Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – January 2024

Per Gessle and Sven Lindström wish you a happy new year with the January episode of Nordic Rox. PG is curious if Sven had a great New Year’s Eve. Sven thinks so and wants to know if Per had a great one. Mr. G says he can’t remember his NYE, but it was probably good. Haha. Obviously, they had recorded this show much before.

The guys chose to kick off Nordic Rox 2024 with a trip to their brothers in Denmark. Danish band The Raveonettes has it’s special this time. It’s one of Per’s personal favourite band, he thinks they are really cool. Sven thinks they had a base in the States for a couple of years and were produced by pop legend Richard Gottehrer. Per adds Richard produced so many amazing records over the years, e.g. The Go-Go’s debut album and also My Boyfriend’s Back by The Angels. [Here Per sings a line: My boyfriend’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble.] That’s a wonderful song, he thinks. Richard formed a record label Sire Records with Seymour Stein. He also produced I Want Candy by The Strangeloves. Sven says they are going to end up talking more about Richard Gottehrer than they speak about The Raveonettes and that’s an insult, so they are going to restrain themselves and get the show started.

The first track on the program is a brand new song, All Day Long from a Swedish band, The Royal Concept. The next one is Unseen Footage From A Forthcoming Funeral by Nicole Sabouné. A good and long song title it is, according to Per. It’s written by Nicole and Ola Salo from The Ark. A good track.

Then comes Fool by Roxette. Sven jokes that Per is sitting right beside him trying to remember this song. Mr. G laughs and says it’s from the Room Service album, which they recorded in 2000 at the old ABBA studio in Stockholm, the Polar Studios that doesn’t exist anymore. It was the last album they did before Marie got ill in 2002. Per remembers it fondly. It was a great album, a fun album to make. Still sounds good today, Sven adds. PG says they worked with an amazing engineer and a mixing guy called Ronny Lahti, who he has been working with so many times ever since. He is still around and he is just doing amazing work all the time. He made this album sound terrific, Per thinks.

Before The Raveonettes special is coming up, there comes a favourite track of Per. The guys play the Deportees who made a song together with Sarah Klang, who is one of PG’s favourite Swedish singers. This song, Lost You For A While is just amazing according to Mr. G. It’s fom the Deportees’ latest album People Are A Foreign Country. The band is from the north of Sweden, but they are… Sven finishes the sentence: „they are good anyway”. Per laughs: „You said that, I didn’t”. The guys are laughing.

The next song is Dead Of Night by the Dead Express from the album Brain Damage from 2019. It sounds amazing according to Mr. G. Garage rock always makes you get your vibes together, Sven says.

Now the guys get down to The Raveonettes. A great little band, according to PG, quite heavily influenced by The Jesus and Mary Chain. You hear that once in a while. Per thinks they are really cool and they have done some great songs. They kicked off in the early noughties. Sven and Per play one of the tracks from the first album called Whip It On, just to give a taste of what to expect. Attack Of The Ghost Riders.

The second Raveonettes song is Per’s favourite, She Owns The Streets. It’s from a later album called Observator, released in 2012. Mr. G shares the info if you don’t know it, The Raveonettes is a duo consisting of Sune Rose Wagner on vocals and guitar and Sharon Foo on vocals and guitar. One guy and one girl. Sven says they have an amazing background. They were recording stuff and then they heard about the Rolling Stone editor David Fricke that he was going to visit a Danish music festival and they decided to go there to play the festival in order for him to see them and possibly write about them, which he did. That sort of opened a few doors for them. They got Richard Gottehrer, the pop legend to produce them. Per thinks it’s a great band and he longs for listening to She Owns The Streets. Sven says it’s a slightly different area they are moving into, some hazy, wonderful pop dreamy stuff. Per loves that song. It sounds like a mix between the surf sound and Link Wray. They could be in any Quentin Tarantino movie. Sven agrees and says they could as well cover for The Everly Brothers if they got sick and somebody had to go on the road to replace them, especially in this upcoming song Here Comes Mary. It’s taken from their second full length album called Pretty In Black. It came out rather early in their career, in 2005. Per thinks it’s a great album produced by Richard Gottehrer. It’s amazingly Everly Brothers sound alike, the harmonies are sort of similar.

