Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – June 2024

Per Gessle and Sven Lindström do the final countdown of their favourite Swedish and Scandinavian songs from the ’60s in the June episode of Nordic Rox. Now they list the Top 5 songs. Per says it’s a wonderful chart, he is really proud of it.

The guys say they also have some new material just released, pop-rock sounds from the Nordic countries. But first, they go back to the Swedish ’90s and check out a band called Gyllene Tider. Per says he has heard about them. Haha. Sven explains this is Per Gessle’s Swedish power pop group. They started in the late ’70s. The song they play is from 1994, 1995 maybe. PG wrote it while touring with Roxette. He wrote it in a backstage area in Tokyo, Japan, because Gyllene Tider was supposed to release a compilation album of all their hits and they needed some new tracks. So he wrote this one for the band and when he returned from Asia, he recorded it and it became a big song for them. Sven confirms it was a massive hit and totally right with the times. It paved the way for the Gyllene Tider comeback. They had been sleeping for a couple of years. Per says GT broke up in the mid ’80s and then he started to focus on Roxette for many years. Then Gyllene Tider made a comeback in 1996, mainly because of this song and also because of the old hits that had become very popular again with the new generation growing up. Timeless pop, you know what it’s like. Sven knows exactly what it sounds like, they are going to play it now. Det är över nu, translating to „it’s over now”. Strange title for a song to open a show, Sven thinks, but there you go, that’s Nordic Rox for you. Benjamin Button, Per says. Haha.

The next song they play is The Golden Age by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour from their debut album called Fruit. It’s one of Sven’s favourite bands from Denmark in the noughties.

Coming next is Crystal Heart by Kye Kepler. Per asks Sven if he knows anything about Mr. Kepler. Sven says he seems to be an interesting guy. His real name is Max Borglowe. He seems to be a multi-instrumentalist and a producer. He is also a 3D artist and when he is not making guitar pedals, he is busy writing songs and getting atmospheric synthesizer sounds together. Busy guy.

Coming up next another band that Per has got some association with, Eskobar. They were a special guest on Roxette’s final European tour in 2015. They were opening up for Roxette at 33, 34 shows all over Europe. Per thinks it’s a great band, he always liked them a lot. The song they play is a collaboration with Heather Nova, Someone New. Sven says it was a big hit for them. Heather Nova, interestingly enough, was born in 1967 in the Caribbean, where her parents sailed around on their own sailboat. She grew up there in the ’70s and part of the ’80s. Whereas Eskobar, they grew up in a suburb outside of Stockholm. That’s the way life goes.

Live Again by Goldielocks, a Finnish band of which the guys don’t know that much, but they like the song. They are going to see if they can research and check them out in future shows.

Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John is next. Per thinks it’s a wonderful song from 2006. Sven says it was a major hit in America. Slightly underground growing. It’s still played today, especially here on Nordic Rox. This song features whistling and Per is not a stranger to whistling. Mr. G says he was always a big whistler. He whistled on the Joyride track and some other songs. He can’t do it anymore, though, because he changed his teeth. It’s part of history, Sven says. Yeah, so Per needs sample sounds. Sven informs that when the Joyride album or single came out, the vinyl version had a sort of writing by the label saying, „was it really necessary to whistle?”. Sven asks Per to share the story behind that. Mr. G says it was one of their agents who didn’t like Per’s whistling. He said, „was it really necessary to whistle?” and they all thought that was hilarious, because that was like the big hook in that song. So when they pressed the vinyl single, they engraved „was it really necessary to whistle?” just where the label starts. You could do those things with vinyls. Sven thinks the agent would probably have said the same thing about Young Folks. Per agrees.

Now the final five songs on the ’60s list are coming. It’s been really tricky to pick out the top five spots, Per thinks, because there are so many favourites of theirs. No. 5 is Ola & The Janglers from Stockholm with a song called Alex Is The Man, from the album Limelight, written by guitar player Claes af Geijerstam in 1966, which was a great year for pop music. Sven laughs. Per explains they always have this argument about which is the best year in pop music: 1966 or 1965 or the outsider, 1971. Sven says, as most people would agree, 1965, of course. Per says, no, no, no, no, no. Haha. The discussion is ongoing.

