Per Gessle interview in Hallandsposten

Jan-Owe Wikström did an interview with Per Gessle for Hallandsposten before the PG unplugged tour reaches Halmstad this weekend.

Mr. G says they couldn’t dream of such a tour when the band gathered at his apartment in Stockholm to rehearse for Late Night Concert on TV4 and Guldscenen on Mix Megapol. Then it was mostly to get to meet and play at all when everything was shut down due to the pandemic.

The summer gigs in Tylösand opened new doors. In fact, I haven’t dared to do this before. I mean, standing at Wembley or Ullevi is one thing. Then you can “hide” behind the large production, the volume, the lights… Here it is so naked and stripped down and a much bigger challenge.

It’s more text-based, more my songwriting instead of hit cavalcades from Gyllene Tider and Roxette. And that’s why I’ve never had this kind of response before. The audience really sits and listens and takes in, is attentive. It is intimate and private and sometimes so quiet that I could have heard a plectrum fall to the floor if I had used one. In a large arena, the audience stands and watches a performance, a show. But here the audience is a part of us just as we are a part of the audience. A little campfire feeling, as well.

Regarding the tour Per tells Jan-Owe:

It’s not as happy-go-lucky as it was last summer when I could come up with a song in the afternoon which we then quickly rehearsed and then played in the evening. Now there are a little bigger scenes, a little more structured, real lighting by Robert Kelber and a little more decor by Åsa in the same style without removing the intimacy, the warmth.

There are many new songs added to the setlist. Take for example “Ljudet av ett annat hjärta”. Christoffer (Lundquist) suggested that I play it alone with just an acoustic guitar. But it didn’t work so I suggested that Clarence (Öfwerman) at least plays the special loop on the piano. At the premiere in Linköping, a girl sat at the front and at first didn’t realize that it was that song until the loop came. Then she sat and cried out through the song, out of happiness, because it turned out to be her favourite song. It was a bit difficult to play, while it was great to see how music can really touch.

Jan-Owe tells Per he has probably never seen him so relaxed and comfortable on stage in terms of the talking in between songs.

I have, honestly, never had any real small talk, but here it becomes a natural part of the show. But it’s the same when I’ve been to concerts of Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon… They never tell anything but it’s mostly a lot of clichés. Imagine McCartney had told an anecdote or story about how “Back in the U.S.S.R.” came about! I went to see Bruce Springsteen on Broadway in New York a few years ago. It was him and an acoustic guitar, but the concert was based on his biography. It was magical, but he is probably also one of the few who can do it.

Jan-Owe asks Per how he intends to take this concept further.

There are no direct plans, but it would be fun to do the same with Roxette songs and maybe take it abroad. This tour is more based on my Swedish material because it goes more into the heart here at home.

Regarding the pandemic, being able to come out and play and meet the audience again has of course provided new fuel.

You really notice how hungry people have been and see how happy they are.

From 1st December, covidpass is required to enter the concerts.

That’s super difficult. I see no major difference between being at Gekås, a restaurant or a concert. But the important thing is that everyone must be careful.

The guys are talking about Joyride’s 30th anniversary as well and it turns out that the days off between the concerts are not really free, but booked with interviews for international media.

Talking about future plans, much is already in the pipeline for next year.

Yes, next year is packed – things will happen.

Per says cryptically.

Jan-Owe says that in parallel with the fact that Per, before the acoustic gigs, was in the studio and tested about forty songs acoustically together with Mats “MP” Persson – who now also handles the sound on the tour – of course one or two new songs were written. Per tells that he wrote songs both in Swedish and in English, as usual.

Regarding Gyllene Tider, Per says it’s a nice little pop band… They met, but didn’t talk about this concept.

Jan-Owe asks Per about his touring plans. Mr. G is still low when it comes to plans for major tours abroad.

There is still a pandemic going on so I’m not very keen on travelling right now. The last time was in February 2020 when I was in Miami, but it’s not fun to travel these days, walking around being careful.

This week there were news that Per is being offered to buy Ferrari’s new model, Ferrari SP3 Daytona. One of a total of 599 copies, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the list. Per says he saw that in Hallandsposten, but he himself hasn’t received any confirmation yet.

