Interview with Per Gessle by Variabeln

Carl Fredrik Lööw from Variabeln did an interview with Per. He asked Mr. G how a typical day looks in his life. PG said there is almost no typical day. It depends on what he is working with or where he is. When he is in the studio then he usually starts at 10 am and is there until midnight roughly. If he is on tour, then there is a lot of travelling and then a concert in the evening. If he is at home, he usually sits in the office for a few hours and answers mails and keeps everything running. He manages his, Roxette’s and Gyllene Tider’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts which is fun and doesn’t take much time. And then he writes songs from time to time. It’s a rather messy and varied life but it suits him.

Carl asked Per when he started to play the guitar and if he can play any other instruments. PG said he started writing lyrics when he was 14 but couldn’t play any instruments so he saved the melodies in his head. Then he learned to play guitar when he was 16. His first guitar was a nylon-stringed Spanish that he got from his mother. Then came the punk when he was 17-18 years old and then he bought his first electric guitar. Gyllene Tider was formed when he was 19. Mr. G also told Carl that nowadays he plays a little piano, but he is not very good at it. When he writes songs he usually uses both guitar and piano. It’s easier to keep track of the keys on the piano.

Carl’s next question was if Per has always loved music. Per replied he has. He remembers his first favorite songs. “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” by The Beatles and “Til The End Of The Day” by The Kinks. He was 6-7 years old then and there was something magnetic in pop music. He liked everything. The amazing clothes, long hair on guys, vinyl records and album covers, tough electric guitars, cocky pop bands. He has been completely swollen by pop romantic since then.

To the question what his favorite song is Per replied there are so many great songs so it’s hard to choose a special song. But just the day the interview was done he liked “Moonshadow” by Cat Stevens. He thinks it’s from 1972.

Carl asked how long Per has owned Hotel Tylösand and Mr. G said Björn Nordstrand and he bought the hotel in 1995. Time flies.

Carl also asked what Per is interested in besides music. PG said he likes cars and follows F1 with great interest. He usually goes to see a race or two every year. Of course, he is a fan of Ferrari.

Then there are 4 quick questions:

  • V: – Chips or chocolate? PG: – Chocolate. Though it has to be milk chocolate, I don’t like dark chocolate.
  • V: – Training or watching movies? PG: – Watching movies. I should train more but …
  • V: – Guitar or singing? PG: – Oh, how difficult. It’s super cool both. But I like to sing, especially in the studio.
  • V: – Be free or work? PG: – Work of course. I’m lucky because my work is my hobby.

 

Per Gessle and Micke Syd Andersson on TV4 about the GT farewell tour

Per and Micke Syd appeared as guests on TV4’s Nyhetsmorgon and were interviewed by Jenny Strömstedt about the upcoming Gyllene Tider farewell tour. Watch it HERE!

When Jenny welcomed the guys, she noticed that they were wearing black clothes and asked if it is kind of grieving the ending of the band. Per and Micke Syd said nah, they are tough. Haha. Micke Syd said they were Sweden’s kindest pop band in the 80’s, so they are working on becoming tough.

Jenny asked what the fans think about the fact that it’s going to be Gyllene Tider’s last tour. Per replied that there are a lot of reactions. Micke Syd started singing Här kommer alla känslorna, but Per told him it’s not a GT song. Micke Syd said but it fits. Mr. G continued answering that GT means so much to a lot of people and it’s awesome. Micke Syd joined in and said fans say for example that their songs are the soundtrack to their lives. They grew up with Gyllene Tider. Per said it’s mainly their 80’s songs that he wrote when he was 19-22 years old. Back then he wouldn’t have thought they would be on a 40th anniversary farewell tour.

Then a short part of Parkliv tour film was shown and after that Micke Syd told the story that even if they beeped out the sound when Per told the phone number of Micke Syd’s mum’s hairdresser salon in the film, fans could read Mr. G’s lips and Micke’s mum got angry by constantly getting tons of calls after that. Jenny asked what the fans wanted. Micke Syd said ”talking to me” and Per joked ”having their hair cut”. Haha. Jenny asked how it worked with the fans back then. Both Micke and Per said they all lived with their parents and it was quite strange when fans were hanging around their houses. They were stealing washed clothes for example. Per said when he turned 21 he got 3400 mails, so his mum’s house was full of them. They also mentioned they had to check in at hotels on different names,picking different names each time. But of course, over the years it got calmer and the guys in GT also grew up and could handle it better. Jenny said that everyone tells about GT that they are like everyday people and so nice. The guys agree that they are nice.

Jenny mentioned that back in the days there were 2 big bands, Gyllene Tider and Noice in Sweden. They talked about the differences and Per said Noice was a big town band, while GT was a small town band. Micke Syd said this fact also determined that they had different mentality.

Per told that the band broke up in 1985 and since then they have always been doing something together on project basis. Like in 1996 or 2004 or 2013. The guys said they have a unique sound and when they play together it’s fantastic. They can’t put their finger on what it is about that uniqueness, but it’s like them 5 become 1 then. Per said when he plays GT songs with other musicians, they don’t sound like Gyllene Tider at all. There is a special style they have in GT and it shows up only when they 5 are playing together.

Jenny asked what the roles are in the band and if Per is the boss. Per said nah, he comes always as the last. Micke Syd told things are changing, but there are of course things that haven’t changed in the band. They also talked about how they play a song from 1980 these days. Micke Syd said they become young again on the inside despite the fact that he will soon turn 60. Per’s reaction to that was ”60?! Shit!” Haha. Jenny asked if it is the same feeling to sing about love now, when they are a little bit older. Per said when you sing a song you also act. Of course, when there is a song you wrote when you were 19 and sing it when you are suddenly not 19 anymore the song becomes different, it gets another meaning.

Per said GT is loved by so many people and one can’t take that for granted. It’s awesome to look back on their 40 years history. Micke Syd said there are so many memories related to their songs one can also see that on fans’ faces on the concerts.

At the end of the interview Jenny asked the most important question, if the guys can guarantee that this will really be a last time they go on tour again. Micke Syd nodded and Per replied ”it feels like that”. Jenny said it was quite a diplomatic answer.

 

Massive birthday celebration of Per Gessle’s 60th on TV4

TV4 already did a short phone interview with Per Gessle on 11h January. Per said that he was in the US, working a bit on Mono Mind, his new project under which he released an album the next day, on his birthday. Mr. G said he would be celebrating his 60th birthday in Florida. Åsa organized a surprise party for him. The program leader asked what the most heart-warming moments in his career are if he looks back and Per said there are so many, but Roxette’s greatness at the end of the 80’s and in the 90’s is sure one of them. He said he is fortunate that he can work with his hobby and to the question if he likes getting older he replied that he still feels quite young and he still doesn’t know what he will become when he grows up.

Then on 12th January TV4 shared a video report about 5 times Per Gessle made whole Sweden sing along. With Gyllene Tider, Roxette and as a solo artist. The video is based on footages from some concerts during the past 40 years and earlier reports, as well as some photos from the past and PG walking on Tylösand beach recently and some years ago. Watch it HERE!

Nice to see Mr. G on TV so many times, but the main thing came on Nyhetsmorgon on his birthday. TV4 invited Per for a longer interview in the morning show. Watch it HERE! The interview was recorded some days before. The reporter, Anders Pihlblad and Mr. G talked about Per’s career, aging, success, future and his actual project, Mono Mind.

Anders first asked Per how it feels turning 60. Per said it’s surreal in a way, 60 is very much. At the same time it’s awesome, because he is reminded that thanks to his age he has been through so many things and lived a lot. Anders is curious if Per has ever worried about his age. Per says kind of. He realizes that time goes by and he sees for example that a lot of his friends or relatives have health problems when they are getting older and this is how they are reminded of getting older. Then he thinks that he is not 58 anymore. It was tough for him to lose his mother, brother and sister after one another in a short period of time. But nothing stands still and you have to learn to live with it. It’s hard to understand though, but you have to find your place in life. The Earth is actually still spinning. When people close to you die you feel emptiness and all people are handling it differently. Per says he partially uses his songwriting for that.

Anders and Per talk a bit about the book Att vara Per Gessle in which Per’s mother and his siblings also talked about Mr. G. Anders asks Per how it feels to have all this documented. Per says it’s awesome. He says that he learned it over the years that documenting as many things as possible is important. For example tours, recordings, projects. Nowadays it’s getting easier with mobile phones. They already recorded a lot of backstage videos and album recordings, as well as took photos during the 80’s. The quality of those materials is catastrophic though, but it’s of course much fun to have them anyway.

Anders reads a short part of the book. It’s when Per’s mom tells about Mr. G’s dolls. Per says he had a little Barbie doll collection. He has always been into style and design and it probably comes from his mother, because she was always good at such things. She was kind of a female Ernst, fixing everything. (Ernst Kirchsteiger is a Swedish interior designer, also program leader on TV4. – PP) So Per learned a lot from her and he likes when everything is in order and likes nice things. His mom was always quite modern and supported him even when his conservative father – who died in 1978 when Per was 19 years old – said he should have get a proper job. His mother bought his first guitar for example and encouraged him to play and sing. She thought it was fantastic that Per was creating his own world and wrote songs. So she was Mr. G’s first and biggest fan for sure.

Anders says Per was his first big idol. Per says ”wow!”.  Anders says he brought some stuff from his collection. Per says ”shit!”. Haha. Anders shows the first LP he bought and it was Gyllene Tider’s ”Moderna Tider” that came out in 1981. Per says everyone felt that it was a great record, but they expected to sell like 10000 copies. They sold 140000 in the end. Per says it was awesome and they were so young back then. They were suddenly superstars, but also very uncertain and didn’t know much about anything. They did only 6 shows in public before they became No. 1 with ”Flickorna på TV2”. Per says they learned quite soon that as soon as you become successful it also has it’s backlashes that some wouldn’t want to deal with you anymore because they think you became too commercial. It was the same with Roxette and that also happened to ABBA in the 70’s. One has to be persistent, have the self-confidence and move forward.

Anders shows ”The Look” maxi single. Per looks at the cover and says ”tough guy and girl”. Haha. He says that Roxette had a fantastic journey. Roxette was huge during the first 10 and the last 10 years, but actually it’s still huge. The songs live on.

Anders shows a picture from 1988. Per smiles and says ”shit!” again. He appears in the pic and Anders is there too. He was interviewing Mr. G back then when Roxette had their tour premiere. Per says he looks like he wanted Anders to understand what he was saying, his gestures show that. Anders says then he asked if they would hit other countries too and Per replied they will hit the world. And some months later they became No. 1 in the US. Per says he can’t remember he was that optimistic, but he remembers he printed T-shirts with the text ”Today Sweden – tomorrow the world” and the Roxette logo. So he was determined and focused. He tells that they always wanted to work under their own terms. When they broke through in the US, their American record label wanted them to move there and work from New York or Los Angeles, but they didn’t want to. They wanted to keep their Swedish team and work from Stockholm. This is how they could keep their very own sound.

 

Anders and Per talk about Marie that she had to retire from touring. Per says she lives a quite private life nowadays, but they talk once in a while. It’s very sad what happened, but they had a wonderful journey together with Roxette.

