Per Gessle in Lars Winnerbäck’s documentary

I already posted about it in August 2017 that a documentary about Lars Winnerbäck was to be premiered in autumn 2017. Many years passed and I totally forgot about it, but now I had the chance to watch it on SVT. Why I write a little about it is because Per Gessle also appears and talks in Winnerbäck – Ett slags liv (Winnerbäck – A Kind of Life). The docu marks 20 years of Lasse’s career and it includes interviews and concert footage.

The whole film is worth watching, but now I will of course only highlight the interview parts with Per. HERE you can watch the docu, however, it’s available only in Sweden.

Before I get down to the summary I have to mention that Lars’ name for sure rings a bell to all PG fans also outside Sweden because of their duet, Småstadsprat released on Per’s En vacker natt album in 2017. Lars also joined Mr. G & Co. on stage during Per’s En vacker kväll tour in 2017 in two cities – Per’s hometown, Halmstad and Lasse’s hometown, Linköping. They performed Småstadsprat and Honung och guld together.

In the docu Lars tells Per that when he was young, his best friend had a summer house in Strömstad. They had a little guest cottage where they could be alone. They snuck down to the beach and listened to Gyllene Tider. Per thinks it’s fantastic.

Lasse tells he started writing songs when he was 8-9 years old and he was singing some kind of own melodies. Per asks him if he could play any instruments back then. Lars says he couldn’t, but he learned it. He started playing the guitar when he was 9 years old, so when he was 10 he could compose a little on his own. Per tells he started writing extremely bad poems when he was 12-13 years old, but everything changed when the punk era came in 1976. Then he was 17 and he was writing in Swedish, because he was bad at English. However, the first stuff he wrote was in English, but it was easier to express himself in Swedish. Lasse says he could only speak Swedish, so for him it was obvious to write in Swedish. He admits he is still very bad at English. Per asks him if he ever tried to write in English or tried to translate his songs into English. Lasse says he never felt he could. He thinks his „songs would be difficult to be translated, because they are really…” Per completes the sentence: „… long!” They laugh. Lasse says yes, they are really long and it would take much time.

Lars is curious if Per thinks about the audience when he is writing. Per tells he can’t really say that, but he knows that when it feels like a song has a strong chorus or there is a hook in the song which is attractive to him, then it will be attractive to the masses as well. Lars says he writes mostly for himself, but knowing that people will listen to it motivates him. Per tells it’s not like a diary you write for yourself, it shouldn’t stay there. You know that it will go out. PG also tells that the coolest thing is when people come and say that your song means something to them.

Lars wants to know if Per thinks fame is in the way of artistry. Per says the short answer is no. He thinks it’s part of the game. There is a romance in rock and pop that you get rid of. Per thinks it was damn fun to be a pop star, but that was not the main focus. Gyllene Tider’s breakthrough came very early. They did six gigs before they became No.1 in Sweden. Suddenly, there were 13-year-old girls in the audience and them five in GT didn’t understand a thing. Lars asks if it was fun or rather just tough. Per says it was fantastic, because a whole new world opened. Lasse says Per never had time to think about the breakthrough. For him it was the opposite. He can’t remember when he broke through and it was probably good for him that it went little by little. It’s just that the process was longer this way. For years Lars thought it was hard to enjoy and cope with the fact that people recognize him. He doesn’t think he would have made it if it happens faster. Per tells it became a bit more difficult when he got older and the whole thing spread to the family: siblings, mother, child. Everyone is involved in this celebrity circus. You have to deal with it. For Per it was never a problem. Lasse says he had incredible problems with it, which now seems to be stupid, because now he knows how to cope with it or ignore it. He thinks it makes you feel you are observed all the time. Per asks if it becomes a paranoia. Lasse says it does. PG tells he never felt like that. He says there is that element of always being judged and that you have to take the consequences of your actions. Lasse says that might still be a problem, always being judged. But earlier he also had problems with reviewers and reviews. It was tough. Per tells you have to learn that you can never win. If you dig into what everyone thinks of you, you will go crazy. Lasse says that’s what he did.

It’s interesting to see Per in this „role”. I mean there are two great musicians chatting, paying full attention to each other. Both of them broke through, but in very different ways. One was already writing songs when the other was born and the more experienced he is, he appears a bit like a mentor giving advice and hints on songwriting or how to deal with fame. Nice!

Stills are from the docu.