The last song from The Raveonettes is from an album Per can’t pronounce, Pe’ahi. That’s Hawaiian for you, Sven says. It’s a big surf break also called Jaws, the Jaws beach, Sven informs. He has been there, just looking, not surfing. He did surf on Hawaii 10 years ago or so, but that was absolute beginner’s surf. Per asks Sven if he was on the water. Sven says yes and laughs, because Per looks so impressed. PG laughs too and says he is stunned and shocked. PG thinks this last song, Endless Sleeper is a good example of what The Raveonettes is about. It’s sort of darkish, Doorsish combined with surf music. A very interesting and creative combination. The intro always makes Sven think of Break On Through by The Doors.

After The Raveonettes special Per sneaks in another song of his. It’s just because it was just released. This is the B side of a vinyl single that PG made a couple of weeks ago. It was an homage to a very big Swedish artist called Pugh Rogefeldt, who unfortunately died a couple of months ago. The B side is in English, so that’s why he thought it was cool to play it on Nordic Rox. It’s a song he always liked. Per recorded it the first time in 2006. It was released 2007 in Swedish, but then PG did an additional version a couple of years ago in English. The single is available on Spotify and everywhere, but Per’s intention was to make a vinyl single anyway. He likes vinyl singles. Sven says they are still having a market, but if you are going to buy a vinyl album today, you really have to fork it up. Per agrees, it’s very expensive, but it’s worth it. Mr. G belongs to that generation who really miss the album sleeves. The face of the music is the cover, don’t forget that. Sven says they are sitting in Per’s library and there are some vinyl albums here, but he doubts that it’s all of Per’s collection. PG says it’s most of his collection. He got rid of a couple of thousands albums a couple of years ago. Gifts from record labels and friends and stuff, records that didn’t really mean anything to him. So he kept only the stuff that he really likes, which is about 1500-2000 albums. Sven asks Per if they are going to follow him down into his grave. Per laughs and says most likely, he thinks so. Then, like in 3000 years, they are going to dig up the grave and find the vinyl albums and Per’s teeth. Sven says it’s an interesting thought. The guys are laughing. The song they play is If I Knew Then (What I Know Now).

The next song is Bang-A-Boomerang by ABBA, then comes Primitiv by Wilmer X, Nothing Out There by Alberta Cross and Shoreline, a great song by Broder Daniel from Gothenburg.

That wraps up Nordic Rox and the guys say goodbye. Cigarettes by Anita Lindblom closes the show, as usual.

Still is from a Sirius XM video recording a couple of years ago.

Thanks for your support, Sven!

Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – December 2023

Per Gessle and Sven Lindström say hi in the December episode of Nordic Rox from Per’s garage. They are in garage rock mood. Sven says the difference between normal garage and rock garage is that here they are surrounded by Ferraris. Per laughs and asks Sven what kind of car he drives. Sven drives a more humble car, a Volkswagen. He doesn’t know if he can get paid for mentioning the brand name on radio, because this is a commercial free station. PG says Volkswagen is pretty good, his first car was a Volkswagen back in the ’70s. An orange Passat. Sven says he saw some pictures.

Getting back to the garage rock topic, Sven says they are celebrating the return of The Hives. Per thinks they are an excellent band. The guys will have a closer look at their new album, The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons and play a few songs from that one. It’s the first album in 11 years so it’s a blast, but before that they play some other good looking music. They start off with Planet Earth Through A Stethoscope by Ebbot Lundberg from his new EP.

The next song is Joyride by Roxette and then comes Young, Handsome & Fast by Teddybears. After these songs, Sven and Per talk about the Roxette musical. Per says they just announced that there will be an opening of the Roxette musical called Joyride – The Musical in September 2024. Sven is curious if Per can say anything already now about what to expect. PG says it’s a musical based on a book written by an amazing English writer called Jane Fallon. The book is called Got You Back. It’s a feel-good sort of musical and Per is very proud to be part of it. It’s a great legacy of the Roxette songs. Mr. G feels very optimistic and positive about the whole thing. It’s been in the can for a couple of years actually, he says. Lots of people have approached them over the years to do musicals, but it always ended with they didn’t like the script. But this time around, since it’s based on this book and the book is really cool, it just fits the whole thing. PG: „I think. I hope. I wish.” He laughs. It premieres in September 2024 in Malmö, Sweden. Sven says there is gonna be a rush of Roxette fans entering Malmö. Per says it’s gonna be 74 shows in Malmö and after that they move to Stockholm probably and then of course they try to go international. Mamma Mia needs some competition, the guys are laughing.

