Interview with Per Gessle in Halmstad NU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, it’s absolutely wonderful.

Regarding the pilot tour he says:

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

So Australia and South Africa are just the beginning?

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

He pauses for a few seconds, laughs at…

She gets paid quite well too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It can happen. You never know.

But, honestly…!

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

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

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

Thanks for the hint regarding the article, Oliver Zimmermann!

Interview with Per Gessle and Lena Philipsson in Aftonbladet

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

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

Per says smiling:

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

Brain tumor

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

Per says:

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

Gessle continues:

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

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

‘Only way to do it’

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

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

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

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

Aftonbladet is curious about what Lena thought then.

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

She continues:

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

Will it sound familiar?

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

Per turns to Lena:

Stick to your own way.

Lena says:

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

Have a favourite song

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Per Gessle on RIX MorronZoo

Per was a guest on RIX FM’s morning show RIX MorronZoo on 7th May. You can listen to the podcast HERE!

PG enters the studio at 8:06 am and program leaders Laila Bagge and Roger Nordin feel honoured to have him on the show. They introduce Per as the superstar, the car collector, the podcaster, the summer boy, the hitmaker, Sweden’s sharpest songwriter. Per thanks for the warm welcome. Roger wants to know what Per thinks about early mornings. PG says he can hear it from his voice (he has this hoarse morning voice). Roger thinks Per looks lively and fresh.

The hosts say it’s starting to be Per’s season, summer soon, but they are wondering what he is doing during winter. Writing songs, Laila says. Roger asks PG if people spontaneously sing to him when they pass him in town. Per replies, „no, thank God.”

Laila mentions that she was at Per’s house when he was very, very young and asks Per to tell about it. It was more than 20 years ago. Mr. G tells the story that Laila’s ex husband, Anders Bagge got in touch and wondered if they could write a song together. Per almost never does that, writing a song together with someone else, because he likes to work by himself. But then he said of course and invited Anders to his home and he came to say hello with Laila. Then either Anders and Laila ended up at some party in the evening, so Anders cancelled the job the day after. Laila is still wondering how one can book time with Per to write a song and then cancel it. PG says Anders was a little tired. Roger asks Per if it isn’t good to write music when you are a little hungover. Per says it can be good. Laila says that instead of writing a song, they went to see all of Per’s cars and that was nice.

Regarding writing music with others, Roger is curious if it is hard to tell the others if you feel that it didn’t turn out well. He asks PG if he is afraid of conflicts. Per says he doesn’t think so. Writing songs for him is kind of a private process. He wants to do it for 30 seconds and then he wants to do something else. Then he goes back to it. He is not sitting like they are sitting here now. So Roger says it’s not like Per goes to an office and writes three hits. Haha.

Laila says Per is about to release a new album. Roger asks PG what he is up to now. Per says there is a lot of stuff going on. Last Friday he released a single in Swedish with Lena Philipsson. It’s the title track of his upcoming LP, Sällskapssjuk. It’s out this fall. It consists of many duets with various Swedish artists. Roger is curious what those artists said when Per called them and asked if they wanted to join. If there was anyone who said no. PG says he didn’t call them, he sent emails. Haha. He says it has been a very cool process. This song was actually recorded a year ago, so some time has passed. It was very cool. For every duet he has done, the style of the album has changed a little. It’s a really cool album, he thinks. It’s among the coolest records he has been a part of.

Then there will be a tour as well, in a year. That’s a completely different thing. Roxette is going on a tour together with Lena Philipsson. Laila asks Per what made him feel that Lena should join them on this tour. Per says he has been thinking for many years how he should manage the Roxette songs. He came to the conclusion that there are really only two ways to go. Either you leave it at that or you continue in some way. And it’s not so easy to continue, of course. If Marie had existed, they would certainly have been out on tour. When Per worked with Lena and recorded Sällskapssjuk, he thought shit, she ticks all the boxes. She is a great singer, she is great on stage. She is experienced and they come somewhat from the same generation. So Per asked her and of course she was terrified. Per invited her to his home and they sat by the piano and tested some Roxette songs. It was magical, he thinks.

Roger asks Per if he discovered Lena’s greatness already in the ’80s when he wrote Dansa i neon for her. Per says it wasn’t him, he wrote Kärleken är evig. Roger says sorry and asks if they will perform Kärleken är evig on tour. PG says no, they will perform only old Roxette songs.

Here they listen to Sällskapssjuk.

