12th April brings for us fans one surprise after another. First it was announced that Roxette’s 6th studio album, Have a Nice Day will be released as a limited edition 180g yellow double LP gatefold sleeve. It was released only on cassette and CD in 1999, but never on vinyl. Nice way to celebrate the album’s 20th anniversary, isn’t it?
Per Gessle looks back at the record as a definite highlight in the band’s career:
Song-wise I think ”Have A Nice Day” could be our best album ever, maybe the only one that turned out like I hoped it would. That’s probably because the five-year break allowed enough time for lots of songs to grow — I wrote some of my strongest stuff and Marie’s ”Waiting For The Rain” and ”Beautiful Things” are among the best things she ever made for Roxette. And then we also added some crucial new members to our core team.
We were testing a lot of different things on ”Have A Nice Day”, mixing guitar pop ditties with drum machine driven dance beats, also adding more strings than on any previous album. And we’re talking real string sections here. You can tell that it’s recorded by a band with a big budget — maybe too big.
It has many songs and quite a long running time, a fact which in hindsight might have hurt it a bit — the “too much of a good thing” syndrome. Maybe ”Have A Nice Day” always was a double album that somewhat reluctantly was squeezed into a single CD. That’s why I love the double vinyl album format in this re-release. “Have A Nice Day” has come home again.
Crush On You
Wish I Could Fly
You Can´t Put Your Arms Around What´s Already Gone
Then there is another limited release by Per Gessle, tribute to The Ramones, I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend on 12″ vinyl in 2 colours. Clear red limited edition (500 copies) and clear limited edition (500 copies). It will also be available as a bundle with both colours.
Per about the release:
Ramones was a huge inspiration when we started our first band “Grape Rock” in 1977. The unbelievable energy, the amazing guitar sound, the cool lyrics and the added touch of surf music floored us totally. Impossible not to fall in love with.
In 2002 White Jazz Records was about to make a Ramones tribute album and I was invited to participate. My choice of song was the brilliant “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”. I couldn’t stop there so I decided to do two more killer tracks outside the album at the same time. Just for fun. Hey Ho!
Before they start recording their last album, Gyllene Tider released 2 compilation albums on Spotify today. Both contain bonus songs and also alternative versions of some gems. Tidiga Tider: Bonuslåtar och alternativa versioner 79-81 and Andra Tider: Bonuslåtar och alternativa versioner 82-84. Click on the album titles here and you can reach them on Spotify, even in countries where you can’t find them under “Gyllene Tider” or when you browse and try to search for the albums. However, 4 songs you will still not reach in every country. Hopefully, the albums are released on other digital platforms too.
Tidiga Tider: Bonuslåtar och alternativa versioner 79-81
Ljudet av ett annat hjärta – 7” single 3:51
Gyllene Tider för rock’n’roll – Swing & Sweet EP 2:59
Teena – B-side ’Ljudet av ett annat hjärta’ 6:07
Marie i Växeln – Parlophone pop! – Instant hits, singlar & out-takes… vol 1 3:43
Vill ha ett svar – Swing & Sweet EP 2:14
Leka med elden – B-side ’Kom så ska vi, Leva livet’ 4:50
För dina bruna ögons skull – Fan-club single 3:38
24:e december – Out-take ’Gyllene Tider’ album 4:30
Beating Heart – ’Modern Times’ promo single (not /yet?/ available in all countries) 3:04
Tylö Sun – Early version (not /yet?/ available in all countries) 3:17
Och jorden är rund… – Swing & Sweet EP 1:57
Vem tycker om dig? – Fan-club single 4:31
Åh Ziggy Stardust, var blev du av? – Parlophone pop! – Instant hits, singlar & out-takes… vol 1 3:21
Ge mig inte det där – Swing & Sweet EP 2:22
To Play With Fire – ’Modern Times’ promo single (not /yet?/ available in all countries) 4:56
Andra Tider: Bonuslåtar och alternativa versioner 82-84
Hej! – Out-take ’Puls’ 1:51
Bara vara nära – Out-take ’Puls’ 2:44
Tylö Sun – B-side ’Sommartider’ single 2:41
Vart tog alla vänner vägen? – B-side ’Sommartider’ single 2:51
Marie, Marie – Radio Parlophone – Andra sändningen! (Rockfile) 2:16
No One Makes It on Her Own (feat. Helena Josefsson)
Being with You
It Came Too Fast
Name You Beautiful (feat. Helena Josefsson)
For the First Time (feat. Helena Josefsson)
One of These Days
Rudy & Me (feat. Jessica S)
2 LP tracklist:
Disc 1 – Side A
There’s a Place
The Finest Prize (feat. Helena Josefsson)
Small Town Talk (feat. Nick Lowe)
Disc 1 – Side B
Far Too Close (feat. Savannah Church)
Hold on My Heart (feat. Helena Josefsson)
No One Makes It on Her Own (feat. Helena Josefsson)
Being with You
Disc 2 – Side A
It Came Too Fast
Name You Beautiful (feat. Helena Josefsson)
For the First Time (feat. Helena Josefsson)
Disc 2 – Side B
One of These Days
Rudy & Me (feat. Jessica S)
Far Too Close (feat. Savannah Church) [Alex Shield Remix]
The album cover is a hot Nashville pic of Per taken by Anton Corbijn. Curious what other pictures we will find in the booklet. Exciting to see the tracklist! Looks like a great mix of Per’s Swedish Nashville songs translated into English, 2 gems that we could only hear as demos so far, 1 song that is probably a re-arranged version of Roxette’s NOMIOHO and at last, we will get to hear the duet with Jessica Sweetman, which Mr. G skipped to release on ”En vacker dag”. Probably, because he already knew he would release his Nashville project in English later. Very cool that ”Name You Beautiful” got a spot on the album and that Mr. G is doing the title track as a duet with one of his greatest idols, Nick Lowe. I personally wish ”Tittar på dej när du dansar” would be hiding behind one of the English titles, but somehow I doubt it’s any of them. Never mind! Mahi Nana! 😉 Many other fab songs to be enjoyed anyway. The first single is one of the fan favourites, the English version of ”Första pris”. ”The Finest Prize” is planned to be released digitally on 13th July.
