Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – December 2022

Sven Lindström and Per Gessle sat together in Halmstad to record the December episode of Nordic Rox. Sven says it’s soon Christmas time and Per has got his Santa outfit on himself because he is ready to present his brand new Christmas single coming up later on the show.

This time it’s The Soundtrack Of Our Lives special, taking a closer look at this Gothenburg band’s songs. Per says they played them quite a lot here on Nordic Rox, because they like them a lot. The band is not around anymore, unfortunately, but they were killer in their heydays.

Before the special, the guys present some weird sounds from the north of Sweden and the first track is Boogie Woogie/Rock ‘n’ Roll by Komeda. Per says it’s pretty famous, because it was part of an ad on Swedish television many years ago. Mr. G thinks it’s a great track and it sounds amazing. Sven adds they just picked out this bababababa from the song for the ad and it was incredibly irritating. Not many people knew what the track was.

The next song is Happyland by Amanda Jenssen. She is from Lund, Sweden. Then comes Different Sound by the amazing Teddybears. Sahara Hotnights is next with Gemini.

Bald Headed Woman from The Hep Stars is the next track. This song was No. 1 on the charts in Sweden in 1965. Sven says it tells you everything you need to know about Sweden in 1965. Per remembers it was on the first Kinks album and Sven adds he thinks The Who as well did it. PG shares the info that the keyboard player in The Hep Stars is Benny Andersson, who eventually became one of the key players and writers of ABBA. Sven says he doesn’t know if you could hear any sort of traces of ABBA here, but he went berserk on that organ at the end of the song. He is a fantastic player. Per says they were a good live band as well. Sven saw them at the end of their career in 1966. Per says he was too young back then. Haha. Sven says Bald Headed Woman was like an old blues track, but he never really figured out the lyrics. He asks Per what he thinks the lyric means. Mr. G laughs and says „well, he preferred women with hair”. Sven adds he didn’t like sugar in his coffee either („I don’t want no sugar in my coffee”). PG says it was tough in those days. Haha. Sven says it was like listening to an old Ramones record. Per agrees.

Sarah Klang’s latest single, Belly Shots is next. Per thinks she is a great singer and it’s a great song. Sven agrees she is a terrific singer.

It’s time for the guys to zoom up to Gothenburg and relive some of the greatest moments of The Soundtrack Of Our Lives history. Per thinks it’s a great band. They started out in 1995 and went on until 2012 when they disbanded. Sven adds they released a final album then. Per always liked them. They had a great sound and were very guitar-driven and very melodic all the time, even though their songs are pretty long. Lots of instrumental passages, but they always had really good melodies and good songwriting as a basic thing. Sven says the first track they play, Instant Repeater ’99 is from their debut album, Welcome To The Infant Freebase (1996). It sets the tone for The Soundtrack Of Our Lives. Some elements of Stones, some elements of psych rock, some elements of punk. A little bit of everything. Mr. G thinks they were great live as well and Ebbot Lundberg is a very prolific singer.

Sven says the band had wonderfully psychedelic titles for their albums. The next album they released in 1998 was called Extended Revelation For The Psychic Weaklings Of Western Civilization. They also made very long records. In the vinyl era these would have been double albums. The first one was 70 minutes long and the second was 62 minutes. PG says they didn’t believe in kill your darlings. Sven says he doesn’t think they were ever aware of either darlings or killing. Haha. According to Mr. G, it’s good anyway, they have their own identity and he really likes the style of the guitarist. They have these guitars all the time that are really melodic and they sort of create all these patterns in the music, which is really interesting. It’s very special and he likes it a lot.

Sven thinks there is some sort of Stones element to it and it also adds some psychedelic thing to the melodies or the whole attitude. That becomes very clear in the next song, Bigtime from their fourth album, Origin Vol. 1. Per says this is probably his favourite track from them. He thinks it’s really cool, it has a great groove to it and it’s just so exciting to listen to all the time.

Per says every time he hears this band he is getting more and more impressed. They are a whole great package of wonderful musicians and great melodies, great songwriting. And Ebbot, the lead singer has got a great voice. Sven also thinks that most of the things they did was fantastic. Just take a look at the cover of the album they made in 2008, Communion. Sven can never stop being fascinated about that cover. It looks like a middle-aged couple in a spa, drinking some greenish smoothie. Per thinks it’s a great sleeve. They are talking about it, so it must be good.

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives made it quite big with the third album in the US and also other countries. The guys plan to play 2 songs from Behind The Music. Per says the first one they play is Nevermore. It’s got a little more acoustic touch to it, but it’s a great track and also it’s a beautiful melody line. PG always goes for the melodies, as we know. The album is from 2001 and this is the one that sort of cracked the US market open for the band and especially the next track Sven and Per play, the Sister Surround single. Per adds they toured the States as well, in 2002 they were supporting Oasis. Sister Surround is a terrific track, a classic rock and roll kind of rock music that became rarer and rarer until it almost became extinct, Sven says. PG thinks it’s a great way to end this homage on the show with the highlights of their career.

A song spinning heavily on Swedish radio right now is Stockholmsvy by Hannes & Waterbaby. The title translates to View of Stockholm. Per says the song is in English except for the title, which is in Swedish. He thinks it’s a good song. When he heard it for the first time, it felt like it was like a Leonard Cohen track from his late era. Really smooth and mellow and beautiful and sparse. Mr. G also thinks that it’s nice that they are getting some really good airplay here.

Next song is Waterlily Love by Per’s partner in crime, Helena Josefsson. This is from her debut album in 2007. Mr. G thinks it’s a beautiful song and Helena is a great singer.

Ifrån mej själv by Dundertåget comes next. The title translates roughly to Beside Myself and the band name translates to thunder train. The guys think it’s a good name and a good track as well.

Here comes a Christmas celebration from Per Gessle and PG Roxette, Wish You The Best For Xmas. Per says it’s time for another Christmas song. He wrote one in 1987, which was called It Must Have Been Love. Sven says he doesn’t think Per has to introduce that song, but maybe he has to introduce it as a Christmas song, because probably nobody remembers that it started out as a Christmas song. Per says the reason for writing it was that Roxette tried to get airplay in Europe and it was impossible. Their German record label suggested that Per should write a Christmas song, because then it could be easier to get on the radio for Christmas. And so he did it and wrote It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted) and presented to them. They didn’t like it, so they never released it. However, Roxette released it in Sweden and it became a big hit for them as a Christmas song in 1987. And then of course, three years later it popped up in the Pretty Woman movie. Without the Christmas reference in the lyrics, that went out the window. Now it was time again, so this summer PG decided to write an uptempo Christmas song. It’s a great tradition in pop music generally when it comes to Christmas songs. Per has his favourites, e.g. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Roy Wood’s Wizzard, Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade or all those songs that were big in Sweden when he was a kid. Once in a while, you have to make a Christmas record, Mr. G thinks.

At the end of the show, the guys wish merry Christmas and happy new year to all listeners. They promise to be back early January.

Anita Lindblom’s Cigarettes is the closing song, of course.

Photo by Anders Roos (2019)

Thanks for your support, Sven!

PG Roxette’s Xmas single is out!

PG Roxette released his debut album, Pop-Up Dynamo! on 28th October and now less than a month later, one month before Christmas he releases a surprise single with two Xmas songs. Wish You The Best For Xmas and Wishing On The Same Christmas Star are already available from today, 18th November on all streaming services. Listen to the single that also includes the instrumental version of both songs on Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music or YouTube!

Physical release is on 25th November. You can order the ruby red 7” vinyl at Bengans, Ginza and some more Scandinavian online shops.

WISH YOU THE BEST FOR XMAS

Side A   Wish You The Best For Xmas
Side B   Wishing On The Same Christmas Star

Here is Per’s message upon the single release:

There’s a great tradition in pop music when it comes to christmas songs. My favourites remain the same; Wizzard’s “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” and Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody” are the stars on top of my christmas tree year after year. They’re hard to beat.

