Interview with Per Gessle and Lena Philipsson in Aftonbladet

Aftonbladet joined Per Gessle and Lena Philipsson on their promo day and Anna & Hans Shimoda did an interview with them about their upcoming adventures. HERE you can read the original article in Swedish.

The other week the news hit like a bomb; Per Gessle, 65, brings new life to Roxette with Lena Philipsson, 58, at the microphone. The tour starts in Cape Town in South Africa on 25th February and Aftonbladet is the only newspaper to have met both an excited Per Gessle and a somewhat surprised Lena Philipsson.

Per says smiling:

It happened when we made the duet “Sällskapssjuk” for my new album that I thought that “Lena is not that bad”.

Brain tumor

Pop icon Gessle has long considered what to do with Roxette’s impressive song catalogue. Classics such as Fading Like A Flower, The Look, It Must Have Been Love and Joyride had to be put in the dustbin when Per Gessle’s friend and bandmate Marie Fredriksson passed away in 2019 in the aftermath of the brain tumor she was diagnosed with in 2002.

Per says:

In recent years, I’ve been thinking about whether I should do anything at all with Roxette. I’ve been thinking about how to best manage the legacy and Roxette’s song catalogue live. There were two ways, not to do anything with it at all or to try to find a way that fits as well as possible. It was not an easy decision.

Gessle continues:

When I worked with Lena, I felt that she is very talented as a frontwoman, she has a lot of experience, comes from the same era as me and is a fantastic singer. We also have a history together, I was involved in writing her breakthrough song “Kärleken är evig”.

I gathered all my courage and asked her, thinking that she would probably fall off her chair, and she almost did.

‘Only way to do it’

Stepping into Marie Fredriksson’s shoes is of course not easy, but Per points out that it is about managing Roxette’s music.

The only way for Lena to do it is to do it her own way.

Lena Philipsson is sitting on the couch next to Per Gessle and looks sometimes at Per, sometimes at the floor.

When I was asked to do “Sällskapssjuk”, I of course said yes and Per wondered if I would sing it in Stockholm or if I would come down to Halmstad. I went down to be in Pers hoods. A few days later, a message arrived in which Per wrote that he wanted to meet and that he would ask a crazy question.

Aftonbladet is curious about what Lena thought then.

I felt that “Yes, it worked”. But I thought that maybe there could be another song together or a tour, but I didn’t expect this.

She continues:

I was about to fall off my chair, but I immediately started thinking about what the fans would think about it and how it might turn out. I’m good at identifying the problems, but of course I feel incredibly honoured.

Will it sound familiar?

I feel like I’m an invited guest here, I’ll let Per decide. I won’t get into the artistic side that much. But my feeling is that I want to sing the Roxette songs as they should be.

Per turns to Lena:

Stick to your own way.

Lena says:

Yes, I do have my voice, but I don’t feel that I should do my thing and screw up everything. I want it to feel like the original.

Have a favourite song

Lena Philipsson says there is one Roxette song she is particularly looking forward to singing – a favourite:

There are so many good songs, but I have to say “Dressed For Success”, it’s so much Roxette for me and it’s really Marie’s song.

Lena Philipsson points out that she is not afraid of being compared to Marie Fredriksson.

No, then I would never have said yes. The comparison will of course be made anyway. But I have to dare to take it, otherwise I would have had to say no. I care about doing a good job and want the Roxette fans to feel satisfied.

The tour takes place in South Africa and Australia, but if all goes well, it could be any size, according to Gessle.

What we are doing now as a pilot thing. We will see how it feels and if it turns out as I believe and hope, there are no limits to what we can do.

Interview by Anna & Hans Shimoda, photos by Andreas Bardell for Aftonbladet

Per Gessle on RIX MorronZoo

Per was a guest on RIX FM’s morning show RIX MorronZoo on 7th May. You can listen to the podcast HERE!

PG enters the studio at 8:06 am and program leaders Laila Bagge and Roger Nordin feel honoured to have him on the show. They introduce Per as the superstar, the car collector, the podcaster, the summer boy, the hitmaker, Sweden’s sharpest songwriter. Per thanks for the warm welcome. Roger wants to know what Per thinks about early mornings. PG says he can hear it from his voice (he has this hoarse morning voice). Roger thinks Per looks lively and fresh.

The hosts say it’s starting to be Per’s season, summer soon, but they are wondering what he is doing during winter. Writing songs, Laila says. Roger asks PG if people spontaneously sing to him when they pass him in town. Per replies, „no, thank God.”

Laila mentions that she was at Per’s house when he was very, very young and asks Per to tell about it. It was more than 20 years ago. Mr. G tells the story that Laila’s ex husband, Anders Bagge got in touch and wondered if they could write a song together. Per almost never does that, writing a song together with someone else, because he likes to work by himself. But then he said of course and invited Anders to his home and he came to say hello with Laila. Then either Anders and Laila ended up at some party in the evening, so Anders cancelled the job the day after. Laila is still wondering how one can book time with Per to write a song and then cancel it. PG says Anders was a little tired. Roger asks Per if it isn’t good to write music when you are a little hungover. Per says it can be good. Laila says that instead of writing a song, they went to see all of Per’s cars and that was nice.

Regarding writing music with others, Roger is curious if it is hard to tell the others if you feel that it didn’t turn out well. He asks PG if he is afraid of conflicts. Per says he doesn’t think so. Writing songs for him is kind of a private process. He wants to do it for 30 seconds and then he wants to do something else. Then he goes back to it. He is not sitting like they are sitting here now. So Roger says it’s not like Per goes to an office and writes three hits. Haha.

Laila says Per is about to release a new album. Roger asks PG what he is up to now. Per says there is a lot of stuff going on. Last Friday he released a single in Swedish with Lena Philipsson. It’s the title track of his upcoming LP, Sällskapssjuk. It’s out this fall. It consists of many duets with various Swedish artists. Roger is curious what those artists said when Per called them and asked if they wanted to join. If there was anyone who said no. PG says he didn’t call them, he sent emails. Haha. He says it has been a very cool process. This song was actually recorded a year ago, so some time has passed. It was very cool. For every duet he has done, the style of the album has changed a little. It’s a really cool album, he thinks. It’s among the coolest records he has been a part of.

Then there will be a tour as well, in a year. That’s a completely different thing. Roxette is going on a tour together with Lena Philipsson. Laila asks Per what made him feel that Lena should join them on this tour. Per says he has been thinking for many years how he should manage the Roxette songs. He came to the conclusion that there are really only two ways to go. Either you leave it at that or you continue in some way. And it’s not so easy to continue, of course. If Marie had existed, they would certainly have been out on tour. When Per worked with Lena and recorded Sällskapssjuk, he thought shit, she ticks all the boxes. She is a great singer, she is great on stage. She is experienced and they come somewhat from the same generation. So Per asked her and of course she was terrified. Per invited her to his home and they sat by the piano and tested some Roxette songs. It was magical, he thinks.

Roger asks Per if he discovered Lena’s greatness already in the ’80s when he wrote Dansa i neon for her. Per says it wasn’t him, he wrote Kärleken är evig. Roger says sorry and asks if they will perform Kärleken är evig on tour. PG says no, they will perform only old Roxette songs.

Here they listen to Sällskapssjuk.

