Per Gessle interview in Aftonbladet Söndag

In yesterday’s issue of Aftonbladet Söndag magazine there is a Per Gessle interview on 6 pages, including some killer shots of Mr. G. The interview is done by Monika Israelsson, the photos are taken by Maria Östlin.

Nashville, autumn 2016

This time Per Gessle ended up in Nashville, Tennessee, in T-shirt weather in October. Per tells Monika that if he needed a harmonica in an odd key, he would have just walked five minutes to find one in Nashville. Mr. G brought his closest gang with him and a bunch of demos. Per says he thought they should record acoustic sketches only and then bring in local musicians and see what they bring. He asked the owner of the studio if they could take a pedal steel guy and Dan Dugmore got there, an old hero. He was so good. The result is two albums, first out ”En vacker natt”. Strings and steel guitar provide a classic country sound, yet the white sand dunes and an empty beach appear (referring to Halmstad). On the album cover there is a girl in a headscarf, singing at the sea in winter.

Stockholm, April 2017

The photos were taken in Ölandsgatan in Södermalm, Stockholm. At one moment, when a car was getting closer, the stylist shouted at Per and the photographer to beware, but they weren’t stressed. It turned out the car didn’t want to hit them, just stop by and ask Per how Marie is. Per walks to the car, leans down and says she’s just fine. They chat a bit, then the car is leaving. Per looks happy and is joking there was no selfie asked. Though it happened yesterday. And the day before yesterday. Since Per was at Skavlan a few weeks ago and said that he “gets depressed if no one wants to take a selfie”, there are even more requests.

They walk back to the record company’s office and there Per says his existence basically depends on what people think about the things he does. The new albums are not mainstream radio compatible. Per says to Monika that when you are used to meeting the public, you will be disappointed if you don’t get the cheering. At a concert he then thinks: “Why don’t people scream like they do usually?”. But if they scream extra much, you feel “calm down, you all”. Haha. He says one is analyzing things to death.

Per keeps his private life safe and people don’t know much about him. This is how he wants it. He says he won’t ever be on Parneviks (Swedish show that features golfer Jesper Parnevik and his family as they welcome celebrity guests to stay at their mansion in Florida for a few days) or on Så mycket bättre (Swedish reality TV show in which each artist attempts to do their own version of another artist’s well-known songs, with each person getting an episode featuring all of their songs being performed by the other musicians). He doesn’t know what he could win with it. He is very pleased that ”Tycker om när du tar på mig” means something for people, but he or his life doesn’t need to mean anything to anyone. He doesn’t feel the need to show his home or his cars or where he buys bananas. Åsa and Gabriel are the same when it comes to such things.

Regarding himself being a small town guy, Per tells Monika that there is a difference in growing up in a big city and a small town, and there was even greater difference in the ‘60s and ‘70s. That small town mentality has colored him so much that it lies in his personality. He grew up in Furet district of Halmstad with his mother who was a teacher in porcelain painting and his father who was a plumber. He was a trailing child and a loner. He was more into lonely stuff, like painting and drawing. He always felt more like an outsider. His brother introduced him to rock music: The Beatles, The Kinks, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, who became a direct channel to another world, much more exciting than Furet.

Per tells Aftonbladet Söndag that he went to a tough high school. There were a lot of drugs, a gang that broke the seats in the bus. Being good at school was the worst thing one could do. His dad drove him to school because he didn’t want to take the bus.

He started to play in a band with Mats MP Persson. Per asks Gabriel if he knows what one misses when he doesn’t play in a band. There you have your friends and you can play together the same song and that sounds damn good. That thing is sensational. It brought him a kind of gratitude. He and MP started as a punk band that sounded terrible and developed into Gyllene Tider. Per was purposeful and he covered Halmstad with leaflets and sent cassette tapes to record companies. They succeeded when EMI offered a contract and they recorded their first album in 1979.

The early Swedish texts are like a highway into a teenager’s head and body. Over the years, the songs have become more thoughtful, but still they take off in everyday happenings, often including sadness. A fishing trip, a rainy morning on the beach, an old love on the bus. Per says he usually tries to keep a fairly high minimum level of texts. Sometimes a song is so contagious that the text doesn’t play an equal role in the context. But when the music is more naked and crisp, the lyrics become important.

Monika asks Per if he can really put himself in the lives of ordinary people, with his luxury cars and private jet. Per says he doesn’t write about townhouse life or a night on the subway. He thinks that just because you tell a story, it doesn’t mean it’s true. If that means something to someone, he has succeeded. Then whether  he has experienced it or not, it’s quite uninteresting.

To the question why he doesn’t write sorely or about politics Per replies he doesn’t think he has had any political substance to come up with. Besides that, he doesn’t think it would be interesting enough. He is more towards the dreamy stuff. He thinks all people are political in some way when in a society. Mr. G thinks it’s unacceptable not to vote, it’s a democratic right so it’s better to vote for anything in that case. But he doesn’t really know how to use it.