I wrote my very first christmas song in 1979 for my Swedish band, then I had another go in 1987 with Roxette. Maybe you know that one. It was called “It Must Have Been Love” and yes, the first version we released was actually a christmas song.

With PG Roxette I felt like keeping the tradition going. I wrote two songs, one uptempo and one ballad. They’re very different to each other.

First we have the uptempo one; “Wish You The Best For Xmas”. I thought it was a nice idea to do something a little bit more energetic than your ordinary christmas track. I came up with an idea this summer and the whole process went very fast.

I made a demo and sent it to Andreas Broberger who worked with Roxette on the “Good Karma” album as well as helping me out with some Mono Mind-tracks. His sounds and production style fit this song perfectly.

It felt like this song deserved a video so I got in touch with animator Mattias Gordon who did an amazing clip to it. I love the vibe he has created in the video.

Then we have the ballad. The melody to “Wishing On The Same Christmas Star” was born eight years ago in a song written for a musical that never happened.

It popped up in my head again when I thought of writing a christmas ballad.

It’s produced by Magnus Börjeson and Clarence Öfwerman who’s also responsible for the whole “Pop-Up Dynamo!” album. As you can hear it became a duet together with Helena Josefsson who is, as always, truly amazing to listen to.

There you go. Two christmas presents. From me to you.

Merry Christmas, folks!

/PG.

Mr. G shared this info related to the single in the RoxBlog interview:

I wrote the ballad first, eight years ago. It was called “Wishing On The Same Star” to begin with. It was written for a musical, but they didn’t use it. I liked the song and I thought maybe I should do a Christmas song. So I recorded a demo of it with a Christmas lyric. Then I didn’t use that either until now. Clarence and Magnus did the production and it sounded good, but it felt a little bit predictable to do this ballad Christmas thing. I felt like maybe I should write something really uptempo instead. So I wrote this really fast uptempo song. I did it in July this year. So the other song, “Wish You The Best For Xmas” is brand new. It’s produced by myself and Andreas Broberger, so it sounds a little different.

The video to it is cool too, but it’s different. It’s made by this guy Mattias Gordon, who did the “Being With You” video. It’s different style, but it’s animated and it’s a lot of Christmas people in it. He’s got this great technique. He is taking films of people and then he draws on the film, then just keeps the drawings and gets rid of the films. I’m in there and I’m playing the keyboards, but I’m just like… it’s just pencil. It’s funny and it’s cool.

Wish You The Best For Xmas

You
You’re sitting across the table having breakfast
Giving me that look that makes me smile
And I can’t hide it

We
We spend so many hours doing nothing
That’s the way I want it to stay for a while
And all the time

Hey
I’m missing you every day
I wish you were here with me
Keeping me company
Oh I wish you a very very merry merry merry xmas
I’m hoping you think of me
Dancing around the tree
Oh I wish you the best for xmas

I
I play that song you fancy without thinking
It’s silly and it’s simple but it’s true
I miss you

Yea
I’m missing you every day
I wish you were here with me
Keeping me company
Oh I wish you a very very merry merry merry xmas
I’m hoping you think of me
Dancing around the tree
Oh I wish you the best for xmas

Words + Music by Per Gessle
Published by Jimmy Fun Music

Produced by Andreas Broberger + Per Gessle
Recorded at Bridge & Mountain Paradise, Umeå + T&A Studio, Halmstad
Engineers: Andreas Broberger + M.P. Persson
Mixed by Andreas Broberger + Anton Ekström

Vocals: Per Gessle + Helena Josefsson
Programming + Synthesizers: Andreas Broberger
Guitars + Percussion: Per Gessle
Mandolin: M.P. Persson

Wishing On The Same Christmas Star

There’s a truth that’s been forever
It’s so clear, it’s in my heart
It makes the voices from the street
And that crazy christmas beat
Feel so near
It just feels so near

You and me we’re linked together
Like we were wishing on the same christmas star
Oh I hope until the end
You will always be my friend
So close
Like a whisper

I always knew this day eventually would come
I always knew this place is right where we belong

Oh I know we can climb higher
Yes, I know we’ve just begun
Let us both just seize the day
And let the beauty come our way
To celebrate
Christmas Day
This Christmas Day

Words + Music by Per Gessle
Published by Jimmy Fun Music

Produced by Magnus Börjeson + Clarence Öfwerman + Per Gessle
Co-produced by Christoffer Lundquist
Recorded at Farozon, Malmö + Aerosol Grey Machine, Vallarum + T&A Studio, Halmstad
Engineers: Magnus Börjeson + Christoffer Lundquist + M.P. Persson
Mixed by Ronny Lahti

Vocals: Per Gessle + Helena Josefsson
Programming + Synthesizers + Keyboards: Magnus Börjeson + Clarence Öfwerman
Synthesizers: Per Gessle
Guitars + Ondes Martenot: Christoffer Lundquist

 

Design by Pär Wickholm, Wickholm Formavd., Stockholm. Photo by Fredrik Etoall

Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – November 2022 – PG Roxette special

Sven Lindström renamed Nordic Rox to Nordic PG Rox for the November episode. Haha.

The guys sit together to provide a taster of the brand new PG Roxette album on a great day in Stockholm. Per is excited to talk a little bit about the new PG Roxette songs. Sven is holding the vinyl record in his hands and he thinks it looks great. PG says he loves this format, because he loves the album sleeves. It’s so much part of the record, he thinks. Mr. G really misses the sleeves these days. The whole digital world we live in, the streaming services, it lacks something for him because he’s probably getting old. Sven assures Per he is not alone with this. He thinks their generation is the one that’s going to sit in retirement homes, pestering the young guys and girls about vinyl covers. Per agrees and they are laughing.

Sven says they are going through a great list of Scandinavian music at its best and also have a look into the new PG Roxette album, which is titled Pop-Up Dynamo! The first song on the show is Answer by Pauline Kamusewu. To Per it sounds like a hit. He thinks it’s a very good song and can’t understand why it hasn’t become a hit. Then comes Phantom Punch by Sondre Lerche, a Norwegian guy. Sven and Per try to pronounce his name correctly with a Norwegian twist. Per likes this song a lot. Sven thinks it’s a bit quirky. It’s the title track from Sondre’s fourth album. The third song is Worry Sick by the amazing Edith Backlund from the north of Sweden. The album is called Death By Honey and came out in 2008 as her second album.

The guys move on and play Magnetic City by Silverbullit from Gothenburg. Sven says they make you think a bit about the crazy guys from Manchester in the early ’90s. Great vibe to this song.

Here Comes The Night by Agnes is next. It’s one of Per’s favourites. He thinks Agnes is an amazing singer, one of the biggest artists they have in Sweden at the moment and she has been around for a couple of years now. She is making great singles and and she is really an astonishing singer. She had some international success with the song called Release Me a couple of years ago and she is still around and doing great.

Chris Craft No. 9 by The Shanes from the north of Sweden is played next. It’s from 1967 and Per thinks it’s a great song. He loved it when he was a kid. The band is fantastic and this song sounds terrific to Mr. G’s ears. It was recorded at the Abbey Road Studio in London. Sven adds that not many Swedish bands made that trip, but they did. PG says there was a producer, Anders Henriksson, Henkan who produced Tages, another Swedish band and some of The Shanes songs as well. Since he was part of the EMI organization, he had allowance to the Abbey Road Studio and he used it a lot. Tages recorded there as well. Per thinks Chris Craft No. 9 is really one of the best Swedish tracks from the ’60s. Sven agrees that it’s a great track, written by Kit Sundqvist in The Shanes. He played the organ. Sven says it was produced by the George Martin of the Swedish ’60s, Henkan.

