Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – January 2021

In the latest 2 episodes of Nordic Rox Per Gessle and Sven Lindström got back to playing Nordic music instead of Per’s top favourites. For the fans it unfortunately means much less talking and less insights, but in the January episode Mr. G added some info related to his songs, so I thought to share the transcript here.

The guys are in Per’s Stockholm apartment and Sven tells they have a stack of records in front of them. Per adds there are lots of vinyl singles and asks Sven if he likes his apartment. Sven looks around and tells there are a lot of guitars, lots of records and music books, so what’s not to like.

Per says there will be some Swedish songs on the show and maybe even a Danish song. Sven adds, there will be something new, something old, something borrowed. Per adds something blue. First they have the Sahara Hotnights. Per thinks they are a great band, but he doesn’t think they are around there anymore. Sven tells they took a break, but they made some excellent records while they were kicking. The song they play is Mind Over Matter. Per says he loves that one.

The guys also play Undressed by Kim Cesarion. Per thinks it’s an amazing song. He doesn’t know much about Kim, but he is a Swedish guy and this is a wonderful song. Sven asks what makes the song so special. Per thinks it’s just a great track. Great production and convincing music.

Adiam Dymott’s Black Cloud is also played from her self-titled album. Sven says it’s a Nordic Rox favourite. The guys can’t really agree on how to pronounce her name. Per says it sounds very French. Sven tells she is from Uppsala. The album is produced by Thomas Rusiak, who worked a lot with Teddybears and made solo records as well.

A song by Metro Jets is played too, The Morning Show. David Birde of Brainpool and Magnus Börjesson teamed up for Metro Jets. Magnus played bass in Roxette for many years and now he is in Per’s solo band as well. Per tells he has no hair, but he is a great guy. Haha. This song was the signature song of Hipp Hipp!, a Swedish TV comedy show.

Sven jokes and tells Per now a band called Roxette is coming up, he doesn’t know if Per knows them. Mr. G says he heard about them. The song they play is a demo Per did for 7Twenty7 which was recorded in 1997 and it was written for the Have A Nice Day album. It sounded very different on the album and the demo is like how it was supposed to be. Guitar-driven power pop. Sven says he always preferred this version. Per says he knows it, Sven likes simple stuff. Sven adds it’s because it’s less synthesizers and more guitars. Per explains that for the album they took a different direction, to use more synthesizers and technology. Live they performed it more like how the demo is.

Teknikens under by Wilmer X is played. Per tells they are a great band and explains that the title means „the wonders of technology”. He thinks it’s a wonderful track. Kjell Andersson was the A&R guy at EMI and he was the mastermind when Wilmer X went from the garage rock style to a bit more 80’s production. The song is produced by Dan Sundquist. Per says he loves Wilmer X. Lead singer Nisse Hellberg sings in a very strong Southern accent, which makes it impossible for Stockholm people to understand what he is singing, but that doesn’t matter. It’s got a great attitude and it’s just great songwriting.

The Hives is also on the show, Hate to Say I Told You So. Per thinks they are also a great band and wonders what happened to them. He hasn’t heard anything from The Hives for a long time. Sven says they are not as prolific now as they used to be, but they pop up every now and then.

Hang With Me by Robyn is also played. Per says Sven is the biggest Robyn fan he knows. Sven laughs and says he loves the Body Talk album. Per says he knows and as soon as he looks away, Sven sneaks in another Robyn song, which is nice. Sven says and when he looks away, Per sneaks in a demo from himself. Haha.

