Per Gessle interview on P4 Extra on Mother’s Day

Titti Schultz did an interview with Per Gessle today on P4 Extra on Swedish Radio. It starts at 1:42:42. After Titti welcomes Per, he says it’s an adorable weekend and the weather is fantastic on the Best Coast (West Coast). He is in Halmstad during corona time, because he lives there. He laughs. He has been home since Easter. Titti asks Per if he is thinking about corona or if everything is as usual. Mr. G says his life hasn’t changed a lot, because he most of the time works alone or only with a very few people. So it’s rather business as usual for him, but he has been very productive during this period. He wrote a lot of English songs and in between, Mamma and Pappa poppud up on a sunny Tuesday morning. He was dealing with a totally different type of music and then suddenly an idea came to his mind that shit, it’s mother’s day soon, so why not writing a song about a mom. It went quite easily and then he thought he should write a song about a dad, too. It was much harder. He laughs. He booked the studio, he worked there for 2 afternoons and then came Helena Josefsson to sing and then it was ready. It happened only in 2 weeks and it never went this fast before.

Titti says she knows Per’s mom is not among us anymore and asked Per if he celebrates her mom on a day like this. He said it doesn’t happen like this directly. Now there is another mom in his family, his wife, so it became rather her day. Per says when you are young, you don’t care too much about Mother’s Day, but by getting older, you think more about how it is to be parents and that kids are growing up. He thinks it’s a nice day. Tradition in their family is to give flowers and cake.

Titti asks Per if he thinks Mother’s Day has more meaning now for other families during corona time. Per thinks it could be. He thinks it’s a very special period we are going through now. It’s something we haven’t experienced before. When there is uncertainty, family and friends are more in focus and you realize that you can’t take any basic things for granted.

Per says he read that there were a lot of weddings cancelled. During this time people either still get married after the social distancing period or they get divorced. Titti says there can be a baby boom too.

Titti gets back to the songs and asks Per about the English songs he has been writing when Mamma and Pappa popped up. Mr. G tells he has Mono Mind, an electronic pop music project, but he was also writing guitar-based classic pop music. He doesn’t know yet what the future brings, but he wants to continue touring and play and make himself heard in a way. What he is writing now is based on the music he grew up with, the 60’s and 70’s (as usual) mixed with modern music. He can’t say anything about when this music will be out, but maybe next Mother’s Day. He laughs.

Titti asks if Per wants to say anything before she pushes the play button for Mamma. Per says just sit calmly and listen to the lovely lyrics and

Mom is the best!

Interview with Helena von Zweigbergk – “I’ve never met anyone who has had the strength of Marie Fredriksson”

24.hu in Hungary did an e-mail interview with Helena von Zweigbergk in connection with the Hungarian edition of Marie Fredriksson’s biography (Listen To My Heart – Hallgass a szívemre) and published it yesterday, on Marie’s birthday.

The interview has a nice intro. Referring to the book, it says that the positive attitude to life and the spiritual power shines through the biography. By reading it, we can understand how Marie was able to defeat cancer and win almost two decades so she could see her children grow up and even be on stage again, even though years ago it seemed utterly unlikely.

Journalist Bence Inkei’s first question to Helena is if she stayed in touch with Maire after finishing the book in 2015. Helena says she visited Marie many times in her home. They had coffee and ate her favourite cinnamon rolls while they were talking and laughing a lot. And of course they were crying too. They became very good friends while they were working on the book. Afterwards, unfortunately, they couldn’t meet as often as they would have liked, as Helena had to work and Marie lived far away from her. But they stayed in a very good relationship.

According to 24.hu, the end of the book seemed pretty optimistic: it was spring, Marie was preparing for Roxette’s summer tour, but from the epilogue it turns out that the band stopped touring not long after, because of Marie’s condition. They ask Helena if it was unexpected that Marie’s condition got worse. Helena doesn’t really know. She says that for Marie, touring was a huge effort already back then. All the stress, the tight tour schedule, the travelling would have worn out anyone who was in a condition like her. She had constant problems with her legs, she could only perform while sitting. Everyone knew how hard it was. She loved her fans and being on stage, but it was too exhausting for her by then.

24.hu is curious about how Marie spent her life after publishing the book. Helena tells she spent it at rest. She loved being at home and living by her own rules. So whenever she could, she was at home. She loved her garden and spending her time with her family. She could hardly walk and that caused her a lot of sadness. On the other hand, it was a relief that she was no longer under any pressure.

To the question if Marie had any unfinished plans Helena replies that Marie was a very creative person who could express herself in many ways. She talked about writing a book of poems and writing even more new music. She also wanted to write something about her mother’s life, to express her love for her and tell her story.