Now it’s time to look at the Pop-Up Dynamo! album, which is a new Roxette album, a PG Roxette album. Per says he decided to continue the Roxette journey. It actually started out that he wanted to play the old Roxette songs live. All those songs that he wrote for Roxette are still with him and they are still popular around the world. But then the pandemic thing happened, so everything got postponed and he started writing new songs in the Roxette style instead and made an album with the old Roxette players. Jonas Isacsson on lead guitar and Clarence Öfwerman playing the keyboards. The two backing vocalists, the girls who toured with Roxette the last 6-7 years or so, Dea Norberg and Helena Josefsson. They stepped up a bit to do the female vocals and they did a great job on this record, so he is really proud of the whole package. Sven thinks it’s cool and he asks Per what he aimed for when he was writing these songs for this version of Roxette. PG says he decided early on that it’s not about replacing Marie, getting in another girl to take her place. It’s more about the songs. So basically, he just felt like going back to the style that he had in the late ’80s and early ’90s when he wrote Look Sharp!, Joyride, Tourism and Crash! Boom! Bang! So it’s basically an extension of that. It’s a little bit nostalgic for him. Even though you don’t really realize it yourself, you change with the years, your style is changing and developing all the time, so the evolution is going on. This was like going back to thinking in the same way that he was thinking in the ’80s. He hopes that we can hear that. Productionwise they picked sounds that were used in the ’80s as well, the old synthesizers and they also used the guitars. But at the same time, he thinks and hopes it sounds fresh and modern, because it shouldn’t be like a retro thing. He thinks one can recognize the Roxette gimmicks. According to Sven it sounds like a fun experience. PG says ot was fun and excellent to work with these people again. They had a blast in the studio and he had a good time writing. Sven tells they should listen to one of the tracks and asks Per which one to start with. Mr. G suggests Walking On Air, which is the first song of the album and it’s the current single as well. It’s a good example of how the album sounds.

Sven thinks it sounds really interesting, especially with the mix between Per’s voice and the female singers’ voices. Mr. G says it’s Dea Norberg and Helena Josefsson who are singing with him. They used to be the backing vocalists with Roxette when they were touring. Now they have stepped up a bit. What’s interesting with them, Per thinks, is that they have such different styles when they sing. So he tried to combine those two styles to create like a third person. It’s a little bit like ABBA. If you listen to the old ABBA records, for instance, it’s really hard to tell who is Frida, who is Agnetha because they are overdubbing themselves and doing harmonies, so it’s really hard to say. It creates like a third persona and Per likes that a lot. When people hear the new PG Roxette album it’s hard to pinpoint „that’s Helena and that’s Dea”, because when you combine them, they sound very, very different. Per thinks that’s really cool. Sven thinks it’s very interesting because both Helena and Dea have very characteristic voices. PG says it’s fun to work with them in the studio. When you tell them to add a little a bit of wailing or do something soulful, they just approach that sort of challenge totally differently and the outcome is so many different things. It’s really fun to work with them and to edit everything down together and take the best pieces of both of them and use it. It has been really exciting to do this.

The next song Per picks is the single that he released this summer, The Loneliest Girl In The World, which is a classic guitar-driven pop song. There are songs that are really timeless in his book. These type of songs are the hardest to write because he has written so many of them over the years. It’s like a classic 3-chord pop song basically. Sven laughs and tells that Per always complains about having trouble writing these kind of songs, but still he comes up with them time and time again. Per laughs too and says he is so happy when that happens, because it’s so hard to do. If he sits down by the piano or with a guitar, he starts to play something and it’s always like mid tempo and he has his favourite chord progressions and everything. But when he has to write a classic immediate pop song, it just happens and you can feel it immediately. „Hey, this is really cool. This is a really great melody line.” Per’s whole music, everything he does is based on melodies much more than the rhythms. So it has to have this really strong and very catchy melody to make it, to go to the next step in the writing process.

Sven remembers there is one trick Per uses and it’s that he buys a new guitar. Whenever he bought a new guitar and tried it, he wrote a new song. Per confirms. That’s because every guitar has got its own personality. And you put it into the amplifier and it sounds so cool. And if it’s something that you like, out pops this new song. Sven laughs and says it’s easier to store a song than the guitar. Per agrees and says you have to have a big wardrobe. They are laughing.

Sven is curious if the title, The Loneliest Girl In The World was something that’s been buzzing around in Per’s head for a while. Mr. G says he likes that title because it’s a little bit romantic and it sort of makes a vision in your mind. When he writes songs, if he finds a good title to begin with, it helps his stupid brain a lot. So he actually collects ideas, titles and phrases that he can use. It’s just a part of how he works. Sven likes the title, he likes pop titles. He can imagine that in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, Per had a notebook, but he wants to know what he is using now. Per laughs and says he has a laptop. But Sven says a title could come when Per is out walking, when he is not carrying his laptop around. PG says it could come in a dream or it could come from a TV show, you can pick up something a taxi driver says and you just keep it. Per usually texts himself with ideas all the time. It’s the same thing with music. He can go in a department store or whatever and come up with a melody thing that he hears and he calls himself to tell himself [he laughs] about the chords he is hearing and then how the melody works. As soon as he gets back home, he tries to record it on a guitar or piano or whatever. You collect things, you have your antennas out all the time. That’s how Per works anyway. His iPhone is filled with short snippets of ideas. 10 seconds ideas. Sven laughs and says grocery stores must be filled with people saying „don’t look now, but I think it’s Per Gessle, humming into his telephone”. Per laughs too and says that has happened, actually. He is getting this weird look, „Jesus!”.

The third and final track in this sneak preview of the new album is Headphones On. Sven thinks this title sounds like a pop nerd title. You put your headphones on and just dive into some music. Per tells Sven it’s pretty interesting, because he wrote this lyric to another piece of music and he didn’t use it. For some reason he didn’t like the music that much, but he kept the lyric. He rearranged the lyrics a bit and he wrote something new to it. He loves this, because it’s got a great energy and a great sound. When they combine the voices of Helena, Dea and Per, it’s just really cool. Per is singing the falsetto parts here. Also of course, Per has this wonderful privilege to have Jonas Isacsson playing this amazing guitar solo. There is no guitar solos anymore in pop music, he says. This was actually the last song they recorded for the album and he told his co-producers that he has to write a song where they can put a guitar solo and so Jonas can show that he’s still got what it takes. He is just doing this magnificent guitar solo in the end of the song. It’s really cool. Per loves this track. Sven adds that Jonas Isacsson is the guy playing the fabulous guitar on Roxette’s breakthrough single, The Look. Per says he is the mastermind behind all those guitar licks in Roxette history, Dressed For Success, Listen To Your Heart. He is a great guy and it was so much fun recording this album. Per hopes it shines through when you listen to it.

After Headphones On, the guys play Not Too Young by Sabina Ddumba. Next track is Shimmy Shimmy Style by the Teddybears and then comes Poetic by Seinabo Sey.

Sven and Per thank you for listening and play Anita Lindblom’s Cigarettes as the closing song, as usual.

Still is from a 2017 teaser video for Swedish Radio.

Thanks for your support, Sven!

RoxBlog interview with Per Gessle – PART 2 – “Pop music shouldn’t be trailers all the time.”

Hello again! [Read PART 1 first!]

I continue the meeting with Per via Teams. After some technical hiccups on this app, we get back on track and go on talking about “Pop-Up Dynamo!”.

Patrícia Peres: – How many songs did you write for the album? You’ve mentioned that there were twelve, but you skipped one.

Per Gessle: – Well, I didn’t write that many. I needed more songs in the end, so I wrote “The Craziest Thing” and I wrote “Headphones On”. So there are no leftovers, except for those two songs that were crappy, that I made with Christoffer. There wasn’t like a big selection. I just recorded those songs that I felt were appropriate.