Per tells during the pandemic he felt very isolated in the Swedish West coast in his house, so he went into the studio and recorded stuff that he wrote in the 80’s and 90’s and had this grand ambition to play all the instruments himself. It was a stupid idea, he laughs. Then says no, it wasn’t, but after the fourth or fifth song he realized he wasn’t a very good drummer and certainly not a good bass player. So he took some help from some local guys. It turned out to be a great album, it entered the charts at No. 1 in Sweden. Sven picked the first song off the album, Nypon och ljung. Per says he can’t translate it into English, because he doesn’t know the English words for that. Sven says the whole album has a homely feeling. Even if now Per has a great bass player and drummer on the album, he plays the guitar which is all over it. Per says that’s why he wanted to play as much as possible, because he is not the best musician in the world, but he wanted to make it personal. When he plays the piano or the harpsichord or the mouth organ or whatever, it’s him. And that’s what he wanted to do. He didn’t want a fancy production. He picked songs that are still relevant for him at least lyric-wise. Some songs he wrote when he was 23-25. Those lyrics get a different meaning when it’s sung by him in his sixties. You change the point of view what the lyric is all about. Suddenly you get a touch of sentimentality, it’s different with the experience. So for Per it turned out to be an interesting summer. For Sven it’s like Per wrote the songs, now he sings them and in between life happened. Mr. G says he has written almost 1000 songs in his life, these are the registered songs, so when he digged into the archives there were so many songs he forgot about. Some songs he was surprised by and some songs felt like „shit, what was I thinking?”. He realized that he changed his style of songwriting. He made longer songs when he was younger, he edits songs more now when he is older. He is trying to be a bit more efficient nowadays. He thinks that goes with being a musician all your life. Per says that was the story of his life and asks Sven „how about yours?” Haha. Sven says it’s even shorter. They laugh. Sven says let’s listen to the song, which is 2 minutes 35 seconds of bliss. The album’s title, Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig is a Swedish saying, meaning old love never dies. Per took that title because most of the stuff on the album is old and it fits the album pretty well.

Blue Fun – The Robert Palmer Mix by Mikael Rickfors is played from 1984. Per thinks it sounds great and is really cool. He thinks Mikael is an amazing singer. Sven says you can hear it in this version of the song, but in the original version his voice is unfortunately drowned in echo. Robert Palmer just stripped everything down.

Sleeping In My Car in Asha Ali’s interpretation is also played. Per thinks it’s a great version. Sven tells it’s different from the Roxette original. Per says the original choruses are in major and Asha is doing it in minor style.

Melody Club’s Baby is also on the show. Per thinks it’s a very good song. He asks Sven if the band is still around. Sven doesn’t think so. Their Face The Music album was great, Per loved it.

Miles Away by one of Sweden’s best garage rock bands, The Nomads is also played. Sven says Per has just finished playing air guitar. Per admits it, you can’t resist when you hear this one.

I’ve Been Waiting For You by ABBA is on the show. That’s a pretty early track from 1975. Per says it was a good year for the roses. Sven says it has its musical vibe to it, you can almost sense Mamma Mia! is coming up. Per says he loves this track.

She Owns the Streets by The Raveonettes is on. Per says he played it a lot, he loves it. Sven says they are a superb cool Danish duo.

A next song is Inivisible to Her by Brainpool, one of Per’s favourite bands. Mr. G says he misses the original setting of Brainpool. They still exist, they pop up every three years or so, doing something. The setting with Janne Kask as the singer was amazing. Per thinks their Painkiller album was their big breakthrough. It’s a brilliant album produced by Michael Ilbert. Christoffer Lundquist plays the bass. Sven says Per has spent many years in Christoffer’s studio in Skåne. Per says he became one of Mr. G’s cornerstones in his musical life ever since they started in the late 90’s. Per realizes how time flies. 20+ years and Chris hasn’t shaved since 1999. He has got this Rick Rubin look, he says. Sven says he’s got his mad professor look. They laugh and agree that it’s really cool.

The guys threaten to come back whenever you least expect it with more good-looking music on The Spectrum.

Still is from the Bag of Trix comment videos recorded by Anders Roos.

Thanks for the technical support to János Tóth!

Vote for Roxette – Piece of Cake for Song of the Year 2020 on Musikplats!

Musikplats on Swedish Radio P4 Stockholm organized a voting for Song of the Year 2020. The jury for Song of the Week has voted and put together a list of 20 songs for the decision and now the power is in the listeners’ hands. Roxette’s Piece of Cake is also on the list, so hurry up! Click HERE and vote for it!

