Per Gessle – Värvet podcast interview

It’s not the first time Per was a guest of Kristoffer Triumf on his podcast, Värvet. Mr. G was guest No. 61 in May 2013 and now he is back in episode 442. The guys talked about Roxette, Halmstad, corporate gigs, Gyllene Tider, Marie Fredriksson, getting tired of music, his driving force, Så mycket bättre, money and happiness, dishwasher filling, the boring side of being Per Gessle and the connection between Monty Python and Joyride.

Already the teaser video on Instagram was much fun:

Kristoffer: – Brag about something!
Per: – I’m damn good at hockey.

K: – Do you have pain anywhere?
P: – In one shoulder for some reason, but I don’t know why. But it’s over now.

K: – How do you make the world better?
P: – I can’t answer that. I don’t know if I make the world better, actually.

K: – But you spread some kind of joy with your art?
P: – Yeah, maybe I do, but I can’t sit here and say that.

K: – Football team?
P: – Halmia, of course!

K: – If you could eat only one meal for the rest of your life, what would that be?
P: – Spaghetti aglio e olio. I love that.

K: – Choose a karaoke song!
P: – I don’t like karaoke, but… Hotel California.

K: – What will be written on your headstone?
P: – See you later, alligator… Haha, I don’t know.

In the podcast, Kristoffer asks Per how this corona year affected him. Per says it’s a quite boring and negative period in a way. At the same time, there are a lot of things happening in the world. The US elections and other creepy things related to the pandemic and it hasn’t ended yet and one can’t see the end of it. Mr. G says it has affected the music and hotel industry very much. He didn’t have a tour booked for this year, so he didn’t have to cancel anything, however, he had some corporate gigs booked that were cancelled. Kristoffer asks about corporate gigs. Per says he plays mainly for big companies, e.g. Ferrari, sometimes in Sweden, sometimes abroad. He is doing those to gather with his band and to be able to play. If they play in Sweden, people usually want to hear Här kommer alla känslorna and Sommartider, while if they do such gigs abroad it’s mainly Roxette songs they play. He thinks it’s fun to be with the band and they have a small crew with them. Kristoffer asks if there are any other benefits of playing for e.g. Ferrari than to earn money on that. Per says actually at that company he knows some people who work there. They played in Monaco on a huge Philip Morris luxury yacht. There was a swimming pool in the middle and there were people sitting in costumes and tuxedos rattling their jewelry around the pool while they were playing The Look. It was quite surreal, he laughs. Kristoffer says it must have been a difficult audience. Per says there is no difficult audience, but they were different for sure.

Per started what he is doing at a young age and he learned a lot over the years. When they broke through with Gyllene Tider in 1980 there were people who liked what they were doing and there were people who didn’t. The more successful they became the more dirt some wanted to find around them. There weren’t paparazzis or such, but they felt they had to take care of themselves at the shows and also with journalists. The more professional he got the more he could deal with it. Once he leaves his house, he is a public person. He can’t let it go. His close friends have another picture of him than those who don’t know him too well.

Kristoffer says he saw the documentary Jonas Åkerlund cut, the Roxette Diaries. He asks if it’s another Per. Most of it was filmed by Mr. G’s wife, so it’s a bit different when someone else films. Kristoffer says there are scenes in the Let Your Heart Dance With Me video too. Per says LYHDWM is one of two leftover songs from the Good Karma session. They release it in a box, Bag of Trix that consists of 4 vinyls or 3 CDs. It will contain bonus songs that were out on CD singles released e.g. in Japan only, demos and Spanish versions of songs as well. LYHDWM was ready but not mixed, so it was done only now. First Per wanted to find like 10 songs to release, but the deeper he was digging the more tracks he found. He already released a box with his own demos 5-6 years ago. That box contained a lot of Roxette songs, but then he didn’t pick demos that Marie was singing. So the demos Marie was involved with are on this Bag of Trix box now. There are even demos from the era before they released their first album. Kristoffer asks if there are demos of the hits as well. Per says it depends on what he means by hits. There are hits on it, but e.g. the demo of The Look or Joyride, which he was singing, are not on this compilation.

Kristoffer starts talking about the tribute concert to Marie held in January this year. Mr. G says it was a lovely, but strange event. When you go through something like what happened, you grow a shell around yourself. When you are so sad, it’s always tough to do anything. But when he met all the other musicians, Marie’s friends, it was in the air that everyone felt the same. So there was a kind of collective darkness. It was very difficult. The hardest times came when there were those little films in between the songs where Marie appeared. But it felt very great to do that. After the event it felt that it was perfect. Kristoffer aks Per how he worked on processing his grief. Per says he can’t really tell. He feels there is a huge emptiness. He was kind of prepared for what happened, because Marie was ill for so long. But you can’t really be prepared for this. When it’s over, it’s over. He thinks that this emptiness will stay there forever. It pops up all the time. When they are talking about Roxette, or when he sees things or a song is on the radio. He is reminded every day.

Kritoffer asks Per if he still plans to play the songs he wrote for Roxette, he did that before. Mr. G says he wants to sing them, because the alternative is not playing them anymore and that feels like a bad option. The songs live their own lives. Marie can’t be replaced, but he wants to play those songs. He already did that. It’s different, but it works.

Kristoffer thinks it might be a stupid question, but he asks Per how he remembers Marie. Per says there are so many different Maries. The greatest thing is that they succeeded with breaking through abroad. It’s highly impossible what they did. With their background, coming from Halmstad. He remembers the time when they shared the rehearsal studio, the days when she came up to his apartment and they were chatting, playing music, singing, drinking wine and dreaming away. Slowly but surely it happened. There were a lot of coincidences, a lot of luck and the determined dedication they both turned out to have. They both were very ambitious. After they broke through, Marie became a professional pop star. Then he also thinks about Marie as a fantastic singer who learned how to handle the audience of a football stadium and suddenly became a Freddie Mercury. Then he also remembers the break they had in the 90’s when Marie had her second child. Per did other things then, Gyllene Tider and solo stuff. Then they did another journey from 1999 to 2001 when they released 2 albums. It wasn’t a long time, because then Marie got ill in 2002.

Regarding Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig Per says he was writing an English pop album. He says it’s difficult to write songs like How Do You Do! when you are getting older. Because of the pandemic he thought he would record an acoustic record in the studio. The idea was to play all the instruments himself. He thought it would be personal. He didn’t have any songs and he didn’t want to write a new album, because he was already writing an English one. Then he thought he has so many old Swedish songs he likes very much, but never recorded or didn’t record it in a modern time. There are songs he wrote for other artists or songs he recorded but thinks they didn’t turn out to be good enough in their original version. He tested tons of songs, more than you can find on the album now.

There is a difference between Per today and Per 25-30 years ago. He doesn’t write pop songs the same way as before. He is dealing with stuff he finds interesting, but it’s still in his DNA to write something commercial. He doesn’t feel home in the world of producing music on laptops. He thinks some of these things are cool, but it’s not as much fun for him to record as e.g. an acoustic album. The hours he spends in the studio are like birthday celebration for him. It’s a big creative process, there he feels home. He feels awkward when he sits in front of the computer for hours to produce music. He sometimes likes a sound, but then they have to find another sound and it’s a boring process. He is coming from the rehearsal studio tradition. The music he is making these days doesn’t become so commercial as before. It’s fun to work with the 80’s or early 90’s sound again, synths and drum machines. Per loves that sound and that’s what he is doing now. We’ll hear the result maybe in spring next year. He says one will recognize his style. At least he hopes so. This album is being recorded mostly in Skåne at Christoffer Lundquist’s studio. He works together with Christoffer, Clarence Öfwerman and Magnus Börjeson.

Kristoffer asks about the phases we can’t see in Per’s job. Mr. G says it’s hard to tell about those, because he is his work, his activity is coming out of anything he is doing. He is constantly gathering ideas and has his antennas out. Sometimes he lets it go, when he feels he worked too much, was in the studio for so long or wrote too much and he needs space and distance. His iPhone is full of ideas, sketches, thoughts, song ideas, lyric ideas, production ideas.

Kristoffer aks what is the boring side of being Per Gessle or being an artist at all. Mr. G says there is nothing super boring in it. He always tries to have fun. But he knows what Kristoffer means. There is a girl who takes care of his music business and a manager who takes care of replying all the mails that have anything to do with Per’s job. There is Thomas Johansson at Live Nation who takes care of the shows. So he doesn’t have to take care of the administration himself. Sometimes he does, but only to keep an eye on it. A lot of his music is being used in commercials or movies on Netflix and when there are these requests, he gets emails daily and is asked if they can go ahead with this or that. He says he doesn’t want his music to be connected to anything controversial or political and he doesn’t get emails like that because probably everyone knows he is not interested in that. Sometimes it’s a commercial for an Italian clothes brand or a Chilean mineral water or independent movies. Sometimes he gets the synopsis and they tell him there is a space for e.g. Dressed for Success in it. He thinks his music doesn’t need to be constrained to McDonald’s commercials, but can also appear in avantgarde films.

