Per Gessle and Roxette in Save Tonight – Swedish hits from the video era

Save Tonight – svenska hits från videoeran (Save Tonight – Swedish hits from the video era) is a music program on SVT. It is produced by the people behind En kväll för Marie Fredriksson, På spåret, Det svenska popundret and Hitlåtens historia, so there is a guarantee for a high quality series. Tonight, 25th September 2021 it’s the premiere of the program and it’s planned to be an annual TV show.

The essence of the program is to pay homage to great musical eras from the last century with live music, interviews and features. It’s the 40th anniversary of MTV music channel broadcasting its first program in 1981, when a new window was opened to the world for people interested in music.

A number of great artists cooperated in Save Tonight – svenska hits från videoeran, Per Gessle is one of them. There is a short interview with Mr. G about Roxette’s videos. This part starts at 46:41 and lasts till 49:29.

Program leader Josefine Jinder tells Per Gessle knew how to write hit after hit, but knew nothing about how to make music videos. So when MTV popped up, he took it as a big, but fun challenge.

Mr. G tells before MTV it was dry. The videos fit Roxette perfectly. They were young and interested in the video format. They thought it was an extension of their pop language. Per thinks it was cool to make videos e.g. to The Look and Dressed For Success, which they made at the same time in New York. He says it was awesome to work together with stylists and choreographers, so you could make more of your song. You quickly realized that you have to have a good video and so it quite quickly escalated the budget. If you are international, you have to work with an international budget and it was extremely lot of money they invested in music videos. Mr. G thinks that big part of their success is due to their cool videos, e.g. Fading Like A Flower in Stockholm City Hall or Listen To Your Heart on Öland. Per laughs and tells that everyone in the US thought that they built the ruins for the video’s sake. Actually, Marie was most often the front figure and Per rather had to strike tough poses and ”power chords”. It was fun, they loved making videos.

Jonas Åkerlund also talks on the program from 1:03:39, mainly about videos in general and the contradictions in the briefs of record labels for doing something cool and shocking that one could have never seen before, but at the same time taking care of not going to an extreme when a video can be censored, because then no one will see it. He says videos became fun again when YouTube appeared.

You can already watch Save Tonight – svenska hits från videoeran on SVT Play (if you are in Sweden) or watch it on SVT1 at 20:00 CET tonight.

Stills are from the program.

Per Gessle interview by GöteborgDirekt

Kai Martin from GöteborgDirekt did an interview with Per Gessle. He asks Mr. G when the idea for the gigs in Tylösand, then for the upcoming tour was born. Per says the idea came from the pandemic situation. Musicians and technicians had no job due to tough corona regulations. He tried to think positively, take advantage of the opportunity and do something special at Hotel Tylösand. The challenge of playing acoustically for a very small and seated audience was exciting for him. They had done Late Night Concert for TV4 without an audience at Cirkus in November 2020 so he knew he had a great band with good composition and high ambition.

The reaction and response from the audience was absolutely overwhelming, so I felt I couldn’t stop now. This is much fun anyway.

To Kai’s question regarding what it was like to meet the audience, even if they were seated Per replies:

Wonderful and very special for me because it was such a small format. There were about 475 people in the audience every night, everything felt close and intimate, sometimes we answered a question that was asked between the songs, sometimes someone came to the edge of the stage with a gift or flower. The surroundings by the beach in Tylösand are fabulous. Nine out of ten evenings we got to experience the world’s most beautiful sunsets. The band thought it was the coolest “tour” we did. Maybe they’re right?

GöteborgDirekt asks Per how much he has been longing for being on the road again. Per tells:

I’m an anxious soul. When I’m in the studio I’m longing for being ont he road and vice versa. But I really like playing my songs, I love touring. There is a pop romance around this that I never seem to stop being fascinated by. Just this summer, it was not so much a tour for me, I live four minutes from the stage…

Kai is curious how Per picks what songs to play, because he thinks Mr. G has an impressive song catalogue and he could actually play every day of the year without repeating himself. Per explains it started with him selecting 30-35 of his songs and recording acoustic versions alone in the studio to find the right key and feeling. He did it live to experience how it felt to play and sing them. Six, seven songs a day for a week. Then he presented about 25 songs for the band that they rehearsed together. From the beginning, the idea was that they would play 45 minutes + 15 minutes extra, but it ended with the concert being 110 minutes long.

Per also tells that you feel immediately at the rehearsals if a song can wear its new costume. Sometimes it fits, sometimes not. Some of the Gyllene Tider songs felt unexpectedly fresh acoustically, such as Kung av sand and Juni, juli, augusti. He wasn’t sure about it before, but all of a sudden, the lyrics got more into focus and it became a different kind of music that suited this setting.