PP: – It’s very interesting what you said in the talks that “You Hurt The One You Love The Most” started out as a new “Listen To Your Heart” or something similar to that. It’s interesting, because what I can hear is “(Do You Get) Excited?”. How did that work with Giorgio and by the way, was that meeting in Amsterdam for Mono Mind or for this certain project?

PG: – No, we just talked about getting together, write something and see what happens. And I don’t normally do that, because I think it’s so difficult and I can’t really sit down and you know, let’s write a song together. It doesn’t really work like that for me. So, we didn’t really have an agenda or a reason or an artist in mind. Then Giorgio had this idea that we should do a “Listen To Your Heart” together. He is such a classically trained piano player. He is so amazing on piano, it’s a joy to hear him play. So I felt like we would have something going. Then when I went back home, I wrote the lyrics and I wrote the last part of the song, which wasn’t there at all. So maybe that’s the part that you think is close to “(Do You Get) Excited?”. It’s the coda, I think. Maybe, I don’t know. It’s also a typical Roxette thing that you have like an end section of a song that is totally different from everything else. We have the same thing in “Spending My Time”, for instance. It’s different chords and different vibe.

PP: – And what about the Eddie Jonsson song? Earlier this year you shared pictures of your old demo cassettes and on one of them there was a track called “Memories…”. You said that it was probably written by Eddie and you just oversaw the production.

PG: – Yeah, I mentioned in the talks that it was from the ’80s, but it’s not. It’s from 1990. So that was a mistake on my side. He wrote a lot of songs and I don’t know, I can’t remember why he wrote songs for me. I don’t know if he worked for Jimmy Fun, I can’t remember. It’s a long, long time ago. But he wrote some really great songs and I love this chorus, which he had. So when I got stuck with my song, I felt like shit, I could use a chorus like that. I called him up and asked if I could take his chorus and put it into my song. It’s fun. Then it’s perfect to collaborate, because you don’t meet. Hahaha.

PP: – Haha. When you wrote this song, did it have the music and was it similar to the style how it sounds now?

PG: – No, it was much more in the style of “Watch Me Come Undone”. It was a little bit more doomy. It just had a bass drum, boom, boom, boom, boom. Then when I played it for Magnus and Clarence, they turned it into like Pet Shop Boys. Which I thought was hilarious. First time I heard I was just laughing about it. Hahaha. But then I thought it was fun.

[Per’s phone starts ringing and he says it’s BoJo, but he will call him later. I tell him maybe he should pick it up. Maybe another GT show is sold out. Haha.]

PG: – Hahaha. Anyway, I thought it was funny, because in a way it reminded me of all those silly tracks we did in “Physical Fascination”, you know. There were always these really weird songs that we used on the albums. “View From A Hill” is a song like that as well. Or even in modern age, “Some Other Summer” is sort of like that disco style. I thought it was fun. And it sounded different from the other songs. I would never in my wildest imagination imagine that the song turned out like that. It’s all Magnus and Clarence.

     

PP: – Another song that sounds very different is “Jezebel”. Was it the title that came first or the lyrics? I mean, it’s kind of a biblical name.

PG: – Well, I don’t know. I can’t remember. I just liked the name. There is another song that I heard, which was called “Jezebel” and it’s an interesting name. When I wrote it, it was supposed to be like this guy and girl thing, you know, so it was written exactly how it sounds. The demo for it is very similar to the end result. And I can’t really remember why I wrote it. It’s a really beautiful song. As I said, it’s the oldest song from 2017. When Helena is singing songs like that, it just makes my heart melt. It’s just like how she was singing on “Varmt igen” or all this acoustic stuff. It just fits her so well.

PP: – Helena sings beautifully on “Walk Right In” as well. From the title’s point of view, it’s interesting that you wanted to end the album with this one, because the title suggests walk right into a new world, but as a last song, you are walking out of this new world the album has created. It’s also interesting that this is the only track you don’t sing on.

PG: – Yeah. And that is was one of the reasons why I wanted to put it as the last track. Because it would have become a little bit confusing to have a song like this as song number 4, for instance. A song which I don’t sing on. I like this song so much, because the style of it and the chord progression is so unlike me. That’s why I liked it a lot and also, when I played that to Magnus and Clarence, they really loved the song. They created this sort of Giorgio Moroder bass line to it. It sounded like “what?!, why did they think like that?”. For me it was just like a beautiful ballad that sounds like in the first verse. That’s how I imagined it to sound the whole song. But then they came up with this… [here Per demonstrates the sound] … Whatever.

PP: – Yeah, I hear a little Donna Summer in it, “I Feel Love”.

PG: – Yeah, “I Feel Love”, yes. But then of course, when we did all these overdubs with Helena, it sounded like a dream. It’s sort of a dream thing. I like this. I think those lyrics are really cool. I think it’s the best lyrics on the album and it’s a cool ending song for me. And of course, I can’t sing it. I tried to, but I can’t sing like that, because it’s all these long notes. It goes on forever. You have to have another style to do that.

PP: – And so there is no demo with you singing, just the instrumental?

PG: – No, hahaha, no demo with me singing. It’s a little bit like, if you remember “Love Is All” from “Crash! Boom! Bang!”, it’s the same style of singing. It was just amazing for Marie to do. [Here he sings “looove iiis aaall”.] All these very long notes, I can’t really do that. So in “Love Is All” I did the chorus instead, which is much more natural for me, but this one is really tough.

PP: – Which songs from the album do you think are the strongest in today’s music world?

PG: – I don’t know. I don’t really listen that much to new music anymore. It’s because I think it’s really hard to… I don’t know how I should say this… I think lots of it sounds the same to me and everyone is using the same sounds and the same styles. I met Nick Lowe the other night. He was playing here in Stockholm and he said that he basically gave up producing pop music, because he said that in the old days you could hear if a band was good or if they were terrible. Today there is like 100,000 releases on Spotify every day and almost every song sounds good, because everyone is using plugins and using the computers. You don’t have to be able to sing anymore, because you can always fix it in the computer. So he said “pretty good is the new rubbish”. Hahaha. That’s what he said and I thought that was brilliant, because everything is pretty good these days, except people don’t really know how to write songs anymore. The sound is great, production sounds good, it’s all fine. It’s just that there are no melodies. It’s very rare that you bump into something that makes you “what?!”.

PP: – What do you think, from this point of view about Generation Z or even Gen Alpha? I was 11 when I first heard Roxette and I think it’s important when it comes to music, what you hear as a kid and what you can stick to later. What do you think these new generations’ opinion is about pop music style of the ’80s and ’90s?

PG: – I think for lots of people it’s not strange, but it’s different. All the music from the ’80s are based on melodies. People seem to like those songs. I see songs that have like a billion streams on Spotify and I listen to them and I don’t understand why people listen to them. Because I don’t understand what is attractive about it. It’s a generation thing and it was probably the same what my parents felt when they heard Elvis Presley the first time. They couldn’t get it, because they were into Frank Sinatra. I just hope that the craftmanship of writing melodies and writing songs won’t disappear. Because you can’t really do that on the computer. You have to do that in your head first and then you can put it in the computer and refine it. But I don’t know, maybe I’m just getting old. Hahaha.

PP: – Haha. I don’t think so. Which is the best “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” style track on “Pop-Up Dynamo!”?