The next track is Conquer Or Suffer by Nicole Sabouné from her Must Exist album. Let The Good Times In by The Royal Concept is next. Normal Bias by Love People is also played. A brand new, excellent track, Sven thinks.

The guys are ready to go deep down into the garage. To The Hives’ new album. But before playing anything from that album, they kick off with an older track to get you in the right mood. Sven asks Per if he remembers hearing The Hives for the first time. The first song PG heard from them was Hate To Say I Told You So. It was just amazing. Since Per is an MC5 fan, it can’t go wrong. What really sort of knocked you out is when you saw The Hives live, PG adds. Pelle Almqvist is just an amazing performer and the band looks really cool. They are one-of-a-kind. Still are. They took everything a bit further than anyone else you’ve seen or heard, Sven adds. As soon as they got strong material they got some hits and they got some really great records. And they made it basically everywhere in the world where anyone remotely is interested in rock’n’roll. They guys kick off with Walk, Idiot Walk from the Tyrannosaurus Hives album released in 2004.

Taking a look at the new album, The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons, Sven is wondering who Randy Fitzsimmons is. Per doesn’t know, but if you check out the copyrights of The Hives records, he has written all the songs, so he must be someone. Or maybe it’s just fake. The guys are laughing. Sven says he is rumored as well according to The Hives mythology to have started the band. He is a mysterious, fantasy figure we could guess, but if we had a closer look at today’s songwriters of The Hives, Per realized that there were four Fitzsimmons, four persons with Fitzsimmons as the last name. It’s 11 years since the last album they made, so things change in a decade. It’s still a riddle surrounded by a mystery wrapped up in an enigma, this Randy Fitzsimmons, Sven says. Per thinks it’s a great album. Talking about the music, it’s very much The Hives. Raw, funny, direct and inventive as well. Trapdoor Solution is a one minute and three seconds long song. That makes you think of Ramones. Close to the edge. Per thinks it’s a fun track and it sums up The Hives in the modern age.

Before the guys continue with the second part of The Hives special, they take a short break with some mellow sounds from Gothenburg, Sweden. Midnight Prayer by Bad Cash Quartet is next, a track from 2003.

Digging deeper into the new album of The Hives, Per says his favourite song from the album comes now. It’s called Countdown To Shutdown. Great bass playing, a great song and a great attitude. The countdown to shutdown has begun, which means the guys keep quiet and listen to the song.

Per asks Sven if he is still alive. Sven says he is getting electrocuted by The Hives. A fantastic title is coming up, Rigor Mortis Radio. Per thinks it’s a very cool song from the new album. The Hives are actually touring South America and next summer they will be touring the States supporting Green Day and Foo Fighters. They are busier than ever. They are gonna play the big stadiums, so check them out if you can because they are one of the best bands ever on stage in Per’s opinion. Sven believes PG is right. They are really getting it together in the studio as well, but it is something else to see them live.

The next song is a giant step for Nordic Rox, a lesser step for the rest of humankind, Sven says. They give a Swedish lesson and play a song in Swedish by a great guy who is unfortunately not with us anymore, Magnus Lindberg. Magnus was a prominent figure in the late ’70s. He transferred himself to a new wave artist, like many others, but he was more of a singer-songwriter originally, with a little bit of a country touch. The song the guys play is from 1981. It’s the title track from the album called Röda läppar, which translates into Red Lips. That’s all the help you’re going to get for the Swedish lesson and from now on, you’ll be on your own with Magnus Lindberg, Sven says.

The next song is Belly Shots by Sarah Klang from her recent album Mercedes. Per finds it wonderful and thinks she is amazing. Sven thinks she is a very cool, great, rather new artist and Mercedes is a great album.