Jan Gradvall in his podcast tries to find out what drives Per Gessle, what his secret is and what happens if you analyze Gessle’s songs in depth. Jan is trying to do it via analyzing ”Allt gick så fort”, which is one of Per’s most personal songs he has ever written and can be found on the new album, ”En vacker natt”.
Per says it’s the central song on the album. He tells he read an interview with David Crosby who told he had five guitars in his bedroom and that all of them were tuned differently. Per thought it’s cool. Mr. G experimented a lot with traditional tunings, but then he googled David Crosby’s tunings and found out there are a lot of variants and found one which was very odd. So Per tried some new tricks, playing his old chords in a new way, creating completely new sounds.
”Allt gick så fort” is very text-oriented. It starts with an accident Per witnessed during a visit to France. Per says it’s a song that kind of writes itself. It matures through a whole life and suddenly it feels ready to be written down.
Jan asks Per what he is singing about when it’s in the lyrics that he was 8 years old. Per says the lyrics tell a whole life in a way. The text starts with an unknown person, but then suddenly, you sing about yourself, when you are a child and then it’s about when you are 18 and in love for the first time. In between there is another person seeing the whole thing from another angle, in the middle of his life, in the middle of his career and realizes it all went so fast. Per says the song was written very fast, but the guitar tuning was tricky. Jan asks how exactly that tuning is done. Per says when he wrote the song he went to Halmstad, to MP’s studio to record a demo. It went very well with all that new tuning. Then he went to Nashville to record it properly, but he had no clue how he did that in Halmstad, so they had to use his demo.
The whole Nashville project was different to whatever Per has done before and it’s not like today’s pop music when everything is done on computers. Per wanted to try something new. It became a completely organic album. It’s not an album for everybody. It’s for a certain audience. Per thinks many can identify with it, but many will think it’s too slow or the violin is too whiny. But it doesn’t matter. For him it was important to make this record. He wanted the lyrics and his voice to be in focus. The fantastic musicians in Nashville added a lot to it, Dan Dugmore with his pedal steel playing or Stuart Duncan with his violin playing.
Jan finds the expression ”I sin icke dansande generation” (= in his non-dancing generation) fantastic and he asks Per how he came up with this. Per says when you are sitting and chatting you realize that your generation is a non-dancing one. He finds the rhymes and songwriting exciting.
Jan mentions there are many returning symbols in Per’s lyrics on the new album, like sea, beaches, nature. Per says he has always used symbols like flowers, sea, winds, things you associate with images when you are listening to a song. It somehow makes the listener be part of the song. They recognize the smell, the taste, the feeling.
Jan and Per talk about Per’s family, that he has lost his mom, brother and sister during the past 3 years. When his sister, Gunilla died, her son found a box of 25-30 old diapositives from 1965-66. Even Per appeared on some of them. Mr. G chose a pic of Gunilla, standing and singing probably in Tylösand, to be on the album cover. Per thinks the colour of the diapositive fits the album very well.
Per tells Jan that Anton Corbijn was in New Orleans, shooting Arcade Fire when Per was in Nashville and so Anton came over and took some fantastic pictures of Per. First Per thought one of those should be on the cover, but after her sister’s diapositives were found he changed his mind. This way it is more personal and even more unexpected. The second album ”En vacker dag” will have a 1965 pic of Per’s mom on the cover, with a picnic table just behind the family’s Volvo Amazon.
Jan asks Per if losing his relatives has affected Mr. G in a way that it can be heard on the album. Per says yes and no. It of course has affected him, but none of the songs are directly about this. ”Allt gick så fort” might sound like that a bit, but the rest of the songs were written last spring after Roxette stopped touring. Some of the songs were left-overs and were re-written, but most of them are newly written.
Jan and Per talk about an earlier interview from the Son of a Plumber times and Jan remembers Per told him that his father died when Gyllene Tider broke through and Per wrote ”När alla vännerna gått hem” after his dad died. Per says it’s true and of course what happens in your life has its effects on you. These two albums he has made now he couldn’t have done 10 or 15 years ago. You must have a certain experience, a certain security, a certain courage to be able to do it. You have to find your style, your language, your strength to be able to do it.
Jan tells Per he feels that when Per sings on this new album, he is more ”naked” and asks if it is conscious. Per says he wanted to put the lyrics in focus.
