Per Gessle about the magic of songwriting and musical nerdiness – interview by David Myhr for

David Myhr did a wonderful interview with Per Gessle about songwriting. The interview appeared on in Swedish.

In the intro, David mentions that after ABBA, Roxette is Scandinavia’s biggest music export ever with their 75 million albums sold. Per Gessle’s success as a songwriter is monumental. He is one of only eighteen songwriters who as a sole songwriter had more than two No. 1 hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 list.

The guys met in Stockholm, in Per’s office on Strandvägen and talked about songwriting. Per thinks it’s always fun. Songwriting is an inexhaustible, hugely complex subject. At the same time, it’s also quite private in a way.

David says it has struck him that for all the incredible success, Per has often emphasized his musical limitations.

Per says:

I’ve always hid a little behind the fact that I was always the worst in the band, musically. Göran and I were always the worst in Gyllene! Because I wanted to write, I learned early on that I always have to work with people who are much, much better than I am. Even in Roxette, I handpicked everyone around me. And everyone was on a completely different musical level than I am. But… they can’t write my songs. I have used the fact that I can’t do many things to find other stuff.

David adds that Per believes that people who become too sophisticated and too good, easily lose the melodies, because they are looking for something else.

PG says a couple of his idols, e.g. Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell, are good examples of people who have overcomplicated their music. He thinks that knowing a little doesn’t have to be a disadvantage when it comes to songwriting. For those old songs that he wrote, “Billy” and “När alla vännerna gått hem”, from 1977-78, he didn’t know what keys and such things were. There he copied his role models without reinventing the wheel.

David says he has noticed that there is sometimes a superstition among some younger songwriters that they should invent something entirely their own, while everyone is in some form of tradition. That even The Beatles listened to Elvis, Buddy Holly or Chuck Berry.

Per says:

Everyone listens to everyone, sort of. You hear Woodie Guthrie when you listen to Bob Dylan… Of course you want to be unique and be yourself. But I wanted to belong to pop, the whole romanticism surrounding the pop world. Long hair on guys. The album covers. To enter another world in the headphones and listen to Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side Of The Moon”. There was an amazing romanticism about pop that wasn’t there in anything else.

Per talks nostalgically about his older brother, Bengt, who made Per as a six-seven-eight-year-old grow up with The Beatles, The Hollies, The Kinks, Lovin’ Spoonful, The Yardbirds and The Spencer Davis Group. To then find his own stuff like The Monkees. He also got into the singer/songwriter genre early on.

PG says:

I was very much a loner when I was growing up and lived a lot in this parallel universe called pop music. For myself. So I could kind of never see myself as a musician or an artist or singing or playing in front of people. It was absolutely not important. However, I was into writing and expressing myself very early on. I wrote lyrics long before I wrote music. I think it came from my mother. She always wrote her own fairy tales for us when we were small and illustrated them. Just for us.

David tells that Per got a Spanish guitar from his mother in 1976 and started playing Leonard Cohen songs fingerstyle. Then he also developed his understanding of both text and chords.

Per tried to translate Bowie’s “Cygnet Committee”. The long, really weird song on “Space Oddity”. And “Memory Of A Free Festival”. He loved that record, but he still doesn’t understand those lyrics. He bought a sheet music and learned the songs because the chords were written in it. He learned C, G7 and so on. But he also remembers his sister sitting and playing “Für Elise” on the piano. PG somehow never connected that (Per hums “Für Elise”) it’s an A minor! He realized it only many years later. Per learned to play the piano from some old lady in Halmstad and thought it was the most boring thing he had ever done in his entire life. Because she never connected that music to what PG was interested in. Had she told Per, “Look at this! Beethoven. A minor, E major, and so on. It’s exactly the same key as “House Of The Rising Sun”, it would have been a little easier. But Per gave up on that. He wasn’t interested in it. He thinks what saved him and made him really take a step forward was when he got to know Mats in Gyllene Tider. But it was also when the punk era came. The new wave. Then it was okay to be lousy and that appealed to Per enormously.

Per about song lyrics

Per talks about inspiration to understand what a song text can look like.

Mr. G says:

Take, for example, “Famous Blue Raincoat” by Leonard Cohen. It’s a letter. It even ends with “sincerely L Cohen” in the text itself. And it’s fascinating that a letter becomes a song text, but it’s not really that strange. If you write a short and concise message to someone, you can repeat the most important thing in the message and it becomes a chorus. It’s not far-fetched. So I mostly think that I hadn’t really found or understood this thing about form, and that it becomes easier if you stay within a form. If you look at, for example, “Billy”, the verses are of different lengths. They kind of stop when MP took over with the guitar and started cranking with his solo.

Song titles as a starting point

David thinks Per is a master of titles and he imagines a song idea often starts with the title. PG says it can start with the title. Titles are important. The title is like the face of the song, what makes one curious. He tells he has an archive of titles or more stanzas than titles that trigger his curiosity.

David says a common songwriting tip is “write down ideas from TV shows or book titles”. He is curious how it works for Per.

PG says:

I do exactly as you say. I have learned – not only because of age – but also for other reasons, that if you come up with something that you think is interesting, you have to write it down or record it. My phone is jam-packed with messages, tunes and stuff. It could be a title or a stanza or something like that. Or a rhythm. You hear something. It could even be that I’m inside a store where they play music in the room. And then I think “damn this sounds good”. But why don’t they do this instead? And then I can record myself humming it. Although changed, in my way. And then time passes. So when I come home and listen to it after three days, I don’t understand anything. I learned that you have to count in first so you understand later where the one is. It can be very exciting. Because there will be something that triggers something in me. Then something else is created from it and it becomes a third thing in the end.

David understands that Per doesn’t like to work as hard on songwriting as many people say you should. Like Benny Andersson who goes to his grand piano every day and sits there week after week.

Per says:

No, I don’t get that. I love to write but I do it as little as possible. Because it must be fun! The most difficult thing for me is if, for example, you write a song in English. And then I realize that it would have been great if it was in Swedish. And then I have to start over. Because I almost always write music and lyrics in symbiosis – roughly at the same time – which means that melodies and consonants and vowels and everything kind of fit together. So when I need to translate, I get so locked into how it really was from the beginning. It takes an immense amount of time and very rarely turns out well. So I try to avoid it, actually.

David says it’s kind of an editor’s job to sit down and sift through all the hundreds of voice memos. He is curious about how Per is doing that. PG explains that as soon as he records an idea, he transfers it to the computer where he has a folder called “workshop”. Beneath that, there is a folder called iPhone and there are hundreds of recordings. Text fragments are in another folder.

When Per is in town or sitting in a taxi, then it’s his iPhone that applies:

If you hear a strange person at Bromma airport singing in the toilet, it’s probably me. I usually call this part of the process “antennas out” and it goes on 24/7.

David says he has read that Per thought Gyllene Tider sounded the way he wanted at first around “Kung av sand” and “Juni, juli, augusti”. According to David, there is kind of a late Tom Petty vibe to that thing that the guys got together with Michael Ilbert.

PG says:

It was something I had felt all along. It’s hard to talk about Gyllene, because we finished so early. Lasse Lindbom, who produced us at the time, also didn’t understand what we wanted to aim at. When I tried to explain something, I couldn’t. But Ilbert understood it immediately.

David wants to know if Per works on a project-by-project basis, so that he didn’t happen to write a GT song in the middle of the Roxette circus.

Per says:

When I wrote Roxette songs, I wrote almost all the songs for Marie. Then there were songs that she didn’t want to sing for one reason or another. It could be that she thought it was a little too pop. But it was difficult to put a finger on where that line was. “The Big L” and “How Do You Do!” it gets a little bubblegum. But it kind of depended on what mood she was in. She loved it when I came up with this “Queen Of Rain” and the bigger songs. And when I tried to do something a bit R’n’B like “Soul Deep” or “Cry”, then she got to stretch that style a bit.

David is curious how Per works with demos.

PG says:

I often do several demo versions of the songs. It also goes in waves. Sometimes I just do acoustic demos. But if I’m going to involve other people, I often do it on synths. Maybe just a little loop or something, so that’s easy to change key then. So I don’t do five hours of work organically and then have to redo everything. I’m trying to find as much of the identity as possible for the song to go to the production level as soon as possible.

Key changes are an effective tool

The guys start talking about key changes or modulations as they are called. There is a variation David has noted in several songs that he tends to refer to as the “Per Gessle trick”. The verse in G and the chorus in A. Then back. He thinks it’s damn effective. “Jo-Anna Says”, “Kung av sand”, “June Afternoon” are just a few examples of Gessle songs where the choruses go a whole key above the verses.

PG says:

It is almost never sought. Or… I don’t think much. Everything is about efficiency in a song. If the melody is cool but ends up wrong, then there are different paths. If there are different singers – for example a boy and a girl – then you can use different octaves. Then it is solved by just the speed. But otherwise, if you want to keep the melodies as they are, you might need a modulation to make it “kick”.

It’s damn neat and that’s lovely. But people skip it! No one dares to change the key. It is such a simple trick that is only in your favor. Because once you’ve learned the song, you can’t hear the song without it. The melody gets better. It becomes a hook just from the speed!

David is curious whether it was usually Per’s experiments that led to these modulations or it was something that Clarence threw in as a hint sometimes.

Per says:

It certainly has happened. But usually they were written that way. There are so many songs that there were no rules! Clarence has probably done a lot of that too. But the songs for Marie that I demo sang on, when I wrote them, I might not have thought that I would sing the lead. Because I sang everything back then. If it was her song, her verse, her chorus and I’m going to sing it, then I have a problem that I have to solve. Both Clarence and Christoffer Lundquist have always been damn nice to help out. Magnus Börjeson too, for that matter.

David asks Per if he is talking in terms of tonic, dominant and subdominant parallel, but Per doesn’t really know what David means by that. Now David sounds like Clarence and Christoffer when they talk. When they sit and analyze something Per has done, they can sit and talk among themselves. PG sits next to them and doesn’t understand anything.

PG says:

I’ve gotten old enough that I’ve learned what I like. That’s also why I’ve always surrounded myself with like-minded people. But when you are in it for a long time, you have to leave your little house sometimes and test yourself and do things. It was probably a little bit of that too, which I think made us have such a relatively long, great career anyway. Because Marie knew her jazz, she knew her blues and Clarence knew his prog rock and Jonas knew his stuff, Jeff Beck tricks. And I knew a little of everything, but not very much.

The beginning of a song

David asks Per to take us into a typical scenario when a song is created.

Per says:

I usually never start writing a song with a title. First comes a musical idea that you think “this is damn hooky” or “this feels great”. Or “I would like to write something in six-eighths”. I’d like to have a certain feel, trying to play around with chords and stuff. And then comes something vague. When you have found a little temperature in what you are doing, you can start looking in your small archive if you want. Or maybe you already have it. While you sit and look for these chords, you might start singing something. Which might be exciting or trigger your imagination in some way. What takes time – much, much longer – is writing lyrics. Because when you get to writing the lyrics, you have quite a lot of music already written. Because otherwise you won’t get to the text anyway. The only time I’ve written music for a finished text is when that text has had another music that I didn’t think was good enough. Then the text remains.

David wants to know more about the process: „You have felt the mood of the musical idea and you may be browsing through your notes for phrases or alternatively start singing along to something. And then you enthusiastically finish writing the melody. Then comes the tough work of finishing the text?”

PG says:

But it can also be the case that the melody is ready, but it changes because I get into a text flow that requires a different melody. Everything works in symbiosis with each other. So it’s not set in stone. It is never set in stone. I also think that you should take that into account when it comes to songwriting, that songs are never ready. When you then play them with another band or with other people, they sound completely different. They are a creature in a way. After all, it can happen that you record a song, and then when you sit and listen to it during the mixing, you think “damn how long this is… we’ll cut out half the verse”. And then you get a completely different text.