Kai tells Per that it feels like PG’s curiosity he had as a kid for music still shines through in his creation and wants to know how Mr. G maintains it. Per wishes Kai was right, but sometimes he feels like he is losing interest in new pop music.

I have become like my parents in the 60’s and 70’s who always thought that all the pop I listened to sounded exactly the same. Now, finally, I understand them, hahaha! But it goes in waves for me. Sometimes I get extremely bored of my own record collection and all my old favourites and I’m desperately looking for something new to listen to. Sometimes I look for another type of music; Bill Evans, old country, Penguin Café Orchestra. Found them the other day and they are magically good sometimes.

When it comes to my own creation, I usually say that I write as little as I can! When I go into my “writing mode” I usually have a clear idea about what I want. I’ve just finished a new album in English (with the old “Rox gang”). The idea of this album is to become “the missing link between ‘Look Sharp!’ and ‘Joyride'”. And the record really sounds like that.

Kai refers to Gessles nio i topp (podcast of Per Gessle and Sven Lindström on Swedish Radio P4) and asks Mr. G how much of a pop nerd he is. Per replies:

When I look at myself, I’m 100 percent pop nerd. I’m a self-taught musician who has learned everything I can from the wonderful world of pop. That I would succeed with my own lyrics and music in the way that happened is still difficult to understand for me. But… the more time passes the more comfortable I become in my role as a musician and artist. I probably had not “dared” to do such an unplugged tour ten to fifteen years ago. Now it just feels obvious.

GöteborgDirekt is curious about Per’s creation process. PG tells:

I’m super focused and disciplined when I have a project going on. Then I work mentally around the clock. I go into my bubble and prefer to stay there until I’m done. I become very sad, antisocial and a very unnecessary person.

Kai tells that they who were born in the late 50’s see their role models and idols go out of time. He is curious if it affects Per’s creativity and desire to play in any way, if Per is anxious to take advantage of his time. Mr. G tells you of course get affected by it, but when it comes to his own creativity, it’s mostly an ego thing.

I write and play primarily for my own sake. I actually know nothing else. That there has been an interested audience here and there on the planet for over 40 years is as surreal as Halmstadgruppen*.

[*Halmstadgruppen is a group of six artists that collectively followed and developed avant-garde modern art movements such as cubism, post-cubism, purist, futurist and surrealism in Halmstad. /PP]


Press photo used for GöteborgDirekt’s article by Anders Roos was taken at Hotel Tylösand on 3rd August 2021.

Per Gessle talks about his tribute to Metallica in Aftonbladet

Aftonbladet did an interview with Per Gessle and asked him about his cover of Nothing Else Matters under The Metallica Blacklist project. On 12th August 1991, Metallica released “The Black Album” and it took the band to the charts. Approximately four months earlier, Swedish pop wonder Roxette had released “Joyride” and was at the top of their career. This year, both albums celebrate 30 years.

Per about when he – among 53 artists – was asked to be part of the project:

I was hesitant at first because I didn’t know all the songs, but when I had to choose a song on my own, it was obvious to be involved. It is of course an honor to be asked.

To Aftonbladet’s question why he picked Nothing Else Matters, he replied:

It was on the radio all the time in the early 90’s and Marie and I always joked that it could have been an amazing Roxette ballad. And that’s exactly how I made it. I’ve used the classic Roxette musicians. We shortened the song properly, made a completely new intro and tried to create an atmosphere in the early 90’s spirit. We even added a typical “roxish” key trick. Lovely. I sang the song together with our two Roxette backup singers Helena Josefsson and Dea Norberg.

What Per thinks about Nothing Else Matters from a songwriter’s perspective:

It’s basically a really good pop song. Nice and efficient chord sequence with a few small unexpected twists. Strong melodies that you can stretch. Sensitive text that is open to interpretation. Perfect score in my book.

Aftonbladet asked Per what it was like touching one of Metallica’s most respected ballads. Mr. G replied:

Very inspiring. From my side, of course, it was important to do it my way without directly caring about, or mimicking, the original. It was the song I wanted to work on. I wanted to make a Roxette production out of it. Nothing else mattered.

Aftonbladet asks if Per is afraid of any possible reactions from pure hard rockers who think he has touched their holy ground.

Haha no. It’s only rock ‘n roll but I like it.