Roger says Per is a living legend. He explains how to say living legend in Swedish. Roger says Per works more than ever. There is a musical in progress with Roxette music and it premieres on 6th September and then there is a film about Gyllene Tider that premieres this summer. And then there is the duet album. And then there is this Roxette project together with Lena Philipsson. Laila says one would think you take it easier and do things calmly when you get a little older and just enjoy it. Roger wants to know if Per will ever stop working. Per says this is really a bit much that is happening now.

Roger says there is a big trend right now that artists and bands want to live forever with the help of avatars. There is ABBA, there is Kiss. They will be on stage forever with the help of this new technology. Roger asks Per what his plans are with Gyllene Tider, if he is working on something like that. PG says, no. Then maybe Roxette, Laila asks. Per says, no, he doesn’t know. It feels a bit far-fetched, he thinks.

Roger says they thought to check how much Per knows about his own music. He says the intro quiz is very cool, but now they thought to run an outro quiz with PG. So he gets to hear the last second of some fantastic Gessle songs and he gets a Cosmopolitan for every correct answer. Because it’s Cosmopolitan day today. Here comes outro number one. Laila says it wasn’t easy, but Per knows the answer, it’s Flickan i en Cole Porter-sång. Roger finds it cool that Per wrote a song about Cole Porter. PG says he saw a movie with Jack Lemmon called Save The Tiger, a fantastic film. Per thinks Jack Lemmon won an Oscar for his role. There is a scene where someone asks him if there is something he missed that hasn’t happened in his life and he looks into eternity and says, I want that girl in a Cole Porter song. PG thought shit, that sounds good.

Here comes outro number two. Per doesn’t really have that, but he says it sounded like a good guitar sound. Roger shows what song it was, Här kommer alla känslorna (på en och samma gång). Roger loves how Per sings „här kommer alla känslorna på en och samma gång”. Per doesn’t really know why it became like this, it just happened. He even heard that Bert Karlsson thought it was elaborate, but it wasn’t.

So Per has one Cosmo so far and here comes outro number three. PG immediately says it’s Leva livet. Roger says maybe we will hear this song in the GT movie. Per says, absolutely.

There is one last outro, a guitar ending again. PG says it’s Tycker om när du tar på mej. So Per has three Cosmopolitans. He says that’s enough, it’s only Monday. Roger says they will drink it in Tylösand in summer.

Roger asks PG some quick questions too. Per has to choose between two things.

Listen To Your Heart or The Look? Per says, „shit pommes frites”. He likes The Look.

Halmstad or Stockholm? He says that’s hard too. He likes Halmstad. But he likes Stockholm too.

Ferrari Testarossa or Ferrari 212 Inter? Per takes the Testarossa. It’s his childhood. The other one is so very old, even he is not that old. Per loves Ferrari, Roger says.

Grit your teeth or break up? Grit your teeth, Per says. Laila says you see a clear difference in the answers of different artists or actors. There is an age limit where people start saying break up, because nowadays you have to break up. Laila’s whole generation is grit your teeth.

Per Gessle competes as an artist in Melodifestivalen or Per Gessle competes in Hela kändis-Sverige bakar? PG says his wife would have loved to see him bake, but both are totally unlikely. But he is absolutely in love with the baking show. Roger says they will sign Per up for that then. Haha.

Speed camera or speed bump? Per hates both equally. Roger says there is this rumor about the speed bumps in Tylösand and asks PG if it’s true. Per says no. Laila doesn’t know about this rumor, so Roger explains it’s about these speed bumps that Per demanded to be removed in Tylösand, because the cars were damaged. But that wasn’t true.

Champagne or beer? PG picks champagne.

Halmia or Halmstad BK? Per picks Halmia.

Roger thanks Per for stopping by the studio this morning. PG says it’s always a pleasure. Roger plays a morning applause on the computer and tells Per to make sure he takes some time off this summer too. Laila will possibly come by and check out Per’s cars. Per says welcome and Laila promises she won’t be hungover this time.

Stills are from RIX MorronZoo’s instastory.

Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – May 2024

Per Gessle and Sven Lindström continue their countdown of their favourite Swedish and Scandinavian songs from the ’60s in the May episode of Nordic Rox. Now they list the songs from No. 10 to No. 6. The tension rises, they got some stuff on this list that Sven believes is played for the first time on American radio. History in the making.

Sven asks Per what’s up and PG says there are lots of things on his agenda. Preparing for the world premiere of the Roxette musical, Joyride – The Musical in September in Malmö. There will be 110 shows in Malmö, then they move to Stockholm and Europe, he hopes. Sven finds it exciting and says he lives just around the corner to Malmö Opera.