PG: – I think the most obvious chorus is “The Loneliest Girl In The World”. It’s a classic. It’s like a “She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” or “Sleeping In My Car” style of chorus. But there are some strong choruses. “Walking On Air” has got a great chorus. I try to think of which songs are on the album. [He jumps up from his seat and brings the album while I’m laughing.] Hahaha. It’s a long time ago since I made this album. Let’s see. [He is checking the tracklist on the back of the vinyl sleeve.] “Headphones On”, yeah, it’s a pretty good chorus. “Watch Me Come Undone”. “Debris” has got a great chorus. I think that’s a great song as well. I like that sort of synthesizer sound that they created. It sounds like that TV show called “The Persuaders” with Roger Moore. It’s the same sort of style of the sound, which I liked. Oh, I don’t know, but to answer your question, the most obvious chorus is probably “The Loneliest Girl In The World”.

     

PP: – And which song do you think would be Marie’s favourite from the album?

PG:[He smiles.] Aaah. I think she would have loved “Walk Right In”. She would have loved to sing that, because it’s complicated. It’s really hard to sing and that would be a nice challenge for her. Also the chord progression is pretty unusual and I think she would love that. She always went for those crazy songs instead of the most obvious ones. A song like “You Hurt The One You Love The Most”, if Marie was going to sing that, I don’t think I would have made it a duet. I think she should have sung that on her own. It would have been really strong to have that sung by a girl, that lyric. Now it becomes different when I sing it, but then I try to mix it up with Dea and Helena. It’s a nice track. I think it’s also a little bit different from what I’ve done before.

PP: – I can see that a challenge started on TikTok. It’s very cool that you are using this channel at all.

PG:[He smiles.] Yeah, I don’t follow that myself, but we have this. The Warner people and also Liz, who is working for Marie Dimberg, she is very good at TikTok. We have so many short stories or whatever they are called. About the shoes and everything.

PP: – What do you think TikTok has as a role in the music industry today?

PG: – I think… people seem to listen to music in a different way than when I grew up. I was like sitting in my headphones and watching the record sleeves, reading the lyrics and getting into the music. Today, when I’m just watching my son when he listens to music, he just plays music all the time and he’s doing so many different things at the same time. Playing games or have the TV on or whatever it is. I never did that. When I listened to music when I grew up, I listened to music and the music became the main thing. I think TikTok is a sign of the times. People want sort of energy in 15 seconds and then 15 more seconds. It’s a very fast way of living. People are talking about making shorter and shorter songs, because people don’t have the capacity to stay focused too long. And I think it’s a shame. I think sometimes you need space and sometimes you need 7 minutes to present an idea. It’s terrible to skip a very good idea just because it’s supposed to be 30 seconds long. Pop music shouldn’t be trailers all the time. I think TikTok is basically doing that. On the other hand, doing all these snippets of stories or whatever you want to call it, it’s fun. If you use it as a marketing tool to get people interested, I think it’s really cool. It becomes like commercials, short commercials.

PP: – Short commercials, long videos. Can we expect more video clips for any other song?

PG: – Yeah, there is a video for this Christmas single that I made.

PP: – I wanted to ask about that too.

PG: – Yeah, it wasn’t supposed to be officially up until like in a couple of weeks, but then someone screwed that up. Anyway, we have done a video for that one, an animated video, which is really cool and I’m in it as well. Otherwise, I don’t know. Maybe we will do a video for that 12th track that I removed from the album. I know they are using “My Chosen One” with LÉON as a radio song as well. So maybe we’ll do something for that. I don’t know, I haven’t decided yet.

PP: – Regarding the album sleeve, I was surprised that there is this sticker which disappears when you get the album out of the foil. So there is no artist, no title stated on the front cover. I know there was such stuff in the past for Led Zeppelin and other artists, but why did you decide for that?

PG: – It was supposed to be exactly the same on the “Samma skrot och korn” sleeve with Gyllene Tider. You know there is a sticker on that one. But Cosmos screwed it up, so they put the sticker on the sleeve instead of on the plastic. So when you removed the plastic, the sticker was still on. And I hated that, because that wasn’t the idea. So for this one, I made sure that when you remove the sticker, you get a full, clean album sleeve, which I think is so cool, because the picture is so great.

PP: – I think so too. It’s a very cool pic! But then you shared a sleeve design with the artist and title on it on Twitter the other day. So is it for the digital release or …?

PG: – Yes, it’s different for digital. It’s because it’s easier to find it. When you already bought the LP, you might as well have the clean sleeve and I think that’s really nice. People did that in the old days, but nowadays everyone is so afraid. Can you see this? [He holds up the vinyl to show what he means.] In the old days, if they wanted to put the artist name here, on the lower part, you couldn’t do that, because they had all these records in this whatever it’s called… when you go through all the records in the store. You have to have the title up front, so it’s easy to see them. If you had the artist name here, you can’t see it. There were all these silly rules. I thought it was cool to break every rule and just do it like if it would have been done in 1973.

PP: – There are these amazing pictures by Fredrik Etoall. I really love his work with you and I like it when he is around, because he can catch your pop star essence extremely well. There is that picture on the “Walking On Air” sleeve, where you wear this jacket and you also wore it in the video. I just have to ask if it was a conscious choice of outfit or just an accidental pick from your wardrobe. Because Marie is wearing a similar one on the “Dressed For Success” single.

PG: – No, we didn’t think about that. The only thing I thought about was the last photo session we did for “Good Karma”, which is on the sleeve and also the “It Just Happens” video. I wear this leopard jacket and that was the first picture we released for this one, “The Loneliest Girl In The World”. You know what I’m talking about, this leopard jacket?

PP: – Yeah, of course I know. Haha.

PG: – So if you check the backside of the “Good Karma” album, I’m sitting there with my leopard jacket. And I’m using that again. I thought that was a cool idea to do this jump between the two, using the same jacket but in a different era, six years later. Fredrik always wants me to move around when we do these photo sessions. If you move around and you have these fringes what’s on the jacket, it just becomes great pictures. We took all these pictures in my apartment here in Stockholm. I have all my clothes here anyway, so Fredrik just picked out what he wanted and I put them on. He’s a great guy.

PP: – A great artist as well.

PG: – Yeah.

PP: – I know there won’t be a PG Roxette tour very soon, but which uptempo song do you think would be the coolest to be played in an acoustic arrangement one day?

PG: – In an acoustic arrangement? Hmm. [He is checking the tracklist on the vinyl again.] You mean apart from “Jezebel”, which is acoustic?

PP: – Yeah, I mean an uptempo song.

PG: – I don’t know if they have published it already, but when we were recording those short videos in the Warner office, I did an acoustic version of “Walking On Air”. I wasn’t supposed to, but I did. They had a guitar there, so I just did it. I started playing “Walking On Air” acoustically, and they filmed it and they’re using it. I don’t know if it’s published yet, but it’s gonna be out there. I’m singing terribly, but… Hahaha.

PP: – It’s not out yet, but I don’t think you sing terribly.

PG: – Hahaha. I didn’t know this song and I didn’t know the lyrics, because it’s such a long time ago, but anyway, it’s gonna be out there. That song sounded actually amazing to play acoustically. It’s a really good song and you can do a good vibe to it and a good groove to it. So it’s not a bad choice. Yeah. Otherwise I don’t know. “The Loneliest Girl In The World” is easy to play as well. “The Loneliest Girl In The World” you could arrange as a Gyllene Tider track, if you wanted to translate it into Swedish.

PP: – Can you share any information about the Christmas single or you want to wait until later?

PG: – I saw that Bengans had the titles out there. It’s one uptempo song and one ballad and I wrote the ballad first, eight years ago. It was called “Wishing On The Same Star” to begin with. It was written for a musical, but they didn’t use it. I liked the song and I thought maybe I should do a Christmas song. So I recorded a demo of it with a Christmas lyric. Then I didn’t use that either until now. Clarence and Magnus did the production and it sounded good, but it felt a little bit predictable to do this ballad Christmas thing. I felt like maybe I should write something really uptempo instead. So I wrote this really fast uptempo song. I did it in July this year. So the other song, “Wish You The Best For Xmas” is brand new. It’s produced by myself and Andreas Broberger, so it sounds a little different.