Monika asks Per about his musical self-esteem. Per sayst it started at minus 100, he thought he sang damn badly. He started singing in Gyllene Tider because no one else would. Now he has learned that this damn voice is an asset. Everything that stands out is good.

Per thinks of himself as a kind of director. He always choose to work with people who are much better than himself. That can help him to pursue any kind of vision he has. He knows something will be fine, but he doesn’t know how to get there. He has always thought Marie Fredriksson is the best in the studio when Per is there. Mr. G means he thinks he makes Marie take one more step.

Per met his wife, Åsa in the mid ‘80s. The early years were significant in their relationship. Gyllene Tider’s English album and Per’s second solo album flopped. When looking at Roxette and his actual life, it’s easy to think that it has always been so. But it has not. He was a ”has-been” when he was 24 and it was damn hard for him. He lived on Åsa’s salary from Vingresor and had no real master plan. When Roxette had its break-through, it was evident that Åsa, with her professional background took care of the gang’s trips. This way Per and Åsa didn’t spend much time apart, despite long tours around the world. She often documented with a cam. The films became raw material for the Jonas Åkerlund documentary, Roxette Diaries (2015).

Per’s voice is shining when he talks about the ‘90s, the years when Roxette had several songs on the Billboard charts in the US for 4 years in a row. Per remembers playing Joyride for 200 radio directors in the US. It wasn’t even released, but they came to them to congratulate on their next “number one”. If you’re lucky, you have this success once in your life. Back then Roxette was exactly what America wanted. Nevertheless, they were never completely in the heat. The US record company wanted them to move to the United States and they would replace musicians in the band. But Per and Marie said no. Per says it’s one of the things he is most proud of, that they kept their gang. They created the Roxette sound together.

When Per is listening to old songs today he can be knocked out. Marie’s voice is amazing, Per says he can feel “damn how good she sings”. He smiles and says back then he didn’t sense it, it was more like “sing better!”.

Monika and Per talk about the times when Marie got ill and that Mr. G among others thought it was the end of Roxette. He started to work with Gyllene Tider and did solo projects. Then in 2009 Marie and Micke came to Amsterdam and Per asked Marie to come up on stage to sing Listen To Your Heart. He thought people would die for it. Marie didn’t want to, but Per knew she wanted, so it took like 15 minutes to convince her and she said OK, let’s try it.

Per is grateful for the Roxette tours and albums during the past years, saying he felt something of a “brotherhood responsibility”. Today they talk regularly.

There is a deep melancholy in the music on Per’s new album. In recent years, Per has first lost his mother and then his brother and sister, who both passed away in cancer. Mr. G says when people die around you, you grow older sooner. There is a thoughtfulness and one is thinking more about everything. He says he has to stop himself so that he doesn’t only write about what has been, but about what is and the future too. When his sister died, her son found a box of old diapositives from 1966. It is Gunilla who stands by the ice and sings. Per has selected some of the pictures for the albums. It felt like they fit the record.

Per’s replies to special questions:

5x the last time I…

… cooked: ”Scrambled eggs. I’m miserable in the kitchen.”

… bought something extremely expensive: ”A dulcimer, a string instrument. Pretty expensive but very fine.”

… loughed out loud: ”Quite a lot of times last week, when I was watching Dag, the TV series.”

… felt ashamed: ”I’ve stopped doing that. No, in fact, I feel ashamed just now about this answer of mine.”

… took a selfie with someone: ” Yesterday in a car shop. Then you just have to be in for it!”

3x the coolest cars in the world:

  1. Ferrari Dino: ”Cars don’t have to be practical. And they don’t have to drive at 350 km/h, because you never drive that fast anyway. However, it’s important that they are beautiful.”
  2. Mini Cooper: ”Classic, the one Austin Powers drives.”
  3. Rolly-Royce Corniche: ”So incredibly beautiful car. This is the one of these 3 I don’t own.”

3x people about Per:

Marie Dimberg, manager: ”Per, like most other artists, is hard-working, creative, target-oriented and focused. What distinguishes him is his amazing songwriting that gave him three careers: Gyllene Tider, solo and Roxette. I don’t think there is a big difference between the private and public Per. He is immensely positive and thinks fast both inside and outside the job. And he is just as bad at keeping the time in both cases…”

Marie Fredriksson, artist: ”Per is extremely creative, focused, positive and cheering in the studio. This is how he is as a person. We’ve had so much fun together through all the years. We had a lovely dinner together just the other day. There were many memories that came up and it’s obviously nice with such a long friendship that it continues even outside the stage and the studio.”