Before getting down to the ’60s list, the guys got a lot of new material to present. They kick off with a joint venture between Anglo-Swedish band Alberta Cross & Band Of Skulls and play their brand new single Born In Amazement. PG thinks it’s a good song.

Ellen Krauss latest single Cherry On Top is next. Ellen broke through during a show called the Denniz Pop Awards, five or six years ago. Denniz Pop is a legendary pop producer.

Fading Like A Flower by Roxette comes next. Per says it was peaking at number two on the Billboard chart in 1991. Sven is not really sure whether it was in spring or autumn. It wasn’t the first single, but the second. Joyride was the lead single. Per thinks it was summer of 1991 and says it was number one on the Cashbox chart. Cashbox was competing with Billboard in those days. Sven read somewhere ages ago that when John Kennedy grew up and he was going to school or university, in a sports competition he had won a silver medal and his father looked at him and said, you don’t win silver, you lose gold. So Sven is curious how it feels being number two. PG laughs and says they were pretty pleased with being number two. It was the peak period of Roxette, Joyride was the big album for them and they were on tour in 1991-92. Fading Like A Flower for Per sums up the sound, the essence of Roxette. Marie is doing a fantastic job singing and the production, everything is classic Roxette. He is glad Sven picked this song. Sven is curious if Per remembers writing it, but he doesn’t.

Nails And Beauty by a band from Malmö, Going Big is played next. The band is from Malmö and this is their latest single. Sven loves the harmony vocals. It sounds a bit chilly like Bram Tchaikovsky.

Say Lou Lou’s new single, Dust comes next. The guys say they played a lot of Say Lou Lou songs already before this show. Julian is still Per’s favourite song from them. That was their breakthrough song. Sven loves it too. It’s such a great production and great track, Per thinks. Sven read that Dust is on a new EP and Say Lou Lou is going to release a couple of EPs in the upcoming months.

Next is The Soundtrack Of Our Lives with a great song, Believe I’ve Found, which is the opening track of their album called Origin Vol. 1. They made some great albums in 2001 and 2003, Per says. They came from Gothenburg, a great music city. Sven would say they came out of the punk movement, but then found their Stones roots. They had a sound of their own. Per agrees and he thinks this is one of their best songs.

Now it’s time to move on to the Nordic Rox list of Scandinavian ’60s goodies. And there is an emphasis on Swedish acts, but the guys have a Danish act coming up. Sven asks Per if he thinks that the Eurovision Song Contest is anything known in the States. Per doesn’t think so. It’s a very European thing and it’s only for certain European people as well. Lots of people are not interested and have never been interested in it. But funnily enough, it seems like it survived and only grew bigger and bigger and bigger. It was the breakthrough show for ABBA. They won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with Waterloo. Sven adds ABBA sort of rewrote the music a bit, because the show became a lot more pop orientated after ABBA. It wasn’t before and after. Why Sven asked Per about this is because this guy they are going to play, he won the Swedish Eurovision Song Contest in 1968. Per and Sven picked this song for only one reason, because they love it. And because they are pretty sure it has never been played on US radio before. Det börjar verka kärlek, banne mej by Claes-Göran Hederström. Per thinks it’s a great track. The title is a bit tricky to translate, but it means It’s Starting To Look Like Love, Darn. Sven says this is also a kind of new chapter in Swedish Eurovision history, because here is when they started to move away from dramatic ballads and move closer to the pop era.

Most of the pop groups in Sweden sang in English, because that was the thing you did in the ’60s. Even today, of course. Ola & The Janglers is No. 9 on the list with a track called Love Was On Your Mind. Per loved that track when he was a kid and Sven loves it too. It was written by guitar player Claes af Geijerstam who was a really talented songwriter according to Per. There weren’t that many Swedish bands that wrote their own material. Sven guesses that Claes toured with ABBA later on as a backup singer. Per corrects Sven and says he was doing the front of house sound. There were a lot of hits for Ola & The Janglers. This song is sort of mega ’60s because it’s like a Swede pop ballad turning into some kind of The Swinging Blue Jeans frenzy and then back again. It’s really interesting.

