Mats MP Persson on Skiss podcast about himself, Gyllene Tider and Roxette

Musician Morgan Lydemo is doing a podcast, Skiss where he meets influential people from different corners of the music industry, who have managed to develop and build a stable platform for themselves with the help of musical talent, hard work and a sense of entrepreneurship. This time he invited Mats MP Persson who was involved in two of the biggest acts of Swedish music history, to talk about himself, the songs he was involved in, Gyllene Tider, Per Gessle and Roxette. You can listen to the podcast episode HERE.

Morgan introduces MP as a producer, songwriter and musician and is uncertain about Mats being a drummer or a guitarist in the first place. MP tells that in his teens he started out as a drummer, but of course, many know him as the guitarist in Gyllene Tider. Morgan tells MP is recording most of the demos of Per Gessle and he asks Mats if he is also doing the final production of the songs. MP tells final production he doesn’t do so often, but last year they recorded a home-made solo album for Per and that was mastered by MP. Demos are recorded at his studio since the early 80’s and it’s fun that they are also released on albums to show how the songs started out. Some are very much produced, some are very simple.

MP tells that at high school he played in a band as a drummer. The bassist, Peter Nilsson was friends with Per Gessle and Per visited them at their rehearsal studio in the attic of MP’s grandma’s house. MP thinks Per changed then completely. Until then he was sitting at home translating Leonard Cohen lyrics, listening to David Bowie, playing a nylon-string guitar nicely, but the rock ’n’ roll experience in the rehearsal studio changed him and he thought that was what he wanted to do.

Morgan asks MP if one can say that he is Per Gessle’s right hand both in Gyllene Tider and Roxette. MP says Per writes a lot himself, but it happened that MP had some ideas before PG started writing and Per thought those were fun to build on. When that happens, both of them are stated as composers of the song. Regarding their collaboration, Mats says it can only work well if you realize that making it together is one step ahead vs. if you are doing it on your own and the other is doing it on his own. Then the collaboration is perfect. Morgan notices that if they have been working together since so long, it must be working fine between them. MP adds of course there are discussions like could we change this or that, related to the arrangement or so and it’s fun. MP has a well-isolated studio and he thinks his stuff there simply fits Per quite well. Often when Per comes to the studio, MP just puts on the right microphone capsule and Per sounds absolutely fantastic, his voice. Per feels safe there and has MP as a sounding board when he sings. Per decides 80% himself and then asks MP for his opinion.

Morgan asks MP how it was to start a band when they started playing together, how different it was vs. nowadays. MP says he hasn’t really been following the music scene nowadays, but today it’s more about computers and music programs, back then it was a must to build a band, have a rehearsal studio, rehearse a lot and do something that no one else was doing or at least do it better than anyone else, create your own identity. The lead singer often became the face of the band. You had to play a lot to be better and better at playing your instrument. It cost a lot of efforts, but if you were talented, it was probably all worth it.

Morgan says Halmstad has always been a big music scene. MP says he and Per were influenced by the punk era at the end of the 70’s, the sound was awesome, they thought. There were a lot of bands in Halmstad those days.

Morgan compares Gyllene Tider to ABBA in the sense that they weren’t so popular in the homefront. MP says GT was on TV on Måndagsbörsen in 1980 and played some songs there. Everyone in Sweden was watching that TV program back then. Himmel No. 7 and Flickorna på TV2 were already out on a single. They picked Himmel No. 7 as the A side, but Flickorna på TV2 was played at discos in Stockholm, so there was a second release of the single as a double A side. They had a huge break-through then and played live on TV. It was awesome. One could see what effect appearing live on a TV show had back then. There were only two TV channels those days.

They were touring, they rehearsed a lot in the studio and they weren’t really social, but had their close friends around them. MP tells that in another sound recording they talked about 1978-79 when they spent ten thousand hours at the rehearsal studio. They were there every day instead of going to the soccer field or running after girls. The money they earned with their summer jobs they spent on strings and cables. They were really focused. MP thinks it comes from those days that whenever they sit down to play together, it’s still there. All of them 5 ride in the same tempo and everyone strives towards one aim. When there is e.g. another drummer or bassist playing those songs, it’s different. Not better or worse, just different. The beat is not the same. All 5 of them live different lives, but when they get together there is a smile on their faces and they know they are there for the sake of music.

Morgan says Listen To Your Heart is probably the most known song MP composed together with Per. He asks MP to mention some more Roxette songs where he was co-writer. Mats mentions (Do You Get) Excited? and Spending My Time from the Joyride album. As per Gyllene Tider, he can’t remember anymore, but it was mainly their first album, e.g. Flickorna på TV2, Ska vi älska, så ska vi älska till Buddy Holly, (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän.

Getting back to LTYH, Morgan asks MP to tell the story of the song, how it was written. MP remembers that they were sitting in the studio in Gullbrandstorp or Styrdal in 1988. MP recorded something on the sequencer, what became the verse part of LTYH, one can say. Per came in with a paper and wanted to record something totally different, but he asked what that was. He thought the melody could work with the text he had on the paper. He put the paper to the side and they started working with the melody. For the next day, Per added another part and they did a simple demo. It’s Per who is singing on the demo. MP says it felt like a little happy accident, because if Per hadn’t entered the studio when Mats was playing that melody, maybe it would have never turned up.