24.hu asks if Marie’s traumatic childhood due to the tragedy that happened in her family helped her to fight against cancer for so long. According to Helena it probably helped. She has never met anyone who has had the strength of Marie. She seemed very shy in a way, but she was as stubborn as a mule and had the power of a tiger. Neither as a child nor as an adult was she pampered. She always knew she had to fight for what she wanted to achieve.

Based on the book, it’s not entirely clear for 24.hu whether Per and Marie were real friends or just co-workers. Helena thinks they were good friends. They made this incredible journey together and had known each other for a very long time. As Helena saw it, their relationship was pretty close, but it’s also true that outside of working together, they didn’t meet too often. They lived far away from each other and Marie had to live a very calm life to be able to go on tour and get enough rest.

One of the most shocking part of the book for Bence Inkei was that a tabloid provided false info about Marie’s condition, but they could get out of it without any consequences. Helena confirms that there were no legal consequences. Marie might have been able to get them punished, but then they would have had to go through that hell again and that would have occupied their thoughts. That would have placed a heavy burden on the family when they were going through a difficult period anyway.

24.hu asks if it is a coincidence that ABBA appears only once in the book. If there was any rivalry between Roxette and them. Helena doesn’t think so. They were popular in different times and in different styles. They respected each other.

According to 24.hu, Roxette still has a very strong and active fan base in Hungary. They ask Helena where she sees the band has the most fans. Helena many times wondered how much love Marie and Roxette had received from all over the world. For example, when Helena and Marie had a book signing session together in a store in Stockholm, a South African family was the first in line. They travelled just to meet Marie and ask her for an autograph. Helena knows Roxette has a big fan base in South America and of course in Hungary too.

Marie described herself as a kind of “rock and roll personality”. As a last question, 24.hu asks how Helena saw it. Helena tells Marie loved this attitude. She didn’t want to look kind and harmless. She loved wearing black leather stuff and partied a lot before her illness in real rock and roll style. There was some kind of raw power in her voice through which she could express her true self.

You can order the Hungarian edition of Marie’s biography HERE.

Per Gessle interview on P4 Extra – ”There were so many Maries”

Swedish Radio P4 Extra did an interview with Per Gessle on 25th January, the day when the tribute concert was broadcast on TV. You can listen to it HERE. It starts at 34:10 and lasts until 54:38.

The program leader, Svjetlana Pastuhovic asks Per about the tribute event and if it was like a farewell. Per says it felt like a farewell, in a weird way. It was a strange evening. It was fantastic and tough at the same time. The hardest all the artists thought at the rehearsals was to see all those old videos between the songs for the first time. But later when there was the recording they rather closed themselves into their professional bubbles, so it became a bit easier. Per and Marie have been friends since the end of the ’70s and they did this fantastic journey of Roxette together. Those videos and pics made them remember Marie’s greatness. When you do such a concert it’s even more concrete and of course you get under its effect.

Here you can hear It Must Have Been Love from the tribute event. Only the first part that Per was singing alone, playing his guitar, accompanied by Christoffer. The program leader asks Mr. G how it was to play this song. Per says it was OK. He played it in this arrangement earlier too, so it wasn’t really new. But this is Marie’s song. He wrote it for Marie. One can hear it’s a hard work for him to sing it, but for Marie it was a piece of cake. She was singing it magnificently. Svjetlana asks what IMHBL means to Per. He says it is one of Marie’s signature songs. When you hear it you immediately think of Marie. It’s important in Roxette’s history, the Pretty Woman movie, how it all happened. All their songs have their own history, but this one is maybe their biggest ever. Then comes Listen To Your Heart and The Look.

The program leader asks what Per thinks was Marie’s secret of having an effect on so many people. Per doesn’t really know, but he says there were so many Maries. She wrote so many songs, she was a fantastic songwriter. She wrote and sang about things everyone could relate to. She was a talented artist on stage too, one of the best Per has ever seen. She owned the stage and the crowds even in huge football stadiums with 50-60000 people in the audience. That requires a special personality. And one of course one can’t forget about her amazing voice. She was a very complete artist, but at the same time she stayed a small town girl. All this was in her DNA and Per thinks people felt that.