PP: – And it doesn’t have anything to do with “Wish You The Best”?

PG: – No, no, no, no. Not that song. The video to it is cool too, but it’s different. It’s made by this guy Mattias Gordon, who did the “Being With You” video. It’s different style, but it’s animated and it’s a lot of Christmas people in it. He’s got this great technique. He is taking films of people and then he draws on the film, then just keeps the drawings and gets rid of the films. I’m in there and I’m playing the keyboards, but I’m just like… it’s just pencil. It’s funny and it’s cool.

PP: – Good to have something more to look forward to until Christmas! Thank you very much for this opportunity, Per!

PG: – Excellente! And you saved me a week of work. Perfect! Hahaha.

PP: – Haha. I promise to send less questions next time!

PG: – No, that’s fine. Have a good evening!

PP: – Thank you, you too! And good luck with the album and the GT ticket sales and everything you are doing!

PG: – Thank you very much! Appreciate it.

     

With this, we both clicked the END button and our meeting was over. It was a real pleasure to talk to Per and hear so many details about PG Roxette and “Pop-Up Dynamo!”, as well as Gyllene Tider directly from him. His thoughts on songwriting and the music world then and now are also always more than welcome.

I hope you enjoyed the interview, which definitely became my most memorable Zoom meeting and most exciting Teams meeting ever. Haha.

Stills are from the Teams meeting, collages are from album sleeves.

RoxBlog interview with Per Gessle – PART 1 – “Just because she’s gone, it doesn’t mean that she’s forgotten.”

For this interview with Per, as always, I had prepared quite some questions that I sent to him before the debut album release of PG Roxette. As you all know, there are several parallel projects going on now, so it’s probably even more of a busy period for him than it usually is. He promised to try to get back to me before the release date, but than he came up with the idea, what if we do a Zoom meeting. Ojoj. I always preferred writing to talking when it comes to me, but you don’t say no, when such an opportunity arises.

We set the date, 26th October and planned a 30-40-minute-long meeting. We went on talking for almost 1.5 hours. It was a long chat, full of insights, so I decided to share it in two parts. Just like our meeting happened in two parts. Read this article until the end to see why.

I enjoyed listening to him so much that at 1 or 2 points I was even a bit distracted, then I suddenly realized that hey, I have to ask the next question. I’m so not used to this. Haha.

After the usual online meeting phrases – “Can you see me? Can you hear me?” – and Per explaining he is “so thrilled every time this works”, we discuss he has been doing radio all afternoon. Swedish radio, so I’ll have some “work” to do, to translate it. Haha. [Already done.] I get to know that it was on Mix Megapol with Lotta Bromé. Tomorrow [Thursday] is a day for German media, so Per says there is a lot of blah blah blah going on now.

Patrícia Peres: – Congratulations on 2 sold out shows for Gyllene Tider!

Per Gessle: – Yeah! Thank you! It’s fun. It’s pretty scary to release these tickets, because we never release tickets this early before. But it’s a new ball game now. Everyone is releasing tickets and there is so much competition going on, so you have to be ahead of everything. October isn’t the typical Gyllene Tider month. You know, we always feel like when we should start present something, it should be in the spring, when people are anticipating the summer. Now we’re going into the darkness here.

PP: – But there is always light coming after that and there are already 2 sold out shows!

PG: – Yeah, I think we made good decisions. We didn’t charge too much money for the tickets and we have children’s tickets.

PP: – Fans are very happy with the ticket prices.

PG: – And I think that’s good too, because we’re going into recession and I know lots of artists who charge so much money and they don’t sell any tickets because people don’t have the money anymore.

PP: – In Hungary you can’t buy tickets that cheap. Any concerts I bought tickets for were much more expensive than GT tickets. And we are far from Sweden.

            

Here I thank Per for offering this online meeting option. He could have just said that he doesn’t have the time or is not interested. He says it’s fine, he just thought that it would take a lot of time for him now to answer all my questions in written form and he thought maybe if I get all the info from the “Per Gessle Talks P-UD!” recordings, then I don’t have to ask some of those questions. Haha. I tell him the more info he gives me, the more questions I have. He laughs.

PP: – By the way, it’s a very good idea to release these talks, because it’s really fun and cool for all the fans to hear YOU talking about this project and the songs.

PG: – Yeah, I started doing that when I released the “Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig” album. Then I noticed there is so many streams. I don’t know why people want to hear…

PP: – Haha. It’s a rhetorical question, right?

PG: – There are also videos in which I talk. They are not the same as what’s on Spotify. So maybe I tell the opposite in the videos and there is contradiction.

PP: – Haha. OK. Well… I just wanted to ask you about the name PG Roxette, of course. You talked a lot about it, why you chose it, but I would like to know if this project has ever been planned under your own name. You probably decided it earlier, but the first time we could hear about PG Roxette was when the Metallica cover happened.

PG: – There have been many options. One option was to use the Roxette name, but then I felt like I should sort of make a point that it’s not really the old Roxette. It’s an extension or a new chapter of Roxette. So I had to make a quick decision when the Metallica thing happened, because they were going to release that song. So I decided to go with PG Roxette and then the rest of it followed naturally, so to speak. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but the Roxette name is such a strong brand anyway, so it’s good to have that in there.

PP: – Absolutely. I agree.

PG: – It’s the same thing as what I was just talking to this journalist on the radio about the Mono Mind thing. Mono Mind was great when nobody knew it was me, but then as soon as people know it’s me, it becomes just another project. And with a fake voice, sort of. So… I think it’s a good thing and I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the future. We’ll see. The original plan for PG Roxette was to do a tour, because I wanted to play the Roxette songs. But then Pelle died, so we couldn’t tour. And then the corona thing happened, so everything got delayed and delayed. So I said let’s do this album instead and use these players, Jonas, Helena and Dea. I didn’t really get that power of Helena and Dea combined until I did the Metallica song and then I realized that they sounded so amazing together. So Dea came down to Christoffer’s studio and overdubbed what Helena already had done. That’s how we basically created these voices.

PP: – Ah, OK. I thought that you originally wrote the songs for three voices.

PG: – No. It was just a sound that I wanted, so Helena and Dea only worked together in the studio at the same time on the Metallica song. Otherwise they worked separately. Most of Helena’s vocals were recorded in Halmstad at the T&A studio and then Dea came down to Skåne to Christoffer’s studio.

PP: – It’s very interesting, because you mentioned how their voices are working together, but it’s really hard to make a distinction whether it’s only Helena or it’s Dea and Helena together.

PG: – Hard to do. On certain tracks, like “Watch Me Come Undone” or “You Hurt The One You Love The Most” I tried to put them on separate sides, so you can hear Dea on one side and Helena on the other side. So you can sort of follow what they are doing. I just let them sing whatever they wanted and direct them a little bit. Then when we mixed the album, we just got through all the channels, cut the phrases and put them here and there.

PP: – You dedicated “Pop-Up Dynamo!” to Marie. I think most of us fans expected it, but reading these two words “For Marie” was really heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. What does this dedication mean to you?

PG: – Well, if Marie would have been around and in good shape, we would have continued to work together. She couldn’t really sing anymore when we did the “Good Karma” album. It was a really tough album to make. Of course, when I continue the Roxette legacy, even though she’s not here, she’s there anyway. Maybe you can’t hear her, but she is part of it anyway. So it felt natural to do that. Just because she’s gone, it doesn’t mean that she’s forgotten. That’s the way it is.

PP: – Regarding this link between “Look Sharp!” and “Joyride”, we, fans were very surprised, because when you said that it’s a link, we thought OK, but Marie is not there anymore, so can it be a real link? And then you said it’s a sister album to them and then the other day you said in an interview that it’s a cousin. I think cousin is the closest relation to those two albums, because it has this ’80s and ’90s vibe to it, but it’s different. It’s not how Roxette really sounded back in the ’80s and ’90s.

