Aftonbladet interview with Per Gessle about PG Roxette

As Per Magnusson from Aftonbladet informs, Per Gessle had just been in Halmstad City to leave a picture for framing before the interview. He had just got back from London where he saw the Abbatars (ABBA Voyage – and thought the first twenty minutes were absolutely fantastic) and met his British record company (which is very enthusiastic about his new music). He also discussed the upcoming Roxette musical with author Jane Fallon (who is Ricky Gervais’ partner).

But above all, Per is in full swing to start a new chapter in Roxette’s life. Before he has come to a decision, he had spent lots of months staggering back and forth about what he would do next.

I’ve been thinking for a long time about what I should do with Roxette. It’s not an easy question and there is no obvious answer, because Roxette is so much the bond between Marie and me. But I’ve been writing these songs my whole life. Leaving them behind and not using the legacy feels very strange. But replacing Marie with another girl and starting a new duo has never been on the agenda.

Per Gessle began writing songs that eventually ended up with Clarence Öfwerman, Roxette’s producer and Magnus Börjeson, bass player in Roxette. The music became like a sibling to the records “Look Sharp!” and “Joyride”. The rest of Roxette’s live band came in: Jonas Isacsson, Christoffer Lundquist, Helena Josefsson and Dea Norberg. The result is PG Roxette, a development of Roxette based on the frontman. The first taster was released on 3rd June. In the 3:01-long single, “The Loneliest Girl In The World”, it feels like Per Gessle has released all the wounds and sad memories. Just another classic pop song, one last time.

When such a chorus is born, you become so happy. The most difficult thing that exists nowadays is to write uptempo songs. It’s probably because you have used all the tricks already and it’s hard to surprise yourself. It’s easier to write a sophisticated ballad, it’s more where you are in life. But writing a clever three-chord song is tricky if you’re not 22. I already thought so when I was 35.

Per Magnusson is wondering if one can even make such happy and uncomplicated pop music in 2022. At the same time there is a bittersweet undertone that goes all the way back to “Flickan i en Cole Porter-sång”.

It’s fun that you say that, because there are many who have said the same thing. The production is very ’89-’91. But the presentation feels modern, I think. What is retro is my style of writing songs. Almost no one writes pop music that way anymore. The album is übercatchy, but doesn’t sound like anything on Spotify’s top 50 – and I think that’s good.

Aftonbladet asks if Per can tell anything more about “Pop-Up Dynamo!” coming in September.

I won’t reveal too much, but there are more singers on the album that fit into the context. In the end there will be eleven songs. It’s same as the single. Classic Roxette, just like we worked on “The Look”. There is an acoustic song, but otherwise it’s full blast. I’m very happy with this record.

Aftonbladet is curious if it was a difficult decision to make the album without Marie.

Yes, it was difficult to make the decision to take the step. But I hope to be able to play Roxette songs around the world more times. Of course, I can play twenty-five Roxette songs and call myself Per Gessle, but the brand is still Roxette. It feels strange not to use something that I’ve been involved in and built since 1986. But of course, there is nothing I want more than that Marie was involved and sang on this record. On the other hand, I know how difficult it was for her to work with “Good Karma”, the last Roxette record. It is as it is. What can you do? But sure, it’s hard.

Per Magnusson tells Per Gessle is extremely productive as a songwriter and artist. The projects have taken turns throughout his career. He is curious what PG’s driving force is.

I actually don’t know, it’s an interesting question. I just like playing pop music. I just got home from these thirty-one gigs we did acoustically. It was great to sit down and feel the power of, e.g., “Juni, juli, augusti”. Many of these songs mean so much to me that I just have to do it. That’s me. There is no direct driving force, I just can’t help it.

Aftonbladet wants to know if it’s more about the creative process than a fifth Billboard No.1 nowadays.

I want everything to be as big as possible, but it must be based on it being fun. The way Roxette succeeded is completely incomprehensible. But I have no idea how it happened. Therefore, I can’t try to do it again. If you want to do music for a long time, you have to do different things and stop staring blindly at old successes.

Per Magnusson is curious what the dream scenario looks like with this project.

I hope to be able to gather the whole band and play live someday. Now, unfortunately, Pelle Alsing, our old drummer, also passed away. Huge loss for all of us. But it would be fun to tour for real. These songs still have their power. It would be great fun to do a world tour of course. Damn, I’m young!

In the article Per also tells he has no special plans for the summer. He will probably spend most of his time in Halmstad.

Album image “Pop-Up Dynamo!” PG Roxette. Photo by Fredrik Etoall.