Mats MP Persson, band member in Gyllene Tider: ”My first impression of Per was that he was a real artist, translating Leonard Cohen’s and David Bowie’s lyrics into Swedish, and he had a tape recorder with microphones that could be used to play and record. He also had great visions. I thought it was really exciting and once we started doing covers with Per’s translated lyrics, for example, Doctor Feelgood. We did everything on our own and called us Graperock, if I remember right…”

3x this is how I wrote the song:

(Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän (Gyllene Tider, 1980): ”One summer I was weighing mushrooms. There were over three hundred girls and two guys. When we had nothing to weigh, we sat in our Ford Transit, where I wrote the text and then we made a song of it in the evening. Just because I could. In a way it was like solving crosswords.”

Allt gick så fort (En vacker natt, 2017): ”This song wrote itself. I was in France on a beach, a woman was picked from the water. I don’t know what happened to her afterwards. It became a catalyst for the fact that life goes fast.”

Neverending Love (Pearls of passion, 1986): ”I wrote a song for Pernilla Wahlgren, Svarta glas. Then I accidentally heard that her brother Niclas had recorded it and that was not the idea. I made an English text instead and recorded it with Marie.”

There are captions next to the photos in the article including Per’s thoughts on Roxette was the second pop group ever to play in Beijing. The concert in 1995 was met by both criticism and praise. When they played It Must Have Been Love, there was a banner in the audience saying ‘one world one unity’. One felt they became their longing for a Western life. The whole band went out and cried afterwards.

Another caption says that despite his worldwide success, Per Gessle remains a small town guy. He has never left Halmstad. By many, he is still perceived to be private – and that’s exactly how he wants it.

In a third caption it’s written that Gyllene Tider’s first hit wasn’t obvious. Per says they were told that the first single must have a certain pace to make it disco comaptible. But just then Frank Zappa happened to have a hit with Bobby Brown and that was very slow. So some discos in Stockholm started playing Flickorna på TV2, which had the same pace. Slowly but surely people began to recognize it. An organic hit, that’s the best kind.

The article closes with Monika’s thoughts that among the memories flowing from Per, names, places, anecdotes, she can’t find the right moment to ask why Per makes new records and gets out on exhausting tours when he has millions on his bank account. But eventually it becomes irrelevant. It is clear that Per Gessle lives and breathes music.

Great interview! Thanks for that, Aftonbladet Söndag!

Per was asked to draw a portrait of himself. Of course he made a Leif drawing. Haha.

 

Update on 3rd May: Aftonbladet shared the article online for subscribers.

Interview with Per Gessle about Good Karma, melodies, songwriting and other groovy things

zdf_pgThere were quite some shorter and longer Good Karma interviews with Per during the past few weeks and he even provided all of us, Roxers with a fantastic opportunity, a Facebook live Q&A some days ago, answering 84 questions in 1 hour. After all this, we still had thousands of questions, so we put them together and shot all of them at him.

Even if Mr. G is always very busy with all of his parallel projects, he found the time to answer all our Qs. It’s really m.u.c.h. a.p.p.r.e.c.i.a.t.e.d. and we love all his detailed replies! And also the less detailed ones. Haha. Enjoy!

 

RXB: – First of all, thank you very much in advance for taking your time and answering our questions. Much appreciated! We know you are always very curious about the reception of your releases. Seeing the reaction of fans, your new album, ”Good Karma” is loved. How does it feel?
PG: – It feels fab. Since our fans are extremely varied and therefore very hard to please we didn’t expect anything like this. People, including the media, seem surprised by the direction we’ve taken and we find that interesting. You never know what people might think.
”Good Karma” has been created with a natural flow, we knew right from the beginning what we were looking for. However it’s been quite a difficult album to make. Not only couldn’t Marie join us in the studio except for her vocal takes and the technical challenges we went through took a lot of time and energy, especially from Christoffer. You need a low pulse and lots of patience to make an album like G.K.

RXB: – ”Good Karma” is the shortest Roxette album with its 38 minutes. Quality over quantity, but do you consider an album having a certain length when you start recording?
PG: – No. We record songs we like and use the ones we like the most. In the ”Good Karma”-case there are a few leftovers but we didn’t think they matched the quality of the other tracks so we left them out. Personally I think forty minutes is perfect for an album. You know you’ve succeeded if your natural instinct is to play it again.

RXB: – Your album titles are always short and simple. After the 10th studio album was released, which of your records do you think has the best title, taking into consideration the whole concept around that certain album?
PG: – I think they’re all pretty good. No, I don’t. I don’t really like ”Pearls Of Passion”. I don’t like titles with an ”OF” in the middle. It sounds pretentious. My original song was called ”Pearls AND Passion” but it was misspelled by EMI on an early draft and we kept it like that for some reason. And I changed the title and the lyrics of my song. True story. Have I told that one before?
”Look Sharp!” is a very cool title. ”Crash! Boom! Bang!” as well. And ”Charm School” and ”Joyride”. And ”Have A Nice Day”. And ”Room Service”. Hey, we’re brilliant at titles!