Coming up next is Tages, an amazing band according to Per. They were called the Swedish Beatles. They also did covers of R&B songs and they wrote really wonderful pop songs themselves. It was like a mix, they had a little of everything. Great singer and bass guitar player in Göran Lagerberg and a wonderful front person in Tommy Bloom, who was all the girls’ hero. They also had a great producer, Anders Henriksson, one of the big producers in the ’60s and ’70s for them. Sven thinks their career started in 1964, very early on and it ended in the late ’60s, in 1968. The whole Swedish pop scene sort of ran out of steam. So a lot of those bands that were big in 1966, 1967, they quit and started doing other things. One of the last singles that Tages did is the one that the guys play at position No. 8 on their chart. Fantasy Island is a great song, Per thinks. He had this on a single when he was a kid. It’s a wonderful song, Sven agrees.

No. 7 brings us to Copenhagen, Denmark. Per says they have been pretty slow in playing Danish music on this show for so many years. Sven says, „for good reason. Did I say that?” Per says, „no, you didn’t say that.” Haha. The time has come to pick up one of the great songs from the ’60s. It’s two brothers and an uncle, who was almost the same age. The brothers were 14 and 13 when this was recorded and then it was released late in 1964. The brothers are Torben and Jørgen Lundgren. Per remembers this song when he grew up, but he must have heard it later on. Since Sven was three years older and much more mature than Per, he remembers when it came out. Sven thought they were sensational and their voices are so innocent. Per thinks the production of the song is really cool. The drum sounds great and it just sounds amazing. Sven agrees and says it entered the Swedish charts and they went down a storm in Sweden. The guys play Do You Know (How Much I Love You) by The Lollipops. After the song Sven says, The Lollipops clocking in at 1.56, that’s Ramones times. Per thinks it’s the perfect length of a pop song. Sven agrees.

The guys are back to Sweden to check out the founding father of the Swedish language in pop culture, Pugh Rogefeldt. Per says he was really early with writing songs in Swedish in the ’60s. The guys play his breakthrough song, Här kommer natten, (Here Comes The Night) from 1969. It wasn’t a big hit, but it was big enough to become a breakthrough for him. He became a really big figure on the scene for many years. Sven says he also rewrote the rules, because all the pop and rock guys in Sweden in the ’60s thought it would be too corny to write in Swedish. Per informs Pugh was very much influenced by artists like Captain Beefheart. He did some kind of strange sort of pop music and worked with a great producer, Anders Burman, a drummer who came from the jazz scene in the ’50s. Anders had his own indie label at the time and signed Pugh Rogefeldt. So he did three or four, maybe even five, amazing albums. Sven says we hear Georg ’Jojje’ Wadenius as well on guitar, who later would join Blood, Sweat & Tears. He was also in a band called Made in Sweden back then.

This Pugh song wraps up today’s snippet of the guy’s list of Scandinavian goodies from the ’60s. Next month they are back with the final countdown. (Here Per is humming the tune of Europe’s The Final Countdown.)

Coming up next is an interesting project by the Shout Out Louds from Sweden. They recorded an album in 2005 called Howl Howl Gaff Gaff and they have just recently made a new version called Howl Howl Gaff Gaff Revisited where they re-recorded a couple of songs. Per says they probably weren’t really happy with the original. Sven asks Per if he has ever considered re-recording any old material. Per says, absolutely, it happens all the time. Especially if you are not happy with it. It could be so many different things. Maybe the production didn’t work out or maybe it was recorded in the wrong key or the mood wasn’t right. Or you suddenly start to like the song more. Sven says we are going to hear a snippet of the 2005 version of a song called The Comeback and then we are going to seamlessly move into the 2024 version of The Comeback.

Sucker by Club 8 is played next. Per thinks it’s a great song. He doesn’t know anything about Club 8 though. Sven informs there is a band called Acid House Kings in Sweden and a band member there called Johan Angergård. This is his side project with a vocalist called Karolina Komstedt. Sucker is their latest single.

This wraps up the May episode of Nordic Rox. The guys thank the listeners for joining them and Cigarettes by Anita Lindblom closes the show, as usual.

Pic by Patrícia Peres, Book Fair 2014, Gothenburg

Thanks for your support, Sven!

Per Gessle in King Magazine – “Looking back, my greatest talent is that I’ve found all these people who make me a better person than I really am.”

It’s not the first time Per Gessle appears in King Magazine. Do you remember his session with Jonas Åkerlund in 2006? Here you can see some werk photos and here you can see some of the end results.

Now, almost 20 years later, history repeats itself and Per’s face is like the cover of a magazine again and he appears in the May-June edition of King Magazine in Sweden. This time, the most talented Fredrik Etoall was behind the camera to take some amazing shots of PG. The February photo session happened at Grand Hotel in Stockholm where Rasmus Blom was also present. Rasmus did a big interview with Mr. G the day before in Per’s office on Strandvägen.