Svjetlana shares her memory of a concert where she went with her mother. It was at Brottet, in Halmstad. Then she asks about how it was to work with Marie. Per repeats that there were so many Maries. She has always been very ambitious, mainly at the beginning. Mr. G tells the story that they printed T-shirts with the text ”Today Sweden, tomorrow the world” when they were recording their first album. They had a common dream. From day 1 they wanted to conquer the world. Everyone wanted Marie to concentrate on her solo career, but she wanted to work with Per. They were very good friends and had much fun together. They were a team where 1 + 1 makes 3. Per had the capacity to write all those songs and Marie had the capacity to sing them. And the better Marie was singing, the better songs Per was writing. They triggered each other. The last album before Marie got ill was Room Service (recorded in 2000) and until then everything worked like this. Later it became different of course, she was good in another way. The comeback she did in 2009 and lasted until 2016 was absolutely incredible. The doctors advised her not to tour, but she wanted to. She was longing for the stage and meeting her fans, as well as making a new Roxette album.

Here they listen to Den ständiga resan and then they talk about the fact that Per mentioned Marie was like a sister to him. Per says many thought over the years that they were a couple, but they never were. They were very close friends and it was more like a sister-brother relationship between them. But when you are working together so intensively, the friendship changes with time. When they were on tour constantly, it wasn’t Marie who Per called first when they finally got home. This is how a good marriage or a good friendship works according to Mr. G.

The program leader asks if they liked fame. Per says they could do another program about fame. Svjetlana is happy to invite him for another program where this would be the topic. Haha. One wants to achieve success with his music and at the same time you have this pop star dream. There are many negative things around when you are famous. For example, you go out and you always have to take selfies with people. It’s a special life, but it’s OK. Per thinks those who want to become famous don’t know what it is all about. But once you become famous, you can’t rewind the tape. Svjetlana asks if Per regrets it. He says absolutely not, but it affects your life all the time. In 1991 they did 1800 interviews in 7 months. But this is how the music industry works. Marie disliked all those promotional trips. It was very tough for her. Per tried to understand that this is how the industry works, so they need to do that to be able to compete with other bands. Marie didn’t like it, but she was a pro. They did all those many TV shows, back then it was playback almost all of them. You can find them on YouTube.

Many of Roxette’s songs are still played on the radio. Svjetlana asks how it feels for Per. He says he wrote all these songs, they are his babies and of course he would like to perform them still. He is very proud of them. But he also knows the soul in those songs was Marie. He tells he was touring with his own band in 2018 and played a lot of Roxette songs. It worked, but it was a different thing. One has to accept that Marie is not there anymore and it will never be the same as it was, but life goes on in a way.

They finish the interview with Things Will Never Be The Same which Per asked to be played.

Radio interview with Per Gessle about Marie Fredriksson – ”I’ve always thought she is a sister to me, it has always been so.”

Studio Ett on Swedish radio did an interview with Per Gessle after last night’s ”En kväll för Marie Fredriksson” event at Stora Teatern in Göteborg. You can judge by Per’s voice and reactions that he is still very much under the effect of what happened. Both last night and on 9th December.

It was the first time last night that he stood on stage without Marie since she has passed away. Per says it was quite long ago when he played together with Marie, in 2016. Yesterday the whole event was a really strong experience. It was fantastic being part of it, but at the same time it was tough. He says Marie was a fantastic person and he remembered the ’80s and ’90s when Roxette had their heydays. One forgets it over the years when so many things are happening. Their whole journey is unbelievable. They met at the end of the ’70s. Per was busy with Gyllene Tider, Marie had her solo career, but they shared this dream of succeeding abroad and they did and had this fantastic journey together.

The program leader says not everyone understands how big they are in e.g. Australia or South America. She asks what kind of reactions he got from there during the past month. Per says the response was tough, but fantastic. It shows how much Marie meant and still means to the people all around the world. The program leader says there was someone from Brazil in the audience last night. Per says he knows it, but there were many other hardcore fans too. There is a gang that follows everything they are doing. They live their lives via them in a way and he finds it fantastic.

The program leader asks Per how he looks back at the times when they broke through in the US. Per says it was an awesome time, the music industry and radio were totally different. They come from the pop world that has its roots in the ’60s and ’70s. They had the capacity and luck to follow up their first hit song, The Look with several others. Besides Marie singing so fantastically, she was also a fab performer on stage. When they started touring around the world, she was so good and they had a good band too, so they could also deliver on stage. A lot of artists can make records, but can’t go and perform live. It was a huge strength of Marie.

Studio Ett then asks about Per and Marie’s friendship. Per says they had a long journey together and over the years their friendship went through changes of course. They were friends from the beginning, they shared a dream, wrote songs together, played the guitar and the piano, they were singing, they shared the rehearsal studio while playing in separate bands, Per in GT, Marie in Strul. Then they went on tours and it became an intense, but rather professional friendship year in, year out with Roxette, so when they came home from a tour, maybe the first one whom he called wasn’t Marie. But they have always been very close to each other. He has always thought Marie is a sister to him, it has always been so.

