Per Gessle on Swedish Radio P3’s morning show

The program leaders of Morgonpasset i P3 were very excited to have a „legend, Sweden’s greatest songwriter, the one and only” Per Gessle on their show last Friday, 24th September. Mr. G arrived to the studio and was on air some minutes after 8:30 am. HERE you can listen to this episode of the morning show and hear Per himself from 2:08:38 to 3:08:10 in the complete version and from 58:15 to 1:28:08 in the „utan musik” (without music) version.

After the program leaders give a loud welcome (applauding him and shouting „Per! Per! Per!”), Mr. G thanks for it and says now he has woken up. One of the guys tells Per that probably not all his mornings start like this. Mr. G jokes and says it’s his family – his son and wife – standing in line shouting „Per! Per! Per!” „Wake up! Wake up!” – one of the program leader guys adds. They all laugh.

To the question how he is doing Mr. G replies all good, he is back in Stockholm for a while and it feels great. The guy asks Per if he has a place to stay in Stockholm. PG tells he has an office and an apartment there. He loves Stockholm and thinks it’s a very nice city. He tells he is so old that he has seen how Stockholm has been changing over the years. It has become a very cool city, much more international than when they were hanging out at Café Opera in 1981. He adds that becoming pop stars in 1980 was awkward. There were gangs who wanted to make jokes of them, e.g. once they got an open can of surströmming in their tour bus.

The guys are talking about the upcoming PG tour. Per tells it’s going to be an unplugged tour. They play the songs in an acoustic arrangement, without drums. He tells that in summer they had 10 concerts at Hotel Tylösand with appr. 480 people sitting in the audience each night, due to the restrictions because of the pandemic. The band was also sitting on stage and it was much fun. Per tells he had never played in such an intimate atmosphere before. They played songs that were quite lyrics-based and he was telling anecdotes in between the songs. It was a new experience for him.

To the question why he wants to be on the road Per replies that in his case it has something to do with the fact that he got hooked to the pop world and pop music when he was 6-7-8 years old. There is an incredibly strong romance in pop culture Per is stuck in. He can’t describe it better. It’s in everything he is doing from when he wakes up and probably also when he is dreaming. He loves everything about pop culture. When he was young it was e.g. the long hair guys had, which might sound a bit ridiculous nowadays that it meant something back then, but it was awesome. Per tells there are many pop nerds out there who won’t become musicians or songwriters, but he ended up in the creative processes. He adds that with Roxette they travelled around the world and there are different religions and cultures all around, but everyone sings It Must Have Been Love, The Look, Listen To Your Heart and Spending My Time. It’s magical to experience it and this connection is simply indescribable.

The program leader lady asks Per what songs he plays on the unplugged tour, if Tycker om när du tar på mej is one of them. Mr. G tells it is and they play mainly Swedish songs, but also a couple of Roxette songs.

The guys are talking about Per’s hairdos and it turns out Per goes to the hairdresser in Stockholm. One of the guys asks Per if there is a style on which he looks back like „what the hell did I think?”. Mr. G tells all hairdos and clothes have something to do with the times you live in. When they started

Roxette, Marie e.g. had red hair and Per had purple hair. It might have been a little odd, one can think now, but it felt hot back then. Old clothes are trendy again, so the ones they bought at Trash and Vaudeville in New York in 1989 are stylish again.

One of the guys asks whether you become less or more conscious over the years. Per says it’s a tough question, but he feels the older he gets the calmer he becomes. Now he doesn’t have to prove anything, but he was under pressure and had performance anxiety when he was 20 years old. He is the ambitious type and he has always been working very intensively to achieve something. Now he still works intensively, but such things don’t bother him anymore.

The lady asks Per if he has written 500 songs. Per says he thinks it’s more, he has 1000 songs registered at STIM.