Now the guys go quite a distance from Sarah and play a song Ain’t Coming Home by The Sewergrooves from the album Revelation Time. It’s a really great, gross stumper, Sven thinks. Godspell by The Cardigans is next from the Super Extra Gravity album. With this the show ends and the guys say goodbye.

Cigarettes by Anita Lindblom closes the show, as usual.

Photo by Anders Roos (2019)

Thanks for your support, Sven!

Our most diligent world star – Per Gessle portrait interview by Senioren magazine

Per Gessle is one of Sweden’s most successful artists and songwriters. He always has something going on. This summer he was on tour with Gyllene Tider, now he is working on a new solo album. Roxette’s music is to become a musical and a movie is being shot about Gyllene Tider. Deep inside, he hopes for some more world tour as well.

Ulrika Palmcrantz from Senioren magazine meets Per at home in their large apartment in Stockholm. Upstairs, the one that counts as the “office”. When you go up here with the elevator, Per has to push the button. If you press the button in the elevator yourself, nothing happens.

We had to put up a lattice gate in the stairwell, because Roxette fans used to come here and sleep on the stairs.

he says, smiling.

He is kindness itself. If someone wants to take a selfie with him when he’s out in town or just express their love for his music, he almost always stops for a moment. Now he has set the table with coffee mugs, cookies and a box of After Eight.

I thought it might be suitable when Senioren comes to visit, he laughs. I was going to buy Bridge Blanding too, it’s actually my favourite sweets!

Actually, he has not moved to Stockholm from Halmstad, where he lives most of the time.

No, I’m only here for a couple of days, we haven’t really moved yet.

Halmstad is still what he counts as his primary residence. He and Åsa have their house there, there is the car collection with a large number of Ferraris – the largest part of it can now be admired in a side building to Hotel Tylösand of which Per is the largest owner.

And old friend Mats MP Persson has the studio where Gyllene Tider sometimes comes together and plays. Like before the Hux Flux tour this summer. Actually, they had been out on a farewell tour and 40th anniversary already in 2019. But then the pandemic came and everything became so sad and boring, Per thought. He got a new guitar and so “there were some new songs”.

That’s how it often happens. Rarely has a year or even a few months gone by without something happening with his music. First it was Gyllene Tider, which had its heydays in the early ’80s, then Roxette with Marie Fredriksson from the mid-80s right up until 2016. A huge success with 75 million records sold, world tours and four No. 1 songs on the US Billboard – to compare with ABBA that actually only had one. And in between a successful solo career. Plus he wrote loads of songs for other artists. It seems that both the words and the melodies just flow out of him.

Usually it just comes to me. It can be a word or maybe a piece of melody that pops into my head and then I spin on it.

Sometimes it happens when he’s sitting here on the sofa with the guitar. Sometimes when he’s out walking. It can be anytime and anywhere. But rarely before a set deadline.

No, I can’t have deadlines or a lot of times to fit in, it doesn’t work.

Creativity must be allowed to live its own life, which it does to the highest degree. Should things ever go slower, he has tricks to use. Like getting a new guitar. Or sit down at the piano for a while.

He cannot imagine to stop writing music and being on stage. Music is his life and always has been and when the inspiration is there he is extremely productive. For example, he wrote Joyride and Spending My Time on the same day. Joyride began with his wife Åsa leaving a note on the grand piano where she wrote: “Hello, you fool, I love you!” He had read an interview with Paul McCartney who described songwriting with Lennon as a long “joyride”. Together it became the chorus: “Hello, you fool, I love you, c’mon join the joyride”.

I work well together with those I have worked with for a long time too, like the Gyllene Tider gang. We have so much fun and creativity when we beam together. Nowadays it becomes like a “project” when we do it because it’s not ongoing all the time. But we’ve known each other since we were barely twenty and know exactly how each works. We are five completely different people, yet it works so well.

He says he wishes all young people could experience the feeling of being in a band and playing music together. How magically fun it is, both with the music and with the community that arises.