RXB: – You smiled in the Sat1 interview that the album leaked and so you could read on Facebook which songs people liked already before the official release date. Does it piss you off when such things happen?
PG: – No, it was expected. It’s almost impossible to keep things secret these days. There’s always someone who spills the beans. It goes hand in hand with our open-minded and ultra connected universe.

RXB: – Regarding radio, the last time a Roxette lead single went on air worldwide was ”She’s Got Nothing On (But The Radio)” in 2011. Unfortunately, in many countries ”It Just Happens” is still not played. Why do you think radios don’t pick it up even if there are news in the media about it?
PG: – Radio doesn’t work like it used to. In the old days you had music people who were in charge over playlists etc. Today most stations around the world play music selected by algorithms based on social media etc. It’s pretty tough to crack that system especially if you’re a ”vintage” band like us. It’s the same problem for most artists of our generation (and older). That’s one of the reasons most songs in the Top 40 chart sound pretty much the same and are targeted towards a very young audience who are on the internet all the time.

RXB: – You mentioned in several interviews that ”Good Karma” songs were not meant to be performed live. The previous two albums’ lead singles had you on lead vocals, which was obvious from promotional point of view as Marie wouldn’t have been able to handle new lyrics. How was ”It Just Happens” chosen now? Three singles in a row with you on lead vocals make us wonder.
PG: – No strategy. Warner wanted a ”classic” powerful Roxette-song as the lead single and off we went with ”IJH”. It’s a quite sophisticated song, coming from us. Maybe not the most obvious choice for a first single but I understand how they were thinking. Personally I consider ”IJH” to be a ”Marie-song”. Her vocals are the driving force behind it, not mine.

RXB: – ”Some Other Summer” might have a bigger potential. Do you expect it or any another song to be a bigger hit worldwide and that radios realize these tracks are worth to be on air?
PG: – No, I don’t expect anything. ”SOS” is a great pop song in my book, so are ”Good Karma” and ”Why Dontcha?” and a few others. But that doesn’t mean that I expect it to become a worldwide hit. It doesn’t work like that anymore. New balls, dear you.

RXB: – Talking about it, you gave ”Some Other Summer” to Sebastien Drums long before your original version was out. What was the idea behind someone else releasing your song before you do?
PG: – We had a mutual friend in the German music biz who asked us if we had a Rox-song Sebastien could use. And we had just finished ”SOS” so he got that one. I like the idea of doing unexpected things. Sometimes strange and wonderful things happen that way. But I never really understood Seb’s official version. There are a couple of other SOS-remixes he did that I prefer. But that’s me.

RXB: – The video to ”It Just Happens” turned out to be wonderful. We loved seeing you both enjoyed the shooting and Marie still loves acting. How was it working together with a new team?
PG: – It was cool. They all did a great job. We spent a day in an old building in the centre of Stockholm trying out the take away sushi and fooling around in front of the cameras. The rest of the shooting didn’t involve us at all but we certainly liked the result. It’s a beautiful little story that director Tobias Nordquist captured very well visually.

RXB: – We got used to the fact that MTV is mostly not about music and videos anymore and the clips are rather watched on YouTube, Vimeo, etc. What do you think is the purpose of a video clip nowadays?
PG: – I think most things you do promowise are made to remind the media and your fans that you’re still alive! If you release new music and don’t do anything, no interviews, no videos or no TV-appearances it’s really hard to cut through that enormous amount of information that surrounds us all. A video might pop up at an airport, department store or getting shared on smartphones. It’s all part of that big puzzle called the entertainment industry.

RXB: – We got very excited when in an earlier interview you mentioned you wrote some songs together with MP now for the first time since long. ”You Can’t Do This to Me Anymore” is now on the album and it’s certainly very different to what we are used to when you 2 put your talents together. Are there any other songs from this set of latest MP cooperations that might see the light of day?
PG: – I don’t know. We’ve written more songs together over the last couple of years but there are no plans of using them for the moment. Time will tell what’s gonna happen to them. MP sometimes got some wonderful and weird musical ideas and I try to glue them together with my humble ambitions. It’s fun. He’s very special. He still drives a very fast Suzuki-bike.

RXB: – You wrote 3 songs together with Addeboy vs. Cliff and they are co-producers on 3 other songs. How did it feel to work with others? You were never really into bringing new people in.
PG: – Well, I’ve changed. I had bumped into AvsC through other projects so I knew their style and what they were capable of. I basically asked them to send me some musical ideas, like sounds and grooves, bass lines and chord progressions, to see if I could make something out of it. And I could. I kept a lot of stuff they made, edited a few things out, added some new parts and wrote melody lines and lyrics. However, none of the songs we wrote together were specifically made for Roxette. They were just collaborations trying things out.
AvsC and me never worked together in the studio. It was all done via the internet. I loved the final result but actually never expected Marie to like it since it was pretty far out. Not quite ”classic” Roxette if you know what I mean. But she really loved some of the songs and so did Chris and Clarence. Off we went and put them on a rocket to Planet Roxette!
The ”Good Karma” track was co-written with AvsC but Chris wanted us to produce it ourselves so he could play some serious power chords in the intro. His guilty pleasure, I guess…. And Clarence added that ”Fading Like A Flower”-inspired keyboard intro. Very nice. Very catchy. Cheers.