Jan says the album sounds in a way very much Nashville, but also very much Halmstad. Per was travelling around the world, but always came back to Halmstad. Per says the older you get the more you go back to your roots, where you come from. It’s like when sometimes he is sitting and checking songs on Spotify and sees billions of them and he goes back to listen to songs he likes from 1967. And yes, there is a Nashville sound on the album, but at the same time, it’s Per’s stlye.
Mr. G says he wanted an album that is text-oriented and very simple, acoustic. First they just thought they shouldn’t record it in Sweden. They thought about studios in England and France, then Nashville popped up and Per liked the idea of a fusion between Tennesse and Halland. A little country has always been there in Per’s solo music. Neil Young’s “Harvest” stlye. They had no plans at all when they left Sweden for Nashville. First Per played the acoustic guitar and sang a bit, then they asked the studio if they could help to find local musicians. There are two world famous pedal steel players, Dan Dugmore and Paul Franklin. Dan Dugmore is the one who plays the pedal steel on Per’s album. When he listened to Per’s songs he wrote down numbers instead of chords. How Dan played changed the songs. Since they wanted to save time, they recorded 3-4 takes and then edited them later while mixing.
The same day Dan Dugmore came to the studio, Stuart Duncan came too to play the violin. When Per heard him playing he said wow. Everything became better and better, like the intro to ”Småstadsprat”. Then they needed a harmonica player, so Mickey Raphael plays on 3-4 songs.
Jan asks what Per thinks why his melodies are so special that they are attractive even to those who can’t speak Swedish. Per thinks they are beautiful, that’s why the albums are titled “En vacker natt” and “En vacker dag” (“A beatiful night” and “A beautiful day”). At least that was his ambition. Jan asks where Per’s melodies come from. They come from the ‘60s, but also from the Swedish traditional music. Here Per talks about his adventures with his friend, Peter as troubadours who played at nursing homes for old people. Per played the guitar and sang, Peter also played the guitar and the flute. They played everything they could and it included a lot of country as well. As troubadours, once they had to play at an old people’s nursing home in a new place in Halmstad. They entered a big table tennis hall and there were two men lying in there, they were not moving at all. They didn’t know what to do, there was no personnel around, so they just sat in the middle of the hall and started playing some songs, Proud Mary or something. Suddenly a nurse came and asked what the hell they were doing. They said they were just playing songs. A lot of doctors rushed in and then it turned out that one of the men there was in coma and he woke up to the sound of Per and Peter playing music. The day after it turned out that they shouldn’t even have to be there, at that place, but he will never forget that day. One can see that music makes miracles.
Per Gessle was the guest of the day on P4 Extra, Swedish Radio on 26th April. The interview with him was done by Johar Bendjelloul. If you listen to the 113 min online version (including music), Per is on from 28:44 to 52:07, if you listen to him in the downloadable mp3 version of the program, he is on from 15:00 to 33:27.
Johar first talks about Per’s career that he sold an unbelievable amount of albums, 80 million with Roxette, Gyllene Tider and solo. Then he welcomes Per, the hitmaker music nerd in the studio.
They talk about last year’s announcement that Roxette had to stop touring and that this way Per had much free time left. Per thought he would do something different than what he did during the past 5 years. Johar asks Per if Roxette is over. Per replies touring is definitely over, but if they will record something together in the future, he doesn’t know, doesn’t think so.
The guys are talking about country capital Nashville, why Per chose that location. Per says he started writing songs in Swedish. Acoustic based songs with the lyrics and voice in focus, in really simple production. First he thought he would record in London or in France, but then the idea came why not making the obvious fusion of Nashville and Halmstad. Per says he always liked classic country, Neil Young or Gram Parsons.
Johar and Per are talking about Per’s voice. Per has not always liked his own voice. In the beginning he had a huge problem with his voice actually, he thought it sounded bad. Not that he sang badly, but the sound of his voice was bad. But later he learned it’s special and sometimes it’s quite good even (laughs). He says he talked a lot about it with his psychologist. Haha.
There is a premiere of ”Min plats” in the program. Per says it’s the type of song you need to have on an album. It’s the opening song and it sets the tone of what Per wants to say with this album. There is pedal steel, violin and acoustic instruments in it. Per and Helena Josefsson are singing on this track. It’s a 3-minute-long song. (You can listen to it in the online version of the interview from 32:10 to 35:15.)
Johar asks Per why he chose to work with new musicians while he is known as a control freak. Per says he is not really a control freak, just a little bit. He tries to put himself into new situations and it was really good to work with these musicians. The pedal steel player, the violin player. Per wanted something new to happen.
Per talks about the fact that he releases 2 albums. ”En vacker natt” now and ”En vacker dag” in September. He says he had so much material and it felt too much to include all on one album only.
The guys are talking about the album cover. There is Per’s sister, Gunilla on the cover of ”En vacker natt”. Per’s sister died last autumn and his son found a box full of photos. The picture is from the ’60s and Per thought this one fits the album and he dedicates this album to his sister. ”En vacker dag” is dedicated to his mother, Elisabeth. Per tells his sister, mother and brother have died during the past three years. He has been the youngest in the family and now he is the only one left. It of course has affected him, but it’s not directly in there in the songs. You realize that time passes and nothing stands still. And that’s what you reflect on when you grow older. When you are young, you take it for granted and there is an energy and a hunger that decreases over the years. It’s an important ingredient in pop music, however, it’s not pop music now on these two albums. There is an obvious connection between youth and pop music. Per thinks the task of pop music is to reflect its own time. Pop music of the ‘60s and ‘70s is very typical of its own time and also today’s pop music is very typical.