Rasmus mentions in his article that Per Gessle is usually too restless for holidays, but this time he is looking forward to spending two weeks at Four Seasons in the Maldives.

Strandvägen for most Swedes represents the last step on the ladder of success. Per has two floors here, one where he lives and one where he works. According to Rasmus, the work floor is more like a pop museum than an office.

We have lived here since 1993. The apartments were for sale together, so we bought the lower floor to have as Stockholm accommodation and this floor as a studio. I recorded Belinda Carlisle here in the ’90s, but then I realized I’m so incredibly untechnical, so I closed the studio. Now I use it as my office. I have my meetings here and sit and write my songs. As you can see, there are instruments everywhere. There is also a nice view with a good sunny position. If it’s sunny in Stockholm, it’s sunny here.

Rasmus looks around and he can see references to pop culture everywhere: an Elvis bust, a Playboy pinball machine, old stage clothes, a big black grand piano and loads of expensive electric guitars. He can also see tons of books from floor to ceiling: rock biographies, pop memoirs, photo albums, exclusive special editions and a signed David Hockney book so huge it requires its own stand. Pop art is hanging on the walls: Andy Warhol original of Mick Jagger, Hans Gedda original of Cornelis Vreeswijk and Anton Corbijn original of U2. Between a portrait of August Strindberg and a glazed small Ferrari model stands a gold-framed photo of a beautiful woman with dark eyes.

Per proudly says:

Isn’t she pretty? It’s Åsa in the ’80s when we met. She was a model in Paris back then.

Åsa and Per have been married since the summer of 1993. Rasmus explains, it’s her that all the hundreds of love songs from 1985 onwards are about. They have a son, Gabriel.

They bought Hotel Tylösand in Halmstad in the mid-90s and today own 60% of it. Åsa (“the boss”) is in charge, among other things, of the design and the spa department. Rasmus says it’s noticeable that she works with spa, because she radiates a calming energy when she looks in during the interview and comes by their meeting at Grand Hotel with Semla buns.

The couple divides their time between Stockholm, their Halmstad villa outside Tylösand and the suitcase.

In a normal year, we spend one third of our time in Stockholm, one third in Halmstad and one third on the road. In recent years, it has become more Halmstad, because Åsa works so much with the hotel. Our son went to high school in Halmstad, but he lives here in Stockholm now.

As a world touring pop star and hotel owner for nearly 30 years, Per Gessle must be a connoisseur when it comes to hotels, so Rasmus is curious what makes an outstanding hotel experience according to Halmstad’s own Basil Fawlty.

First and foremost, it’s about being seen as a customer. You are paying for a service, so you need to feel important. Then my personal favourite hotels are not necessarily the most luxurious. Super fancy hotels can be fun, but I like unique boutique hotels with a special feel. In London I always stay at Brown’s, in New York at Whitby and in Miami at The Edition.

Rasmus points at a book about the legendary Studio 54 nightclub in New York that was created by The Edition founder Ian Schrager.

I was actually at Studio 54 once. Me, Anders Herrlin and Expressen’s Mats Olsson, who is a good friend. It must have been 1981. We were let in thanks to Mats Olsson’s girlfriend at the time who wore a very short leopard skirt. There were a lot of lovely odd types there. It was exactly as you would imagine.

When you have an absolute ear for pop melodies like Per Gessle, Benny Andersson or Max Martin, you cannot fail, Rasmus thinks. You only have to look at Gessle’s career – apart from a short period in 1984/85 when Gyllene Tider was over (“I was a has-been as a 26-year-old”) and he acted as a hired gun for other artists (most memorable are the lyrics to Lena Philipsson’s Kärleken är evig), it has been constant success. Sommartider, Listen To Your Heart or Här kommer alla känslorna (på en och samma gång) – different styles, different constellations, different eras, but they all carry Per Gessle’s strong genes and became instant hits. Music that goes straight into the central nervous system. It is this kind of magic that makes 70,000 people gather in a football stadium in São Paulo and sing songs written in Halmstad. Rasmus says, Per Gessle is humble about the success and likes to blame it on luck, but if he is forced to point at something else, it’s the melodies.