Anders says it feels like Per is still curious and is trying out new things. He asks Per if he is satisfied with his success. Per asks back if one can be satisfied with his own success. He doesn’t know. He likes the creative work and write when he feels like it. The whole creative journey is very attractive for him and of course he wants as many people as possible to listen to his songs and sing along.

Anders wishes Per a fantastic birthday and Per thanks and says it was nice being there.

Then later during the morning show there was another report with Per about Mono Mind. Anders tells a bit about the project, that it has 4 fictive band members and they are releasing an album on Per’s 60th birthday and it’s actually Per Gessle behind this project. Watch it HERE!

There is manager Wicked Pete talking first and Harriet, the dog appears too, as well as Dr. Robot dancing in the crowd. Then Per starts talking and says he felt he wanted to record songs in a different way. He felt his voice limited his possibilities, because as soon as he starts singing everyone knows it’s him. So he tried out different manners, singing in various octaves and wrong keys, changed on computer. This way he found a new voice which is quite technical and maybe not too easy to recognize. It was exciting to record the songs this way and new ideas came up during the recordings. Then there were so many songs that he thought it could become an album.

The guys are talking about the 4 characters and Anders asks Per which one is him. Per says it’s Dr. Robot, the one who sings. He has a very similar personality to Per’s. Mr. G tells in pop history there are a lot of projects with fictional characters. He for example didn’t know David Bowie in 1973. Back then everyone was a figure, a character. Per says the fun thing is that a fictive band like Mono Mind can do anything.

Anders asks about the future, about touring with Gyllene Tider, as Per Gessle or with Mono Mind. Per laughs at the thought of Mono Mind touring. He says MM got 2 nominations on the NRJ Radio Awards in France and they were thinking as a fictive band how they could accept an award if they win. Haha. He also mentions that he would like to see the band members appear in a Family Guy episode. Why not.

 

Mono Mind interview with Per Gessle à la RoxetteBlog

Together with the Mono Mind press release 2 days ago, there was the opportunity to ask 5 questions from Per about his latest project. 5 might be even too many for most journalists, but too few for a fan who already has more than 30 in her mind. Fortunately, some of my relevant questions were answered in an earlier Instagram Q&A and the „Per Gessle presents Mono Mind” videos include quite some details too, so I could reduce the number of questions. But not to 5, no way. Haha. I thought Per knows anyway that I like novels, so I sticked to sending some more questions hoping for at least as many answers. He is fast, the answers are just in! And they are detailed. Enjoy!

Patrícia Peres: – Hi Per! First of all, thank you very much for the opportunity regarding the interview. What a fab birthday gift, a new album under a new project! Pure awesomeness! As far as I know, the songs were recorded years ago. (Not sure if all of them though.) Why did you decide to wait for so long with the release?

Per Gessle: – Hey Pat! Thank you. I started fooling around with this idea in 2014, spent weeks and weeks trying to find out how I could create different sounds with my voice. I did all this work together with Christoffer Lundquist in his fancy studio way down south. Why did you try to change your voice, Per? Well, that’s a very good question, Pat.

PP: – Haha. Thanks for asking in my name. Since the number of questions was limited, I didn’t want to use some which I thought journalists would ask anyway. But of course I’m very much interested in why you wanted to change your voice.

PG: – The thing is that the voice is the main thing you listen to in pop music. I felt a bit tired of my own tool and wanted to dream up something new and fresh. I tried out different manners, singing in various octaves and „wrong” keys to see if something special happened. We tried to out different gadgets in the computer and eventually found a way to stretch/ shorten the words, vowels and consonants and create different styles of melodies. We basically „drew” the melody lines by hand. I didn’t really sing it the way it sounds. Exciting, heh? It took forever, don’t try it at home.
Most of the stuff on the album was finalized 2016 and 2017. „LaLaLove” was recorded 2018. I wanted to start with at least three singles before I put together the first album. The big moment for this project was, of course, the six weeks at the Number One spot on the MediaBase Dance chart in the US with „Save Me A Place” in the late summer of 2017. That’s when I realized I had something special going on.
My ambition with Mono Mind has always been to create a „classic” album, that’s why you have instrumentals like „Away Away Away” and „Lap Dancing” in there to glue things together. Also, I wanted to use the same lyrics in different songs to see what happened and how they worked in various environments. It’s all been a magic carpet ride for me. Every song has created a new urge for another one.
Musically I wanted to create songs à la PG but made in the computer. We certainly used some guitars and keyboards from the outside but I wanted the production to sound electronic. Funny thing is I did most of this stuff while working on the Nashville albums which are TOTALLY DIFFERENT. Two sides of the same coin? The dark side of the moon? Fascinating.
And when I finally found the sound I liked I created the four characters. They were not there from the beginning. If you think about it… the history of pop is filled with „characters” with fake names; The Ramones, David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Alice Cooper. It made sense to me to create my own little circle of friends. Four cool names, looks, voices and opinions. It’s been very exciting to visit the Mono Mind quarters from time to time. And, of course, I had to invent Wicked Pete, their manager who takes all the money. He’s been all over me sometimes.

PP: – Amazing to hear so many details about how it all started and the way to what it has become! What is the main thing that you think differentiates Mono Mind from any other EDM band?

PG: – Mono Mind is not really about EDM. Mono Mind at this point is about combining classic pop music with electronica. That’s what’s been going on on the first album. However, next recordings might be different. It all depends on who I’m working with. I want to stay open to anything. I might lose the robot voice eventually. But right now I’ve been into putting together computerized pop and computerized voices with my style of writing which, as you know, is based on the 60’s and 70’s songwriting tradition. The EDM elements you are referring to must be from some remixes that’s been done. Some of them have been wunderbar, others have been crap. You haven’t heard those. Lucky you.

PP: – Yeah, the remixes might have misled me, but also I’m not a pro when it comes to defining genres. What can you tell us about your laboratory co-workers besides the wonderful trio of Helena Josefsson, Christoffer Lundquist and Clarence Öfwerman?

PG: – They’ve been crucial to the project. Especially in the beginning. Dr Robot’s unique voice wouldn’t have happened without Chris. I also wanted to use a female voice here and there to soften things up a bit and Helena is da shit! She makes a perfect Cooky. Also, I’ve been working with quite a few people from all over Europe and the US. Lots of stuff are not included on the album. Some things didn’t work out.

PP: – From your career so far I think Good Karma is the closest to Mono Mind. What was the difference in the process and cooperations of recording MM songs vs. GK songs? Or the difference to any other earlier project of yours.

PG: – GK was a Roxette album which was pretty complicated to create due to Marie’s illness. For me, Mono Mind is VERY different. And if I’m gonna be frank, the MM album got much better songs.

PP: – Your latest album lengths were quite short. Now with this release you get back to a length that is over 50 minutes. That’s really cool! Why did you decide for a longer album this time?

PG: – I have so many versions of various Mono Mind songs lying around. My first idea of the CD was over an hour long. But I skipped two songs (that I love) and put them on the double vinyl instead. I hate it when CD’s become too long.

PP: – Which was the very first song you wrote especially for Mono Mind?

PG: – „In Control”.

PP: – Now that’s really interesting. This is the song that has become an instant top favourite for me off the album, right after the first listening. Is there any song you wrote for another project of yours, but it has ended up as a Mono Mind song and is now on the album?

PG: – Yes, „Couldn’t Believe My Luck” was written for Roxette but was never recorded. And „Shelter From The Storm” (from the vinyl album) was written in the 80’s. The rest are Mono Mind originals.

PP: – Which song on Mind Control would you suggest a non-electronica fan to listen to for sure that you think it would engage the listener and would start to like EDM music?

PG: – Like I said I don’t consider MM to be an EDM-act. If you listen to „Tell Him I Said Hi!” or „Mile-Melter” or „Couldn’t Believe My Luck” or „In Control” for example, I don’t think the first three letters that pop up in your head will be E and D and M.

PP: – Before I get on your nerves with those 3 letters, I promise I’ll never use them again regarding Mono Mind. On the vinyl there are 2 extra songs. How did you decide which ones not to include on the CD & digital release?

PG: – „Shelter From The Storm” is amazing but very long so I kept it away from the CD. „Have Another Go” felt similar in style to „Love Is Loud” so one had to go.

PP: – Your Mono Mind lyrics also have that PG trademark on them. It’s amazing that no matter in what genre you write songs, it shines through. How can you keep your own basic style in such different projects?

PG: – That’s the whole idea. To mix my style of writing with new ingredients and other collaborators’ visions. It’s not that complicated. You have to have your antennas out, though. You have to like the final result. Sometimes I didn’t and those songs will not be released. Mono Mind will always be, first and foremost, my vision.

PP: – When you turned 50, you turned towards disco and released Party Crasher. Now when you turn 60, you come up with a whole new electro project. What do you think you’ll be dealing with when you’re 70?

PG: – Hahaha. Heavy metal? Haven’t got a clue. As long as I think I create interesting things (for myself, that is….) I will have a go. Ten years is a long time. Maybe we’re all dead and gone by then and will be singing „Love Is All” upside down on a cloud.

PP: – Oj… Don’t even joke with that, Per! I mean not with heavy metal. I would love to hear your growled vocals one day. Haha. I know I had the option for 5 questions only and I’m well over it, but let me ask one more. Is there any chance we will get to hear the demos to the songs with your non-distorted voice one day?

PG: – No, there isn’t any. I didn’t make any demos for this one. There is an acoustic version of „Couldn’t Believe My Luck” (or at least half of it…) but that’s it. The rest was made in the studio. And in bits and pieces on my iPhone.

PP: – No demos? Wow. Now you really surprised me. Good luck with the album release and I wish you a bright future with Mono Mind, as well as a fabulous 60th birthday!

PG: – Thank you. And thanks for your great support. Appreciate that.

 

Fun personal interview with Per Gessle in Schweizer Illustrierte

Sandra Casalini from Schweizer Illustrierte did a fun interview with Per, asking mostly not the usual questions. Here is the English translation to it. Enjoy!

SI: – Per Gessle, was it always clear to you that you would continue solo after the end of Roxette?
PG: – Marie could hardly move during the last Roxette tour, so the only right decision was to “bury” the band. It was her wish that I carry on alone. But I wanted to do something completely different than Roxette.

SI: – What?
PG: – Songs in Swedish. Also because I lost my mother and siblings within a short time, I wanted to do something private for myself. When I travelled to Nashville to record the songs, everything changed: now it’s become an English album.

SI: – What kind of everyday life would you urgently need to change from an environmental perspective?
PG: – Everything! I fly too often, I drive too often – in fact, I’m very careless.

SI: – By what percentage would you have to reduce your workload to be massively happier?
PG: – Zero. Of course, there are days when I don’t find it funny to be asked for a selfie every few steps, which is the case in Sweden. But it’s part of my job. Communication with the fans is important.

SI: – Are you on social media?
PG: – Not privately, but I manage Roxette’s Facebook page and the Twitter account with 1.5 million followers.

SI: – Have you ever had a nickname?
PG: – In my first band I got the nickname “Gellner” missed. Why? One of the first newspaper articles about us said that this was my name – no idea why!