Johar wants a confirmation from Per that he won’t give up on pop music and Per says take it easy, he won’t. Haha. Johar says a lot of Per’s songs and lyrics will remain after Per will be gone. Per asks if Johar really thinks so. He asks Per what he thinks about it now that they are talking about the passing of time and deaths. Per says he doesn’t know, he doesn’t think about it. Johar is surprised and asks if Per doesn’t think his songs are classic. Johar mentions for example Sommartider being played at the school year end happenings in Sweden. Per says it’s just not a pleasant thing to think about his songs remaining after he’s gone. So they just move on to another topic.
They start talking about Per’s books he published 3 years ago, “Texter, klotter & funderingar” and “Songs, sketches & reflections”. Per laughs and says it was exhausting to collect all the things together, because it was too much material. But he was happy that people liked the end result. The books are a compilation of studio diaries, Per’s lyrics and all possible stuff. During the project, reading through and checking all things, he saw how different the ‘80s and ‘90s were. For Per, writing lyrics is a bit like writing a diary in a certain way. Sometimes he writes lyrics including what happened during the day. He writes about things he likes. Love, disappointment, stuff people can identify with. Johar says it’s kind of magical that people can feel Per’s songs are like they are written about themselves.
The guys listen to Dolly Parton’s song, Jolene. Per thinks it’s a fantastic song. Johar says the listeners couldn’t see it, but Per was listening to this song intensively, concentrating deeply on it in the studio. Johar asks Per what he thinks as a songwriter, what is the success behind this song. Per says the songwriters succeeded with everything here. For example, there is the exact same chord in both the verses and the choruses. The same chord goes round and round. It has a classic country text of a nice story. It’s a wonderful song, wonderfully arranged with pedal steel. When talking about the country milieu, Per says, on the new album he used milieu sounds between the songs.
Johar asks Per about songwriting again, if he sees colors when he writes. Per says he is always looking for some certain color, the temperature of the song. In a way it’s hard to explain though that he wants a yellow song with a little blue in it. On the new album there is everything possible. There is a certain melancholy. It’s very melodic and effectively arranged.There is happiness and there is sadness.
The guys are talking about the summer tour. Johar states Per tours terribly much, all his life, actually. He asks Per if he still finds it fun. Per replies it’s totally amazing, it’s the best thing. He likes the creative process in the studio, but it’s damn good to stand on stage and perform to the crowd. He is looking very much forward to this summer. Johar says a lot of artists say they hate touring, but Per enjoys it much. He says there is of course a price you pay, for example you wake up in a new bed each day and you don’t know where to find the toilet. Whether it’s on the left or on the right. Haha.
Johar mentions he read that Per was in Nashville once before he recorded his album. Per says he was, but can’t really remember. It was when they toured with Roxette in the US.
Johar asks Per if he likes attending other artists’ concerts. Per says sometimes he goes to shows, but often it’s boring, because tons of artists have pre-recorded CDs. It’s not like cheating, it’s just a style. Some music in the digital technology can’t be played live. But of course, he likes to attend concerts. To the question which was the last concert he saw and liked Per replies he has to think about it for a long time. He doesn’t know, he can’t say it. And here, the interview ends with this unanswered question.
Per was one of the guests on today’s Gomorron Sverige on SVT. As he mentioned on his Instagram account: ”Early morning TV show. Really early. Really.” Haha. Poor guy, having some long and busy PR days this week.
If you are in Sweden, you can watch the show on SVT Play, if not, then you can watch it on YouTube(thanks to Gaby for recording it).
In 10 years, this is the first material Per releases in Swedish. To the question why Nashville, he replies he wanted to change the milieu a bit, not to record again in Skåne. He was thinking about recording in England or France, but suddenly Nashville popped up. Per thinks the combination of Halmstad and Nashville is perfect. He says he likes classic country, Neil Young, for example.
The host on the show says Per’s music is not really country, but Mr. G says there are country elements, for example, on Mazarin. Now he worked together with local musicians and all the instruments they used add the Nashville sound to the album, but at the same time he wanted the lyrics and his voice to be in focus.
Regarding the duet with Lars Winnerbäck, the hostess asks Per if it is a bit like looking for something new after Marie. Per says he just wanted to do something different. He likes to test different things all the time.
The host asks Per if this project is more about looking back than looking into the future. Per says in a way it is. He tried to write the lyrics from the point of view who he is today, even he writes about the same topics as usual, love, disappointment, longing, dreaming. The host asks if it is easier to write in his mother tongue, Swedish than in English. Per says it is.
They talk about the album cover of ”En vacker natt”. Per tells it’s his sister on the cover. She passed away last autumn. Her son found a box full of photos from 1965-66 and Per chose to put this picture of Gunilla on the cover. The pic was taken in Halmstad.
The hostess asks Per if losing his father, mother, brother and sister had any affect on his music. Per says of course it had in a way. Everyone who loses someone close is affected by the loss.