Voting runs until 11:00 CET, 18th December. Then 5 songs that enter the final are presented. After another listener voting (the counter is reset before this), the winner is published the same day at 11:50 CET. So don’t forget to vote on 18th December at 11:00 CET again!

Fingers crossed!

Top20 songs – pick your favourite HERE!

Vargas & Lagola – Always
Agnes – Fingers Crossed
Albin Lee Meldau – På Riktigt
Jakob Hellman – …Och Känner Mig Utanför
Victor Leksell – Svag
Dotter – Bulletproof
The Sounds – Things We Do For Love
Gustaf & Viktor Norén – Rise Again
Laleh – Det Kommer Bli Bra
Thomas Stenström – Ser Du Månen Där Du Är Ikväll?
Roxette – Piece Of Cake
Mando Diao – Själens Skrubbsår
Miriam Bryant – Nån Av Oss
Darin – En Säng Av Rosor
Sarah Klang – Canyon
Hurula – Tro På Er Ruin
Kygo & Avicii & Sandro Cavazza – Forever Yours (Avicii Tribute)
Miss Li – Komplicerad
Ana Diaz – Bästis
Håkan Hellström – Tillsammans I Mörker

Per Gessle interview on Radio ZET, Poland

Magdalena Barczyk did an interview with Per Gessle for Radio ZET in Poland.

Magdalena’s first question is about Bag of Trix. Per tells her he started digging in the archives in spring and found a lot of materials, e.g. the Abbey Road sessions from 1995, as well as their first demos that served as the basis for their debut album in the 80’s, or leftovers from their Good Karma album. This compilation is kind of a mishmash of everything. He didn’t expect to find that much, so it was a bit overwhelming.

Magdalena is curious if there is still something unreleased left in the drawers. Per laughs and tells there is more. After completing this compilation, he came across even more recordings. It seems to be some kind of infinity. It’s been a really long career. He also found a lot of live tapes from the Joyride and Crash! Boom! Bang! tours. Maybe one day he will release them, we’ll see. He says they sound pretty good.

Magdalena tells Marie passed away a year ago and asks Per how this year was for Mr. G without Marie. Per tells it’s been a crazy year because of the pandemic. He thinks it’s been a special year for everyone in a way. Marie was ill for 17 years and everyone was slowly preparing for the worst, because she wasn’t in good shape. But when the time came, he felt like he couldn’t really prepare for it. He thinks everyone who lost a family member or a close friend understands it. He tries to think positively about what they went through together, their relationship lasted a very long time. She has always been and will always be one of Per’s closest friend. They met when they were teenagers and the adventure they experienced as Roxette is still amazing and difficult for some to understand. He feels lucky that he had a friend like that and a partner like that in his music.

Magdalena asks Per how he sees contemporary music and if anything surprises or annoys him in it. Mr. G tells he noticed that as you get older, you realize how much you are stuck with the music you grew up with. He started listening to pop and rock when he was 6 or 7 years old. So he can say that pop of the 60’s and 70’s is his DNA. Therefore, in his work he has always tried to come back to it. He just likes that style and he likes the way the songs were written. Looking back, pop is a reflection of the era in which it’s been made. In the 60’s it referred to societies, now we live in the times of social media, computers and laptops. You can hear it in music, it’s done on computers, it’s done differently. If you turn on 40 of the most popular radios, you will notice that all the songs are in a similar style. It’s hard to tell these songs apart. He doesn’t say pop music today is better or worse, it’s just different. It’s reflecting its own time.

Magdalena tells now there is a noticeable trend of musical return to the 80’s and is curious how Per likes it. Mr. G tells it puts a smile on his face. Those were his times and he immediately recognize the synthesizer or even the drum sounds. He can hear the sound that young people try to imitate and the way they arrange their songs. It’s cool, he likes it and thinks that The Weeknd captured it sensationally in the song Blinding Lights. He thinks it’s a nice trend.

Magdalena is curious which contemporary artist Per finds interesting and if he likes specific songs. Per says it’s a good question. He likes a lot of artists, but if he is listening to e.g. Billie Eilish for too long, it’s too much for him. The same applies to The Weeknd, even if they make very good pop. Per has always been a fan of creating concept albums where he would write 12, 14 or 16 songs. However, these days people only listen to one song. Album format is dead.