SI: – When you were a child, what did your mother always tell you?
PG: – “Cut your hair!” I always wanted long hair. My uncle was a hairdresser and I cried every time I had to go to him.

SI: – When did you last do something handmade?
PG: – I write notes to my wife every day: “I’m going for a walk.” or “When’s dinner?”

SI: – In other words, have you ever written a song for someone special?
PG: – When writing a song, you always start with something personal, that can also sometimes be a person. But during the process, you keep getting farther off, so in the end it’s often fiction.

SI: – What kind of background image does your mobile phone display have?
PG: – A picture of me and my wife dressed up for a Halloween party. I look scary – and more!

SI: – What music should be played at your funeral?
PG: – “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Monty Python.

SI: – Do you have a tattoo?
PG: – No. I always thought I should stay original.

SI: – What act of you do you think people will still talk about long after your death?
PG: – Nothing is forever and that’s good. Of course, when you’re doing music, you hope that some songs will survive for a few years. But new generations come with different musical tastes.

SI: – The best song you have ever written?
PG: – “It Must Have Been Love” – I managed that pretty well.

SI: – Which of your qualities do you want your son to inherit from you?
PG: – I don’t think he should have my qualities. My greatest quality as a father is being open to what he is and what he wants. Gabriel is studying computer science. I am very proud of him.

SI: – The best advice you have ever received?
PG: – To follow my gut feeling. That’s what some people told me at the beginning of my career. You have to have something to rely on. For some it is a religion or a political party. I think trusting yourself is the best.

SI: – Do you remember your first love at school?
PG: – (Thinks for a while.) Ah yes, I remember. I was seven or eight. But I won’t reveal her name.

SI: – Who is your best friend?
PG: – My wife. We’ve been married for 25 years and have been together for 33 years.

SI: – That is long. How do you do that?
PG: – We want it to work. That’s a conscious decision, that we meet again and again for each other.

SI: – What gift have you been happy about for the last time?
PG: – A signed photo of musician Tom Petty who died in 2017. He gave it to a journalist who knew that I was a fan. He wrote, “See you one day.” Unfortunately, I received it only after his death.

 

21 questions to Per Gessle in Aftonbladet Söndag

There is a 2-page Per Gessle article in Aftonbladet Söndag’s 2nd September 2018 issue. Nina Jakobson asked Mr. G 21 interesting questions and he answered them in his entertaining, Gessleish way. Here it is in English.

1. Two albums last year and one this year. How many songs do you actually have in you?
– I’ve had a good flow for many years. As long as it feels important and is fun, I’m rolling on. I’m still very curious musically. That’s enough for quite a long time.

2. Which song are you most proud of?
– In a way I’m proud of all finished songs I have written. Otherwise I wouldn’t have finished writing them. Most end up in the trash bin. The other day a song from En händig man, TomTom popped up. It’s a good one. Min plats from En vacker natt tunred out to be as I had hoped. Tycker om när du tar på mig is nice. What’s she like? from Roxette is special. Hjärta utan hem from Gyllene Tider makes me happy. Gyllene Tider is a fantastic little band.

3. And is there any song you’re a little less satisfied with?
– Some songs have definitely not improved over the years. But when they were written and recorded, they felt like future classics!

4. What is the leitmotif in your music?
– Melodies. Always strong melodies.

5. What is the difference between singing in English and Swedish?
– There are two completely different expressions. English is easier to sing. It sounds better. There is even greater difference in writing in English than in Swedish. In your native language, you can express yourself “heavier” and more precisely.

6. You are the idol of many, but who is yours?
– My wife! I have no real idol anymore. When I was young, I had quite many: John Lennon, Elizabeth Taylor, Ronnie Peterson, the Monty Python gang, Uncle Melker in Saltkråkan.

7. How was singing with Nick Lowe?
– Incredible. He came to Stockholm and I had the honor to spend a few days with him. Besides working in the studio, we played music, drank wine and talked about dirty tour memories.

8. What would you have done if you were not a musician?
– I wanted to be an architect when I was little. But then I heard Get It On from T. Rex.

9. When is it the hardest to be you?
– I’ve been lucky enough to work with what I love, that is, songwriting and music. So it’s not that difficult to be me compared to many others. Possibly, when I put too high demands on myself and my environment. I do it sometimes. It’s tricky to break that pattern.

10. If I were to move in with you, what’s the first thing that would bother me?
– That everything is in order and is very organized. It doesn’t fit everyone. Some get stressed by it.

11. What is your most unknown talent?
– I like cleaning.

12. Who would play the main role in the movie about your life?
– Micke Syd.

13. Who would sing the soundtrack?
– Marie Fredriksson and Helena Josefsson. They are the best I have worked with. I love when girls sing my songs. There is some sort of feminine fragility in many of my songs that comes out so well then.

14. What do you do when you are not making music?
– Watching movies, reading car magazines and thinking.

15. Why do you have so many cars?
– It would have been a shame if they were left unsold.

16. What do you do when nobody sees you?
– I’m always visible. It feels so.

17. Do you get starstruck? When?
– Earlier more than now. When I met David Bowie, I barely dared to speak. But it was in 1983. I have since then noticed that all performers, artists, actors and sportsmen/women I like, strangely enough, are very ordinary people. They work hard and determined and have talent, luck and timing. Most of them are very open and nice.

18. What’s your favorite swearword?
– Fuck.

19. When did you use it last?
– Recently when I realized that the squirrels chewed up our cushions and towels out in the garden. Squirrels are sweet but my Chip and Dale quota has been filled for a long time.

20. What gives you goosebumps?
– Music. Sometimes I can end up in some sort of music coma and bury myself in Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell for hours. Goosebumps are lovely.

21. What would you do if you were God for a day?
– Clean up a little.

 

Exclusive interview with Per Gessle: ”Boogie shoes are allowed!”

We are all very excited about Per’s upcoming tour and also the new album. Both we at RoxBlog and fans are very curious about some details, so we put together a few questions and sent them to Mr. G after the news came out.

RXB: – Hi Per! The question was never IF, but WHEN you would hit the road again. We’ve been wondering if it’s high time for another Gyllene Tider celebration, but you first teased and now suprised us with a European tour called ”Per Gessle’s Roxette”. Would you mind telling us more about how the idea was born?

PG: – Hello! Yes, the idea came up during the rehearsals for the summer tour last year. The band sounded very special and it just occurred to me that it would be interesting to play Roxette songs with these amazing players and their instruments. I suddenly had violin, pedal steel, dobro and several  wonderful voices available. I hope my gut feeling was correct. I’ll know when we get together after the summer.

RXB: – In 2009 you were called ”the man from Roxette” in all materials, now it’s more direct, potentially better marketing-wise ”Per Gessle’s Roxette”. Some fans think it sounds quite controversial, like you would set up your own ”Roxette tribute band”. Have you hesitated choosing that name?

PG: – No, I think it’s a great name since it’s exactly what it is. This is my personal version of Roxette. I play Roxette-songs I’ve written, music that still is such a big slice of my life. In the perfect world Marie would have been by my side to sing and perform  but that won’t happen anymore. I have to live with that. You do too. The options I have are to perform the songs without her or not perform them at all. I chose the obvious one.

RXB: – In the press release it’s mentioned that this tour’s idea was ”blessed” by Marie. Have you been in discussion with her about your plans regarding this tour?

PG: – Of course.

RXB: – It’s no secret 2009 was a success music-wise with fans being positively suprised by the setlist, band and the whole atmosphere, but it was more challenging in financial terms. You even mentioned in one of the interviews that you were forced to finance the tour yourself. Has this experience influenced planning of this tour in any way?

PG: – No, I’m a musician, songwriter and an artist. My mission is to play, write and perform. Sometimes you make records that sell well and get lots of airplay and streams and you make money. Sometimes your music doesn’t work commercially.  Same with tours. You win some, you lose some. That’s the name of the game. That’s how the music biz works.

RXB: – What can a fan expect? Would that be 100% of Roxette (we still hope for your live take on ”Vulnerable” and ”A Thing About You”) or will it be more balanced setlist with songs also from your long English solo career including ”The World According to Gessle”, ”Party Crasher”, ”Son of a Plumber” and ”Small Town Talk”?

PG: – I don’t know at this point but most of the songs will most certainly be Roxette-songs. I’ll probably sneak in a couple from the new solo album as well. Time will tell.

RXB: – How would the concerts in 2018 differ from the tour in 2009 – except of you being 25-year-old this time (18 back then)?

PG: – Hahaha, I don’t know yet. Different players, different point of views.

RXB: – How final is the current tour plan? Are there any further dates in additional countries in the can?

PG: – Could be more gigs poppin’ up.

RXB: – Do you consider taking this tour outside Europe – to South America or Australia maybe?

PG: – Maybe. I’d love to play South America, Asia, Oz, South Africa, New Z, Canada and the US as well. Time will tell.

RXB: – What was your role in deciding where to play or was it all in the hands of touring agencies?

PG: – The tour is put together by Live Nation. They’re doing a great job. We all strive for the same thing; to play where it’s possible.

RXB: – Many concerts are seated. Was that your clear intention with this tour? Does it mean we get more ballads this time?

PG: – No, it’s because my audience is getting older and many of them prefer seats. If you want I’m sure you can stand up. Boogie shoes are allowed!

RXB: – In 2009 you said the ”Party Crasher Tour” was the best gift for yourself on your 50th birthday. Is the 2018 tour another self-made present for your next birthday?

PG: – No, I don’t think in those terms. Quotes like that just pop out of my mouth when I talk to the media.

RXB: – Do you consider ”Per Gessle’s Roxette” being a one-off project or something you could do in the coming years more often?

PG: – I will continue to play my Roxette-songs as long as  I can. It’s who I am and where I want to be.

RXB: – In autumn you are not only touring Europe, you also release your first English solo album in 10 years called ”Small Town Talk”. First you planned to have an English song on each of the 2 ”En vacker…” albums. Was it during the recordings when it came to your mind to rather release a ”complete” English version some time later?

PG: – I got really positive reactions from BMG Europe re the Swedish albums so I decided to go for an English version as well. The hardest part was to translate the lyrics since they’re quite personal and almost impossible for me to re-write. I got help from Sharon Vaughn out of Nashville to make new interpretations on a few of the tracks. She’s amazing and has been a big help.

RXB: – The first thing we realized when the tracklist for ”En vacker dag” was available was that the English duet was missing. Will that missing song with Jessica Sweetman see the light of day on ”Small Town Talk”?

PG: – Time will tell.

RXB: – We know already that you do a duet with Nick Lowe on the forthcoming album. Helena Josefsson is of course in the picture as well. You posted a selfie with Linnea Henriksson the other day. Does it mean there will be an English version of ”Känns som första gången”?

PG: – Time will tell.

RXB: – Which songs from the 2 Swedish albums will land on the English one?

PG: – Time will tell.

RXB: – It’s your sister on the cover of ”En vacker natt” and your mother on the sleeve of ”En vacker dag”. Will you have the same family vibe for ”Small Town Talk”?

PG: – No. STT will have little old me on the cover.

RXB: – Oh, and before we forget – any plans to release the 2017 ”En vacker kväll” tour on DVD / Blu-ray in the nearest future?

