they wouldn’t earn money on that. Marie and Per, coming from a small town in Sweden thought why to earn money on that when it’s fantastic itself to be playing in South America. The whole band and crew thought the same, so they went there. They were to play 5-6000 seaters, but when they started selling tickets, the venues were changed to football stadiums in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile. In Chile it was very turbulent politically and Roxette became some sorts of students’ band, a youth band and they still are, based on the communication coming from Chile.

Fredrik mentions that Wham! was the first band to play in China in 1985, then Roxette played there 10 years later. Fredrik asks if they had to change anything in the lyrics. Per says he had to rewrite the text of Sleeping In My Car in the chorus. You can’t make love in the car. Fredrik asks what it was changed to. Per can’t remember, maybe „make up”, „make out” or something like that. It was Marie who was singing, but she was singing the original text. But on paper it was rewritten and that was kind of approved by the authorities.

Another song Per picked for the podcast is I’m A Believer by The Monkees. It was one of Mr. G’s first singles and it’s incredibly good music. It was written by Neil Diamond who is a fantastic pop composer. The organ in it reminds Fredrik of Gyllene Tider. Per says Göran’s Farfisa organ became their trademark. It’s something they came up with in the studio. There was this pop tradition of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, they used a Vox organ. Göran had his Farfisa and the guys in GT thought it sounded cooler than others, because everyone else in Sweden was using Hammond organ.

Fredrik asks Per about synths, if they wanted Gyllene Tider to sound more like British bands during those times. Per says he liked synths and synth pop, but he thought GT wasn’t ready. He thinks that GT didn’t sound like how he wanted them to sound before Det är över nu. Then it was Michael Ilbert who produced them and GT started to sound like Per imagined they should sound. Fredrik asks if that was the conflict why Anders Herrlin decided to leave the band, because he liked new wave pop and synth very much. Per says there were other things that led to him leaving. Anders wanted to move to Stockholm. He had a girlfriend and they wanted to move on, while the others wanted to stay in Halmstad. Anders also thought that Per stayed with power pop, two guitars and the organ sound and that didn’t lead to anywhere. He wanted to try new ways. Which is good, Per thinks. In the end it was good for all of them. Anders became so good at synth and programming that they could use his talent later in Roxette, for example. He was programming Look Sharp! Fredrik mentions the programming on It Must Have Been Love was done on a Synclavier that must have cost a fortune. Per laughs and tells there was a studio in Stockholm, Audio Sweden that had a Synclavier, so they could use that for IMHBL.

When they recorded the first Roxette album, Per wanted to make a synth-based album, but Clarence Öfwerman, their producer didn’t want it. He thought that they were a damn good band, so they recorded with real musicians, Jonas Isacsson, Tommy Cassemar, Pelle Alsing. And that wasn’t a bad idea. Per was very satisfied and it was also awesome to work with Marie’s voice. But when they were to record their second album, Clarence thought they should go on with the same band, while Per didn’t think so. They actually recorded 3-4 songs with the band, but they didn’t use those. Then came Anders and they got a fresh sound.

Fredrik asks how many unreleased Roxette songs there are still after Bag of Trix. Per says he has much material, but it depends what Fredrik means by unreleased. On Bag of Trix there are a lot of demos. Earlier Per released many of his demos, but not the ones where Marie was singing, but now they are out too. There is for example a sketch of how Listen To Your Heart’s verse was written, 45 seconds of it or so, but there are no ready-made songs. Fredrik tells that on Bag of Trix one can hear how they „talked” before the band started playing and asks how it felt to hear these recordings. Mr. G says it was fun. He remembers some silly jokes or a foolish counting in.

Fredrik is curious how many boxes and deluxe editions Per bought himself. Mr. G says he got hold of Tom Petty’s latest stuff. He has a record player and he buys a lot of second-hand LPs. He buys physical copies for the sake of the album sleeves. Nowadays, when he listens to Kraftwerk for example, he has the album sleeve in his hands, but he listens to it on Spotify in his office. He reads the lyrics and looks at the pictures, like before. The boxes he also buys physically because there is a lot of information inside. In the Tom Petty box there are a lot of comments related to each song, Joni Mitchell released a CD box, Love Has Many Faces that includes a lot of her writing, which she doesn’t do often.

Tom Petty is one of Per’s absolute favourites, so he picked a song from him, Something Big, which is an awesome song from his Hard Promises album. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was the band that Gyllene Tider always wanted to be, but never really managed. Per laughs. He says there was something in Tom Petty and his band that all five of them liked.

Per met Tom Petty in 1989 in Amsterdam where Tom shouted from a balcony: „Hey man, I love your record!” The Look was No. 1 then. Marie and Per were doing a TV interview and when they looked up to see who was shouting it was fantastic to see that it was Tom Petty. Back in time Per met a journalist in Los Angeles who knew Mr. G was a big Tom Petty fan. After Tom Petty passed away, PG got mail from that Los Angeles guy and he told he interviewed Tom Petty in 1992. He went through his papers from that interview and found a signed Tom Petty photo where he wrote: „Dear Per, Hope to see you soon. Good luck with everything! Tom Petty” Now it’s framed in Per’s office.

Fredrik tells he heard another story about Tom Petty that once he appeared at a grill party with a Gyllene Tider record under his arm. Per says it was a Swedish girl who was there at the same party, but he doesn’t know if the story is true. However, he saw a YouTube clip in which Tom was asked which is the strangest cover he heard of a song of his. Tom says it’s a Swedish band he can’t pronounce the name of, their cover of I Need To Know. Vill ha ett svar by Gyllene Tider. Per thinks it’s fun.

Fredrik starts talking about Prince and his song U Got The Look from his album, Sign o’ the Times. He says he heard Prince wanted to sue Roxette because The Look was similar to his song, at least the expression in it. Per says he never heard of that. He knows which song Fredrik talks about, but they are not similar except for „the look” being in the title.

Fredrik also tells he met Johan Kinde some weeks ago and he told an old story. He was dating Marie Fredriksson in the early 90’s and he was hanging out with Roxette on tours. He said it felt a bit like being a giggolo, being able to meet Marie only in the suites. They laugh. So Johan told a story that once they were in London and Orup popped up and they were discussing Minneapolis funk and Prince and James Brown. Per was tired of the discussion and said the only black record he had was Kylie Minogue’s first album. Per laughs and says that was a joke. PG says he likes R&B of the 60’s. He bought Al Green’s music when he was young. Sha-La-La and stuff like that. But it was always silent during such discussions, Per laughs again. Fredrik says it must have been difficult for Orup to decide whether Per was so advanced that he knew Kylie had a black inspiration on her album. PG says he was an early Donald Trump. A manipulator. Haha.

Fredrik asks Per if he ever met Prince. PG says he didn’t, but he was at Paisley Park Studio and he met Prince’s assitant. Marie was there too so it must have been during Roxette times. The assitant showed them Prince’s house and Per remembers it had a removable glass roof, a giant bed, a giant white cage with a giant white bird and a dance hall with mirror on the walls. Fredrik asked if it inspired Per when he had his house built in Halmstad. Mr. G says he tried to skip purple color.

Fredrik mentions that Little Jinder once there was on his podcast and she picked Paint from Roxette, because she liked the sound of it, the lightness of the 80’s in it. That inspired the sound of one of her singles. She was tired of modern productions. Per says the whole Look Sharp! album is produced that way. Sleeping Single, Dance Away, there are almost no instruments on those songs. There are guitar phrases and synth-based grooves and effects, a little ear candy. And everything is based on Marie’s voice. Paint is the song that sounds the best on the album.

Regarding sound image, Per thinks there is a band that never sounded bad. They are The Kinks. The first album he bought was The Kink Kontroversy. The next song Per picked is Till the End of the Day which he always liked a lot. The guitar solo is played by Dave Davies and Per has been trying to play it since he was 6, but never managed.

Fredrik says he read Sven Lindström’s book about Roxette and found it interesting. Regarding the 4 US No.1 hits he says no other Swedish artist could achieve this success, but Roxette was neglected by EMI in the US despite this fact. Per tells they were never on speaking terms with EMI in the US. First they refused Roxette, but when Atlantic Records wanted to sign them, EMI popped up again and since they were at EMI in Sweden, they ended up at EMI in the US as well. When Joyride album was released in 1991, the first single, Joyride became No. 1, the second single, Fading Like A Flower became No. 2. The big song that should have kicked in before their US tour was Spending My Time. It was climbing on the Billboard charts like a rocket, but EMI was sold to SBK in the meantime, a record label formed by Martin Bandier and Charles Koppelman. 120 people got fired at EMI US overnight and the next day the SBK staff took over and since then nothing happened with Roxette in the US. Roxette felt it wouldn’t work in the US, so they focused on all other markets instead. Australia, Europe, South Africa, South America.