Roger says Per is a living legend. He explains how to say living legend in Swedish. Roger says Per works more than ever. There is a musical in progress with Roxette music and it premieres on 6th September and then there is a film about Gyllene Tider that premieres this summer. And then there is the duet album. And then there is this Roxette project together with Lena Philipsson. Laila says one would think you take it easier and do things calmly when you get a little older and just enjoy it. Roger wants to know if Per will ever stop working. Per says this is really a bit much that is happening now.

Roger says there is a big trend right now that artists and bands want to live forever with the help of avatars. There is ABBA, there is Kiss. They will be on stage forever with the help of this new technology. Roger asks Per what his plans are with Gyllene Tider, if he is working on something like that. PG says, no. Then maybe Roxette, Laila asks. Per says, no, he doesn’t know. It feels a bit far-fetched, he thinks.

Roger says they thought to check how much Per knows about his own music. He says the intro quiz is very cool, but now they thought to run an outro quiz with PG. So he gets to hear the last second of some fantastic Gessle songs and he gets a Cosmopolitan for every correct answer. Because it’s Cosmopolitan day today. Here comes outro number one. Laila says it wasn’t easy, but Per knows the answer, it’s Flickan i en Cole Porter-sång. Roger finds it cool that Per wrote a song about Cole Porter. PG says he saw a movie with Jack Lemmon called Save The Tiger, a fantastic film. Per thinks Jack Lemmon won an Oscar for his role. There is a scene where someone asks him if there is something he missed that hasn’t happened in his life and he looks into eternity and says, I want that girl in a Cole Porter song. PG thought shit, that sounds good.

Here comes outro number two. Per doesn’t really have that, but he says it sounded like a good guitar sound. Roger shows what song it was, Här kommer alla känslorna (på en och samma gång). Roger loves how Per sings „här kommer alla känslorna på en och samma gång”. Per doesn’t really know why it became like this, it just happened. He even heard that Bert Karlsson thought it was elaborate, but it wasn’t.

So Per has one Cosmo so far and here comes outro number three. PG immediately says it’s Leva livet. Roger says maybe we will hear this song in the GT movie. Per says, absolutely.

There is one last outro, a guitar ending again. PG says it’s Tycker om när du tar på mej. So Per has three Cosmopolitans. He says that’s enough, it’s only Monday. Roger says they will drink it in Tylösand in summer.

Roger asks PG some quick questions too. Per has to choose between two things.

Listen To Your Heart or The Look? Per says, „shit pommes frites”. He likes The Look.

Halmstad or Stockholm? He says that’s hard too. He likes Halmstad. But he likes Stockholm too.

Ferrari Testarossa or Ferrari 212 Inter? Per takes the Testarossa. It’s his childhood. The other one is so very old, even he is not that old. Per loves Ferrari, Roger says.

Grit your teeth or break up? Grit your teeth, Per says. Laila says you see a clear difference in the answers of different artists or actors. There is an age limit where people start saying break up, because nowadays you have to break up. Laila’s whole generation is grit your teeth.

Per Gessle competes as an artist in Melodifestivalen or Per Gessle competes in Hela kändis-Sverige bakar? PG says his wife would have loved to see him bake, but both are totally unlikely. But he is absolutely in love with the baking show. Roger says they will sign Per up for that then. Haha.

Speed camera or speed bump? Per hates both equally. Roger says there is this rumor about the speed bumps in Tylösand and asks PG if it’s true. Per says no. Laila doesn’t know about this rumor, so Roger explains it’s about these speed bumps that Per demanded to be removed in Tylösand, because the cars were damaged. But that wasn’t true.

Champagne or beer? PG picks champagne.

Halmia or Halmstad BK? Per picks Halmia.

Roger thanks Per for stopping by the studio this morning. PG says it’s always a pleasure. Roger plays a morning applause on the computer and tells Per to make sure he takes some time off this summer too. Laila will possibly come by and check out Per’s cars. Per says welcome and Laila promises she won’t be hungover this time.

Stills are from RIX MorronZoo’s instastory.

Per Gessle in King Magazine – “Looking back, my greatest talent is that I’ve found all these people who make me a better person than I really am.”

It’s not the first time Per Gessle appears in King Magazine. Do you remember his session with Jonas Åkerlund in 2006? Here you can see some werk photos and here you can see some of the end results.

Now, almost 20 years later, history repeats itself and Per’s face is like the cover of a magazine again and he appears in the May-June edition of King Magazine in Sweden. This time, the most talented Fredrik Etoall was behind the camera to take some amazing shots of PG. The February photo session happened at Grand Hotel in Stockholm where Rasmus Blom was also present. Rasmus did a big interview with Mr. G the day before in Per’s office on Strandvägen.

Rasmus mentions in his article that Per Gessle is usually too restless for holidays, but this time he is looking forward to spending two weeks at Four Seasons in the Maldives.

Strandvägen for most Swedes represents the last step on the ladder of success. Per has two floors here, one where he lives and one where he works. According to Rasmus, the work floor is more like a pop museum than an office.

We have lived here since 1993. The apartments were for sale together, so we bought the lower floor to have as Stockholm accommodation and this floor as a studio. I recorded Belinda Carlisle here in the ’90s, but then I realized I’m so incredibly untechnical, so I closed the studio. Now I use it as my office. I have my meetings here and sit and write my songs. As you can see, there are instruments everywhere. There is also a nice view with a good sunny position. If it’s sunny in Stockholm, it’s sunny here.

Rasmus looks around and he can see references to pop culture everywhere: an Elvis bust, a Playboy pinball machine, old stage clothes, a big black grand piano and loads of expensive electric guitars. He can also see tons of books from floor to ceiling: rock biographies, pop memoirs, photo albums, exclusive special editions and a signed David Hockney book so huge it requires its own stand. Pop art is hanging on the walls: Andy Warhol original of Mick Jagger, Hans Gedda original of Cornelis Vreeswijk and Anton Corbijn original of U2. Between a portrait of August Strindberg and a glazed small Ferrari model stands a gold-framed photo of a beautiful woman with dark eyes.

Per proudly says:

Isn’t she pretty? It’s Åsa in the ’80s when we met. She was a model in Paris back then.

Åsa and Per have been married since the summer of 1993. Rasmus explains, it’s her that all the hundreds of love songs from 1985 onwards are about. They have a son, Gabriel.

They bought Hotel Tylösand in Halmstad in the mid-90s and today own 60% of it. Åsa (“the boss”) is in charge, among other things, of the design and the spa department. Rasmus says it’s noticeable that she works with spa, because she radiates a calming energy when she looks in during the interview and comes by their meeting at Grand Hotel with Semla buns.

The couple divides their time between Stockholm, their Halmstad villa outside Tylösand and the suitcase.

In a normal year, we spend one third of our time in Stockholm, one third in Halmstad and one third on the road. In recent years, it has become more Halmstad, because Åsa works so much with the hotel. Our son went to high school in Halmstad, but he lives here in Stockholm now.

As a world touring pop star and hotel owner for nearly 30 years, Per Gessle must be a connoisseur when it comes to hotels, so Rasmus is curious what makes an outstanding hotel experience according to Halmstad’s own Basil Fawlty.