PG: – I think that maybe it’s me who hasn’t really been clear about it. I haven’t explained it properly. I mean it’s not like a sibling to “Look Sharp!” and “Joyride” in that sense that it sounds the same, it’s just that it’s that kind of sounds and that kind of way. You can hear so much classic Clarence keyboards in there, which is very much the old Roxette style, but I didn’t want to do an album that sounded like 1989. It has to sound 2022. It has to sound modern. This is probably the closest you can get without being too retro. I didn’t want to make it like a retro album, but at the same time, I didn’t want it to sound like a Mono Mind record with real voices. Maybe some people think that it sounds more like “Good Karma” than “Joyride”. I don’t know.

PP: – It sounds a bit like “Good Karma”, it sounds a bit like “Crash! Boom! Bang!”, it sounds a bit like “Look Sharp!”, a bit like “Joyride”, so it’s a mix of everything.

PG: – Yeah and that’s obviously because it’s my songs and it’s my style of writing and that shines through in everything. It’s always very difficult to describe music in words, you know. It sounds like this or it sounds like that. The attitude we had when we started producing was that we should do something like a sibling to “Joyride” and “Look Sharp!” and don’t do too many overdubs. If you listen to “Dressed For Success” or “Sleeping Single” or even “The Look”… I heard “The Look” today in my headphones when I was at the radio station. There are hardly any instruments there, there are only like a bass synth, an overdub bass, some guitars and a pad here and there and then voices and drum machine and that’s it. It’s very ’80s. “Watch Me Come Undone” is sort of the same thing. It’s very ’80s, even though it sounds modern in a way. It’s the closest I could get.

PP: – Your demos in the “Look Sharp!” and “Joyride” era were quite produced. Now how should we imagine the demos for “Pop-Up Dynamo!”?

PG: – I made pretty produced demos. Hahaha.

PP: – Do they sound almost the same as the final songs?

PG: – Not really, because Clarence and Magnus, especially Magnus is really into the analog synthesizers and I have lots of them myself. You know, Jupiter 8, Jupiter 6 and Prophet 5 and all those synthesizers. So we used those, but when I made the demos, I didn’t use them at all. So it was Clarence and Magnus who created this ’80s sound. But eventually, I’m sure I would release the demos on a birthday. Hahaha.

PP: – Surprise, surprise! Haha.

PG: – These type of songs that are like pop songs, it’s really hard to present them on an acoustic guitar. I have to show Clarence and Magnus what I want with this song, which direction I wanted to go. So I have to make a demo, which sort of makes sense. The only song I didn’t have a demo for is the one I wrote with Giorgio Tuinfort.

PP: – You released “Look Sharp!” at the age of 30, now you are in your 60s. How was the uptempo PG back then and how he is now? How challenging was it to write such songs?

PG: – It’s always harder to write fast songs than slow songs. It’s the same with the new Gyllene Tider album. I think that album is the best album we’ve ever done, because there is so much energy in it and …

PP: – Sorry to interrupt, but when did you record it? We just heard the news that it’s already done. When did you record it? You were touring all the time! Haha.

PG: – Hahaha. We started recording it in November last year. You know we had to cancel touring then and so I didn’t tour before Christmas. When we got back on tour in April, the album was done.

PP: – Gosh! Wow!

PG: – We were also like “how the hell did we do this?”. Hahaha. We were very motivated and I was really motivated. Same with this album, “Pop-Up Dynamo!”. I just felt like I wanted to do Roxette. When you write a song for Roxette, it has to have a certain amount of sophistication in there. It’s pretty smart and advanced with all the modulations. As soon as Clarence is involved and you put the responsibility on his shoulders, it becomes like a fulfilled production thing, which is not the case with Gyllene Tider. Gyllene Tider is much more… [he is snapping his fingers] It’s five people trying to make sense. Half of the time we don’t make sense at all, but when we make sense, it sort of explodes. It’s so different writing an uptempo song for Roxette compared to Gyllene Tider. And I can’t really explain it. It’s just so different.

PP: – Very cool! I just hope that at the age of 90 you will still write uptempo songs. Haha. Earlier you said that you couldn’t really go back to that writing style, how you wrote songs in the ’80s and ’90s. Now how was it possible for you to go back to that way of thinking?

PG: – You know, so many things that I say can be interpreted in so many ways. For me it’s a big difference how I write today compared to when I was younger, but at the same time it’s exactly the same. It’s because it’s the same style, my roots are still the same and my musical ideals and what I like about music is the same. And I haven’t really changed them. I’m pretty conservative when it comes to my songwriting. So in that sense, nothing has changed. But, what has really happened is that time has gone by. I mean, I’m older now and the more you know, the more professional you get. Even though you might not necessarily notice it yourself, you tend to change because you become professional. And also you have written so many songs. It happens that I’m writing and bump into something that I feel sounds really interesting and then I think shit, I used this on “(Do You Get) Excited?” or I used this on “Fading Like A Flower” or I used it on “Honung och guld”. So of course it becomes more and more difficult, because you’ve done so many songs, you’ve written so many songs. I think it’s so rewarding when you write a really simple uptempo Gyllene Tider song and it works and it sounds great. It’s really hard to do now and it wasn’t hard to do when I was 20. Hahaha. It’s hard to do, but then it’s so rewarding to be able to do that. It’s the same with the PG Roxette album. In a way, it’s very fragile because it’s a debut album in a sense. It’s the first time I do a Roxette album without Marie, so there are things that I might change. If I’m going to do another album, it’s going to be different from this one, because I had to do this album first before I go into the next chapter. So in a way, it’s like an experiment to see how it sounds and how we could do things.

PP: – It might be a stupid question, because even your 30-40-year-old albums sound amazing today, but as an artist, did you think it might get “outdated” during those 2 years while you kept “Pop-Up Dynamo!” in the can? With an album lying around for such a long time, is there any temptation or “risk” of wanting to remake it or change anything after it’s ready, but not yet released? Did you change anything on this album since it was ready?

PG: – Yeah, I did. First of all, I think you have to make a decision early on that when the album is done, it’s done. Otherwise you’re going to change it all the time. But what I did was that I took away one uptempo song. It was 12 songs to begin with. And I did that because I thought the album didn’t need that. I’m going to release that song next year instead. Because it’s a really cool song. I think one of the side effects of my style of writing is that if you hear one song at a time and you listen to other artists in between, all these songs sort of make sense. If you listen to them altogether, they sort of disturb each other, because they are all very powerful in their own right. It was the same problem with “Joyride” and “Look Sharp!”. That’s why I put “Jezebel” on this album.

PP: – Yeah, I was going to ask you about the balance.

PG: – Yes. That song doesn’t fit the album at all, but that’s why it has to be there. And also that’s one of the reasons why I took away this uptempo track, because it got too many songs. You overdose on your stuff. But that’s something you learn.

PP: – Regarding the production, who had what role in it?

PG: – Well, like I said, I did the demos and the demos showed the direction. Then we talked about the direction and Clarence and Magnus did backing tracks and then they sent the tracks to me and I changed everything I didn’t like. Hahaha. Then I did the vocals basically on my own in the studio and Helena’s vocals as well with Mats in Halmstad. Then it went back to Magnus and Clarence to sort of organize everything. After you’ve done the vocals, you have to sort of adjust certain things. You feel like maybe you need something here or there. It’s a production thing. The last thing we did was to go to Christoffer’s studio and do some overdubs. Also, we did all the Jonas Isacsson stuff at the Sweetspot Studio in Harplinge early on. So he was involved really early on. Christoffer wasn’t that involved this time. We did of course Dea’s vocals with him and he did some overdubs, some guitar parts as well and he did this strange synthesizer, Ondes Martenot. Have you heard about that one?