Fredrik mentions that in Sven’s book he read that in 2000 there was a gig in Omaha, USA for 20 people. At the same time, US radio still played Roxette songs a lot. So there was a huge difference between live and radio attention. Per tells in 2000 they released a compilation album under Edel Records. Then they did a little unplugged tour in the US. They played e.g. Virgin Megastore in New York. It wasn’t really a concert. They played like 4 songs to support radio stations would play their new single. Wish I Could Fly maybe.

Fredrik asks Per about his best memories of the last Roxette tours. Per says Marie got ill in autumn 2002 and it wasn’t in the plans that she would do a comeback. Per did a solo tour in 2009 with his Party Crasher album and when they played Amsterdam, Marie and her husband Micke came to see him. Per then asked Marie if she would like to come up on stage and they would play an old Roxette song. It was a club with maybe 1000 in the audience. Marie didn’t want to, she said she didn’t perform for so many years, but in the end Per talked her into it and said they could perform Listen To Your Heart or It Must Have Been Love. So Marie decided to come up on stage for the encore and Per presented her. The reactions were totally amazing. He could see all the fans were crying and he still gets goosebumps when he is talking about it. On stage they all got emotional as well. The response Marie got was incomparable. Per thinks it was Listen To Your Heart they played. [It was IMHBL.] Mr. G says Marie was thrilled after this experience of course and some weeks later she called Per if he could write songs for a new Roxette album. Per was of course happy about it and the album later became Charm School. Marie wanted to perform more and they discussed how to go on. The doctors advised her maybe it’s not the best idea to go on tour, but she wanted to. They got an offer for Night of the Proms where they played some songs with the support of a smyphonic orchestra. They were the headliners and they thought it wasn’t a bad idea to go on that tour, to start with that for Marie. It was superb for all of them in the band.

Fredrik tells he knows it was hard for Marie to learn new lyrics. He is curious how it worked in the studio when they were recording. Per says it became worse year by year. When they recorded the last album it was very difficult. She could sing one verse at a time, it was hard for Marie to remember things. But the old lyrics were much easier for her. It happened that she missed a line, but that happens to Per too. The old lyrics for her were like a prayer, but it was totally different with new stuff. Fredrik asks if she could use prompter on stage. Per says she couldn’t, because she lost the sight in one eye, so she wouldn’t be able to read. They tried with big letters and so, but it didn’t help her at all. On the last tour they didn’t play any new songs, only the old ones.

Fredrik says he saw a YouTube clip where Marie came up on stage and then fell over, but stood up like nothing happened, hi fived Per and she went ahead performing. What an incredible fighter she was. Per confirms she was a fighter all the time. It took some time for her to decide to sit during the concerts, because she had problems with her leg. It must have been something with the nerves, because sometimes that feeling or pain suddenly disappeared. But after she decided to sit, it became easier for her. It was of course terribly hard for her and for everyone around her, but she was so grateful that she could come back and meet all her fans, the wonderful Roxette people out there and she wanted to perform. It overshadowed all the difficulties.

Fredrik asks Per when they met for the last time. Mr. G says it was about a month before she passed away. Fredrik asks if they worked on something, but Per says no, they were just talking.

Fredrik tells he knows Per lost many in his surroundings over the past 10 years. His mother, sister and brother. He is curious if Per is a type of person who stays positive all the time and how he gets through the dark times. Mr. G says he is quite a positive person himself, but it’s difficult to absorb it when people close to you disappear. Marie was ill for 17 years and there is only one in twenty who survives this illness for 5 years, but she survived for 17 years. She was a fighter. She wanted to tour, so they toured for more than 5 years. It’s inconceivable if you think about it. It’s against all odds. Per’s mother was 88 and then you know the end would come, but it was different with his brother. He wasn’t old, but he had lung cancer. His sister also had cancer, she was a little older. You think that you are prepared for that, but you can’t really get prepared for that. There are questions all the time how he feels regarding Marie. He feels emptiness. He can’t call her up, they can’t chat, they can’t discuss ideas and thoughts. With Marie they kind of lived together for like 30 years and they experienced so much together that only them 2 experienced. Per can’t talk about this or that with his record company or other musicians, because it was their baby, Marie’s and Per’s baby.

Fredrik tells there are 2 songs on Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig: Mamma and Pappa and he is curious if this wonderful image in the lyrics of Pappa – Han la en sönderriven lapp i min hand / ”Vind och vatten, himmel och eld / Var snäll mot allt, var snäll mot dig själv” – is self-experienced. Per says what he writes in his lyrics did not necessarily happen, but he always tries to make them interesting. Regarding the image Fredrik asks about he says he likes this image, when someone leaves a note and „be kind to yourself” is written on it. He likes it because it’s so easy to blame ourselves all the time for many things in different situations and everyone would feel better if we wouldn’t blame ourselves in some situations. It’s a reflection he thought is very nice. When he wrote it he could identify with it very much, but he never got such a note from his father. Fredrik tells Per’s father died very early, in 1978. He was the fastest plumber in the West. Per tells his father’s father was a plumber as well. Per says he spent the 60’s in Frösakull and Tylösand with his father and grandfather, because that was their work territory. They had a little shed and Per was there often. Fredrik is curious if Per learned how the fix a leak. Per laughs and says no, he is lousy when it comes to such things, but he wishes he would be a handy man.

Per picks another song and tells one of the artists who meant the most to him is John Holm. He made 2 of the best Swedish albums: Sordin and Lagt kort ligger. Per could have chosen any of the songs on those two albums, but he picked Sommaräng, which he thinks is a masterpiece. The album is produced by Anders Burman and there is a lovely sound on it. It’s warm and there is a lovely burning fire. It’s like the early Pugh Rogefeldt albums, there is a wonderful analog feeling in those. Fredrik tells he often thinks of John Holm when he passes Sabbatsberg. John has a song called Ett enskilt rum på Sabbatsberg, the closing track on his first album. Per says that song also affected him very much when he grew up. He loved John Holm’s voice and his expression. Per started singing in Gyllene Tider because no one else wanted to. There were a lot of people commenting on his voice, because he has a special voice and a lot of people compared it to John Holm’s. Per never thought of himself as a great singer. He always thought John Holm’s special voice is magical. Over the years, Per’s voice also became some kind of trademark. He says he got self-confidence from John Holm’s voice when he started singing. Fredrik says John Holm still has a bright voice. It’s not as deep as Leonard Cohen or Ulf Lundell. Per says he himself can sing in different keys. In fast songs he picks the keys that are the most suitable for him, but he has a wide range. He can sing quite low. Not like Leonard Cohen though. Per says he always liked Cohen’s voice because it’s easy to add a female voice to his one or two octaves higher. Mr. G used it also with his voice during the past 20 years with Helena Josefsson, but even in Roxette they used it as well. E.g. in IMHBL it resulted in a very effective sound.

Fredrik tells a British author and well-known feminist, Caitlin Moran has the motto: ”Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” Fredrik says that is how someone should live, as it is in the title of one of Roxette’s compilation albums. American manager Herbie Herbert told this to Roxette. Per can’t remember in what context Herbie told this to them. He thinks maybe he played a song to them and it had a too long intro. He was the manager of Journey and he was Roxette’s manager in the US for some years. Fredrik says Per has quite a strong pop focus and the chorus is very important there. Mr. G says he is listening to different types of music and he likes different types of music, but when he is writing, his home ground is melodic pop music. It’s about choruses, gimmicks, something that makes you interested.

Per says a good example of effective pop music is Ever Fallen in Love by Buzzcocks. He always loved it. It was released when they started with Gyllene Tider and they played it all the time, together with New Rose by The Damned.

Fredrik asks how important punk was for Per. Mr. G says it was very important. Punk came in several stages. When he was 17 in 1976 it was the Ramones, then there was Horses by Patti Smith, then came British punk, the Sex Pistols. That was what reached them in Sweden if one wasn’t a Television or a Talking Heads nerd. The most important what punk gave Per besides very good pop songs is that it was OK to play even if you weren’t especially good at playing. It suited Mr. G very well, because he wasn’t especially good. Gyllene Tider was a quite good band except for Göran’s and Per’s playing when they started. So the punk gave them some sort of justification. Those were exciting times. The whole decade in the 70’s was filled with so many fluctuations in music styles. There was commercial music and glam rock, disco, black music, progressive music, hard rock, you can think of Kraftwerk or David Bowie or Berlin. Everything happened in the same decade and there came punk, a lovely hybrid of noise and ingenious choruses. Buzzcocks is a good example for that. Fredrik says Gyllene Tider sounded more like Buzzcocks than Sex Pistols. Fredrik thinks GT’s most punkish song is Rembrandt, and he finds it fun that Per used Rembrandt for the most punkish song, while Bruce Springsteen used Rembrandt in his least punkish song, I Ain’t Got You (I got a house full of Rembrandt and priceless art / And all the little girls they want to tear me apart). Per tells he knows he listened a lot to Jonathan Richman and his song Pablo Picasso (by the Modern Lovers) was the inspiration to use Rembrandt. He can’t remember exactly, but it was kind of an insider joke to write something in Swedish about Rembrandt. Fredrik asks Per if he has any Rembrandt in his house. Mr. G says unfortunately, he doesn’t have any. He says he should call Bruce and laughs. But Fredrik tells Per has Warhol in his collection. Mr. G says no large originals, but some Polaroids and graphics.