Magdalena mentions that Per is not only a musician, but also a businessman. Mr. G says he doesn’t consider himself a businessman. He has a hotel, which he bought 25 years ago. It’s in his hometown on the Swedish West coast. But he is not managing it, his wife is doing that. Per drives there and checks out everything from time to time. Sometimes he signs autographs and takes selfies there. Haha.

Magdalena asks Per how this strange year was for him personally. Mr. G says it’s been a crazy year. None of us have experienced anything like this before and he doesn’t even know what to say about it. He spent his time in isolation with his family in their house on the coast, although now he is back in Stockholm. He misses travelling the most, because he has always lived out of suitcase. He would like to meet his friends from all over the world in real life, not only via Zoom, Skype or FaceTime. He just misses the socialization that doesn’t exist today. Besides that, they can’t tour. Many of his fellow musicians and technicians barely make ends meet because they have no jobs. It’s a tough year for this business. He hopes next year will be better.

Magdalena tells the word „Poland” and asks for associations. Per says there has always been great concerts there. He always tells that he has travelled the whole world and saw nothing. This is how it is on the road. You come to a country or a particular city, you go to a hotel, then you have to do a soundcheck, you play a concert and you leave. But he knows that every concert in Poland is a great pleasure. They have a lot of fans there who are still supporting them and he appreciates it. If it weren’t for them, he probably wouldn’t be here talking today. It’s the fans who make the band big.

Magdalena asks what Per wishes for himself and Radio ZET listeners for the upcoming holidays. Per thinks the previous months were a nightmare for all of us. It’s depressing for everyone working in hospitals, for children not going to schools and for teachers working in difficult conditions. That’s why he thinks that during this holiday, the most important thing for everyone is that we return to a somewhat normal lifestyle.

Magdalena thanks Per for the interview and Mr. G thanks for it too.

The radio also recorded Per telling their slogan: ”Hi! This is Per Gessle from Roxette. You are listening to Radio ZET – Si?a muzyki.” (= The power of music). With Per Gessle’s Polish accent. Lovely, haha.

Thanks for the technical support, Tomasz Wysocki!

Per Gessle on RIX FM

Per Gessle was Martina Thun’s guest on RIX FM yesterday. Martina tells she heard Per was creative during the pandemic. He wrote and rewrote songs. Per says he couldn’t stay home and went to the studio to record an album based on his old materials. He had the idea to play as many instruments as possible himself, but he soon realized it wouldn’t work. He realized that he is not a good bassist and drummer. But the album turned out to be nice and it was a fun idea to go back to the material he wrote in the 80’s for other artists or songs he never really finished for different reasons. He found some songs where he thought what he meant with this one. He tried to pick those that still feel relevant. What he found exciting was that he wrote these songs when he was 23-25 years old and now when he sings them as an 80-year-old (haha) they get another meaning. They are more sentimental and nostalgic now.

Martina asks Mr. G about how he has developed from a 23-25-year-old songwriter to a songwriter today. Per thinks he wrote longer songs in the past. The most difficult when you are writing a song is to make it simple. To bring forward what you actually want to say. When you are getting old you know more and you easily become a little oversophisticated. You can also feel that you did something 18 times before, so you have to find something else and then it’s easy to lose the starting idea.

They talk about Ömhet that it was written during the Mazarin era, but back then it had another music and he thought it was lousy. Then in 2012 he wrote new music to it and brought it to the Dags att tänka på refrängen session with Gyllene Tider, but he thinks they didn’t even try to record it, because they already had enough other songs. It was lying around a bit more and when he went to Nashville in 2016 he took the song again, but it wasn’t recorded then either.

Martina asks Per about Marie, how it was losing her. Per says it was very hard of course. It’s terrible when such a close friend is passing away. They met already at the end of the 70’s when they shared a rehearsal studio, but played in separate bands. It was tough and it still is. You miss calling each other and chatting. During the latest period they didn’t do that too often, but when a close friend or relative disappears you miss those little bickerings or sharing something with each other.