Kristoffer says it’s an old truth that they never talk about money in Sweden, at the same time he feels that Per had to talk a lot about money in Sweden. Per says he doesn’t know why. He thinks it’s because they became successful very early. Now there are a lot of people who earn a lot of money in Sweden: IT millionaires, the Spotfiy guys etc. But when they broke through in the 80’s it was different. When he is asked about money he is always talking about music instead. He likes earning a lot of money and loves success, but the most important is that everything is based on his music and the ideas he has around his musicality, songwriting and artistry. So he turns the conversation into a creative discussion then. Kristoffer asks Per if financial independency makes him happy. Per says the short answer is yes. Life itself became much simpler besides paying the rent. That’s another question that the business he works in is a risk industry. The money he earns gives him the possibility to keep going without compromises. He doesn’t need to think of making commercial music anymore. Before he had to think about it a lot. Both with Gyllene Tider and Roxette, but thankfully, they had the power of creating those songs themselves. All of their hits are original songs and that’s what he is the most proud of in his career. It’s all built on his songwriting. The music industry changed so much. Spotify takes 94-95% of the total business in Sweden. At the same time, he is still thinking in album format, he still tries to record organically in a studio with different musicians. It costs a lot of money and that money doesn’t come back, so it’s him who is financing that part, having fun in the studio. But he is doing corporate gigs or tours and he hopes to sell tickets so that he can earn on that and invest it into his recording activity. If he wasn’t selling tickets, he wouldn’t have the possibility for that. Money gives you freedom to be able to do what you want.

Kristoffer says Per has a huge song catalogue and asks Per if he is reminded of it daily. Per says it’s his life, but he doesn’t sit down to think „shit, what a huge song catalogue I have”. He is very proud of all they achieved over the years, but it’s not something you are thinking about every day. You keep going forward.

Kristoffer asks when Per is the happiest. Mr. G says he is superhappy when he is with his family, they mean so much to him. But as a person he is the best when he is working in the studio. When he creates music with people who he respects. They make the result together. He has always been a studio fox. He also likes playing music together, he loves everything around music. Sometimes it’s too much, he feels he was working too much, e.g. after long tours he gets tired of himself and all the songs. But it’s fantastic to go to a rehearsal studio and prepare for a tour, playing together. Music is a huge power itself. He doesn’t know any other art that is so strong as music. It makes you laugh or cry or dance. And doing it together is magical. He told his son who has never played in a band that all kids should play in a band at least once in their lives to get the feeling of working together and discover when „you and I sing together” and it sounds good. Or when you play the bass and drums and they sound good together. And writing stuff yourself or arranging music. It’s fantastic, the whole journey.

Kristoffer asks if Per’s son, Gabriel plays any instruments. Per says he plays a little piano, a little guitar and the drums. Not at a super level, but it’s fun. He is 23 and he is very much into laptop music. He is programming ambient music.

Kristoffer aks Per if he ever gets tired of music. Per doesn’t think so. If he looks back on his teenage years, he always thinks about music, artists like David Bowie, T. Rex, The Beatles, Bad Company, Wings. That was his education. He learned English via pop music. He found the fundamentals in music and for him it’s easy to refer to music. There he recognizes himself and that era. When he is talking about music he remembers not solely music, but art or movies or magazines of the era. He spent a lot of time away from school, putting on the earphones and listening to The Dark Side of the Moon or Aladdin Sane.

About history Per says he is interested in it, one can learn a lot from history. When you are reading about different eras in history you recognize a lot from our times today. He says his son is very good at Maths and Physics, but Per is lost in that field. When he grew up his walls were full of posters of pop idols, motorcycles and cars. His son’s room is filled with formulas and algorithms. He loves Maths.

Kristoffer asks Per about Gyllene Tider’s comeback. Per says he read that in the newspapers that they would come back, but he says the question was if that was really the last tour last year. He said it was, BUT it’s a pity, because GT is a fantastic band to play with and a fantastic fireball in the music life. It was Micke Syd’s idea that they should do a last tour now that they are all still healthy and alive. It made sense. But now that it’s over, Per is not against doing more GT gigs again. It’s always fun. They are like brothers and there is a fundamental love between them in a way. Of course, between brothers there is arguing as well, but in 2019, while they became older they became calmer and it was so easy to do it together. There is a huge gratitude for what they have achieved and the chance to succeed was so little, one can’t ignore it.

Kristoffer asks Per about Roxette’s break through if it was luck. Mr. G says that all artists who break through in that way are lucky. You have to be at the right place at the right time. Per says there were so many moments that led to their success. He was asked to write a song for Pernilla Wahlgren. He wrote Svarta glas, but she never recorded it. Per’s demo was circulating at his record company though and the boss, Rolf Nygren said he should translate it into English and record it with Marie so they have what they always talked about to do something together in English. So Per translated it and it became Neverending Love. That became their first hit. So it was luck that Pernilla didn’t want the song, but Rolf saw it and gave the budget to Marie and Per to record it. Neverending Love became a summer hit in 1986 and they recorded their first album in no time and released it in October. It contained songs Per wrote for his Swedish solo album and translated the lyrics into English. Then The Look’s story with the exchange student who brought their album to Minneapolis in the US was also lucky moment. There was a radio program where the listeners could ask to play their favourite songs, but not only to ask, but leave their records there and ask something to be played from that. When that happened they had the capacity to follow up all the time. It was of course their own power. Many thought that The Look would be a one hit wonder in the US. It was followed by Dressed for Success in the US, but there was a radio syndicate that didn’t want to play DFS, because they were convinced Roxette was a flash in the pan with The Look. But it peaked on the Billboard charts at No. 14. It could have been No. 3 if the radio syndicate didn’t refuse it, who knows. But then Listen To Your Heart became No. 1. They were there on the US charts constantly for appr. 4 years. He thinks everyone needs luck. He thinks The Beatles had their luck when Brian Epstein came and saw them at the Cavern Club. The Police broke through with Roxanne in the US in a similar way as Roxette with The Look. Coincidence and fate play a big role. Kristoffer thinks it’s 97% talent and 3% luck. Per thinks it’s 50-50%, because it doesn’t matter how talented you are if you are not lucky. There are so many talented artists who never break through. Per says they had the capacity of being able to play live that many of their competitors didn’t. Milli Vanilli, Paula Abdul for example. Marie hated doing the playback shows on TV, because she wanted to sing and Per wanted to play. All in all, Per thinks you have to be lucky, but also you have to have the capacity.

Kristoffer starts talking about Marie’s and Per’s voices. Per says it’s exciting in music when there are different voices. Either if you are a boy and girl, but also when there are boys, e.g. in The Beatles or The Beach Boys. You can change the arrangement and take advantage of your different key preferences both when you are writing and when you are performing. It’s something they tried to benefit from from the very beginning. It also became an ingredient in Per’s songwriting that he and Marie had different key preferences. The most perfect it was when they had a fifth interval between their voices. Kristoffer asks what it means and Per explains It Must Have Been Love starts in C major, but for him it would be G major. So Per wrote the songs to fit Marie’s voice and his voice. It needs a technical know-how to do so and he learned that. He says in many Roxette songs they are changing the keys. It’s in his songwriting style. When a girl and a guy sing a duet, it’s like they are singing about each other and you can also take advantage of it in the lyrics. Paint is a good example. Per sings the verses and those are very masculine, while Marie’s singing is very girly, feminine.

Kristoffer says he remembers Per wrote a nice line when Marie passed away that she painted Per’s black and white songs in the most beautiful colours. He also remembers that Per talked about Clarence Öfwerman’s role in how his music came into life. He asks whether Per is realistic when he talks about these or he has lack of self confidence. Per thinks it’s a mix. He felt and still feels his musical limits. He needs others to cooperate in carrying out what he hears in his head. He can’t do everything himself. They started working together with Clarence very early. The first Roxette song they recorded with him was I Call Your Name. Its title in Swedish was Jag hör din röst. They never recorded it in Swedish. Everything Clarence suggested was great and the song got a swing. Per never heard his music that way. It got a funk swing and it was very far from Per’s Blondie pop he did with Gyllene Tider. Clarence added a finnesse, he does things differently. Sometimes Per asked him if they could get the swing like in Let’s Dance by Bowie, then Clarence said it wouldn’t work because there are too many chords in the verses, so it wouldn’t have the swing in that way. And that’s something Per didn’t think about. That’s something he learned that you can’t make something blue out of something red. You have to go the way, take your time and learn and find the simple way, otherwise you’ll have a problem all the way. Regarding Marie, Per says she was a jazz singer, she was singing R&B, blues and soul, anything possible, so when they recorded Soul Deep or I Call Your Name it fit her very well. One of the things why Marie wanted to work with Per was because she got songs she couldn’t write herself, even if she was a singer songwriter too. So she got access to material out of what she could create something more. She liked that. She liked to be in different roles, being a pop diva in Dressed for Success or being a crazy R&B chick in Soul Deep and at the same time she was a fantastic ballad singer as well. It’s actually a singer’s job to make the listener react, to make you think that „shit, this text is about me”. So this is how Marie coloured Per’s songs. They did that together with Clarence.

Kristoffer asks Per if he still feels limited. Technically he has his limits. He is not a good lead guitarist. His style fits Gllene Tider very well. Once he wants to make something modern, something new, then he needs help. Before he asks for help, the melody, the chords and the lyrics are ready. He needs help with the execution. For example, it would be nice to have strings in the second verse and that would lift up the song towards the end. He is not good at writing string arrangements, he would hire musicians to do that. Kristoffer asks if he can describe how he wants things to sound. Per says he can tell e.g. where he wants it to be lifted and such things, but it’s not brain surgery.

Kristoffer asks Per how his self confidence as a songwriter is now in autumn of 2020. Per thinks he has self confidence, but he also feels that he is a child of his time for better or worse. Sometimes he wishes he wouldn’t have that much in his luggage, if he wouldn’t know that much music. He thinks about it most often when he hears music, because then he automatically thinks it sounds like this, it sounds like that and he is kind of cataloguing the songs. His relation to music changed totally when he became a musician, an artist, a songwriter. When he listens to Spotify Top50 he is doing it for educational purposes. He listens to it to hear how things sound, why it works there, what they thought here etc. He sees YouTube parodies about how the same 4 chords appear in so many songs. There are people who sit there and create beats on their computer. He worked together with younger musicians who didn’t know what chords are at all. But they might have a talent that Per probably doesn’t have. It can be useful sometimes. Musicality is so different for different people. Those who are in their 20s now grew up with pop music in a different way than Per did. Nowadays not all record labels need artists who can play instruments.