They are talking about the fact that a second album is out in autumn. Per says they worked fast and there was so much material, he decided to release 2 albums instead of one damn long album.
The hostess says the album looks like an old LP. Per says that was the idea behind the design. The cover also helps to create the milieu of the songs. And it will be released also on LP. The hostess asks why Mr. G thought it should be released on vinyl as well. He says mainly in Sweden, Spotify is huge in streaming music, but it’s a bit anonymous. There are no album covers, but pop or rock culture doesn’t exist without album covers. Nowadays Per still buys LPs and he is looking at the sleeves while listening to the songs on Spotify. He likes to have the lyrics in front of him when he is actively listening to music.
The hostess asks what Halmstad means to Per. He replies he has been travelling a lot around the world, but he always gets back to Halmstad. He likes Halmstad and he likes small town life. He of course likes Stockholm too, but he is more of a small town guy. Lars Winnerbäck is also a small town guy, Marie Fredriksson is also a small town girl.
The host asks about that one English song, ”Far Too Close” (duet with Savannah Church) on the album and they play a short snippet from it. Per says this is a homage to Nashville to have an English song as the last track on the album, a duet by a local country singer.
Per says the musicians in Nashville of course knew the songs ”Listen To Your Heart” or ”It Must Have Been Love”, but they thought Per’s music was strange. Per was happy about it and thought their cooperation would be exciting.
About how he wrote the songs Per says he always writes either on acoustic guitar or on piano. The host asks how long they rehearsed together with the musicians in Nashville. Per says they didn’t rehearse at all. He played the demos to them and explained some things, but then it was more like jamming. There were like 3-4 takes for a track, then they just put the whole song together. The pedal steel and the violin are very characteristic.
Per says his summer tour has its premiere in Helsingborg, but he couldn’t remember the exact date. Haha. First he said 7th July, then smiled and said or maybe rather 6th July. Yes, it’s the 6th. He won’t have Nashville musicians in the band, but Swedish guys and girls. They will play songs from Per’s whole career.
This article contains the translation of the text that was sent out by TT Swedish news agency and was published in most Swedish newspapers yesterday and today. Metro’s article contained the most details and the most photos (fabulous pics by Jonas Ekströmer), so that’s why I chose to include that one here.
Per Gessle is back with new music in Swedish. The album “En vacker natt” is his most personal so far.
I wanted to do something where the lyrics and my voice were in focus, he says.
An announcement was made last year in spring that Roxette would say goodbye to big stages after the doctors advised Marie Fredriksson to stop touring. Suddenly, the pop group’s other half, Per Gessle, had much time left. He decided to record new music in Swedish, for the first time in ten years. Then it went fast.
It’s just the way I love to work. “Now we make a record on Tuesday, write five songs until then”, then I do it. But if you say “it’s going to be finished next spring”, then I’ll do something else until the last week, says Per Gessle.
Ended up in Nashville
“En vacker natt” and its sister album “En vacker dag”, coming in September, were recorded in Nashville. But there was really no deeper thought about it – apart from getting away from his partner in crime, Christoffer Lundquist’s diligently used studio, Aerosol Gray Machine in Skåne.
I saw a documentary about Nick Cave in which he was down in France in a damn cool studio, but I thought that place was a bit big. So we checked some smaller places in England, but then Nashville popped up and I thought, “that’s not that bad”. Even though I’m not a country nerd, there is automatically pretty much country stuff in my music.
The studio we booked in the Blackbird complex still seemed to be too big and offered too many facilities. Gessle and his gang switched to a smaller studio and in the evenings they walked home to a house they rented via Airbnb and shared their bathroom with a bunch of beetles.
Small and intimate, just like the music they recorded. Per Gessle sees “En vacker natt” as a cousin of his “Mazarin” album from 2003 – firmly spiced with fiddle and pedal steel.
I tried to make this record as a unit, and of course I had to pay a price for it – there is no radio bomb here. But I didn’t even want it, this will be something else. I’m conceited like everyone else and want everyone to think this is the best there is. But I also know that very many will find it too slow, too brittle or too fussy with the violin.
Per Gessle admits that his feelings before the album release are a little different from how it used to be.
It’s special everytime. But there has been many things happening now. There was an end with Roxette and there were a lot of family things happening around me while the whole Nashville project was a bit of a “happy accident”. It was such a boost, but it could as well have fallen flat.
With “family things” he means that he has suffered from several deaths in recent years. Last autumn Per Gessle’s sister, Gunilla passed away and when her son found a box of diapositives from the 1960s, he decided to dismiss the album cover photos already taken by Anton Corbijn.
“En vacker natt” has a picture of Gunilla and “En vacker dag” has a picture of mother Elisabeth, who passed away in 2013. These are Per Gessle’s first solo records where he is not visible on the cover.
Paradoxically, I think these are my most private and personal records. But after these pictures appeared, there was no reason to have me on the cover. These pictures set a feeling.
TT: Why do you think the music became personal and private?
I don’t know. As I said, I want to work fast and then just pour out what comes naturally. Sometimes it feels like the songs come by themselves. And many of these texts have just emerged, it’s nothing I’ve been looking for and thought out, it just fell down. Sometimes it feels like it has taken 58 years for them to arrive.
Per Gessle releases two new albums this year. The first, “En vacker natt” will be released on April 28th. “It’s an acoustically affected album, recorded in Nashville”, he says.