David is curious about how Per finishes the lyrics.

Per says:

I have a hard time staying focused so I try to write a text in maybe an afternoon. Or… it’s different depending on how complicated the text is. Some texts are very strong for one’s self and sometimes I feel that I have something on my mind that I want to get down. I’m 90% there, but something is missing. And I don’t know what it is. Then it must take time and at least one night must have passed. And then maybe for breakfast… and then I might not even remember how the song goes. I haven’t worn it out. But then I just read the text straight up and down. That’s how I feel: “Damn it! It’s damn good. ” or “That’s clumsy. That’s not good!” And then I go to my office or to the studio and then I sit down again. I red-mark what I need to redo. So I’m constantly trying to trick myself into being focused somehow. Because I don’t get better from kneading. The song doesn’t get better from knowing it better. On the contrary. I trust 100 percent in my gut feeling, in my spontaneity.

I notice that when I work in the studio with other people as well. What I’m good at is capturing their spontaneity. Because they are not good at it themselves. Because they don’t know what they are doing. Most of them are very good singers and musicians, they just play damn well all the time. But they have a very hard time understanding when they are extremely good. But it suits me just fine. It’s a subjective thing. I remember Marie saying that she always thought she sang best when I was in the studio directing her. Because she didn’t hear it herself. She always sang well, but that stuff that was exceptionally good, she couldn’t pick them herself. And so it is for sure with my stuff. I cannot judge the quality. It means a lot to me. But if it is commercial…? I’m the worst in the world at picking singles. What is a hit? How to write a hit? I have no idea! I’m interested in pop music and it’s in the nature of pop music to be catchy. But I’m not too fond of modern pop music, because I don’t think it’s particularly catchy.

About choosing not to move forward with a song

David asks Per if he is good at killing his darlings.

PG says:

I usually “kill my darlings” earlier than that. It’s very rare that I go so far as to record it, even as an acoustic demo. The reason I do an acoustic demo is because, for example, Clarence or Christoffer say: “We don’t want your bloody demos! Record the songs acoustically and we’ll do the rest. So we’re open-minded”.

David is curious whether Per ever speaks on the subject or gives any type of workshops, teaching songwriting.

PG says:

No, I talk about so many other things all the time. When I release stuff, I don’t really need to talk about it anymore. Then I don’t want to talk too much about being creative. Because it takes away a bit of the mystery, the creativity. I think it’s my thing.

To David’s surprise that he could come and talk to Per about songwriting PG reacts:

I think it’s fun to talk. It’s a little different these days too. Because I do so very little. When I sit in Nyhetsmorgon and talk or do TikTok stuff, I just talk about the new songs and talk about how they came about and I try to remember. Nonsense. But what we’re talking about now is fun!

What makes a good melody

David asks Per what a good melody is.

Per says:

I’m always looking for something that gets me hooked. It’s a kind of rush when you hit it right. I remember sitting in that room writing (points to the office) “The Loneliest Girl In The World” as it came to be called. I was just sitting there plinking and then I started singing this (humming) and thought “how cool is that”. I just felt – like all of me – cool chorus! And then it was like putting together a puzzle. How do I maximize the chorus? And then I wrote the verses that didn’t get in the way of the chorus. And “what’s it going to be called?”. Then this idea “the loneliest girl in the world” came up. And then I thought maybe it’s too depressing. But, no, because sometimes it’s really exciting if you have something dark in a text, although the music maybe is bright. And vice versa. A good example is “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, which everyone thinks is such a super pop song. But there is a hell of a lot of “doom” in that text. There are lots of such examples and I’m not particularly afraid of such things, but it is mostly that it should feel good to sing and that you should be able to write a story around it in some way. And how do you write a story? It’s fact and fiction. You pick things up. For some texts you write maybe three stanzas when you feel a certain way. And those texts might be very powerful for yourself. And you live with them. And then, all of a sudden, when you write something that goes at the same temperature musically, maybe those stanzas fit very well. And then you develop them. It may start with something that is sad. Or something that you think is unfair. Something you think is questionable in your life.

Especially during the Roxette era, I almost always did a so-called “middle-eight”, a bridge. And they were usually super hooky. I’ve always thought that a bridge should always be so good it could be a chorus. Like a B chorus sort of thing. “Listen To Your Heart”, for example, has a very good bridge.

David says „where the key goes up a notch! Nice modulation!” PG says you notice that at a concert. Everyone loves to sing that bridge. There are plenty of such examples. David asks Per if he no longer tries to do such bridges.

PG says:

No, I don’t anymore. Because I tend to keep up with my time. I make the songs shorter and shorter. And then there is almost no room for a bridge. It feels like the time of bridges is over.

David wants to know whether you get better and better the more you write or you get worse and worse.

Per says:

You don’t get better and you don’t get worse. You become different, develop. I will not say “against your will”. But you develop because time goes by. What we talked about at the beginning, it’s good not to know very much. The hardest thing when you are my age is writing uptempo songs. That’s kind of why I wanted to make the new Gyllene Tider album (“Hux Flux”). I know a little too much, I’m a little too sophisticated and usually choose a different means of expression, other types of instruments and other types of tempos. So that’s why it’s been a challenge and you like that sometimes. You can’t write young music when you’re old, but you can write music based on the music you liked when you were young. Although you do it in a different way.

10 things to learn from Per Gessle

1. Listen a lot and let yourself be inspired

– You have listened so damn much. And then you like a certain style. Or multiple styles. And then you make something of it your own.

2. Save ideas

– If you come up with something that you think is interesting, you have to write it down or record it. My phone is jam-packed with messages, tunes and other stuff. It could be a title or a stanza or something like that. Or a rhythm.

3. Always have your “antennas out”

– It’s 24/7. It can happen now as we sit and talk. You might say something that I think “shit, I could use that for something”. Although you don’t notice that I noticed it.

4. Don’t get lost in technology if you’re not interested

– I’m not technically interested at all. So setting up a mixing desk and start working… it takes too much focus for me, so I lose sight of what I’m actually supposed to be doing.

5. Dare to change keys in the songs

– I’m writing Swedish songs right now and I’m currently working on a song where, after the chorus, I don’t want a theme. So then I did a solo that is exactly the same chord as the chorus. Just lowered. If the chorus goes in G, the solo goes exactly the same way just in F. Which then means that when I go back to the original key, you get a lift. You experience it as a key rise to the chorus. And that’s it! But you haven’t raised as all the choruses are in G. You’re tricking the ear all the time like this.

6. Learn what you like

– I don’t like three-part singing. It’s mostly just that when I listen to it, I don’t like it when it gets too thick. When it comes to vocal parts, I prefer fifth harmony. Perfect! Fifth is always the best. And then you might find a major 7th or a sixth that colors in a special way. I like that!

7. Find and keep your essence

– We created the typical Roxette sound from all these ingredients that we come from. I don’t think people realized this until after time has passed. Today, when I hear a Roxette song on the radio, I can think “damn, that sounds special!”. But I didn’t think so at the time. I just thought it sounded like us. At the same time, when we broke through, EMI wanted us to move to Los Angeles or New York. Or at least London to be closer to the industry. But we said we don’t want to do that because then we lose our whole essence. If we remove Jonas and Pelle and Clarence and all of them, we would have played Richard Marx!

8. Dare to play around!

– You can play around and you shouldn’t lock yourself up. At the same time, you have to respect what makes the song strong. It could be that a melody is very strong. So if you want to change anything, you have to do it wisely and with respect. If you now want to max out your song, which everyone wants to, then you have to know what you’re doing.

9. Pick up the feeling and temperature from other songs

– It’s not like now I’m going to write a song like this and it will be the same. But it is the temperature in the songs that you can take with you. That temperature opens like a door in yourself in some way. If I listen to “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” and I get into it, I can’t write music like that, but I can write a song with the same feeling, in my own way.

10. Everything leads to the next thing

– My songs are very much me and I live to write songs. That’s what I am. My wife and son and friends will probably sign it. But it also means that everything I do leads to the next thing. Every riff that doesn’t lead to anything allows me to get it out of my system, so I can move on to something else. You learn. It’s a long, long process.

About David Myhr

Besides being a writer, David Myhr is also a songwriter and artist and wants to know more about the phenomenon of songwriting. As a university lecturer, he both teaches and conducts research in the subject. He has discovered that trying to put into words what actually happens in the creative process of writing songs is extremely difficult. But he has just as fully given it to trying to get some of the biggest songwriters to do just that.

For the original article in Swedish and more photos click HERE!

Interview with Åsa and Per Gessle about Hotel Tylösand in Hallandsposten

Jan-Owe Wikström from Hallandsposten interviewed Åsa and Per Gessle about Hotel Tylösand. The hotel was originally built by court photographer Johan Hallberg as Restaurant Tylösand in 1915 for 13,000 SEK. Until 1929 it could only be accessed by boat. Today it is one of Halmstad’s strongest brands and tourist magnets, but also – the hotel in the hearts of Per and Åsa Gessle.

The hotel has come a long way until it has transformed into an exclusive spa hotel.

Per notes that there is nothing worse than a hotel where you are greeted by an empty entrance or a deserted reception. He explains:

We want a wow feeling when you enter Hotel Tylösand. You can directly see the car hall, fantastic works of art and sculptures. And we’re going to build a bar in the reception where you can hang out a bit. Sometimes there will be a pianist, so that you automatically end up in a lively environment when you check in.
Because it’s just like with everything else, album sleeves, intros to songs – the first impression is the most important.

Åsa agrees:

The reception is important, the first contact. No matter how shabby hotels are, the reception almost always looks reasonably nice. We also have a nice reception, but it has been there for many years, so it’s time to rebuild, so that it blends in with the new “Front House”.

Åsa – spider in the web

The Front House is a new part of the hotel, with large brown-glazed terraces, the Ronnie Peterson conference room and the car hall with Per’s exclusive Ferrari collection. The rooms in Strandhuset and in Stora huset, the reconstruction of Solgården, Bettan’s Bar, Leif’s Bar & Grill and the new The Spa, but also details such as the small unique room signs, the wrought iron fence around the hotel, the color of the staff’s different clothes, the porcelain in the restaurants and of course – the green apples. Everything bears, in one way or another, Åsa Gessle’s signature. She says humbly:

I don’t think many people know what I do apart from the lamps I have designed. After all, I’m here on an almost daily basis and see things that are good and things that can and need to be improved.
I guess I’m a bit of a spider in the web, as far as aesthetics are concerned. Then when it comes to the actual design of, for example, a room, the architectural firm is responsible for the shell and I for the details, the choice of materials and the colors.

But despite all that, Åsa has no official title at the hotel.

No, not as far as I know. I’ll probably have to ask Jonas.

She laughs, referring to the new CEO Jonas Karlén, who a while ago replaced the long-standing CEO Elisabeth Haglund, who has now in turn replaced Björn Nordstrand as chairman of the board.

To have a significant role alongside Per is extra important for Åsa.

When you live next to a famous person, like Per, you easily become just his wife. But for me it goes without saying to have my own identity. It’s fundamental in my life. I started working more when our son Gabriel was ten years old and I felt that I could be away more than before. And Gabbe – who is just as motivated as his father – once said: “Mum, I don’t want to be known for being my father’s son, but I want to be known for having done something myself”. That’s exactly how I feel too.

At the same time, Per has become more actively involved in the hotel in recent years.