Admittedly, I received an invitation to the presentation of the car in Maranello in Italy, but I was on tour. Though I still had not gone anyway because it is still pandemic times. Then I knew that if you bought the latest model, Ferrari Monza SP2, you also have priority for the next model.

Jan-Owe tells that maybe it’s high time that Per shows his cars instead of hiding them. Mr. G says he has actually thought about doing it on a beautiful day. Maybe not now, but in a few years, he hopes. Today all cars, most of them Ferrari, are parked and stored in various places in Sweden.

This type of cars has become a form of investment just like art and real estate. The problem is that they have become so expensive that no one dares to drive them anymore. Partly because of sky-high insurance, partly because a few miles on the meter means they can drop in value. But cars are there to be driven. And seen. I mean, think of an old Aston Martin or a Volvo P1800 from the 60’s – they are beauties, pure art. And great fun to drive.

Gyllene Tider 2.019 – en sista refräng

When earlier this year, months before the GT40 tour it turned out that there would be a book about Gyllene Tider written by Jan-Owe Wikström and photographed by Anders Roos, I knew the end result would be fab. This duo created another wonderful book, Alla tiders Gyllene Tider 6 years ago, but not only that. Jan-Owe already wrote a book about the band and another about Roxette many many years ago and actually, he wrote the very first Hallandsposten article about a young band, Gyllene Tider more than 40 years ago, on 8th July 1978. He has been following the guys ever since. Anders’ work we also know from other Per Gessle related projects. His amazing photos we could see from several tours and studio sessions over the years.

Jan-Owe and Anders visited the Golden Guys in France when they recorded their last studio album, Samma skrot och korn and were following them on their farewell tour to catch and eternalize the magic around this boy band 40 years after their break-through.

Already by looking at the cover, one can be sure that what’s inside is of high quality. The front cover shows a pleased and proud gang in 2019, while when you turn the book around, the back cover shows a young, promising band in 1981. Wonderful. And this time travel appears inside the book too.

I don’t know how others start reading it, but to me the book shouted out for a start from the end. Which is actually the beginning of all. You will read about all the important years in GT’s life, how MP and Per met and decided to become pop stars, how Anders and Micke met and how Göran with his Farfisa came into sight and how all 5 of them got together to establish one of Sweden’s, if not the greatest bands ever.

In between the historical happenings over the decades, the break-through, early tours, studio sessions, the break-up, the come-backs detailed by Jan-Owe one can read a couple of fan stories about what GT means to the fans. Stories from the ’80s, about Gyllene songs being played at weddings or even funerals, hunting the guys and their autographs. Things what only fans can understand.

Besides all these, you can also get to know what albums and bands had an impact on Per, MP, Micke, Anders and Göran and what their Top10 GT songs are. The lists are not so different, but there isn’t one single song that you would find in each band member’s Top10. How strange.

After the past, you turn the book around again and arrive to 2019. The Intro and the Outro, before and after the very last Oslo gig give a great frame to the whole GT40 farewell. The chapters guide you through the complete process from what happened between the last concert on the GT tour in 2013 and the first thoughts of an anniversary tour, through the creative process of recording a last album and creating the set for the last shows, till the very last performance of the greatest Swedish band of all times.

Besides the Golden Guys’ feelings and actions, their stories of how they met their wives and how their families (their parents and their close families now) supported them over the years, the book also tells you about other important people around the band. You can read about what BoJo’s (Bo Johansson, Live Nation tour leader) job is on a tour as per logistics and organizing all details, what the head of crew has to do and that a gig couldn’t happen without the best crew. You get to know how Malin-My Wall and Dea Norberg came into sight for this last tour and how they contributed to the shows, but you can also read about veteran Fredrik Lilliestråle Stéen and Micke Syd’s friendship that resulted in the fact that GT invited a group of policemen, firefighters and ambulance, as well as defense veterans to thank for their service at each GT40 concert in Sweden.

