Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – June 2021 – Joyride 30

Per Gessle and Sven Lindström celebrated Joyride’s 30th anniversary in Per’s kitchen in Stockholm in the June episode of Nordic Rox on Sirius XM last night.

There are pictures of Per’s icons in the kitchen. Sven mentions there is a John Lennon poster behind him, Per adds there is a signed poster from Sir Paul McCartney which he got as a birthday present a couple of years ago. There is also a great Anton Corbijn photography of Pete Townshend sitting in a London cab. Sven tells John is above Paul and asks Per if it’s a sign for something. Mr. G tells it’s just because John was already hanging there and when he got Paul’s poster, he just put it under John’s.

Sven tells Per has been around for more than 40 years and kicked off at the age of 20 or so. He asks Mr. G if it means he is getting old. PG tells it means he is getting experienced. Sven tells anniversaries come closer and closer and Per’s reaction is that every time he realizes it, he thinks ”oh, we have to make an anniversary edition!” Now it’s 30 years since Roxette released their 3rd album, Joyride. It will get a 4-LP box set and a 3-CD set anniversary release in autumn. It will contain demos, outtakes and alternative versions as well.

The guys now zoom back to 1991, but besides Joyride, they also play other songs on the show.

The first one they play is Adiam Dymott’s Pizza. Her first, self-titled album in 2009 was produced by Thomas Rusiak from the Teddybears (Swedish band).

The next song is Santa Monica Blue Waves by Chris Linn. Per would say it’s a one hit wonder, but it’s not even a hit. It was a semi-hit when it came out in 1981. Per bought it on a 7-inch vinyl and still has it and likes it. It’s produced by Ulf Wahlberg, who used to produce and be part of the Secret Service (Swedish band). They had lots of hits, especially in Europe. According to Per, it sounds so 80’s and he loves that.

Unseen Footage from a Forthcoming Funeral by Nicole Sabouné is next, released in 2012. It’s power synth pop and Per loves it too.

Sven asks if Mr. G remembers his plans when he was thinking about making Joyride. Sven adds Per came from being big in Sweden and then breaking through in the world with The Look, so this album was the first for them to be international stars. Mr. G tells it was difficult in a way, because Look Sharp! had 4 huge songs on it, Listen To Your Heart, Dangerous, Dressed For Success and The Look, and then It Must Have Been Love happened from the Pretty Woman movie. In 1990, when they started recording Joyride, they were a very big band all over the world, so of course there was a certain amount of pressure to come up with some more goodies. Per always felt they were on a roll. Their style of music was special, they had a certain sound created in Stockholm by Swedish musicians. Per wrote maybe 30 songs for this album and they recorded 15-16. They took it step by step. Having all the success gives a lot of energy, says PG. It was fun days in the studio. They didn’t have any budgets, because they were big, so they were just hanging out in the studio for 6 months and the record label paid for it.

Sven tells there was no time for chilling. When they were not in the studio, they did promotion trips all over the world. For 8 years they were living like that, Per says. They were either in the studio or did tours or promo tours. On those few days when they didn’t work, Per went back home and wrote songs and made demos. So there was a constant flow of creativity, which he loved more than Marie did. She needed a little bit more space outside of Roxette. Per liked to be in that Roxette bubble 24/7. Sven jokes that for Per life outside of Roxette was overrated. Per laughs and agrees.

Mr. G had an apartment in Halmstad and one day he found a note on the piano from his wife, Åsa. It said ”Hej, din tok, jag älskar dig”, which translates into ”Hello, you fool, I love you”. He thought it was such a great phrase, he had to use that in a song. So he started working on Joyride. The expression ”joyride” comes from an interview with Paul McCartney in which he said writing songs with John Lennon was like being on a long joyride. At the time Per didn’t know what a joyride was, that you steal and crash a car and just leave it. For him it was like a very positive journey. So he came up with ”join the joyride” and that became a slogan for the whole project.

The guys play Joyride in the Brian Malouf mix, which was customized for the American radio. The difference between the album version and this is that the mix got more drums and there is a different groove to it, it’s a little faster.