Yes, Åsa has always been involved, but in the last ten years I have taken up more and more space, had more and more ideas and opinions. We have had a strong and common line that our hotel should not only be a place where you sleep and eat, but also a place where you can be creative, socialize and have new experiences.
What makes Hotel Tylösand so special is the diversity. We have a huge art and photo gallery. We have a Spa with skin and hair care, various treatments, laser technology and a Spa shop. We have 230 rooms and suites, we have four restaurants, 32 conference rooms with room for up to 750 people at the same time. Then there is Solgården, the amphitheater, all the DJs and the Roxette and Gyllene Tider museum. Plus Northern Europe’s coolest car hall is now located in the hotel.

Jan-Owe asks if it’s only Northern Europe’s coolest car hall.

Okay then. The only one in the world I know. I think a hotel in Las Vegas had a Ferrari store once upon a time, but that hotel is torn down now.

Took over the run-down Reso hotel in 1995

But it wasn’t like that in 1995 when pop star Per Gessle and businessman Björn Nordstrand took over Hotel Tylösand. It was a run-down Reso hotel with simple rooms, a restaurant and Tylöhus that reeked of the old ’80s.

Åsa says:

We had travelled around the world and stayed in many nice hotels and seen many fun interior details. But when we took over the hotel… the old house was rotten. The rooms were spartan with small, small bathrooms with a small mirror and a shelf underneath with toilet paper rolls on them.
So the first thing I did was fix and place the toilet rolls where they belong, a little further down. And to introduce green apples in the hotel. Philipe Starck and his hotel had apples and in their receptions it was written “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. I liked that. At first, people didn’t think I was smart. But I got through it. It’s only for Christmas that I give in, but then the apples have to be dark red, haha.

Hotel Tylösand 2023 and Hotel Tylösand 1995 have not much more in common than the name.

Åsa remembers:

No, we have added a lot during these 27 years. But we have also removed a lot. All the artificial plants that collected so much dust. And the entrance in lime green and pink, with tiles that looked more like a bathhouse entrance.
At Tylöhus there were mirrors on the ceiling. And the restaurant had pink carpet with seagulls in burgundy and burgundy velvet curtains. It was horrible.
But now we have a line, a common thread in all activities at the hotel and I think it creates a sense of calmness for the guest when there is completeness.

Craftsmanship in the blood

Jan-Owe doesn’t think that Åsa is a trained designer and has attended a lot of great courses.

No, no, I’m just like my husband is in music, self-taught. And we both take help when we need it. It is important to find the right people to collaborate with, preferably personalities who inspire and think a little differently. It is of course also important that the employees understand your vision, so that we pull in the same direction.
And there, Abelardo (Gonzalez), the architect who designed our house, has been a great inspiration and teacher. I rejected eleven kitchen suggestions from him when we built the villa before we agreed. He likes cold materials while I like warm, but eventually, there was a tension where he taught me to keep my eyes open and that nothing is impossible.

Although with a mother who was a seamstress, a great-grandfather who was a slipper maker and a grandfather who was a blacksmith, Åsa already had craftsmanship, creativity and a sense of color and form in her blood.

Well, I was always tinkering around my bed at home, making sure it was nice. After all, we were four children and we grew up with a single mother in very simple conditions, so if you wanted something, you had to be creative and fix it yourself, learn to do well with small tools.

Åsa, who eventually got to display a few stores in Trelleborg, has also brought that thinking to the hotel.

Creating environments doesn’t really have to cost a lot of money. I’m not a geek for branded furniture, but the important thing is that it should feel right. Then if I go to Myrorna and shop, it has no significance. It’s all about the feeling.

Åsa glances at one of the large Monstera plants and smiles:

SEK 299 at Blomsterlandet. So I took the shuttle service there.
In this environment, you also can’t have too expensive things, because they get broken, they are used a lot. There is a huge amount of wear and tear everywhere in a hotel. This is why function is important. And we buy large quantities.
I also don’t like to throw things away, so we reuse what we can.

Sketches by hand

There are also lots of Ferrari details on the shelf inside the Ronnie Peterson Lounge.

Åsa says:

Apart from three books, everything is taken from our private collection. And we had the coasters for the conference table in the hotel’s hiding places. They were unused for some reason, but now they fulfill a function. Super stylish as well.

In the new part of the hotel, The Front House, there are several large sun terraces inspired by the Whitby Hotel in New York, the car hall and the Ronnie Peterson Lounge conference room are Åsa’s latest creations.

I wanted the Ronnie Lounge to be “masculine” and “with a motor feel”, but still with a lot of warmth. Stone is quite cold and cars are tough, so it automatically becomes masculine. And the big screen was really important. When you come from outside and look in, I think it’s beautiful and important that you see movement. Cars and life are always in motion.

The giant conference table inside the Ronnie Peterson Lounge is one of the things that Åsa has designed by hand.

Unlike the rest of the family, I don’t like computers but still sketch with pen and paper. I love to draw and then have it built. A bit like Per. He sits and tinkles on something and then, out of it, comes an idea that eventually becomes a finished text or song. For me, it’s the same when I sketch. I have everything in my head. I can see it in front of me, but cannot present it technically, like a construction drawing. Then it’s important to surround yourself with sensitive people who understand me, such as Östra’s Carpentry here in Halmstad when it comes to fine carpentry.

Inside and outside must meet

The large glass partitions also allow visitors outside to see in and those inside to see out.

It is important that the inside and the outside are connected and become a unit. The greenery outside plays a big role, how everything looks outside the hotel. Here we have boxwood, grass and ivy – not so much flowers, but more evergreen.
When I made a display apartment for HFAB (Halmstad’s real estate company) in 2007, that was also one of the basic ideas. And the person who eventually bought the apartment ended up keeping everything as it was presented. Including all furnishings. Then I felt that I had succeeded.

The end wall inside the Ronnie Peterson room is adorned with huge black and white photos from Peterson’s Formula 1 era. And the walls in the hall are made of granite.

I want a basic tone based on earth and nature and instead add the colors in the details. I basically have a rather sacral taste and am convinced that calm colors make people calm. And stone is very soothing. I designed the statues and the bench from scratch where visitors can sit and relax and look at the cars through the windows. It’s fantastic. A bit like in a museum.

The car hall top secret

Åsa reveals the fact that it would become a car hall was well hidden for a long time:

Yes, it was top secret. We designed it as a conference room, because even the builders wouldn’t know about it from the beginning. We didn’t want it to leak out.
Then it became a long process. I started building a fitting room in November 2019, which was ready in January 2020. But when we were about to put the shovel in the ground, the pandemic came and shut down Sweden in March 2020.

The inauguration of the new hotel part happened this spring, where there are now also guided tours of the car hall held by Dick Jönsson Wigroth, well-known in the motor business.

Per says:

I have known him for many years. When his name came up I thought I hope, hope, hope he wants to do that. Dick is both an aesthete and a technician and is cut and ready for the job.
And I have spoken to a lot of staff in connection with us building the new Front House. Both Åsa and I want it to feel special to work at the hotel and when many people said that they were proud to be part of this fantastic new building, then of course I’m proud that they are proud!

Today, Hotel Tylösand has 120 employees, which during the summer will multiply to over 400.

Per points out:

We are basically full over summer until August. December is also a party month when we serve over 9,000 Christmas dinners. But it’s not like that in January, February or in October or November. It is during those months that we have to be extra creative and invent things so that, above all, companies will come here. We want to keep our staff even when it’s not peak season.

Pay attention to the details

Even though Per, with the support of co-owner Björn Nordstrand, together with the CEO and the board is responsible for the big brushstrokes, he also, just like Åsa, pays attention to the details.

Yes, every time I’m at Hotel Tylösand I do some check-ups, I won’t say where. But I can, for example, go into a toilet and check that the toilet lid is attached, that there are towels and that it is generally fresh. If there is something crazy, I report it immediately and then it will be fixed right away.
Because it’s important that it’s clean and tidy everywhere. It’s invaluable that the staff learn how we think and that everyone helps to ensure that the guest has a maximum experience. If you pass a pillow that has been sucked down, you lift it up and puff at it. Not everyone sees that because not everyone cares. But exactly that is the key to people saying “I’ve never been to a hotel like that in Sweden!”. We hear that often.
Therefore, it’s also important to get involved for the entire Tylösand area, that it is neat on the beach, safe and inviting, that there are good rescue routes if something were to happen. Everything has to work, because the more we invest, the more people come here.

New projects underway

More to come. In December, the pool project will start when that part will be renovated.

Åsa says:

Then I would like to build a sun roof on top of the spa with a staircase up the side. But also extend the roof over Bettans so you can sit and enjoy and have a drink or coffee. In that case it would be called Bettan’s roof.
So I constantly have new projects and wishes. Then you can see if you get through with them. The board is tough, haha…

To own a hotel of 23,000 square meters is an ongoing process. Or as Per himself puts it:

It’s a bit like washing windows on a skyscraper. You will never be finished. Because when one thing is done, it’s always time for the next.

Photo of Åsa and Per by Linus Kamstedt Lindholm.

Per Gessle interview in Västra Nyland

Before Gyllene Tider perform in Ekenäs, Finland, Kjell Ekholm from Västra Nyland did an interview with Per Gessle. Kjell met Per in his Stockholm office on Strandvägen.

As Kjell says, Per is a music addict. He has lived and breathed music since he was a child. In addition, he is the only artist who has managed to keep three different careers going at the same time and succeeded in all of them.

Together with Marie Fredriksson, Roxette became bigger than ABBA themselves in the US. The duo managed to get a total of four songs to the No. 1 position on Billboard Hot 100 and over the years, as a solo artist, he has given us many immortal pop classics in Swedish. Now Per Gessle is coming to Finland and Ekenäs for the first time with Gyllene Tider.

According to Kjell, it’s always fun interviewing Per, because he is still so enthusiastic when talking about pop music. Already as a child, Per was able to experience various forms of creation via his mother. She wrote a fairy tale about Ferdinand the ant for him and made her own illustrations for it. As an 11-year-old, he started writing his own songs, but without music.

I have always liked to express myself and when I started school, I also liked to write essays. I created pop music first through lyrics, because I could not yet play an instrument.

He tried to translate songs by David Bowie and Leonard Cohen. He admits that the result would hardly stand the light of day today. But the fact is that Gyllene Tider got their first record deal largely thanks to Gessle’s lyrics.

Per Gessle has always been obsessed with pop music. He says himself that it has meant everything to him since childhood. He and his older brother bought a lot of records, by the time he was ten, he had 100 LPs, while his friends owned five at best.

He earned money for the records by handing out newspapers. Sometimes he managed to get the records a little cheaper when he bought them from his brother’s friends, who needed money for cigarettes. That’s how he came across Lovin’ Spoonful’s album and Los Bravo’s single Black Is Black. But he didn’t just invest in records.

When I was ten, I started buying the English music magazines Melody Maker and later, when punk came along, also New Musical Express. I actually still have those magazines.

20 years ago, Per Gessle coined the expression that a new song must be better than the previous one. Kjell is curious if he still thinks that way today.

Oh no, that no longer applies. I was talking to my wife the other day and stated that if I were to stop making music now, I could probably feel quite satisfied with the songs I’ve written.

I am in the same situation as, for example, Bryan Adams and Tears for Fears. I’m simply not what you could call mainstream anymore. Pop music must always reflect its own time. When I was a child in the ‘60s, the entire youth culture was dominant. It influenced visual arts, film, theatre and clothing. Everything belonged together.

In today’s digital era everything is controlled from our phones and laptops and you notice that in music too. All the music on the charts today sounds the same. There is no place for madmen like Brian Wilson, David Bowie and Frank Zappa. Other artists, who are the same age as me, like Belinda Carlisle and The Bangles, have fallen into the classic “vintage guys and girls” category. We represent a different era.

When Per was 16, he received a Spanish guitar as a gift from his mother and when he learned the basics, things quickly progressed. After school, he was unemployed like so many other young people in Sweden. Quite surprisingly, he and a friend got employed as troubadours at the county council in Halmstad. They went around to nursing homes and hospitals and played and sang. Gessle says it was a great school for him to play at four locations a day and entertain the patients and the elderly.