Kristoffer realized that Per is very focused. Mr. G says it’s true. Kristoffer asks if it’s the same when he is reading a book. Per says he can be very focused and then extremely restless. He always has parallel projects. It fits him that he can hop from one thing to another. He has Gyllene Tider, Roxette, his Swedish solo stuff, his English solo stuff and Mono Mind. The difficulty is when he is working with his Swedish stuff. Sweden is such a small market, a small country. He can’t release albums and go on tours all the time, because people get tired of him. With their international career it was easy to be away for a longer time. There were many years when he didn’t write songs in Swedish because he was working with Roxette only.

Kristoffer asks Per what he is watching on TV. He says he is streaming a lot, watching HBO and Netflix. He is watching Ray Donovan now, the fifth season. He also watched a surprisingly good Tom Cruise movie, Jack Reacher. It was like Mission Impossible, but without all the tehniques. Ozark is very good too. Succession as well. Curb Your Enthusiasm is a favourite and he is a big Seinfeld fan. He also likes After Life with Ricky Gervais.

Kristoffer is curious if it is important for Per to discover new music. Per says he thinks Taylor Swift’s latest album, Folklore is damn good. It’s not what you usually hear from her, it’s no hit music, but very nice. It’s newly created but with respect to its genre.

Kristoffer aks Per what he thinks about Max Martin. Mr. G thinks he is a fantastic songwriter and a fantastic coordinator in the team he works together with. It’s great that he is so successful.

Kristoffer asks what Per’s driving force is. Per says he is just existing like that. He just wants to move forward. He thinks many become stressed by success, but he has never been triggered by it. He tells he wrote Joyride and Spending My Time on the same day, because Joyride turned out to be so good that he just wanted to continue writing. He must mention that Mats MP Persson was also involved in writing SMT. It has never been a problem for him to follow up such things what others become stressed by. Kristoffer says it sounds like if Per wants to make a new album, he wants to make it even better than the previous one. Better and a bit different, Per says. The fun thing with the creative process is that you aim to the Southwest and you end up in the Northeast, but it still sounds good. He likes that. Of course one tries to make better things than before. However, he thinks „better” is not the right word. Whenever there is a new project, you start it from the beginning, but you have your experience with you. When Per writes he is always trying to write from a new angle. He is changing. He is not the same as he was a year ago or 30 years ago. That’s why it was exciting for him to go through his material for Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig, because he was thinking why he wrote this or that text. Today he can’t really understand what he meant with that what he wrote in the 80’s or 90’s. He can’t understand the temperature in the text and he is wondering what his purpose was. He would choose different words now.

Kristoffer asks if there are perfect songs. Per thinks it’s hard to answer. A song is perfect if it fills a function. If you like a song in a certain situation or a certain period of your life, it’s perfect for you just then. Kristoffer asks if Per has such songs. Mr. G says he has songs that mean a lot to people, they married to them, maybe also divorced to them, haha. Kristoffer is curious if Per thinks there is any song of his in which he wouldn’t change anything. Per says there is no song he wrote that couldn’t be better. And he thinks „better” is not the right word here either. He thinks he wouldn’t make them the same way today. It would be dull to run around and say The Look peaked at No. 1 so you can’t make anything better than that. Kristoffer asks if Mr. G has any Beatles song in his mind in which he thinks one shouldn’t change anything. Per thinks there are Beatles songs and Tom Petty songs that are fantastic, because they fill a function for him, but it’s not like he is listening to them and says „shit, it couldn’t have been done better”. One shouldn’t strive for the maximum all the time. One should go with the flow and experience things. Music is like a film. Sometimes you think it was a good movie, but a bit too long, then you would make it shorter, but if you cut it in the wrong places, it won’t give you the same experience.

Kristoffer says Per lost some close friends and relatives over the past years and is curious if it matters in a way that he wants to create things that stay after he is gone. Per says sometimes you ask yourself what are you doing here or what is your goal with this or that. When you release a song it’s a question if you make it for yourself or for others’ sake. He is so terribly narcissistic that he is making them for his own sake. He works like that. If it wasn’t music he would find a way to express himself anyway. It’s a huge ego trip. There will for sure be songs that live on after he is gone. When he thinks about the 80’s when it didn’t go well for him commercially before Roxette, he wrote songs for others, but it didn’t fit him to be a hired gun, to write for someone else to make him or her satisfied. That’s why he thinks it’s fascinating when there are those Swedish songwriting teams when there are 5-6 people and make different parts of a song. There must be someone who says stop or that’s what we want or this is better than that. Must be an A&R person at a record company or a manager or the artist himself. He doesn’t know. Kristoffer is curious if Per had any other similarly tough period in his life as in the 80’s after GT broke up. In his career he didn’t have. Roxette became so big and then they had a break and GT came back and he made a solo record. Then Roxette came back again. Then Marie got ill and he made solo records again. Mazarin became probably his biggest Swedish success.

Kristoffer asks Per if he has ever been depressed. There were tough years, but he wasn’t depressed. When his family, his mother, sister and brother passed away in 3 years it was tough, then also when Marie passed away last December. There comes emptiness and you become another person. But even if you can’t talk to those people anymore, they are still there in a way. Kristoffer likes that Per talks about Marie in present. Per says she is always there in a way.

Kristoffer asks Per about the Swedish reality TV program, Så mycket bättre [Swedish artists live together for eight days and each artist attempts to do their own version of another artist’s well-known song /PP]. Per says he won’t ever be on that show. He thinks it’s boring to do TV at all and he also thinks that such a TV program is to make people more known or let people get to know more about those who are there on the show. He has never been interested in becoming known as a person.

Regarding enjoying the moment when they stood in front of tens of thousands of people at shows in Montevideo for example, Per says they talked a lot about that with Marie that how little you enjoy these things while you are working. You are in a bubble, you perform, you do your job and then you go to the bar and lay down and fly to another city or country. It becomes a neverending loop of performing. So the short answer is no, he thinks they don’t enjoy it the way an outsider thinks they do. At the same time, there are of course moments, e.g. when Marie and Per stand together on stage in a football stadium and Per looks at Marie and he knows they think the same „is it really true? how did we get to here?”. That of course you enjoy, that moment. You enjoy being on stage though or when you feel it at night that you did an amazing concert and you sleep well because you know you did a good job and that means a lot to people.

Kristoffer asks if they still felt happiness when they reached their fourth No. 1 in the US. Per says it was Joyride in 1991. Per was in Paris and Marie was in Stockholm. From all four No. 1s it was the fourth he enjoyed the most. It was soon after they released the album and it was huge then. Thanks to his wife who left that note, „Hej, din tok, jag älskar dig!” (Hello, you fool, I love you!) on his piano. Kristoffer asks where the whistling came from. It comes from Per. He always liked the whistling in Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. There is whistling in Let Your Heart Dance With Me as well. You shoudn’t underrate whistling.

Kristoffer is curious what Per takes photos of. Mr. G says it depends on his mood. He often takes pics of forms of nature. Trees, silhouettes. He almost always takes pictures only if he knows he will save them. He likes taking pics. It’s fantastic that you have a camera on your phone, it became so easy. It’s easy to film as well or use filters. There is creativity in it. You can use filters to look less wrinkly. Haha. Kristoffer asks if he was thinking about a plastic surgery. Per smiles and says it’s not his cup of tea. Kristoffer says Per can wear his age with dignity. Per thanks. Kristoffer asks what Per uses those photos for and if he exhibits them at Hotel Tylösand. Per says he did some books with his lyrics or so and they included pictures and his drawings in them to illustrate the lyrics or some comments. But he doesn’t take the pictures for using them for something. A photo can tell a lot about the one who takes the picture. Kristoffer asks if Per has a good camera or he just has his phone with him. He has his phone with him only. He has an OK camera at home, but you have everything on a phone nowadays. It’s not a phone anymore.

There come some funny questions.

Do you have an idea how to fill a dishwasher? – Per says it’s a constant fight in the family, because he and his wife likes to fill the dishwasher in totally different ways. Per likes to put the knives on the left side in the top compartment and longer stuff, e.g. bread knife or cheese slicer go to the right side, while Åsa likes to put everything higgledy-piggledy. Haha.

What do you think about moss? – Per has positive feelings about moss, he thinks it’s nice and very green. He should write about them.

When was the last time you had a beard? – He has a beard each morning. It’s quite robust and is growing fast. Now in the middle of the day he can feel it. He shaved himself 5 hours ago and it’s already out again. He had a real beard in the 80’s for the last time. There was a photo session with Marie and him, there he had a beard.

What do you want to do with your future? – Per says he goes with the flow. He wants to keep going and live on and do as many good things as he can and be a fairly sensible husband and father and friend.

Would you recommend anything? – He recommends parking the e-scooters at another place, not in the middle of the sidewalks. He doesn’t dare to move them away because he would appear in the magazines with that later, but he already thought about it.

Kristoffer thanks Per for his time. Per says it’s his pleasure and „see you in 7 years”.

Podcast preview pic and still is from Värvet’s Instagram.

Hundåren – podcast interview with Per Gessle by Tomas Andersson Wij

Tomas Andersson Wij had Per Gessle as a premiere guest in his new podcast, Hundåren. Hundåren means years of hard work and difficult conditions. So the guys were talking about the tough periods in Per’s career. It’s not the first time Tomas did an interview with Mr. G. You could already read a great one in Per’s book, Texter, klotter & funderingar.