But I think that those of us who grew up with ’60s-’90s music had a golden window. Then there was room for personal music. Now everything is more similar. It’s just like cars, they all look the same now. Pop music reflects its time to a great extent. Today you can’t release a Sgt. Pepper and the whole world is listening. Hey Jude, it’s seven minutes long. Nobody listens to a seven-minute-long song anymore.

Much has been written about Per’s enormous music career both as a solo artist and with Gyllene Tider and Roxette. But he has managed to keep his private life pretty well under wraps.

I keep myself quite private, that’s how it is. I’m not the type who appears on TV shows like Stjärnorna på slottet or Så mycket bättre. Above all, because I can’t imagine living with people I don’t know for six weeks on Gotland. There is no value in that. It just doesn’t suit me.

I’m actually not super social. At least not when I compare myself to some others. Like my wife, for example. She always talks to everyone when we meet new people while I sit in a corner.

As a child, he was a loner, “fat and with ugly glasses” as he himself describes it. Early on, it was music that dominated his existence. Every penny he came across he spent on records. As a ten-year-old, he already had about a hundred. He wrote his first song as a 7-year-old and became really musically active in his teens. The Beatles and Hep Stars were his big favourites. Father Kurt, mother Elisabeth and sister Gunilla, who was 14 years older, did not directly share his interest in music. But his seven years older brother Bengt liked to listen to music and had many good records in his room. He became a bit of a gateway into the magical world of music for Per.

Sometimes I had to buy a few records from him if he wanted money for cigarettes. He also had an acoustic guitar, but it was out of tune. But in 1976, my mother bought me a nylon-string guitar. It cost SEK 1,800, which was a lot of money back then.

I sat in my room and practiced and practiced. I learned chords but I couldn’t read sheet music. I still can’t.

When he turned 15, he had to choose between getting a used moped or a used stereo. An easy choice for a guy who mostly sat at home with his records and headphones, listening to music and writing lists. Lists of songs, but it could also be about sports. Who scored in the TV puck, for example.

But the world of pop attracted him the most.

In the pop world there was everything that was not in the real world. It was probably inside my head that I lived most of my life during this time.

Weeks before Per was to graduate, his father Kurt died. He was the one who was most skeptical about Per’s music.

Ironically, dad died on the same day that Mats Olsson wrote about Gyllene Tider in Expressen, the first article about us. Mom said she didn’t think he’d let me do music full-time if he lived, but I don’t know. Dad was a plumber, grandfather too. They came from a completely different world.

That you could make a living from music was not something dad Kurt believed in. Per and Åsa were almost as questioning at first when their son Gabriel, now 26 and a computer scientist, said he was going to move to Spain and compete in e-sports.

We were against it at first. Play video games? But then it hit us that we were just like our parents had been and then it was just: Let him go!

Although Per describes himself as “not super social”, he still loves when things happen. Standing in front of an audience of between 60-80,000, as it could be during Roxette’s world tours in the ’90s, gives him a kick.

When we broke through and it started to get big, I felt a big “wow!”, while I think Marie felt more a “help!” I was triggered by the success and just wanted to write more and more songs. But both Marie and I agreed that we did not want to move to the United States. The record company tried to get us to move there or at least to London, but we didn’t want to. We wanted to work with those we had always worked with here at home.

Just when Roxette was planning a major European tour in 2002, Marie Fredriksson learned that she had suffered from a malignant brain tumor. It was a long break for Roxette, where Per instead released his fourth solo record and went on tour with Gyllene Tider. In 2009, Marie was back and they set off on a world tour. Roxette’s comeback tour lasted until 2016.

The whole trip we did with Roxette was fantastic. What Marie and I got to experience was completely unique and I’m so happy about it. Nothing has affected me like the time with Roxette. In a way, that was my destiny.

When he stands on stage today as a 60-plus years old and sings songs he wrote as a 20-year-old, he realizes that the lyrics are about exactly the same feelings he has today.

Although you choose a different language when you are younger. But a lot of the early songs are awesome and I couldn’t have written them today. But I’m a better composer and musician today. I was nervous throughout the ’80s on stage. It’s not the same today.

The constant battle for him when he performs, not least with Gyllene Tider, is that he likes to play new songs while the crowd wants all the old hits.