Martina is curious about what the highlights are during Roxette’s career. Mr. G says there are so many, but when they first became No. 1 in the US with The Look was a sensation for the brain and the heart. Back then, more than now, the music industry was very much focused on the US and England, so that they as Swedes could succeed was unbelievable. He remembers that after The Look became No. 1 in the US and they were to release the album in the UK they were told to be an American band, because no one would want to sign a Swedish band. So for a couple of weeks they were an American band.

Martina asks what the roles were in the band between Marie and Per when they were on tour, on stage. Per says it’s a good question, Marie became the front figure quite fast. She sang the most and the best. She learned very fast how to handle the audience. Taking the crowd with you at a club is very much different to a stadium. She was very good at that. Per was the eager beaver. It was him who asked what if they do this or what if they do that, what if they release another single, what if they make a video to this, etc. The big thing with Roxette was that 1+1 made 3 in a way. The idea behind Roxette was that Per was the songwriter and Marie was the singer. She needed songs and Per needed someone to sing his songs. That’s how it started besides the friendship they had. They had the ambition, the dream to succeed abroad, in Belgium or Luxemburg. Haha.

Per says he doesn’t sit down to write every day, he is writing a lot when he is in his bubble. There are periods like that. But he always has his antennas out, he is always looking for an idea. He saves those ideas that can be from a film scene or anything that might be used for something later. His music is his way of expressing himself and to communicate with other people or make an impression on them through his music is great.

Regarding how the music industry changed over the years Per says pop music always reflected its era. In the 60’s and 70’s it was much about the teenage revolution and long hair for the guys. Pop music went hand in hand with fashion and art. Pop music also gets poltical from time to time, e.g. John and Yoko. Nowadays mainstream pop music is a formula made on laptop. When you listen to Marie singing Listen To Your Heart or It Must Have Been Love, you can hear that she is really singing, there is no technical support to it, but nowadays you can do many things on computers. It’s a different time, a different craft. He can’t say it was better before, but he comes from that generation and grew up with the music of the 60’s and 70’s. So his heart is beating for that style.

Regarding his plans, Per says he just had a Zoom interview with a radio in Argentina and he is recording a new album that will be released next year.

Per Gessle – 80’s DJ of the day on Mix Megapol

Per Gessle was the DJ on Mix Megapol between 10.00 and 12.00 CET on Sunday, 15th November. He played his own 80’s music from Roxette and Gyllene Tider, as well as songs from his favourite artists of the decade.

Songs played on the program (PG talked about the ones in bold):

  1. Bruce Springsteen – The River
  2. Pet Shop Boys – Always On My Mind
  3. Roxette – The Look
  4. Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance
  5. The Police – Every Breath You Take
  6. Divinyls – Pleasure And Pain
  7. The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be
  8. Steve Miller Band – Abracadabra
  9. Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes – (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life
  10. Irene Cara – Flashdance… What A Feeling
  11. Roxette – Sleeping Single
  12. Stevie Wonder – I Just Called To Say I Love You
  13. The Go-Go’s – Vacation
  14. Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams
  15. Madonna – Into The Groove
  16. Mauro Scocco – Sarah
  17. Chicago – You’re The Inspiration
  18. Gyllene Tider – Flickorna på TV2
  19. Pointer Sisters – I’m So Excited
  20. Midnight Oil – Beds Are Burning
  21. David Bowie – Time Will Crawl
  22. Lionel Richie – Say You, Say Me
  23. Tina Tuner – We Don’t Need Another Hero
  24. Queen – I Want To Break Free
  25. Roxette – Paint
  26. Orup – Då står pojkarna på rad
  27. Limahl – Neverending Story
  28. Roxette – Listen To Your Heart
  29. Harold Faltermeyer – Axel F
  30. Belinda Carlisle – Circle In The Sand

Roxette – The Look

Per says it has a fantastic title. He wrote it in 1988 for Roxette’s Look Sharp! album. He had just bought a new synthesizer, an Ensoniq ESQ-1 and he wanted to learn the programming properly. He had the melody, but didn’t have an idea for the text, so he just wrote down what came to his mind first. It has a psychedelic logic and it became their first No. 1 in the US.