It was a success and their contract was extended to six months. The repertoire was a blissful mix of Drömmen om Elin, Svarte Rudolf and Streets Of London, but they could also throw in the occasional CCR classic.

He laughs when he suddenly remembers a special event in the long-term care ward at the hospital in Halmstad. They had never played there before and when they arrived, there was no one to receive them. They went in, took out their guitars and started playing. They thought it was a little strange, because in the great hall there were only two beds, and the people in them did not take much notice of the young troubadours.

We settled down and played “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. At the same time, a nurse arrives and asks what we are doing there. At the same moment, one of the patients sits up in bed and looks at us. The nurse is completely shocked. It turned out that we had come to the wrong place and in this room there were two patients who had been in a coma for a long time.

The nurse lost her temper, the troubadours quickly scurried out of the room and a whole medical team came in to confirm that a small miracle had happened to that patient.

It was fate that wanted us to be there and this is a proof of the strength there is in music.

When Gyllene Tider started their career, the whole band went to London to buy guitars. In a guitar shop far outside the city, Per bought a burgundy Gibson Les Paul Custom. It was a similar one that Ray Davies had in The Kinks.

They also bought amplifiers, which they had shipped to Sweden, but they wanted to take the guitars home as hand luggage. When they arrived in Sweden, they had no money left and tried to smuggle the guitars in without paying customs.

Of course we were caught for it and customs seized all our new instruments. We were completely devastated. When I got home, I wrote an emotional letter to customs and explained that we had no money left and that we were still young and ignorant. They were human and we got the guitars back, but I was fined 2000 SEK, which was a lot of money at the time.

Today, the financial situation for Per Gessle looks different. He is a partner in eleven companies and has built up a fortune and millions of assets. His music business is divided between three companies, of which he is also chairman of the board. Together, they have assets of over 30 million euros.

In addition, he is a partner in Tylösands Havsbad and Tylösands Kompaniet Aktiebolag, which are estimated to be worth over 50 million euros.

He has a passion for cars and owns 15 exclusive cars from brands such as Ferrari, Rolls-Royce and McLaren. His favourite car is a Ferrari Dino from 1972. His interest in cars had been awakened when he saw the pictures of John Lennon’s psychedelic painted Rolls-Royce as a child. Then he had to settle for collecting Corgi Toys toy cars and building car tracks with his older brother.

The guys discuss the beginnings of Gyllene Tider and the early songwriting. Kjell claims that the style he had then was a combination of The Beatles’ melodic loops and the energy of new wave music. Per agrees, adding that he always liked bands that could combine good melodies with energy, like the Ramones and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The latter became the house gods of the entire band.

I’ve always had lousy self-confidence when it comes to my music and especially my voice. I’ve always hated my singing voice. What punk and new wave music did for me was that I realized that you didn’t have to be very good. I felt safer when I heard that everyone else also had faults and shortcomings.

If you have a band that is not super competent, there is often more energy and adrenaline in the playing than technical quality. I still like that today. For example, I never liked Mariah Carey’s singing style. That’s the expression I want in the singing and playing.

Kjell is curious what the secret is behind Gyllene Tider’s success.

There is something strange that happens when we play together. I know I sing differently when I play with these guys. There is some DNA molecule in all of us that is activated when we play together. It’s impossible to explain, but it feels absolutely magical. Age and experience certainly play a role as well. We now have a film in the works and then we have gone through old memories and it is a wonderful journey we have made together.

Kjell says the guys will probably never say it again that they are quitting.

No, I didn’t like it either when we said in 2019 that now we are saying goodbye. It was our drummer, Micke “Syd” Andersson who thought we should finish with the flag at the top as long as everyone was alive and well.

Over the years, I have learned that it’s not good to paint yourself into a corner. I remember an American lawyer I hired once upon a time used to say, “my preliminary opinion is”. Then you can always change your mind. Then came the corona pandemic and nothing was the same anymore. In addition, we made a new record and therefore it felt good to go on tour again.

Hallandsposten talked to Per Gessle about the table tennis EC

As you already know, PG Roxette makes the official song for the Table Tennis EC in Malmö. Jan-Owe Wikström from Hallandsposten talked to Per about the song and table tennis.

PG says:

Fun and flattering to be asked again. I was still going to release the song as a single in a new version in the fall and when the association got in touch, it was killing two birds with one stone, a win-win situation for both.

The Craziest Thing will be released on 18th August.

It will be a cooler version where I have worked with Andreas Broberger. The song is slightly rewritten, but it’s not a completely new text or a new title like “The Craziest Ping Pong” or something.

Table tennis has always had a special place in Per’s heart:

Yes, it has always been around. It’s just like padel – anyone can play it. After all, Halmstad and ping-pong belong together, even if this time the EC is in Malmö.

Per remembers:

I remember when the Swedish Open Championships (SOC) were played in Halmstad and I was there. There I got my first autograph, from Bengt Grive, the TV commentator. Then I got some Chinese autographs too, which I couldn’t decipher.

The funny thing was that many years later, when Roxette had made a breakthrough, we ended up on the same flight. And when Grive found out I had his autograph, he wanted mine. So there it was 1–1. Haha.

Regarding who is the best at ping pong in PG Roxette, Mr. G says:

I was good for a while and I’m so old that I still count to 21. The worst is in any case Christoffer (Lundquist). So I have to say Magnus (Börjeson), the bass player, who is a real expert.

PG photo by Fredrik Etoall.

PG40 – RoxBlog interview with Per Gessle – „You have to be kind to your history all the time, because it always makes sense in the end.”

It was 40 years ago when Per Gessle released his solo debut album. 40 years! I thought it deserves to be talked about. Fortunately, even if it’s once again a very busy period for Mr. G, he was very kind and agreed to a 40th anniversary interview. You would think it’s all about that album only, but we touched on topics related to Gyllene Tider, Marie, Roxette, PG Roxette, Per’s new solo project, past PG solos, the Roxette musical and more fun stuff as well.

I could actually listen to Per talking about his career, his songs, songwriting and music in general 24/7. His enthusiasm, memories and wise thoughts are fascinating. You know I like novels, so I made a transcript of what we had been talking about. It became long, but I hope you will find it interesting to read. Enjoy!

I met Per via Zoom on Saturday, 25th March. He was in Halmstad, sitting in his office and just got back from a long walk.

Per Gessle: – I’ve been out walking, listening to some new recordings I’ve done and changed everything, of course. Sent emails to lots of people to…

Patrícia Peres: – … change everything?

PG: – Back to square one! No, not. But it’s always like that. Work in progress.

PP: – Were you walking along Prins Bertils stig?

PG: – Actually, yes. I’ve been walking around all over the place. For some reason, there weren’t that many people. Normally, on weekends it’s very crowded, but for some reason people are staying at home. I don’t know why.

PP: – It’s not spring enough.

PG: – Not spring enough, yeah. It’s 8 degrees. Well, all the birds are singing very loudly, so they get something in the air. Come on… Shhh… [Per’s mobile is constantly ringing, so he puts it away.] We are going to talk about Gyllene Tider, right?

PP: – No, not at all. Haha.

PG: – No? Hahaha.

PP: – No, it’s about your solo debut album.

PG: – Yeaaah, the old one! Shit! I forgot about that. I can’t even remember the songs. “På väg”, “Hjärtats trakt”…

PP: – You can even remember the order of the songs! Haha.

PG: – Somewhere, hm… let me see… [He stands up and opens the cupboard behind himself.] I have a little CD archive here. No, I don’t have that one. Or… Maybe it’s on this. [He picks out the 5 CD Original Album Serien compilation.] I don’t have the original one here.

PP: – Never mind! How does it feel that it’s already 40 years old?

PG: – It’s scary. Haha. [He is checking the tracklist.] Ah, it’s not bad. It’s a cool album.

PP: – It’s not bad. You don’t have a bad album.

PG: – Actually, it’s got some really good songs. The takes are not that good, I think. When I made this album I wanted to get rid of this sort of high-pitched Gyllene Tider voice, so I took down all the keys. So the keys to the songs became much lower and when you do that, you have to know what you are doing because otherwise you lose your, whatever…, you lose it. Haha. And I think I lost it. I think both “Scener” and the first album have got some songs that are in the wrong key. I should have done it with another producer as well, I think.

PP: – Yeah, I will ask you about that too.

PG: – OK, let’s go ahead! You ask and I answer.

PP: – First of all, I just wanted to ask you about January 1983, when all the other guys in Gyllene Tider started the obligatory military service. Wouldn’t it have been fun to do that together, the 5 of you?

PG: – Nooo…

PP: – Not that I can imagine you there, but…

PG: – Haha. I just felt like that was such a waste of time, a waste of a year. Especially when you have this career going, it just felt so weird. So I did everything I could to get rid of it. We have something called „mönstring” in Swedish [muster], which is when you go to this military office and you do the physical tests and everything, you talk to psychologists and they make the decision if you are capable of doing your military service. I did that and I had three, what’s it called… „intyg”… „intyg” [he is looking at me searching for the English word for it]. A paper from the doctors. You know what I’m saying? It’s called something… whatever. I got those from different psychologists that I went to and I told them that I can’t do this, because I’m gonna die and bla bla bla.

PP: – Oh my God! Haha.

PG: – It’s been independent doctors telling me that was fine. „You shouldn’t do it.” In those days, you know, this is like in the ’70s, there was one side that was very pro military service and the other side was very anti. And I went to all the people that were against it, of course. So they signed all these papers for me. So I went up to this military thing and showed them my paper, they let me go and I was off. It was in Gothenburg and I took the train into town and I bought a Bryan Ferry album instead.

PP: – Haha. Much better!

PG: – This obviously happened before Gyllene Tider had a breakthrough. So at the end of the day, when this military service was supposed to be done for the other guys, it was in the middle of the whole craziness. I don’t know if anyone actually did the service full time. Maybe.

PP: – No, they didn’t. It was just four months. Haha. But maybe it was because of your postcard what’s in the 1996 GT book. There is a postcard from you to the guys with one word on it: „Hjälp!”. Haha.

PG: – Oh, yeah, yeah. Haha!

PP: – It’s not known about all the songs when they were written, but you probably wrote at least some of them during the GT era. Did you write them all with a solo album in mind? I mean, were you sure that you would release a solo album or did you write the songs for Gyllene Tider?

PG:[Hesitating…] You should ask all these questions to Sven Lindström. He knows the answers much better than I do. I forgot all about it. When I look back on the “Puls” album, there are certain tracks like “Vandrar i ett sommarregn”, “Som regn på en akvarell”, “Honung och guld”. Those songs were not typical Gyllene Tider songs. They were on the way to something else. So when I had the chance to do my first solo album, I guess the idea was to sort of start from square one, the singer-songwriter side of me, not like the pop thing. It started out doing acoustic songs and I wrote a lot of songs in that way, but I always did that. Even if you go back to my demos in the ’70s, they are all acoustic anyway. So I mean, it’s just another side of what I’m doing. But then there is no song on that album that would have sounded great with Gyllene Tider, except for “Den öde stranden”, which is not my song. It’s John Holm’s.

PP: – Those who liked GT, their musical taste was rather pop, then you came up with a solo album in a more sensitive singer-songwriter style. Who did you expect to be your audience?

PG: – I didn’t think like that at all. I never thought about that. Lots of people are doing that. Especially business people, managers and record labels. They always have these target groups and say you should do this and this format. Even with Roxette. We hated all that. You should have a mix for the adult AC radio or a mix for dance radio, whatever. You do your thing and then you just leave all those things to other people. So I never really thought about that. I never really felt comfortable with my voice that much, even though I felt that my voice had something unique. I was never very secure about my voice. So I think when I did the first solo album, that was also one of the reasons why I wanted to bring in Marie. Even when we did television for that, we did “Om du har lust”, “Tända en sticka till”, “Rädd”. She was there, because I wanted a proper singer for my music. That sounded cool. We started with that earlier. “Vandrar i ett sommarregn” on the “Puls” album was recorded with Eva Dahlgren and Marie did it with us on TV.