First and foremost, it’s about being seen as a customer. You are paying for a service, so you need to feel important. Then my personal favourite hotels are not necessarily the most luxurious. Super fancy hotels can be fun, but I like unique boutique hotels with a special feel. In London I always stay at Brown’s, in New York at Whitby and in Miami at The Edition.

Rasmus points at a book about the legendary Studio 54 nightclub in New York that was created by The Edition founder Ian Schrager.

I was actually at Studio 54 once. Me, Anders Herrlin and Expressen’s Mats Olsson, who is a good friend. It must have been 1981. We were let in thanks to Mats Olsson’s girlfriend at the time who wore a very short leopard skirt. There were a lot of lovely odd types there. It was exactly as you would imagine.

When you have an absolute ear for pop melodies like Per Gessle, Benny Andersson or Max Martin, you cannot fail, Rasmus thinks. You only have to look at Gessle’s career – apart from a short period in 1984/85 when Gyllene Tider was over (“I was a has-been as a 26-year-old”) and he acted as a hired gun for other artists (most memorable are the lyrics to Lena Philipsson’s Kärleken är evig), it has been constant success. Sommartider, Listen To Your Heart or Här kommer alla känslorna (på en och samma gång) – different styles, different constellations, different eras, but they all carry Per Gessle’s strong genes and became instant hits. Music that goes straight into the central nervous system. It is this kind of magic that makes 70,000 people gather in a football stadium in São Paulo and sing songs written in Halmstad. Rasmus says, Per Gessle is humble about the success and likes to blame it on luck, but if he is forced to point at something else, it’s the melodies.

My music is very melodic and often easy to absorb. But why it turned out the way it did, I actually don’t know. The hardest thing I’ve done was breaking through with Gyllene Tider, because it came out of nowhere, which is also what the film is about. The next difficult thing was breaking through with Roxette. It was a completely new journey that you can analyze yourself to death about how it happened, but we had luck, timing and talent. We were in the right place at the right time, but the probability of that happening was so small at the time, especially the time before what is usually called the Swedish pop wonder. There was absolutely no advantage of not coming from England or the US. We really had to fight for it. During the promotion of The Look in England, the record company wrote that we were an American band. It was not possible to say that we were from Sweden. When Marie fell ill in 2002, I started working on Mazarin, which was my first solo album since 1985. When the record came out in 2003, it was huge and led to Gyllene Tider embarking on their biggest ever tour the following year with an average of 30,000 people every night. So success breeds success, while the hardest thing there is to follow up success.

Rasmus says Per only writes when he feels inspired.

Sometimes I sit in front of the TV and watch some weak series and take out the guitar and start playing, but otherwise I usually say that I write as little as possible. I know there are many who say exactly the opposite. That as an artist and songwriter you must have discipline, and of course you must have it, but I’m not sitting at the piano between nine and five o’clock. I only work when I have an idea or a project, when I feel that I have something in my system that needs to be released. Then I go into my bubble and lay eggs, as my wife calls it. I become antisocial and completely hopeless to go to a restaurant with, because I just sit and think about some phrase in the second verse. It’s probably some kind of ADHD. I go into it 110 percent.

The lyrics take so much time and energy. It takes a lot of concentration to come up with a text that makes sense. Finishing a text becomes more and more difficult every year. Not least because you have written so much that it is easy to repeat yourself. You try to find an angle in a text. Who is telling the story? What are you talking about? Why do you tell it? When I wrote for Marie in Roxette, I tried to write from her point of view. It’s interesting to put yourself in another person’s shoes. For me, writing lyrics is much more difficult than writing music, but at the same time, it is more rewarding exactly because it’s so difficult. It’s complex to write texts, because I want to be open, but only to a certain extent. I don’t do very many interviews, because I have no need for celebrity. I don’t want to flaunt my life and my family. The texts I like the most are the general ones that everyone can identify with. It is about finding very basic topics; relationships, joy, sadness.

Rasmus says Per Gessle recognizes a good melody when he hears it, regardless of genre. Rumor has it that he thinks Broder Daniel’s indie anthem Shoreline is one of Sweden’s best pop songs.

I really think so. Fantastic song. I also like songs like Work and Underground. Broder Daniel is a fantastic pop band. It has been a great asset that I have never been a fachidiot, but listened to everything possible: experimental ’60s music like The Velvet Underground, blues rock like Led Zeppelin, flume music like the Grateful Dead or hard rock like Metallica. Today I mostly listen to older pop and rock, but also to piano music and jazz. With pop music, I’m so worked up that I start analyzing the songs right away. It’s like I’ve already revealed the magic trick. I mostly listen to things I don’t control myself.

Rasmus says, in recent years, selling the rights to their song catalogues has become popular in the music world, from hyper-commercial artists such as Katy Perry and Justin Bieber to privacy fanatics like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Per Gessle has noted the trend.

I can possibly understand that Katy Perry does it, she belongs to a younger generation of artists and songwriters who work in large teams and therefore perhaps has a different relationship to her songs than I do. But I was surprised at Dylan and Springsteen doing it. Even Neil Young has sold half his rights and I saw that Tina Turner sold the rights to her stage name before she passed away. In a way, it is their life they are selling. I wonder why they do that. The only reason I can think of is that they have a lot of kids and are trying to sort out any disputes between their kids while they are still alive. For me, it would feel very strange to let someone else decide over my songs. Music is my life and the songs are my babies. I’ve had a lot of offers, but I’ve never gotten into them. It doesn’t feel relevant. And what would I do with all that money then?

Later this year, Per Gessle’s first Swedish album in seven years will be released, Rasmus informs. The title Sällskapssjuk is a wink to all the duets with famous Swedish artists on the album. The first single Beredd with Molly Hammar is already out, but the rest of the guest artists are still a secret.

It’s not a purely duet album, but seven or eight duets out of a total of thirteen songs. Everyone I asked said yes, which makes me feel honoured. I chose female and male singers that I respect and that I believe can have a positive benefit. Then it was important to find voices that work in terms of keys.

Rasmus wants to know how much contact Per has with Swedish artists otherwise.

No contact at all, actually. I have gotten to know one or two that I hang out with sometimes. Nisse Hellberg and Uno Svenningsson, for example.

According to Rasmus, it’s not so strange that Per Gessle feels sociable as an artist and songwriter, his most successful song ever was performed by Marie Fredriksson after all. Roxette’s epic power ballad It Must Have Been Love with Marie Fredriksson in top shape is one of the pop duo’s four US No. 1 songs, today with over half a billion plays on Spotify and almost 800 million views on Youtube.

The song was sent into orbit around the earth in 1990 as the theme to Pretty Woman, the most famous romantic comedy of all time with Richard Gere as the businessman Edward and Julia Roberts in her breakthrough role as the prostitute Vivian in a storming love story. The film classic offered the personal chemistry of the century between Richard Gere and Julia Roberts on the big screen and between Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson on the film’s soundtrack, Rasmus says.