PG: – Yep, there will be an amazing DVD from the Halmstad-gig very soon. It looks and sounds great.

RXB: – And what about releasing past Roxette gigs we mentioned here several times?

PG: – Yes, there will be old Rox live shows out this year as well. No rest for the wicked.

RXB: – Thank you very much for your time and see you on tour!

PG: – Cheers.

Per Gessle interview in Scandinavian Traveler magazine

There is a short interview with Per Gessle in the March 2018 issue of SAS Scandinavian Traveler inflight magazine. The interview was done before the Melodi Grand Prix (Norway’s entrant for the Eurovision Song Contest) appearance of Charla K with ”Stop The Music” and it still states that Per would release his new English album this spring, which we already know will happen in autumn.

Love how the intro is written by Anders Dahlbom:

”An obsession. That’s how Per Gessle describes his relationship to music. An unadulterated passion for pop music that has colored almost the entire life of this simple guy from Halmstad.”

Anders and Per talk about Mr. G’s childhood, how it all started and the funny thing is, here it’s stated it all began with the hair. When Per as a 6-year-old went to have his hair cut. The barber was a relative, Artur and he promised not to clip Mr. G’s hair that fell down over Per’s ears, but in the end, he cut the hair off. Per cried for weeks as his Beatles haircut was gone.

It wasn’t really about the hair, rather the loss of a way of identifying with the pop world. The haircut had become such an iconic symbol. I wanted to get into the pop bubble.

During his teenage years, Per tried to find his way to express himself. He tried to learn to paint, shot movies with friends and worked in a theater. At high school he made friends with another student, Peter who was a bass player in a band, Audiovisuellt Angrepp. Mr. G went to see them practice in March 1977 and he tells Scandinavian Traveler that it changed his life.

Seeing how they created music together completely changed my life. The sheer power of expression, volume and creativity. From that moment, I just wanted to play in a pop band – nothing else would do.

Mats MP Persson was the drummer in Audiovisuellt Angrepp and they quickly became good friends. They started making music together and the rest is history.

Scandinavian Traveler writes that ”the joy of playing with others has been an everpresent feature in Gessle’s music over the years, regardless of whether he is playing with old friends in Gyllene Tider, on a huge world tour with Roxette, or with a country music band as he did during last year’s solo tour. But away from this, for songwriter Gessle, music has been mostly a job for a lone wolf.”

I’m quite comfortable working alone, even if the process has become a little more different at this stage in my life. I work more with others today than before.

Anders Dahlbom and Per talk about ”Stop The Music”, the Melodi Grand Prix contestant song penned by Gessle, Alex Shield and Charla K.

I actually don’t know who submitted the song. It’s one of many songs we’d written together sending files back and forth. I really come from another, older pop school, but it’s fun, mostly because it’s possible to write in this way.

About the upcoming album Per tells Scandinavian Traveler that he has employed a similar team approach to song composing. Many of his Swedish lyrics from En vacker natt and En vacker dag have been translated by American songwriter Sharon Vaughn.

Talking about the European tour in autumn, performing songs both old and new – the joy of playing with others remains as strong today as it was back in 1977.

Many of the songs I wrote as a young man I couldn’t write today. But it’s awesome to be able to interpret them now with a new group of musicians. A pop song is never finished; it just stops at different stages.

 

Thanx a lot for keeping your eyes open and sharing your pictures of the magazine with us, Erina Kuznitsyna!

Per Gessle podcast interview in Framgångspodden

Alexander Pärleros wanted to do a podcast interview with Per Gessle since 3 years. Now it was time for Per to say yes and they did the interview on 21st November 2017. The whole conversation is very easy-going, Alexander is well-prepared with questions and Mr. G is as down-to-earth as usual. Hardcores will hear some new anecdotes and have to wait until the very end to get some real news – about the new album which is out in May. You can listen to the podcast HERE (no. 160 is the interview with Per) or HERE or on iTunes.

Here is my summary of the interview in English.

First there is a 2.5-minute-long talk about the podcast itself. The PG-related talk starts after it, with a mix of Per-penned song fragments and an intro about Per’s career. Per joins in at appr. 4:50 in the podcast.

Alexander asks Per how he is and Mr. G says he is a bit tired because he just came back from the US. He tells he changed publishing company, so he had a lot of work meetings, also with his American record label, as well as Sirius XM. Per tells he saw Bruce Springsteen on Broadway. Alexander asks Mr. G what he likes the most in the US. Per tells he likes New York a lot, he gets energy there; Los Angeles, Florida, Miami, South Beach. Alexander asks Per if he has ever been to Michael Jackson’s house. Per says thank God he hasn’t. Alexander asks if Per doesn’t like Michael Jackson. Mr. G says he met a lot of people who love Michael Jackson and think that he was the most important person in the world of music, but he was not the most important in Per’s world. However, he was of course fantastic, but he is not in Mr. G’s Top10.

Alexander asks who Per’s Top3 most important artists are. The Beatles are No. 1, because the music they represented is reflecting the times when Per became interested in music and their music formed Per a lot. Then there is Tom Petty, who he probably listened to the most and with Gyllene Tider they kind of became the Swedish Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in the 70’s. Here Per mentions the story when Marie and Per were doing a TV thing in the Netherlands and Tom Petty shouted out to them from the second floor that he loved their record. Per says that after Tom Petty passed away, he got a video link from a friend in Los Angeles where Tom Petty at the end of the video mentioned the weirdest cover he had ever heard was the Swedish version of I Need To Know. It was Vill ha ett svar by Gyllene Tider. Mr. G says Tom Petty was an awesome artist, songwriter, singer and guitar player.

The third place is shared between Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. They also formed Mr. G a lot with their singer-songwriter tradition and listened to them a lot in the 70’s. When Per was 13-14 years old he started writing lyrics by translating Leonard Cohen into Swedish. Per couldn’t play the guitar back then, but the first songs he learned to play on the guitar which he got from his mother were Leonard Cohen songs: Famous Blue Raincoat, Suzanne, etc. Per thinks Joni Mitchell wrote the best lyrics. She is totally fantastic.

Alexander asks Per how a typical day is for him. Mr. G says there isn’t really a typical day for him. E.g. on a day like today (when the interview was done), he has almost nothing else to do just to talk with Alexander. He woke up at 9. He has a son who goes to school so sometimes he also wakes up at 7. If they are talking about a typical year for Per, he can tell that for a third year he is in Halmstad, for a third year he is in Stockholm and for a third year he is on tour or travelling. Alexander mentions it’s interesting that Per sets an alarm clock. On a normal day Per sets the alarm clock not to sleep for so long, but when they are working in the studio it can last until 2-3 am, then one can feel he should sleep more.

Alexander asks Per what he eats for breakfast. It’s boring, he always eats the same thing: coffee with milk and 2 sandwiches. One with apricot marmalade & cheese (he starts with this one), and one with ham & mustard & chives. Then he drinks a little vitamin C, lemon flavour. Alexander asks if there is any routine for the evening. Not really, but when he is free and is at home then he shuts down the computer at 6-6.30 pm, then it’s rather family time. They eat dinner together or with friends, watch a movie.

Alexander says Per and he has a common friend, Erik Bergman and Alexander asked him what to ask from Per Gessle. He said ask him about Halloween. So Alexander is curious if Per is interested in Halloween. Per says he is not interested in it at all. Once he was there in Los Angeles when it was Halloween. There was a bizarre parade on Lincoln Road with appr. 100.000 people. Everyone went there and Per dressed as Sony Bono with a thick mustache and Åsa dressed as a police woman, she looked very cool.

Alexander asks what the difference between the everyday Per and the Per on stage is. On stage Per leaves himself out in a way, he kind of becomes someone else. It’s like there is an official and unofficial Per Gessle. Many think that what he is writing the songs about is something he went through, but it’s usually not the case. Bruce Springsteen told on his Broadway show that he became the working class voice of America, however, what he writes about is not always something he experienced. Per feels the same. He always tries to write the lyrics in a way that those who are listening think it’s trustworthy. It doesn’t mean that the text is true, just that you believe it is. Everyone interprets the songs in different ways. For example, how he interprets Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah is different to how someone else interprets it. This is the magic of music and texts that you always find something in common with your own personality in it. Per always hears stories that people get married to his songs or get divorced to his songs (laughs) and they feel the songs are about their lives.

When Per is writing songs he tries to write as little as he can. He plays the piano or the guitar, checks the computer, but writing always depends on how he feels. When he really wants to write something, then it goes quite easy. Sometimes when he has a little music idea or a chord or a melody on his mind, he tries to find a word or a phrase that harmonizes with it. Then he starts writing the lyrics based on that one word or phrase. It’s like when you start painting a paint. You start with something little and there is more and more in the picture, maybe an environment or an abstract stuff, different colors that harmonize or not. There is no rule.

The guys are talking about Per’s childhood. Mr. G tells he was rather a lonely boy. His mother was a teacher in porcelain painting and worked a lot at home and when she was working she was quiet for hours while creating. Per liked it, the peacefulness in this process. He and Åsa are very different when it comes to listening to music. Åsa likes music being played anytime, but Per doesn’t put on music unless he listens to it actively. He likes silence otherwise, being in his own bubble. Per likes old Amercian country music more, Åsa likes dance bands more. When they are driving, Åsa always turns the radio on, Per turns the radio off. When they are in the same car, Åsa always wins.

Alexander asks Per what he thinks the secret of their long and happy relationship with Åsa is. Per says they have been on the journey always together. Åsa was working in the travel industry, so when Roxette broke through she organized everything related to their travelling. She was always there with him during Roxette’s busiest years, 1988-1995. They couldn’t really meet if it weren’t so. They have a lot of experience together and they are each other’s best friends. Åsa and Per met in a disco in Halmstad. Per was there to date with another girl who was going out with another guy back then. Åsa knew that girl and tried to help that girl and Per meet in secret, so organized a date for them in her house. Per in the middle of the date got more interested in Åsa. Per was 24-25 years old then, Åsa was 23. It was during the times when Gyllene Tider was over and Mr. G’s career was down. He had no record contract, he was writing songs for others. He had no money at all. Actually, he and the guys came from the 70’s, everyone was unemployed and they didn’t earn that much money. If they earned 10.000 SEK a month they felt like Scrooge McDuck, it was much, because otherwise they didn’t earn anything.

Per tells he left his mother’s house quite late, when he was 21-22 years old. He bought an apartment and his mother’s old car, an orange Passat. After they broke through with Gyllene Tider he started buying stuff for the apartment, 2 Andy Warhol paintings on Mick Jagger (it cost nothing back then and he still has them). He bought instruments, guitars and stuff. He bought a Prophet-5 synth that cost 34.000 SEK. It was a lot of money, but its value went up and now it’s vintage so it is worth probably even more.

Mr. G tells the story of getting thousands of letters when they broke through with GT and that fans stole the laundry on dry. They stole everything movable as a souvenir. It was the same when Roxette broke through. It was even bigger in a way, because it was international. When they played in Buenos Aires for example, in 1991 there were 1000-1500 people in front of the hotel and they were singing Roxette songs all night long. It was Formula-1 season and there was a Grand Prix at the same weekend. The drivers stayed at the same hotel and Per met David Coulthard who said they couldn’t sleep because of the singing. Those times were hysterical, mainly in South America.