Talking about the studio work, Morgan asks MP if he thinks the new generation is missing anything when it comes to the old studio techniques. MP says that in a way it’s fun to have the limitations of tapes and distortions and such things. When they started, he didn’t have a 24-track multitrack recorder, but an 8-channel recorder, then in 1989 they upgraded to a 16-track recorder and used it until 1998. Now it’s computers and it’s much easier to manipulate the sounds. Morgan says it’s easy to sound good nowadays. MP agrees. Mats adds that it’s e.g. fun for him if there are 4 choruses in a song, he wants to record all four. Copy-paste of course saves time, but it’s more fun in the old school way.

Morgan asks for some basic tips from MP as producer and technician for those musicians who would like to build their own studio. What is what they should think about in the first place. MP repeats that when they started they had a simple mixer and an 8-channel recorder. He adds tips about microphones and amps. He says he still likes coloured sounds, which can e.g. be a strange frequency or a certain distortion. It’s so easy with the plug-ins nowadays. One has to test them.

Morgan asks MP about GT’s break-up in 1985, how it was and how it felt. MP says it was a horrible feeling. They all felt that they had reached a career that they couldn’t top. Before that, they felt they did everything they could in Sweden, so they recorded an English album, The Heartland Café under the name Roxette, not Golden Times. MP thinks the album sounds quite good, but what they did before was not reflected on that album. It became a mini LP with 6 songs in the US, but it didn’t sell at all. Anders wanted to leave the band, so they broke-up in 1985. For Per then came Roxette, a collaboration with Marie Fredriksson, trying something in English with her. It was fun, MP says and in the end, GT’s break-up was a milestone in Roxette’s history. MP adds he started working at Halmstad airport at the time to be on the safe side, so he was recording demos with Per and working at the airport.

Morgan asks MP about GT’s comebacks too. Mats says that in 1989 both he and Per turned 30, then Roxette was on tour for a long time, then they made the album Crash! Boom! Bang! and went on tour again. Then there was a pause and there was this Halmstad All Stars happening at Stora torg in Halmstad in 1995 and the guys in GT were asked if they could put together something for that event. It became so huge that journalists wrote it was time for a comeback of GT. So the guys decided for what became Återtåget and it was fantastic with sold out concerts all around.

There was a longer break when Marie got ill and Per did his Mazarin album in Christoffer Lundquist’s studio in 2002 and went on tour in the summer of 2003. Then came the idea to celebrate GT’s 25th anniversary in 2004. They wanted to do the same size tour as Återtåget was, but they had to book football stadiums instead. So instead of venues of 10.000 they played venues of 20-25.000, then there was Stockholm Stadium and Ullevi too. It was totally crazy, of course.

Mats remembers Marie was a secret guest at their last show on the Återtåget tour at Brottet in Halmstad and it was fun when she was singing a verse of När alla vännerna gått hem. It was like being on a completely different planet. It gives you goosebumps, Morgan says, she was one of the best singers.

MP says there are a lot of things and happenings that became really successful, but all projects take a lot of time and energy. In between their big GT tours they didn’t do anything related to Gyllene Tider. What MP thinks is that a lot of people who listened to them in the beginning of the 80’s are the same age as them 5 and as they got older, they would have also loved to relive their youth. They have now kids and grandchildren and the guys can see that there are different generations at their shows. They are very fortunate. Before they got their record contract in 1979, they – mainly Per – sent mails to e.g Mats Olsson at Expressen, to Aftonbladet, to record labels they also sent cassettes again and again and again, quite frequently. It was kind of a ritual every wekk. One doesn’t have this kind of energy nowadays. They thought they had something in them, they believed in themselves.

Their songs live their own lives, new generations are also listening to them. Morgan says they are evergreens. Mats tells when they were recording Puls, they were looking for a sound and they were inspired by the big American sound that Tom Petty represented. When they thought they were ready, Kjell Andersson at EMI said there was no hit on the album. They needed a hit for the summer. Then Per went and wrote Sommartider, so that was the last song they recorded and it became a huge hit.

Morgan asks MP to tell some more anecdotes he thinks would be interesting for the listeners to hear. MP laughs and says there are some he can’t tell. He says many thought they had a lot of girls around them, a girlfriend here and there, but it wasn’t the case. They were really nice and good guys and were focusing on their job. MP also talks about touring in the 80’s and that they had the same financial management as Björn Skifs.

At the end of the interview Morgan asks MP to pick one option from two made-up happenings (related to music and Gyllene Tider) and then pick another one from other two made-up stories and here it turns out that MP played the trumpet until the age of 15, but he can’t really play the violin.

Morgan asks for some closing thoughts and MP says to play music for people who enjoy it is pure happiness and so satisfying. Music spreads joy, he thinks.