PP: – Yeah, from you and I had to look it up to see what’s that.

PG: – They are really hard to get, those machines. And here you have to be sort of selected by this family to be able to buy it. And Christoffer was selected. He was the list for years! So he got it and it sounds like a little bird. It’s a synthesizer from the 1930s or so and it’s really complicated to play. You have a little ring and a string and you move your finger like this and it’s [here Per makes some Ondes Martenot noise while demonstrating how it works, haha]. Anyway, it’s a sound that sounds really special, and we put it as soon as we needed something instead of doing a string melody or something. We used this machine instead, because it’s special, it’s unique. Then of course I did three songs alone with Christoffer, including “Jezebel”. And the only one we used was “Jezebel”. I did another version of “Sunflower” with Chris, but that sounded terrible so I used my demo instead, which is what was released. And then we did another song, which was terrible, but I kept that song for the Gyllene Tider album, because it sounded much more GT than Roxette.

PP: – Hmm! Interesting! So you translated this song into Swedish?

PG: – Yeah, I translated it, so now there is this English and the Swedish Gyllene Tider version of it.

PP: – I hope we will get to hear both of them one day!

PG: – That will be coming up, I’m sure.

PP: – A couple of minutes ago you mentioned Jonas. I have to say we all thought that – because of him – there would be more guitars involved. How was your collaboration after so many years?

PG: – It was good and it was fun. Jonas is a great player. Actually, I felt like a little bit of what you’re saying. I felt like there was a little bit too little guitar. So that’s one of the reasons why I wrote and put “Headphones On” in there, because I wanted to get a proper guitar solo. It’s so unfashionable with a guitar solo these days. Working with him also on the Metallica song was great, because he is such a great player. I think it was mainly in Clarence’s and Magnus’s backing tracks that they didn’t really use that many guitars. Actually, “The Loneliest Girl In The World” had much more guitars at one stage, but we took away the guitars, because we kept the synthesizers instead.

PP: – Does it make any difference when you write a song on guitar or piano and then you make it as a synth production?

PG: – No, not really. I mean, you decide that when you make the demo. You feel what the song’s temperature is or whatever you want to call it. I think if you’re going to have a guitar riff that’s like in “Sleeping In My Car” or something like that, you have to write that when you write the song. Because it’s really hard to do it later. Let’s say you have a song like “The Loneliest Girl In The World” and you try to make a guitar riff in the intro. It doesn’t really make sense, because there is so many things going on anyway. And that’s exactly what happened with that particular song. But that’s a very good question. Generally speaking, I think we should have a little bit more guitars on this album. But next time! Hahaha.

PP: – It sounds much fun anway, but on the next album, maybe more guitars, yes.

PG: – There is so much guitar on the Gyllene Tider album, so you will be happy.

PP: – Yeah, sounds promising. I’ll be happy with that for sure. Haha. Was your Ensoniq ESQ-1 involved at any stage?

PG:[He smiles.] No, but I found the Jupiter 6 and the Jupiter 8. I took down all my synthesizers to Christoffer’s studio a long time ago and he put them away in the attic or somewhere. I told him that I wanted them back for this recording, so I got all these synthesizers back and some of them were in terrible shape. The keys were stuck, stuff like that. They were fixed by some guy in Malmö. Eventually, they became like mint condition, so Magnus and Clarence used them a lot. Magnus, you know, he’s really into that kind of stuff, so it was Christmas Eve every day for him. Hahaha.

PP: – Three guys play the synth on the album: Magnus, Chris and Clarence. What is the difference between their style?

PG: – Well, Clarence of course is a keyboard player, so he can play properly. Magnus is more of a programmer and Magnus isn’t a very good piano player. Christoffer is in between. He can play anything, but he can’t really play piano like Clarence. So they have different roles. When it comes to Christoffer, he didn’t really program that much. He was more like the end station for this production. I think he got fed up programming when we did the Mono Mind album and the “Good Karma” album. It was too much for him. He doesn’t really like that anymore. Hahaha. We did the Mono Mind album before we did “Good Karma” and that was an amazing recording to do, because we really did something we hadn’t touched before productionwise. Then doing all these experiments with the computers and the voices. We learned so much from that and we took a lot of that knowledge into the production of “Good Karma”. But then “Good Karma” had other problems. That is Marie’s voice. So we had to work so hard to make her sound OK. In the original version of “Let Your Heart Dance With Me” she didn’t sound very good. That’s one of the reasons why we didn’t put that on the album. Then many years later Ronny Lahti mixed that song and he could actually make Marie sound great on that. So she sounds amazing on the single I think. But she didn’t sound that good when we worked with her.

PP: – Was there any song originally written for Marie to sing? I mean one of these songs that are on “Pop-Up Dynamo!” now.

PG: – Hmmm. Let me think. No, I think all of these songs are new. Hmmm. No. They are new songs, all of them. The oldest song is “Jezebel”. I wrote that in 2017.

PP: – What project did you write it for?

PG: – I think it was after Nashville. I wrote a couple of acoustic songs that I recorded with Helena. And “Jezebel” is one of them. I recorded it with Christoffer on my own and I just felt that I needed something to break the radio-friendly pop songs on the album. Hahaha. When you make an album, it’s always like putting a puzzle together. As soon as you get a new song, it changes all the other songs.

PP: – Getting down to the songs, “Walking On Air” was the trigger track. You wrote it for “Top Gun: Maverick”. How should we imagine the request you got to write a song for the movie? Did you get the complete script of that one scene you wrote the song for?

PG: – I got an email saying that they were interested in a song for a particular scene and the scene was a couple of people dancing on the beach. So they wanted this like a summer vibe thing. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I think that there isn’t a scene like that in it.

PP: – I asked a friend of mine who watched it and he said that there is a beach scene but no one is dancing there.

PG: – Once in a while I get requests like that and normally I don’t really deal with it, but since this was such a big movie, I thought it could be worthwhile to do it. I just loved this song when I wrote it. This is a great song and that sort of triggered the whole idea that maybe I should do a Roxette album in that style. Then the idea of doing this “sibling” to “Joyride” and “Look Sharp!” came about. It was definitely the trigger track. As you know it, when I wrote it for the movie, it was only Helena singing it. Because I thought it made more sense. But then of course I changed it to myself.

Originally, the meeting would come to an end here, Zoom says it’s just 4 minutes left, but I still have some questions left and so I ask Per if he still has time. He says absolutely, we can go on, no worries. But I explain that the Zoom meeting will end anyway, so I will have to send another invitation, I assume. I usually do Zoom meetings with agency people who send me the invitations, so this time I only registered on Zoom for being able to schedule this meeting. Non-premium users can only have 40-minute meetings.

While I’m already at creating the new invitation, Per says he thinks all these apps are so complicated. Then he mentions “we have something called Teams here in Sweden”. Hallelujah! I laughed because that’s exactly the app we use at my company and I’m more familiar with that. Also, there is no time limit. It’s just that whenever there was an online media interview with Per, I saw he always used Zoom and also when he said we could meet online, he suggested Zoom. So I didn’t think about asking if Teams could also be fine for him. Haha. Whatever. He now suggests we can make a Teams thing instead if I prefer that. So I start creating a Teams invitation. While I’m at it, he starts scanning my shelves behind me and notices I have the “Akustiska kvällar” book there (among many other things). He says he is waiting for Anders Roos to send him footage from the studio, because he was there when they were recording the new album with Gyllene Tider. I find it promising. [If you check Gyllene Tider’s Facebook site, you can see that in the meantime he received the footage from Anders.]

The Teams invitation is sent and Per says he lets me go, he goes back to his mail and we start all over again. Ciao! Ciao!

END OF PART 1

Stills are from the Zoom meeting.

Click here for PART 2!