My music is very melodic and often easy to absorb. But why it turned out the way it did, I actually don’t know. The hardest thing I’ve done was breaking through with Gyllene Tider, because it came out of nowhere, which is also what the film is about. The next difficult thing was breaking through with Roxette. It was a completely new journey that you can analyze yourself to death about how it happened, but we had luck, timing and talent. We were in the right place at the right time, but the probability of that happening was so small at the time, especially the time before what is usually called the Swedish pop wonder. There was absolutely no advantage of not coming from England or the US. We really had to fight for it. During the promotion of The Look in England, the record company wrote that we were an American band. It was not possible to say that we were from Sweden. When Marie fell ill in 2002, I started working on Mazarin, which was my first solo album since 1985. When the record came out in 2003, it was huge and led to Gyllene Tider embarking on their biggest ever tour the following year with an average of 30,000 people every night. So success breeds success, while the hardest thing there is to follow up success.

Rasmus says Per only writes when he feels inspired.

Sometimes I sit in front of the TV and watch some weak series and take out the guitar and start playing, but otherwise I usually say that I write as little as possible. I know there are many who say exactly the opposite. That as an artist and songwriter you must have discipline, and of course you must have it, but I’m not sitting at the piano between nine and five o’clock. I only work when I have an idea or a project, when I feel that I have something in my system that needs to be released. Then I go into my bubble and lay eggs, as my wife calls it. I become antisocial and completely hopeless to go to a restaurant with, because I just sit and think about some phrase in the second verse. It’s probably some kind of ADHD. I go into it 110 percent.

The lyrics take so much time and energy. It takes a lot of concentration to come up with a text that makes sense. Finishing a text becomes more and more difficult every year. Not least because you have written so much that it is easy to repeat yourself. You try to find an angle in a text. Who is telling the story? What are you talking about? Why do you tell it? When I wrote for Marie in Roxette, I tried to write from her point of view. It’s interesting to put yourself in another person’s shoes. For me, writing lyrics is much more difficult than writing music, but at the same time, it is more rewarding exactly because it’s so difficult. It’s complex to write texts, because I want to be open, but only to a certain extent. I don’t do very many interviews, because I have no need for celebrity. I don’t want to flaunt my life and my family. The texts I like the most are the general ones that everyone can identify with. It is about finding very basic topics; relationships, joy, sadness.

Rasmus says Per Gessle recognizes a good melody when he hears it, regardless of genre. Rumor has it that he thinks Broder Daniel’s indie anthem Shoreline is one of Sweden’s best pop songs.

I really think so. Fantastic song. I also like songs like Work and Underground. Broder Daniel is a fantastic pop band. It has been a great asset that I have never been a fachidiot, but listened to everything possible: experimental ’60s music like The Velvet Underground, blues rock like Led Zeppelin, flume music like the Grateful Dead or hard rock like Metallica. Today I mostly listen to older pop and rock, but also to piano music and jazz. With pop music, I’m so worked up that I start analyzing the songs right away. It’s like I’ve already revealed the magic trick. I mostly listen to things I don’t control myself.

Rasmus says, in recent years, selling the rights to their song catalogues has become popular in the music world, from hyper-commercial artists such as Katy Perry and Justin Bieber to privacy fanatics like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Per Gessle has noted the trend.

I can possibly understand that Katy Perry does it, she belongs to a younger generation of artists and songwriters who work in large teams and therefore perhaps has a different relationship to her songs than I do. But I was surprised at Dylan and Springsteen doing it. Even Neil Young has sold half his rights and I saw that Tina Turner sold the rights to her stage name before she passed away. In a way, it is their life they are selling. I wonder why they do that. The only reason I can think of is that they have a lot of kids and are trying to sort out any disputes between their kids while they are still alive. For me, it would feel very strange to let someone else decide over my songs. Music is my life and the songs are my babies. I’ve had a lot of offers, but I’ve never gotten into them. It doesn’t feel relevant. And what would I do with all that money then?

Later this year, Per Gessle’s first Swedish album in seven years will be released, Rasmus informs. The title Sällskapssjuk is a wink to all the duets with famous Swedish artists on the album. The first single Beredd with Molly Hammar is already out, but the rest of the guest artists are still a secret.

It’s not a purely duet album, but seven or eight duets out of a total of thirteen songs. Everyone I asked said yes, which makes me feel honoured. I chose female and male singers that I respect and that I believe can have a positive benefit. Then it was important to find voices that work in terms of keys.

Rasmus wants to know how much contact Per has with Swedish artists otherwise.

No contact at all, actually. I have gotten to know one or two that I hang out with sometimes. Nisse Hellberg and Uno Svenningsson, for example.