PP: – As far as I know, the working title was “Hjärtats trakt”, but in the end, your name became the title. Or… I’m not sure it has a title. Because we are referring to it as a self-titled album, but does it have a title?

PG: – I thought the album was going to be called “Hjärtats trakt”, but there was Ulf Lundell who was also on EMI. He had a book out called “Hjärtats ljus”. So I felt that it was a little too close to his title and he came out before me. So I basically just used my name, yeah.

PP: – So that is a title. Not an album without a title.

PG: – No. It was just my name. It was the title.

PP: – Can you tell the significance of the dot? I mean there is a dot after Per Gessle and a dot after each song title. Does it have any special meaning?

PG: – Haha. Are there dots?

PP: – Yeah. [I hold up the vinyl sleeve and show him the dot.] It’s not usual to put dots everywhere. It’s like „Per Gessle, period!” Haha.

PG: – Haha. Are there dots after the titles as well?

PP: – Yes. [I turn the vinyl sleeve around to show the back side.]

PG: – I don’t know who made that. Kjell Andersson did the sleeve.

PP: – So maybe it’s just a design thing. How do you remember the excitement of a solo debut album?

PG: – I was probably scared, because it was different and it didn’t really sell. I mean, I can’t remember. Maybe it was a gold record. I think I have a gold record somewhere.

PP: – It sold 55,000 copies.

PG: – It was sort of scary times in a way, because I was without the guys from Gyllene. But on the other hand, I had another band with lots of different session players, playing with me when I did TV and stuff. I wasn’t really comfortable with that. I think I wasn’t really ready to do solo stuff. I mean it’s always scary to do that. On the other hand, it was really hard to go back and do “The Heartland Café”. The reason why we did that was because there was an American guy, Don Grierson was his name. He worked at Capitol Records and he liked us a lot. So he promised us to get a release in the States if we did it, which we eventually got, as you know. That sort of convinced the EMI office in Sweden to pay for it and I think at the end of the day it was just something that we wanted to do. We wanted to do something else, but that was a tough one to do as well. That tour was terrible.

PP: – What’s the greatest debut album of all time, you think?

PG: – Greatest debut album from anyone?

PP: – From anyone.

PG: – Shit, I don’t know.

PP: – Maybe from your inspirations.

PG: – Well, the first Tom Petty album, of course, is very good. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The first Eagles album is amazing.

PP: – And if you think about a solo artist?

PG: – Paul Simon’s first album. But he was established when he did that. I have to think about that. Hard to pick.

PP: – Who were your inspirations for this album?

PG: – Little bit of this, little bit of that. “Tända en sticka till” is very much Neil Young. “På väg” I wrote with Niklas Strömstedt and he was really into Jackson Browne at the time. So it’s that sort of LA style. I don’t know, I can’t remember. It’s a long time ago. When I look back on even Roxette stuff, if people talk about inspirations and I check what was in the charts, it was lots of synthesizer bands and Trevor Horn produced stuff. Of course, that was a big inspiration. But you can’t really hear it in our music. But it was an inspiration. It was like when we referred to how much bass there was going to be in the production. We listened to Trevor Horn productions or we listened to Michael Jackson or whatever. I was never really a Michael Jackson fan, but his record sounded amazing. Obviously, you used everything around you to compare yourself all the time.

PP: – When your album peaked at No. 5 on the Swedish chart, there was David Bowie being No. 1 with “Let’s Dance”.

PG: – Yeah. Shit, I hated that. Haha.

PP: – Do you remember how it felt?

PG: – I remember going on a signing tour, which was always scary, because you are in the middle of all these people. And David Bowie had just released the “Let’s Dance” album and he was also on EMI. So everyone at EMI was so excited about “Let’s Dance” and I was like forgotten about.

PP: – Was it before or after you met Bowie in person? It was the same year.

PG: – It was before, because that was the tour. The tour was called “Serious Moonlight” and I met him in Lyon, I think, in France. He had this sort of turquoise suit and blonde hair. And I was very scared.

PP: – Haha. You always mentioned that you were not that interested in David Bowie after “Let’s Dance”, because his music changed with that.

PG: – Lots of Bowie fans don’t like the “Let’s Dance” album, because they think it’s too commercial. But I always felt it was one of his best albums. The production is so intelligent, because it’s so sparse and you can basically hear every instrument in there. It’s just brilliantly done by Nile Rodgers. And good songs.

PP: – At the time, did you see yourself as a solo artist who would still release solo records after 40 years? Or was it more like let’s see what happens?

PG: – In ’83?

PP: – Yes, when you released your first album.

PG: – No, it was more like surviving to the next month, basically. Haha. Especially when “The Heartland Café” album came out, because then it didn’t really work for us.

PP: – But “The Heartland Café” album came out only after this.

PG: – Yeah, yeah. But it was like the same thing. The band broke up and then “Scener” came out and “Scener” was like a mishmash of solo stuff and Gyllene Tider stuff. “Galning” is played by Gyllene Tider, for instance. In a terrible key, by the way. And suddenly, I didn’t have a recording deal anymore. So it didn’t go that well. I mean ’83 was OK, because the album was OK. ’84 was terrible. ’85 was terrible. ’86 was good, because of “Neverending Love”. But those years, ’84-’85, I feel like it’s my dark period. I didn’t know what to do. Everybody wanted me to write lyrics for them and write songs, but I felt like I didn’t want to do that. It’s impossible for me to have someone telling me „now the second line in the second verse isn’t good enough”, „for me it doesn’t make sense” or the phrasing is not what this person wants to sing. I can’t do that. I tried. All those songs I wrote for Lena Philipsson and basically everyone, it took forever. It takes weeks to finish three lines, because people change and want to change and change and change, and I can’t think like that. I have to be my own creative boss, so to speak. Even today I think it’s really hard to write with other people, unless you send things to one another and I do my own thing and then you can go ahead and work from what I presented to you, but it’s really hard to please someone else.

PP: – Yeah, sure, I can understand that. You dedicated this album to Gunilla, Bengt and their parents. THEIR parents. [He is smiling.] Their parents are your parents. What did this dedication mean to you? Why exactly them?

PG: – I don’t know. Maybe it was because it was the first really personal album. It is a personal album, it’s different. Like I said, there are hints of the same style on “Puls”, “Honung och guld” and “Vandrar i ett sommarregn”, but this is much more personal. So maybe I just felt like it was part of why it was dedicated to my family. My father died in ’78, so this is like five years after. Or four years after. This was recorded in ’82, right?

PP: – Well, ’83. I mean, you probably recorded the demos in ’82, but the recordings of the album started in January ’83.

PG: – OK. I’m just guessing here. Haha.

PP: – Haha. That’s fine. The sleeve became quite dark and the photo is a bit too sad for beautiful Tylösand Beach. Why did you decide on black and white?

PG: – I always hated it. I didn’t want to look like that. I looked like someone else. It’s this little shed you see in the background. It’s on the beach in Tylösand.

PP: – Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s why I’m wondering. Because Tylösand is so beautiful, even if it’s winter.

PG: – I always hated that picture. I think the whole idea came from Kjell Andersson, who was the A&R guy who helped me with this. He wanted to present another side, to get rid of the pop star thing. So he wanted me to look like a bum.

PP: – Very nice. Haha. He succeeded.

PG: – Haha. There are other pictures from that era that I … ah…

PP: – Not your favourites.

PG: – I never really liked them at all.

PP: – Am I right that you bought a piano in 1982?

PG: – I did? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I did! I bought this Kawai, K.a.w.a.i. [he is spelling it and looks at me if it’s correct]. Yes, yes, yes, yeah. I had brought that one to my apartment in Torsgatan. I did. That’s where I wrote all the Roxette songs on.

PP: – But did you write these songs [the “Per Gessle” album songs] on that piano?

PG: – Good question. Well, if I had the piano, I probably did. I know that “Fiskarnas tecken” was written on guitar, because it’s a typical guitar groove. [He starts kind of beatboxing the rhythm while playing air guitar.] I thought that was cool with the groove, with the rhythm. You know, as always when I write songs, I try them on guitar and I try different keys and I try it with the capo on and then I move to piano and see what’s going on. Then I decide what’s going to be the main instrument when I record my demo. Then as soon as I’ve settled for guitar and maybe we put some overdubs, then I get rid of the guitar, if I don’t need it and suddenly, it’s a keyboard song with a little drum machine. You never know what’s going to happen. And that’s the beauty of it. You never know. But when you write a song, it’s important to find the core of the song. And the only way to do that is to fool around and see where it leads. Some songs are just so melody driven, so it has to be played on the keyboard, because you need the ability to use the melodies in the settings. Guitar for me is more like you strum the chords, which could be nice.

PP: – Did you start playing the piano by yourself, like the guitar?

PG: – I took lessons on piano when I was really young and I played “Für Elise”. [He smiles and plays a little “Für Elise” on the piano next to him.] But I never really understood that “Für Elise” is basically like an A minor chord. Nobody told me that classical music is basically the same as pop music. It’s just chords and varieties of chords. If someone told me that you can actually play “The House Of The Rising Sun” or whatever on a piano in the same way you play “Für Elise”, I think my life would have been very different, because then I think I would have started to play the piano much more. Eventually, when I got my first guitar in 1976, I never connected that instrument to my early days on the piano. That was many years later when I realized that shit, it’s the same thing. Maybe I was just stupid, but I never really got that. On the other hand, if I understood that, maybe I would have chosen another way, because all those songs that I wrote, the early songs on guitar, they are really primitive and they are really simple and they are really influenced by the new wave thing, which helped me get self-confidence to play. And if I’d been fooling around on the piano, maybe I would have become a little bit too sophisticated. I remember writing “Billy”. You know the song, “Billy”?

PP: – Hmpf. Yeah, sure! Haha.

PG: – Haha. [He is reaching out for one of his guitars next to him and plays the riff.] I just played this. That’s the riff, basically. I just played that. And I didn’t know that it was a D minor F C G. At the time it was just a riff. And then the chorus went to A major. [He plays some chords here to show what he is talking about.] I didn’t understand that. I just played that because it sounded cool. All those early songs, the keys that they turned out to be in are just happy accidents or bad accidents sometimes. There are recordings that we couldn’t use with Gyllene Tider, because I wrote a song in a key that was too high. I couldn’t sing it. So it turned out to be terrible and we couldn’t use it. I didn’t think like that. It was much later that I got into the theoretics of music. Nowadays, when I write the song, I always think about what I’m trying to do with my voice. Is it going to be like a ballad thing? Is it going to be like the chorus of “Chans”? That’s the highest I can get these days. Haha. And it needs that, because it needs that energy. Other songs, like all the songs that I did on my acoustic tour, I did the opposite. I took it as low as possible, because it was more like a communicative thing. So I’m like a wild animal in the jungle.

PP: – And we like that. Haha. Regarding the lyrics, how good of a lyricist do you think you were in your early 20s?

PG: – I think I was pretty good, because I was something different. I guess, and they told me anyway, that’s the reason why we got the recording deal in the first place, because people liked the lyrics and the lyrics really stood out. I was struggling a lot to do these storytelling things. It was a challenge for me, but at the same time I liked it, so I tried to explore it. “Honung och guld” is one of those lyrics, “Vandrar i ett sommarregn” we talked about earlier, “Tända en sticka till” is the same thing. When it works, it’s still good, I think. For my standards. Some lyrics are crap, like “Fiskarnas tecken”.