I think all slightly older artists recognize that. But there is of course something nice in the fact that you realize that the songs meant something to others.

He doesn’t feel any anxiety about getting older.

No, I think things will be as they are. I’ve always liked achieving goals, I’m a Capricorn! But often I have been surprised and frustrated when you reach the goal and realize that after that comes only a kind of emptiness. It won’t be any different, life is just as usual. I was quite old before I realized that this was the way it was.

He takes care of his health reasonably well, even if exercise is not very high on the list of interests.

I go for walks and since I got a frozen shoulder a while ago, I do a 15-minute exercise every day, some kind of Pilates stretching.

Otherwise, it’s music that counts, still and always.

I think it’s actually the most fun now. Gyllene Tider has never been as good as this summer.

He would actually think it would be fun to do another world tour as well. At the same time, he will start drawing a pension from next year when he turns 65.

Yes, I have to do that, isn’t it time for it?

he says, flashing one of his many smiles again.

Facts about Per Gessle

Age: 64

Family: Wwife Åsa and son Gabriel, 26 years old.

Lives: House in Halmstad and apartment in Stockholm.

What he is doing: Artist and songwriter. Has three legs in his huge career: Gyllene Tider, Roxette and a solo career.

Currently reading: Niklas Strömstedt’s biography. “It’s brand new.” A biography of Michael Caine. “I like biographies.”

Listening to: American singer Weyes Blood, the bands Cigarettes After Sex and Goldfrapp. “Then I always go back to my old favourites. Tom Petty is my house god! I have made a playlist on Spotify called Easy listening according to Per Gessle. It is growing all the time…”

Lennon or McCartney: Both! They are best when they are together.

Dreaming of: A little sense and common sense on this planet. And maybe another world tour!

Other: Has a large Ferrari collection in Tylösand, owns 17 cars. Is No. 1 on Ferrari’s Nordic list of customers.

Actualities: In 2024 there will be both a Roxette musical based on the book Got You Back by Jane Fallon (premiere in the fall of 2024 at Malmö Opera) and a movie about Gyllene Tider. In addition, a new solo album is coming…

Per’s 5 favourites from his own songs

* Vid hennes sida
* Tycker om när du tar på mej
* Flickan i en Cole Porter-sång
* Spending My Time
* The Look

Per’s 5 favourites from other artists’ songs

* God Only Knows – The Beach Boys (which I always tried to play on the guitar at home in my room)
* Here, There and Everywhere – The Beatles
* American Girl – Tom Petty (My house god!)
* Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks (Damn, how old I am!)
* Bird On The Wire – Leonard Cohen (The world’s most amazing artist!)
* But now I forgot Burt Bacharach, what a songwriter!

Manager Marie Dimberg

I first met Per in 1984. I worked at his record company then and we were introduced to each other at Café Opera. I remember that I said that I came from Jönköping and he replied that “we hillbillies must stick together”. He is a very positive person, cheerful and extremely professional. Great at writing, not just lyrics, a real language equilibrist. And dedicated in everything he does!

Mats MP Persson, guitarist in Gyllene Tider

Per and I have known each other since we were 16-17 years old. We both had a bit of a crazy sense of humor, then I played drums in a band and Per thought it sounded exciting. We started to skip school and spend more and more time on music. Even then he was a bit of an entrepreneurial guy, setting up plans and goals in a way that I didn’t. We know each other inside out and don’t always need to talk to understand what the other wants.

All text is written by Ulrika Palmcrantz for Senioren magazine in Swedish. Here it is a translation by RoxBlog.

He is Halmstad! – Per Gessle is awarded the cultural prize of Halmstad municipality

Halmstad municipality’s cultural prize 2023 goes to Per Gessle. This was decided by the cultural committee at its meeting on 30th November. A grateful Per Gessle says that he is especially happy to have inspired others to create music.

Halmstad Municipality’s cultural prize has been awarded since 1967. This year the prize sum is SEK 30,000 and 55 cultural actors were nominated by the public.

This time, the cultural committee chose to praise a super-famous songwriter and artist who has been of enormous importance to the municipality for more than half a century and is still relevant.