Pic by Patrícia Peres, Ronneby, GT40 tour 2019

Roxette and related artists in Kjell Andersson’s memoir

Kjell Andersson, former Head of A&R and producer at EMI Sweden published his autobiography, Ingen går hel ur det här – Mitt liv i den svenska musiken on 8th February 2021. Over 40 years in the music industry, Kjell worked together with many of Sweden’s greatest artists. To name a few: Per Gessle, Gyllene Tider, Marie Fredriksson, Roxette, Mauro Scocco, Eva Dahlgren, Wilmer X, Björn Skifs, Ulf Lundell etc. In his book he writes parallel stories of different artists over the decades.

Even if the main line is not Roxette-related, there are either longer stories from our idols’ lives, mainly the early career of GT, PG, Marie and Roxette, or shorter stories, when Marie’s or Per’s ways crossed other artists’ paths or they joined projects of various artists. Most of the stories hardcore fans have heard already, but it’s always interesting to hear them from another person’s, another participant’s point of view or hear anecdotes related to happenings we’ve heard about.

I will of course highlight only parts where either Roxette or Gyllene Tider or Marie Fredriksson or Per Gessle is written about – for all non-Swedish speaker fans –, but I recommend reading the book in case you are interested in Swedish music history and you want to practice your Swedish. It’s a very informative reading not only about Kjell Andersson’s life, but tons of artists and the Swedish music industry as well. A real history book in a way.

GYLLENE TIDER

The yellow EP

Kjell writes about how his cooperation started with Gyllene Tider. He received a home-made yellow vinyl EP in January 1979. It contained 5 songs of a band from Halmstad. When Kjell listened to it, he got stuck with Billy. He thought there were vague, yet noticeable, traces of a young John Holm in the singer. Kjell played the EP to his close colleagues at the company and also sent a cassette copy to Ulf Lundell. Calle Bengtsson (photographer) could hear what Kjell heard, but no one else heard the potential. Not yet. Kjell decided to call the number attached to the EP. Per’s mother picked up the phone in their Halmstad home. Kjell asked her if Per was at home and Mamma Elisabeth told him Per was sleeping, but she could wake him up, it was past 12 anyway. Haha. Per came to the phone and Kjell introduced himself. He can’t remember what they talked about, but he told Per he liked their EP and asked if there were more strong songs. Per replied ”There are as many as you want… and only hits!”

Kjell says the guys were determined and anything else in their lives was secondary back then. A couple of weeks later Kjell got a cassette from them and hearing the new demos he realized another side of Gyllene Tider, a playful side. Kjell realized that instead of finding a young John Holm, he came into contact with a young pop band that sounded like a mix of Elvis Costello & The Attractions and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

He played the demos for Lasse Lindbom and Lasse thought there was something in the band, but had to go down to Harplinge to listen to them and then they convinced him. However, he was hesitant to the pop star potential of the singer. Haha.

According to Kjell:

If Springsteen’s Born To Run – according to Greil Marcus in Rolling Stone – is a 1957 Chevrolet running on melted down Crystals, then Gyllene Tider is a rusty Volvo Amazon from the end of the 60’s driven by old Tom Petty, Hep Stars and Nick Lowe vinyls.

Debut single and first LP

Gyllene Tider’s debut single, Himmel No. 7 was released at the end of 1979 with Flickorna på TV2 on the B side. Kjell swears it was planned to be a double A side single, but the record pressing plant in Åmål couldn’t handle double A sides, they got confused. Everyone started playing Flickorna på TV2 , it became a megahit. At some point in the book Kjell adds that it was Niklas Strömstedt who as a DJ first heard the single potential in the song.

The band’s debut album came out in February 1980. It became a huge success.

Moderna Tider

In the summer of 1980 it was time to start recording Gyllene Tider’s second album. Per and MP claimed all songs they wrote were ready and as usual, Per said they are all hits. As soon as Kjell received the demos he listened to them with high hopes, but thought they were terrible. Per stayed with the subject (teenage sex) that worked in their first hits. Kjell thought it seemed like GT’s own parody. He thought Gyllene Tider was much bigger than that.

Kjell called Per and told him his opinion. Per thought 2 months of work was flushed down and it was a diabolic slap while GT were the biggest in Sweden. Kjell thought and still thinks the real diabolic slap would have been if they released the LP with those songs from the first demos.

So the guys started from scratch and by early autumn there were new songs and the recordings for Moderna Tider began. The lead single, När vi två blir en was released in October 1980. When Kjell played it in the office, a girl from the finance department stopped and asked what he was playing. Kjell thinks that’s always a good sign when someone from the „outside” reacts in a positive way, because they are listening to the songs like everyday people, not like those who are dealing with repertoires all the time and thinking and analyzing the songs too much.

Puls

The guys wanted to make GT’s third LP a Swedish pop classic. Per wrote a series of strong and inspirational pop songs: (Hon vill ha) Puls, Vän till en vän and Vandrar i ett sommarregn. Kjell’s favourite from the album is Händerna, but he thinks Puls lacked the charm, joy of playing and spontaneity of the debut album. It often happens when you want to make a masterpiece, you forget to have fun.

When the album was ready, everyone was satisfied with the result, but a single was missing. Kjell was standing in the bus stop Solna Centrum on a sunny spring morning, waiting for bus 503 to EMI and he was thinking about song titles. He thought they needed a summer single – summer and Gyllene Tider – En gyllene sommar (A Golden Summer)? He had some more titles popping up in his head, but he got stuck with Sommartider in the end. Kjell called Per and told him about his idea. Per liked it and immediately wrote a bubblegum pop song.