Interviewer Per Magnusson notes that PG had a period as a hard rock fan in the early 70’s with Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. Mr.G confirms:

You’re absolutely right. When we were growing up, both Marie and I listened a lot to Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and early AC/DC. And I liked Motörhead, don’t forget that!

To the question about his relations to Metallica Per replied:

The first thing I actually heard from Metallica was “Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman”. Both were played all the time, everywhere you went. It was in the middle of the period when Marie and I travelled the most around the world. I have no other direct relationship with the band.

To the question if Per has ever met any of the members of Metallica he replied:

Absolutely. I have met Lars Ulrich several times. We have mutual friends both in the United States and in Europe. Last time I saw him was at a bar mitzvah in New York. He is a very nice and social person. He talks a lot so I left him to my wife after a while. She also likes to talk.


PG still is from the recordings of Nothing Else Matters.

PG Roxette covers Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”

Per Gessle – together with Helena Josefsson, Dea Norberg, Clarence Öfwerman, Magnus Börjeson, Christoffer Lundquist and Jonas Isacsson, under the banner “PG Roxette” – is among those 53 artists who have covered their favourite songs from The Black Album of Metallica, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. From the 12 tracks of the album Per didn’t hesitate when asked which one he wanted to interpret – he picked Nothing Else Matters.

The Metallica Blacklist is now released digitally and will be out on 7 LPs / 4 CDs as well on 1st October. All profits will be donated to charities of each contributing artist’s choice along with Metallica’s own foundation, All Within My Hands.

In June, when PG shared the news he said:

I’m thrilled to participate in the “Metallica Blacklist” project. Picking a song to record from their classic “Black Album” was pretty easy for me. “Nothing Else Matters” has always been a favourite of mine. Wow, it’s such a great track!

Under the banner ”PG Roxette” I joined forces with long-time Roxers Clarence Öfwerman + Jonas Isacsson + Christoffer Lundquist + Magnus Börjeson together with Helena Josefsson + Dea Norberg, both closely linked to the Roxette touring band of the past.

My ambition was to treat the song with respect while transforming it to a style of my own. I’m very pleased and proud with the outcome.

All proceeds from the recording will go to Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation and to UNHCR, a charity I chose together with Marie Fredriksson’s family.

Upon the release he adds:

I remember hearing Nothing Else Matters all the time on the radio in the early 90’s when Marie and I travelled the world constantly. We always joked about that it actually could have been an amazing Roxette ballad, hahaha!

We both loved it very much. So what I’ve tried to create now is to make it sound like a classic Roxette song.

I’m extremely proud to be part of this Blacklist-project that connects artists and bands from all over the world for good causes. Thank you Metallica.

Watch a short video of the recordings HERE!

You will find PG Roxette’s interpretation of Nothing Else Matters on Disc 4 on streaming sites.

Listen here at the song’s direct links: Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, YouTube!

Credits
Produced by Magnus Börjeson + Clarence Öfwerman + Christoffer Lundquist + Per Gessle
Recorded at Farozon, Malmö + Sweetspot Studios, Halmstad + Aerosol Grey Machine, Vallarum, Sweden in January 2021
Engineers: Magnus Börjeson (Farozon) + Staffan Karlsson (Sweetspot) + Christoffer Lundquist (Aerosol Grey Machine)
Mixed by Ronny Lahti at The Lahti Headquarters, Stockholm, Sweden
Played by:
Magnus Börjeson: Programming + keyboards
Clarence Öfwerman: Programming + keyboards
Christoffer Lundquist: Ondes Martenot + keyboards + electric guitar
Jonas Isacsson: Lead electric guitar
Helena Josefsson: Vocals
Dea Norberg: Vocals
Per Gessle: Vocals

 
Metallica photo by Patrícia Peres, WorldWired Tour 2018, Budapest. PG still is from the official trailer.

What you’ll find on Spotify as the artist details of PG Roxette:

Per Gessle is one of Scandinavia’s most successful artists and songwriters of all time. With a gift for catchy hooks, both musically and lyrically, he has composed chart-topping pop hits for more than four decades. Starting his career in 1978 as the songwriter and lead vocalist in Swedish early 80´s pop phenomenon Gyllene Tider, he and singer Marie Fredriksson teamed up in Roxette with the humble aim to conquer the pop world. Which they did like no other Scandinavian act. Breaking big all over the world in 1989, they would score four US Billboard Hot 100 Number One’s – “The Look”, “Listen To Your Heart”, “It Must Have Been Love”, and “Joyride”.