Marie had a fantastic career going on in Sweden that was much bigger than mine. So my only chance to keep her in Roxette was if the band became successful. Roxette was really just a side project for her in the beginning. The first album didn’t do well at all outside of Sweden, so our German record company suggested that we do a Christmas song. It would probably be easier to get on German radio then. I hooked on that straight away. I wrote It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted). It became a gold record in Sweden, but the Germans didn’t even want to release it. They didn’t like it! Life went on, Marie released yet another Swedish solo record while I put together the material that would become Look Sharp! with which we broke through internationally. At a lunch in LA, someone at the record company asked if I wanted to write a song for a Disney/Touchstone movie with the working title 3000. A classic love story based on a man who hires a prostitute for a weekend for 3,000 dollars. Robert Palmer and David Bowie would be involved, among others. It sounded hugely exciting. However, we were on our way to New Zealand, so I didn’t have time to write anything new, but I said we have a great Christmas ballad I can fix and remove all the Christmas references from. Said and done. Marie re-sang a few verses, we did a new intro and Michael Jackson’s technician, Humberto Gatica, mixed it. Then Marie and I got to see the film, which had then been renamed Pretty Woman, in a small cinema in Burbank, California. I walked away thinking it was a fun movie, but not much more than that. Julia Roberts was a newcomer and Richard Gere a has-been. But then everything exploded.

Rasmus informs that Roxette was Sweden’s biggest music export since ABBA even before Pretty Woman thanks to hits like The Look, Listen To Your Heart and Dressed For Success, but with the Hollywood hit, they became a global phenomenon in earnest. The records sold multi-platinum and the world tours succeeded one after the other. Roxette was the biggest in South America and Germany where to this day they are one of the country’s most popular bands ever.

Roxette increases by 10 percent on the streaming platforms every year. I’m just grateful that people are still interested and that the music finds its way down through the generations.

It has been almost five years since Marie Fredriksson passed away from the effects of the brain tumor that she lived with for almost 20 years against all odds.

It was terribly hard. But at the same time, she was sick for so long, so we knew it could happen anytime. You waited for that call somehow and knew it would come sooner or later. It was almost even more difficult when we got the news that she was ill, in 2002. It came like a bolt out of the blue and you didn’t understand what it was. It was a strange fate. She was sick for so long and so heroic that she was able to make a comeback in 2009 and continue playing until 2016.

Rasmus says that Marie is not the only one Per has lost recently. Mother Elisabeth, brother Bengt and sister Gunilla all passed away within a few years, while father Kurt passed away already when Per was 19 years old.

We’re all going to die. I don’t think about it much. It is always very difficult when loved ones pass away. My mother was old and sick, so it was also something you mentally prepared for. I also knew that my sister was sick. However, I did not know that my brother was ill. He had lung cancer, but hadn’t told anyone. So it was very surprising that he disappeared. I don’t know what to say about that, life is so fleeting and you have to make the most of your days. It’s clear that you think about it more when you get older. When you are young, you don’t have a relationship with time in that way. You can’t do anything about it. Time does things to you, but I’m a positive type and super grateful for what I’ve been a part of in my life. And my gosh, I’m not done yet!

Just like for Monica Zetterlund and Ted Gärdestad, the story of Gyllene Tider will now become a feature film, Rasmus informs. Sommartider premieres in theatres on 17th July and takes place during the band’s first years in the ’70s and ’80s, with a lot of nepo babies in the cast: comedian Peter Wahlbeck’s son Valdemar Wahlbeck plays Gessle, Magdalena Graaf and Magnus Hedman’s son Lancelot Hedman Graaf portrays Anders Herrlin and Jesper and Mia Parnevik’s son Phoenix Parnevik portrays Micke Syd. Newcomers Ville Löfgren and Xavier Kulas take on Mats “MP” Persson and Göran Fritzon respectively.

We were all quite skeptical about a Gyllene Tider movie at the beginning. A film about a band where everyone is still alive could be weird. But then the filmmakers told us what they were looking for, a story about a gang of small town guys who for some reason manage to enter Café Opera in clogs. It’s not a documentary about Gyllene Tider’s fantastic career, the film ends in 1982 when Sommartider is released. So it’s about the journey there. I’ve only seen five scenes, which were great. The script is super fun and fairly accurate. Artistic liberties must be accepted in order for the film to be as good as possible.

Rasmus continues with Joyride – The Musical, where Per Gessle’s second pop group will get a new lease of life. The musical premieres on 6th September at Malmö Opera. Unlike the Gyllene Tider film, the musical is not based on real events, but more like ABBA’s Mamma Mia!, on the band’s songs.

This process has been going on for years. I’m involved to the extent that it is my songs. I intervene in the way it is presented, in what style the actors should sing. There is a certain kind of mannerism in the musical world that I have a hard time with. I’d like there to be a pop and rock edge to it all. Roxette is big all over the world, so hopefully, this can grow and be played outside of Sweden in the long run. I really love Roxette and am very proud of what we created. I myself am the biggest Roxette fan in the world.

The lavish feel-good musical is created by award-winning director Guy Unsworth and set designer David Woodhead, with Gessle’s blessing. The plot revolves around a humorous triangle drama based on the novel Got You Back by Jane Fallon, the British writer and Roxette fan who also lives with the world-famous comedian Ricky Gervais.

I have met Jane Fallon many times while working on the musical, but never Ricky. I saw in an interview that he called Roxette his best guilty pleasure band, which is fun. I hope he comes to the premiere.

Rasmus says, at 65 years old, Per Gessle has spent an entire professional life in the rock industry. But unlike many of his Swedish and foreign colleagues, he has avoided both drugs and headlines.

There’s been a lot of drugs around one, but it’s nothing for me. I’ve never been interested in it. I take care of myself.

Already during the most hysterical years with Gyllene Tider in the early ’80s, Gessle kept a low profile and went to California instead of basking in the limelight in Sweden. When he is not playing to sold-out arenas, he enjoys being under the radar.

The celebrity life has never attracted me, but it has come as a result of the fact that I like playing in bands and making music. My journey in life is about music.

As Rasmus writes, on the other hand, Per Gessle meets a lot of other rock star standards: he loves expensive leather jackets and Italian sports cars. His interest in motoring kicked off when, as a 12-year-old, he saw Tony Curtis’ red Ferrari in The Persuaders. Today, a Dino 246 GT similar to the one in the TV series takes pride of place in the pop star’s Ferrari collection, which is on display in the permanent exhibition The Joyride Car Collection at Hotel Tylösand.

I’ve always loved cars. Even motorcycles and Riva boats, I love all that is beautiful. During the Gyllene Tider years I drove a Golf, but after the Joyride album with Roxette, when I started making money, I bought a Mercedes SL600. In 1995 I bought my first Ferrari, which I unfortunately don’t have anymore. A 456 GT, blue with cream upholstery. In 1997 I played at Ferrari’s 50th anniversary party and since then have had good contact with the company, which has allowed me to buy some limited models.

After all these years on the international music scene, the son of a plumber from Furet in Halmstad has extensive acquaintances all over the world, Rasmus says. In one of the site-built bookshelves is a photo with a greeting from Tom Petty and a while ago he was at a bar mitzvah in New York in the company of celebrities.

It was a good friend of mine in New York whose son had a bar mitzvah. It was a big party where I was appointed as the host of my table. At the table I had Springsteen, John McEnroe, Lars Ulrich and Keith Richards, who, however, never showed up. Then there was some other rascal that I have forgotten. I can’t say I know Springsteen, but we’ve met and talked a few times. He’s a nice guy.

Rasmus ends the interview by saying Per Gessle is one of our greatest artists, but as Per says, he owes his own greatness to others.