The Heartland Café

After all their success, GT wanted to go international and record an English album. They were on tours all around in Sweden, they beat the audience record and felt there was nothing more to reach in Sweden. So they recorded The Heartland Café. The album was released as a mini LP with six songs in the US under the name Roxette (from Wilko Johnson’s Dr. Feelgood song). Nothing happened.

Återtåget

Halmstads pärlor – Samtliga hits! 1979-95 was released in May 1995 and Gyllene Tider did a gig on Stora torg in Halmstad in front of 18,000 people and the band was challenged to do a summer tour, which came to life next year. Before the tour, a newly recorded EP with two new hits was released: Gå & fiska! and Juni, juli, augusti. Kjell thinks it’s a perfect pop EP. The tour became a huge success, beating audience records all over the country.

Finn 5 fel!

GT started recording a new album in February 2004 at Aerosol Grey Machine, Christoffer Lundquist’s studio in Vollsjö. Per wanted to release an EP only, but Kjell was nagging an album. Maybe he pushed Per hard he thinks when he is listening to the LP today. It doesn’t stick together like an album should, some songs feel like they are leftovers from Mazarin. The band chemistry was still there though.

Ullevi 2004

GT set a new audience record at Ullevi in 2004. Kjell was there and it was an uplifting experience for him – from a phone call on a winter morning in 1979 to this. He doesn’t say that Gyllene Tider is his creation or that gig wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t called and woke Per up on that January day in 1979. He is convinced that they would have suceeded anyway. The band’s talent and Per’s and MP’s songs would have probably brought them to that magical evening in Gothenburg on other paths as well. Media or the music industry wouldn’t have missed the natural forces of their magnitude.

MARIE FREDRIKSSON

MaMas Barn

Kjell remembers he heard Marie in MaMas Barn first. He got to know her via Gyllene Tider, because they shared rehearsal studio in the basement of Harplinge’s school. According to Kjell, their strongest song was Det är svårt att bryta upp, a piano ballad Marie herself sang.

It serves as a sample for what she does later. The ingredients are there, Marie’s building blocks: melancholy, contact with the listener and her peculiar warmth and sincerity.

Solo debut

Kjell tells that Marie and Lasse met for the first time when the Lasse Lindbom Band recorded their Romantisk blackout LP. When Lasse couldn’t find a singer to sing duet on Så nära nu, he asked Per to contact Marie and then she sang the duet with Lasse. She sounded young, nervous and extremely enthusiastic, according to Kjell.

When later Marie and Lasse Lindbom became a couple, Marie wanted to be signed by EMI. Lasse found a song he worked on before, but never finished. It didn’t even have a title or a text. Marie loved the melody and wrote lyrics to it. Ännu doftar kärlek became Marie’s debut single as a solo artist in 1984.

Kjell says that from all the artists he had worked together with during his 40 years in the business, Marie was the biggest riddle to him.

Everyone who meets her likes her, even loves her! Even me. She is warm and personal, but at the same time distanced and shy. I can’t state that I know her. I know limited parts of her, her sides she decided to show over the years, but a big part of Marie as a person is a mystery and will always be.

Marie has the peculiar ability only a few artists have; she can sing a catalogue and make the text sound personal, heartfelt, warm and even poetic. When she sings in Swedish, she is undisguised and open like a child or an old person who no longer has anything to hide. How she expresses herself hits the listener in the heart, it’s impossible to defend yourself.

Den sjunde vågen, Efter stormen

Den sjunde vågen was inspired by Henri Charrière’s novel, Papillon which Marie was reading during her journey with Lasse to the Canary Islands to write material for the record. The novel is about a man who escaped from Devil’s Island, a French penal colony of French Guiana. Marie was inspired by the idea that the sea waves had a pattern: every seventh wave was the biggest and the process is repeated forever.

According to Kjell, Marie’s self-esteem and expressing herself improved by every album. Den sjunde vågen was a big step after Het vind and Efter stormen was even bigger. These two LP’s were very important on the way to Marie’s perfection, artistic flowering, her modern and anxious tour blues album, Den ständiga resan.

Regarding the Efter stormen cover photo Kjell says that Marie had a principle those days: Marie in Roxette and Marie as a solo artist dress differently. In Roxette she was modern, wearing e.g. the type of leather jacket she wears in the video of Neverending Love, while as a solo artist, she was more casual, wearing jeans and sweater. This difference disappeared over the years.

Den ständiga resan

Kjell says Marie chose music to convey her tour blues feelings related to the Join the Joyride World Tour and Den ständiga resan became a dark self-portrait. The lyrics are direct, not poetic and that makes them credible.

Marie wrote the songs on airplanes, at airports, in hotel rooms, on tour buses. She recorded the melodies and parts of the lyrics on a little tape recorder she always had with her. On the tapes one can hear the landing and departure messages through the airport loudspeakers.

It was an important album for Marie. She wanted to show that she is more than the extraordinary voice singing Per Gessle’s songs in Roxette.