The guys are talking about how Per grew up. Mr. G tells he had an older brother, Bengt who was 7 years older than Per. In the middle of The Beatles era Bengt and his friends showed Per the true spirit of 60’s pop and that actually became Per’s life. He started writing lists all day. Lists of songs or who played the bass on different songs, he just liked lists. Later, as he got older he sold Christmas magazines and was handing out newspapers. With that he earned 50 öre and he bought a single for that money. He had 100 records in his collection when he was 10 years old. The lady asks if there was any musician in Per’s family. Mr. G says not really, but he heard that his father’s father’s father was a musician. He played the violin.

One of the guys asks PG if the nerd in him has disappeared, maybe now he thinks he is too cool for that. Per laughs and says he has never been cool. The lady says c’mon, he became a world famous pop star already in the 80’s. Per tells when they broke through with Gyllene Tider they all came from the countryside. He came from Halmstad, the other guys from Harplinge and Åled. He only started singing in the band because no one else wanted to. The whole journey of GT was about being lost in the woods, but they were very ambitious, had fun ideas and they were lucky that a guy at EMI in Stockholm liked their song, Billy. One of the program leader guys asks if that guy from EMI went to listen to GT, but Per says it wasn’t him, but Lasse Lindbom who was sent down to Halmstad. Later he became their producer, but at first he wasn’t impressed at all. Per thinks they were a very good band. He still has rehearsal cassettes from 1979-1981. When Per listens to those today, he thinks it was more than OK, it’s rather wow, how damn good they were already then. And they were only 20-year-olds. The arrangement was good and all songs sound quite ready. PG thinks GT is still a fantastic pop band. When they play together there is something special happening. The lady asks if there is a plan for another comeback. Per replies one can never know when it comes to GT.

After playing It Must Have Been Love on the radio, the guys are talking about what this song means to people all around the world. Per thinks it’s amazing and it’s the best thing in his job that you get so much back from those who are listening to your songs. The lady asks about the story of IMHBL. Per tells it started out as a Christmas song. When Roxette recorded their first LP they also wanted to go to other markets, e.g. Germany, which was the biggest market in Europe. Their songs didn’t get airplay, so EMI Germany asked them to write a Christmas song, because maybe with that it would be easier to get airplays. So Per wrote It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted). It was released as a Christmas single in Sweden in 1987 and it became a gold record. The Germans didn’t like the song, so they didn’t release it. The lady says „Germans have no taste” and Per reacts: „it wasn’t me who said that”. They laugh. Mr. G tells that Marie was releasing a solo album then and he was writing songs for the album that became Look Sharp! 3 years later he was asked to write a song for Pretty Woman, but he didn’t have time for that, but they had this Christmas song. They made a new intro to that and changed the lyrics. The guy tells Marie sadly passed away and asks Per what he thinks about when he hears this song nowadays. Anytime Per hears a Roxette song Marie was singing, he is amazed how good she was. She was totally awesome. He remembers the early Roxette days when he heard in the studio what Marie could do with his songs. The idea behind Roxette was that Marie would be the singer and Per the songwriter. Everything he wrote was written for Marie. The Look he also wrote for her, but Marie thought it didn’t suit her style, so in the end Per sang it.

Mr. G tells Marie and he met at the rehearsal studio in Sperlingsholm outside Halmstad. Gyllene Tider and Marie’s band, Strul shared the studio. When Per first saw Marie she was playing the electric piano, she had long brown hair and she was singing fantastically. Per tells Marie’s gang was rather progressive rock, while GT was pop and never wanted to deal with politics. Marie had many sides, she also liked e.g. The Monkees. They became friends and very early, already in 1980 she sang with Gyllene Tider, she was there with GT on TV too. Marie was doing her solo things too with the same producer GT had.