Looking back, my greatest talent is that I’ve found all these people who make me a better person than I really am. It takes talent to find them and allow them to take their place. To not always think you know best yourself. The older I get, the more I leave the place to other people.

Thank you so much for this wonderful material, King Magazine! Amazing photos by Fredrik Etoall and a great interview by Rasmus Blom!

In the online version, you can read it all and you can see all photos as well, but if you are in Sweden, make sure you get yourself a copy! This 15-page article is well worth it!

All interview text is written by Rasmus Blom for King Magazine in Swedish. Here it is a translation by RoxBlog.

RoxBlog interview with Lena Philipsson before Roxette In Concert 2025 – “I’m gonna do everything I can to honour Marie”

As you could read in the press release, Per Gessle and Lena Philipsson release a single on 3rd May, the next single from Per’s upcoming Swedish album and embark on a tour together in 2025.

I met Lena Philipsson on 1st May via Zoom and after we discuss it’s better for me to speak English than doing the interview in Swedish, we get down to a very nice chat about her career and life as a performer and songwriter, as well as her collaboration with Per Gessle and their future adventure.

Patrícia Peres: – Hi Lena! Nice to meet you!

Lena Philipsson: – Hi Patrícia! Nice to meet you too!

PP: – First of all, I have to mention that I’m not a journalist. I’ve been a Roxette fan since 1991 and I’m blogging about Roxette and related stuff on RoxetteBlog. So my questions will rather be from a fan’s point of view, for a worldwide audience. Starting with the point where your career met our fan world, we have to go back to 1986 when Per wrote a song to you, “Kärleken är evig”. We can say it was your breakthrough song. How do you remember those times and how did everything evolve around that song? You even chose this as the title of your debut album.

LP: – Yes, Per wrote the lyrics to it. The music was written by another person. That was actually the first time Per and I met and that was when Gyllene Tider was over and right before Roxette started. I guess he had time before Roxette, but after that he became very busy, because Roxette was a huge success. Actually, “Kärleken är evig” is one of the most important songs in my career. I’ve also been working for a very long time, since 1986, and I’m still working, doing my thing. I release albums and go on tours. Back then I worked with a guy called Torgny Söderberg, who wrote the music, and he wanted someone to write the lyrics. I think he kind of knew Per and called and asked him if he could write the lyrics. And he said yes. I think it was that uncomplicated. Melodifestivalen is very big in Sweden and that was my first time in Melodifestivalen. And so, of course, that song became a huge hit and I still sing it.

PP: – No surprise, “Kärleken är evig” finished in 2nd place at Melodifestivalen.

LP: – If you google it, you can probably see us in Melodifestivalen. Pictures of us three standing there being interviewed before I sing the song. Per, Torgny and I.


Screenshot from Melodifestivalen 1986 and scan of Schlager-SM 1986

PP: – Yes, there is even a video, that’s very cool! [47:09 into the video. /PP] You took part in the contest 3 times in the ’80s as a performer, then 2 times in the ’90s as a songwriter and while you were also hosting the show in other years, in 2004 you came back as a performer just to win it with “Det gör ont”. A song that finished in 5th place in the Eurovision Song Contest that year. What does Melodifestivalen mean to you? It must have an important place in your life.

LP: – Yes, as I said, it’s a very big TV show and everyone is watching it. So I mean, if you want to make a big impact, that’s the show to be in. And it’s still like that even now. It’s very popular to be in that contest and I’ve been there so many times, as you say, I’ve been a host too, several times. It’s a good program and it’s like a huge party going on.

PP: – In Sweden, you have a long and very successful career. You released numerous albums, mainly in Swedish, but you also have many English songs. Per wrote songs to you later as well, not only in Swedish. On your “Talking In Your Sleep” album, there are two songs written by him. “Never Is A Long Time” and “Take It Or Leave It”. Why was it important to you to sing in English back in the days and how was your cooperation with Per during those times?

LP: – Why did I sing in English? I guess it’s just because it felt kind of cool. I mean, I was 20 when I started and my “Talking In Your Sleep” album was a mix between Swedish and English. I thought I was cool. I don’t have a better answer than that. I wanted to be a little bit tougher, I guess. Haha. As you said, Per wrote two songs and he sent them to us. I didn’t meet him at that point. I just sang the songs in a studio. I think I remember him asking if Roxette could record “Never Is A Long Time”. And they did record it later.

PP: – Yes, it came out on their “Tourism” album in 1992. In later years, you wrote more songs yourself. What is the essence of songwriting for you? Do you usually start with writing the lyrics or the music?

LP: – Very often it starts with the music and the lyrics come later. Sometimes I write songs just because I know I want to do another show and I need some new songs. When I’m working with my own things, I like to be involved in everything around. I have made a lot of shows. It’s like being on the same stage for three months doing four or three shows a week and in that kind of show you can maybe change clothes or dance a little bit. You do this monologue and I’m being funny and I’m playing the piano and I do all sorts of things. And I really like that way of performing. The two latest albums that I wrote, I already thought of them as doing them on stage. And I always think about how I’m going to do it. Music and the visual appearance are combined in that way. I’ve been writing new music now, but I’m still thinking of what way, what direction I’m going for and what I want to do with that, what’s the meaning of that. I would like to find some kind of meaning to the music more than just the music itself. I’d like to see that vision in my head, how I sing it, what I am wearing…

PP: – I read somewhere that you were even sewing your own clothes.

LP: – Yeah, a long time ago. I actually did that because I come from a very small town and they didn’t have those cool stores. So you had to buy some fabrics and just do it yourself.

PP: – How cool is that! And when you have an idea, how do you record it for a song? Do you make demos or just snippets?

LP: – Yeah, I usually make a demo at home here, I have a tiny little studio. But I also sit by the piano and try some things out. I just vary it a little bit too. It depends on what I feel for. And I’ve always had a demo studio at home since the beginning, actually, since I was 15 years old. Writing songs has always been a part of my career, even though I haven’t always written the songs myself. It’s definitely a part of me.

PP: – When I was in Sweden, I think it was after COVID, I couldn’t avoid your song “Maria Magdalena” on the radio. It’s a very danceable, earworm song and it became a big hit. What do you think, what makes a hit?

LP: – Little do I know about that. I’m a person that likes totally different kinds of music, really. I love techno, house, R&B and great singers or even rock ‘n’ roll things if it’s a good song. When I write music myself, sometimes I write complicated songs and sometimes simple songs. And it feels like it will always be the simple song that wins. I love “Maria Magdalena”. It’s quite simple in the melody and that seems to work the best. But I’m a little bit more complicated than that. I write a lot of other sorts of music, too, but they have never become some kind of single hit. “Maria Magdalena” did, and I kind of felt it, because I knew it was catchy. And when I played it for people to see what they think about it, everyone was very positive about it immediately. But I still think it’s a mystery, this thing about what makes a hit. Simplicity might be one of the key things.

PP: – Who are your main musical inspirations?

LP: – Well, as I just said, I like so many different kinds of things. And at the same time, I’m not so interested in listening too much to something and being too influenced by it. I try to dig into myself and find what’s the best part in my musical thinking and use that, because I want it to be as personal and unique as possible. I like everything, but then I kind of shut it out and start thinking about what I want to do. This is typical for me. I do my own thing. I know it’s not what you hear on the radio right now, but maybe I don’t care about that. I just do it anyway, because that’s me.