PP: – On this album it’s not about the chorus, but rather the poems.

PG: – That was also conscious that it wasn’t supposed to be a pop record, it was supposed to be something else. I was on the Parlophone label and Kjell Andersson had an influence on all of the artists on that label. Ulf Lundell was very big and they had Magnus Lindberg and they had…, well I can’t remember them all, but there were a lot of singer-songwriters. Obviously, he wanted me to join that path as well. Ulf was and still is an amazing writer and I couldn’t compete with his sort of language or anything, but on the other hand, I still had the power of my melodies. Everything I’ve done is always melody driven anyway. When I look back on old songs, there are still so many songs from the ’80s that haven’t been released. And if I listen to my demos, the songs are sometimes amazing. And it’s the really, really good music. Lyrics are the worst. So that’s why they were never recorded. But that’s how I did that. I’ve just recorded two old songs from the ’80s and I rewrote the lyrics totally and they are just really good. I can’t write music like that anymore, because I’m not that curious in that sense anymore. I was in the ’80s, but today I know too much. So I don’t dare to do silly stuff like I did in the ’80s. It comes with age, I guess. On the other hand, I write a little bit more classy lyrics these days than I did in those days. Most writers, when it comes to pop music anyway, they have their peak when they are 25-26. If you look at all these other amazing writers like Paul McCartney or Tom Petty, they find their identity and their personality when they are very young and then, especially if they get successful, they sort of start to repeat themselves and then the fashion changes. If you go to Tom Petty’s late ’70s stuff, he is a good example, it’s really interesting. And then some of the ’80s happen and then the music scene changes, the productions change, digital music comes in and then he has to adapt. And the band has to adapt. It took many years for him to adapt. It took him 10 years actually, until he did this Jeff Lynne album, “Full Moon Fever”. Then he adapted and it was in fashion again. I think it’s when you are young, as soon as you sort of find out the core of who you are as a writer and as a person, you do your best work. Sorry to say. Haha.

PP: – Haha. Perfect. How much did your troubadour sessions help you to create the sound of this album?

PG: – Ehm. Haha. I think we were recording most of the stuff at the EMI Studio 1, which was a big studio. I think we did it in the same style as we did the Gyllene Tider albums. It’s just with different players. Hasse Olsson on Hammond organ and we used a lot of session players, so it wasn’t very different. I remember we had… Who played the drums? Magnus Persson?

PP: – Yes, Magnus Persson.

PG: – Backa Hans played the bass. They all were extremely good session players, they played with lots of people and I wasn’t used to playing with musicians in that style. I guess it sounded great. It did sound great, but it was different. I was used to Harplinge boys. Haha.

PP: – Yeah, that was quite a big recording team including many musicians playing several instruments. How did you decide about what instruments to use and who to record with?

PG: – Well, I think it was a decision that was made together with Lasse Lindbom, the producer, who was going to play and he was very much part of choosing the people. The difference from Gyllene Tider to these people wasn’t as big as it was later on when Clarence came into my life.

PP: – Yeah, that’s what I also wanted to ask. Clarence wasn’t around, but how do you think he would have made the production of this album and what advice would he have given to you?

PG: – Well, at the time in ’83, he was the keyboard player in Raj Montana Band, which is sort of the same style as Hasse Olsson. He was also playing in Raj Montana Band. So I don’t know. I think with Clarence it would have probably sounded sort of similar. Lasse Lindbom always told me that I was a good songwriter, but the problem I had was that you can’t dance to my music. It didn’t have the rhythm, didn’t have the groove. Maybe I told this before. But then the first song that we recorded for the first Roxette album was “I Call Your Name”. It was a really moody ballad when I did the demo. [He demonstrates it with a „boom, boom, boom, boom”.] And then I heard the sound from the studio upstairs and it was Jonas, Pelle, Tommy Cassemar and Clarence playing “I Call Your Name” and it sounded like, you know, how it sounds on the Roxette record. It’s really bap, bap, bap-bap-bap. It’s really catchy and groovy and everything. And I was so proud, because I felt like hey, Lasse was wrong, you can dance to this song. Haha. That was the combination of Clarence’s brilliance and also of course Jonas’ guitar playing, because Mats couldn’t play the guitar like that and I certainly couldn’t do it. And Anders didn’t play the bass like Tommy did. It’s the same with the Nile Rodgers people on the “Let’s Dance” album by David Bowie. It sounds more like Nile Rodgers than David Bowie, actually. So I think the feeling I had when I recorded that solo album, it felt good to have all these really great session players, but it wasn’t that big a difference. It was more a difference in the style of that you used the banjo or you used harmonica or we even had this sitar sound in “Syrenernas tid”.

PP: – How much experimenting was there for you during the recordings?

PG: – Not very much. I had my songs and… well, Lasse Lindbom is not like an experimental guy, he is more like a basic guy. He just tried to improve the demo. If the song is there, it’s there and then you just try to make it. Nowadays, when you are working on the PG Roxette album or on Mono Mind, you fool around. It’s such a different ball game these days, but I kind of like that. We talked about that the other day in the studio, because I’m using 3 musicians from the Halmstad area for some new recordings and I’m playing lots of stuff myself. I can hear in my head how I want the piano to sound like, but I can’t play it. But in a way I can, because if I play it on a piano in the studio, which is a digital piano, I can remove all the mistakes I make. I just take those tones away. If I do something like this [he plays a mistake on the piano], I can take it away, so it becomes nice. If I want the melody to be in a certain way, I can change it in the computer, I can write it in the computer, which was impossible in those days, of course. So this fits me. That’s why I play some really, really good piano on the new recordings. And I didn’t do that for real. But it sounds like I’m doing that. And it sounds exactly how I wanted it to be, because I hear it here [he points at his head]. That was my problem, to find people who could interpret what I heard, because I couldn’t play it myself. So it’s much easier for me today to be a homegrown musician. I can make mistakes, as always, but I can fix them. I tell Mats that this song is two bpm too slow and I want it to sound exactly the same, „can you just digitally fix it, so it’s two bpm faster” and he does that. In the old days, when you had analog tapes, if you changed the speed, you changed the pitch, but you don’t have to do that anymore. An A is still an A today, because it’s digital, it’s all in the computer, so it’s really cool.

PP: – That sounds very interesting. If we go down song by song, you open the album with “På väg”, a song you wrote the text for and Niklas Strömstedt wrote the music for. When it’s your solo debut and you want to show your singer-songwriter side, why do you decide to put a song first that has the music written by someone else?

PG: – I can’t remember. I remember I was really happy with that lyric and I think the lyric is the reason why it became the opener. Because „på väg” means being on the way to somewhere and it’s just like a great start. And it was uptempo. I think it’s one of Niklas’ best songs and he plays it himself all the time, so I guess he agrees. It was a perfect opener. There is no other song that could be the opener on that album.

PP: – How did you write it together? I mean, did you sit together? Did you send it to him?

PG: – I wish I could remember. But I think… maybe I sent him my lyrics and he wrote music to it, or he sent me his music and I wrote lyrics to it. We didn’t sit down and write it together. I can’t see it. I don’t think we did that. There was another track called “Man varnade för halka”, which is my lyric, but it’s his music, isn’t it?

PP: – Yes, it is.

PG: – I’m sure I sent him my lyrics, because I had this lyric lying around. I probably tried to make music for it myself, but failed. That’s how it goes normally. You don’t really have a finished lyric that lies around for a very long time without trying to make music to it. So I probably screwed up, I can’t remember. But he wrote some really nice music for it.

PP: – “Hjärtats trakt” would have been the album title. Could it be that this was the very first song you wrote especially for this album?

PG: – Could be. I think that song is like the essence of the whole album. It’s a little bit more adult than the Gyllene Tider stuff and also the way it’s done. It’s done in a low key and it’s a little bit different. It doesn’t sound like Gyllene Tider at all. Which was intentional, of course.

PP: – The song has this „syrenernas tid” expression in the lyrics, while you also have a song on the album with this title. It’s very strange, because it’s not a common expression. I mean, probably in Swedish it is, but using it on the same album in a lyric and also in a separate song, it’s very interesting.

PG: – No, it’s not a common expression in Swedish either, but I think the symbol of the „syren”, I don’t know the English word for „syren”, do you know? I don’t know. It’s a flower, but… [he is reaching out for his mobile to check Google.]

PP: – It’s lilac.

PG: – Lilacs! Thank you. I was reading a lot of Hjalmar Gullberg, a Swedish poet, which you probably haven’t heard about. Haha. I was never a big reader of poetry, but his stuff appealed to me a lot. I liked his choice of words and he had some lines about lilacs, „syrener”. That’s probably where I got the inspiration to write something on my own.

PP: – Is “Syrenernas tid” the way you wanted it to be on the album? I mean, when the „syrenernas tid” part comes in, it feels like it could be rockier than it actually is, with heavier guitars.

PG: – You mean that particular song, “Syrenernas tid”?

PP: – Yeah, that one.

PG: – That song was a big mistake. I thought that was a really good song, but the key is so low and I couldn’t really sing it. So if I had a little bit more energy in the vocals, we could use a little bit more energy in the guitars. I never liked that version at all. It’s a nice song. The same with the song that I did with Marie, “Om du bara vill”. I thought that was a good chorus.

PP: – “Om du har lust”, you mean.

PG: – Oh, “Om du har lust”, yeah. Haha.

PP: – Haha. So many songs.

PG: – So little time. [He smiles.] It was too long and didn’t have the ability to edit it down and it was in the wrong key. I never liked it. It was a single, I think, wasn’t it?

PP: – “Om du har lust”? Yes, that was the only single off the album.

PG: – Terrible.

PP: – Who picked that one?

PG: – EMI and Kjell, probably.

PP: – So you would have probably chosen another single from the album.

PG: – Well, there aren’t any singles. “På väg” is probably the catchiest song and the song that stood out for me was “Tända en sticka till”, because I thought that was a really beautiful ballad. But it’s not a single. It’s pretty tedious when you play it. I played it a couple of times on stage, even in the modern age, but I always get so tired of it after playing it twice. It’s like 4 minutes of wasting my time.

PP: – “Timmar av iver” is a very cool, short and fast song. Less than 2 minutes. Where did the inspiration come from for this one? It’s very different from the others.

PG: – It was because I started fooling around on the guitar and detuned the E string to a D instead, so it’s a detuned guitar. So you can get a „daw daw” at the end of the riff. When I played it, this riff [here he is humming it], it’s like a banjo style. So someone said, probably Lasse, that we should bring in a banjo. There is a banjo, I think.

PP: – There is, there is. Haha.

PG: – Haha. I haven’t heard this album since 1983. I think I played that song live on the “Mazarin” tour, didn’t I?

PP: – You did!

PG: – It’s not bad. It’s not really me, but it’s OK.

PP: – And “Regn”? You probably wrote it for Gyllene Tider.

PG: – Yeah, that’s a good song. It’s a terrible arrangement and production of that song, but its riff is really good. [He is reaching out for his guitar again to play that riff.] It’s a good melody. That was the whole idea, that riff. And so it became another rain song about rain. Rain is good. Haha.

PP: – Rain and trains. Haha.

PG: – The symbolic thing of rain, you can do so many things with that. I think every lyric writer is fascinated by rain. I wrote a lot of rain songs in my days.

PP: – I also like this lyric part very much: „Dina ögon har färgen idag / Som himlen hade igår”. It’s very nice. I love this expression. I mean, it’s very simple, but I think it’s beautiful. [He smiles.]

PG: – I can’t remember all the songs until we finished this, but this song could have very much been a Gyllene Tider song.

PP: – And in some interview you mentioned that you also have an English lyric to it.