Per Gessle says:

Many thanks for this great prize. It has been a long journey for me in the wonderful world of music. In the ’60s in front of the gramophone. In the ’70s in front of the microphone and in the rehearsal studio. Then it got rolling. Extra lovely if I and all my collaborators have succeeded in inspiring and engaging other people to fantasize, create and be creative. Nice. Thank you so much.

The cultural committee’s justification:

Per Gessle is the recipient of the Cultural Prize 2023. The Culture Committee considers this musician to be equal to Halmstad. He started his career by entertaining and playing at nursing homes and hospitals in the municipality and has since contributed to making Halmstad a music metropolis. We don’t think there is anyone in the municipality or in the country who can’t hum at least one of Per Gessle’s songs. He is a cultural personality who created an incredible song catalogue, and lyrics that have the ability to evoke all emotions at once.

Per Gessle is one of Sweden’s most successful artists and songwriters. He started writing songs as a child, breaking through with Gyllene Tider from 1978 and continued the successes with the duo Roxette, formed in 1986.

At the moment, among other things, he is involved with a newly written book about Gyllene Tider, a film about the same band with a premiere in the summer of 2024, and a newly written musical based on Roxette’s songs that will be staged at Malmö Opera with a premiere in the fall of 2024.

Per Gessle has always been loyal to his home municipality and he has received a number of awards. Among other things, he became an honorary citizen of Halmstad Municipality in 2007.

Facts regarding Halmstad municipality’s cultural award:

  • The prize sum this year is SEK 30,000.
  • This year, 55 different cultural actors were nominated by the public.
  • The prize is awarded in December each year to a person, group or organization that is recognized for particularly valuable contributions in the field of culture. The prize winner must be active in the municipality of Halmstad or, through their activities, have or had a close connection to the municipality.
  • The culture award is one of three different awards and scholarships awarded by the cultural committee in Halmstad municipality.

Photo by Anders Roos

Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – November 2023

Per Gessle and Sven Lindström recorded this episode of Nordic Rox on a sunny day in Halmstad. Sven says it’s like an eternal summer, this summer refused to go anywhere. PG says it disappeared in July though. It was raining for 4 weeks. Sven forgot about it, but now they think the weather is great.

The guys decided to combine the good looking music thing with some Swedish lessons and dedicate this show to a band from Stockholm, Reeperbahn. They are from the late ’70s, early ’80s. A great, very influential band. They were singing in Swedish and they came out of the punk thing like everyone in the late ’70s more or less did. Then they added some pop stuff and a bit of harder rock as well. It was like a mix between the new wave thing and Talking Heads, Television, that American sort of wave style.

But before getting down to Reeperbahn, Sven wants to kick off Nordic Rox with one of his absolute favourite tunes by a band called Roxette. Per says Sven embarrasses him and he is curious why Sven likes this coming song. Sven thinks it’s a power pop masterpiece and his advice to Per is „don’t write anything else, just keep on writing this song over and over again”. They are talking about She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Per says it’s a pretty unusual track, because the guys who play on it are actually his old Swedish band. So it sounds a little bit more like Gyllene Tider than it sounds like Roxette. Sven agrees and says PG seemed to be on fire back then. He came back with Gyllene Tider in 1996. Mr. G shares the detail that the song starts off with his brand new Harley-Davidson engine getting started up.

Holiday Inn by Adiam Dymott is next. Then comes (I’m Gonna) Kick You Out by the Caesars from 1998. Sven thinks it’s really cool, some ’90s stuff there and a bit of garage rock from the ’60s. Per likes this band a lot too, they have some great songs. One of them is Jerk It Out, PG adds. You can go back in their catalogue and find one diamond after the other, Sven says.

Sven thinks it’s time to check out Lambretta. Per thinks that Bimbo by Lambretta is an amazing piece of pop music. It’s co-written by Max Martin before he became this huge LA producer and writer. He did a lot of cool stuff in Sweden and this is one of Per’s favourite tracks. Hardcore pop, Sven thinks.

Then comes I Waited For You by Daniel Norgren. A wonderful track according to Sven.