Fredrik tells one of the first songs he heard from Per was Ska vi älska, så ska vi älska till Buddy Holly. He was 7 years old then and he remembers he thought Per was singing wrong, because he couldn’t get what „till” meant in the text [to make love to Buddy Holly]. Fredrik is now wondering why would someone make love to Buddy Holly, because it’s not really erotic music. Per says he doesn’t know. Sometimes he is wondering why the lyrics became how they are. On the first album there are songs like (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän, Revolver upp about Tony and there was Billy. These are about some kind of persons. Unlike others he knew back then, Per always loved lyrics. He loved David Bowie’s lyrics. Bowie cut up the text with William Burroughs’ technique and rearranged the words to create a new text. Then it became e.g. Watch That Man. Per says he never tested this method himself, but you can test it in a simple way when you just write down things you come up with and then some days later you get back to that list and try to create a story based on those words. It’s a bit like Sjömän and Buddy Holly. Buddy Holly has a different logic than Sjömän though. It’s also a bit like how he tried to write The Look. The first verse is a text to help to remember the rhythm. Per tells „never was a quitter” comes from Nick Lowe’s Born Fighter. Later he read the text and listened to the rhythm and thought the text was not that bad. It doesn’t mean anything, but it’s like I Am The Walrus. So he continued this way of writing for the rest of the lyrics and made it a bit simpler in the choruses. Reading the second verse, Fredrik asks if a person has a T-bone at all. The guys are laughing and Per says he doesn’t know. He says he remembers that in the US he was told no American or English person could have written these lyrics and that’s why it was fun for them. Mr. G tells you don’t always need to be completely logical in the text, it’s pop music for God’s sake.

Per tells you can’t pick songs without picking a song from The Beatles. He chose a song that probably started all his pop romance, his love for pop music. It was the back side of the Yesterday single, Dizzy Miss Lizzy with the world’s best guitar riff and John Lennon in top shape at the mic in 1965. Per says the 60’s sound itself seems to be so far away, more than the 70’s sound. Strong tambourines and many crash cymbals, it’s pretty hard to listen to. Nowadays we are listening to music on computers or mobiles and it’s not really wise. CD quality or vinyl quality is not the same as listening to music on a fucking iPhone. Fredrik says indeed, nowadays you just hold up your smartphone and tell each other to listen to this or that song, it’s very good. Fredrik tells Motown Records, founded by Berry Gordy had a special sound. Their singles sounded effective on radio too. Per says if you are listening to good old mono mixes, they sound much better than old stereo mixes.

Fredrik tells he plays a scary song to Per, from a German industrial music group, Einstürzende Neubauten. Fredrik was listening to them a lot in the 90’s. Their singer is Blixa Bargeld who is most known for being guitarist in Nick Cave’s band. He is exactly the same age as Per, he was born the same day in the same year. Per says it’s fantastic. Fredrik says he always thought they are long-lost twins. Per laughs. Mr. G says he has never heard this music before, but it reminds him of David Bowie. It sounded like a Bowie-riff. He thinks it’s good.

Fredrik asks Per what his plans are after Christmas. Mr. G says he is recording a new English album. He had the idea to make an uptempo pop record he hasn’t done since long. He was a bit away from this way of making music. He wants to make it a bit synth-based. It became a quite lovely trip, but it’s not ready yet. Mr. G says it’s fun to make this album.

Fredrik tells the most successful Swedish pop composers besides Per are Benny and Björn from Abba and Max Martin. All 3 of them made musicals based on their music. He is curious if Per has ever thought about it, a big Roxette or Gessle musical. Per says absolutely and he thinks it will happen. There were some ideas, but most of them were rejected by Per mainly because they didn’t keep the standards in the script or the story. But he thinks it’s a natural way to go and both his solo music, but especially Roxette’s music would work very well in a musical. These are big songs that fit a musical quite well, from Crash! Boom! Bang! to Listen To Your Heart. It’s a long way to make a good musical on a proper level and in the right way.

Fredrik tells Per also mentioned lately that he wouldn’t mind having a Gyllene Tider comeback, which is quite soon after last year’s farewell tour. Per laughs and says everyone was asking if it’s really over and he said yes, they decided it was their last tour last year, but he personally thinks that it’s a pity that GT is over, because he thinks it’s a fantastically good pop band. When they decided to do the last tour, it was Micke Syd’s idea to close this chapter until all 5 of them are in good shape and are healthy. If it didn’t happen, normally they would come back in the next 6 or 7 years and then they are 6-7 years older and who knows if they are still alive then. So it’s better to end it and all of them thought it was a correct and sympathetic idea. But Per also knows when they did their last gig they looked at each other and thought „is it really the end?” Fredrik tells he remembers Per told earlier they decided to do less shows with Roxette, because they were not 50 anymore. Per laughs and says it’s a bit like that, but mainly during this time of pandemic, you miss playing in front of an audience and also playing together with the band you miss a lot. He tried to do different things, e.g. YouTube clips where he is playing live and sings, because it’s fun. When you are a touring artist, you feel like home on tour and you miss it.

Per tells David Bowie was an artist who inspired him very much and was always high up on his list. Bowie’s catalogue is awesome from 1969 to 1983. Until his Let’s Dance album – which Per thinks is underrated and that was the first record Fredrik bought. Per thinks almost no other artist had such a long period of making fantastic music. Per picked Drive-In Saturday, a forgotten song from the Aladdin Sane album. It was a single and Per likes how good Bowie was at the pastiche of the 50’s and 60’s. Absolute Beginners is also a good example of that.

Fredrik is curious if Per has ever met Bowie. Mr. G says he met him in a hurry on his Serious Moonlight tour in Lyon, France and only said hi. Per was there with EMA Telstar (Live Nation Sweden today). He says it was lovely to meet Bowie, but he was super shy. And there were no smartphones those days, so there is no picture of that meeting. Haha. Bowie was quite blonde and it was a fantastic concert.

Fredrik tells he heard it in a podcast that Nitzer Ebb, a British industrial band was asked to join Bowie on his 1987 tour as a support act, but they rejected. Per reacts: „What???” Fredrik says it sounds insane now, but how lead vocalist of Nitzer Ebb, Douglas McCarthy says, people tend to forget how low status Bowie had in the second half of the 80’s. He wasn’t appreciated anywhere. Per says that’s right. Mr. G says he actually stopped at Let’s Dance. Anything he released after that, Per was not interested in. However, Mr. G thinks Bowie made one of his best ever songs, Time Will Crawl well after Let’s Dance. The guys can’t remember whether it was on his Outside or Never Let Me Down or Heathen album. [Actually, Fredrik was right, it was released on Never Let Me Down (1987).] From the modern times, that’s the most played song at Per’s. It’s awesome. The end of the 80’s was a strange time in music anyway, he says. He laughs and says maybe that’s why they managed to break through with Roxette then.

Fredrik tells there is a fun story from the Legends of Rock tour where Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis performed together. They played in Malmö at the end of the 90’s and Little Richard went to the reception at the hotel and asked for the biggest suite, but he was told they have a nice suite, but the biggest was already occupied by Bowie. Little Richard asked the receptionist to show him to the suite and he told Bowie: „David, get the hell out of my room!” And Bowie moved out. Per laughs and says nice to hear it. One must love such stories.

While Nypon och ljung starts playing, Per says it was a fun conversation and wishes merry Christmas and a fantastic 2021 to all who listened. Fredrik wishes merry Christmas to Per and thanks him for all the music and he hopes Mr. G will also have a brilliant 2021 without pandemic and many concerts.

Picture from Hemma hos Strage

Per Gessle podcast interview by Rhino

Rhino is the catalogue development and marketing division of Warner Music Group, founded in 1978. They started a podcast series in 2018 and hosts Rich Mahan and John Hughes now welcomed Per Gessle in it. Listen to it HERE!

Per talks about the times Marie and he met, the story of their break-through in the US with The Look and how things changed after that. The guys also talk about Listen To Your Heart, touring, playing large venues, as well as Per’s Los Angeles adventures with Anders Herrlin in 1981. It Must Have Been Love is also popping up of course, as well as the recordings of Good Karma. Rich, John and Per discuss Roxette being a power pop band and Mr. G talks about Bag of Trix too, where he shares details about Let Your Heart Dance With Me and Piece of Cake. The guys talk about EMI and several Roxette albums, as well as Per’s other music projects like Mono Mind or his Swedish band, Gyllene Tider. Per talks a bit about his latest Swedish solo album too, as well as songwriting. The podcast ends with talking about Marie, how she made Per’s songs much better and how she made the songs her own.

 

Stills are from the podcast episode teaser.