Divinyls – Pleasure And Pain

According to Per, one of Australia’s absolute best bands is the Divinyls. Chrissy Amphlett was one of the best singers. He thinks Pleasure And Pain was their first single hit. It was written by Mike Chapman and Holly Knight. Mike Chapman is known to many as the producer of e.g. My Sharona by The Knack and that he wrote a lot of hit songs in the glam rock era, e.g. The Ballroom Blitz by Sweet. Per thinks Chrissy’s singing is terribly good on this one. So just leave everything you are doing and listen to it.

Roxette – Sleeping Single

It was written in 1988 based on the title. He thought it was an awesome title. Ambiguous in many ways. In the studio it became a key song for them. The sound was based on the technology at the time, synths, drum machines and programming mixed with Jonas Isacsson’s funky guitar. His playing is divine on this one. And don’t forget about Marie Fredriksson’s fantastic singing. A match made in heaven. It had never become a single, but it’s a tough song, it’s damn cool to play it live and is very popular among the fans.

The Go-Go’s – Vacation

The 80’s wouldn’t have been the same without The Go-Go’s. Per says he had the pleasure to work together with Belinda Carlisle, who sang in the band. He wrote 2 songs for her solo album. But already before that he was a fan of this song, Vacation from 1982. It’s incomparably good. There were 2 tough girl bands during that period, The Bangles and The Go-Go’s. He always was into The Go-Go’s. They still sound good today.

Gyllene Tider – Flickorna på TV2

It was first released as the backside of Himmel No. 7, but fate wanted something else with it. A certain disco in Stockholm started playing Flickorna på TV2 out of the blue, because it’s a quite slow song, not a dance song. There was something suggestive in it, so the hip discos started playing it and slowly but surely, in an organic way it became a hit all around Sweden. It’s probably owing to the combination of the title, the lyrics and the special sound of it. Per says it’s hard to explain it now what it meant when there were speakers between 2 programs on TV. It’s a bygone era, he was a teenager when he wrote it, but he remembers he had the text idea from Hasse och Tage [Swedish comedy duo. /PP]. He has a sketch of it, he can’t remember exactly, but he was inspired by them for this „sätta på” thing.

David Bowie – Time Will Crawl

David Bowie is one of Per’s greatest heroes. He wrote his project report [Swedish special work written during the secondary school’s final project work. /PP] about David Bowie. His career between 1969 and 1983 is magnificent, there is no weak record of his during that period. Later his music became less attractive to Per, but in 1987 he released Time Will Crawl which Per thinks is awesome. Bowie was an enormously talented singer and it’s special to play him on Mix Megapol. David Bowie in top shape.

Roxette – Paint

It’s on Look Sharp! and it was a particularly important song for Roxette when they recorded this album. It sounded totally awesome. They left their organic band and started woking with machines, sequencers and synths to sound modern at the time. Paint became a hybrid of hi tech stuff mixed with Jonas Isacsson’s fantastic guitar playing and Marie Fredriksson’s wonderful singing. Per is super proud of this song and thinks it’s one of their best.

[Unfortunately, Mix Megapol didn’t play the album version, but the T&A demo from TPGA… /PP]

Roxette – Listen To Your Heart

It’s a hit song that survived all these years. Per wrote it together with Mats MP Persson. He wrote the lyrics after a whole night’s conversation with a good friend who would divorce. The outcome of the conversation was that you should listen to your heart and do what feels right. It’s tough, but it became a really good title and also a very good song, thinks Per. When they recorded Look Sharp!, it was recorded for the Swedish market, even if they were dreaming about breaking through abroad. They talked about trying to make a song that sounds American and they wouldn’t use the synths and machines on that. This one was played in by a real band and they put it on the album as the last song on the tracklist, so that it’s not in the way of their new, hip sound on the other tracks. It became a super hit and their second US No. 1. It’s very popular all around the world.