When Marie Fredriksson sadly lost her long battle to cancer in 2019, the Roxette saga seemed to be over. But the songs were still here, there and everywhere. And so were the fans. A new chapter had to be written. Which it is. And it’s called PG Roxette.

Per Gessle is determined to keep the Roxette legacy alive. Always being the main songwriter and driving force in the band he continues to work both in the studio and on the road. For this project Per has joined forces with long-time Roxette collaborators Clarence Öfwerman, Jonas Isacsson, Christoffer Lundquist and Magnus Börjeson together with the amazing vocalists Helena Josefsson and Dea Norberg, both closely linked to the Roxette touring band.


PG Roxette “Nothing Else Matters” header pic is from Spotify.

Update on 17th September 2021: a music video has been published and some more info from Per.

Wanna know how NOTHING ELSE MATTERS came about in the studio? Here’s the story.
I’ve always thought NEM was a beautiful song. It’s got strong melodies, pretty straightforward but smart chord progressions, a lyric you can interpret in many different ways. It’s epic. If I should cover it I would love it to sound like a classic Roxette ballad! Shorten it a bit + create a magnetic intro.
We noticed at the Marie Tribute in Gothenburg 2020 how amazing Dea + Helena sound when they sing together. They sang FADING LIKE A FLOWER at the concert and we were all blown away.
So the basic idea for the vocals on PG Roxette’s take on NEM was to use that particular sound you get when you mix two very different voices and blend them. That’s what we did in the verses and in the outro. Dea + Helena share the duties. The choruses were mine to sing. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to work with three distinctive voices in one song. It certainly appeals to my restless mind!
The programming was done primarily by Magnus + Clarence, then Christoffer came aboard and did some overdubs. His recent baby, an Ondes Martenot from 1928 came in handy. Jonas did his guitar parts in Stockholm and he sounded like he always does; out of this world.
It was an amazing journey from start to finish. Ronny Lahti, who worked many times on Roxette albums in the past, did some extraordinary mixes. He’s another master.
And hey, here’s some footage from the recording sessions filmed by Anders Roos.
Badabam from P.

Making Something Out Of Nothing – Per Gessle gets into classical music

As SVT informs, world star Per Gessle continues to break new musical grounds. In recent years he has made electronic music, country and recorded a Metallica cover. Now he steps up on the classic stage.

He says:

It’s like being in a toy store. There were a lot of instruments that I didn’t even know existed.

On 1st September, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Joachim Gustafsson and singer Emmi Christensson recorded the piece, Making Something Out Of Nothing, written by composer Tommie Haglund with lyrics by Per Gessle in Stockholm Concert Hall.

The authors come from widely differing musical worlds, but are both Halmstad residents and ran into each other at the confectionery Regnbågen down in the city center.

Tommie says:

We started talking to each other. Later I would have a festival with my music in Stockholm and asked Per if he wanted to come and listen. He did and I was very happy that he came. The idea arose: “what if you were to do something together”.

After Gyllene Tider and Roxette, Per Gessle has increasingly made himself known as a musical chameleon. This autumn he will go on an acoustic tour with old hits, but he has also had time for electronic music with the Daft Punk-scented side project Mono Mind, a solo album with country musicians in Nashville and a cover of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters.

For the moment, it is therefore classic that applies.

Per says:

I try to do things that feel fun and challenging. Otherwise I get bored.

He enthusiastically talks about the Metallica collaboration, which will celebrate that this autumn it is 30 years since the group released their self-titled album Metallica.

Per tells:

Under the name PG Roxette, I have collected the old Roxette band and done a cover of ”Nothing Else Matters”. It sounds like an old Roxette ballad all of a sudden. I’m very proud to have been asked by them.

The text for Tommie Haglund’s Making Something Out Of Nothing was picked up by Per Gessle from the drawer and filed.

Per tells:

It was actually written for the last Roxette album, ”Good Karma” many years ago. I wrote my own music for the lyrics, but never really liked my own music, so when Tommie asked about lyrics, I already had one that I like a lot.

In addition to the premiere in Sweden next spring, the plan is for the piece to be exported to Colombia. The Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra, with Swedish Joachim Gustafsson as the new chief conductor, will perform it at home in March 2022. As an extra spice, Per Gessle’s lyrics will be translated into Spanish and probably sung by Colombian superstar Shakira.

Tommie tells:

It’s the orchestra’s suggestion. It would be fun if she manages to sing it.

In SVT’s video – where you can hear a snippet of the piece – Per tells:

For me, it’s pretty much about understanding oneself, if one has to describe it briefly. It’s a quite tough lyric. It questions a lot.

Stills are from SVT’s video report.