Per Gessle interview on Nordmark Pod

Per Gessle was Per Nordmark’s guest on his podcast, Nordmark Pod the other day. Per Nordmark is a Swedish drummer and producer.

After Nordmark’s intro talk, the interview starts with Nordmark explaining they greeted each other by bumping elbows because of the pandemic. Nordmark congratulates Per on his new album, Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig and tells it’s altogether 30 studio albums Per has released so far. 10 solo, 12 with Roxette and 8 with Gyllene Tider. Per tells Nordmark exaggerates a bit, because Roxette has 10 studio albums. Nordmark insists on 12, but it’s hard to tell how he counted the number of studio albums anyway. He probably calculated with live or compilation albums as well, in case of GT too.

Per Nordmark tells he was 6 when he first met Mr. G’s music. He was a hard rocker, his sister introduced Kiss to him, but then he bumped into Puls from Gyllene Tider and he was very excited to hear that music. Per says he was also 6 when he got hooked on pop music. It was in 1965. It was The Kink Kontroversy by The Kinks, which his brother played to death. His brother had his teenage friends gathering in his room, listening to music and Per was a 6-year-old baby then. He says 6 is a good age to get started.

The guys are talking about how listening to music changes when you become professional. Sadly, you start listening to music differently. You start analyzing what you hear. Nowadays, when Per is listening to music he is listening to analyze. How did they do this, what did they think there, how strange they changed the chord here, etc. Modern pop music is very far from the 60’s and 70’s style, it’s built on the same chord in the verses and the choruses. Here Per excuses himself for talking too much, but Nordmark encourages him to go ahead. PG says one can ask why you liked the intro in I Feel Fine by The Beatles, if there was anything special in it [here Per demonstrates how the intro sounds] or why you liked The Who’s drum sound. Things like that. Per thinks it’s the romance in pop music what people like the most. Pop music’s position was much bigger and stronger back then than it is today. Times are changing. When pop and rock were blooming in the 60’s, there was an after-war generation. Music had a different role then, there was a revolution. Now after 50 years everything is more digitalized and you make music in a different way. Per often tells his son’s friends, who are in their twenties that one day they should try and play in a band. 4-5 people get together, pick their instruments and learn to play a song together. They should experience how it is to be a piece of the puzzle and realize how good it can sound. You can’t get that feeling in any other way, sitting over your laptop. He doesn’t say it’s wrong, he just says it’s different. The creative, organic feeling of piecing the puzzle together is fab. Nordmark says his father is a drummer and he also advised him to play in a band.

Nordmark says he loves playing live, but rehearsing is not his thing. Per says he loves playing live too, but he also loves rehearsing. When they toured with Roxette or with Gyllene Tider, lately they usually played their greatest hits. It’s less risky. But before a tour you are rehearsing songs that maybe you never played live before. They are fun and you might add 1 or 2 of them to the setlist of 25 songs or so. So he thinks it’s exciting to rehearse.

Regarding his new album, Nordmark asks how we should imagine the process, how it was created. Per tells it started with writing two new songs in spring when the pandemic started. The songs were Mamma and Pappa. They were released on a single for Mother’s Day. The idea was to play all the instruments himself and Helena Josefsson came to sing as well. Then he thought it wasn’t bad and since there was isolation, he thought he would record some more songs in the same way. At the same time he was writing an English album, so he was in his English songwriting bubble and he didn’t have the feeling to write a new Swedish album. Then he realized he had many old songs he didn’t release before or others he thought would deserve a better recording. So he was digging in his archives and found demos and also songs he wrote for other artists. He also found Kom ut till stranden, the only song from his never recorded third solo album that wasn’t translated into English for Roxette’s debut album. He always liked that song, but now he realized how clumsy the lyrics were, so he rewrote it. After 4-5 songs he realized that he can’t play all the instruments himself. He is a lousy bassist and an even worse drummer, so Jens from Brainpool came and played the drums and he also looked for musicians in Halmstad. He found ”Gicken” Johansson who is a fantastic bassist and he became one of the most important part of this project. Then he thought to include the most untrendy instruments in pop music, e.g. saxophone. He knew a very talented jazz saxophonist in Halmstad, Per Thornberg, so he came and played on 2 songs. Then most of the other instruments PG played himself.

Nordmark is curious about how Per saw his own songwriting during this project, how it was in the 80’s and how it changed. Mr. G says he realized he wrote longer songs in the past, he has become more effective. He thinks it came automatically. The intro can be more effective, the outro doesn’t need to be too long. Things like that. He also discovered that when new musicians join him he realizes the small details in his songwriting of the 80’s. For example when bassist Magnus Börjeson, who is like Roxette’s Ron Wood, plays Roxette songs, e.g. The Big L. Or he realized that there are changes in the keys 5 times in (Do You Get) Excited? That was his style back then. He became more sophisticated and it resulted in writing simpler in a way.

Per thinks music is the best there is. Even more than that. He is his music. He lives for his music, he wakes up with it and goes to bed with it. He is always thinking about ideas, solutions of musical problems or text problems and he is very much affected by it. He can’t communicate until he solves his musical problems. Åsa always says it’s like he is giving birth. He can be very anti-social then.

Per thinks music has a huge effect on people. One of the things he and Marie always talked about is that they were so lucky to travel around the world, to different places with different religions, different languages, different cultures, but everyone liked their songs. It Must Have Been Love or Listen To Your Heart, they broke through all barriers. It’s the power of music. Music makes you happy or it makes you want to dance or cry. A lyric of Leonard Cohen makes you break down because it’s so strong. Not too many arts have this same effect. Per thinks if he was a painter, his utterance would be the same, because art for him is about expressing himself. For him it was pop music he got hooked on already at an early age. He wanted to belong to a band, he wanted to play, he loved everything related to it. He also had a huge need to express himself in a way. He could have been a novelist or a journalist or a painter, but he became a pop musician. He thinks pop music is a lovely format. It’s quite short, but he likes that one can create different temperatures, the lyrics have different temperatures or colors, most often there are 12 or 16 lines and then it’s over. He just heard on TV that the one who won the August Prize was writing her book for 10 years. Per thinks he would have died, dealing with the same project for 10 years. He usually wants to finish his project as soon as possible, so he can start a new one. He likes to finish the songs in the studio and then mix them, not to let them lie around for another 2 months. There is also a restlessness in him of course, but he tries to use it for something positive.

Per says he tries to work as little as possible, he doesn’t sit down every day to write. If he has a project going on, like his English uptempo album now, he is working on that when he feels like it. He still likes to think in album format, so he is writing 12, 15, 20 songs before he goes to the studio. In the studio he wants to focus on the whole project. If you are working with 5-6 songs at the same time you might realize that some ideas don’t work on this or that song, but they would work on another. The music industry is very song-oriented these days, rather than album-oriented. Why to release an album, why not only one song at a time? Per says he doesn’t work like that. Nordmark says he talks to a lot of young musicians and their dream is still to release an album. So musicians still think in album format. Per says most people in the pop world dream about it, but they work in a different way. They work on a song-by-song basis and it’s because nowadays it’s very hard for a new pop artist to be there for a longer time. And you can’t build your future on 3 albums or you can’t tour with 2 songs. Also, there are 7 people writing one song. So it’s very hard to build up a classic pop or rock career. Those who are there on the live scene are usually older artists. They are the ones who have a big enough catalogue. U2, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Depeche Mode, The Rolling Stones. It’s hard to compete with them if you release only one song at a time.

Nordmark says Per already had success with Gyllene Tider before Roxette broke through and he is curious if Per remembers the feeling of „shit, it’s 2.0, it’s happening again”. He is also curious if Per had the self confidence as a songwriter back then. Mr. G says when GT was over in 1985, he had no career left. He wrote songs for other artists, but it didn’t really fit him. He is not the type of a hired gun. It was always hard for him to compromise. So he was very happy and thankful that Marie, in the middle of her blooming solo career, wanted to do a project with him. Her producer and EMI didn’t want her to work with Per, so that Marie wanted it it felt fantastic for Per. His self confidence was not the strongest then. The first Roxette album was made of the songs he wrote for his never released third Swedish solo album. He translated the songs into English and their debut album became a success. They also went on tour. The only thing that made Marie continue to work with Per was to break through abroad. In Sweden she was already a big artist with her solo songs. Per was a catalyst, but both of them were very ambitious. After the first Roxette album, Marie made another Swedish solo album and during that time Per wrote songs for Look Sharp! Then he still didn’t have much self confidence. Look Sharp! came out in autumn 1988 and they released the first single from it in summer 1988 in Sweden. It was Dressed For Success. They went on tour in autumn, they played ice halls and they released their second single, Listen To Your Heart. In January 1989 they released The Look as a single and later the US break through happened. Before that, no other countries wanted to release Look Sharp! No EMI Germany, France, Spain, Canada or Australia, no one. The music industry was very much focused on the US and the UK, so after The Look became No. 1 in the US in spring 1989 and they wanted to release it in the UK too, their record company told Roxette was an American band. Otherwise they wouldn’t want to release a Swedish band’s material in the UK.