The lady asks Per to talk about the relationship between Marie and him and to tell what Marie meant to him. Mr. G tells he and Marie lived quite intensively together for years, Roxette took all their waking hours from the time they broke through till Marie had her first child. Then she had her second child and then Per also had a son in 1997. Then everything became a bit calmer and they were working together until Marie became ill in 2002. Then they did a comeback in 2009 and toured until 2016. After her illness she became a different Marie, but the band also became different and it changed how they could work in the studio and on tours. On the last tour Marie was sitting on stage, because she couldn’t walk too well. One could see her conditions got worse, but it was she herself who really wanted to tour and work, even if her doctors advised her not to go on tour at all. So they did everything on Marie’s terms. She was the warrior type. She wanted to meet her fans. One of the program leader guys asks Per if he remembers the last time he met Marie. Per says of course he does. Here the program leaders feel they shouldn’t ask more about this topic.

One of the guys asks Per if he has ever met Sir Paul McCartney. Per tells he met Paul when McCartney played at the Apollo Theater in Harlem a couple of years ago. The event was presented by Sirius XM where Per also has a show, Nordic Rox with Sven Lindström since more than 10 years. The guys intervene here and say Howard Stern is also at Sirius XM. Per tells Howard Stern will also appear in his story with Paul. So he goes on with his anecdote. The boss at Sirius XM asked Per if he had ever met Paul and Per said no. So the boss organized a meeting. Per and Åsa and Howard Stern and his wife went to the green room before the concert and had a small talk. There was a photographer too. Suddenly, a door opened and boom, there was Paul McCartney with his thumbs up and said „Hey, fancy a picture anyone?” Per stood there, Åsa stood in the middle, Paul on the other side. Per suddenly felt a hand on his ass and he hoped it was Åsa’s. They laugh. He tells they took that picture, which he still has. After they left, Per asked Åsa if it was her who put her hand on his ass. Åsa said she put one hand on Per’s ass and the other hand on Paul’s to see who had the firmer ass. Paul had it. They laugh. Per says „that’s my wife in a nutshell. She is from Trelleborg.”

The lady tells she heard Per was at Mickey Rourke’s 30th birthday party back in the days and that he was also at Prince’s Paisley Park Studio. She asks about this latter one, how it was. Mr. G tells Prince wasn’t there himself. They went there because they planned to work in the studio. The first thing they saw was a giant white cage with a giant white bird. The studio manager asked „Do you want to see Prince’s private apartment?” They thought why not. The bedroom had a removable roof, so you could see the sky and Prince’s bed was purple of course and it was heartshaped. Regarding the roof the guy says Per must have tested the button and here Mr. G imitates the sound of the moving roof. Haha. The lady asks Per if he saw Prince’s bathroom and PG says he probably did, but he can’t remember and he doesn’t like to lie.

The guys ask Per about a most memorable story that happened to him related to another famous people. Mr. G tells the story that made him very happy. It was when Marie and him were in Amsterdam in 1989 and they were giving an interview. Someone from above shouted „hey man, I love your record!” and it was Tom Petty. Per shouted back something like „we love your record too!”. That meant a lot to Mr. G. Tom Petty is the best, Per thinks.

One of the guys asks Per how it is when Mr. G goes abroad. In Sweden everyone knows him, but how is it abroad? Per says he doesn’t get recognized abroad or if it happens, it’s mainly Swedish people who recognize him. He tells it’s quite calm in Sweden nowadays, he is most often recognized in Halmstad of course, when e.g. he fuels the car. As a last anecdote, PG tells that appr. half year ago he was walking on Storgatan in Stockholm and a 40-year-old woman asked him if she could take a selfie with Mr. G. He said OK and while they were taking the selfie, two 12-13-year-old boys were passing by, looked suspiciously at Per and asked him if he is famous. Per said how come they didn’t recognize him, he is Foppa (Peter Forsberg, famous Swedish ice hockey player). The kids were like „whaaat?!” and so Per signed their backpacks as “Foppa”. The guys are laughing at the fact that PG didn’t write Foppa on a paper that can be thrown away, but on expensive backpacks. Per laughs and says it was the boys’ punishment. Haha.

At the end the guy asks Per if he has the photo with Paul McCartney on his phone, but Mr. G tells the photo is in his office.

The guys thank PG for coming and Per tells „my pleasure”.

Stills are from the Foppa story video on Morgonpasset i P3’s Instagram.