Äntligen

After New Year in 2000, the CEO at EMI realized that it would be difficult to reach the budget in the financial year, so he asked Kjell if he had any ideas that could help. Kjell and Rolf talked about a Marie compilation album, but the timing never fit. Kjell then called Marie to ask what she thought about it and Marie was positive. Kjell asked if she wanted to write a new song that could be a single and the opening song. Marie wrote Äntligen and recorded it with Micke. The compilation album was released in March and it sold 160,000 copies until summer, so the budget was safe.

The album was such a great success in spring that Marie’s first solo tour in eight years was also planned for the summer.

Nu!

In June 2013 Kjell was invited – together with Marie Dimberg and Thomas Johansson – to Marie’s and Micke’s house in Djursholm to listen to their recordings for a new album then called Vad vore jag utan dig. Kjell was interested in Marie’s songs, but to his surprise, when he asked Marie how many songs she had written for the album, she replied „one and a half”. Kjell doesn’t know what happened to that half song.

Kjell told his opinion, both positive and negative. He stayed honest, but minded his words knowing the difficult times Marie and Micke had gone through. The most important and biggest critique was about the title. „What would I be without you” can’t be an album title, he thought. He asked Marie and Micke to send him the lyrics of all songs, so he would search among the lines for title options.

According to Kjell, as a whole, the album lacks Marie’s brushstrokes, her words, motifs and colours. There is a sense of art falsification, when you are trying to recreate an artist’s expressions. The only song Marie wrote for this album is Sista sommarens vals.

PER GESSLE

Solo debut

All GT guys – except Per – went to the obligatory military service in January 1983. Per released his first solo album instead, a singer-songwriter record, which was probably rather Kjell’s idea than Per’s. Kjell admits that it wasn’t this type of music that made Per unique and world famous.

He is not a rock poet or a troubadour, rather a composer genious and a pop thief of the highest caliber. Per is young, 24 years old, it’s not in his nature to write open and self-disclosing texts that make this genre interesting. His lyrics seek melancholy and romance.

Scener

Kjell says Per’s second solo album is unbalanced, heading into several directions simultaneously. Per didn’t know which way to choose. When the recordings started, it was just a side project that he could afford himself next to GT’s success, but it suddenly became his future after Anders left Gyllene Tider. Kjell’s favourite from this album is Blå december.

Son Of A Plumber

Kjell says Per made Son of a Plumber for himself. He wanted to challenge himself, as well as his audience to dare to go even further into that dream he had lived so long. SOAP is a sentimental journey back to the past, a map of all the pop music Per grew up with and worshiped.

For Kjell it’s SOAP, GT’s first three albums and Per’s solo debut album where he shows himself and his songwriting genius most clearly. He thinks SOAP was one of the strongest pop albums during the EMI years.

En händig man

Kjell thinks it’s difficult to follow up on a success like Mazarin. Ideas get thought out and it loses the spontaneous and natural. EHM lacks the unforced charm of its predecessor. According to Kjell, Per’s music is the best when it’s spontaneous and he plays his way through small light clouds, among new ideas and old influences and steals bits from his favourites.

ROXETTE

Neverending Love

Kjell tells that Rolf Nygren had the idea that Marie and Per should sing together. He thought that Marie could lift Per’s songs to a totally different level when she was singing on his demos. During that period in 1986 Per was writing songs for other artists. Svarta glas he wrote for Pernilla Wahlgren, but she didn’t want to record it. Per sent the demo to Rolf with the following text attached: „You always tell we should make an English single when we have the right song. What do you think about the attached tape?” Rolf thought the song was a hit and Per shouldn’t give away such strong song to another artist. PG wrote an English text to it and the song became Neverending Love.

Per needed a new producer. Kjell heard a Py Bäckman single that was produced by Clarence Öfwerman. Kjell knew Clarence as the pianist in Raj Montana and from Ulf Lundell’s autumn tour leg. The three guys met at Café Opera and Per and Clarence found each other despite the fact that they were coming from different musical worlds.

Kjell wasn’t the most positive about the idea of Marie and Per working together. Marie started her solo career with two albums and for Kjell the Swedish market was the territory he understood the most. He thought the international market was an unrealistic dream and he also had low confidence in international EMI.

Kjell suggested they should handle the Roxette project as a test. Their names weren’t written on the single and the sleeve illustration was a couple’s picture taken from a 40’s American weekly newspaper Kjell found in the attic. There was a rule for Roxette: Marie and Per not to be launched as a couple, no passionate duets.

Neverending Love became a hit in Sweden and Roxette started recording Pearls of Passion from the material that was meant to be Per’s third solo album. Clarence brought his musician friends: Jonas Isacsson (guitar), Pelle Alsing (drums) and Tommy Cassemar (bass). Kjell thinks the undisguised in Marie’s voice was partly lost in English, but her passion survived.

Look Sharp!

Kjell tells Roxette’s second LP had Paint as the title for a long time. Per wanted to keep up with the period’s machine-produced pop music and wanted to use drum machines, sequencers and synths. Anders Herrlin had been working with machines since a while, so he was asked to do the programming.

