Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – April 2022 – a celebration of Marie Fredriksson

The April episode of Nordic Rox on Sirius XM was recorded in sunny, but rather chilly Halmstad. Per is just back from his solid vacation, which he needed very much. He went away to the sun. „You have to get away a bit in the winter season. It’s really terrible”, he says. Sven says he thought Per’s swimming pool was preheated, but PG explains it’s not, it’s under a cover in winter.

Sven introduces the show as a celebration of Per’s dear friend, Marie Fredriksson, the iconic voice of Roxette. Per adds: „Yeah, my partner in crime”. The guys tell they would play some of Marie’s Swedish stuff, because she had several Swedish solo records in between Roxette albums. The songs „Marie basically wrote herself together with her producer and they are pretty good. Actually, they are very good”, Mr. G adds.

For starting the show they go back in time some 30 years to Rio de Janeiro and play a Roxette song, Fingertips ’93, a single released in 1993. Per tells the original version of the song is on the album Tourism. They had the idea to record all over the world when they were touring with the Joyride album. They recorded Fingertips in Rio de Janeiro and then added some stuff to it in the studio in Stockholm.

Sven asks how was it to hear this old track again. Per’s simple reply is: „scary” and he laughs. He tells it was a fun album to make. He had the idea to use the energy that happens to a band when you are touring for 18 months or so. The band hated him for this, because they wanted days off and Per dragged them into studios all over the world. They recorded e.g. in hotel rooms in Buenos Aires and also in Rio de Janeiro. Sven says, „so instead of being on the beach Ipanema and drinking beer and swimming in the sea, you recorded in the studio”. They are laughing. In LA they were at the Ocean Way Recording Studios to make some songs there. It turned out to be an interesting album. „When you are touring as much as we did in those days, you lose so much time. It was a very creative period for me as a writer, so I just wanted to record the songs I wrote instead of just waiting for another two years before you’re gonna go into the studio. So that was the main reason.”

The next song played is Call Your Girlfriend by Robyn. Then Done, Done, Done by Eagle-Eye Cherry is next. PG thinks Eagle-Eye’s got a great voice, he always loved it. His big hit, Save Tonight is still played on classic radio stations. According to Sven, there is a lot of good songs on his album, even the non-singles. Lot of great stuff hidden there. Per agrees.

Then the brand new single of Sophie Zelmani, The World Ain’t Pretty is on. There is a great picture of Sophie at Hotel Tylösand, taken by Anton Corbijn. Mr. G tells Sophie sounds the same as she always did, she’s got her own style. When she started out, it felt very fresh and she was very interesting, Per thinks. She is still doing great work.

The guys are talking about Marie that Per originally met her in his hometown, Halmstad. Sven tells Per was already an established pop star with his band, Gyllene Tider and Marie came on the scene a couple of years later. Per pushed her in the direction of EMI and so they shared the same record company. Per explains Marie started out being with another label, but nothing happened for her. She had some really great stuff, writing raw material. Per introduced her to his producer and his record label and she eventually got a record deal with those guys and made her first album. It was a big success. Already the first single was a big success in 1984. Sven tells Marie became engaged with producer Lasse Lindbom, who had produced Gyllene Tider as well. According to Sven, one of the biggest hits from her debut album was Ännu doftar kärlek. Per translates the title as „There’s still a scent of love in the air”. He thinks it’s a beautiful song.

Sven informs that Marie became one of the most popular Swedish female artists in the 80’s. Per tells this part of Marie came from the singer songwriter tradition. She was a great piano player and her voice was outstanding. ÄDK is very typical of her style.

Sven tells Marie’s biggest hits were ballads, but she also was a super rocker. She never really wrote rocking material, though. Per thinks this was one of the main reasons why she wanted to join him in Roxette, because he wrote that kind of material. PG never heard any rock or power pop song written by Marie. It wasn’t really her style. She liked to sit by the piano and just do these mid tempo ballads. She was very much into the lyrics and especially in her own material in Swedish it’s a lot about nature and emotions. It was important for her and Mr. G thinks it’s easier to go to the ballad side with this. Also, it fit Marie’s voice very well. She was singing with jazz bands, she sang RnB, she sang everything. She could sing anything, basically.

Sven adds that Marie touched something deep inside among the Swedish audience with another one of her highlights, Sparvöga. He translates the title as „Sparrow’s eye”. Per tells Sparvöga is a book from the 70’s which became a TV series and Marie wrote the theme song to it. It became a big hit for her. The TV series started in early February of 1989, around the same time when The Look happened in the US. So Marie recorded this song prior to Roxette’s breakthrough. The song is co-produced by Anders Herrlin, who eventually became an engineer and programmer for Roxette. It’s different style and different sound to Marie’s previous stuff.