During this podcast recording, the guys are sitting in Per’s office in Stockholm. He bought it in the 90’s and for a while it was a complete recording studio. Per shows to Tomas where the mixing board was and tells there they recorded e.g. Belinda Carlisle’s Always Breaking My Heart. Then he realized he was too bad at technical stuff, so he was anyway in the hands of technicians and this way he didn’t need that mixing board. Now he plays the piano and his guitars there. Tomas says there is art on the walls: Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Joni Mitchell, Anton Corbijn. He adds Per’s wife sits in a room opposite Mr. G’s. Per tells Åsa is into design, she creates lamps and deals with pots and welds and sketches. They are not there at the same time too often. They live in the same building on Strandvägen, one floor under the office. They have a great view on Djurgården.

Tomas starts asking Per about 1983. By then they had 3 successful years with Gyllene Tider. They sold 170.000 copies of their debut album, 370.000 of Moderna Tider and 185.000 of Puls. There was a GT fever in Sweden during those years. Per says everything went so fast and it was a very intense period. They had long tours and they managed to surpass the sales of their debut album with Moderna Tider. När vi två blir en was released as a single in autumn 1980 and the album came out in spring 1981. Before recording the third album, they decided they should do something different. In autumn 1981 Anders Herrlin and Per left the country, they ended up in Westwood, Woodstock, USA. There they lived even at John Sebastian from The Lovin’ Spoonful for a couple of days. They came back and recorded the third album. It was a bit more grown-up, more mature with all the ballads on it. They went on the Sommartider tour in 1982 and it was a big success, but then the band members had to join the military service. Tomas tells he read Elvis Presley’s story that he also had to join the military service at the peak of his career. Per tells green didn’t suit him, so he escaped. Tomas asks how, but Per doesn’t want to share details. All he can tell is that there were 3 guys who didn’t want to do the military service, but all others in the band wanted to. So the 3 guys, including Per found a way to escape, which wasn’t too difficult at the time. Tomas asks if they simulated mental illness. Per says sort of.

Then Per started making his first solo album that came out in 1983. Per says it was a natural progress and it was cheered by Kjell Andersson at EMI, who signed Gyllene Tider earlier. He thought Per has a kind of singer songwriter quality that didn’t really come out on GT’s albums. Except in Honung och guld or in Flickan i en Cole Porter-sång maybe. It felt good for Per to write more lyric-based music. He always liked pop with a little country touch. He also wanted to get rid of his teenage voice, so he sang all tones and his voice became darker. Tomas asks Mr. G if he had a complex with his voice. Per says it wasn’t really a complex, but he thought his voice was very much associated with Gyllene Tider and was limited and that often blocked the songs as well. That was one thing why he wanted to start Roxette. He didn’t want to sing at all.

Tomas asks if Mr. G had the feeling that he wanted to get rid of the teenage idol Per. Per says he doesn’t know, he just needed to express himself differently. He loved playing pop songs with GT, but recording his solo album was different. He doesn’t say it was better, it was just different. Mr. G says people liked them, but they didn’t have good or strong reputation in the music business. In Stockholm they felt like outsiders, hillbillies. It was a bit like that with Roxette too in Sweden. Per sees it during all his life that it doesn’t matter how much success you achieve, you don’t really get the reputation in the music industry. But that’s not the case with the people you are working together with.

In 1983 the guys in GT didn’t know which way to go in music. They decided for making an English album, The Heartland Café. They tried to break through with it abroad. That was released in the US under the name Roxette in 1984. Teaser Japanese was the first single and they had an expensive video shot to it. The guys felt they couldn’t top what they had achieved in Sweden and they felt they should do something different. At the same time, digitalization and synth pop became popular, but the guys were still in the Tom Petty and the Heartbrakers mood. They started listening to a lot of synth pop music, mainly through Anders Herrlin, but it was difficult to merge with their music. One can hear there is a little synth trial on The Heartland Café and Per’s next solo album. None of them really had the capacity for synth music. They all came from another generation and they felt their sound was a bit too off, but at the same time, that was the GT sound. The Heartland Café was produced by Lasse Lindbom, who also produced the first three GT albums and he wasn’t too interested in the synth world. When you want to change something, you certainly have to change the producer, here to someone who is familiar with synth music, so it was a strange decision to keep Lasse as the producer.

Tomas says earlier GT had an ocean of people in the audience, then only 800-900 people in the crowd. How did that feel to be a frontman and see that? Per says he can’t really remember, but those were tough times. They were very young and when you’re young, it’s hard to feel if things go downhill. You are confused and desperate even if it’s still working. You are thinking about what to do and how to do it to be back on the right track again. That was their first tour that wasn’t sold out. They had Janne Bark with them as an extra guitarist and Marie Fredriksson and Ulrika Uhlin as backing vocalists. Back then Per thought it was a good decision to strengthen the band with Janne and the girls, later he thought it was totally stupid, because Gyllene Tider is them 5 and this way it became something totally different. They were probably inspired by Robbie Robertson joining Tom Petty. Tomas adds they wanted to play their English songs, but the crowd wanted to hear their Swedish hits. Per says back then they were quite convinced what they did was good. Those were tough times. Also, when you expand the band that’s a proof of not being sure about your thing.

Tomas says the guys were also convinced they should break through in the US. What happened that they didn’t manage? Per says they were thrilled to sell albums abroad and they were happy that EMI invested so much money in the Teaser Japanese video. They had a meeting at the hotel in Halmstad to discuss their plans about how to go on. Then during that dinner Anders said he didn’t want to continue with the band. The guys were shocked. Tomas asks what arguments Anders had. Per says he wanted to move to Stockholm, he got a job at a music store. He wanted to start a new life. So, he moved to Stockholm, worked at a music store and became a synth nerd. Some years later he was programming Roxette’s albums.

Tomas asks if there was tension, if Anders thought Per was the driving force and he should just do his own stuff. Per says everyone thought so. Per says he had a love and hate relationship with the band. He loves Gyllene Tider and he loves the guys and even now when they became older, it’s fantastic to play together or just talk. But when you are twenty something, there is always a lot of fight. Who should be standing in the front, one thinks this, the other thinks that. The one who shouts louder wins. It was Per who was singing and he wrote most of the music and all the lyrics and he was the most interested in the music business. Anders and Mats were more interested in technical stuff. Anders, Micke Syd and MP had a totally different quality in making music vs. Per and Göran. Göran was a quite OK keyboard guy, but Anders, Micke and Mats were fantastically talented musicians. That was a weird recipe that worked out incredibly fine.

Tomas asks if Per remembers how he wrote the to-do list before that meeting with the band. Mr. G says he remembers it well. It was even published in one of the GT books. There were things like ”we should do a Swedish album”, ”we should find a producer”. They talked about Tomas Ledin as producer, as well as Anders Glenmark. They still had the support from their record label. He thought to write more songs and make demos, but it didn’t happen. The last thing they recorded, Galning ended up on Per’s next solo album. That would have been a GT song on a new GT album.

When Per looks back on his career, he of course thinks about Gyllene Tider, but he thinks about Roxette above all and all the decisions they made. They brought Marie on tour and she was singing on Vandrar i ett sommarregn on TV and she was there on Per’s first solo album. It all led to Roxette. That’s the big picture.

Tomas gets back to 1984. Per still lived in Halmstad and Tomas is interested in how people looked at Per in Halmstad when GT started to fade. Per felt quite isolated there. When GT broke through in 1980 / 1981, there were so many bands in Halmstad. More than 100. Per didn’t have contact with anyone except Marie. Once there was a voting in Hallandsposten about the most popular band in Halmstad and another band won it, even if GT was the biggest. So he didn’t really feel the appreciation back then. At the age of 24-25 it’s a hard feeling to deal with. Tomas asks how it affected Per. He says it pulled him away even more from socializing. He didn’t go to the disco or to clubs, he rather met people at home.

Anne-Lie Rydé played Per’s song, Segla på ett moln in Halmstad in 1984. And when she said it was written by Per Gessle, there was booing in the crowd. Tomas asks whether it was because no one is a prophet in their own land or there was aggression because of the huge success Per had, coming from such a little town in Sweden. Per doesn’t know what they got really angry about. He says there are cute myths that people got so angry they ”closed” the ways with speed bumps in the surroundings where Per lived to make it more difficult for him to get home by car. He laughs. Per says all his life he spent a lot of time alone. When he was a kid, he didn’t have friends at school and he lived in his own bubble until the age of 16-17 when he met his friend, Peter. Peter played in a band where MP was the drummer. Then MP and Per became best friends. They started Gyllene Tider. Then everything went so fast. They had only 6 concerts when they became No. 1 with Flickorna på TV2. So between being an isolated zero and becoming Sweden’s biggest pop star it was appr. 5 years. Regarding the booing, Per says he didn’t feel it being destructive. He always felt he is good at what he is doing and that doesn’t mean he needed commercial success for that.

Tomas asks whether Per had a basic self-esteem or he doubted himself during the years after Gyllene Tider. Mr. G says he rather doubted what he should do. After his solo album in 1985 didn’t sell good (maybe 20.000 copies) he didn’t hear of his record label for almost a year. He wrote songs for a new album, but he didn’t have a record label behind him. Then he started writing songs for other artists. He got into contact with Torgny Söderberg and they wrote together Kärleken är evig, Lena Philipsson’s Melodifestivalen song in 1986. Then Per started writing songs for Lena and other bands from The Pinks to Shakin’ Fredrik. Tomas adds Per got orders from Bert Karlsson and his gang too. Per mentions Lili & Sussie, too. He says he felt that it’s not what he is good at, he is not a good team player in this sense. He can’t write a song that will come out differently vs. how he thinks it would be good. So he felt very uncomfortable in that situation. Per remembers he was sitting for hours over a verse for some Lena Philipsson song and one verse was worse than the other. He knew that it wasn’t what he wanted to do.