The album sleeve, The Daily Roxette was inspired by Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick and John & Yoko’s Some Time in New York City. Marie Dimberg wrote the texts and Kjell built up a newspaper front page. Eminent fashion photographer, Mikael Jansson took the picture. Kjell asked colleagues from the company to be there as extras on the photos next to professional models. Marie Dimberg also appears on the sleeve photo, Alar Suurna became a press photographer, Clarence Öfwerman is the driver on the pic.

Joyride

Kjell tells Per read an interview in Musician with Paul McCartney where he said writing songs with John Lennon was a joyride. Per thought this expression described the feeling he wanted Roxette’s music to convey: joy, excitement and adventure. Joyride contains Kjell’s most favourite Roxette song, Watercolours in the Rain, to which Per wrote the lyrics and Marie wrote the music.

It’s the best-selling album of Roxette and the best-selling album in Kjell’s EMI career. Kjell remembers that before Christmas 1991 Per called him to thank for the year and to wish him merry Christmas and happy new year. Kjell told him he must be satisfied with the album sales, 300,000 copies in Sweden. Per said not really, he thought it could be double. Kjell thought Per was crazy, but by the end of next year the album sold 600,000 copies in Sweden.

Tourism

Kjell calls Tourism his „gold mine”. Per wanted to release a double live LP from the Join the Joyride tour. Rolf and Kjell were hesitant to the idea. On a studio meeting Kjell could convince Per to make a tour LP instead.

That was the first and last time Rolf gave royalty to Kjell. The album sold 6 million copies around the world and Kjell received 3 million SEK. He bought his first apartment in Stockholm from that money.

Crash! Boom! Bang!

While the band was in Capri to record Crash! Boom! Bang!, Kjell got countless reports about how good things were going and that it doesn’t sound like anything else before. When they got back and the team listened to it at EMI, Kjell was disappointed. If he hadn’t received all the positive reports, he would have probably reacted differently. The album contained rather ballads and it needed an uptempo song, a single. Per agreed with Kjell in the end and the day after he called Kjell to tell that he wrote a new song, Sleeping in My Car.

Have A Nice Day

Kjell tells his influence in the circle around Roxette diminished over the years. He ended up in the group that listened to Per’s demos and told what they thought about the songs, but nothing more. When it came to the cover of Have A Nice Day, Per and Marie chose Kjell’s colleague, Karl-Magnus.

Kjell hoped that Roxette would make an album where Marie would get as much space as a composer as Per, they would be less formatted and allow greater stylistic differences. Like a late Fleetwood Mac with three songwriters, Roxette could have done it with two equivalent composers who coexisted within a more spacious framework. Kjell says he got no response to his ideas and he lost interest in the upcoming albums.

 

These are only excerpts from the book mainly for the non-Swedish speaker fans, but there are many more little details in this memoir. Details like the inspiration for the lights settings in Roxette’s She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore video or techniques used during recording sessions, as well as ideas of photo shootings for album and single covers, and of course, more of Kjell’s personal opinions, just to mention a few. So one day, if you have the chance, I suggest you read this book, published by Albert Bonniers Förlag. You can order it from Ginza or buy it in Swedish book stores.

Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – June 2021 – Joyride 30

Per Gessle and Sven Lindström celebrated Joyride’s 30th anniversary in Per’s kitchen in Stockholm in the June episode of Nordic Rox on Sirius XM last night.

There are pictures of Per’s icons in the kitchen. Sven mentions there is a John Lennon poster behind him, Per adds there is a signed poster from Sir Paul McCartney which he got as a birthday present a couple of years ago. There is also a great Anton Corbijn photography of Pete Townshend sitting in a London cab. Sven tells John is above Paul and asks Per if it’s a sign for something. Mr. G tells it’s just because John was already hanging there and when he got Paul’s poster, he just put it under John’s.

Sven tells Per has been around for more than 40 years and kicked off at the age of 20 or so. He asks Mr. G if it means he is getting old. PG tells it means he is getting experienced. Sven tells anniversaries come closer and closer and Per’s reaction is that every time he realizes it, he thinks ”oh, we have to make an anniversary edition!” Now it’s 30 years since Roxette released their 3rd album, Joyride. It will get a 4-LP box set and a 3-CD set anniversary release in autumn. It will contain demos, outtakes and alternative versions as well.

The guys now zoom back to 1991, but besides Joyride, they also play other songs on the show.

The first one they play is Adiam Dymott’s Pizza. Her first, self-titled album in 2009 was produced by Thomas Rusiak from the Teddybears (Swedish band).

The next song is Santa Monica Blue Waves by Chris Linn. Per would say it’s a one hit wonder, but it’s not even a hit. It was a semi-hit when it came out in 1981. Per bought it on a 7-inch vinyl and still has it and likes it. It’s produced by Ulf Wahlberg, who used to produce and be part of the Secret Service (Swedish band). They had lots of hits, especially in Europe. According to Per, it sounds so 80’s and he loves that.

Unseen Footage from a Forthcoming Funeral by Nicole Sabouné is next, released in 2012. It’s power synth pop and Per loves it too.