The next band on the list is from Stockholm called the Mascots. It’s one of the guys’ favourite groups. They had a song called Words Enough To Tell You. Per thinks it’s a great band and they have great songs. A Sad Boy, is their best song according to PG. He thinks it’s really beautiful. Sven agrees. It’s a melancholy minor song tune. And it’s on an album called Your Mascots. The song is from 1965. Not a bad year for pop music, Per says. Haha. This argument will never end.

The guys stay in Stockholm for the third band, maybe the biggest of all the Swedish ’60s band, the Hep Stars. Per says the band is featuring Benny Andersson on keyboards. He was one of the founders of ABBA. He wrote this song, Sunny Girl. If you have a screen available, you can see the album cover, Sven says. Up there in the left corner is a very young Benny Andersson. Sven what better song to follow a song called A Sad Boy than a Sunny Girl, Sven laughs. Per says you can actually hear the trademarks of Benny Andersson’s songwriting here, which he sort of developed, of course, when the ABBA thing happened in the ’70s. He’s got this wonderful knack of putting a great melody together. And it’s not like what you expect all the time. He does his own thing. Sven says Benny’s keyboard gives this song the baroque pop feeling to it. Sven thinks Sunny Girl was another level of Swedish pop songwriting back then. This song is from 1966, which is a great year of pop music, Per insists. He had this as a vinyl single.

No. 2 on the list is a band that wasn’t really a pop band. Sven is pretty sure, this is their first time on American radio. They were more like an easy listening dance band. But they had a knack of writing songs that got them accepted by the pop crowd as well. Yeah, they had so many hits. Per personally never liked to listen to them, because they didn’t have long hair. That was so important in the ’60s. You wanted all the bands to look really cool and have this attitude. This band, Sven-Ingvars, didn’t have that at all, but they had their own sound. They wrote their own songs. And they truly deserved the runner-up position on this chart, PG thinks. Apart from the long hair, another thing that made them a bit suspicious among the young pop listeners was that the parents liked them as well, Sven says. Per reacts „yeah, terrible”. Sven thinks the song is very charming. Something that might get lost here, because they come from a part of Sweden called Värmland, which is very close to Norway and they have this wonderful Swedish accent. The dialect is very special and they used it a lot when they were singing as well. To their advantage. And this song is called Börja om från början, translating to „begin from the beginning” or „start from scratch”. It’s a breakup song, basically and it’s from 1965.

Before the guys reveal their No. 1, Per says they don’t really have that much in common with Sven. But one thing they have in common is that they consider Tages to be the best band of the ’60s in Sweden. Sven says they had two singers, as they mentioned that before in the last show. Tommy Blom was the major singer. He was the most good-looking, but maybe not the best singer. But he was good, Per says. They had a great bass player in Göran Lagerberg, who was a great singer as well. He also was a great composer, he was the main songwriter. Tommy Blom was singing the verse and Göran Lagerberg came in singing the chorus. Per thinks it’s brilliant. They were produced by Anders Henriksson, a great producer in the ’60s and ’70s. This 1967 song, Every Raindrop Means A Lot is one of the highlights of Swedish pop music from the ’60s, for sure. It’s a masterpiece, a well-deserved number one. The guys hope the listeners agree.

Sven and Per play some more music. The Wannadies is a band from Skellefteå, slightly in the middle north of Sweden. Per considers it the north, but he is from the south. PG says everything above Stockholm is the north. Sven agrees. Stockholm is north as well for those who come from the south. Hit is taken from an album called Bagsy Me. Sven asks „why did the ’90s end?” Every song should sound like this, he thinks. Per thinks it’s a great song, he likes it.

Doing It Again Baby by Girl In Red is next. Then Broken Promise Land by Weeping Willows is wrapping up this episode of Nordic Rox.

The guys thank the listeners for joining them and Cigarettes by Anita Lindblom closes the show, as usual.

Photo by Anders Roos (2019)

Thanks for your support, Sven!

Per Gessle, a fan of order on Sverige!