Per says after last night’s event it’s very tough today. Everyone was very moved. It felt like a farewell yesterday. It was fantastic to do this, but it was tough for all of them on stage. He thinks it will be an awesome TV program. The band was a hybrid of Roxette’s bands and Marie’s solo band, consisting of fab musicians.

The program leader asks how much of Gun-Marie from Östra Ljungby was still in Marie as a successful world star. Per says there was still very much of Gun-Marie in her. She was very private. They did all this journey because they love pop music and singing and playing and writing. So why they were on TV, for example, was not because they wanted to be there, but it all came with their success. To the question how much is left in Per of Per Håkan who once worked at Bingo-Livs Mr. G replied while laughing that it’s hard to say, but he is a big part of him still. At least he thinks so.

To the question how he will go on with his songs he wrote for Roxette Per replies he doesn’t know yet, it’s a good question. During all his adult life he was writing songs for Roxette, so he wants to go on with them in a way, but he doesn’t know how.

It’s hard for Mr. G to tell what Marie would have said about last night’s event. Per thinks it was very touching, but he doesn’t know what Marie would have thought. Still the whole thing seems to be unreal.

To the question which of Marie’s songs are his favourites Per replies there are so many. One of Marie’s absolute finest lyrics is Den ständiga resan. It’s a very strong text and a very nice song. Over the years Per wrote tons of songs, while Marie was writing much less, but when she wrote something it was incredibly good. She has a fantastic song catalogue.

Per Gessle on Top 2000 in the Netherlands

There was a short interview with Per today about The Look on Top 2000 (Dutch music program). The program is available in the Netherlands only, but hopefully, they will soon upload it to their YouTube channel as well.

The interview was done on 19th November at Baggpipe Studios (the old EMI studio) in Stockholm. Per tells they recorded a lot of Roxette songs there and shows the place where e.g. Jonas Isacsson was sitting, playing the guitar, where the drums were, etc. Per says it’s a magical place for him.

Mr. G thinks Pearls of Passion was a good album, but he wanted Roxette to be a bit more programmed, digital and modern. There was a conflict between him and the original producer of Look Sharp!, because the producer wanted to use his favourite musicians. Per was lucky in the end, because their engineer broke his leg and they got another engineer. He was an amazing porgrammer and digital guy. He, Per and Clarence wanted Roxette to go to the computer world. Per bought a synthesizer with a sequencer and started learning how to use that. He wrote The Look on it. 3 chords, 1 finger. It was written for Marie, that’s why he was singing ”he’s got the look” in the demo. Marie liked the demo, but said she can’t sing it, because there is no melody. It’s almost like rap. But then she said ”I can sing the nanana part and I can do the answering in the choruses”.

Per was against releasing it as a single, because the whole idea behind Roxette was that Marie was going to sing the songs and Per was the main songwriter. So in Per’s world it didn’t really make sense to release it as a single.

In 1988 there was an American exchange student in Sweden and he became a big Roxette fan. He moved back to Minneapolis and on his favourite radio station, KDWB there was a show where listeners can call in and ask for their favourite songs or they can leave their records there. He went there and gave them the Look Sharp! album. It was lying around for a couple of weeks and he went back to pick it up again. The program director was there at the reception and thought that’s a really cool album cover. Because it looks like a magazine. So he put on the album and the first song was The Look. He thought this is an amazing song. He put it on air and as soon as he did so, the phone started to ring and people were asking what’s that. They rush released the single because it was all over the radio and it took 8 weeks until it became No. 1. It changed their lives of course.

Per explains all the Nordic countries have great traditional melodies. That’s in their DNA. If you listen to old classic Swedish songs from the 19th century, it’s very beautiful melodies and they grew up listening to that kind of music. You can hear it in ABBA’s music, you can hear it in Per’s music.

That particular Roxette sound was created in the old EMI studio, in Stockholm, with Swedish people. EMI in the US wanted them to move to Los Angeles or at least to New York or at least to London, to be part of the international music scene. But they said no, because if they moved to Los Angeles, they would have sounded like Richard Marx or what was happening at the time in the US. Roxette sounds special because it was made in Sweden.

Still is from the interview.

Thanx for the technical support, Ludo van Denderen! (Until the original video is available on the Top 2000 YouTube channel, you can watch Ludo’s recording of it HERE.)

Update on 13th February 2020: Top 2000 a gogo uploaded the video to YouTube.