Per says he was motivated by success. He got evidence that there are more „idiots” besides them two in the band who liked what they were doing. He laughs. Nordmark laughs too and says actually, there were some millions of idiots who liked it. Per says then he gained self confidence from the fact that people liked their songs. Then he had the same feeling as when he got his first fan mails as a 20-21-year-old from Gyllene Tider fans. It was incredible to get mails from unknown girls. He laughs. Per also tells that when they recorded Look Sharp! he thought if they succeed with one of the songs somewhere in the world then they have a great career in front of them, because they had very strong songs on that album. Paint, Listen To Your Heart, Dressed For Succes, Dangerous, The Look, Dance Away, Sleeping Single, so the whole album was very good for the pop music of the time. At the same time, they were very humble and they were completely shocked when the break-through really happened in the end. It was of course unbelievable.

Nordmark asks Per about The Look, how Per wrote the lyric to it. Per starts with telling that the first Roxette album was recorded with musicians their producer, Clarence Öfwerman chose. It was a great band: Tommy Cassemar, Jonas Isacsson, Pelle Alsing. For their second album, Per started writing demos in a different way. He started working on snyth and started programming. He wanted to go to a little different direction in style. He bought a new synthesizer, an Ensoniq ESQ-1 and he wrote two songs on it. The Look and Don’t Believe In Accidents. The Look is a 3-chord song, A, G and D. To remember the melody, he came up with a nonsense text. He was just humming it on his tape recorder and later he thought it sounded damn cool, it was a bit like The Beatles’ I Am The Walrus. So he kept it. Per thinks there is some kind of surreal logic in the lyrics. Originally, the text was „he’s got the look” though, because he wrote it for Marie to sing, but she didn’t want to. She thought the melody was too minimal for her. So she sang nanananana and then replied to Per in the chorus. That’s how it became „she’s got the look” in the end. Nordmark is curious what kind of drum machine they used in The Look, if it was LinnDrum. Per can’t remember, but he knows that the sequencer he used already on his demo too. An Ensoniq sequencer that was on the synth.

Talking about texts, Per finds it cool that you write a text and suddenly it starts to communicate. He gets mails and messages from people that they got married to this song or met while that song was playing and it means so much to them etc. So by interpreting the text, it becomes part of their lives. He writes the songs for himself or he writes it out of himself, no matter if it’s a true story or not and then when it starts to communicate with other people, it’s crazy. It’s fantastic. That’s also pop music’s power that the lyrics and the music have such an effect. It makes you feel that it’s a story of your life.

Nordmark asks Per about his experiences regarding touring, if he likes touring. Per says he always liked touring, but he never considered himself being a fantastic artist on stage. One shouldn’t forget that he started to sing in Gyllene Tider because no one else wanted to. The guys are laughing and Per mentions Micke Syd sings nicely though. He liked the idea of Marie singing. Already in the beginning she had the potential of becoming a fantastic artist on stage and she has always been a fantastic singer. There were only advantages of working together with her. Then of course when they broke through with Roxette, it was fun to communicate with the crowd. It’s the best there is to stand on stage in front of 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 thousand people who love what you are doing and they sing along a song you wrote, in cities you can’t pronounce the name of. Nordmark says he saw a documentary about Roxette where they were on tour in South America and he saw there were a lot of people. He is curious if Per ever thought, „shit, it’s too much”, because being an idol can also have its discomfort, he thinks. Per says Roxette’s heydays were between 1988 and 1995, before Marie had her second child. During those 7-8 years they travelled around the world, made albums, promotions, they toured. Per thinks when you are in the middle of it all, you don’t start thinking if that’s too much or if it will ever end or if your creativity burns out one day. You just want to keep going. You also don’t think in a way that shit, today there were 58 thousand people, tomorrow there should be 62 thousand. You are just doing your job. South America in 1992 was a quite bizarre experience, with police escort and stuff. The other day, the media in Argentina did interviews with him, they talked about Bag of Trix, their recent release and they were still talking about that tour in 1992, that they never experienced such pop hysteria since then. That was another era. When they played in Córdoba, which is maybe the third biggest city in Argentina, there were riot fences set up between the airport and their hotel, for example. It wasn’t a long distance, maybe 15 kilometres. There were a lot of fans with flags and banners all the way. Marie and Per were sitting in the car, they were let out at their hotel and then after they played, they travelled to another city. They went to Tucumán, which is also in Argentina. There had never been any rock bands before. They played there for 25-30 thousand and there were people climbing up even the light panels. He remembers the crew was desperate, he laughs. He says it was a fantastic tour and he’ll never forget that.

Nordmark asks Per if they were nervous before performing. Per says of course they were nervous, that’s natural, but you get focused. There were big TV programs in the US, they were live on The Arsenio Hall Show, for example and of course you are nervous, because anything can happen when you play live and there are 80 million people watching it. He thinks it can be the same for professional soccer players. They play matches in front of 40, 50, 60 thousand every time, so they become immune in a way. Mr. G says there is no difference between playing for 1000 or 30 thousand in that sense. You learn how to communicate with the audience. Marie was a master of it. She learned it very fast how to handle the crowds of different sizes. PG thinks Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart are very good examples too, just watch some videos of them on YouTube. Springsteen’s communication with the audience is also fantastic.

Nordmark says he read it somewhere that when Per was a kid he went to see Peps Persson [Swedish blues and reggae musician]. Per says he never saw him, so it must have been someone else Nordmark read that about. When he was a kid he went to see 10cc, AC/DC, they were the support act to Black Sabbath, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, they were the opening act for Nils Lofgren. They went to Gothenburg or Lund to attend concerts.

In Halmstad there was a vivid music life in the 60’s, before Per’s time. The Who was there, The New Yardbirds before they became Led Zeppelin, The Spencer Davis Group, The Hollies. Per’s brother went to see them all, but back then Mr. G was too young to be able to go. He remembers he saw Rainrock with Pugh Rogefeldt, he also remembers an incredibly sleepy concert of Ekseption, a Dutch classical rock band. When you saw them you realized you don’t want to be a musician. Sex Pistols played at Östra Stranden in Halmstad maybe in 1978 [it was in 1977]. Mats MP Persson and Per jumped into MP’s white Amazon and wanted to see Sex Pistols, but there was such a big fight outside the venue that they didn’t dare to get out of the car and they left.

As a closing topic, Per talks a bit about his English album. He says it’s almost ready. He has been working on it since spring. He goes to Skåne to the studio and they work 4 more days on it. Mr. G thinks it’s an exciting project. Per says he works together with Christoffer Lundquist, Clarence Öfwerman, Magnus Börjeson and also Jonas Isacsson on it. During the past few years he made so many singer-songwriter stuff that now he decided to make some pop of the 80’s or early 90’s that he loves, but didn’t deal with it since long. So he wrote much music in that style.

Nordmark thanks Per for being his guest and Mr. G says it was nice being there and it was a good chat.

Per Gessle – Värvet podcast interview

It’s not the first time Per was a guest of Kristoffer Triumf on his podcast, Värvet. Mr. G was guest No. 61 in May 2013 and now he is back in episode 442. The guys talked about Roxette, Halmstad, corporate gigs, Gyllene Tider, Marie Fredriksson, getting tired of music, his driving force, Så mycket bättre, money and happiness, dishwasher filling, the boring side of being Per Gessle and the connection between Monty Python and Joyride.

Already the teaser video on Instagram was much fun:

Kristoffer: – Brag about something!
Per: – I’m damn good at hockey.

K: – Do you have pain anywhere?
P: – In one shoulder for some reason, but I don’t know why. But it’s over now.

K: – How do you make the world better?
P: – I can’t answer that. I don’t know if I make the world better, actually.

K: – But you spread some kind of joy with your art?
P: – Yeah, maybe I do, but I can’t sit here and say that.

K: – Football team?
P: – Halmia, of course!

K: – If you could eat only one meal for the rest of your life, what would that be?
P: – Spaghetti aglio e olio. I love that.

K: – Choose a karaoke song!
P: – I don’t like karaoke, but… Hotel California.

K: – What will be written on your headstone?
P: – See you later, alligator… Haha, I don’t know.

In the podcast, Kristoffer asks Per how this corona year affected him. Per says it’s a quite boring and negative period in a way. At the same time, there are a lot of things happening in the world. The US elections and other creepy things related to the pandemic and it hasn’t ended yet and one can’t see the end of it. Mr. G says it has affected the music and hotel industry very much. He didn’t have a tour booked for this year, so he didn’t have to cancel anything, however, he had some corporate gigs booked that were cancelled. Kristoffer asks about corporate gigs. Per says he plays mainly for big companies, e.g. Ferrari, sometimes in Sweden, sometimes abroad. He is doing those to gather with his band and to be able to play. If they play in Sweden, people usually want to hear Här kommer alla känslorna and Sommartider, while if they do such gigs abroad it’s mainly Roxette songs they play. He thinks it’s fun to be with the band and they have a small crew with them. Kristoffer asks if there are any other benefits of playing for e.g. Ferrari than to earn money on that. Per says actually at that company he knows some people who work there. They played in Monaco on a huge Philip Morris luxury yacht. There was a swimming pool in the middle and there were people sitting in costumes and tuxedos rattling their jewelry around the pool while they were playing The Look. It was quite surreal, he laughs. Kristoffer says it must have been a difficult audience. Per says there is no difficult audience, but they were different for sure.