Per tells there weren’t any extreme problems, they always had very good security teams. What he remembers being an extreme weird thing was when Gabriel was born in Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and one of the tabloids that wanted to have the first pictures of Gabriel went in to the floor where Åsa was. The woman had flowers and told he was a relative. The same tabloid hired a helicopter and was doing rounds above Per’s house in Halmstad, to be able to take pictures. It was in 1997.

Per says if you work in the music business, one of the keys to success is that you become famous. That people can listen to your music and buy tickets for your concerts. When he is talking about the above mentioned things he is not whining. These are facts that go along with being famous. One learns to live with that.

Alexander mentions that Per wrote a song while he was weighing mushrooms and asks if it’s a success tip to weigh mushrooms to be able to write a song. Per says he actually wrote that song, (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän while he was waiting for being able to weigh mushrooms. They had 45-minute-long breaks. Per says there is a good idiom, that you have to sleep on it, so you don’t finish things spontaneously. He thinks it’s a good rule. It’s good to write a song and then get back to it a bit later after you were doing something else. So there are different stages of creating. When Per sits down and writes, he has his phone at hand and he records what he plays. So later he can check where he did a mistake. Maybe that mistake becomes the hook of a song. Same when he is writing lyrics. He sits in his own creative bubble, he is writing and writing and then gets back to the text some time later. Writing a song is a long process, it takes time until a song becomes something that people listen to, there are a lot of filters before it gets ready. When you want to record an album you maybe have 30 songs, but in the end it’s only 14 that makes it into the album. You say bye to some songs because they might be too identical or similar to others you recorded before or the lyrics aren’t good enough.

Alexander asks how Per met Marie. Per tells they met in a rehearsal studio in Halmstad in the 70’s. Gyllene Tider and Marie’s band, Strul were rehearsing at the same place. Marie was singing in that band and played piano and his boyfriend, Martin was also in the band. Marie was fantastic. They became good friends. Marie was singing on Gyllene Tider’s song Ingenting av vad du behöver on Schlager’s new year’s single in 1981 and then on TV, Vandrar i ett sommarregn in 1982. She went on tour with GT in 1984 and was doing backing vocals with another girl. They were always thinking of doing something together and make it international. Per’s career was down, but Marie’s was on a high. She got an EMI record contract and made a second solo album. Then they decided to make a song in English. It was Neverending Love. Per wrote it originally for Pernilla Wahlgren, it was called Svarta glas in Swedish. Pernilla never recorded it and Rolf Nygren, the boss at EMI suggested Per to write English lyrics to it and record it with Marie, because it was a fantastic song. So they did. It became a big summer hit in 1986 in Sweden. No one wanted to have it abroad. As Per didn’t have a record contract and he had written songs for a solo album, he started translating the lyrics into English and that became Roxette’s first album, Pearls of Passion. Alexander asks if Per felt he was good at English texts. Per says he doesn’t know, but he was growing up with English lyrics and he learned English via pop music and English music magazines. Maybe they could have won more if they had a better lyricist, but they didn’t know anyone who was better. He also tells that Roxette’s peculiarity vs. any other international artist back then was that everything was homegrown, they did everything in their own way. It was Per’s songs, Marie’s singing, recorded in Stockholm with Swedish musicians. Even if they went to the US quite some times, they never wanted to move there. Their first US No. 1 happened in April 1989. Alexander asks Per when he really felt that they broke through. Mr. G says it was when Tom Petty shouted. Haha. Alexander asks when he felt for the first time that it can really become something global. Per says there wasn’t an exact occasion when he felt so. One of the last songs they recorded for Look Sharp! was The Look. They felt it was awesome and the whole album was very strong. He remembers he told Marie if they succeed with one of the songs on that album then they would have some good years. There are The Look, Listen To Your Heart, Dangerous and Dressed For Success on that album, 4 huge hits.

The guys start talking about It Must Have Been Love and Pretty Woman. Their German record label told them to record a Christmas song, so Per wrote It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted). It became a Christmas hit in Sweden 1987, but the Germans didn’t want it. Marie released Efter stormen, Per started writing songs which later were recorded for Look Sharp! Then they broke through in the US and were having lunch with their record company in Los Angeles. The record label said they signed a contract for a soundtrack to a movie then called 3000 Dollars. Julia Roberts was to debute in that movie and it was a comeback for Richard Gere. They said it was a low budget movie. They also signed David Bowie and a new version of Fame was to appear in the soundtrack. They also wanted Per to write a song for that movie. They were travelling a lot with Roxette, so he didn’t have the time to write a song, but he said he has a Christmas song that Marie sings beautifully and he can re-write the text and take away the Christmas reference in it. So Christmas day became winter’s day. Then they partly re-recorded the song and sent it to Garry Marshall, director of the movie. Per and Marie were already working on the Joyride album when they got a call in the studio in Stockholm. It was Garry Marshall himself who called Per to tell him he loved the song so much he even re-edited the movie, because he didn’t want any dialogue during the song being played. He wanted the song to speak for itself. Some months later they screened the movie for Marie and Per in Burbank. Per says he never met Julia Roberts or Richard Gere though. Mr. G tells thanks to It Must Have Been Love’s success they won half a year before Joyride was released. Someone told Per he could have won an Oscar with IMHBL, but it couldn’t have happened, because the song wasn’t originally written for the movie.

Alexander and Per talk about Roxette’s record label. Per says they had a mediocre record label in the US. EMI was very good in Germany, Australia and Canada. Later EMI got sold and the new company was more into grunge music, like Nirvana in 1993. Mr. G says one can’t do such a journey as theirs without fuck-ups.

Per says he always liked working under pressure, with deadlines and such, but when he is looking at his old books and sees what life they lived, he is surprised how it could work. Alexander asks if they drank a lot. Per says no, they have never been that much of party animals in that sense. They were quite job-oriented and civilized. They were travelling a lot, touring a lot, doing hundreds of interviews. On tour the name of the city they did the show in was always written in front of them to know what to say to the crowd, where they performed. But sometimes shit happened and for example when they were in Santiago they read San Diego.

Alexander mentions that a listener asked a question. The guy worked at MegaStore, a record shop in Sergles torg, Stockholm. He says Per went there often and bought a lot of things, but wanted a discount of 15%. Per says it’s not true at all. He has never bought records there and why should he get a discount. It’s so much not him.

Alexander asks which Per thinks are the 3 best Roxette songs. Per says it’s difficult to say, but he likes Queen of Rain, The Look, What’s She Like? on which Marie sings fantastically. She always sings fantastically, but here she is outstanding. The 3 best GT songs are Juni, juli, augusti, (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän, Honung och guld.

The guys are talking about the fact that Per’s mother, sister and brother passed away in 3 years. It was tough. His brother died of lung cancer, his mother got a heart attack and his sister died of cancer too. Alexander mentions Per’s father also died of cancer. Per says he doesn’t think too much about death, but of course he is aware that time goes by and the older you get the more important time becomes. Alexander asks what tips Per would have for a 20-year-old, like his son or anyone else. Per says if he looks back at himself at that age, his father died when he was 19, but he got a lot of support from his mum. She always let him follow his gut feeling. Mr. G says he tries to help Gabriel find out who he is, what he is motivated by. The worst thing parents can do is to force their children what to become: you’ll be a doctor, you’ll be this or that. It’s clear that not everyone can become Zlatan for example, but you have to start a discussion and support them. Per says he is very lucky that he can do what he loves. Alexander asks what’s the key to success to release hit after hit. Per says he doesn’t think about it, that there is a key. He is often asked how to write a hit, but there is no trick in it. He has this musical capacity, which doesn’t mean he is a good musician or singer. He thinks he is very good at finding the right people to work with and via them he becomes better. He is also good at motivating them so those who he works with become better too. Per thinks for example that Marie gives her best when she is working with him, but it’s subjective. Most of the relationships, even in Per’s working life last long. He’s been  working with Clarence Öfwerman since 1986, he has the same business management since 1980, same management since 1985, Live Nation since 1982. He is proud that both the people around him and he himself still have the motivation to work together after so long years. But how the songs become hits, he doesn’t know. Mr. G says he always wants to maximize the potential of everything. Why should one be satisfied with being great in Halmstad if he can become the greatest in Sweden? Or in the world. Per doesn’t rate himself being nearly as good songwriter as Lennon-McCartney or Tom Petty or Burt Bacharach, but it’s not a contest anyway. It’s about maximizing what you can do.

In the interview Per tells he is about to release a live album before Christmas and a tour photo book (photographed by Anders Roos) as well. Mr. G says he released 2 Swedish albums in 2017, En vacker natt and En vacker dag. Now he has finished translating on of the albums into English. It will be released in spring 2018. For that album he recorded 3 new songs. There are other plans too, but he can’t talk about them yet. It will be busy, busy, busy.

The last questions are coming. Alexander asks Per if he could recommend a good documentary. Mr. G says he has just seen a good one on Netflix, Danny Says about Danny Fields. He worked for Elektra Records when it was an exciting period in the music industry. He worked with The Ramones. Regarding a good book, Per says he is reading mainly biographies. Now he is reading Robbie Robertson, a book about albums recorded in 1971. For a nerd like him, it’s a great book about a fascinating year in music.

Alexander asks Per to tell a tip to become successful. One should follow his gut feeling as much as possible, but it is also important to find what you are really burning for. Once you find it, you will succeed. Regarding money, Per says if you are working in a creative process, you always have to prioritize creativity. If money comes along, it’s an extra.

Alexander asks Per who he thinks he should do an interview with. Per says it’s a difficult question. It’s always fun to hear Ulf Lundell in an interview, so good luck with catching up with him.

At the end of the interview Alexander asks how someone can get into contact with Per. Mr. G says one can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook and listen to him on Spotify.

 

Pictures of Alexander and Per during the interview: 1; 2;

 

Per Gessle on TV4 – Hellenius hörna

Last weekend was busy on Swedish TV for all Gessle fans. On 26th November Per appeared on TV4’s show, Hellenius hörna. The recordings took place on October 4, so almost 2 months ago. During the past few days we could see some teaser videos to the program and they promised a fun show. Unfortunately, it can only be watched online in Sweden.

The program starts with showing Per taking care of the other guest’s, Carina Berg’s hair when David Hellenius, the host of the show enters the dressing room and says Carina should already be in the make-up room. Per says he has full control, he took care of Carina to look modern and nice. Oh well, she got a very similar hairdo to that of Mr. G’s. Ta-da! David says it’s Per-fect! Funny enough that Per DOES look like a fab hairdresser. Haha.

Carina is the first guest, so she gets interviewed by David. Per, Sweden’s biggest pop star is welcomed by David as the second guest. David asks Per if he has any thoughts on what he heard from the show so far. Per says Carina likes talking a lot. David asks Per if he got a bit nervous now. Per says actually a bit.