After this year’s two albums and a tour, Per Gessle has no plans. “We’ll see, I have a partly new band and I feel it’s much fun to play with them, so maybe we have to do something more”, he says.
For Per Gessle, the order of songs and the album covers are still important. “Via the cover, you can reinforce what you want to present and it’s similarly important to present the songs in the right order so that you come right into the idea. It’s like an art exhibition or TV series or anything. If the pilot part is very good so you get curious”, he says.
The opening song on “En vacker natt” is “Min plats” – a song that sets the tone for the entire Nashville project. “There you get it all, the violin and pedal steel stuff, the ease, the summer feeling, the sentimentality and a little black in the middle of it all. If you like it, you want to go on”, says Per Gessle.
Facts: Per Gessle
Born 1959 in Halmstad. After his years in Gyllene Tider and Roxette, he is one of Sweden’s most successful artists and songwriters of all time.
Solo albums:“Per Gessle” (1983), “Scener” (1985), “The World According to Gessle” (1997), “Mazarin” (2003), “Son of a Plumber” (2005), “En händig man” (2007), “Party Crasher” (2008).
Gyllene Tider albums: “Gyllene Tider” (1980), “Moderna tider” (1981), “Puls” (1982), “The Heartland Café” (1984), “Finn 5 fel!” (2004), “Dags att tänka på refrängen” (2013).
Current: his new album, “En vacker natt” will be released on April 28th. The album contains duets with, among others, Lars Winnerbäck and Savanna Church. The sister album, “En vacker dag” is released in September and contains duets with Linnea Henriksson and John Holm. Goes on a big tour this summer.
… the album covers with his sister’s and mother’s pictures: “Anton Corbijn rang when I was in Nashville. He was in New Orleans and shooted Arcade Fire so he said ‘oh, are you there, can I get over and we’ll do a photo session? ‘. Of course, so I cancelled one day in the studio and then we did a photo session in Nashville milieu, it was perfect. His images were supposed to be on the covers, he shooted many of my other records. But then my sister died and her son found a box of diapositives from 1965-1966 or so. I was in some pictures and that was just before I got glasses. The quality of the pictures is so beautiful, those colors. So I told Anton that ‘sorry, there won’t be any covers this time’.”
… what he will play on the summer tour: “Yes, that’s a good question. I haven’t really decided yet. I have a partly new band with violin and pedal steel so there are endless possibilities to rearrange songs and maybe have some Roxette songs in this form. To arrange my solo songs in this way is not that hard, but it would be exciting to arrange for example “It Must Have Been Love” with a little violin. My ambition is to play songs from my whole song catalogue, if you say so. I’m getting old so there are quite a lot of songs.”
… making 2 short records instead of 1 long: “I had the options either to ‘kill my darlings’, remove four songs and let them become bonus tracks on Spotify, or make a double album – and that doesn’t really makes sense nowadays. Or, to do what I did, two albums with a little ‘space’ between them. If you like the first album, you will like the second. The only negative is that if I play something from the other album this summer, nobody has heard that music. But even conceptually, it’s damn exciting, because for example I can make two cool album covers. I really love that you can extend the idea of the music via the album cover and how it’s presented visually.”
Anders Nunstedt posted a pic of himself and Per Gessle on Instagram yesterday and wrote he did an interview with Mr. G. Despite the title (”Per Gessle about life with his love, Åsa”), the article is more about Per’s new album, En vacker natt and the recording process. The interview was done at BMG’s office in Stockholm.
As Anders writes, Per Gessle travelled to Nashville and came home with 2 pop albums colored by sentimental American country and Swedish romance. The first album, En vacker natt is out on Friday (28 April), then comes a summer tour, En vacker kväll and in September the 2nd album, En vacker dag is released. Per describes it enthusiastically as a gigantic comeback, spiced with an extensive signing tour in the next few weeks.
About the project Per says:
There’s no need to stop just because you get older. These songs have taken 58 years to mature.
Regarding songwriting Mr. G tells Anders he tries to write fast when he gets started. The songs have been recorded in a studio in Nashville, the country metropolis, where Per and his gang rocked together with American studio musicians. This musical meeting gave the Swedish material a different touch and Per, at least partly, a new sound. Mr. G thinks it was much fun, because he had never met those people before and he noticed that they thought it was very strange music they did. But Per thought there was a sound in this project that those Nashville musicians have never played before. And then he became a little proud.
As Anders expresses himself, En vacker natt is not about a jet-set life. It’s down to earth from start to finish. Gessle has collected children’s laughter, birdsong, ocean waves and the sound of a train station. He sings about tussilagos on the single, Småstadsprat, the Winnerbäck duet and about daisies in the opening track Min plats.
It’s my style when I’m writing texts. If I succeed, the lyrics mean something for the listener. To do that, I have to use symbols. If I write “ny tussilago vid den väg jag går, kommer varje vår” (new tussilago on the way I go, comes every spring), I say at the same time, “there will be new chances”, “next year comes a new journey”, “life goes on”. You can interpret this in so many different ways.
Anders asks Per if it often becomes sentimental. Per replies it does. Even if he always writes the same thing, he has tried to write from another angle now. For example, Några glas rosé is a pretty classic love text, but the angle is that he being older looks back on a young love. This way there is automatically a certain form of sentimentality. Mr. G says it’s a bit sad that time goes by. It might be scary and insanely strange, but you can also use it as an ingredient and an inspiration.