PP: – Now that Per is releasing a new Swedish album and he decided to do some duets on it, you met again. You sing the title track with him, “Sällskapssjuk”. How did this cooperation start?

LP: – You know Marie Dimberg. She texted me one day and asked if I wanted to sing a duet together with Per. And I actually quite immediately said yes, because I thought that was fun. I went down to Halmstad and we recorded the song there. It was very easy to do it together with him. He was easy to work with. Afterwards, we had a nice dinner and talked about what we were doing now and everything we’ve done during the years and the future and so on. And then I went home and a couple of days later he texted me and asked if we could meet. He had a question to ask.

PP: – And then he asked you about joining him.

LP: – Yes, he asked about this Roxette tour. And I was very surprised by the question. I don’t know what I had expected. Maybe doing some more songs together or some tour together, but this wasn’t the question I was expecting. It’s different for me, because I’m always doing my own thing all the time. Then suddenly I got this question and the first thought in my head was actually, I can never be Marie Fredriksson. I mean, she was an amazing singer and she IS Roxette. And that might be difficult, I thought. But Per was very optimistic and positive. He said “you’re doing your thing”. I went home to think about it for a while and talk to my people about it. And now here we are, I said yes.

PP: – I know Per has been thinking a lot about how to bring Roxette songs around the world again and it was only a question of time to find a solution. All the songs deserve it.

LP: – Yeah, I can understand that, because there are so many songs he has written that he can never sing, kind of. So I really understand it.

PP: – What does Roxette mean to you personally and musically?

LP: – At that time when they got really big in the US, when they became No. 1 and had this huge success, I was working, too. I was in the middle of everything. You of course heard about it, you read about it, you heard them on the radio, at the cafe, at the nightclubs and you saw them on TV, but I actually have never seen them live, because I was also touring myself. I must say I have the greatest respect for Per. He is a brilliant songwriter. He is really amazing. I’m very happy to work together with him. He is still so full of energy.

PP: – Yeah, that’s inspiring!

LP: – Yeah. And he still writes these songs, he never stops. Amazing!

PP: – I don’t like to compare anyone to Marie and as Per says, Marie is irreplaceable and it has never been the intention to replace her with someone else, but fans tend to compare female vocalists who cooperate with Per, it’s inevitable.

LP: – Yeah, I know that, of course, and I can understand that.

PP: – How do you feel about stepping into these shoes?

LP: – It will be hard for me. Well, that was the first thing I was thinking about. I can never replace Marie. And even though I try to do a good job, the fans are standing there and say, you’re okay, but well, you’re not Marie. I will just try to do my best, because that’s the only thing I can do. I also understand that the fans don’t know anything about me. I’m just somewhere from Sweden. Per himself is very, very happy and positive and really looking forward to this. And I trust him. I understand I’m like a guest here, I’m going to try to blend in and he will do all the decisions and I will just come along. I understand the job.

PP: – How much did you know Marie and what do you think about her? You already mentioned that she was an amazing singer.

LP: – Yeah, she was! I didn’t know her deeply, but I met her several times here in Stockholm at parties and other places. She wasn’t my best friend, but we talked. She was always so kind and humble, a very nice person with a warm heart. And she was always smiling.

PP: – How challenging is the Roxette song catalogue for you?

LP: – Well, the songs are not that easy to sing, actually, because they have a big range, high up, down low. We tried some songs in an easy way at home with Per and two musicians and I listened to six or seven songs to try to learn them a little bit, so we can just try out how this sounds. Then I just realized that it was like up there. OK, you can take this down a little bit, but this one you can’t take down, because it’s already very low. Then I said sorry, maybe I promised too much. But Per just laughed and said, no, no, we don’t do that thing anymore. So we have changed the keys and it went OK when we tried it out. But yeah, there are some difficult songs.

PP: – Which is your favourite Roxette ballad?

LP: – I think “It Must Have Been Love” is a very good ballad. There are a lot of ballads that are very good. “Queen Of Rain” I really like, because it’s kind of soft and more suggestive. I would say those two are my favourite ballads.

PP: – And which do you think is the best Roxette power pop song?

LP: – Now I’m thinking about the songs I’m gonna sing. “Dressed For Success” would be very special and it’s very much Marie to me. A fun song to sing. I’m looking forward to that.

PP: – Have you already discussed which songs are in sight for the tour?

LP: – No, not yet, but there are a lot of songs they need to play. Or WE need to play. We are not there yet and that’s one of the decisions that I leave to Per. To decide on which songs to perform. I wouldn’t interfere with that. So you just have to wait and see.

PP: – Yeah, I’m excited about it. Is there a Roxette song you wish you had written?

LP: – Hm… all of them! Haha. I don’t know what to pick here, because there are too many great songs.

PP: – If we are talking about your songs, which are your, let’s say, top three songs that you would suggest Roxette fans to listen to, to get to know you better? Which songs represent you the most?

LP: – Wow, that’s a difficult question, because I never think about my own songs. I’m just working with them. I know the songs that are most famous that I always sing, but they are not necessarily the same that I like the most. It’s difficult to say. I have written all the songs on my two latest albums, so maybe those represent me now. But there are also some old songs. All the songs from Melodifestivalen, for instance, are very well known here in Sweden. So I guess somewhere in there you will find me.

PP: – I have of course checked videos of you on YouTube and I must say you are very much of a rock chick, but you also have your sensitive side when performing. How does it feel for you to be on stage?

LP: – I love to be creative. I love to work with stuff behind the scenes when you prepare a new show, when you think about the songs and where to speak and where to insert some fun. Then I always get a little nervous to be on stage and meet the audience for the first time, to see if it works. I’m never like, oh, I love to be on stage, because to me, being on stage, it’s all about doing a good job and giving it all to the audience. So it’s all about the audience and the communication between us. I almost never think being on stage is fun for me. I must say many times I’m kind of amazed that I’m on that stage, because I’m quite an introverted person.

PP: – It’s very interesting what you say, because indeed, a lot of artists are introverts.

LP: – Yes. But on stage, you have to take that role and just do it. At the same time, when I come up with a good idea, I’m of course looking forward to showing it to people and thinking that it will make them happy. They will laugh or that will surprise them. When you feel that energy, when you create something, it takes a little bit of the nervous thing away. Obviously, I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years now, so I’m here because it’s fun and I’m good at it.

PP: – In an interview you mentioned you are always looking for new things, not to repeat or sing the same stuff all the time. Now this is very different to what you have been doing so far. As a songwriter yourself and performer of your own songs, how does it feel that you will now perform whole concerts of another band’s songs?

LP: – Yeah, that’s something new I didn’t do before. That’s kind of an adventure. I often work that way when I know I’m going to do something and I’m already there in my head to just prepare for that. So, I know what I’m going to do and I’ve just stopped wondering how it feels, because now I’ve decided to do this and I’m just on my way towards it. And I think it will be something different and hopefully very fun.

PP: – I’m absolutely sure it’s gonna be fun.

LP: – And I need to learn a lot of new lyrics. I’m not used to that either.

PP: – You will have a prompter on stage! Haha.

LP: – Ah, you say something! Haha.

PP: – Have you ever toured outside Sweden?