David asks Per if he has any relation to Carina, if he saw any of her shows. Per says, actually he hasn’t. Everyone laughs. David says Carina moved into the house of many (because of her TV show, Berg flyttar in), but not into Per’s house. Carina says Per is a little secret. David asks Per what he is hiding, what he doesn’t want to show. Per says he is hiding kind of everything. Carina says rumor has it Per lives like a Russian oligarch, building something huge, 7 meters high, art all around the house, big balconies. David tells Carina she is lovely, but totally crazy.

 

David says they were talking about bravery and asks Per if he likes to expose himself to scary stuff. Per jokes and says well, he is married. Everyone laughs. David asks Per what the bravest thing is he has ever done. Mr. G tells that once when he had his birthday, Åsa’s gift for him was to ride a horse. It didn’t go too well, because the horse trotted out of the ring and stood in its stall with Per on its back. Bored. Per was terrified.

They talk about Per’s amazing career, a career one can only dream about. They look back on those almost 40 years by the help of old pictures and short footage from TV shows, interviews and concerts. David asks Per what he thinks about it all. Per says it makes him start thinking he is getting old. Nah, he is kidding and says he is of course super proud. A part of what they saw feels like it happened ages ago. It has been a fantastic journey and he is very fortunate.

David asks Per if he can enjoy it when he is standing on stage in front of 50000 people, if one can take it in at that very moment. Per says one can actually enjoy it. He tells that it happened to Marie and him that during Roxette times they looked at each other and they knew they were thinking about the same thing: ”Is that really happening?” One can be in Lima, Taipei or Sydney, this is what is so awesome with music, the power of music. They come from a small country and play songs that work everywhere, regardless of religions, cultures or skin color. Everyone knows their songs. It’s absolutely fantastic.

David asks Per if being Per Gessle is a normal thing for him, being such a great artist. If he can walk on the street and think, ”Shit, I’m Per Gessle”, if he ever forgets it. Per says it has never happened.

David mentions that Per has written almost 1000 songs and asks Per which he thinks is the best or which is the one he is the most proud of. Per says he doesn’t know. He has a lot of good songs and half good songs. David forces Mr. G to choose one. Per thinks ”The Look” is good. David asks if there is a hit song Per doesn’t like, when everyone is jumping and he thinks ”it’s useless, stop singing along”. Per says he is bad at choosing singles. Those songs that are liked by the wider mass he had often rejected earlier. He wanted to leave Här kommer alla känslorna off Mazarin. He had a big song with Roxette, Wish I Could Fly. He wanted to leave it off as well. David says Per is good at writing songs, but his judgement is so-so, he asks if Per lets others to choose then. Mr. G says there are a few people, a little team he is listening to, who he counts on.

David asks Carina if she has any favourite song. Carina chooses It Must Have Been Love. David asks Carina to sing it while Per is playing the guitar. Carina says she learnt the song when she couldn’t speak English, so she says she hopes her English is the right text. Per says all good, he wrote the song when he couldn’t speak English. Then the 3 of them, Carina, Per and David perform IMHBL.

 

David mentions that in the beginning of last year Roxette did their last concert and asks Per if he really thinks it was the last Roxette concert ever. Per says he thinks so, it’s history now (the last concert, not Roxette – PP). David asks what Marie means to Per. Mr. G says they met at the end of the ’70s. They shared a rehearsal room and socialized a lot. So they kind of grew up together and had this fantastic journey together. They are like siblings. They have had awesome years, more than 30 years in their career. He says Marie is an awesome girl. David asks if there is a personal memory that only Per and Marie have. Mr. G says in 2009 it had been 7 years since Roxette wasn’t on stage. Then he did a solo tour in Europe and Marie went to his show with her husband in Amsterdam. Before the show Per asked Marie if she wanted to sing a song with him. Marie said she didn’t, but Per saw in her eyes that deep inside she wanted to, just didn’t dare. Then they rehearsed It Must Have Been Love and then Marie said, ”OK let’s do this one, just the two of us”. So for the first encore she came up on stage and the crowd was dead. Per says he had never seen so many people crying. It was incredible. They performed It Must Have Been Love and the venue exploded.

David says Per broke through with Gyllene Tider earlier and asks if Per has ever had a plain job. He was an elementary school teacher for some months, he was very good at that. David asks what his strength was, to comfort the kids or the time table. Per says his strength was that the kids could do whatever they wanted to. David asks Per: 9×9? Per is fast with the answer, 81. Mr. G says he had to finish that job because of GT’s breakthrough. There were no more lessons, just signing autographs.

Regarding other jobs, Per tells he and one of his friends worked as troubadours and played for example ”Svarte Rudolf” at nursing homes for old people. It was really awesome. David asks if Per also worked at the check-out. Mr. G says he never sit in the check-out, but he worked at ICA, packing at the check-out and collecting milk. David asks when was it. Per jokes it was in 2016.

David asks Per if he has always dreamt of becoming a pop star. Mr. G says when he was a child, he always gathered his friends and they used cue sticks and mimed to songs of The Monkees or The Beatles. He was standing in the front and was miming the most.

David asks Per if he was good at school. Per tells school was pretty easy for him, but he got tired fast. It was hard, because his family moved a lot, like each third year and so he always ended up in a new school, a new class with new mates. He never enjoyed school.  They moved because of different reasons. His father had asthma so once he needed sea air then forest air, then he had to live under water (he jokes). Talking about his father, David asks Per about what kind of father he himself is. Per says he is a fantastic dad. Of course. David asks Mr. G what Gabriel thinks about Per Gessle being his father. Per thinks that Gabriel thinks it’s OK, but he has never asked. David says he can’t imagine Per baking buns and selling them in the bazaar. He asks if Per has ever been a class parent. He hasn’t. A lot of that responsibility was on his wife. She is fantastic. David asks if Åsa has ever got angry and asked him to bake something. Per says no, she is happy that she doesn’t have to taste what Per bakes.

David asks Per if Gabriel likes his music. Mr. G says he didn’t dare to ask that either, but when they were on the Room Service tour in 2001 and played in hockey arenas, they always had a room full of games for the kids. Then Gabriel always wanted to come out for the 8th song. It was Real Sugar. He was totally uninterested in the rest. Gabriel is 20 now and still lives at home. David asks if he has to pay a rental fee. Per says it’s a good idea. David asks Per if he thinks it’s important that Gabriel goes to school, thinking of how Per’s relations to school were. Per says he tried to convince Gabriel to skip school and hang out with him in the studio, but he didn’t want to. He doesn’t want to be a pop star.

David tells he checked Per’s Instagram and he realized that it follows a pattern. Per sitting in different cars. Per says he was searching for those shoes he is wearing on one of the pics. David says it’s funny, the car costs 10 million and he is searching for a pair of shoes that cost 300. David tried to find out how many cars PG has and he found an interview where Per said he doesn’t know, 11-12 or so. Per still has the same answer. David asks how many car a pop star has to have. Per says 11-12 maybe. Haha. David asks if Gabriel can borrow the cars. Per says he can use whichever car he wants, but he didn’t drive any of them yet. David realizes Gabriel lives his own life. Per says he has his own scary old BMW. David asks about the customized registration numbers. Per says all his cars have it customized. They show the LALALA and David thinks it’s from a song, but Per explains it’s a LaFerrari, so he thought it’s fun. David says it’s car humor then.

In the last part of the show David asks Mr. G how much he cares about how he looks on stage. Per says he is doing his best, but on stage he has quite limited possibilities, because he is sweating as he is moving a lot on stage. So he can’t have lots of clothes on. It’s always a shirt, trousers and sneakers. David asks if Per is vain. Per says his wife says so. David asks if Per gets angry when he hears that from Åsa and tells her ”leave me alone, I don’t care at all”. Per says she thinks he is in the way in front of the mirror. David asks if Åsa is right. Per says she is.

David asks Per about hairdos and mentions he heard that Per cut the hair of Barbie dolls in the past. Per says he had a little doll collection when he grew up and he styled their hair. If the hairdo wasn’t good, he just cut the hair off. David hopes Per doesn’t do the same with his wife’s hair. Mr. G confirms he doesn’t. Both Carina and Per changed their hairstyles a lot of times in the past and here comes a test. David shows pictures from different eras and they have to find out which year it is. A picture of Per is shown from 1993, another from 1987, a third from 1991. Per can guess the years right and he wins the contest.

   

The show ends with Per and John Holm performing Det är vi tillsammans together with the band (Malin-My Wall, Christoffer Lundquist, Ola Gustafsson, Martin Höper) and a children choir. Yet another beautiful live performance of the song, which is sadly cut before it ends, in the middle of the children choir part.

 

Thanx for the technical help, János Tóth!

Per Gessle on SVT – Go’kväll

As you all know, Per Gessle appeared on SVT’s evening show, Go’kväll on 25th November. The recordings took place in the TV studio in snowy Umeå 2 days before. Even if the TV broadcast was at 18:15 CET, SVT Play made the whole program available on the web very early in the morning. Watch the whole show HERE!

The show starts with host Pekka Heino and Per Gessle standing in the front, the band sitting on the couch in the back. Pekka is having a discussion with Per saying he doesn’t know what he’ll become when he grows up. Per says it’s actually the same with him. So they’ll see if they come up with something during the show.

Besides Per, there is a chef, Gustaf Mabrouk in the studio to prepare some dessert and stylist Hedvig Andér. Pekka starts talking about fashion with Hedvig and apropos talking about fashion icons, he turns to Per. Before they are talking about clothes, Pekka mentions Per has released 2 albums, one in spring, one in autumn. Both recorded in Nashville last year. He also mentions that Per went on tour this summer, for the first time with songs from his entire career and he is going to release a live album and a photo book as well. Pekka says he is old-fashioned and still buys records at record stores. Per is joking and asks where he can find a record store. Pekka says there is at least one in Stockholm.

Getting back to fashion, Pekka says they found a recording from Jacob Dahlin era, from Jacobs stege show on TV. Per says “Help! Fasten your seatbelts!” Roxette’s Soul Deep performance is shown from 1986, Marie and Per wearing their stylish shoulder padded clothes. Then Pekka shows a picture of a young Per Gessle from the ‘70s, Per says it was 1977 when he was 18. He recognizes the nice white buttons and mentions wearing socks with moccasins is not so good. But it was cold in Halmstad. Haha. Then a 1981 Gyllene Tider pic is shown. Per was wearing a white belt to a pair of black leather pants. Back then it was cool, but not anymore. And it was the era of narrow ties. Pekka asks Per how many hair colors he has had over the years. Per replies now it’s mostly grey, but he had all possible hairdos. Blue-black hair, then blonde, purple and red like wine. Then carrot red during his David Bowie era. Pekka shows a picture of Roxette from 1989, from the breakthrough era. Marie and Per were styled and photographed in New York for this pic and had their clothes from Trash and Vaudeville that sold fantastic clothes on St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan. The stylist confirms that the clothes are really cool and fit the era. The last pic shown is a private photo of Per and Åsa. Per says it’s from the ’80s, this is how they looked when they were young. Pekka asks whose hairdo took longer time to be done. Per says it was his. The stylist says Per’s jeans on the pic look quite modern for that time. Patched jeans. Pekka asks Hedvig about what is still to be found in today’s fashion in any form if they look at these pictures from the ’70s and ’80s. Leather jacket, as well as patched or torn jeans are still trendy. Maybe the striped tights aren’t, but everything comes back into fashion. Maybe not in the same combination, but everything comes back. Then Pekka and Per take out 2 pairs of boots. Per says they bought them in 1989 for photo sessions, TV shows and stage use. One can see on their sole they are hardly used. Per tells they had 1800 interviews in 8 months back then and 400-500 photo sessions at the same time. So they had tons of clothes. Especially Marie has a fantastic collection of leather jackets, one can see photos of them in her autobiography book.