Per started what he is doing at a young age and he learned a lot over the years. When they broke through with Gyllene Tider in 1980 there were people who liked what they were doing and there were people who didn’t. The more successful they became the more dirt some wanted to find around them. There weren’t paparazzis or such, but they felt they had to take care of themselves at the shows and also with journalists. The more professional he got the more he could deal with it. Once he leaves his house, he is a public person. He can’t let it go. His close friends have another picture of him than those who don’t know him too well.

Kristoffer says he saw the documentary Jonas Åkerlund cut, the Roxette Diaries. He asks if it’s another Per. Most of it was filmed by Mr. G’s wife, so it’s a bit different when someone else films. Kristoffer says there are scenes in the Let Your Heart Dance With Me video too. Per says LYHDWM is one of two leftover songs from the Good Karma session. They release it in a box, Bag of Trix that consists of 4 vinyls or 3 CDs. It will contain bonus songs that were out on CD singles released e.g. in Japan only, demos and Spanish versions of songs as well. LYHDWM was ready but not mixed, so it was done only now. First Per wanted to find like 10 songs to release, but the deeper he was digging the more tracks he found. He already released a box with his own demos 5-6 years ago. That box contained a lot of Roxette songs, but then he didn’t pick demos that Marie was singing. So the demos Marie was involved with are on this Bag of Trix box now. There are even demos from the era before they released their first album. Kristoffer asks if there are demos of the hits as well. Per says it depends on what he means by hits. There are hits on it, but e.g. the demo of The Look or Joyride, which he was singing, are not on this compilation.

Kristoffer starts talking about the tribute concert to Marie held in January this year. Mr. G says it was a lovely, but strange event. When you go through something like what happened, you grow a shell around yourself. When you are so sad, it’s always tough to do anything. But when he met all the other musicians, Marie’s friends, it was in the air that everyone felt the same. So there was a kind of collective darkness. It was very difficult. The hardest times came when there were those little films in between the songs where Marie appeared. But it felt very great to do that. After the event it felt that it was perfect. Kristoffer aks Per how he worked on processing his grief. Per says he can’t really tell. He feels there is a huge emptiness. He was kind of prepared for what happened, because Marie was ill for so long. But you can’t really be prepared for this. When it’s over, it’s over. He thinks that this emptiness will stay there forever. It pops up all the time. When they are talking about Roxette, or when he sees things or a song is on the radio. He is reminded every day.

Kritoffer asks Per if he still plans to play the songs he wrote for Roxette, he did that before. Mr. G says he wants to sing them, because the alternative is not playing them anymore and that feels like a bad option. The songs live their own lives. Marie can’t be replaced, but he wants to play those songs. He already did that. It’s different, but it works.

Kristoffer thinks it might be a stupid question, but he asks Per how he remembers Marie. Per says there are so many different Maries. The greatest thing is that they succeeded with breaking through abroad. It’s highly impossible what they did. With their background, coming from Halmstad. He remembers the time when they shared the rehearsal studio, the days when she came up to his apartment and they were chatting, playing music, singing, drinking wine and dreaming away. Slowly but surely it happened. There were a lot of coincidences, a lot of luck and the determined dedication they both turned out to have. They both were very ambitious. After they broke through, Marie became a professional pop star. Then he also thinks about Marie as a fantastic singer who learned how to handle the audience of a football stadium and suddenly became a Freddie Mercury. Then he also remembers the break they had in the 90’s when Marie had her second child. Per did other things then, Gyllene Tider and solo stuff. Then they did another journey from 1999 to 2001 when they released 2 albums. It wasn’t a long time, because then Marie got ill in 2002.

Regarding Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig Per says he was writing an English pop album. He says it’s difficult to write songs like How Do You Do! when you are getting older. Because of the pandemic he thought he would record an acoustic record in the studio. The idea was to play all the instruments himself. He thought it would be personal. He didn’t have any songs and he didn’t want to write a new album, because he was already writing an English one. Then he thought he has so many old Swedish songs he likes very much, but never recorded or didn’t record it in a modern time. There are songs he wrote for other artists or songs he recorded but thinks they didn’t turn out to be good enough in their original version. He tested tons of songs, more than you can find on the album now.

There is a difference between Per today and Per 25-30 years ago. He doesn’t write pop songs the same way as before. He is dealing with stuff he finds interesting, but it’s still in his DNA to write something commercial. He doesn’t feel home in the world of producing music on laptops. He thinks some of these things are cool, but it’s not as much fun for him to record as e.g. an acoustic album. The hours he spends in the studio are like birthday celebration for him. It’s a big creative process, there he feels home. He feels awkward when he sits in front of the computer for hours to produce music. He sometimes likes a sound, but then they have to find another sound and it’s a boring process. He is coming from the rehearsal studio tradition. The music he is making these days doesn’t become so commercial as before. It’s fun to work with the 80’s or early 90’s sound again, synths and drum machines. Per loves that sound and that’s what he is doing now. We’ll hear the result maybe in spring next year. He says one will recognize his style. At least he hopes so. This album is being recorded mostly in Skåne at Christoffer Lundquist’s studio. He works together with Christoffer, Clarence Öfwerman and Magnus Börjeson.

Kristoffer asks about the phases we can’t see in Per’s job. Mr. G says it’s hard to tell about those, because he is his work, his activity is coming out of anything he is doing. He is constantly gathering ideas and has his antennas out. Sometimes he lets it go, when he feels he worked too much, was in the studio for so long or wrote too much and he needs space and distance. His iPhone is full of ideas, sketches, thoughts, song ideas, lyric ideas, production ideas.

Kristoffer aks what is the boring side of being Per Gessle or being an artist at all. Mr. G says there is nothing super boring in it. He always tries to have fun. But he knows what Kristoffer means. There is a girl who takes care of his music business and a manager who takes care of replying all the mails that have anything to do with Per’s job. There is Thomas Johansson at Live Nation who takes care of the shows. So he doesn’t have to take care of the administration himself. Sometimes he does, but only to keep an eye on it. A lot of his music is being used in commercials or movies on Netflix and when there are these requests, he gets emails daily and is asked if they can go ahead with this or that. He says he doesn’t want his music to be connected to anything controversial or political and he doesn’t get emails like that because probably everyone knows he is not interested in that. Sometimes it’s a commercial for an Italian clothes brand or a Chilean mineral water or independent movies. Sometimes he gets the synopsis and they tell him there is a space for e.g. Dressed for Success in it. He thinks his music doesn’t need to be constrained to McDonald’s commercials, but can also appear in avantgarde films.

Kristoffer says it’s an old truth that they never talk about money in Sweden, at the same time he feels that Per had to talk a lot about money in Sweden. Per says he doesn’t know why. He thinks it’s because they became successful very early. Now there are a lot of people who earn a lot of money in Sweden: IT millionaires, the Spotfiy guys etc. But when they broke through in the 80’s it was different. When he is asked about money he is always talking about music instead. He likes earning a lot of money and loves success, but the most important is that everything is based on his music and the ideas he has around his musicality, songwriting and artistry. So he turns the conversation into a creative discussion then. Kristoffer asks Per if financial independency makes him happy. Per says the short answer is yes. Life itself became much simpler besides paying the rent. That’s another question that the business he works in is a risk industry. The money he earns gives him the possibility to keep going without compromises. He doesn’t need to think of making commercial music anymore. Before he had to think about it a lot. Both with Gyllene Tider and Roxette, but thankfully, they had the power of creating those songs themselves. All of their hits are original songs and that’s what he is the most proud of in his career. It’s all built on his songwriting. The music industry changed so much. Spotify takes 94-95% of the total business in Sweden. At the same time, he is still thinking in album format, he still tries to record organically in a studio with different musicians. It costs a lot of money and that money doesn’t come back, so it’s him who is financing that part, having fun in the studio. But he is doing corporate gigs or tours and he hopes to sell tickets so that he can earn on that and invest it into his recording activity. If he wasn’t selling tickets, he wouldn’t have the possibility for that. Money gives you freedom to be able to do what you want.

Kristoffer says Per has a huge song catalogue and asks Per if he is reminded of it daily. Per says it’s his life, but he doesn’t sit down to think „shit, what a huge song catalogue I have”. He is very proud of all they achieved over the years, but it’s not something you are thinking about every day. You keep going forward.