Tomas starts talking about Per’s first solo album. He says in GT lyrics there were a lot of references to people (e.g. Paul McCartney, Buddy Holly) and the lyrics were playful, while on his first solo album he went black and white on the cover and he looks serious there, he sings about autumn and deserted beach. Per felt he wanted to change the style, but he wasn’t sure he could do that. He felt it wasn’t really his ”language”, even if now when he looks back, he thinks Tända en sticka till has a very nice lyric. Back then it wasn’t really his thing. He wasn’t ready for being a singer songwriter. Tomas adds Per was also very young at the time. Per agrees and says he thought there were more adult people who should write and perform such songs. It felt strange to release such songs under the same record label as Ulf Lundell and have the same producer as him, with the same band he recorded with. Per wasn’t really comfortable with that. It was never a plan to continue doing that. The second solo album had that singer songwriter element, but that was more pop style. Then the third solo album was never recorded. It became Roxette’s first album after Per tarnslated the lyrics to English. He always felt he was better at making pop music, so his style, his spontaneous ”language” wasn’t really his first solo album. Tomas tells Per’s debut album sold 60.000 copies which is a fantastic number even today, but once he sold almost 400.000 copies from an album with GT a year before, it must have felt a steep fall for him. Mr. G says it was another type of music and another type of audience. He was very proud that it became a gold album, but he still didn’t feel really comfortable with the record itself. It was too early for him. It was more Kjell Andersson’s album who Per thinks felt very comfortable with the Lundell union. Tomas adds the album sounds very Lundell-ish. Per agrees and he says he liked that era of Lundell. It was magically good, he had his very own style back then. Tomas asks Per if he knows Lundell was sick of GT’s success. Per laughs and says he knows, but who wasn’t sick of that. He adds when he released his first solo album, it came out the same week as David Bowie’s Let’s Dance under the same record label and he felt totally excluded, because everyone was working on David Bowie. But that was David Bowie. Tomas tells Ulf Lundell released a compilation album with the title Innan jag anfölls av indianerna (Before I was attacked by the Indians). Per smiles and says rumor has it the Indians were Gyllene Tider. It was never confirmed, but that’s what they say.

Tomas tells Per wasn’t in a very good economic situation at the time. He earned appr. 1.000 crowns per week. Tomas is curious how it affected Per. Per laughs and says when you don’t do anything that doesn’t cost a thing. He lived cheaply and was driving a Golf. Tomas says one would think that all the hits they did with GT generated so much money they could live on. Per says they lived good on that for a while, but back then you didn’t earn too much money on concerts. It wasn’t about the bad contracts only, but the fact that there wasn’t too much money in that business. One toured to promote their album and you earned money on selling your album and from the copyright after radio plays. Tomas asks Per how he wanted to propose to his wife and if he was forced to ask for more money, for example to buy rings. Per laughs and says despite it all, it was a lovely period. Now looking back, it’s great to see how all the endings led to something good with all the coincidences and luck or a meeting with someone at the right time during Per’s career.

Tomas asks what the key happenings were at the time. In 1985 Per had a call from Benny Hedlund who established Alpha Records together with Sanji Tandan. Per met Benny at Café Opera and Benny told him they signed Pernilla Wahlgren, but that was a secret and he shouldn’t tell anyone. Pernilla just broke through and Benny asked Per to write her a song. Per came up with Svarta glas, a dance song inspired by Michael Jackson. Mr. G thought it became cool and he sent it to Benny, but he never got back to Per. The demo however reached the boss, Roffe Nygren at EMI. He liked it a lot and told Per he should translate it into English and record it with Marie, so they have the song they always talked about with Marie to do something together.

Tomas says Per and Marie had been friends since a long time, but Marie had her own successful solo career at the time. She was working together with Lasse Lindbom who produced the old GT albums. Tomas says Lasse didn’t think Marie should do anything together with Per. They guys laugh. It was a big thing that Marie wanted to sing with Mr. G. Tomas asks if Per looked at Marie as a star back then. Per says he thought Marie had all the qualities he didn’t have. She sang well, she wasn’t as good on stage as she became later, but she had all the qualities Per liked and so he was super happy that she wanted to sing on Neverending Love that was released in summer 1986. Lasse Lindbom and Kjell Andersson didn’t want to risk Marie’s solo career, so that’s why Marie and Per didn’t appear on the single cover, in case it would be a flop. But it became a huge hit, so they decided to record a whole album. Per translated the songs he wrote for his third solo album into English. The only song he wrote especially for Roxette’s debut album was Secrets That She Keeps and there was a song written by Marie, Voices. Roxette was a hobby project for quite a long time. Even then when they went on the Badrock tour with Björn Skifs in 1987.

Tomas asks Per if he did any solo gigs to promote his solo albums. Mr. G says he didn’t. However, he, Marie, Mats MP Persson and Lasse Lindbom had an acoustic hobby band that played in small clubs on the West coast. They played everything from Love The One You’re With through Marie’s Ännu doftar kärlek to Per’s Tända en sticka till and maybe some GT songs. Tomas asks why Per didn’t do any solo concerts. Mr. G says he probably thoght it wouldn’t be too big and he couldn’t have sold many tickets. Tomas says Per was not the kind of person who wanted to play at all costs. He wanted to reach some level. Per says nowadays it’s cool to play at all levels, but back in the days he thought each step he should take higher and higher. And it was hard to top Gyllene Tider, of course. Per didn’t want to play KB in Malmö, he wanted to play Scandinavium. When he was looking for his identity, he asked himself whether he was an artist or a songwriter. After Roxette happened, he realized there is a much better singer and a fantastic front figure and he can just support her, while he can still sing or come to the front as well. That was a much more comfortable role for his artistry those times. So it’s about finding yourself, who you are.

Tomas asks Per about how self-confident he was at the beginning of the 80’s. Per thinks he had quite weak self-confidence then. Gyllene Tider helped him in a way, but he was so young and he was looking for his identity. One thinks that someone’s personality comes through the lyrics at that young age. He always says that his lyrics are mostly fiction. It can start with a personal thing, but lead to something totally different in verse 2. Tomas asks whom Per talked to when he lost his self-confidence. Before Per met his wife, it was Janne Beime, his business man who has always been a great support to Mr. G. He always told Per he would succeed with this or that. And he was right. He became kind of a father substitute for Per. Mr. G’s father died in 1978 and Janne came into Per’s life in 1980. He is 15 years older than Per or so and helped him a lot. Not on the creative side, but e.g. when he bought Hotel Tylösand or in other businesses.

Tomas says Per’s father never saw Per’s success and that they broke through with GT. He asks Mr. G how it felt. Per tells he had a strange relationship with his father. There was a radio program in the 70’s, Bandet går. You could send in your own songs and they played them. If your songs were really good, you could get a half-an-hour program for your own, Bandet går vidare. They had this chance with Gyllene Tider, but before that, they were played maybe 3-4 times on Bandet går. One of the songs the radio played was En av dem där which was a kind of punk song. Per’s father heard it and he told Per he didn’t sing really well. That was him. But Per says his mother was very supportive. She bought Per’s first guitar in 1975 or 1976. It was a Bjärton that cost maybe 1.500-2.000 crowns. That was a lot of money for someone who couldn’t play the guitar. It sounded fantastic and was easy to tune. Its string height was good too, so he could avoid having bleeding fingertips. That was the time when Per started writing songs. He wrote e.g. När alla vännerna gått hem and Billy on that guitar. After high school, Per and his friend, Peter became troubadours employed by the city council. They got a contract for 3 months twice, so for 6 months they were playing at nursing homes for old people. It was scary, but great at the same time. Peter playd guitar and flute and Per played guitar and sang. There are a lot of stories. They got a schedule when to go where. One of the places was the long-term care at the hospital in Halmstad. They had never been there and when they got in, there was no one there. So they just entered a hall where there were two patients on the two sides so they put two chairs in the middle, sat down and started playing. Suddenly a nurse came in and wondered what they were doing there. Just then, one of the two guys woke up, it was a young guy who had an accident and had been in coma. So they woke him up with their song. Maybe they played something he recognized. Then many doctors came in and stood around the guy’s bed and the staff asked Per and Peter to get out. Then it turned out they shouldn’t have played there, there was something wrong in the schedule. So that was also a coincidence that they woke someone up from coma.

Another story is when at a lunch there were 6 old ladies and gentlemen sitting around the table, eating their soup. Per had a capo for the guitar. 96-year-old Eskil was sitting there and had it in his mouth. He had dipped it in the soup, because he probably thought it was cracking bread or something. Those were fun times. There is a photo that was published in Hallandsposten where Peter and Per are playing at a nursing home. On Per’s bachelor party, before he got married in 1993, they forced Per to go back to a nursing home to play Drömmen om Elin for the patients. That was much fun.

Per says the hardest thing is to play in front of only a few people. It’s easier to play at Ullevi or Scandinavium or Globen, because there you can ”hide” behind the huge production, there are a lot of tricks and techniques and lights, but you are sitting ”naked” in front of 5 people, so that was a good practice.

All pics in the article are from Tomas Andersson Wij’s Instagram. Listen to Hundåren HERE!

Per Gessle’s Top9 songs from the 90’s

This program is from more than a year ago, but last summer there was a heavy Per Gessle solo tour, so I didn’t have the time to sit down and summarize Gessles nio i topp in English. Now I feel like I need to practice my Swedish, so why not listening to these enthusiastic PG podcasts again. Maybe you get into the mood too. 😉

Per and Sven Lindström talk about the 9 best songs from the 90’s in THIS podcast. The guys say there could have been thousands of songs chosen for this program and it was really hard to pick 9 real good hits that remained in the heart and brain. Per says it was the decade when Roxette had its greatest success, so he was also involved and actually listened to other bands’ music differently vs. how he listened to music e.g. in the 80’s or 70’s and 60’s.