Per Gessle was a guest of Farah Abadi on Sverige! on SVT. Farah starts the show by introducing Per as one of Sweden’s greatest pop legends. Right now he is in a period when a lot of exciting, unexpected things are happening around both Gyllene Tider and Roxette. This episode also contains a meeting with photographer Anders Roos, who for many years followed Per Gessle’s career closely and the electric guitar maker in the Scanian countryside, from whom musicians from all over the world buy guitars.

Farah welcomes Per and says it’s nice to have him in Malmö. Per says it’s nice to be here.

It was a bit difficult to get him on the program, because he is always so busy. Per says it’s a bit much right now, even for him. There is a lot going on. Farah asks him to tell us more. PG doesn’t know where to start. The Gyllene Tider movie premieres this summer. The Roxette musical has its world premiere in September in Malmö. There is a new album coming this autumn called Sällskapssjuk, off which Per has started releasing singles already. Then there is a Roxette tour that starts in the spring in South Africa. All these are completely different things. The Gyllene Tider film was probably a bit unexpected, because such movies are usually made when you have died.

Here they watch a short part of the movie where Per and his father are talking inside a car and when it ends, Farah asks Per if this is how it happened. Per says, no, not really. He always had quite a lot of support from his parents. Unfortunately, his father passed away in 1978, but he still felt supported to do what he wanted. He wanted to be in this pop bubble. It was a much nicer world than the real world.

Farah asks Per if he always has a song on his mind. PG says he usually jokes that he writes as little as possible. There is no reason for him to sit down at the piano between nine and five and try to write songs. He doesn’t work like that. He has to have an idea, usually a text idea or a temperature as he calls it. He is trying to find what he wants to say with the song. The best songs are the ones where music and lyrics are written basically at the same time.

Farah is curious what Per means by temperature. PG tries to explain that it can be sadness, joy, curiosity, loneliness or whatever it is about. It sets the temperature of the song. It also characterizes the melodies and the choice of chords and eventually how it should be arranged and produced.

Farah wants to know if Per feels like a song he has written is going to be hit. If he feels it right away. Per says he can feel that he likes it a lot, but if it becomes a hit, that time is long gone. He has always been a super bad hit picker. He was the one who didn’t want to include Här kommer alla känslorna (på en och samma gång) on the Mazarin album. He thought it was a bit of a ’50s pastiche and it didn’t belong there. But everyone else was nagging about it, so it was pure luck that he bowed to it in the end.

Farah says in Per’s music there is a lot of love. PG reacts „sometimes”. Farah asks him if it comes naturally. PG says it’s often quite lonely, melancholy and a little dark blue in the lyrics, at least in the past few decades. When you get older, it’s more difficult to write about what these songs in the Gyllene Tider movie are about, (Kom så ska vi) Leva livet and all these tjoho songs. They are very difficult to write now when you are 65.

Farah knows Per has a great interest in rock photography. She is curious how a good rock photo is when it’s really good. Per thinks it’s when you see that the artist or musician is really inside their own world. There are great pictures of David Bowie and Springsteen. All of these classic images have captured the moments where there is something special going on in the room.

Farah says they met photographer Ander Roos and she wants to know if he is the one who has photographed Per the most. Per thinks it could be. He has been around the last few years a lot. In recent years PG has been very active with touring. Farah asks what their relationship looks like. Per says Anders is very easy to work with. He has become a bit of a fly on the wall. He is around in the dressing rooms and backstage, but Per doesn’t mind. Plus Anders doesn’t publish anything without asking first, which is a good trait. Haha.

Sverige! visited Anders in his studio. He says he has been photographing music since the ’80s. He listened to a lot of music and went to concerts. He wanted to take nice pictures of music and artists. The artist he has photographed the most is by far Per. Anders shows his all access passes from different tours.

Anders explains it’s like being a bit of a sports photographer in a way, especially when taking photos of what happens on stage. It’s very much about capturing a moment. He shows one of his favourite photos on his mobile. It’s from Brottet in Halmstad. It was raining cats and dogs at the concert and he thinks it’s beautiful how the audience stands there in their raincoats and cheers. It captures something special. The raindrops almost look like icicles against the black sky.