According to Rasmus, it’s not so strange that Per Gessle feels sociable as an artist and songwriter, his most successful song ever was performed by Marie Fredriksson after all. Roxette’s epic power ballad It Must Have Been Love with Marie Fredriksson in top shape is one of the pop duo’s four US No. 1 songs, today with over half a billion plays on Spotify and almost 800 million views on Youtube.

The song was sent into orbit around the earth in 1990 as the theme to Pretty Woman, the most famous romantic comedy of all time with Richard Gere as the businessman Edward and Julia Roberts in her breakthrough role as the prostitute Vivian in a storming love story. The film classic offered the personal chemistry of the century between Richard Gere and Julia Roberts on the big screen and between Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson on the film’s soundtrack, Rasmus says.

Marie had a fantastic career going on in Sweden that was much bigger than mine. So my only chance to keep her in Roxette was if the band became successful. Roxette was really just a side project for her in the beginning. The first album didn’t do well at all outside of Sweden, so our German record company suggested that we do a Christmas song. It would probably be easier to get on German radio then. I hooked on that straight away. I wrote It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted). It became a gold record in Sweden, but the Germans didn’t even want to release it. They didn’t like it! Life went on, Marie released yet another Swedish solo record while I put together the material that would become Look Sharp! with which we broke through internationally. At a lunch in LA, someone at the record company asked if I wanted to write a song for a Disney/Touchstone movie with the working title 3000. A classic love story based on a man who hires a prostitute for a weekend for 3,000 dollars. Robert Palmer and David Bowie would be involved, among others. It sounded hugely exciting. However, we were on our way to New Zealand, so I didn’t have time to write anything new, but I said we have a great Christmas ballad I can fix and remove all the Christmas references from. Said and done. Marie re-sang a few verses, we did a new intro and Michael Jackson’s technician, Humberto Gatica, mixed it. Then Marie and I got to see the film, which had then been renamed Pretty Woman, in a small cinema in Burbank, California. I walked away thinking it was a fun movie, but not much more than that. Julia Roberts was a newcomer and Richard Gere a has-been. But then everything exploded.

Rasmus informs that Roxette was Sweden’s biggest music export since ABBA even before Pretty Woman thanks to hits like The Look, Listen To Your Heart and Dressed For Success, but with the Hollywood hit, they became a global phenomenon in earnest. The records sold multi-platinum and the world tours succeeded one after the other. Roxette was the biggest in South America and Germany where to this day they are one of the country’s most popular bands ever.

Roxette increases by 10 percent on the streaming platforms every year. I’m just grateful that people are still interested and that the music finds its way down through the generations.

It has been almost five years since Marie Fredriksson passed away from the effects of the brain tumor that she lived with for almost 20 years against all odds.

It was terribly hard. But at the same time, she was sick for so long, so we knew it could happen anytime. You waited for that call somehow and knew it would come sooner or later. It was almost even more difficult when we got the news that she was ill, in 2002. It came like a bolt out of the blue and you didn’t understand what it was. It was a strange fate. She was sick for so long and so heroic that she was able to make a comeback in 2009 and continue playing until 2016.

Rasmus says that Marie is not the only one Per has lost recently. Mother Elisabeth, brother Bengt and sister Gunilla all passed away within a few years, while father Kurt passed away already when Per was 19 years old.

We’re all going to die. I don’t think about it much. It is always very difficult when loved ones pass away. My mother was old and sick, so it was also something you mentally prepared for. I also knew that my sister was sick. However, I did not know that my brother was ill. He had lung cancer, but hadn’t told anyone. So it was very surprising that he disappeared. I don’t know what to say about that, life is so fleeting and you have to make the most of your days. It’s clear that you think about it more when you get older. When you are young, you don’t have a relationship with time in that way. You can’t do anything about it. Time does things to you, but I’m a positive type and super grateful for what I’ve been a part of in my life. And my gosh, I’m not done yet!

Just like for Monica Zetterlund and Ted Gärdestad, the story of Gyllene Tider will now become a feature film, Rasmus informs. Sommartider premieres in theatres on 17th July and takes place during the band’s first years in the ’70s and ’80s, with a lot of nepo babies in the cast: comedian Peter Wahlbeck’s son Valdemar Wahlbeck plays Gessle, Magdalena Graaf and Magnus Hedman’s son Lancelot Hedman Graaf portrays Anders Herrlin and Jesper and Mia Parnevik’s son Phoenix Parnevik portrays Micke Syd. Newcomers Ville Löfgren and Xavier Kulas take on Mats “MP” Persson and Göran Fritzon respectively.

