Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – November 2023

Per Gessle and Sven Lindström recorded this episode of Nordic Rox on a sunny day in Halmstad. Sven says it’s like an eternal summer, this summer refused to go anywhere. PG says it disappeared in July though. It was raining for 4 weeks. Sven forgot about it, but now they think the weather is great.

The guys decided to combine the good looking music thing with some Swedish lessons and dedicate this show to a band from Stockholm, Reeperbahn. They are from the late ’70s, early ’80s. A great, very influential band. They were singing in Swedish and they came out of the punk thing like everyone in the late ’70s more or less did. Then they added some pop stuff and a bit of harder rock as well. It was like a mix between the new wave thing and Talking Heads, Television, that American sort of wave style.

But before getting down to Reeperbahn, Sven wants to kick off Nordic Rox with one of his absolute favourite tunes by a band called Roxette. Per says Sven embarrasses him and he is curious why Sven likes this coming song. Sven thinks it’s a power pop masterpiece and his advice to Per is „don’t write anything else, just keep on writing this song over and over again”. They are talking about She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Per says it’s a pretty unusual track, because the guys who play on it are actually his old Swedish band. So it sounds a little bit more like Gyllene Tider than it sounds like Roxette. Sven agrees and says PG seemed to be on fire back then. He came back with Gyllene Tider in 1996. Mr. G shares the detail that the song starts off with his brand new Harley-Davidson engine getting started up.

Holiday Inn by Adiam Dymott is next. Then comes (I’m Gonna) Kick You Out by the Caesars from 1998. Sven thinks it’s really cool, some ’90s stuff there and a bit of garage rock from the ’60s. Per likes this band a lot too, they have some great songs. One of them is Jerk It Out, PG adds. You can go back in their catalogue and find one diamond after the other, Sven says.

Sven thinks it’s time to check out Lambretta. Per thinks that Bimbo by Lambretta is an amazing piece of pop music. It’s co-written by Max Martin before he became this huge LA producer and writer. He did a lot of cool stuff in Sweden and this is one of Per’s favourite tracks. Hardcore pop, Sven thinks.

Then comes I Waited For You by Daniel Norgren. A wonderful track according to Sven.

Here starts the Reeperbahn special. Per thinks it’s a very cool band from Stockholm. He remembers they made an EP in 1980, which was the same year when Gyllene Tider released their debut album. GT just got a recording deal with EMI Records and Per listened to this EP from Reeperbahn and it sounded so much better than GT did. The guys are laughing. The sound and the whole vibe of the record was just amazing, Per thinks. For a couple of years, PG thought they were really outstanding. Sven agrees. They had a rather short career and really made an impression when they came out. The guys start with one of Reeperbahn’s early tracks called Lycklig. Sven asks Per to translate the title. It’s pretty simple to translate that into „happy”. The first two albums the band made, the bass player and songwriter Dan Sundquist was still in the band. He wrote most of the songs together with lead singer and guitarist Olle Ljungström. When Dan left the group after two albums, it became a slightly different band. Dan went on to become a very successful producer in his own right. He still is very active and still he’s got a lot of Grammys and stuff like that in Sweden. The guys play Lycklig and Sven says, a still impressed Per Gessle is glued to the radio. They are laughing.

Sven and PG talk about the band name. It obviously comes from this famous notorious street in Hamburg, Germany. Where Sven spent his youth, Per says. Haha. Sven wishes he did, because The Beatles went there in August 1960. He can’t remember the exact date, but that was their first gig outside England. It was at The Star-Club. That was where legend was made. Sven thinks that without The Beatles, the band wouldn’t have named themselves Reeperbahn. Per thinks so too. The next song is from their second album, Venuspassagen. The track is called Kalla kriget, which translates to the Cold War. Sven says there is a slight improvement in sound. He remembers when this album came out, he thought it sounded fabulous. It does, Per agrees. Sven is not sure about it, but he thinks they produced themselves, Dan Sundquist probably already then being quite handy in the studio. PG says, this was a time in pop music in Sweden where you could really hear the difference if you compared Swedish recordings to English recordings, before the digital era, so to speak. Most of the stuff made in Sweden sounded shit, very dull. Not counting ABBA, because ABBA always sounded great, but they were in a different league. Some bands like Ebba Grön, they had this great album with the song 800°C on it and it sounded amazing. And this album, Venuspassagen, sounded truly amazing as well. These are exceptions from the rule. Sven likes the whole Venuspassagen album. It’s terrific and varied. The quirky new wave stuff combined with straight ahead power pop.

Per introduces the next song from 1980, which was the first song that he heard from Reeperbahn. It’s called Inget, which means „nothing”. Here you can hear the influence from The Clash, the London Calling album. It sounds great and it’s a great pop track.

The guys are approaching the end of this magic moment, because they got the final track here by Reeperbahn in today’s special. They picked only songs from the first era of the band, when Dan Sundquist was still a member. This is actually the final single while he was a part of the band. It’s from 1982. They made a collection of the singles, sort of a greatest hits album. Per says Dansar was the single to promote the compilation album. The title means „dancing”. Sven finds it interesting that Per came out on the scene with Gyllene Tider basically around the same time as Reeperbahn did. They were both part of the Swedish new wave. Sven is curious if Per remembers thinking of Reeperbahn as fierce competition. PG says GT were hillbillies, they came from a small town on the West Coast and Reeperbahn were from Stockholm, so they were much hipper than GT. Mr. G remembers they were on the same show on TV, but it was a different planet. Nevertheless, he liked them a lot. Sven says they were too cool for school. The guys play Dansar, the final track before Dan Sundquist left the band and they started slightly moving downhill. This was the peak, but then they made two more albums before disappearing from this stage.

The guys continue with some more Swedish stuff. Per says, here is a great guy called Magnus Lindberg with a song called Röda läppar, which translates into „red lips”.

Vulture Feet by Sahara Hotnights is next. Then it’s The Wannadies’ turn with Skin. The wrap-up track is Fare Thee Well, a beautiful song by Susanne Sundfør from Norway. She is an amazing artist, Per thinks. She started out as a singer-songwriter and has done so many different things, jazz stuff and working with Röyksopp, techno stuff as well. She has an amazing voice.

The guys thank you for listening. Cigarettes by Anita Lindblom closes the show, as usual.

Photo by Anders Roos (2019)

Thanks for your support, Sven!