Anders is asked what he looks for when taking rock photos. He wants to get as close as possible and capture the feeling and expression that he feels the artist has. Being it joy or anything else, on stage, backstage or in the dressing rooms. To be able to depict and tell what you can’t see.

Anders documents and photographs everything not only on stage, but at the studio recordings and takes press photos and photographs book covers as well. The first time he met Per was in 1986 when Roxette recorded their first album. It was in Stockholm and Anders and journalist Jan-Owe Wikström made a report with Roxette. A lot of things have happened since then. Since 2013 Anders has been around and actively photographed what Per does. PG didn’t remember him from 1986. A good friend asked Anders if he wanted to join Gyllene Tider on tour and take photos and of course Anders said yes. Then he got to know Per and the others in the band. He has the most contact with Per, through all the different projects they do. He is wonderful to work with, just like all the other band members. PG likes to do different projects. It’s a lot of fun working with them.

Anders has done many photo books as well. Nine books since 2013. He opens the Hux Flux book and explains some camera angles by showing some of his photos inside the book. The reporter asks Anders what he thinks those people will see who flip through these books 50 or 100 years later. Anders says they will see Swedish music history. These books can help tell a little of it. Then he feels proud.

Farah asks Per how it felt to see this report. PG says it was awesome, fun to watch. He has seen this picture from 1986 of Marie and him, but he never knew that it was Anders who took it until much later. So they met back in 1986.

Farah is curious if Per thinks it’s hard to be in so many pictures. Mr. G says, it depends. Not when you are on tour. He thinks it’s wonderful. It is usually his initiative that they become books. It is a memory of a specific tour and a specific project. He wishes there were more photos of recording Look Sharp! and Joyride and those amazing tours. There are videos, but there are quite a few. You can never take too many photos, he thinks.

Farah switches the topic and asks Per about Lena Philipsson and the new Roxette tour. She wants to know how this collaboration came about. Per recorded a new album that contains many duets. One of the duets is with Lena. Per has known Lena for decades. He co-wrote her breakthrough song in the ’80s, Kärleken är evig. PG had a song that suited Lena and she came to the studio in Halmstad. There and then Per was once again reminded of how good she is. Per has been thinking about what to do with the Roxette songs. He wrote almost all of them and he has been thinking for years how he could manage the catalogue in a good way. When Lena came to the studio, Per thought shit, maybe she could sing the Roxette songs with him. He chewed on the idea a little, then he contacted Lena a few weeks later in Stockholm. She was terrified when Per told her the idea. Farah asks if she said yes right away. PG says, no, she was rather shocked. She wanted time to think about it, but then she came back and thought it was a good idea. That is a damn good idea, Per thinks. Farah thinks so too.

Farah says Marie was the other half of Roxette and she is curious how it feels now that Lena will be standing by Per’s side. PG says it’s special, of course, but at the same time, it’s a different thing. It’s not like he has started a new band or a new duo with Lena. This is a journey that they are going to do to manage the Roxette song catalogue. Lena is hired to do that job. When Per puts that cap on, he sees it in a different way. It has never been relevant for him to start a new Roxette. With a new partner that way. Farah asks why not. PG replies it is something that Marie and he had together. It was a long journey, which had a very tragic end with Marie passing away. She got sick in 2002. It’s been a very long time. Now they are managing these songs. There is a huge world out there that still loves these songs. That alone is fantastic, Per thinks.

Farah asks Per whether it will be calmer or messier now than when it started. Per asks if she means in the dressing rooms or on stage. Farah means both. Per says they were quite calm before too. But it will probably be even calmer now. Farah says they are super professional. Per says they have become professionals along the way. Farah thought it was a bit messy back in the days, playing cards and drinking beer. Per says alcohol and he doesn’t work before a concert. Experience has taught him that. He is a control freak, so he likes when things are orderly. He needs order in his head too. Farah asks if Per has always been like this. PG says he was one of those people who had the records in alphabetical order already at the age of six.