Per’s Top9 songs from the 90’s:

9. The La’s – There She Goes
8. Matthew Sweet – Sick of Myself
7. Natalie Imbruglia – Torn
6. The Dandy Warhols – Every Day Should Be A Holiday
5. Guy Clark – Dublin Blues
4. Oasis – Supersonic
3. Crash Test Dummies – Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
2. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Mary Jane’s Last Dance
1. The Cure – Friday I’m In Love

Per’s first choice is The La’s There She Goes, a song that was released in 1988, but it flopped, then it was released again in 1989 and it flopped again. Then it was remixed by Steve Lillywhite (U2’s producer) and re-released in 1990. Per thinks it’s an awesome song, survived all the trends and is still cool.

Per looks at his list and says there are several one hit wonders on it. Matthew Sweet is his next choice and Sven says besides the song chosen by PG, Sick of Myself, Matthew Sweet had at least one other hit. Per then laughs and says he means one hit wonders in HIS world. Sick of Myself from 1995 is a fantastic song, it’s kind of a bubblegum pop song. It’s from the album, 100% Fun, and that’s exactly what it is: 100% fun. Pure power pop, which fitted the 90’s so much.

Natalie Imbruglia (it’s worth listening to PG how he tries to pronounce her name, haha) is No. 7 with Torn, released in 1997. Per thinks this song has that magical power good pop music has to have. Mr. G says 1997 was the year when The World According to Gessle came out, while he and Marie were taking a break from Roxette. Sven says in the 90’s Per worked with Roxette, Gyllene Tider and solo as well and real power pop songs were born then, like June Afternoon or Sleeping In My Car. It was the decade of classic guitar pop. Sleeping In My Car he tried to write with the thought of Gyllene Tider power pop a la Roxette. Sven mentions SIMC was released on Crash! Boom! Bang! and Per says after they had been working on the album for more than a year, EMI couldn’t find a single. Then Per went home pissed off and wrote SIMC and that became the lead single off CBB.

No. 6 is The Dandy Warhols, Every Day Should Be A Holiday, also from 1997. Per thinks The Dandy Warhols made cool pop music, he thinks their song Bohemian Like You (2000) is a masterpiece. Sven likes their tough guitar sound and the melodies.

The next song on the list is a wonderful country song, Guy Clark’s Dublin Blues from 1995. Per thinks it’s incredibly good. Guy Clark lived in Nashville where Per recorded his latest 2 Swedish solo albums. Mr. G likes how Guy Clark expressed himself as a singer-songwriter and how he sang his own texts. Per says country music came into his life indirectly. His mum listened to Gunnar Wiklund in the 60’s, Jim Reeves classic country songs, then there was the Eagles, then The Rolling Stones’ Dead Flowers in 1971 and then Neil Young. There is country music everywhere.

Mr. G says one can’t write a list of 90’s songs without Oasis, so they come next with Supersonic from 1994. It’s a very well-done song with a really cool guitar sound, everything is good about it, the singing and title as well. Sven mentions Liam Gallagher said Oasis is like Ferrari. ”Great to look at, great to drive, and it’ll fucking spin out of control every now and again.” Per (a Ferrari lover) says Liam was right.

The third place is of a one hit wonder, Crash Test Dummies and their Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm from 1993. The song was produced by Jerry Harrison from Talking Heads. The exciting video made the song even bigger and it was shown on MTV all the time. It was an odd song, just like XTC’s Senses Working Overtime. Per likes the title a lot.

No. 2 on PG’s list is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Mary Jane’s Last Dance, released on the Greatest Hits album in 1993. Per thinks it’s an awesome song with an awesome guitar sound. It had a fantastic video starring Kim Basinger. It was worth buying the Greatest Hits album for those 2 new songs on it. Sven jokes this is what they did with Roxette as well, releasing a greatest hits album with new songs. Per laughs. Sven is wondering why Per as a huge Tom Petty fan didn’t put this song to the first place, but Mr. G says it’s because the No. 1 on his list is a bit better than this song.

Saying that, you might be surprised that No. 1 is Friday I’m In Love from The Cure, from 1992. For Per they are a typical one hit wonder band, even if there are hardcore fans still following them. Friday I’m In Love is such a good song that no other hit comes even close to it. It has timeless pop quality and great production and has followed Per through all his life since it was released. After the song Per shows his high and low voice. It’s worth listening, haha. Awesome!

Sven says Per had at least 6 different lists before he finalized THIS list. There was a list that had Brainpool on it with Bandstarter, which is an awesome song and there could have been R.E.M. with Man on the Moon as well, but this Top9 wasn’t a double LP, so they got erased from the list in the end.

Per Gessle podcast interview in Framgångspodden

Alexander Pärleros wanted to do a podcast interview with Per Gessle since 3 years. Now it was time for Per to say yes and they did the interview on 21st November 2017. The whole conversation is very easy-going, Alexander is well-prepared with questions and Mr. G is as down-to-earth as usual. Hardcores will hear some new anecdotes and have to wait until the very end to get some real news – about the new album which is out in May. You can listen to the podcast HERE (no. 160 is the interview with Per) or HERE or on iTunes.

Here is my summary of the interview in English.

First there is a 2.5-minute-long talk about the podcast itself. The PG-related talk starts after it, with a mix of Per-penned song fragments and an intro about Per’s career. Per joins in at appr. 4:50 in the podcast.

Alexander asks Per how he is and Mr. G says he is a bit tired because he just came back from the US. He tells he changed publishing company, so he had a lot of work meetings, also with his American record label, as well as Sirius XM. Per tells he saw Bruce Springsteen on Broadway. Alexander asks Mr. G what he likes the most in the US. Per tells he likes New York a lot, he gets energy there; Los Angeles, Florida, Miami, South Beach. Alexander asks Per if he has ever been to Michael Jackson’s house. Per says thank God he hasn’t. Alexander asks if Per doesn’t like Michael Jackson. Mr. G says he met a lot of people who love Michael Jackson and think that he was the most important person in the world of music, but he was not the most important in Per’s world. However, he was of course fantastic, but he is not in Mr. G’s Top10.

Alexander asks who Per’s Top3 most important artists are. The Beatles are No. 1, because the music they represented is reflecting the times when Per became interested in music and their music formed Per a lot. Then there is Tom Petty, who he probably listened to the most and with Gyllene Tider they kind of became the Swedish Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in the 70’s. Here Per mentions the story when Marie and Per were doing a TV thing in the Netherlands and Tom Petty shouted out to them from the second floor that he loved their record. Per says that after Tom Petty passed away, he got a video link from a friend in Los Angeles where Tom Petty at the end of the video mentioned the weirdest cover he had ever heard was the Swedish version of I Need To Know. It was Vill ha ett svar by Gyllene Tider. Mr. G says Tom Petty was an awesome artist, songwriter, singer and guitar player.

The third place is shared between Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. They also formed Mr. G a lot with their singer-songwriter tradition and listened to them a lot in the 70’s. When Per was 13-14 years old he started writing lyrics by translating Leonard Cohen into Swedish. Per couldn’t play the guitar back then, but the first songs he learned to play on the guitar which he got from his mother were Leonard Cohen songs: Famous Blue Raincoat, Suzanne, etc. Per thinks Joni Mitchell wrote the best lyrics. She is totally fantastic.

Alexander asks Per how a typical day is for him. Mr. G says there isn’t really a typical day for him. E.g. on a day like today (when the interview was done), he has almost nothing else to do just to talk with Alexander. He woke up at 9. He has a son who goes to school so sometimes he also wakes up at 7. If they are talking about a typical year for Per, he can tell that for a third year he is in Halmstad, for a third year he is in Stockholm and for a third year he is on tour or travelling. Alexander mentions it’s interesting that Per sets an alarm clock. On a normal day Per sets the alarm clock not to sleep for so long, but when they are working in the studio it can last until 2-3 am, then one can feel he should sleep more.

Alexander asks Per what he eats for breakfast. It’s boring, he always eats the same thing: coffee with milk and 2 sandwiches. One with apricot marmalade & cheese (he starts with this one), and one with ham & mustard & chives. Then he drinks a little vitamin C, lemon flavour. Alexander asks if there is any routine for the evening. Not really, but when he is free and is at home then he shuts down the computer at 6-6.30 pm, then it’s rather family time. They eat dinner together or with friends, watch a movie.

Alexander says Per and he has a common friend, Erik Bergman and Alexander asked him what to ask from Per Gessle. He said ask him about Halloween. So Alexander is curious if Per is interested in Halloween. Per says he is not interested in it at all. Once he was there in Los Angeles when it was Halloween. There was a bizarre parade on Lincoln Road with appr. 100.000 people. Everyone went there and Per dressed as Sony Bono with a thick mustache and Åsa dressed as a police woman, she looked very cool.

Alexander asks what the difference between the everyday Per and the Per on stage is. On stage Per leaves himself out in a way, he kind of becomes someone else. It’s like there is an official and unofficial Per Gessle. Many think that what he is writing the songs about is something he went through, but it’s usually not the case. Bruce Springsteen told on his Broadway show that he became the working class voice of America, however, what he writes about is not always something he experienced. Per feels the same. He always tries to write the lyrics in a way that those who are listening think it’s trustworthy. It doesn’t mean that the text is true, just that you believe it is. Everyone interprets the songs in different ways. For example, how he interprets Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah is different to how someone else interprets it. This is the magic of music and texts that you always find something in common with your own personality in it. Per always hears stories that people get married to his songs or get divorced to his songs (laughs) and they feel the songs are about their lives.