Sven asks if Mr. G remembers his plans when he was thinking about making Joyride. Sven adds Per came from being big in Sweden and then breaking through in the world with The Look, so this album was the first for them to be international stars. Mr. G tells it was difficult in a way, because Look Sharp! had 4 huge songs on it, Listen To Your Heart, Dangerous, Dressed For Success and The Look, and then It Must Have Been Love happened from the Pretty Woman movie. In 1990, when they started recording Joyride, they were a very big band all over the world, so of course there was a certain amount of pressure to come up with some more goodies. Per always felt they were on a roll. Their style of music was special, they had a certain sound created in Stockholm by Swedish musicians. Per wrote maybe 30 songs for this album and they recorded 15-16. They took it step by step. Having all the success gives a lot of energy, says PG. It was fun days in the studio. They didn’t have any budgets, because they were big, so they were just hanging out in the studio for 6 months and the record label paid for it.

Sven tells there was no time for chilling. When they were not in the studio, they did promotion trips all over the world. For 8 years they were living like that, Per says. They were either in the studio or did tours or promo tours. On those few days when they didn’t work, Per went back home and wrote songs and made demos. So there was a constant flow of creativity, which he loved more than Marie did. She needed a little bit more space outside of Roxette. Per liked to be in that Roxette bubble 24/7. Sven jokes that for Per life outside of Roxette was overrated. Per laughs and agrees.

Mr. G had an apartment in Halmstad and one day he found a note on the piano from his wife, Åsa. It said ”Hej, din tok, jag älskar dig”, which translates into ”Hello, you fool, I love you”. He thought it was such a great phrase, he had to use that in a song. So he started working on Joyride. The expression ”joyride” comes from an interview with Paul McCartney in which he said writing songs with John Lennon was like being on a long joyride. At the time Per didn’t know what a joyride was, that you steal and crash a car and just leave it. For him it was like a very positive journey. So he came up with ”join the joyride” and that became a slogan for the whole project.

The guys play Joyride in the Brian Malouf mix, which was customized for the American radio. The difference between the album version and this is that the mix got more drums and there is a different groove to it, it’s a little faster.

Joyride became Roxette’s 4th US No. 1. The follow up song was Fading Like A Flower, which peaked at No. 2. It’s probably Per’s favourite track from the album. Marie was outstanding when she was singing this one. It’s just custom-made for her. Per doesn’t really consider it a ballad, it’s a mid-tempo song. He can’t remember writing it, but he has the demo which includes the piano intro, so he wrote the piano intro. Normally, when he wrote songs for Roxette those days he didn’t really write the intros, because he knew they would be going to change them anyway.

Sven asks Per if he heard Marie on his mind when he was writing a song, how Marie would deliver it. Per says he did and he also tried to write the lyrics from a female perspective (he laughs and says it sometimes didn’t go that well), as Marie was supposed to sing it. Per thinks if a song is written from a guy’s point of view and it’s sung by a girl, it gets a different meaning. It’s interesting in duets, e.g. in Paint. He thought FLAF becomes a stronger lyric when it’s sung by a girl. Joyride was meant to be sung by Per. The Look was sung by Per but it was intended for Marie. She didn’t feel comfortable singing that dadadadada. Sven tells Per had no problem doing that. Mr. G laughs and says that was his limit. Haha. PG thinks a love song, like IMHBL, becomes stronger when it’s sung by a girl. It becomes a little bit more fragile. Using this female-male trick Per thinks was one of the reasons why Roxette became so successful.

The guys play FLAF here. Bryan Adams blocked it from the top position on the Billboard.

Sven asks Per about the drama during recordings of the Joyride video. Per says they were sitting on the hood of a fake Ferrari in which there was a hidden driver lying on the floor, so you couldn’t see him. That was a big mess and Marie and Per sometimes just fell off. He thinks it was fun though in the desert somewhere in California. It was in the MTV days and they spent a lot on making video clips.

The FLAF video they did in Stockholm, at the City Hall, in the very beautiful golden room. The video became an homage to Stockholm.

Per picked Spending My Time as the next song to be played. He says it felt like it was going to be the big song from the album, probably because IMHBL and LTYH were so big. SMT felt like a natural follow up to those ballads. Mr. G thinks it’s a great song. He co-wrote it with Mats MP Persson. Marie is doing an amazing job on it, as always. Sven says it sounds really tailor-made for her with this melancholic touch to it.

Per had the idea to write a lyric that starts in the morning and ends at night. He says Marie delivered it so well. It became a big song for them. When they did live shows, it was always a show stopper.

Sven tells he and Per started knowing each other in 1987, when Sven beat Per severely in a pop quiz contest. The guys are laughing. Sven mentions it because he remembers they met at a pop quiz contest in the summer of 1990, when Roxette was recording Joyride and Per was really ecstatic about having written a song. When Per arrived he said he wrote a song including a line ”I leave a kiss on your answering machine”. Per thinks it’s beautiful and very romantic. He says the end melody of SMT was written as the intro of the song. Then when they recorded it, they didn’t have an intro, just Marie starting the song. (Here Per sings ”What’s the time?”.) It’s probably because all the intros, especially to LTYH was so famous, so they tried to do something different.

That concludes the Joyride special and the guys are back to Nordic Rox ”normality”. So here comes a song from The Beathovens from 1966, Summer Sun. Per thinks it’s an amazing track, beautiful noise from the 60’s.