Farah wants to know how Per and Åsa met. When it really kicked in, Per was on a date with another girl. They were supposed to meet secretly and the date took place in Åsa’s apartment, because they were friends. Then it turned out that Per fell a little in love with the hostess instead. He thinks it was in 1984. It’s been a long time. It was 40 years ago. Shit, now he realizes he has to celebrate that. Haha. Farah is surprised Per hasn’t thought about it. PG says he thinks it will be in autumn. Good that Farah reminded him. Farah says she wants to see picture evidence later. Haha.

40 years is a long time. Farah is curious if they are arguing. PG says they do. Farah is wondering if it is because Åsa puts the things in the dishwasher higgledy-piggledy and Per wants them in order. PG confirms it’s a constant dilemma. Farah thinks it doesn’t really matter, but Per says it does. Farah asks why and Per replies because you want the dishwasher to be in order. Farah is curious if Per is freaking out when Åsa has filled the dishwasher and he opens it. PG says he doesn’t get pissed because he is used to it. He knows it is like that. Farah supposes Per takes a deep breath before he opens the dishwasher. PG confirms and demonstrates „now it’s time again. Oh shit…”

Farah says a friend once told her that the best things in life are absolutely free. Love and having kids, for example. But the next best things are insanely expensive. PG agrees with that. He doesn’t come from a particularly rich family. They didn’t have much money when he was growing up. It’s clearly more fun if you have grown up and can afford to buy what you are interested in.

Farah has heard that Per is a rank collector. PG doesn’t consider himself a rank collector at all. He doesn’t really collect anything. It’s just lots of things that end up there. Haha. Farah asks how many guitars he has. Per says maybe a hundred. But he doesn’t collect them. He says if you collect guitars, you think „I have to have a 1958 Gibson Les Paul Special”, but he is not like that. They just end up there. You test them and you think it was nice and then you buy it.

Here comes a report with one of Sweden’s most skilled guitar builders, Johan Gustavsson. Most of his very high quality guitars are bought by musicians and collectors in the US. He thinks a good guitar should inspire you to play better. Per hasn’t bought any guitars from him, he doesn’t know why, but he repaired some guitars for him.

While Per is playing air guitar, he says it was lovely to see this report, Johan is a lovely guy. Farah asks PG if he gets guitars for free. Per says he doesn’t, not these days. But in the ’90s on the Joyride tour they were promoting Rickenbacker guitars and they got some custom-made Rickenbackers that they ordered. Marie got a white one and Per got a black one.

Farah is curious what Per does in his spare time. He watches a lot of movies. He is interested in movies, but he also watches them to get ideas and angles on life and stories. Films are great. He usually likes slender films from the past.

Farah is wondering if she calls Per on a Tuesday he is sitting at home in his pyjamas watching movies. PG says he is not in pyjamas, but he probably watches movies in the evening. Farah is surprised Per is not wearing pyjamas. She asks if he wears soft pants at home. Per laughs and says no. He doesn’t own sweatpants. He is probably sitting like he is sitting here now in the TV studio. Farah is even more surprised that Per is wearing jeans at home. PG says he is going strong in his jeans.

Farah asks Mr. G if he goes to the grocery store and sees an offer, slippers for 99 bucks, and decides to buy 2. Per laughs and says he almost never goes to the grocery store. Farah thinks a lot of people would stop him. Per tries to avoid it. He thinks when you have to do things like going to the post office or the grocery store, you have to be in a special mood. You have to be prepared for selfie time and stuff like that. That’s perfectly fine, but most of the time you might not feel like it that particular day.

Farah understands that Per has a great life, but she also feels a little sorry that Per can never be ordinary. He can’t just sit in a café or on an outdoor terrace or lie on a beach or just be. Per says he can do that if he wants. It’s not as dangerous as it sounds, but he is always on his guard. He has a good life and he is super proud of what he has accomplished. He is also grateful for that, so he is not complaining at all.

Farah says it’s almost time for school graduations. Sommartider is a song that is definitely sung there. She wants to know how it feels. It’s like many other things with his music, Per has to pinch his arm. It is amazing that there will be new generations who will embrace this music and love it. It gets a place in their new life somehow. When he is in Stockholm, they live in a street where a lot of student vans come and then they often sing Sommartider. When he is there and hears it, he usually runs and hides. He certainly doesn’t want to be found there when they sing Sommartider.