RXB: – What’s the difference in the cooperation with Addeboy vs. Cliff between ”The Look” remake in 2015 when they got the basics and had to do something with it and when it was vice versa for ”Good Karma” songs and you asked them to give you baselines?
PG: – Well, the main difference is of course that the songs we wrote together started with them, not me. ”The Look” is my song which they ”interpreted” their own way. We did the same thing with ”You Can’t Do This To Me Anymore”, which was written by MP and me, but the backing track was created by AvsC. And they’ve just finished a fab uptempo version of ”Why Don’t You Bring Me Flowers?”. Same thing. A song of mine done in Addeboy vs Cliff-style. It will hopefully be released later this year.

RXB: – The world is changing. You record parts in one studio, others in another and you don’t even have to meet physically to put things together. Isn’t it strange for you to record this way? Don’t you miss the ”personal meeting” touch in each phase?
PG: – It depends on what kind of recording it is. The more technical it gets the less you need lots of people around. It’s always, more or less, only one person who’s doing the job anyway. In Roxette’s case it’s Chris since he’s in charge of the computer and the digital funfair. My (and Clarence’s) job is to guide him through the audio jungle with our taste and our musical suggestions.
Chris has become an amazing tech wizard. Without him and his vast palette of sounds the Good Karma project wouldn’t have sounded as interesting. And he’s become a brilliant mixing engineer as well. He mixes a song, sends me his vision, I change or suggest a few things and might add or take away something, he sends me back an updated version. And we go on and on like that for a few days and nights. When we’re done we send it to Marie and Clarence for their approval. That’s how the Good Karma-album was mixed.
When you make a record like ”Travelling” or anything with Gyllene Tider it’s a different ballgame. Then it’s all about instant communication and ”playing” together. I like both ways. I would love to make a new Mazarin-style album one day but I also know that if I want a really hardcore updated production sound it can’t really be done in that ”organic” way. You have to do everything on the computer. It’s no big deal. I’m glad I enjoy both ways. And have the opportunity to choose.

RXB: – Besides the standard vinyl, there is a limited edition, beautiful, orange coloured LP as well. How many copies of the limited edition vinyls are released?
PG: – I wish I knew but I don’t. A couple of thousand is my guess. It might be less. Or more.

RXB: – There is a poster to this edition and it’s the album cover. Wouldn’t it have been a better idea to include a poster on which you and Marie appear instead of the butterfly?
PG: – No, if we thought so we would have done it. We like the butterfly.

RXB: – On the vinyl there is a ghost track after ”April Clouds”. We tried to figure out what it is. Any hints?
PG: – No. Another internal joke.

RXB: – It’s the first time you and Marie don’t appear in any form on the front cover of a studio album. Why?
PG: – We wanted this project to have a symbol that we could use on lots of things. The album sleeve, the tiny stamp-sized pic used on iTunes and Spotify and Amazon etc. On merchandise and upcoming singles. The butterfly-image is beautiful and stands out and can be used in so many varieties. And it fits the music and the title.

RXB: – Now we understand the butterfly artwork, its X shape and the evolution it symbolizes. What is still not clear is the guitar and microphone appearing at a certain body part of poor butterflies. What’s that intended to be?
PG: – It’s up to you to decide.

RXB: – Then there is no instrument on the ”Some Other Summer” cover. Is that a coincidence or maybe you rethought it after reading some comments?
PG: – No. I haven’t even noticed that. Thanks.

RXB: – Warner seem to be enthusiastic about doing promo for Roxette and we are very happy to see all their efforts. How do you see your cooperation with them vs. EMI?
PG: – It’s a totally different market today so it’s really impossible to compare. Warner worldwide is very committed to Roxette and the Good Karma-project. We’re very happy.

RXB: – You say that you would never be able to write e.g. ”Fading Like A Flower” today, simply because you moved on as a songwriter. At the same time, each song on ”Good Karma” has your stamp on them. All the lyrics are Gessleish as usual and the songs have the classic Roxette sound. So it seems your songwriting basics stay the same, but something is changing. How do you see it?
PG: – Yes, it’s like that. I change a lot but I still stay the same. It’s good and bad. I have my trademarks and style which make my songs sound like me. It’s hard to close that door and I’m not sure I want to. The older I get the more I treasure my personality and my way of thinking. My creative challenge is to find new ways to express myself via new sounds and techniques and collaborators and partners. That’s what I’m trying to do.