PG: – It’s probably called “Rain”. Nah, it was “Run To Me”. [He starts humming „run to me”.] It wasn’t “Rain”.

PP: – Then comes “Indiansommar”, which really gives the feeling of Indian Summer. It’s an instrumental. And I guess you wrote it on piano, but it turned into this wonderful harp sound.

PG: – Yeah, we had a harp girl who came in with a big harp. Was that something else?

PP: – There was “Ledmotiv från Indiansommar”, which has a different sound and there was “Indiansommar” with the harp.

PG: – OK. And then we had another harp for “Blå december”, right? Doesn’t that start with a harp as well?

PP: – Yes, it does.

PG: – Lots of harp.

PP: – The harp era.

PG: – That was fun, because this girl came in and she was really young and really tiny and she had this huge harp. I was like, shit, is it worth it? We’re gonna use like 12 seconds of this and she was tuning and all these pedals and stuff. It took forever, but she played wonderfully.

PP: – Yeah, it’s beautiful.

PG: – It’s a beautiful sound and even today we use harp. When these early synthesizers came out, the digital ones like the Yamaha DX7, they had great harp sounds. You always used harp sounds.

PP: – “Ledmotiv från Indiansommar” has a very different sound. It’s almost the same length and it’s less soft. It sounds more like a soundtrack without the harp. Were there such thoughts in your mind back then? Making soundtrack music?

PG: – It sounds like country or Western.

PP: – Yeah, like a Western movie soundtrack.

PG: – Well, I’ve always been interested in that kind of themes in movies. We always, not always, but we usually do an instrumental song with Gyllene Tider, “Knallpulver”, for instance. And we did… What’s it called? “Shopping With Mother”. Or “Theme From „Roberta Right””. It was actually Gabriel who wrote the lyrics to that.

PP: – Yeah, I remember that.

PG: – The name Roberta Right came about. It felt like it should be a TV series, so it became a theme. I was always interested in these little snippets of 40 seconds of instrumental music. I’m just thinking about that. It might be because I’m this melody guy and sometimes you don’t want lyrics to interfere with the music. And it’s nice. That is actually one thing that I’m really looking forward to with the Roxette musical that’s going to come out. Because the underscore will be lots of Roxette music of course and I think it’s going to be really beautiful, played without lyrics. The melodies are so strong and you can travel from here to there with just the music. I think that’s really cool. And it works.

PP: – So you are already at the point when you are discussing such stuff that there will be underscores.

PG: – Yes, absolutely. We are still fooling around with the script for that one, but it’s getting there.

PP: – Cool, however, we still have some time until we can see it.

PG: – It’s going to open up in October next year.

PP: – Set in my calendar.

PG: – They are going to start selling tickets this autumn and it’s 76 shows.

PP: – Wow! A lot of shows!

PG: – Yeah. It’s gonna be cool. I hope. Otherwise I won’t go to the opening show. Haha.

PP: – Haha. “Historier vi kan” is a John Sebastian song. When did you first meet the “Stories We Could Tell” song?

PG: – It was actually Kjell’s suggestion that we should do that. I met John Sebastian in Los Angeles in 1981 and stayed at his place for like 3 days together with Anders, up in Woodstock. He was a really nice guy and so when I came back, Kjell said maybe you should do a cover and I said yeah, maybe I should do something from John Sebastian, because he was so nice to us. And then Kjell came up with this song. I never heard it before and I thought it was… well, it’s not really me, but I can try it. So I translated it.

PP: – Was it easy to translate it? Because it’s very similar to the original text, but still there is you in it.

PG: – I can’t remember, but it made sense. It’s a good song. And then of course, much later on, I realized that Tom Petty did covers and covered that song as well. Then suddenly I liked it a little bit more. Haha. It’s always crazy, because normally, when you do covers, in the old days, like Gyllene Tider in 1980 or even earlier or ’81 or so, we played “S.O.S.” by ABBA, we played “Send Me A Postcard” from Shocking Blue, all those songs. But it was because we liked them and we knew them by heart, because we were fans of the songs. But in this case I never heard this song before, it was suggested by Kjell, so I don’t really have a connection to it. I guess the reason why we did it was it had this sort of country style that I couldn’t really write myself. If you have a song like that on the album, you show a certain temperature of the album. In those days it was all about albums. You had 40 minutes to present something, which is really interesting.

PP: – I remember you mentioned in interviews that you think “Sommaräng” is John Holm’s best song. It’s from the same album as “Den öde stranden”, so I’m wondering why you picked “Den öde stranden” to cover.

PG: – Because I think you could do much more with “Den öde stranden”. I think I did a terrible version of it. Janne Bark is playing the guitar and I just… nah, it’s terrible. But anyway, “Sommaräng” by John Holm, you can’t touch that one, because it’s brilliant, his singing too. It’s ridiculous to try to do a cover of that one. I also felt that if I do a cover of John Holm’s stuff, I also show people where I belong. I belong to that sort of Swedish singer-songwriter pop thing, the early ’70s. So that was also a way for me to show my roots.

PP: – So that’s why you decided to do a cover? Because I guess you had several other songs of your own.

PG: – Yeah, but it makes sense. And like with “Stories We Could Tell”, it shows a different side of you. With Roxette sometimes we played “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”. And we played “Hanging On The Telephone”, we played “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”. It’s fun to play those songs, but also it shows where you come from. Where your roots are. If you don’t know anything about an artist, you go on the Spotify page and you find that he or she has done some cover versions, you immediately realize that hey, this is their taste in music. So you listen to their own music with a different point of view. I do anyway.

PP: – And what about “Fiskarnas tecken”? How did astrology come into sight?

PG: – My sister was really into astrology. Especially in those days, and I wasn’t that much. I was fascinated by it maybe, but I wasn’t really into it. No, terrible song.

PP: – I don’t think it’s terrible, but it’s different.

PG:[He is reaching out for his guitar, tries to remember the rhythm and plays a little.] It was a rhythm that I learned for some reason. Maybe it was just good enough to become a song.

PP: – Then there is “Rädd”, which is yet another duet with Marie. Did you write it with Marie in your head? That you would sing it together. Was she the obvious female vocal choice for you?

PG: – Yes, I think so, because that was that era when I introduced Marie to EMI, basically. Because in 1982 she did this MaMas Barn album with Metronome, which was Warner at the time. So this was a way to bring her into Kjell and Lasse Lindbom territory. I don’t think I wrote it specially for her. That particular song, you could do it like a duet thing.

PP: – Yeah, in the lyric book the original text is visible and you wrote hon / han, hon / han, who sings what. It’s just not written that it’s Marie / Per, Marie / Per.

PG: – Haha. I never really liked it that much. It’s just that it was different from what I was writing with Gyllene, so probably it was different enough to record. And as soon as Marie opened her mouth, it became amazing. So suddenly, it just sort of became OK. I never listened to it.

PP: – “Tända en sticka till”, one more song with Marie. Was it the last one you recorded for this album? Because it was written in January-February 1983, so it was already when the recordings started for the album.

PG: – Yeah, it was pretty late in the recording. I felt immediately that it was for me, the key song of the album. It’s about the lyrics. It’s a nice lyric, it’s very fragile and very sensitive. When you write about certain subjects or certain moods, you can write about the same thing in so many different ways. Nine out of ten it becomes really clumsy and you overdo it or you just choose the wrong words or it becomes too obvious or it should be more obvious or whatever. There is so many problems along the way. “Tända en sticka till” is very simple. What I particularly liked about it was in the second verse, if I remember things right, when we sing together and I’m using this quote from the girl in the lyrics. That continues into the chorus and so it’s the girl, Marie in this case, who finishes off the lyric, basically. And I thought that was a really beautiful way of writing. It’s very simple and it’s by far the best lyric of the album, because it’s the most personal.

PP: – A couple of years later you revisited it for “Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig”. It got more stripped down. What made you change the sound and the length of it?

PG: – It’s the same when we did the acoustic tour. Some songs that you wrote when you were really young get a different meaning when you are singing them later on in life. This particular song I felt was a little bit too long on the ’83 album, so I just made it shorter and a little bit more efficient. But I don’t know if that was very good either. I think someone else should record it, because it’s a strong song and it’s a strong melody. It’s a beautiful song, but I never really captured it properly. And as I said earlier, when I play it live, I always get bored with it immediately.

PP: – Talking about melodies, which song do you think has the best melody on the album?

PG:[He is thinking for a while and then…] “Regn”. It’s got the best melody. “Regn” is the most typical song for me, if you look at my catalogue. I have written in that style all my life. The chorus of “Syrenernas tid”, or maybe the chorus of “Om du bara vill”…, nah, “Om du har lust”.

PP: – Haha. “Om du bara vill” is a very cool song as well, but here it’s “Om du har lust”.

PG: – Haha. There are good melodies there as well. But they never really get solved properly. I don’t know. I have this love and hate relationship with this album I guess. When you look back on all these albums that you’ve made, there are highlights and there are low things, songs that you don’t like. But you have to go through those motions in your life. Without that album, I would never have done the next album. And without that album, which was even worse, I would never have done all those songs that became the first Roxette album, which became a pretty nice album. And without that, the “Look Sharp!” album wouldn’t have happened. You have to be kind to your history all the time, because it always makes sense in the end. There is a purpose there I guess.

PP: – Very wise thoughts. [He smiles.] The album got a re-release on CD in 1992 and then we got the bonus tracks. “Överallt” and “Man varnade för halka”, which we already mentioned.

PG: – Ah, “Överallt”! I remember “Överallt”, because Lili & Susie were singing backing vocals. They are out playing with Micke Syd nowadays, yeah.

PP: – Yeah, yeah, I saw pictures of their parties. Haha.

PG: – Haha. They were EMI artists in those days and then they moved to whatever it was called… Ola Håkansson’s label and became successful with “Oh mama” and all those dance tracks. Yeah, they were singing on “Överallt”. [Here he starts singing „övera-a-allt, över-övera-allt”.]

PP: – Haha, you remember the lyrics. Why was it only a B side?

PG: – Because I felt it was really terrible. I didn’t like the lyrics and I thought it was like a… I don’t know. I listened a lot to a specific type of country music. What’s his name? He died. He was the lead singer of the Amazing Rhythm Aces. What’s his name? Do you remember? [My facial expression says no.] No. Haha. An American guy. He was on EMI on Capitol Records and he did some amazing albums and I listened to him a lot in those years. So I think “Överallt” was very much inspired by his style. It’s not really country, but it’s countryish. What’s his name? Shit… I forgot about him. All those albums that he did, they are not on Spotify and I miss them a lot. I have them on vinyl, but you know, I never really pick them up.

PP: – What’s the name of the band? [I reach out for my mobile to search for the band on Wikipedia.]

PG: – Amazing Rhythm Aces. They had a big hit with a song called “Third Rate Romance”. And he was the lead singer, and his name is…

PP: – Just checking Wikipedia. [I start reading out band member names.] Billy Earheart…

PG: – No.

PP: – [He is constantly shaking his head while I’m reading further.] Lorne Rall, Kelvin Holly, Mark Horn, Barry Burton, Duncan Cameron, Jeff Davis, James Hooker, Butch McDade, Danny Parks, Scott McClure, Mike Brooks, Russell Smith.

PG: – Russell Smith!

PP: – Ha, the last one on the list. [We burst out laughing.]

PG: – He did two solo albums that were really good. He’s got an amazing voice. One of the best voices. I actually saw him when he was supporting on a tour. He was supporting Mink Deville. Remember Mink Deville? That was an odd combination. But Russell Smith… I saw him live in the early ’80s in Lund.

PP: – Lots of things happened in the early ’80s. The third bonus track was “När morgonen kommer”, which I think has very strong lyrics. Why was it a leftover? Do you remember that?