Anders asks Per if the lyrics of his love songs are about his wife, Åsa. Per is laughing and tells Mr. Nunstedt that if it’s love texts, Åsa thinks he wrote them about her, but if she doesn’t like the lyrics, she doesn’t take the song personal. Haha.
Anders says Per and Åsa have been married since almost 25 years and asks how they kept their love alive. Per says:
We’ve been together since 1984. It’s a long time. But Åsa and I have always belonged to each other in a certain way, ever since we first met. I can’t see my life without her at all.
We are very similar and very different. Åsa is a superstrong person, but at the same time she has chosen to be in a supporting role to me.
Per tells Åsa is from the travel industry and started working early with Roxette and their travels, and got a position in the whole organization. So it has never been the case that Per had been away for eight months and came home, but they basically shared everything. Mr. G says his wife has been amazing.
Thanks for the interview, Expressen! An album review by Anders Nunstedt (as usual) is probably out later this week. Let’s see how many Expressen bees Per’s new album gets!
The release date of Per Gessle’s new album, En vacker natt is getting closer (28 April). Space Station 12 shared the complete list of the signing session tour stops. There are 14 places where you can meet Mr. G.
SUNDAY REFLECTION. Howdy folks. So, the mighty Good Karma’s been out a week by now. Great reception. Thanks. One thing: what’s your favourite song? Just one, pls. Otherwise I’ll get confused! Cheers, P.
It was really hard for all of us to pick only one track, because all songs on the album are dear to most of us and our favourites are changing day by day or even hour by hour. Checking the comments under the post, some are having an album with exclusive extra tracks, like Joyride, The Look, Vulnerable and So Far Away, haha. Sticking to the real Good Karma songs, the title track seems to be the absolute winner. How about a third single soon? 😉
April 8th is a special date for Roxette, as on that day back in 1989 Roxette reached #1 on the Billboard with The Look, their first number 1 in USA and the song that meant their breakthrough.
Twenty-seven (yes, 27!) years later, Roxette has decided to release their new single “It Just Happens” on this date. This is the first single off “Good Karma”, Roxette’s 10th album that will be released on June 3rd. The album will also be released on vinyl!
In the press release sent out today, Per explains “we wanted to mix the classic Roxette sound with a modern and somehow unpredictable production to create an interesting sound where one can both recognise us and experience something new”. The song “was one of the first songs written for the album and quickly became one of the key songs” and was therefore chosen as the first single.
Promotion for the song has just started, do not miss the butterfly on all social media! This is going to be a great 30th anniversary year!
Expressen (rating 3/5, “the production has style and fantasy”) and Aftonbladet (rating 3/5, stating the song is “surprisingly good” and “who would have thought Roxette do have so strong and melancholic melodies in 2016?”) also already reviewed the single.
The track list of the album is as follows:
01. Why Don’tcha?
02. It Just Happens 03. Good Karma
04. This One
05. You Make It Sound So Simple
06. From a Distance
07. Some Other Summer
08. Why Don’t You Bring Me Flowers?
09. You Can’t Do This to Me Anymore
10. 20 bpm 11. April Clouds
Some days ago we asked you to list your Top3 favourite Roxette studio album covers. We got a lot of comments and after the collage had been shared both on Roxette’s official Facebook page and Instagram account, there were even more votes. It seemed to be obvious which covers would end up at the Top3 positions, but I was curious about the exact results. It’s of course not a representative sample, but who else could judge Roxette’s album covers better than Roxers?
After checking all the comments, I counted the votes / mentions and found out the Top2 were indeed quite obvious. Most people voted for Joyride and Look Sharp!. I would say the difference between the number of votes is so tiny, the 2 covers are equally strong. The third position is occupied by Crash! Boom! Bang!, but Tourism was very close to become the third as well. The difference is quite small here, too. The 5th best cover according to Roxers is that of Room Service.
The remaining 4 covers are well behind any of those in the Top5. No surprise poor Travelling (which was released 4 years ago today, by the way) is at the end of the list. I remember how excited we all were about the new album in 2011 and 2012 and when the cover was shared on Facebook, tons of us first thought it was a joke and that it couldn’t be the final design. Not that it wasn’t funny to see BoJo on the sleeve, but… ehm… Then we decided, OK if the content is awesome, we don’t really care about the cover. The songs turned out to be fab, so the sin made with the album cover was forgiven, so to say.
We like busy covers only if there is a real concept behind them (see Tourism) and we love professional, artistic photos of Marie and Per on the sleeve. We are not into weird Photoshop attempts (see Travelling) and busy covers with seemingly no concept behind them (see Charm School). Don’t get us wrong, we love seeing such non-pro pics, but it works much better on social media sites or in books than on album covers.
These days when music is consumed rather digitally, it might be even more important to have a great cover to catch the attention of those who still go and buy CDs at record shops. Come to think of it, even for digital use it is important to have a good-looking sleeve. At least I prefer seeing a clear, eye-catching cover pic on Spotify and similar sites when I listen to music either on computer or on my smartphone.