RXB: – What was the most challenging in improving your own sound for ”Good Karma” and update your style of writing?
PG: – I don’t know. The idea behind the album, to make a quite complex production that’s not intended to be played live, was there from the beginning. I started to write songs with that in mind. And, like I’ve mentioned earlier, working with new collaborators became part of that task.

RXB: – Which song do you think has the best title on ”Good Karma”? Which song do you think someone who doesn’t listen too much to Roxette would definitely listen to by seeing its title?
PG: –”You Make It Sound So Simple” is my favourite title. It makes me curious.

RXB: – There are 2 ”Why don’t you…?” titles on the album. Even if they are different, with one being rather slangy, isn’t it strange to include 2 similar titles on the same album?
PG: – No.

RXB: – You say you are very satisfied with ”Why Dontcha?”, because even if it seems to be so simple, it’s very hard to write such a song. How do you know that a good song was written? Can you feel it from the very beginning once it was written that everyone in the gang will like it?
PG: – Yes, I feel it as go along writing it. If it doesn’t interest me enough I don’t finish it. I throw it on the fire. But that someone else will like it is a different matter. I never know.
I might finish my song, make a simple demo out of it. Then maybe I re-write it and make another demo before I play it to anyone. Every song has gone a long way before it’s presented to the people I work with.

RXB: – Are you impressed by any song on ”Good Karma” to the same extent as any of your biggest hits throughout the years?
PG: – All of them. This album was made at a certain point in our lives and we’ve done the best we could under the circumstances. I’m not the one to compare our new stuff to the old stuff. Every song and recording has its own history and destiny.

RXB: – Knowing the album was planned to be released earlier than this year, have the lyrics of ”This One” ever contained 2015? (”Oh gimme a coin and I will kick off a dream / In 2016”)
PG: – Yes. There are versions with ”2015” somewhere.

RXB: – The music of ”April Clouds” and ”Wish You The Best” is different and you also mentioned that ”Why Don’t You Bring Me Flowers?” was originally an uptempo song. How does the melody to the same song change in your head?
PG: – I don’t know. I just follow what feels right. If you have a lyric like ”April Clouds”, which mostly were written a long time ago and you make new music to it, the end result will be quite different due to the fact that you’re a different person twenty years later. You interpret the words and the meaning and the vibe differently because you’re older and time has gone by.
Making ballads out of uptempo songs are quite easy. As long as the lyrics are interesting and the melodies are strong you can basically do whatever you want with a song.

RXB: – We know it’s very early since ”Good Karma” is out, but is there anything you would change on the album now?
PG: – I would love to have another go mixing ”You Can’t Do This To Me Anymore”. It’s OK but I know it can be even stronger.

RXB: – Roxette’s live career is (most likely) over for now. There are so many concerts that are lying in the vaults and waiting for a proper release. You mentioned a potential box with all these. Can you please tell us a bit more about what concerts it would include? We hope for Norrköping 88, Borgholm 89, Zurich and Sydney 91, Unplugged 93, Johannesburg 95 and Stockholm 2001 – having them in a bit better quality wouldn’t harm!
PG: – No, I can’t because I don’t know. But you’re right, the first things that should be made available are all those old live VHS-tapes and DVDs that’s not around anymore. The ones you mentioned.

RXB: – Roxette Diaries stopped in ’95. But there is 21 years more of Roxette stories to tell. Any plan to mix ”Soooo-Christoffer” clips and HAND / Room Service footage into one motion picture any time soon?
PG: – No, not for the moment. But I’m sure things will pop up down the road.

RXB: – Because of the tour cancellation, reporters of course asked you about Marie’s health and then many times overdramatized the situation with stupid headlines. It felt like history repeated itself, but you handled it quite well. How is it going with those interviews when you expect they would rather ask about the new album? Can you change the direction of the interview and skip answering questions not related to the album?
PG: – Yes I can if I want to. But most reporters are interested in Marie’s health and our future plans together. I can understand that. It’s not a problem for me. I know how media works.

RXB: – Was the tour photo book originally planned to be published this June already before the tour cancellation? Or if no cancellation, would you have waited until after the tour ending in September?
PG: – The plan was always to have it ready for the summer of 2016.

RXB: – Anders told there were several tens of thousands of photos and he had a hard time choosing only a certain amount to send you to choose from them. How did it work for you?
PG: – I went through hundreds of pics and put a little red dot in front of those I found interesting. I think Marie did the same.

RXB: – Will there be any tour book signing sessions?
PG: – No signing sessions, no.

RXB: – Roxette is celebrating the 30th anniversary this year. We got a new album, we’ll get the tour book. Any vinyl releases of previous studio albums by chance?
PG: – No plans but we might put together something for Record Store Day next year. 31 years is worth celebrating too!

RXB: – You wrote books, you did radio programs, you appeared countless times on TV. Do you fancy some new technological tricks besides Facebook and Twitter? As a part of your artistic exposure in e.g. YouTube videos?
PG: – Sometimes I do. I like new things.