LP: – No, I haven’t. I’ve been thinking about this because of this tour now. And well, I was in London in 1991 and there I was at a kind of management office. They wanted to contract me and they wanted me to move to London, but I didn’t want that. I was too scared for that. No way! I like Sweden. I’ve been a couple of times in Italy, Greece and around Sweden, of course. I did some gigs in Norway, Finland, Denmark, but nothing more than that.

PP: – I saw a 1989 interview with you where you said long bus rides are very tiring, but meeting the audience is always fun. What do you expect from a world tour?

LP: – I guess a lot of travels. Haha. It’s the same procedure as in Sweden, but in another country. You travel somewhere, you check in at your hotel, you go to the place where you’re going to do this gig and you’re into your dressing room and prepare for going out on stage and then you do the work and afterwards maybe a glass of wine. That’s exactly the same thing I do in Sweden. It will be just bigger. And there will be new people for me and a new kind of audience, the challenge in all that.

PP: – The tour starts in South Africa and the next stop is Australia. I assume other continents will soon follow the February and March dates. Which country is high on your list to perform in?

LP: – I’m just focused on the job and Roxette and my work together with Per. But I’ve never been to South Africa and I’ve never been to Australia either, so that will be fun too.

PP: – The touring band will consist of Christoffer Lundquist, Magnus Börjeson, Magnus “Norpan” Eriksson, Dea Norberg, as well as Clarence Öfwerman and Jonas Isacsson. Have you ever worked together with anyone in the band?

LP: – No, I don’t think so. Maybe some of them will remind me that I have, maybe in some studio when we recorded albums in the ’80s. Dea has been working with me on a couple of shows I did here in Sweden. Yes, and other tours as well. So, yeah, Dea I know well. She is super easy to be with.

PP: – Which Roxette songs do you look most forward to singing live?

LP: – As I said, I really want to get “Dressed For Success” right. It’s such a big hit and so much Roxette.

PP: – What is your message to the Roxette fans?

LP: – My message is: I love you too! Haha. I hope we meet and I hope you will like me. I’m looking forward to seeing you all and I’m gonna do everything I can to honour Marie.

PP: – Thank you so much for your time, Lena! Looking very much forward to seeing you on stage with Per and the gang! Happy release day for your duet and all the best on this upcoming journey!

LP: – Thank you very much!

Check out Lena’s music HERE!

Photo by Fredrik Etoall

Alan Hunter meets Per Gessle on ’80s on 8 on SiriusXM

While Per Gessle was in Miami in January, Alan Hunter – one of the original five VJs on MTV – invited him on his show on ’80s on 8, SiriusXM.

Alan is thrilled to be here with a special guest from a much beloved ’80s band. He has one half of the Swedish duo Roxette, Per Gessle on the show. He tells Per what a pleasure it is to see him. Per is just as happy, he says it’s great being here.

Alan feels like all of their kind of MTV-centric, ’80s-centric family went through this thing together back in the day and here they are a few years later still alive and well. Per says, thank God. Alan also says Per has his ever present boyish charm. He is curious what the deal is, whether it’s the hair or just good living. Haha. Per says he is actually celebrating his 65th birthday while he is here in Florida. Alan says it’s a good place to celebrate it, as long as you don’t have to wear a thong on South Beach. PG says he tries to avoid that. He is feeling good. He has been very lucky in his life, having a great career and no big health issues. So he just keeps on keeping on.

Alan says Per comes from a healthy country, at least he perceives it. America has its issues, but Alan thinks people in Sweden take care of themselves. Per doesn’t know what Alan is referring to actually, but he thinks it’s a different ball game in Scandinavia. He isn’t really leading a healthy lifestyle though. He drinks too much wine and eats too much. Alan says the debate is out on that wine thing.

Alan wants to throw a few stats out. He’s got an initial thought about Roxette. Nineteen Top 40 UK hits, four number ones in the US, 80 million albums worldwide. This number is astounding to a lot of people who even love and know Roxette. Alan is not comparing Roxette and ABBA, but it’s the same sort of American-centric exceptionalism. It’s their arrogance related to these bands from somewhere else. He doesn’t think they have appreciated ABBA over the years until someone told them how huge they are and then they go and see their show. People who are in the business that loved Roxette on MTV, they know the songs, but Alan doesn’t think they realize how huge Roxette is internationally. Per thinks the problem here in the States is that they didn’t tour that much here in those days. Lots of people know the songs, they know Listen To Your Heart, It Must Have Been Love, The Look, Joyride, Dressed For Success, but they don’t necessarily know that it’s the same band who is playing all those songs. Per says it’s easier for them in Europe, where they toured so much or Australia for that matter, even South America. They toured so much, playing football stadiums in those days. There everyone knows everything about Roxette, but it’s different in the US.

Alan says the power of live shows, it was very MTV-centric back in the ’80s. People had nothing to do, but turn on their televisions. Of course, that did increase live performances as well. The two were aided by each other, but now more than ever, acts are all about playing live. Per thinks they had a big advantage in the ’80s, because they came from a live scene in Sweden before Roxette made it big internationally. So they knew how to treat a crowd, they knew how important that was. It was always fun for them to play live gigs, because they knew they were good. Marie was an amazing front person and an amazing singer, ad libbing every night. They were just as much a live band as they were a band working in the studio.

Alan thinks we get that same vibe from a lot of UK bands and other bands from Europe that they appeared on MTV – like Duran Duran or U2 – as poster boys for the video age, but they had been playing the clubs, they had been paying their dues, they knew how to play live. That was almost even different from some of the American acts that came up during the golden era of video.

Per says it was fun to be part of it, when MTV happened and the video became so crucial to illustrate your songs. That whole circus was just amazing to be part of it. He remembers they did the video of Listen To Your Heart on an island in Sweden. Coming back to the States, people asked them if they built the castle just for the video. Haha. It was like a 17th century castle. There were no budgets and anything was possible. Alan says that was the good thing about the early days of video, you didn’t need a million-dollar budget.

Here they play Listen To Your Heart.

Alan says Marie was Per’s late great collaborator in Roxette and they all mourned with Per when she passed away five years ago. Both Marie and Per had their burgeoning solo careers in Sweden and in Europe, but they had a very funny introduction to the United States via a little radio station in the Midwest. Alan says everyone knows that story well, but asks Per to tell it again. PG tries to make it short. They were touring in Sweden and there was an exchange student from Minneapolis in Sweden in the summer of 1988. He became a big Roxette fan and he went back to Minneapolis, bringing with him the Look Sharp! album, which was the new album from Roxette at the time. There was a radio show at the KDWB in Minneapolis where listeners could request songs or they could bring their own records to the reception and have them played on the radio. So he did just that. He left the Look Sharp! album at the reception. They didn’t play it, they didn’t listen to it. So he wanted it back like 2 weeks later. And by fate, the program director of the radio station, Brian Phillips was there when he took the record back. Brian noticed the record sleeve. It was like a newspaper, sort of a very special sleeve for the album. So Brian Phillips, the program director got really interested in the sleeve and he asked the guy what it is. They guy said it’s a Swedish band. He wanted the radio to play it, but they didn’t. Then Brian thought let’s listen to it and he played the first song of the album. That was The Look. So they started playing The Look on the radio. Alan says, so if it had been another song that was the first track on the album, that might have been another hit for Roxette. Per says, or maybe it wouldn’t have happened at all. It’s a crazy story, but it’s a snowball from that radio station. Alan says things bubble up here in America. They have had that story told with many other artists. A local DJ likes it and it builds a grassroots following. Nowadays it’s social media as a grassroots.