 

Pekka walks back to Gustaf to see what he is doing in the kitchen. Per follows him. Gustaf is preparing lemon fromage. Gustaf asks Per to taste the yuzu cream he prepared. Per reacts, woohoo, there is minus sugar in it. He says it’s very good. Per looks happy when he sees Gustaf adds white chocolate to the dessert. Pekka is kidding Per, saying Per tries to memorize the recipe. Haha. He asks Mr. G how he is in the kitchen. Per says he is pretty bad, but his wife is very  good, so he rather lays the table, opens the wine and washes up the dishes. (Look at the band’s reaction when Per says washing up, LOL! 😉 ) Mr. G says he wishes he could cook. He says he is good at preparing mincemeat sauce though. Pekka and Per laugh when they see Gustaf as a man can do multi-tasking, 2 things at the same time. Before leaving Gustaf, Pekka says hi to the band and tells Per and Co will perform a song with a children choir. Then he leaves Per and there is a short discussion with Hedvig, without Per.

After some minutes, Pekka greets Per again. Now they are sitting on the couch and the real interview starts. At this point you realize that torn jeans are really trendy these days… Haha. Pekka talks about the fact that actually in Swedish media he was the first one who came out with the news of Roxette having a No. 1 in the US, The Look. It was in Frukostbrickan on P3 Swedish Radio. Pekka asks Per if he remembers how the news about No. 1 got to him back then. Per says he was in Halmstad, Marie was in Stockholm. They knew that they had the chance to become No. 1, but they were in separate places not to become disappointed together if they don’t become No. 1 in the end. But they became No. 1 and it was silly to be in 2 separate cities.

Pekka then remembers a story he read back in the ’80s. ABBA-Frida released her first solo album in English in 1982. Per wrote music to a Dorothy Parker poem that Frida read a lot of times. What Pekka read is that when the album came out, Per asked his financial adviser ”Am I a millionaire now?” Per laughs and says it’s not true. Not everything is true what one can read.

Pekka says ABBA members were around 30 when they broke through and that was the case with Roxette, too. Per says both Marie and him had approximately 10 years of experience in Sweden before they broke through with Roxette. Pekka asks how they handled succes after that. Per says they could make decisions differently. When they became big in the US, their record label wanted them to move to the US, but they wanted to stay in Stockholm and work with their band and they could decide for themselves.

Pekka asks if there is a difference between luxury back then and luxury now. Per says he doesn’t know. The more you get older, the more you value other things. Time, for example. When you are 25-30, you don’t think about time. Then you waste it, with all rights. But when you get older and lose your friends, parents and siblings, time becomes valuable. At this point they start talking about ”En vacker natt” and ”En vacker dag”. Per tells he recorded the albums in Nashville and EVN has his sister on the cover, while EVD has his mother on it. He tells he lost his mother, sister and brother in 3 years so he is the only one who is left in the family. It was tough. He handled it via working further. This is how it works for him. He uses his experiences and feelings in his work.

Pekka and Per talk about the fact that long relationships are important for Mr. G both in his private and professional life. Per says he is together with his wife since more than 30 years, he works together with the same guys in Gyllene Tider since 1979, his manager since 1986, the same booking company and Marie and producers and almost the same record label.

Pekka talks about the 2 Polish guys, Jakub and Dawid who made a video to Roxette’s song, ”Some Other Summer” and Per surprised them at the QX Gala in Stockholm earlier this year. Per says Roxette has the best fans in the world. They are very creative, active and have always been supporting them, especially when Marie was ill in 2002. Per says the surprise at the gala was cool. The guys got a lot of shit in Poland and it was lovely that they came to Stockholm. They are wonderful people.

They move on to the songwriting topic. Pekka asks Mr. G if he decides in advance whether the song he is writing is for Gyllene Tider or Roxette or for his solo career. Or if it is the song that comes first and then he decides where to use it. Per says both can happen. One deals with several projects and writes for a certain project, but it can happen that a song is too heavy for Gyllene Tider for example, then he can put it in his solo box and take it out 3 years later. Pekka says there are songs that have Swedish lyrics and also English lyrics. He asks Per whether it goes smoothly or it’s challenging for him. Per says he translated his Nashville albums to English and it was actually quite hard to do, because the texts are very private and personal. To find the feeling in English was very hard, so half of the texts is written by a Nashville girl. The album is to be released in spring 2018.

Pekka says he is quite convinced that one day there will be a jukebox musical, the question is only whether it will be based on Gyllene Tider, Roxette or Per’s solo songs or all together. Per says each can have an own musical, why to choose.

Pekka mentions that Per has described his career as a tree. Per confirms, he has many branches on his tree and he tries to exploit it, not to tire out his audience. Working internationally provides a much bigger market. It’s harder to work only in Sweden, you can make people feel ”not him again”. Per says he is very fortunate to have all these branches.

Pekka asks Per about what he thinks about songs all people want to hear at the shows. Mr. G says when he works in English, the audience is international. They don’t know Sommartider or Gå & fiska! or Leva livet or Här kommer alla känslorna. But Gyllene Tider never rehearse Sommartider for example. They would laugh, but when there are 10000 people in front of them, then it’s wonderful to have these songs. Every artist loves their own hits, those are the spine of their activity.

Pekka asks Per if he thinks about what comes next when he creates playlists. It happens, but Per has a long playlist that suits most. It’s an easy listening how he calls it. Sounds a bit like guilty pleasure. There is everything possible from old jazz to James Taylor.

The interview ends here and the guys go back to the kitchen to see what Gustaf is doing. Per enjoys seeing the final steps of preparing the dessert and says it looks fantastic. He also touches and smells the lemon verbena plant that’s right in front of him. Gustaf asks Per if he is a dessert guy. Per says, unfortunately, he is. He says he loves Italian kitchen and so he loves Tiramisu. The guys talk about TV series and Per says he likes it when the whole season is available and can watch it at once. One can get hooked to some series.

Before they can all taste the dessert, Pekka leaves the guys and goes back to Hedvig. After the discussion, they all gather to try Gustaf’s treat. Per is joking and says he has crumbs all over his mouth already – trying before others. They all like it and say they will save Per’s portion, but Mr. G has to leave for the stage, because the band is already waiting and they perform ”Det är vi tillsammans”. John Holm isn’t there this time, Helena Josefsson is singing the parts John sings on the album. What an incredibly amazing performance it is! You can also watch it separately HERE!

The band: Helena Josefsson, Malin-My Wall, Christoffer Lundquist, Ola Gustafsson, Martin Höper; children choir: Vasakyrkan Amigos.

Per Gessle on TV show ”Robins”

A week ago it turned out that Per Gessle would be a guest on Swedish talk show “Robins” on September 30 on SVT1. We all got excited to see an interview with Mr. G on such a program. It’s similar to the late night shows you can see on US channels and stand-up comedian Robin Paulsson, the host is often called the Swedish David Letterman.

The recordings happened on 28th September and since then we could see many pictures where Per, Robin and the other guest on the show, Keyyo appeared. We couldn’t wait anymore for tonite when a teaser video was published yesterday, with Keyyo getting pranked. Seemed to be a fun TV program and we could already see in that teaser that Mr. G had a good time during the show.

Finally, tonight we could watch the real deal, the complete program with the Per Gessle interview in it. The show starts with Robin telling Per backstage that the lyrics to The Look is a bit confusing. Keyyo starts reading it, then Robin continues. Per says he finds nothing strange in it, but Robin says they don’t understand the text. Then Per says it’s in English. Robin and Keyyo say: aaaah, English, then they can understand the rest too, na-na-na-na-na-na… Haha.

Per enters the studio at around 5 minutes in and gets a huge applause and loud woohoo from the audience. First Robin and Per are talking about the differences between their jobs. Robin says he envies Per, because he can play his songs from the ’80s and people love them, but no one wants to hear a comedian telling a joke from 1981. Per says it might not be true. He saw Monty Python on their farewell tour in London and was wondering if it could be fun to hear a joke what he already heard so many times, the ”Parrot Sketch” and it was much fun even if he knew exactly when the fun part came and what the joke was about. Everyone loved it. Robin says he as a comedian can get tired of certain jokes and throws them away. He asks Per what happens if he is doing a concert and skips Sommartider. Mr. G says it’s good to have some more songs. As a last comparison of their jobs, Robin tells Per he can fill in The Look with nanananana and everyone loves it, but he can’t come up with nanananana in his jokes, people would miss something. Per says nanananana is good, because it’s international.

The guys are talking about Per’s new album. Per tells he recorded 2 albums in Nashville, En vacker natt and En vacker dag. Robin mentions it’s said to be Per’s most personal release ever. Robin asks Mr. G how he means it’s the most personal and Per tells about the tough times in his family, that his mother, brother and sister passed away during the past 3 years and it affected the atmosphere of his music. Robin asks Per whether it is more difficult to write a personal song or a summer song like Sommartider. Per says one of the questions he gets most often is how to write a hit. He has no clue. He never plans to write a hit, he just can’t plan it. Robin is surprised that it means that Per never knows which song would become a hit. Then Per tells him he is the worst at choosing singles. He wanted to leave “Här kommer alla känslorna” off Mazarin. Robin concludes Per is a very good musician, but at the same time also very bad.

Robin says it feels like Per is a normal person despite him being a pop star, very down-to-earth. He asks Per if success has ever gone to his head. Mr. G says he doesn’t know, it’s hard to tell, because he was 19-20 when Gyllene Tider broke through, so he lived all his life in this “celebrity fame”. So he doesn’t know how life is without all this. Maybe he would be unbearable. Robin says he is not unbearable, they met backstage. OK, he had to pay for an autograph, but that’s OK. Haha.

To see how the pop star life touched Per, Robin asks questions and Mr. G has to answer whether it’s typically an everyday thing or a typically luxury thing. If he replies everyday, he has to drink milk, if he replies luxury, he has to drink champagne. Per asks what kind of champagne it is. Haha. Robin says Per is such a gourmet. Ready, steady, go! Robin’s first question: Ferrari or bus? Per takes a sip from the champagne. Next question: Russian caviar or Kalles caviar? Per chooses Kalles and takes a sip from the milk. Next: patent shoes or clogs? Per takes a sip from the champagne. Robin asks if Per has clogs. Mr. G says no, he drinks. Next: Venice Beach or Tylösand? Here Per asks which one is which. Haha. Good question. He chooses the champagne and says Tylösand. Next: watching a Real Madrid or a Halmia match? Per chooses Halmia and drinks champagne. Robin concludes Per is a big fan, but also mentions that it doesn’t go so good for Halmia now as for Halmstad. Per says: soon! Haha. Last question: sitting on a throne in a palace or on a rock by a lake in a forest (på en sten vid en sjö i en skog)? It’s the rock! And Mr. G takes a sip from the champagne and says it’s a good one, the champagne.