James by Ex Cops is next from Denmark. Per likes them a lot. Sven tells they were based in Brooklyn, but the singer, Amalie Bruun qualifies them for being on Nordic Rox. They broke up in 2015. It’s a trend of this kind of music disappearing up in thin air, Sven adds.

It’s time for some Swedish garage rock – one chord, one riff, what more can you ask for, as Sven says. They play Something Wicked by The Teenage Idols.

At the end of the June epsiode, Sven tells they will celebrate another anniversary in the next one, the 20th of Room Service. Per picks the opening track from the album, Real Sugar as a teaser. He always loved that one.

The guys thank everyone for listening and Anita Lindblom’s Cigarettes is closing the show.

Still is from the 4K anniversary version of the Joyride video.

Thanks for the technical support to János Tóth!

Roxette – Joyride 30 Q&A with Per Gessle & restored 4K Joyride video premiere

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Joyride reaching No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 on 11th May 1991, Warner Music Sweden organized a video Q&A with Per Gessle. Fans could send their questions in video format in advance and Per answered them today at 3 pm CET. It was a 15-minute-long session, but we wouldn’t have been bored even after an hour of listening to Mr. G’s great answers to fan Qs.

Right after the Q&A, the anniversary version of the Joyride video premiered in 4K! What a wonderful remake it is! So sharp and there are new details in them! No monkey though. Haha.

As the press release says, the beginning of the 90’s was the peak of the MTV era and a powerful – and expensive – video was of course a must for anyone aiming for the top of the charts.

The Joyride video became a really playful and spectacular video, where Marie and Per, among other things, sat on a Ferrari while a driver laying down, being invisible to the camera took care of the gas and brake.

Those 30 years undoubtedly had left its mark on the original video and it was time for restoring it. As part of the celebration, therefore, here comes a 30-year-old version of the Joyride video with sparkling colours and maximum sharpness in 4K resolution.

Per Gessle smiles and says:

The MTV era was a fun period, because everything was so big and you bought all the crazy ideas that came up. There were very few barriers – not even to make a video where you sit in headwind half the time.

Director Doug Freel had done a solid job. In total, he had recorded 186 minutes of raw material for a song that is just under four minutes. After the recordings, 18 rolls of 35 mm film were shipped from Los Angeles to Swedish EMI, where they spent their time on a shelf in the darkness of the basement until the 30th anniversary began to approach.

But the original master of the approximately 4-minute-long Joyride video was not among the materials. So to update the video, there was only one thing to do: start from the beginning and go through all the materials to recreate the video from scratch.

Said and done, box after box of 18 rolls of film was sent to mastering and restoration expert Thomas Ahlén at Filmtech in Stockholm. He immediately noticed that the materials were in unexpectedly good condition and started the work of removing dirt and sharpening colours and details.

Thomas Ahlén tells:

Since the film reels haven’t been used in all these years, they were very well preserved. It’s been a time-consuming job, but at the same time much fun to be able to present a 30-year-old video in the best possible way. The fact that all the raw materials were silent films and then they had to be matched to the single version was just one of the challenges.

In this project of Joyride – the 30th anniversary version, a piece of Swedish pop history meets the enormous technological development that has taken place in moving media since 1991. The result is a version that follows the original video to 75%.

Per tells:

Some so-called “green screen” scenes have been removed, because they were very difficult to recreate. Instead, we’ve found other goodies in the raw material. In the long run, however, we plan to restore the video completely – and perhaps also other Roxette videos – in 4K resolution.

Joyride’s 30th anniversary is celebrated this autumn with a vinyl box that will consist of 4 LP’s and a 3-CD set, which in addition to the original edition will contain lots of unreleased or hard-to-find materials that paints a larger picture of a piece of Swedish music history.

The 4K video is available on YouTube, as well as the Q&A with Per. Stills are from these videos.

Per Gessle invites you to a Joyride 30 video Q&A

This whole year is dedicated to the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Joyride. The album was released on 28th March 30 years ago and its lead single, the title song, Joyride reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 on 11th May 30 years ago. To celebrate it, a video Q&A is planned with Per Gessle. It will be broadcast at 3 pm CET on 11th May. The good thing is that anyone can participate in the Q&A, you just have to send in your questions in a video until tomorrow, 6th May!

More than that, an amazing restored video of the Joyride clip will also premiere the same day on YouTube!

Watch Per’s invitation video HERE!

Warner Music Sweden’s conditions of participating in the video Q&A can be read HERE and these are the criteria your video must meet:

  • Try to keep your question to around 30 seconds in duration.
  • The question should be asked in English.
  • Be aware of background noise – something like a buzzing fridge or busy road can make your audio unusable.
  • Your video should be submitted in Vertical Mode.
  • Have someone film you or put your camera on a shelf or desk to keep it steady.
  • Remember that the audience can see what’s in the background of your shot.
  • Film from your shoulders up and leave space above your head.
  • Where possible, try not to read your question.
  • Look directly into the camera.
  • An upbeat delivery is usually best, and try not to speak too slowly.
  • Please leave a pause at the end of your question before you stop recording.

When ready, submit your question by sending it to joyride@warnermusic.com!

Still is from the invitation video.