The fans’ part in 2019 is represented by a handful of hardcores. Thomas Evensson (an essential establishing member of TDR) is there from almost the very beginning of Gyllene Tider. You get to know how he got involved and became the creator of the non-official GT website. You meet Bradley Coverley from Australia, who represents all the non-Swedish speaking fans from around the world and shows that distance is nothing when it comes to your idols. Jan-Owe and Anders travelled together with Sandra Knospe who saw now more than 250 GT, Roxette and PG related concerts in her life and travels thousands of kilometres on each tour to follow the band to as many places as possible. She can also compare how touring life of a hardcore fan was in the ’90s and how it is nowadays. Nowadays I join her in this ”craziness” and travel together with her. The GT40 tour was the first one for me when I had the chance to attend each gig and added my reviews show after show on RoxetteBlog.

In the book, almost all stops on tour are present. The emotional ending in Halmstad with all the TACK signs held up by fans couldn’t be left out either. Including the tears on and off stage, of course. Per’s words to the crowd at the last concert in Sweden: ”Thank you for following and supporting us for 40 years. Without you, we would be nothing.”

Anders Herrlin is right about what GT’s essence is.

Gyllene Tider is like a mud pie. There are lots of different recipes for mud pie, but here I, Micke and MP are the bottom of the cake with our own way of playing together, while Per’s voice and Göran’s Farfisa are the topping on the cake. However, how much you add from each element, that recipe is a secret and is locked in a safe in Harplinge.

This book is really a must have for all the fans, but also a good reading for anyone who has ever bumped into Gyllene Tider’s music. How Jan-Owe writes down the discussions it feels like you are there with guys in the studio in France or the final rehearsal before the premiere gig or at the concerts themselves. And the photos taken by Anders Roos give you a visual to all this, so you have kind of a movie playing in front of your eyes.

Yeah, now we need a DVD too. To be able to relive the GT40 magic as many times as possible.

 

 

 

 

Per Gessle’s Sommartider – interview in Hallandsposten

Jan-Owe Wikström did an interview with Per Gessle in Mr. G’s home in Halmstad and it was published in Hallandsposten on June 20th online and on June 30th in print. The guys were talking about Gyllene Tider’s farewell tour and Per’s summer feelings.

Per says first they, the guys in GT didn’t think about this tour to be the last, but when they started talking about it, it made sense. Now that all 5 of them are healthy and in good shape and want to end Gyllene Tider at a high level, it doesn’t seem to be a bad idea. They don’t know what will come in 6, 7 or 10 years and they don’t want to go on tour when any of the band members is not there. Then it wouldn’t be Gyllene Tider anymore.

From the article it turns out that besides the 5 Golden Guys, there will be 2 backing vocalists on tour with them: Malin-My Wall and Dea Norberg. Per explains that Tom Petty also had backing vocalists on his last tour and The Rolling Stones also have them. It feels a bit new, but also it saves Per’s voice and widens the sound partly at the choirs and partly because Malin-My can also play the violin and other instruments.

That the guys would go on a tour and celebrate their 40th anniversary was clear already after the last show in 2013. Since GT was formed in 1978 they wanted to do a tour in 2018, but as Per went on a solo tour in 2017 (130,000 people saw him) and he played several Gyllene Tider songs, then he toured with Per Gessle’s Roxette in 2018, also some shows in Sweden and it’s a small country, they postponed it to 2019.

Even if they knew that 80-90% of the setlist will consist of their old songs, they wanted to make a new album. They recorded it in France. Per says the idea was to create an album that shows the band members have all grown up and they are either close to or already turned 60. They are older, more matured and more experienced. They wanted the album to sound like GT today, not like they sounded back in the days. It can be a little embarrassing when a band tries to sound like 1980 while it’s already 2019.

Jan-Owe mentions an article that was published on 25th July 1985 about GT’s break-up, but he says it was rather a longer break. The the guys came back in 1995, 2004, 2013 and now in 2019. Per says 1995 was the first time they realized how big they became in Sweden. Their hits survived and he had the power via his international success with Roxette.

Now it’s time for another tour that will take the band from Malmö in the South to Piteå in the North with Stockholm and Gothenburg in between, where the concerts were moved to bigger venues (Stockholm Stadion and Ullevi). The 51 songs the guys took on the rehearsals have to be narrowed down to 25-30, including 18 must-play songs.

Jan-Owe asks Per what he thinks makes GT attractive through all generations. Per says the only way to survive as a band for 40 years is never to be trendy. Then they can come back time after time, as they did.