RXB: – Besides music, your wine world is another part the fans are curious about. Are there any plans for some new items in The Per Gessle Selection in the near future?
PG: – Well, the new ”Kurt & Lisa” vintage will be out later this year. The new vintage of ”The Improver”-champagne from Pierre Peters will come early 2017. We’re talking about making a nice Pinot Grigio and also a new red wine from South Africa. Time will tell.

RXB: – Is there any question you would ask from your hardcore fan base now, either related to the new album or anything else?
PG: – Not really. You guys seem to cover most of my universe!

RXB: – Thank you very much for your time and good luck with all the new releases and your future projects!
PG: – Thanks very much. More to come, I promise!

 

/Patrícia, Tomasz, Kirsten, Judith, Sascha

Per Gessle interview in Expressen

So now we know, it was Malin Roos from Expressen who did an interview with Per at the Göteborg Book Fair after the pop quiz and signing session, when Per went ”backstage” on 26th September. The interview is a fabulous and entertaining reading.

PG_Expressen_interviewAbout The Per Gessle Archives Per says it took a year to put together the collection, there are so many tapes in boxes and bags and old denim jackets. MP has done an awesome job, finding everything. But it’s not at all complete, there are certainly 70 songs left still. He says if someone is interested in songwriting, it’s fun listening to demos. For those who knows and like Per’s catalogue, it’s quite interesting, but for those, who are not interested in his thing, it’s completely useless, he laughs.

Malin Roos asks Per what he means when he claims it has never been more fun than it is now. Per replied there has been a big driving force in him to succeed in music, he really wanted to. Especially, when the international career started. He says it’s awfully hard to succeed internationally as a Swedish artist, but it was really important for him.

Now, when I start to get old and gray, I have a more relaxed approach. It’s not as important to win as when I was 30. Now I’m doing things more for myself. There is an incredibly lot of material I finished, but I have not even bothered to release. I have had so much fun when I played them in, it’s not as important for me that you hear it.

Per says he is not reading the reviews anymore. People usually tell him what a review says, but he doesn’t read otherwise.

To the question if he is difficult to work with he replied:

No, I don’t think so, but I’m pretty definite about what I want and don’t want to do, and therefore I’m bad at working with the wrong people. I’m pretty bad at customizing stuff. If someone gives me an order for “what they want”, so I do a pretty bad job, but if someone says “do what you want with this” so I probably do something very good.

According to Per, nowadays songwriters are “hired guns”. They have to please a management, a producer, an artist and a record label. He says he has never had to compromise this way. He is the most proud of Roxette that they managed to make their career based in Sweden and not moved to London, LA or New York, as everyone wanted them to do.

Regarding the Roxette tour, Expressen asked if they will top the number of countries (46) they played in during the last tour. Per said there will be at least as many countries. He says there are always new people around and on Facebook one can see that most of them are between the age of 25 and 40, which he thinks is remarkable, considering that he turns 80 soon. [Yeah, Per’s soon. 😉 /PP ]

The reporter asked Per about how many letters he got when he turned 55, since she read in the book he got 2000 when he turned 23. Per said there are different times today, he gets thousand greetings online. So the reporter said then Åsa doesn’t have to check the love letters anymore. Per replied:

No, not so much, but there are some strange letters coming in every now and then.

When Malin Roos asked him how is it growing old with the role of being a charmer or girls’ idol, he replied:

Hm, I don’t know, I’ve never seen myself that way at all. But of course, we are rock stars when we are abroad. If we are going to South America, it is 400-500 people who greet us at the airport. It is in a way unreal, but also a privilege.

Per tells Expressen he’s been lucky to work with his hobby. He has never had to make a decision about what to be when he grew up. He had so much success that he didn’t have to worry about things that ordinary (non-rock star) people have to care about. Like inspecting the car and stuff. Someone else makes it for him.

Malin Roos asked how many times Per has been caught by speeding. First he replied never, but then he remembered one occasion when he was driving a hired car to the studio in Skåne. He was more annoyed about the fact that he was caught in a Toyota and not a Ferrari.

Per was asked about Gabriel, too, if he also outsourced the ”job” of attending parents’ meetings. He said he is an active parent. He is not a rock star for his son, for God’s sake. His family’s life was more based on what he was doing, but when Gabriel was born, everything became different and he got other responsibilities. Of course, sometimes it was more difficult to deal with everyday things, but during the past 7-8 years, Åsa also gained much more own life. She works with design and has her own lamp collection among others. Per says it’s fun.

Expressen asked Per what he invests his money in besides expensive cars. Per replied he lives a pretty normal life. They have a hotel that costs a lot of money. Then there is art and photos.

To the question what is left to do for him what he hasn’t done yet he replied:

I would like to learn to make good pop music.