Alan is curious what was that first moment when a record company person or somebody in Roxette’s group said, hey, you are about to take off in America. If it was overnight. Per says he was having lunch in Stockholm and a friend of his who worked at Warner Music at the time came over with a Billboard magazine and he asked if Per had noticed they were in the charts. This radio chart was called Bubbling Under. It was on two radio stations, KDWB and somewhere else, it said Roxette, The Look. Per was surprised, because that was an album track, not even released in the States. He was wondering how on earth this happened. It took about a couple of months and they were on the charts before the song was commercially released. But you couldn’t get on the Billboard Hot 100 chart unless you had a commercial release, so they rush-released it and it entered at No. 50 or so. Then it took eight weeks to go to No. 1. Alan can’t remember if the video was shortly thereafter or a part of that mounting campaign, but he thinks it was around the same time. It appeared on MTV and they were like, holy cow, another Swedish band. They didn’t play ABBA, but they did play Roxette. In the spring of 1989. That’s a great story. Then from then on, it took off.

But The Look is not Roxette’s biggest hit. Still to come was the movie. Alan asks Per what happened when Hollywood started to call in 1990. PG says that was funny as well. They had four big songs from the Look Sharp! album. The Look, Dressed For Success and then Listen To Your Heart became another No. 1 for them and Dangerous became No. 2 on Billboard. So at the time they were a pretty hot band and so they got this request. He was having lunch in Los Angeles and EMI Records asked Per if he could write a song, soundtrack to a movie. David Bowie was in there and Natalie Cole and lots of great artists. Good company, Alan says. PG agrees. Per told EMI he couldn’t do that, because they were travelling, promoting Look Sharp! all over the world. They were heading for New Zealand or something. But he said they had an old Christmas song from 1987, which had only been released in Sweden. It’s a great song, a ballad. He could rewrite the lyrics a bit and they could do an updated version of it. That was It Must Have Been Love. Mr. G sent the song to them and they loved it. The movie was of course Pretty Woman. At the time it was called 3000 or 3000 Dollars, because he hires the girl for 3000 dollars. PG remembers he got the script to the movie. It was really thick and he threw it away at Los Angeles airport. He didn’t want to read it. At the time it was a low budget movie. Roxette were like, OK, let’s do it, but it wasn’t a big thing. And then of course it became the biggest song of their career.

Here they play the song that started the whole Roxette journey in America, The Look.

Alan says he could talk forever about the first half of Roxette’s career, but there are a bunch of things happening now and he wants Per to prioritize them for the listeners. He says Per had a European Tour under the banner of Roxette, carrying the flag. He is curious about how it went and what we are looking forward to in 2024. Per tells Roxette with Marie, they called it quits in 2016. Marie passed away in 2019. In 2018, Per did a Per Gessle’s Roxette tour on his own in Europe and he just released a live album from that tour.

For the future, what’s special this year is that there is the opening of the Roxette musical in September, starting in Sweden. They will be going to at least all over Europe within the next couple of years. Alan says the musical is titled after Roxette’s 1991 album, Joyride. He says he has been immersing himself in it over the past couple of days, kind of reliving how much fun he had with that album and how good it was. Per thanks for it. Alan says for him, Marie never sounded better, she wails. What a voice she had. Alan thinks some people maybe missed that with the pop quality of The Look and the fun videos that we saw of Roxette, you don’t realize what a great singer she is.

So, Joyride is the name of the musical. Alan asks if it is a Broadway stage type of musical. PG says it is. It’s based on a book called Got You Back by English writer Jane Fallon. It’s a fun story with a happy ending. It’s got loads of the Roxette stuff in there. Per thinks if the stage version will be as good as the script is at the moment, it’s going to be a big one. It’s still seven months away though. Alan says it’s in development now, kind of a jukebox of Roxette songs. Alan wants to know if Per is writing any original stuff for it too. Maybe around the edges they will say, look, we got a hole here, you need to write something. Per says they are talking about that, but at the moment there is nothing new. Alan says Per will just sit there and collect the royalty checks when it becomes a huge worldwide hit. The guys are laughing.

Alan says they have had a couple of good collaborations recently. He thinks Roxette’s music is meant to be remixed over and over again. He loves the Galantis version of Fading Like A Flower, a song from the Joyride album. It’s a beautiful rendition according to Alan. Per thought that was really cool as well. PG thinks it’s nice to do that, because there are always new generations, new people come every year and are interested in what you do. Popular music is always changing and that’s the way it should be. Some artists think they don’t want to be part of that, it’s the original that counts. But a song is never really finished, it just has its own life. It’s the same thing when you play live. You try to play it differently every time. Even though the basic thing is the same, it always becomes a new thing every night. Alan thinks that’s the beauty of modern pop music. He has younger kids who listen to modern pop music and the cross fertilization and the collaboration with older artists, e.g. Sting playing with Pink and Marshmello. Alan thinks it’s amazing. It’s a nice homage to the music from decades ago, and of course it should still live in whatever format.

Alan says there was also an Alle Farben remix of Listen To Your Heart in 2023. He wasn’t familiar with that DJ before, but he thinks that remix was gorgeous. Per tells he is a German guy, very different from Galantis, but he is very good. He did a great job, because Listen To Your Heart is not that easy to do tempo-wise. It’s good for the clubs, Alan says. Roxette is back in the clubs, if you will. In the late ’80s they were doing The Look and it sounded great when it was loud and you were dancing to it. Alan is glad Roxette is back and he is glad Per is here and he is waving the Swedish flag.

Alan asks what is in the water in Sweden, by the way. He remembers hearing a producer several years ago working on a project and they were talking post ABBA and how everybody then wanted to see what was happening in that part of the world. The music that was being produced in Scandinavia was just nuts, all these young artists going there. So Alan asks Per if there is something still in the water there. PG thinks that the whole Swedish pop wonder is declining a bit, but they had an amazing decade. Even more than a decade. Max Martin, Shellback, all those writers, producers and also artists, The Cardigans, Robyn, The Hive, so many Swedish bands. It was a golden era. The music business and the industry changes all the time, so you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Maybe that was the golden window for Sweden.

Alan is curious if Per sits around waiting for a muse, hoping for a muse. He wants to know what’s the inspiration for Per. If it is the musical that’s coming up or he wants to make an album of new music, or to play live. Per says at the same time he had been working with Roxette, he had been working in Swedish and also in English with other projects. Just as they speak, he has just finished a Swedish album that’s going to come out this year as well. He is going to do a lot of promoting and gigging with that Swedish album. He laughs and says they won’t notice it here in the US. Alan asks Per to give him one title in Swedish from that new album, but PG doesn’t share any titles, because there are so many Swedish people listening to this show. He doesn’t reveal anything, but the first single will come out at the end of February.

Finishing the interview, Alan says it’s always fun to catch up with Per and thanks him for stopping by. Per says it’s always nice to meet Alan.

As the last Roxette song, they play Dressed For Success.