Farah thanks Per for coming and PG thanks for the invitation.

Stills are from the program.

Per Gessle interview in Dagens Nyheter – ”I hope the movie inspires kids to start a band”

Hanna Mellin from Dagens Nyheter did an interview with Per Gessle about the Gyllene Tider movie.

“Sommartider – Filmen om Gyllene Tider” premieres in cinemas on 17th July and tells the story of the band that became a Swedish pop sensation. Newcomer Valdemar Wahlbeck sings as and portrays Per Gessle, whose childhood and youth are depicted in the film. Per has seen the film several times, but was initially somewhat suspicious of the idea.

Now it feels exciting, but when we first sat down and talked about the fact that there would be a film about the story behind Gyllene Tider, I was quite skeptical – no one in the band wanted to make any kind of tribute film to ourselves. But, “Sommartider” is more about me, how I met guitarist Mats Persson and the film ends when the song “Sommartider” is released.

Hanna is curious how it feels to join artists like Elton John, Amy Winehouse, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin and more and get a feature film about himself.

What felt odd at first was that it is about my childhood – of course it will be very personal and private. But, I don’t have a big problem with that, because what is being told is basically true. When I read the script for the first time, I just felt “wow”, this is fantastic – although of course the film takes some creative liberties, not least when it comes to the chronology. What I hope above all is that “Sommartider” inspires kids to start a band, that the film conveys the fellowship to sing and play music together. It is truly life changing.

To the question how involved Per has been in the film, he replies:

Not much, but I have answered a lot of questions and helped with the soundtrack. The songs are played by the Roxette band and Valdemar Wahlbeck, who plays me, sings himself. I’ve been involved in selecting the songs and I think the band does them very well, as you know, simple things are often the most difficult. I’ve mostly been a sounding board.

Hanna wans to know if Per joined the shootings and she thinks it must be pretty surreal to step into your own life on set.

Above all, it was an experience to go back in time by seeing all the details, props and environments from the late 1970s and early ’80s. It was very nice to experience the work that was done with it in the film. The film also contains a lot of drama and depicts the tragic accident in Blekinge before a Gyllene Tider concert in 1981, where three people lost their lives. Of course, I also had to answer some questions about that.

Hanna asks if Per’s family has seen the movie and how they reacted.

My wife has seen it, she was very moved. But, what I hope for is, as I said, that it can give something to others. There was an alienation in me when I was young and music became in many ways my escape and my reality. Many people can probably identify with it and maybe they get strength and energy from this film, which has a happy ending.

Hanna asks the last question to get to know if for Per as an artist there are things that bother him when he watches music movies. E.g. if someone fakes singing or holds an instrument completely wrong.

Yes it does! Not least, I think that the music industry becomes a cliché on film sometimes. Record company people often become villains so that the artist can be the hero. And when you cut in the music, when a crash cymbal appears when it shouldn’t – I don’t like that. But I can also be bothered by, for example, key changes when I listen to the radio. One can be clearly a fachidiot.

Photo by Fredrik Etoall

Interview with Per Gessle in Halmstad NU

Per Brolléus did an interview with Per Gessle for Halmstad NU, Halmstad’s new local monthly newspaper.

Per Brolléus thinks Marie would have said Per is an idiot if he doesn’t do this. He asks PG what he thinks.

Yes, well, that’s exactly what she had said. Just like that. She had declared me an idiot forever.

The guys are about half an hour into the interview and PB says PG has “written a song text” through his answers to all his questions about the tour, about Lena, about why, about feelings, about whether he knows this works and about the rest of the year before Roxette leaves for South Africa and Australia in February-March next year.

There is one thing that Mr. Gessle no doubt wants to be very clear about – the endless love for Marie. If she is not in every single answer, she is still there as a kind of sounding board or a little bird that nods or shakes its head. She is constantly present, even though it has now almost been five years since she passed away in December 2019.

Either you do it or you don’t. There are no other options if it’s supposed to be Roxette, sound like Roxette and be called Roxette.