He says he is not ready and it feels like it’s just the beginning. He feels enormously triggered for each production and project he deals with. He says he’s hardly listening to guitar pop anymore, but he’s rather listening to modern pop music. E.g. Capital Cities “Safe and Sound”, Donkeyboy “Crazy Something Normal”, Ariana Grande “Problem”, Meghan Trainor ” All About That Bass”.

The only CD I have bought this year is Leonard Cohen’s new one, but I haven’t listened to it yet. I can’t find my CD player.

When Per was talking about his LP collection, Expressen asked him what he would save first when there is a fire in his house. He said then he would leave the vinyls and take a nice photo.

I can’t remember any German guy lying on the floor filming Per’s feet (mentioned in the Expressen article), but it would be fun to know what it was good for. 😉

 

Per Gessle at the Göteborg Book Fair – the videos

PG_20140928If you have appr. 40-50 minutes between listening to The Per Gessle Archives and reading the books, you might want to check some videos from the book fair seminars. Unfortunately, there was no proper video recording of the complete seminars, so I thought I would put together the parts I recorded. Sorry for my sometimes shaking hands – mainly at the beginning of the Friday session, but I’m not a pro when it comes to taking videos. I left the rough cuts between the parts in, not to miss any milliseconds owing to transitions. 2-3 minutes of both videos I’ve already shared in the book fair review articles (chapter 1 and chapter 2), but now you’ll be able to watch 17m 32s (appr. 1/3) of the Friday seminar (pop quiz with Per Gessle, Sven Lindström and Nisse Hellberg) and 19m 57s (appr. 2/3) of the Sunday session where Jan Gradvall interviewed Per about songwriting. I hope your eyes won’t get hurt, but in the latter video the projected background is vibrating every now and then. Or was it Per’s aura? Either way, both seminars were very exciting and entertaining. Make sure you check the part where Per talks about the upcoming Roxette tour and thanks the fans for always being around, even in the seminar audience (Sunday seminar at about 18:35).

We are grateful to have all these guys following us everywhere. It’s awesome!

Friday seminar 26th September (in case the YouTube link doesn’t work for you because of the pop quiz songs’ copyrights, try to watch it HERE on Dailymotion):

 

Sunday seminar 28th September:


 

I felt so sorry that my camera missed the Flickorna på TV2 part of the conversation on Sunday, because it was so very funny, but fortunately, Chrissie Röhrs recorded that part, so you can watch how the double meaning of words kicked in this time (starts at 9:20). Turn someone on or switch the TV on à la PG!

Motivation is what drives Per Gessle

Hallandsposten made a long and interesting interview with Per in the garden of his house in Sandhamn. From the interview it turns out that Halmstad is the place where Per can get energy. He also mentions that Åsa is the best wife in the world and Gabriel is as interested in computer games as he was in The Beatles and all other music at the same age as now Gabriel is.

According to the article, first it was the answering machine, then the tape recorder and mini-disc, but today Per Gessle‘s most important “instrument” to record and collect his ideas is his iPhone. Later he is saving all his files to computer, too. Per’s mobile is full of cryptic names of draft files that later might become hits. The working name of e.g. Singel was ”Apelsin” (= Orange – this word appears in the lyrics). Talking about hits, there are more than 1000 Gessle songs registered at Stim (International Music Agency of Swedish Composers).

As Per says to Hallandsposten, in terms of percentage, the lyrics take much more time to write than music. It’s often verses, quotes or events he’s picking. For example, ”Tiden är en dåre med banjo” (= Time is a fool with a banjo) is a Charles Bukowski quote.

Regarding ”Anders och Mickes första band” Per says:

It was my way of showing that we are five in Gyllene Tider, not just me.

 

Of course, we all know Per likes playing with words, he’s creating awesome rhymes. He says to Hallandsposten that ”Det blir aldrig som man tänkt sej” is about disappointment and with the rhymes ”Du kunde knappast knäppa knappar och knyta knutar på en och samma gång – du stod på fyllan bakom hyllan som en Bob Dylan väntande på varm buljong” he could express exactly what he wanted.

Hallandsposten writes it was 37 years ago when Per got his first ever fan mail – from Katarina. He remembers the letter clearly and says if he writes a song he thinks is good and then anyone else likes it too, he’s proud. He says he always wanted to succeed with his art, so today he feels that there is nothing left to prove. Therefore, being No. 1 on the charts or commercial success are not that important anymore.

To Hallandsposten’s question regarding what is driving Per, he replied:

Motivation. If I would lose it, no more melodies or chords would come to my mind. I wouldn’t be so open to ideas and wouldn’t take down what is out there.

 

Hallandsposten also asked how Mr. G can manage all the things he is doing at the same time: music, hotel, wine and even handling several social media sites. Per says:

If it wasn’t me doing it, then someone else would. And then I still should check it. So why not doing it myself? After all, it’s fun.

 

 

Per Gessle_Hallandsposten_photo_by_Jari_Valitalo

 

Original article © Hallandsposten; GT photo © Jari Välitalo

Celestte Williams contributed to the article.