So anyone in charge of the upcoming album cover design, please make an attractive one! Now you can see which directions Roxers prefer. 😉
According to a recent tweet, there is a song registered for Addeboy vs. Cliff (Andreas Broberger & Hannes Lindgren) and Per Gessle. The title is ”I Come Alive”. If you check BMI’s repertoire, there is indeed a song under their names. The question is whether it is one of the new Roxette songs co-produced by the duo or a Gessle solo cooperation with Addeboy vs. Cliff. Well, all 3 guys are registered as songwriters / composers of the song, so it’s probably rather a cooperation like it was with Heikki L or Kill FM or Sebastien Drums.
I had started working with Addeboy vs. Cliff on some other projects a couple of months earlier so I thought they could be great collaborators. We got the backing track from them, which was the groove, drums and bass, and it sounded really cool and fresh, like the skeleton to something really interesting. I went into the studio with our regular producers, Clarence Öfwerman and Christoffer Lundquist, and added guitars, the solo parts and, of course, new vocals together with Marie. It took us two days.
With every album/project, I try to change one ‘important’ person, just to make everyone, myself included, stand on our toes. I always welcome change if it’s the right reason. In this particular case, new blood definitely needed to be injected everywhere. As always, we wanted to produce it ourselves so as to not lose control, but we needed a fresh start and a different angle.
I told Addeboy vs. Cliff we wanted it to sound like a hit record in 2015 and to pretend that the original Roxette version from 1988 is the demo.
He also mentioned they are producing themselves, but Addeboy vs. Cliff are involved in a few songs of the upcoming Roxette album, as well as other producers.
Hallandsposten (Jan-Owe Wikström) did an interview with Per in relation to the Roxette concert in Halmstad tomorrow. It’s going to be the 6th time they play in Halmstad. After 1988, 1989, 1991, 1994 and 2010 tomorrow it’s time for them to play again in the band’s hometown. It will be their first time at Örjans vall though.
According to the interview, the tour will continue in 2016, however, nothing is planned after the September concert (company gig) in Warsaw. Per says since they turn 30 next year, the tour should last until then and they haven’t played South Africa, Asia, North America and South America yet on this tour. At the same time it is Marie’s health they are depending on, how much she can do.
Regarding the tour Per mentions it’s quite typical nowadays that as no artist can earn money on album sales, they go on tour. When Roxette played in Madrid, there were posters from Katy Perry via Mark Knopfler till the Foo Fighters. Since there is this big competition, he says it’s fantastic that they still have sold out shows and can sell 8000-18000 tickets per concert. In Halmstad there will be approximately 15000 people in the audience. The plan for the 5 concerts in Sweden was to sell 50000 tickets altogether and it seems it will work.
Per tells Jan-Owe the tour is one of the reasons why the new album is delayed. The other reason is the EMI – Warner merger. There are too many new people and Per wants to work with people he likes and who respect their history and the new songs. 5 songs off the new album are ready and as Per says, it is 65-70% of the total album. This would mean the album has 8 songs? Hm.
With Addeboy vs. Cliff, who mixed the 2015 remake of The Look, Per wrote some songs together. He says to Hallandsposten that it’s hard to find people who are talented in what he is not too good at, ie. programming.
There are still unknown collaborations on the new album, but Per told Hallandsposten he and Mats MP Persson wrote some songs together now for the first time since long and they might turn up on the new album. Mr. G says he would never be able to write “Fading Like A Flower” today, simply because he has moved on as a songwriter.
Regarding the changes in music consumption Per says nowadays it’s less important to people who wrote the songs or who plays the drums. Today’s pop music reflects the society today, so most of it is made on laptops where everything can be fixed in the end.
This time he says again that social media is a unique way to get close to the fans.
Jan-Owe Wikström asked Per what is left to do after that he has done almost everything with Roxette, Gyllene Tider, his solo projects and soundtrack. Maybe a musical? Per can imagine that there could be a musical built on Roxette’s, Gyllene Tider’s hits or his solo songs just like ABBA’s “Mamma Mia” and the Queen musical, but only if the right way is found. Something new. Maybe with Jonas Åkerlund as a director.
From the Hallandsposten interview it turns out that Per is still writing his diaries after each show, so it’s not only the Facebook posts he writes about them. And they film a lot. Probably, a lot more than what we get to see after each gig on Facebook.
About the gala Per said it was a lighthearted event with the usual red carpet-walking and quick TV interviews where the subjects changed between Marie’s brain tumor and Miley Cyrus’s tongue. He tells the award for this year’s song, Daft Punk’s Get Lucky was well deserved. Getting 2 awards, one together with MP for more than 5 million plays of Listen To Your Heart and one for more than 5 million plays of It Must Have Been Love among other, much older songs with the same amount of airplays was good for the ego, Per says. But all other 5 million-air songs are fantastic.
Regarding the book fair in Gothenburg he says whenever he / they do an official appearance, The International Hardcore Fans always turn up.
It’s always nice, they are really wonderful supporters from around the world who are there for better or worse. So the book fair was a very happy event for me. Lots of people and good atmosphere.
Roxette has been in the studio and finished a bunch of singles that will be released next year. We also aim to put together a brand new album in 2015, but right now we are concentrating on the “XXX – The 30th Anniversary Tour” starting October 28 in Vladivostok. It ends, as it looks now, the summer of 2016. I believe my passport expires then.