When Per is writing songs he tries to write as little as he can. He plays the piano or the guitar, checks the computer, but writing always depends on how he feels. When he really wants to write something, then it goes quite easy. Sometimes when he has a little music idea or a chord or a melody on his mind, he tries to find a word or a phrase that harmonizes with it. Then he starts writing the lyrics based on that one word or phrase. It’s like when you start painting a paint. You start with something little and there is more and more in the picture, maybe an environment or an abstract stuff, different colors that harmonize or not. There is no rule.

The guys are talking about Per’s childhood. Mr. G tells he was rather a lonely boy. His mother was a teacher in porcelain painting and worked a lot at home and when she was working she was quiet for hours while creating. Per liked it, the peacefulness in this process. He and Åsa are very different when it comes to listening to music. Åsa likes music being played anytime, but Per doesn’t put on music unless he listens to it actively. He likes silence otherwise, being in his own bubble. Per likes old Amercian country music more, Åsa likes dance bands more. When they are driving, Åsa always turns the radio on, Per turns the radio off. When they are in the same car, Åsa always wins.

Alexander asks Per what he thinks the secret of their long and happy relationship with Åsa is. Per says they have been on the journey always together. Åsa was working in the travel industry, so when Roxette broke through she organized everything related to their travelling. She was always there with him during Roxette’s busiest years, 1988-1995. They couldn’t really meet if it weren’t so. They have a lot of experience together and they are each other’s best friends. Åsa and Per met in a disco in Halmstad. Per was there to date with another girl who was going out with another guy back then. Åsa knew that girl and tried to help that girl and Per meet in secret, so organized a date for them in her house. Per in the middle of the date got more interested in Åsa. Per was 24-25 years old then, Åsa was 23. It was during the times when Gyllene Tider was over and Mr. G’s career was down. He had no record contract, he was writing songs for others. He had no money at all. Actually, he and the guys came from the 70’s, everyone was unemployed and they didn’t earn that much money. If they earned 10.000 SEK a month they felt like Scrooge McDuck, it was much, because otherwise they didn’t earn anything.

Per tells he left his mother’s house quite late, when he was 21-22 years old. He bought an apartment and his mother’s old car, an orange Passat. After they broke through with Gyllene Tider he started buying stuff for the apartment, 2 Andy Warhol paintings on Mick Jagger (it cost nothing back then and he still has them). He bought instruments, guitars and stuff. He bought a Prophet-5 synth that cost 34.000 SEK. It was a lot of money, but its value went up and now it’s vintage so it is worth probably even more.

Mr. G tells the story of getting thousands of letters when they broke through with GT and that fans stole the laundry on dry. They stole everything movable as a souvenir. It was the same when Roxette broke through. It was even bigger in a way, because it was international. When they played in Buenos Aires for example, in 1991 there were 1000-1500 people in front of the hotel and they were singing Roxette songs all night long. It was Formula-1 season and there was a Grand Prix at the same weekend. The drivers stayed at the same hotel and Per met David Coulthard who said they couldn’t sleep because of the singing. Those times were hysterical, mainly in South America.

Per tells there weren’t any extreme problems, they always had very good security teams. What he remembers being an extreme weird thing was when Gabriel was born in Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and one of the tabloids that wanted to have the first pictures of Gabriel went in to the floor where Åsa was. The woman had flowers and told he was a relative. The same tabloid hired a helicopter and was doing rounds above Per’s house in Halmstad, to be able to take pictures. It was in 1997.

Per says if you work in the music business, one of the keys to success is that you become famous. That people can listen to your music and buy tickets for your concerts. When he is talking about the above mentioned things he is not whining. These are facts that go along with being famous. One learns to live with that.

Alexander mentions that Per wrote a song while he was weighing mushrooms and asks if it’s a success tip to weigh mushrooms to be able to write a song. Per says he actually wrote that song, (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän while he was waiting for being able to weigh mushrooms. They had 45-minute-long breaks. Per says there is a good idiom, that you have to sleep on it, so you don’t finish things spontaneously. He thinks it’s a good rule. It’s good to write a song and then get back to it a bit later after you were doing something else. So there are different stages of creating. When Per sits down and writes, he has his phone at hand and he records what he plays. So later he can check where he did a mistake. Maybe that mistake becomes the hook of a song. Same when he is writing lyrics. He sits in his own creative bubble, he is writing and writing and then gets back to the text some time later. Writing a song is a long process, it takes time until a song becomes something that people listen to, there are a lot of filters before it gets ready. When you want to record an album you maybe have 30 songs, but in the end it’s only 14 that makes it into the album. You say bye to some songs because they might be too identical or similar to others you recorded before or the lyrics aren’t good enough.

Alexander asks how Per met Marie. Per tells they met in a rehearsal studio in Halmstad in the 70’s. Gyllene Tider and Marie’s band, Strul were rehearsing at the same place. Marie was singing in that band and played piano and his boyfriend, Martin was also in the band. Marie was fantastic. They became good friends. Marie was singing on Gyllene Tider’s song Ingenting av vad du behöver on Schlager’s new year’s single in 1981 and then on TV, Vandrar i ett sommarregn in 1982. She went on tour with GT in 1984 and was doing backing vocals with another girl. They were always thinking of doing something together and make it international. Per’s career was down, but Marie’s was on a high. She got an EMI record contract and made a second solo album. Then they decided to make a song in English. It was Neverending Love. Per wrote it originally for Pernilla Wahlgren, it was called Svarta glas in Swedish. Pernilla never recorded it and Rolf Nygren, the boss at EMI suggested Per to write English lyrics to it and record it with Marie, because it was a fantastic song. So they did. It became a big summer hit in 1986 in Sweden. No one wanted to have it abroad. As Per didn’t have a record contract and he had written songs for a solo album, he started translating the lyrics into English and that became Roxette’s first album, Pearls of Passion. Alexander asks if Per felt he was good at English texts. Per says he doesn’t know, but he was growing up with English lyrics and he learned English via pop music and English music magazines. Maybe they could have won more if they had a better lyricist, but they didn’t know anyone who was better. He also tells that Roxette’s peculiarity vs. any other international artist back then was that everything was homegrown, they did everything in their own way. It was Per’s songs, Marie’s singing, recorded in Stockholm with Swedish musicians. Even if they went to the US quite some times, they never wanted to move there. Their first US No. 1 happened in April 1989. Alexander asks Per when he really felt that they broke through. Mr. G says it was when Tom Petty shouted. Haha. Alexander asks when he felt for the first time that it can really become something global. Per says there wasn’t an exact occasion when he felt so. One of the last songs they recorded for Look Sharp! was The Look. They felt it was awesome and the whole album was very strong. He remembers he told Marie if they succeed with one of the songs on that album then they would have some good years. There are The Look, Listen To Your Heart, Dangerous and Dressed For Success on that album, 4 huge hits.

The guys start talking about It Must Have Been Love and Pretty Woman. Their German record label told them to record a Christmas song, so Per wrote It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted). It became a Christmas hit in Sweden 1987, but the Germans didn’t want it. Marie released Efter stormen, Per started writing songs which later were recorded for Look Sharp! Then they broke through in the US and were having lunch with their record company in Los Angeles. The record label said they signed a contract for a soundtrack to a movie then called 3000 Dollars. Julia Roberts was to debute in that movie and it was a comeback for Richard Gere. They said it was a low budget movie. They also signed David Bowie and a new version of Fame was to appear in the soundtrack. They also wanted Per to write a song for that movie. They were travelling a lot with Roxette, so he didn’t have the time to write a song, but he said he has a Christmas song that Marie sings beautifully and he can re-write the text and take away the Christmas reference in it. So Christmas day became winter’s day. Then they partly re-recorded the song and sent it to Garry Marshall, director of the movie. Per and Marie were already working on the Joyride album when they got a call in the studio in Stockholm. It was Garry Marshall himself who called Per to tell him he loved the song so much he even re-edited the movie, because he didn’t want any dialogue during the song being played. He wanted the song to speak for itself. Some months later they screened the movie for Marie and Per in Burbank. Per says he never met Julia Roberts or Richard Gere though. Mr. G tells thanks to It Must Have Been Love’s success they won half a year before Joyride was released. Someone told Per he could have won an Oscar with IMHBL, but it couldn’t have happened, because the song wasn’t originally written for the movie.

Alexander and Per talk about Roxette’s record label. Per says they had a mediocre record label in the US. EMI was very good in Germany, Australia and Canada. Later EMI got sold and the new company was more into grunge music, like Nirvana in 1993. Mr. G says one can’t do such a journey as theirs without fuck-ups.

Per says he always liked working under pressure, with deadlines and such, but when he is looking at his old books and sees what life they lived, he is surprised how it could work. Alexander asks if they drank a lot. Per says no, they have never been that much of party animals in that sense. They were quite job-oriented and civilized. They were travelling a lot, touring a lot, doing hundreds of interviews. On tour the name of the city they did the show in was always written in front of them to know what to say to the crowd, where they performed. But sometimes shit happened and for example when they were in Santiago they read San Diego.

Alexander mentions that a listener asked a question. The guy worked at MegaStore, a record shop in Sergles torg, Stockholm. He says Per went there often and bought a lot of things, but wanted a discount of 15%. Per says it’s not true at all. He has never bought records there and why should he get a discount. It’s so much not him.

Alexander asks which Per thinks are the 3 best Roxette songs. Per says it’s difficult to say, but he likes Queen of Rain, The Look, What’s She Like? on which Marie sings fantastically. She always sings fantastically, but here she is outstanding. The 3 best GT songs are Juni, juli, augusti, (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän, Honung och guld.