Here starts the Reeperbahn special. Per thinks it’s a very cool band from Stockholm. He remembers they made an EP in 1980, which was the same year when Gyllene Tider released their debut album. GT just got a recording deal with EMI Records and Per listened to this EP from Reeperbahn and it sounded so much better than GT did. The guys are laughing. The sound and the whole vibe of the record was just amazing, Per thinks. For a couple of years, PG thought they were really outstanding. Sven agrees. They had a rather short career and really made an impression when they came out. The guys start with one of Reeperbahn’s early tracks called Lycklig. Sven asks Per to translate the title. It’s pretty simple to translate that into „happy”. The first two albums the band made, the bass player and songwriter Dan Sundquist was still in the band. He wrote most of the songs together with lead singer and guitarist Olle Ljungström. When Dan left the group after two albums, it became a slightly different band. Dan went on to become a very successful producer in his own right. He still is very active and still he’s got a lot of Grammys and stuff like that in Sweden. The guys play Lycklig and Sven says, a still impressed Per Gessle is glued to the radio. They are laughing.

Sven and PG talk about the band name. It obviously comes from this famous notorious street in Hamburg, Germany. Where Sven spent his youth, Per says. Haha. Sven wishes he did, because The Beatles went there in August 1960. He can’t remember the exact date, but that was their first gig outside England. It was at The Star-Club. That was where legend was made. Sven thinks that without The Beatles, the band wouldn’t have named themselves Reeperbahn. Per thinks so too. The next song is from their second album, Venuspassagen. The track is called Kalla kriget, which translates to the Cold War. Sven says there is a slight improvement in sound. He remembers when this album came out, he thought it sounded fabulous. It does, Per agrees. Sven is not sure about it, but he thinks they produced themselves, Dan Sundquist probably already then being quite handy in the studio. PG says, this was a time in pop music in Sweden where you could really hear the difference if you compared Swedish recordings to English recordings, before the digital era, so to speak. Most of the stuff made in Sweden sounded shit, very dull. Not counting ABBA, because ABBA always sounded great, but they were in a different league. Some bands like Ebba Grön, they had this great album with the song 800°C on it and it sounded amazing. And this album, Venuspassagen, sounded truly amazing as well. These are exceptions from the rule. Sven likes the whole Venuspassagen album. It’s terrific and varied. The quirky new wave stuff combined with straight ahead power pop.

Per introduces the next song from 1980, which was the first song that he heard from Reeperbahn. It’s called Inget, which means „nothing”. Here you can hear the influence from The Clash, the London Calling album. It sounds great and it’s a great pop track.

The guys are approaching the end of this magic moment, because they got the final track here by Reeperbahn in today’s special. They picked only songs from the first era of the band, when Dan Sundquist was still a member. This is actually the final single while he was a part of the band. It’s from 1982. They made a collection of the singles, sort of a greatest hits album. Per says Dansar was the single to promote the compilation album. The title means „dancing”. Sven finds it interesting that Per came out on the scene with Gyllene Tider basically around the same time as Reeperbahn did. They were both part of the Swedish new wave. Sven is curious if Per remembers thinking of Reeperbahn as fierce competition. PG says GT were hillbillies, they came from a small town on the West Coast and Reeperbahn were from Stockholm, so they were much hipper than GT. Mr. G remembers they were on the same show on TV, but it was a different planet. Nevertheless, he liked them a lot. Sven says they were too cool for school. The guys play Dansar, the final track before Dan Sundquist left the band and they started slightly moving downhill. This was the peak, but then they made two more albums before disappearing from this stage.

The guys continue with some more Swedish stuff. Per says, here is a great guy called Magnus Lindberg with a song called Röda läppar, which translates into „red lips”.

Vulture Feet by Sahara Hotnights is next. Then it’s The Wannadies’ turn with Skin. The wrap-up track is Fare Thee Well, a beautiful song by Susanne Sundfør from Norway. She is an amazing artist, Per thinks. She started out as a singer-songwriter and has done so many different things, jazz stuff and working with Röyksopp, techno stuff as well. She has an amazing voice.

The guys thank you for listening. Cigarettes by Anita Lindblom closes the show, as usual.

Photo by Anders Roos (2019)

Thanks for your support, Sven!