We were all quite skeptical about a Gyllene Tider movie at the beginning. A film about a band where everyone is still alive could be weird. But then the filmmakers told us what they were looking for, a story about a gang of small town guys who for some reason manage to enter Café Opera in clogs. It’s not a documentary about Gyllene Tider’s fantastic career, the film ends in 1982 when Sommartider is released. So it’s about the journey there. I’ve only seen five scenes, which were great. The script is super fun and fairly accurate. Artistic liberties must be accepted in order for the film to be as good as possible.

Rasmus continues with Joyride – The Musical, where Per Gessle’s second pop group will get a new lease of life. The musical premieres on 6th September at Malmö Opera. Unlike the Gyllene Tider film, the musical is not based on real events, but more like ABBA’s Mamma Mia!, on the band’s songs.

This process has been going on for years. I’m involved to the extent that it is my songs. I intervene in the way it is presented, in what style the actors should sing. There is a certain kind of mannerism in the musical world that I have a hard time with. I’d like there to be a pop and rock edge to it all. Roxette is big all over the world, so hopefully, this can grow and be played outside of Sweden in the long run. I really love Roxette and am very proud of what we created. I myself am the biggest Roxette fan in the world.

The lavish feel-good musical is created by award-winning director Guy Unsworth and set designer David Woodhead, with Gessle’s blessing. The plot revolves around a humorous triangle drama based on the novel Got You Back by Jane Fallon, the British writer and Roxette fan who also lives with the world-famous comedian Ricky Gervais.

I have met Jane Fallon many times while working on the musical, but never Ricky. I saw in an interview that he called Roxette his best guilty pleasure band, which is fun. I hope he comes to the premiere.

Rasmus says, at 65 years old, Per Gessle has spent an entire professional life in the rock industry. But unlike many of his Swedish and foreign colleagues, he has avoided both drugs and headlines.

There’s been a lot of drugs around one, but it’s nothing for me. I’ve never been interested in it. I take care of myself.

Already during the most hysterical years with Gyllene Tider in the early ’80s, Gessle kept a low profile and went to California instead of basking in the limelight in Sweden. When he is not playing to sold-out arenas, he enjoys being under the radar.

The celebrity life has never attracted me, but it has come as a result of the fact that I like playing in bands and making music. My journey in life is about music.

As Rasmus writes, on the other hand, Per Gessle meets a lot of other rock star standards: he loves expensive leather jackets and Italian sports cars. His interest in motoring kicked off when, as a 12-year-old, he saw Tony Curtis’ red Ferrari in The Persuaders. Today, a Dino 246 GT similar to the one in the TV series takes pride of place in the pop star’s Ferrari collection, which is on display in the permanent exhibition The Joyride Car Collection at Hotel Tylösand.

I’ve always loved cars. Even motorcycles and Riva boats, I love all that is beautiful. During the Gyllene Tider years I drove a Golf, but after the Joyride album with Roxette, when I started making money, I bought a Mercedes SL600. In 1995 I bought my first Ferrari, which I unfortunately don’t have anymore. A 456 GT, blue with cream upholstery. In 1997 I played at Ferrari’s 50th anniversary party and since then have had good contact with the company, which has allowed me to buy some limited models.

After all these years on the international music scene, the son of a plumber from Furet in Halmstad has extensive acquaintances all over the world, Rasmus says. In one of the site-built bookshelves is a photo with a greeting from Tom Petty and a while ago he was at a bar mitzvah in New York in the company of celebrities.

It was a good friend of mine in New York whose son had a bar mitzvah. It was a big party where I was appointed as the host of my table. At the table I had Springsteen, John McEnroe, Lars Ulrich and Keith Richards, who, however, never showed up. Then there was some other rascal that I have forgotten. I can’t say I know Springsteen, but we’ve met and talked a few times. He’s a nice guy.

Rasmus ends the interview by saying Per Gessle is one of our greatest artists, but as Per says, he owes his own greatness to others.

Looking back, my greatest talent is that I’ve found all these people who make me a better person than I really am. It takes talent to find them and allow them to take their place. To not always think you know best yourself. The older I get, the more I leave the place to other people.

Thank you so much for this wonderful material, King Magazine! Amazing photos by Fredrik Etoall and a great interview by Rasmus Blom!

In the online version, you can read it all and you can see all photos as well, but if you are in Sweden, make sure you get yourself a copy! This 15-page article is well worth it!

All interview text is written by Rasmus Blom for King Magazine in Swedish. Here it is a translation by RoxBlog.