The guys are talking about the fact that Per’s mother, sister and brother passed away in 3 years. It was tough. His brother died of lung cancer, his mother got a heart attack and his sister died of cancer too. Alexander mentions Per’s father also died of cancer. Per says he doesn’t think too much about death, but of course he is aware that time goes by and the older you get the more important time becomes. Alexander asks what tips Per would have for a 20-year-old, like his son or anyone else. Per says if he looks back at himself at that age, his father died when he was 19, but he got a lot of support from his mum. She always let him follow his gut feeling. Mr. G says he tries to help Gabriel find out who he is, what he is motivated by. The worst thing parents can do is to force their children what to become: you’ll be a doctor, you’ll be this or that. It’s clear that not everyone can become Zlatan for example, but you have to start a discussion and support them. Per says he is very lucky that he can do what he loves. Alexander asks what’s the key to success to release hit after hit. Per says he doesn’t think about it, that there is a key. He is often asked how to write a hit, but there is no trick in it. He has this musical capacity, which doesn’t mean he is a good musician or singer. He thinks he is very good at finding the right people to work with and via them he becomes better. He is also good at motivating them so those who he works with become better too. Per thinks for example that Marie gives her best when she is working with him, but it’s subjective. Most of the relationships, even in Per’s working life last long. He’s been  working with Clarence Öfwerman since 1986, he has the same business management since 1980, same management since 1985, Live Nation since 1982. He is proud that both the people around him and he himself still have the motivation to work together after so long years. But how the songs become hits, he doesn’t know. Mr. G says he always wants to maximize the potential of everything. Why should one be satisfied with being great in Halmstad if he can become the greatest in Sweden? Or in the world. Per doesn’t rate himself being nearly as good songwriter as Lennon-McCartney or Tom Petty or Burt Bacharach, but it’s not a contest anyway. It’s about maximizing what you can do.

In the interview Per tells he is about to release a live album before Christmas and a tour photo book (photographed by Anders Roos) as well. Mr. G says he released 2 Swedish albums in 2017, En vacker natt and En vacker dag. Now he has finished translating on of the albums into English. It will be released in spring 2018. For that album he recorded 3 new songs. There are other plans too, but he can’t talk about them yet. It will be busy, busy, busy.

The last questions are coming. Alexander asks Per if he could recommend a good documentary. Mr. G says he has just seen a good one on Netflix, Danny Says about Danny Fields. He worked for Elektra Records when it was an exciting period in the music industry. He worked with The Ramones. Regarding a good book, Per says he is reading mainly biographies. Now he is reading Robbie Robertson, a book about albums recorded in 1971. For a nerd like him, it’s a great book about a fascinating year in music.

Alexander asks Per to tell a tip to become successful. One should follow his gut feeling as much as possible, but it is also important to find what you are really burning for. Once you find it, you will succeed. Regarding money, Per says if you are working in a creative process, you always have to prioritize creativity. If money comes along, it’s an extra.

Alexander asks Per who he thinks he should do an interview with. Per says it’s a difficult question. It’s always fun to hear Ulf Lundell in an interview, so good luck with catching up with him.

At the end of the interview Alexander asks how someone can get into contact with Per. Mr. G says one can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook and listen to him on Spotify.


Pictures of Alexander and Per during the interview: 1; 2;


Jan Gradvall’s podcast interview with Per Gessle

Jan Gradvall in his podcast tries to find out what drives Per Gessle, what his secret is and what happens if you analyze Gessle’s songs in depth. Jan is trying to do it via analyzing ”Allt gick så fort”, which is one of Per’s most personal songs he has ever written and can be found on the new album, ”En vacker natt”.

Per says it’s the central song on the album. He tells he read an interview with David Crosby who told he had five guitars in his bedroom and that all of them were tuned differently. Per thought it’s cool. Mr. G experimented a lot with traditional tunings, but then he googled David Crosby’s tunings and found out there are a lot of variants and found one which was very odd. So Per tried some new tricks, playing his old chords in a new way, creating completely new sounds.

”Allt gick så fort” is very text-oriented. It starts with an accident Per witnessed during a visit to France. Per says it’s a song that kind of writes itself. It matures through a whole life and suddenly it feels ready to be written down.

Jan asks Per what he is singing about when it’s in the lyrics that he was 8 years old. Per says the lyrics tell a whole life in a way. The text starts with an unknown person, but then suddenly, you sing about yourself, when you are a child and then it’s about when you are 18 and in love for the first time. In between there is another person seeing the whole thing from another angle, in the middle of his life, in the middle of his career and realizes it all went so fast. Per says the song was written very fast, but the guitar tuning was tricky. Jan asks how exactly that tuning is done. Per says when he wrote the song he went to Halmstad, to MP’s studio to record a demo. It went very well with all that new tuning. Then he went to Nashville to record it properly, but he had no clue how he did that in Halmstad, so they had to use his demo.

The whole Nashville project was different to whatever Per has done before and it’s not like today’s pop music when everything is done on computers. Per wanted to try something new. It became a completely organic album. It’s not an album for everybody. It’s for a certain audience. Per thinks many can identify with it, but many will think it’s too slow or the violin is too whiny. But it doesn’t matter. For him it was important to make this record. He wanted the lyrics and his voice to be in focus. The fantastic musicians in Nashville added a lot to it, Dan Dugmore with his pedal steel playing or Stuart Duncan with his violin playing.

Jan finds the expression ”I sin icke dansande generation” (= in his non-dancing generation) fantastic and he asks Per how he came up with this. Per says when you are sitting and chatting you realize that your generation is a non-dancing one. He finds the rhymes and songwriting exciting.

Jan mentions there are many returning symbols in Per’s lyrics on the new album, like sea, beaches, nature. Per says he has always used symbols like flowers, sea, winds, things you associate with images when you are listening to a song. It somehow makes the listener be part of the song. They recognize the smell, the taste, the feeling.

Jan and Per talk about Per’s family, that he has lost his mom, brother and sister during the past 3 years. When his sister, Gunilla died, her son found a box of 25-30 old diapositives from 1965-66. Even Per appeared on some of them. Mr. G chose a pic of Gunilla, standing and singing probably in Tylösand, to be on the album cover. Per thinks the colour of the diapositive fits the album very well.

Per tells Jan that Anton Corbijn was in New Orleans, shooting Arcade Fire when Per was in Nashville and so Anton came over and took some fantastic pictures of Per. First Per thought one of those should be on the cover, but after her sister’s diapositives were found he changed his mind. This way it is more personal and even more unexpected. The second album ”En vacker dag” will have a 1965 pic of Per’s mom on the cover, with a picnic table just behind the family’s Volvo Amazon.

Jan asks Per if losing his relatives has affected Mr. G in a way that it can be heard on the album. Per says yes and no. It of course has affected him, but none of the songs are directly about this. ”Allt gick så fort” might sound like that a bit, but the rest of the songs were written last spring after Roxette stopped touring. Some of the songs were left-overs and were re-written, but most of them are newly written.

Jan and Per talk about an earlier interview from the Son of a Plumber times and Jan remembers Per told him that his father died when Gyllene Tider broke through and Per wrote ”När alla vännerna gått hem” after his dad died. Per says it’s true and of course what happens in your life has its effects on you. These two albums he has made now he couldn’t have done 10 or 15 years ago. You must have a certain experience, a certain security, a certain courage to be able to do it. You have to find your style, your language, your strength to be able to do it.

Jan tells Per he feels that when Per sings on this new album, he is more ”naked” and asks if it is conscious. Per says he wanted to put the lyrics in focus.

Jan says the album sounds in a way very much Nashville, but also very much Halmstad. Per was travelling around the world, but always came back to Halmstad. Per says the older you get the more you go back to your roots, where you come from. It’s like when sometimes he is sitting and checking songs on Spotify and sees billions of them and he goes back to listen to songs he likes from 1967. And yes, there is a Nashville sound on the album, but at the same time, it’s Per’s stlye.

Mr. G says he wanted an album that is text-oriented and very simple, acoustic. First they just thought they shouldn’t record it in Sweden. They thought about studios in England and France, then Nashville popped up and Per liked the idea of a fusion between Tennesse and Halland. A little country has always been there in Per’s solo music. Neil Young’s “Harvest” stlye. They had no plans at all when they left Sweden for Nashville. First Per played the acoustic guitar and sang a bit, then they asked the studio if they could help to find local musicians. There are two world famous pedal steel players, Dan Dugmore and Paul Franklin. Dan Dugmore is the one who plays the pedal steel on Per’s album. When he listened to Per’s songs he wrote down numbers instead of chords. How Dan played changed the songs. Since they wanted to save time, they recorded 3-4 takes and then edited them later while mixing.

The same day Dan Dugmore came to the studio, Stuart Duncan came too to play the violin. When Per heard him playing he said wow. Everything became better and better, like the intro to ”Småstadsprat”. Then they needed a harmonica player, so Mickey Raphael plays on 3-4 songs.

Jan asks what Per thinks why his melodies are so special that they are attractive even to those who can’t speak Swedish. Per thinks they are beautiful, that’s why the albums are titled “En vacker natt” and “En vacker dag” (“A beatiful night” and “A beautiful day”). At least that was his ambition. Jan asks where Per’s melodies come from. They come from the ‘60s, but also from the Swedish traditional music. Here Per talks about his adventures with his friend, Peter as troubadours who played at nursing homes for old people. Per played the guitar and sang, Peter also played the guitar and the flute. They played everything they could and it included a lot of country as well. As troubadours, once they had to play at an old people’s nursing home in a new place in Halmstad. They entered a big table tennis hall and there were two men lying in there, they were not moving at all. They didn’t know what to do, there was no personnel around, so they just sat in the middle of the hall and started playing some songs, Proud Mary or something. Suddenly a nurse came and asked what the hell they were doing. They said they were just playing songs. A lot of doctors rushed in and then it turned out that one of the men there was in coma and he woke up to the sound of Per and Peter playing music. The day after it turned out that they shouldn’t even have to be there, at that place, but he will never forget that day. One can see that music makes miracles.

Pic from Jan Gradvall’s Instagram.