Robin says let’s turn back time to the ‘70s. How was it being Sweden’s biggest pop star at the age of 20? Per says it was bewildering. Gyllene Tider did 6 concerts before they became No. 1. They came from nowhere. Robin says 6 gigs are nothing, one can’t become confident on stage after only 6 shows. Per says they weren’t too confident at their seventh gig either. Haha. Robin asks which song was No. 1 then. Per says Flickorna på TV2. Robin says it must have changed Per’s life. Mr. G says totally, it was cool. Suddenly he got 2000 cards on his birthday, people stole his laundry that hung in the garden to dry, everything movable disappeared, e.g. the number plate on the car.

Robin asks Per what the key to success is. Per says the 3T: tur, tajming, talang, i.e. luck, timing and talent. Robin adds hard work maybe. Per says yeah, one has to do his own 10000 hours, but there are a lot of coincidences and you also have to be in the right place at the right time.

Robin says it’s easy to believe that Per’s career has always been going upwards, but there was a period between Gyllene Tider and Roxette, around 1985 when it was a tough time. He asks Per if he could describe that period. Per first says no and laughs. Then he tells Gyllene Tider was over in 1984 and he didn’t have a record contract or a vision what he should do. He started writing songs for others, because he had the reputation as a songwriter. He says the coolest was that he knew Marie Fredriksson since years then as they shared a rehearsal room in the ’70s and they were talking about doing something together. Per wrote a song to Pernilla Wahlgren, Svarta glas, but she has never recorded it. Then Per translated it into English and that became Roxette’s first single, Neverending Love, which was a big hit in Sweden in 1986. They recorded an album from all his refused Swedish songs. Per translated the songs into English and that became Roxette’s first album.

Robin says when he was a child he thought Per and Marie were a couple. Per says many thought so and many others thought he was Marie’s manager and Marie was called Roxette. A TV studio had a dressing room for Marie and they showed the green room for Per.

Robin mentions that It Must Have Been Love was played 4 million times already until 2005 on the radio in the US. It’s like playing it non stop for 35 years. Per says he can talk about this song for long. It was written in 1987. They tried to get on the market in Germany and they were said that it’s easier with a Christmas song. So he wrote “It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for The Broken Hearted)”. When they played it for the German, they hated it. So they released it in Sweden and it became a Christmas hit in 1987. Robin says one doesn’t think about this song as a Christmas song. Then Per tells the story how it became a song for the movie Pretty Woman some years later. Robin concludes Per recycles a lot. Everyone laughs.

Robin asks Per if he has ever felt it’s enough now. Per says he is not done yet. Nowadays he feels more confident about what he is doing than 20 years ago, because back then he wanted to prove things for himself. Now everything is more relaxed and he is doing things for his own sake. It’s more fun now. It was fun before too, of course, but now it’s devilishly fun.

With this the interview ends, but Per stays in the studio while Robin’s other guest, Keyyo arrives. She is a 20-year-old YouTuber who is very popular in Sweden. She is originally from Russia, but lives in Sweden since she was 8. Robin asks Keyyo if she listened to Per, his music. Keyyo says she has to be honest, she didn’t listen to Per, but her mother did and now her mother envies Keyyo a lot for being on the same show as Per Gessle. Keyyo tells a story that when she was 8-9 years old and they were driving in the car and Tycker om när du tar på mej came on the radio and exactly this part: ”Jag tycker om dina bröst i morgonljuset”, she always thought it was so filthy. Haha. She also compliments Per saying he is so normal. Everyone laughs.

Then the show is about Keyyo who also got pranked and you can see Per had a good time also in the second half of the show. It was a nice program. Would be fun to see Mr. G more on TV shows like this. Cool thing!

Watch the TV show HERE!

 

Interview with Per Gessle in Kupé magazine

In the latest issue of Swedish Kupé magazine there is a short interview with Per Gessle. Actually, Nicolas Jändel, the journalist left Per’s thoughts in a first person narrative form, so it’s more like Mr. G telling his own story of what music means to him, he talks about songwriting, his new albums and the summer tour. HERE you can read the original text in Swedish. From this blog post we can see that the interview was done in April.

Per tells Nicolas that during Roxette times they were standing on stage in front of 50-60,000 people in the crowd. Per says he can’t think of anything that could beat that feeling, but he would still play if there were only 20 people coming. Mr. G says it’s gonna be fun to be on tour again. The tour starts on 6th July and when they will be standing backstage before the premiere in Helsingborg and hear the noise in the crowd, they will feel the energy and will be excited to go up on stage and give their best. Per says he doesn’t know how to describe that moment, but it might be similar to when cows are let out to grass for the first time during the year.

Per says all his Swedish solo albums are holy things and the songs are his babies. Now he wanted to write in Swedish again and record at a new place after spending more than 400 days in Christoffer’s studio during the past years. He decided for Blackbird Studios in Nashville. Per had the basic material ready, but wanted to go to Nashville with an open mind. Mr. G says when you have musicians like Dan Dugmore in the room and he is playing, you have to cry, it feels so great. It’s the same with the duets. Having another artist in the song gives another perspective. Per mentions he has duet songs with Lars Winnerbäck and John Holm. There are similarities between Mr. G and John Holm, e.g. they both have strange voice.

Per tells Nicolas he worked a lot on the lyrics, as usual. The texts are in focus for him and are still about the same big questions as when he was young. Disappointment, love, sorrow and dreams, but from another point of view now, when you can no longer write about the first love.

The meaning of music hasn’t changed for Per, it’s still extremely important for him. He can’t even imagine life without music. Music can make people dance or cry. It brings people closer to each other. He can’t see any other art having the same effect. Per tells the story when he and his friend were troubadours and played at nursing homes for old people. Once they found themselves in a room where only two patients were present. They were both sleeping, but Per and his friend started to play anyway. They played until a nurse rushed in and kicked them out. Right before they left the room, one of the patients woke up. It turned out he was in coma for months. Music can be so great.

Mr. G says Sommartider was the first real summer hit, then came some more. In the ‘80s it was natural to write summer songs and play them in parks. It was about writing major songs that make people sing along. He says it was similar with Roxette’s Joyride, The Look or Listen To Your Heart, the songs which have big choruses.

PG photo in the article was taken by Andreas von Gegerfelt.

 

Jan Gradvall’s podcast interview with Per Gessle

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.

Pic from Jan Gradvall’s Instagram.

 

Per Gessle about the bright and dark side of life

On the release day of ”En vacker natt” (28 April), an interview with Per Gessle was published in Hallandsposten.

Jan-Owe Wikström asks Per about those great musicians (David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Prince) who passed away last year. He asks Per if he ever met them. Mr. G met Bowie before a concert in Lyon, but they just greeted each other, never talked. Cohen he never met and Prince either, even if Roxette played on the same gala when MTV Europe opened in Berlin. But as soon as Prince moved, there were 18 people around him. Per says he was in Prince’s studio though, Paisley Park in Minneapolis shortly after R.E.M. had been there to record. Everything was white and in the middle stood a giant bird cage. They even saw Prince’s private apartment above the studio and it was just as you imagined Prince. A heart-shaped bedroom, much purple and a sliding roof over the whole apartment.

Jan-Owe asks Per if Bowie was his greatest inspiration. Mr. G replies that musically he doesn’t know, but Bowie is definitely the artist who has meant the most to him, because he came into Per’s life when he was the most influenceable, at the age of 13-14. Per says Gunilla was Elvis, Bengt The Beatles and he was Bowie.

Jan-Owe asks Per about how it has affected him, losing his brother Bengt, his mother Elisabeth and his sister Gunilla in a short time. Per says it’s clear that you get a new view of life, to appreciate the moment, to take care of your loved ones. He tells Bengt had lung cancer, but didn’t tell anyone. Per thinks he was on tour when Gunilla visited Bengt in the hospital and after leaving, she got a phone call that Bengt had died. Per says you come to a time in life when you know more people who die than who are born, which obviously makes you think.

To the question if he believes in God and a life after this, Per replied he has not really decided. Sometimes maybe. It would have been nice to have a strong faith and both his mom and Gunilla were very religious. Gunilla even educated herself to be a priest, but started working at hospice instead. Per says he doesn’t belong to anywhere yet, but who knows. He is thinking, maybe when you grow older, you become more religious.

Jan-Owe asks Per, while they are sitting in Per’s house in Halmstad, drinking coffee and eating sandwiches, if he thinks the roots become more important when such serious things, mentioned above, happen in life. Per thinks even if he is a restless soul, that’s probably the case. He travelled around the world, but still always ends up in Halmstad. And that’s nice because everything is so much easier there. It’s closer to nature, it’s calmer…

Jan-Owe asks Per if what’s happened has affected his songwriting. Mr. G tells there are no lyrics that are directly related to it. But one is certainly affected by such happenings. Per says he doesn’t believe it was better before and it doesn’t necessarily have to be negative to get older, in case you are healthy. On the contrary, he is using that experience in his writing artistically and creatively.

Jan-Owe says he saw a survey which showed that those between 60-75 are the most satisfied with life. Per agrees. He says you have your family, have peaked in your career and are hopefully happy with what you’ve done in life. You have nothing left to prove. Per is soon there and could therefore make such a record that builds more on moods than single songs. A blank paper. Acoustic, Swedish, lyrics-oriented and country-influenced without being country.

Per tells Hallandsposten he is the most proud that, after almost 40 years in the music industry, he has done something he has never done before. If people like it, he doesn’t know, therefore he wants to wait before he decides which songs to play on tour.

Song by song comments – En vacker natt

”Min plats”: It was one of two key songs on the album, because when those 2 were ready, I had the pillars. It just felt like having it as the opening song.

”Första pris”: One of the songs which weren’t written for this album but for Roxette, which we never recorded. A little blue tone in the duet together with Helena Josefsson. I almost literally translated the English text.

”Småstadsprat”: It wasn’t meant to be a duet at all. But then we started talking about how rare duets between boys are. If it’s between a girl and a boy, you sing to each other, but boy / boy – then you sing towards a common goal like here with Lasse Winnerbäck.

”Enkel resa”: A fun and odd song. Sometimes I try to encourage MP (Mats Persson) to write songs which he does amazingly well. And he does it every ten years… Here he comes with exciting basslines that I added a melody to.

”Allt gick så fort”: The other central song on the album. I read an interview with David Crosby who told he had five guitars in his bedroom and he tuned them quite oddly. So I started googling and found an odd tone with which the guitar became a completely new instrument. But when we were to record in Nashville, I couldn’t take those grips again so we had to use the demo.

”Tittar på dej när du dansar”: The most poppy song on the album. I tried to avoid having such songs, but at least one is needed for the energy. A little odd, built from two songs in one and one of the few with electric guitar.

”Några glas rosé”: The hardest song to write because it has no chorus and has a narrative text that needs much space. Something like “Billy” without chorus.

”Far Too Close”: Written for Roxette from the beginning and because we had time left, it became the ultimate homage to Nashville, letting a Nashville girl, Savannah Church sing the finale.

Photo from PG’s Nashville archives