Joyride became Roxette’s 4th US No. 1. The follow up song was Fading Like A Flower, which peaked at No. 2. It’s probably Per’s favourite track from the album. Marie was outstanding when she was singing this one. It’s just custom-made for her. Per doesn’t really consider it a ballad, it’s a mid-tempo song. He can’t remember writing it, but he has the demo which includes the piano intro, so he wrote the piano intro. Normally, when he wrote songs for Roxette those days he didn’t really write the intros, because he knew they would be going to change them anyway.

Sven asks Per if he heard Marie on his mind when he was writing a song, how Marie would deliver it. Per says he did and he also tried to write the lyrics from a female perspective (he laughs and says it sometimes didn’t go that well), as Marie was supposed to sing it. Per thinks if a song is written from a guy’s point of view and it’s sung by a girl, it gets a different meaning. It’s interesting in duets, e.g. in Paint. He thought FLAF becomes a stronger lyric when it’s sung by a girl. Joyride was meant to be sung by Per. The Look was sung by Per but it was intended for Marie. She didn’t feel comfortable singing that dadadadada. Sven tells Per had no problem doing that. Mr. G laughs and says that was his limit. Haha. PG thinks a love song, like IMHBL, becomes stronger when it’s sung by a girl. It becomes a little bit more fragile. Using this female-male trick Per thinks was one of the reasons why Roxette became so successful.

The guys play FLAF here. Bryan Adams blocked it from the top position on the Billboard.

Sven asks Per about the drama during recordings of the Joyride video. Per says they were sitting on the hood of a fake Ferrari in which there was a hidden driver lying on the floor, so you couldn’t see him. That was a big mess and Marie and Per sometimes just fell off. He thinks it was fun though in the desert somewhere in California. It was in the MTV days and they spent a lot on making video clips.

The FLAF video they did in Stockholm, at the City Hall, in the very beautiful golden room. The video became an homage to Stockholm.

Per picked Spending My Time as the next song to be played. He says it felt like it was going to be the big song from the album, probably because IMHBL and LTYH were so big. SMT felt like a natural follow up to those ballads. Mr. G thinks it’s a great song. He co-wrote it with Mats MP Persson. Marie is doing an amazing job on it, as always. Sven says it sounds really tailor-made for her with this melancholic touch to it.

Per had the idea to write a lyric that starts in the morning and ends at night. He says Marie delivered it so well. It became a big song for them. When they did live shows, it was always a show stopper.

Sven tells he and Per started knowing each other in 1987, when Sven beat Per severely in a pop quiz contest. The guys are laughing. Sven mentions it because he remembers they met at a pop quiz contest in the summer of 1990, when Roxette was recording Joyride and Per was really ecstatic about having written a song. When Per arrived he said he wrote a song including a line ”I leave a kiss on your answering machine”. Per thinks it’s beautiful and very romantic. He says the end melody of SMT was written as the intro of the song. Then when they recorded it, they didn’t have an intro, just Marie starting the song. (Here Per sings ”What’s the time?”.) It’s probably because all the intros, especially to LTYH was so famous, so they tried to do something different.

That concludes the Joyride special and the guys are back to Nordic Rox ”normality”. So here comes a song from The Beathovens from 1966, Summer Sun. Per thinks it’s an amazing track, beautiful noise from the 60’s.

James by Ex Cops is next from Denmark. Per likes them a lot. Sven tells they were based in Brooklyn, but the singer, Amalie Bruun qualifies them for being on Nordic Rox. They broke up in 2015. It’s a trend of this kind of music disappearing up in thin air, Sven adds.

It’s time for some Swedish garage rock – one chord, one riff, what more can you ask for, as Sven says. They play Something Wicked by The Teenage Idols.

At the end of the June epsiode, Sven tells they will celebrate another anniversary in the next one, the 20th of Room Service. Per picks the opening track from the album, Real Sugar as a teaser. He always loved that one.

The guys thank everyone for listening and Anita Lindblom’s Cigarettes is closing the show.

Still is from the 4K anniversary version of the Joyride video.

Thanks for the technical support to János Tóth!