PG:[He is scratching his head.] All those songs that were in the CD box, you know there was a demo version of leftovers. “Nu lyser det från hus och rum”. “När morgonen kommer” is one of those songs that I recorded, but I didn’t use. I never really liked that either. Like I said, that era is me trying to find another way of writing and trying to find another personality and the style in my writing and all those songs are just wannabes. I’m not there. I’m not ready for that yet. But without those, I would never be ready for it. So you have to go through all these. That’s why I don’t really like this album. The “Mazarin” album is sort of the same style, but it’s so much better, because I was a better writer and a better singer. Everything was better. So it was a stepping stone to something else.

PP: – As you mentioned, there is this “Demos 1982-1986 and there are 4 related tracks. Listening to those, they sound like final songs. So I guess all album song demos must have sounded quite similar to the final result as well. Am I right?

PG: – Yeah, probably.

PP: – Will those demos come out one day or are they so similar that it makes no sense?

PG:[He is thinking.] I don’t know if I have all those.

PP: – What device did you have to record the demos back then?

PG: – 1982-83… I probably had this 4-track Tascam or TEAC machine, but we recorded lots. Most of it I recorded with Mats, so then it was probably an 8-track machine we had at the Tits & Ass studio. I don’t know where Tits & Ass was located in those days. A long time ago. Mats probably remembers everything. „Oh, I didn’t like that intro, bla bla bla”. Haha.

PP: – There was “Blåa jeans (Och röd läppar)”, where the guys from GT were playing the instruments. Was it made for Gyllene Tider originally?

PG: – No, I think it was made for this solo album. I recorded that demo at a studio called Studio 38, Getinge. I think, actually I did a lot of demos there, yeah. I used that lyric. I rewrote that lyric and that became another song… [He is thinking.]

PP: – “Enkel resa”.

PG: – “Enkel resa”! Thank you!

PP: – Why did you get back to this song so many years later?

PG: – It has a great story. This guy waking up, leaving in the morning and then being very confused. It’s a complicated, but at the same time a very simple story. So I just felt like it deserves a better song than it had before. And I think “Enkel resa” is basically Mats’ music. It’s this groove, which was sort of odd. And I just felt like I had to do something. So I fooled around with this lyric. It’s always hard to write lyrics to a finished melody. I mean, it’s easier if you do it at the same time. Then you can change the melodies, expand them or make them shorter, because the lyrics demand that, so to speak. But if you have a finished piece of music that someone else wrote, you have these melodies that you should follow, otherwise the other person might get pissed off, but in MP’s case, he doesn’t mind.

PP: – How do you remember “Segla på ett moln”, recording it with Marie on vocals?

PG: – I always liked that one. I thought that was good and I thought she did a great job. I like that lyric for some reason. It was also filled with symbols. I don’t know how it wound up on Anne-Lie Rydé’s desk, but it was probably because she was on EMI.

PP: – Maybe she found it on the desk at EMI. Haha.

PG: – Haha. They probably needed a strong melody and they had this and I didn’t really need it. So they did a version of it.

PP: – Later you recorded it again with Helena.

PG: – Yeah, it’s because we’ve done it live. On the “Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig” album I tried to collect all those songs from the old days that felt relevant. I don’t know whether it was a good idea or not, but it was something to do during the pandemic. Haha.

PP: – It was a very good idea, I confirm. There are these two other demos, “Nu lyser det från hus och rum” and “Var blev du av?”. “Nu lyser det från hus och rum”, I think it has a beautiful melody and the accordion enhances it.

PG: – It’s a waltz, isn’t it? [He starts humming „umpampam umpampam, nu lyser det från hus och från rum”.] I listened a lot to “Hearts And Bones” by Paul Simon in that era as well. And I think when you mentioned “Var blev du av?”, I think it’s a lot of that sort of style that I listened to. Like “René And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War”. All those songs from that album I liked a lot. I think I was really inspired by that sort of soft kind of music. It wasn’t a point for me to write pop songs, because pop songs belonged to Gyllene Tider. Solo albums you should do differently. That doesn’t make sense to make an album that sounds exactly like Gyllene Tider.

PP: – Definitely, sure. Are there any other songs written for this album that we haven’t heard yet? Songs that weren’t released as either an album song or a demo?

PG: – I don’t know. There probably are. I won’t go into my archive here, but I’ve tried to find all the cassettes and all the tapes and move them into digital format. So I have most of it, but it’s probably rubbish. Most of it anyway.

PP: – We don’t mind! Haha.

PG: – It has to have some sort of quality that you should be able to listen to it without getting red in the face. [He is touching his cheeks.]

PP: – Why didn’t you tour with the album? Wouldn’t it have been great to show the audience this side of yours or use it as a promotion back then?

PG:[He is thinking.] Yeah, good question. I can’t remember. I don’t even know what I was doing. We had this little band with Lasse and Marie and MP. Exciting Cheeses. That one must have been the same era, right?

PP: – That was a bit later, I think.

PG: – It’s like ’82-83. I don’t know. I don’t know if I felt like… It was just one album and then I would have had to play “Sommartider”. Haha.

PP: – Haha. Why not?

PG: – That would never have been a good idea since the band was still going. Maybe I just felt like I’ll do another tour after the second album, but that never happened, because that album was terrible anyway. Haha.

PP: – Looking back at the time, I’m not sure you had enough experience and self-confidence yet to trust your gut feeling, which now you think is very important. Was there any point in the making of this album when you felt you should rely on your gut feeling, but you chose a different way?

PG:[He is thinking.] No, I think it felt OK all through. I mean, it was like a different thing to move away from the Gyllene guys and work with session players. It was exciting to work with Marie. I remember we did quite a few TV appearances from this album with live bands. Reg Ward was playing saxophone, I don’t know if Backa Hans [who played the bass on the album]… Mats Englund was playing bass on some tracks as well live. So it was different and it was exciting in a way. I mean, it wasn’t something I didn’t want to do. I wanted to do it, but I always felt that I was a number too short for what I was aiming at. When it came to this style, I wasn’t ready for doing that kind of stuff. When I did “Mazarin”, I felt that suddenly I had the quality. A different quality in the material for the “Mazarin” album. And that might have been because I hadn’t been doing anything in Swedish for such a long time in 2002. So I collected lots of stuff, but most of the stuff was written for the “Mazarin” album anyway, so it’s just that I was a different person then and also it was a different environment working with Christoffer for the first time. In his crazy studio. It was just really amazing. We made it very difficult for us, starting with my favourite track, you know, “Tycker om när du tar på mej”. And we did so many takes.

PP: – Talking about “Mazarin”, it turns 20 this year.

PG: – Hahaha.

PP: – Haha. Just to make you remember, if you want to do something, in June.

PG: – All these anniversaries… Haha. So, we made it hard on ourselves to start with that song. I was really frustrated that it didn’t go anywhere. Sometimes, when you change the environment and change a group of people that you work with, sometimes you feel instantly [he snaps his fingers] that this is going to work or sometimes you need to adjust. You need to adjust your compass in your mind. It happens all the time, especially now when I’m working on new stuff with new people. I have to go back and listen on my own. Take a walk and listen and listen again. I have to listen in a different way to get the whole new concept. And then suddenly, it’s like [he snaps his fingers again] yes, it makes sense. This is really cool, but it’s not like what I was aiming at, because I didn’t know that this existed. Gyllene Tider is the opposite, because when you work with Gyllene Tider you know exactly what you are going to get. So it’s really up to me to deliver a good song. If I deliver a good song to Gyllene Tider, it’s going to sound amazing in that style. But the challenge sometimes is to go out of your comfort zone, find new people and see what’s going on. But you have to be ready for that and you have to have the capacity to decide that this is a good move and this is a terrible move. And that’s all to do sometimes. In 1983 I wasn’t ready to make those decisions. I just did it.

PP: – How do you feel this record formed you as a solo artist? Because your solo career is very diverse. I mean, there are a lot of colours in it from era to era.

PG: – I just think it was something that had to be done to get out of my system while the others were in the army. Haha. Then we just went back to do this “The Heartland Café” thing, which was, in hindsight, really weird, because we should have got another producer. It was just strange.

PP:With the experience you have now and the success you have achieved, what would you want your 24-year-old self to think about himself and music at the time of releasing his solo debut album?

PG: – I think it was the right decision to make. Lasse, Kjell, all of us, we were doing the best we could at the time to make the best possible album. Like I said earlier, it was the right decision and it was the right move at the time, but there are certain songs that I don’t really like, because I don’t think they are up to the standards that they should be. It’s the same with “The Heartland Café”. There is a song called “Can You Touch Me?”, which is the worst. It’s like “Physical Fascination” from Roxette. Haha. I don’t like those songs for some reason. It’s just that they are there and at the time I felt like, yeah, this could be a single. Haha. You just change. Then when time passes by, you look back and see that was a really stupid decision. On “Joyride”, for instance, “Physical Fascination” actually took the space from “The Sweet Hello, The Sad Goodbye”, which is so stupid, because that’s such a great song. It’s a very long song. The Roxette version is very long. The solo is really long, but it’s a beautiful lyric and a beautiful song. It’s one of my finest songs. So how you can make that decision, I don’t know.

PP: – I think it was a nice first step in your solo career. [He is laughing.] I really like those songs, of course, because when we are looking back at your history, it’s interesting to see how you evolved.

PG: – That makes sense, I guess. We talked about that earlier that you have to go through the motions to get to the next level all the time, in everything in life. So that’s just the way it is. You can’t skip 10 years of writing and nothing happens.

PP: – So that was all related to the debut album, but I would like to ask some more questions, just very short ones. I promise not to waste your time. [He is smiling and nodding that it’s OK.] It’s just that I’m curious about what you are doing now in the studio. Are you dealing with some solo stuff again? Because the other day Per Thornberg posted a picture with you in the studio. Are you working on a new solo album?

PG: – Yeah, and it’s almost done. Haha.

PP: – Oh my God! OK, so in autumn you are starting another album. Haha.

PG: – It’s just that I had a great flow this winter and work with new people. It’s not done yet, but I have recorded 12 songs. It won’t be out until like a year from now.

PP: – We are getting used to it. Two years, one year…

PG: – Haha. That’s the way I work. Now we are releasing Gyllene Tider on Friday, the first single, then the “Incognito” PG Roxette EP at the end of April, and then there is another Gyllene Tider single and then there is the Gyllene Tider album, then there is a tour. And then there is some other stuff that I won’t talk about, coming out in the fall and then it’s new year and then it’s new balls. We have this big thing, the big opening at Hotel Tylösand on May 1st. We open up a new part of the hotel, totally new. So that takes a lot of my time, because I’m very much part of that.

PP: – Are you building the furniture? Haha.

PG: – Haha. Sort of. I can only work with this album in April and May. But then it’s not like every day or so, because I’m so busy with all the other stuff. But then in June we start rehearsing for the tour, and then July, August until September it’s concerts, so I won’t be able to write or do recordings. It’s pretty busy. But it’s cool. The Gyllene Tider album is really cool, and the new stuff that I’m doing is pretty different from anything else. Per Thornberg is involved. He is a jazz saxophone player.

PP: – Yeah. You worked together with him already.

PG: – Yeah, he is doing a lot of stuff. There is another saxophone player as well and trumpet players. It’s fun, yeah.

PP: – Very cool and exciting! Thank you very much, Per, I really appreciate your time spent on this.

PG: – My pleasure.

PP: – I’m looking very much forward to everything related to “Hux Flux” and “Incognito” and the new stuff and all.

PG: – Haha. It’s nice, thank you. Well, alright. Have a great weekend!

PP: – You too! I hope I didn’t ruin it for you. Haha.

PG: – Nah, it’s fine. I had a good time.

PP: – Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Bye-bye!

PG: – See you soon! Bye!

Stills are from the Zoom meeting.