Kristoffer asks when Per is the happiest. Mr. G says he is superhappy when he is with his family, they mean so much to him. But as a person he is the best when he is working in the studio. When he creates music with people who he respects. They make the result together. He has always been a studio fox. He also likes playing music together, he loves everything around music. Sometimes it’s too much, he feels he was working too much, e.g. after long tours he gets tired of himself and all the songs. But it’s fantastic to go to a rehearsal studio and prepare for a tour, playing together. Music is a huge power itself. He doesn’t know any other art that is so strong as music. It makes you laugh or cry or dance. And doing it together is magical. He told his son who has never played in a band that all kids should play in a band at least once in their lives to get the feeling of working together and discover when „you and I sing together” and it sounds good. Or when you play the bass and drums and they sound good together. And writing stuff yourself or arranging music. It’s fantastic, the whole journey.

Kristoffer asks if Per’s son, Gabriel plays any instruments. Per says he plays a little piano, a little guitar and the drums. Not at a super level, but it’s fun. He is 23 and he is very much into laptop music. He is programming ambient music.

Kristoffer aks Per if he ever gets tired of music. Per doesn’t think so. If he looks back on his teenage years, he always thinks about music, artists like David Bowie, T. Rex, The Beatles, Bad Company, Wings. That was his education. He learned English via pop music. He found the fundamentals in music and for him it’s easy to refer to music. There he recognizes himself and that era. When he is talking about music he remembers not solely music, but art or movies or magazines of the era. He spent a lot of time away from school, putting on the earphones and listening to The Dark Side of the Moon or Aladdin Sane.

About history Per says he is interested in it, one can learn a lot from history. When you are reading about different eras in history you recognize a lot from our times today. He says his son is very good at Maths and Physics, but Per is lost in that field. When he grew up his walls were full of posters of pop idols, motorcycles and cars. His son’s room is filled with formulas and algorithms. He loves Maths.

Kristoffer asks Per about Gyllene Tider’s comeback. Per says he read that in the newspapers that they would come back, but he says the question was if that was really the last tour last year. He said it was, BUT it’s a pity, because GT is a fantastic band to play with and a fantastic fireball in the music life. It was Micke Syd’s idea that they should do a last tour now that they are all still healthy and alive. It made sense. But now that it’s over, Per is not against doing more GT gigs again. It’s always fun. They are like brothers and there is a fundamental love between them in a way. Of course, between brothers there is arguing as well, but in 2019, while they became older they became calmer and it was so easy to do it together. There is a huge gratitude for what they have achieved and the chance to succeed was so little, one can’t ignore it.

Kristoffer asks Per about Roxette’s break through if it was luck. Mr. G says that all artists who break through in that way are lucky. You have to be at the right place at the right time. Per says there were so many moments that led to their success. He was asked to write a song for Pernilla Wahlgren. He wrote Svarta glas, but she never recorded it. Per’s demo was circulating at his record company though and the boss, Rolf Nygren said he should translate it into English and record it with Marie so they have what they always talked about to do something together in English. So Per translated it and it became Neverending Love. That became their first hit. So it was luck that Pernilla didn’t want the song, but Rolf saw it and gave the budget to Marie and Per to record it. Neverending Love became a summer hit in 1986 and they recorded their first album in no time and released it in October. It contained songs Per wrote for his Swedish solo album and translated the lyrics into English. Then The Look’s story with the exchange student who brought their album to Minneapolis in the US was also lucky moment. There was a radio program where the listeners could ask to play their favourite songs, but not only to ask, but leave their records there and ask something to be played from that. When that happened they had the capacity to follow up all the time. It was of course their own power. Many thought that The Look would be a one hit wonder in the US. It was followed by Dressed for Success in the US, but there was a radio syndicate that didn’t want to play DFS, because they were convinced Roxette was a flash in the pan with The Look. But it peaked on the Billboard charts at No. 14. It could have been No. 3 if the radio syndicate didn’t refuse it, who knows. But then Listen To Your Heart became No. 1. They were there on the US charts constantly for appr. 4 years. He thinks everyone needs luck. He thinks The Beatles had their luck when Brian Epstein came and saw them at the Cavern Club. The Police broke through with Roxanne in the US in a similar way as Roxette with The Look. Coincidence and fate play a big role. Kristoffer thinks it’s 97% talent and 3% luck. Per thinks it’s 50-50%, because it doesn’t matter how talented you are if you are not lucky. There are so many talented artists who never break through. Per says they had the capacity of being able to play live that many of their competitors didn’t. Milli Vanilli, Paula Abdul for example. Marie hated doing the playback shows on TV, because she wanted to sing and Per wanted to play. All in all, Per thinks you have to be lucky, but also you have to have the capacity.

Kristoffer starts talking about Marie’s and Per’s voices. Per says it’s exciting in music when there are different voices. Either if you are a boy and girl, but also when there are boys, e.g. in The Beatles or The Beach Boys. You can change the arrangement and take advantage of your different key preferences both when you are writing and when you are performing. It’s something they tried to benefit from from the very beginning. It also became an ingredient in Per’s songwriting that he and Marie had different key preferences. The most perfect it was when they had a fifth interval between their voices. Kristoffer asks what it means and Per explains It Must Have Been Love starts in C major, but for him it would be G major. So Per wrote the songs to fit Marie’s voice and his voice. It needs a technical know-how to do so and he learned that. He says in many Roxette songs they are changing the keys. It’s in his songwriting style. When a girl and a guy sing a duet, it’s like they are singing about each other and you can also take advantage of it in the lyrics. Paint is a good example. Per sings the verses and those are very masculine, while Marie’s singing is very girly, feminine.

Kristoffer says he remembers Per wrote a nice line when Marie passed away that she painted Per’s black and white songs in the most beautiful colours. He also remembers that Per talked about Clarence Öfwerman’s role in how his music came into life. He asks whether Per is realistic when he talks about these or he has lack of self confidence. Per thinks it’s a mix. He felt and still feels his musical limits. He needs others to cooperate in carrying out what he hears in his head. He can’t do everything himself. They started working together with Clarence very early. The first Roxette song they recorded with him was I Call Your Name. Its title in Swedish was Jag hör din röst. They never recorded it in Swedish. Everything Clarence suggested was great and the song got a swing. Per never heard his music that way. It got a funk swing and it was very far from Per’s Blondie pop he did with Gyllene Tider. Clarence added a finnesse, he does things differently. Sometimes Per asked him if they could get the swing like in Let’s Dance by Bowie, then Clarence said it wouldn’t work because there are too many chords in the verses, so it wouldn’t have the swing in that way. And that’s something Per didn’t think about. That’s something he learned that you can’t make something blue out of something red. You have to go the way, take your time and learn and find the simple way, otherwise you’ll have a problem all the way. Regarding Marie, Per says she was a jazz singer, she was singing R&B, blues and soul, anything possible, so when they recorded Soul Deep or I Call Your Name it fit her very well. One of the things why Marie wanted to work with Per was because she got songs she couldn’t write herself, even if she was a singer songwriter too. So she got access to material out of what she could create something more. She liked that. She liked to be in different roles, being a pop diva in Dressed for Success or being a crazy R&B chick in Soul Deep and at the same time she was a fantastic ballad singer as well. It’s actually a singer’s job to make the listener react, to make you think that „shit, this text is about me”. So this is how Marie coloured Per’s songs. They did that together with Clarence.

Kristoffer asks Per if he still feels limited. Technically he has his limits. He is not a good lead guitarist. His style fits Gllene Tider very well. Once he wants to make something modern, something new, then he needs help. Before he asks for help, the melody, the chords and the lyrics are ready. He needs help with the execution. For example, it would be nice to have strings in the second verse and that would lift up the song towards the end. He is not good at writing string arrangements, he would hire musicians to do that. Kristoffer asks if he can describe how he wants things to sound. Per says he can tell e.g. where he wants it to be lifted and such things, but it’s not brain surgery.

Kristoffer asks Per how his self confidence as a songwriter is now in autumn of 2020. Per thinks he has self confidence, but he also feels that he is a child of his time for better or worse. Sometimes he wishes he wouldn’t have that much in his luggage, if he wouldn’t know that much music. He thinks about it most often when he hears music, because then he automatically thinks it sounds like this, it sounds like that and he is kind of cataloguing the songs. His relation to music changed totally when he became a musician, an artist, a songwriter. When he listens to Spotify Top50 he is doing it for educational purposes. He listens to it to hear how things sound, why it works there, what they thought here etc. He sees YouTube parodies about how the same 4 chords appear in so many songs. There are people who sit there and create beats on their computer. He worked together with younger musicians who didn’t know what chords are at all. But they might have a talent that Per probably doesn’t have. It can be useful sometimes. Musicality is so different for different people. Those who are in their 20s now grew up with pop music in a different way than Per did. Nowadays not all record labels need artists who can play instruments.