That there comes a tour doesn’t feel very strange to Per Brolléus who “grew up” with Per Gessle, Gyllene Tider and Roxette. Per Gessle gives people what people actually want – without sacrificing his own artistic ability or, for that matter, his status. And now people obviously want Roxette. But, this would never have been relevant if it wasn’t for the duet album that Per has recently made.

Lena had agreed to make a song with me and when we recorded it, she knocked me out. Completely. Damn, what a voice she has!!!

Although Lena Philipsson never got to play in the same division as Gessle in the ’80s and, for example, never got to go on Rock runt riket (the 1987 tour with Roxette, Ratata and Eva Dahlgren and a new talent called Orup as support act), but Per and Lena’s paths have crossed a number of times.

We come from the same era and I have written a few songs for her, including the lyrics to Kärleken är evig. And I know her as a damn good artist. But when we got into the studio… Well… Knockout. That voice!!!

After the knockout in the studio in Stockholm, Per invited Lena for dinner in Halmstad. There was food and wine and finally he asked the question: Do you want to go on tour with Roxette? And the answer from Lena? Per laughs and says:

She was shocked and got a few days to think it over. She probably  thought I was crazy. But…, it was not about Lena replacing Marie, i.e. trying to sound like Marie, but Lena being Lena and she would lend her artistic talent to the songs.

And she said YES, says Per in a long exhale.

She ticks all the boxes. She’s got it all, although of course she’s never done a world tour and stood in front of 10,000 wild fans in Sydney. But she has IT. Of course, I did a Roxette tour in Europe with Helena Josefsson, a fantastic singer who has been with me for ages. But she is made for that kind of setup as it was then. Stripped down arrangement with seated audience in an acoustic setup. Now it’s something else and Lena fits in there magically well.

The gang that Per takes with him is pretty much everyone who was there when it started in the late ’80s and onwards.

Jonas, Clarence and as many as possible from the old gang are there. Damn, Roxette should sound like Roxette should sound. And it should be as much Roxette as you can get.

We tested some songs, Lena and I. It sounded fantastic. An own voice, an own feeling.

And now Lena PH is having an international breakthrough at the age of 59. Per laughs and says:

Well, it’s absolutely wonderful.

Regarding the pilot tour he says:

Yes, I want to test the concept. I want to be 100% sure that it works before it becomes something much bigger.

So Australia and South Africa are just the beginning?

We’ll see. Offers are absolutely pouring in, but before I say yes, I really want to feel it first. When we released the news about the tour and about Roxette with Lena, the systems exploded, which is of course great fun.

He pauses for a few seconds, laughs at…

She gets paid quite well too.

Halmstad’s biggest star through the ages has a fully packed calendar: duet album, movie, musical, world tour.

I have videos to make for the songs from the duet album, then it will be exciting when the GT film premieres on 17th July. And then comes the musical at Malmö Opera, which premieres in September.

Per has no direct responsibility in the musical, calling himself a sounding board, but as a reporter Per Brolléus feels that he is not being completely honest here.

I’m involved in the song order and I’ve been down in Malmö and listened. Well, musicals are not my cup of tea, you know, when it gets so perfect. Because for good musicians it never becomes really good, you know what I mean?

Per Brolléus gets it. He was forced to go to some musical about Oklahoma as a child and has never gotten over that shock, so he understands it exactly.

As a last question, Per Brolléus asks Per Gessle, hand on heart, if there could be a test concert with Roxette at Tylösand this winter before they leave for the pilot tour.

It can happen. You never know.

But, honestly…!

Well, it’s quite good to test things before…

Halmstad NU can hereby reveal: there will be a test gig in Tylösand sometime in February 2025. Remember where you read it first.

All interview text is written by Per Brolléus for Halmstad NU in Swedish. Here it is a translation by RoxBlog.

Thanks for the hint regarding the article, Oliver Zimmermann!

Interview with Per Gessle and Lena Philipsson in Aftonbladet

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

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

Per says smiling:

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

Brain tumor

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

Per says:

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

Gessle continues:

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

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

‘Only way to do it’

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

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

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

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

Aftonbladet is curious about what Lena thought then.

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

She continues:

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

Will it sound familiar?

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

Per turns to Lena:

Stick to your own way.

Lena says:

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

Have a favourite song

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

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

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

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

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

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

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