Jan-Owe also asks Mr. G about how it will feel to play the last song on the last concert. Per says he doesn’t know, they won’t die or stop playing.

 

Per’s summer feelings

Childhood summers: ”Far too short. Always.”

Teenage summers: ”I spontaneously think about Fammarps Mushroom Cultivation. I was biking there from Villshärad and weighed mushrooms during some summers. We were 2 guys and more than 300 girls. Good enough.”

Adult life summers: ”Tour. And more tours. And even more tours.”

An unforgettable summer: ”The GT-25 tour in 2004. Awesome. That summer we had more than 25000 people in the audiences per night. How did it really happen?”

The summer I absolutely want to forget: ”There weren’t any bad summers. Or if so then I blanked them out.”

Being on a summer tour: ”Intense.”

The best summer song: ”Summertime by George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward. A masterpiece.”

The best own summer song: ”Juni, juli, augusti, På promenad genom stan and Min plats. They are OK.”

The best summer concert in Halland county: ”My memory is short, but Wilmer X was awesome the last time they played in Solgården at Hotel Tylösand. I wish I could say Sex Pistols in Östra stranden in Halmstad 1977, but I wasn’t there. MP and I were sitting outside in his Amazon. We didn’t dare to go in.”

The best own concert in Halland county: ”Gyllene Tider on Stora torg in Halmstad 1995 was special. That was the first time we realized how big we became in Sweden. Our hits survived and I had the power via the international success with Roxette.”

Professional expectations before summer 2019: ”To be able to say hi to the crowd.”

Private expectations before summer 2019: ” To be able to say hi to family and friends.”

Why to choose Halland in the summer: ”It’s Sweden’s front side.” (”Sveriges framsida.” -> it’s a Swedish idiom and is associated with the West Coast and Gothenburg. The reason is the geographical situation, which allows direct connections to the international shipping routes via the port. /PP)

This is how summer smells: ”Chips och grill. Näst intill.” (Part of the lyrics of (Kom så ska vi) Leva livet meaning ”Chips and grill. Almost.” /PP)

Pic of Per Gessle is taken in the studio in France by Anders Roos.

 

Thanx for your support with the printed version of the interview, Anne Rosvall!

New Gyllene Tider book in the making

As Hallandsposten informs, there will be a new book about Gyllene Tider. It will be written by Jan-Owe Wikström (Wicke) and photographed by Anders Roos. Both names guarantee a wonderful end result. Title of the book is said to be Gyllene Tider 2.019 – en sista refräng.

6 years ago, Jan-Owe and Anders created the book, Alla tiders Gyllene Tider. Anders says it was like being a fly on the wall while he was around taking photos of the band on tour and in the studio and he thinks it’s awesome to have the guys’ confidence so that he can do his job calmly.

Wicke is the person who actually wrote the very first Hallandsposten article about a young band, Gyllene Tider more than 40 years ago, on 8th July 1978. He has been following the guys ever since and wrote books, as well as a lot of articles about them.

Jan-Owe and Anders spent some time with GT in France this year while they were recording their last album and will be there with Per, Micke Syd, MP, Anders and Göran on tour. They will accompany the Golden Guys on several shows, especially in key locations like the premiere gig in Halmstad, then Ullevi in Gothenburg and they go to Stockholm as well. They of course won’t miss Fredrikstad, Norway, the last concert either.

Wicke says the book will be a time travel, about all the years passed and since a big part of GT’s history is about others’ experiences related to Gyllene Tider’s songs and concerts, they will also ask other artists to share their memories.

It’s not only artists who will be asked to tell what GT means to them. Fans can also contribute to the book by sharing their personal memories. Anders says they already got appr. 70 mails. They will choose some stories to be published in the book, but it’s important that those picked anecdotes represent various events and happenings. As a fan, you can send your stories to: minnen@gyllenetider.com. Per says any craziness is encouraged! 😉

It’s going to be an intense summer not only for Gyllene Tider and their fans, but also for Wicke and Anders who have GT’s full support in this project. Per says it feels safe and great to have exactly this duo writing about the band. He looks very much forward to the book and hopes he can get a signed copy. Haha.

 

Per Gessle about the bright and dark side of life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Song by song comments – En vacker natt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo from PG’s Nashville archives