Kristoffer realized that Per is very focused. Mr. G says it’s true. Kristoffer asks if it’s the same when he is reading a book. Per says he can be very focused and then extremely restless. He always has parallel projects. It fits him that he can hop from one thing to another. He has Gyllene Tider, Roxette, his Swedish solo stuff, his English solo stuff and Mono Mind. The difficulty is when he is working with his Swedish stuff. Sweden is such a small market, a small country. He can’t release albums and go on tours all the time, because people get tired of him. With their international career it was easy to be away for a longer time. There were many years when he didn’t write songs in Swedish because he was working with Roxette only.

Kristoffer asks Per what he is watching on TV. He says he is streaming a lot, watching HBO and Netflix. He is watching Ray Donovan now, the fifth season. He also watched a surprisingly good Tom Cruise movie, Jack Reacher. It was like Mission Impossible, but without all the tehniques. Ozark is very good too. Succession as well. Curb Your Enthusiasm is a favourite and he is a big Seinfeld fan. He also likes After Life with Ricky Gervais.

Kristoffer is curious if it is important for Per to discover new music. Per says he thinks Taylor Swift’s latest album, Folklore is damn good. It’s not what you usually hear from her, it’s no hit music, but very nice. It’s newly created but with respect to its genre.

Kristoffer aks Per what he thinks about Max Martin. Mr. G thinks he is a fantastic songwriter and a fantastic coordinator in the team he works together with. It’s great that he is so successful.

Kristoffer asks what Per’s driving force is. Per says he is just existing like that. He just wants to move forward. He thinks many become stressed by success, but he has never been triggered by it. He tells he wrote Joyride and Spending My Time on the same day, because Joyride turned out to be so good that he just wanted to continue writing. He must mention that Mats MP Persson was also involved in writing SMT. It has never been a problem for him to follow up such things what others become stressed by. Kristoffer says it sounds like if Per wants to make a new album, he wants to make it even better than the previous one. Better and a bit different, Per says. The fun thing with the creative process is that you aim to the Southwest and you end up in the Northeast, but it still sounds good. He likes that. Of course one tries to make better things than before. However, he thinks „better” is not the right word. Whenever there is a new project, you start it from the beginning, but you have your experience with you. When Per writes he is always trying to write from a new angle. He is changing. He is not the same as he was a year ago or 30 years ago. That’s why it was exciting for him to go through his material for Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig, because he was thinking why he wrote this or that text. Today he can’t really understand what he meant with that what he wrote in the 80’s or 90’s. He can’t understand the temperature in the text and he is wondering what his purpose was. He would choose different words now.

Kristoffer asks if there are perfect songs. Per thinks it’s hard to answer. A song is perfect if it fills a function. If you like a song in a certain situation or a certain period of your life, it’s perfect for you just then. Kristoffer asks if Per has such songs. Mr. G says he has songs that mean a lot to people, they married to them, maybe also divorced to them, haha. Kristoffer is curious if Per thinks there is any song of his in which he wouldn’t change anything. Per says there is no song he wrote that couldn’t be better. And he thinks „better” is not the right word here either. He thinks he wouldn’t make them the same way today. It would be dull to run around and say The Look peaked at No. 1 so you can’t make anything better than that. Kristoffer asks if Mr. G has any Beatles song in his mind in which he thinks one shouldn’t change anything. Per thinks there are Beatles songs and Tom Petty songs that are fantastic, because they fill a function for him, but it’s not like he is listening to them and says „shit, it couldn’t have been done better”. One shouldn’t strive for the maximum all the time. One should go with the flow and experience things. Music is like a film. Sometimes you think it was a good movie, but a bit too long, then you would make it shorter, but if you cut it in the wrong places, it won’t give you the same experience.

Kristoffer says Per lost some close friends and relatives over the past years and is curious if it matters in a way that he wants to create things that stay after he is gone. Per says sometimes you ask yourself what are you doing here or what is your goal with this or that. When you release a song it’s a question if you make it for yourself or for others’ sake. He is so terribly narcissistic that he is making them for his own sake. He works like that. If it wasn’t music he would find a way to express himself anyway. It’s a huge ego trip. There will for sure be songs that live on after he is gone. When he thinks about the 80’s when it didn’t go well for him commercially before Roxette, he wrote songs for others, but it didn’t fit him to be a hired gun, to write for someone else to make him or her satisfied. That’s why he thinks it’s fascinating when there are those Swedish songwriting teams when there are 5-6 people and make different parts of a song. There must be someone who says stop or that’s what we want or this is better than that. Must be an A&R person at a record company or a manager or the artist himself. He doesn’t know. Kristoffer is curious if Per had any other similarly tough period in his life as in the 80’s after GT broke up. In his career he didn’t have. Roxette became so big and then they had a break and GT came back and he made a solo record. Then Roxette came back again. Then Marie got ill and he made solo records again. Mazarin became probably his biggest Swedish success.

Kristoffer asks Per if he has ever been depressed. There were tough years, but he wasn’t depressed. When his family, his mother, sister and brother passed away in 3 years it was tough, then also when Marie passed away last December. There comes emptiness and you become another person. But even if you can’t talk to those people anymore, they are still there in a way. Kristoffer likes that Per talks about Marie in present. Per says she is always there in a way.

Kristoffer asks Per about the Swedish reality TV program, Så mycket bättre [Swedish artists live together for eight days and each artist attempts to do their own version of another artist’s well-known song /PP]. Per says he won’t ever be on that show. He thinks it’s boring to do TV at all and he also thinks that such a TV program is to make people more known or let people get to know more about those who are there on the show. He has never been interested in becoming known as a person.

Regarding enjoying the moment when they stood in front of tens of thousands of people at shows in Montevideo for example, Per says they talked a lot about that with Marie that how little you enjoy these things while you are working. You are in a bubble, you perform, you do your job and then you go to the bar and lay down and fly to another city or country. It becomes a neverending loop of performing. So the short answer is no, he thinks they don’t enjoy it the way an outsider thinks they do. At the same time, there are of course moments, e.g. when Marie and Per stand together on stage in a football stadium and Per looks at Marie and he knows they think the same „is it really true? how did we get to here?”. That of course you enjoy, that moment. You enjoy being on stage though or when you feel it at night that you did an amazing concert and you sleep well because you know you did a good job and that means a lot to people.

Kristoffer asks if they still felt happiness when they reached their fourth No. 1 in the US. Per says it was Joyride in 1991. Per was in Paris and Marie was in Stockholm. From all four No. 1s it was the fourth he enjoyed the most. It was soon after they released the album and it was huge then. Thanks to his wife who left that note, „Hej, din tok, jag älskar dig!” (Hello, you fool, I love you!) on his piano. Kristoffer asks where the whistling came from. It comes from Per. He always liked the whistling in Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. There is whistling in Let Your Heart Dance With Me as well. You shoudn’t underrate whistling.

Kristoffer is curious what Per takes photos of. Mr. G says it depends on his mood. He often takes pics of forms of nature. Trees, silhouettes. He almost always takes pictures only if he knows he will save them. He likes taking pics. It’s fantastic that you have a camera on your phone, it became so easy. It’s easy to film as well or use filters. There is creativity in it. You can use filters to look less wrinkly. Haha. Kristoffer asks if he was thinking about a plastic surgery. Per smiles and says it’s not his cup of tea. Kristoffer says Per can wear his age with dignity. Per thanks. Kristoffer asks what Per uses those photos for and if he exhibits them at Hotel Tylösand. Per says he did some books with his lyrics or so and they included pictures and his drawings in them to illustrate the lyrics or some comments. But he doesn’t take the pictures for using them for something. A photo can tell a lot about the one who takes the picture. Kristoffer asks if Per has a good camera or he just has his phone with him. He has his phone with him only. He has an OK camera at home, but you have everything on a phone nowadays. It’s not a phone anymore.

There come some funny questions.

Do you have an idea how to fill a dishwasher? – Per says it’s a constant fight in the family, because he and his wife likes to fill the dishwasher in totally different ways. Per likes to put the knives on the left side in the top compartment and longer stuff, e.g. bread knife or cheese slicer go to the right side, while Åsa likes to put everything higgledy-piggledy. Haha.

What do you think about moss? – Per has positive feelings about moss, he thinks it’s nice and very green. He should write about them.

When was the last time you had a beard? – He has a beard each morning. It’s quite robust and is growing fast. Now in the middle of the day he can feel it. He shaved himself 5 hours ago and it’s already out again. He had a real beard in the 80’s for the last time. There was a photo session with Marie and him, there he had a beard.

What do you want to do with your future? – Per says he goes with the flow. He wants to keep going and live on and do as many good things as he can and be a fairly sensible husband and father and friend.

Would you recommend anything? – He recommends parking the e-scooters at another place, not in the middle of the sidewalks. He doesn’t dare to move them away because he would appear in the magazines with that later, but he already thought about it.

Kristoffer thanks Per for his time. Per says it’s his pleasure and „see you in 7 years”.

Podcast preview pic and still is from Värvet’s Instagram.