The next hymn-like Marie classic is Tro from 1996. Per translates the title as „Believe”, but he tells it can also mean „Faith”. Sven tells Swedish language opens a lot of backdoors for interpretation. Per adds it’s a very complicated language and laughs. Mr. G thinks it’s a great song and it was also a big hit for Marie. She had a second child at the time and they had a break from Roxette for about three years. 1996 was the first year when they had a time off. Per was working with his Swedish band in the meantime, toured in Scandinavia and Marie did her own stuff as well. Sven tells they both seem to have needed that break. However, it wasn’t really a break, because it lasted for like 25 seconds, then both of them kicked off separate things. Per explains they needed a break from each other. They had been working very intense with Roxette, touring, recording and having that enormous amount of success for almost 8 years. Marie had a family, but Per didn’t have any children at the time. They just needed to do something else with other poeple. Even though they continued making music, it was in a different environment. „How can we miss you when you won’t go away”, as Herbie Herbert, Roxette’s Amercian manager said. Sven says Tro is a very typical Marie song. Per agrees and says it has a very beautiful melody and a very strong lyric. It’s pretty different also from Roxette. It’s a very long song, appr. 5 minutes. Per thinks Marie wanted to show another side of her art. Mr. G tells the song is from the album I en tid som vår, which translates into „In a time like ours”. He thinks it could also be translated into „In a time like spring”. As he said, Swedish is a very complicated language. It’s a bit like Japanese. They are laughing. The song wraps up the guys’ tribute to this fabulous singer’s Swedish career.

Sven and Per then dive deep into some Swedish rock ’n’ roll. The next song is The No No Song by The Sounds. Per thinks Maja Ivarsson is an amazing singer. The band had lots of hits in Sweden. Living In America was their breakthrough song. After they play The No No Song, to which both Sven and Per say „yes, yes”, Sven informs that Per was up on the kitchen floor dancing spontaneously. Per laughs and says „can’t help myself”.

The next one is a song by Magnus Carlson feat. Trummor & Orgel. Per tells Trummor & Orgel is a duo of two brothers who have this amazing jazzy combo. They have been doing this since 2003. PG thinks they are really amazing. Magnus Carlson is the lead singer of Weeping Willows. They teamed up and the result is quite amazing, the guys think. Magnus’ vocals are really captivating according to Sven. Per loves the Hammond organ and drums. It reminds him of a Swedish duo from the late 60’s, Hansson & Karlsson, who even worked with Jimi Hendrix a bit. Jimi covered one of their songs, Tax Free.

The guys play Black Hole by Edith Backlund. Per thinks she is amazing and it’s a great track. Then an irreplaceable, unchallenged band, the marvellous masters of Swedish garage rock, The Hives are played. Per thinks they are irresistible. A killer track, Die, All Right! from 2002 from their Veni Vidi Vicious album comes next. Good album title according to both Sven and Per.

Mr. Lindström and Mr. Gessle thank everyone for listening and say they will be back with more good-looking music from the Nordic countries.

Anita Lindblom’s Cigarettes is closing the show.

Still is from the Bag of Trix comment videos recorded by Anders Roos.

Thanks for your support, Sven!

Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – March 2022

The March episode of Nordic Rox on Sirius XM was broadcast on 6th March. Sven tells they have prepared a show which takes them so far back in time that even Per can’t remember. Per says „I do remember!” and the guys are laughing. This time they have a tribute to a 60’s Swedish band from Gothenburg called Tages. Per tells he had loads of Tages singles when he was a kid. According to Sven many say that Tages was the best Swedish pop group in the 60’s. PG tends to agree. He thinks that especially after a couple of years, when they started writing their own songs they made some really outstanding tracks. They had an amazing bass player and singer, Göran Lagerberg who had this R&B touch to his voice and to his writing, which was really cool. It made them stand out a lot in the Swedish crowd. Sven tells they picked out three songs which represent three faces of their career. The pop thing, the slightly psychedelic thing and also something in between. A little bit of R&B, Per adds. But before that, they play some classic Nordic Rox stuff.

First song played is Painted By Numbers from the Dying To Say This To You album of The Sounds. Per tells they are a great band from the South of Sweden. They had their breakthrough with a song called Living In America.

Factory, a Swedish band comes next with Efter plugget from their 1979 album. Per says this song is one of his guilty pleasures, he always loved this song. He loves these synthesizer sounds from the late 70’s. If you were around in 1979-1981, you heard this song all the time on Swedish radio. It was a major hit. This was one of the biggest songs in the late 70’s in Sweden. It came out the same year when Per’s first band, Gyllene Tider recorded their first album. They listened to this band a lot, you just couldn’t avoid them. GT didn’t sound like them at all, though. Factory was topping the charts with their debut album in the spring of 1979. Before them Spirits Having Flown by the Bee Gees, after them Voulez-Vous by ABBA was topping the charts.

Molly Hammar’s Douchebag is next. She’s a Swedish artist who has been around for a couple of years. Per tells she is doing some great singles. Douchebag is her most recent single from 2021.

The next song is James by Ex Cops from 2013 from their debut album. The Nordic connection of the band is Denmark. There are two singers, an American guy called Brian Harding and a Danish vocalist, Amalie Bruun. Per thinks it’s a great song and he says he started singing The Rose Of England by Nick Lowe when he heard the chords. Great chords! Sven jokes that „maybe they listened to Nick and decided to nick some of the chords”.

The guys start talking about Tages. Tage is a male name, Sven tells. It’s not even a cool name, old people had that name. Per tells the Swedish Prime Minister, Tage Erlander had this name. The band didn’t hesitate in giving themselves challenges when it came to the name. The first name they had was Alberts Skifflegrupp. Per laughs and says it’s a terrible name. It was from the singer, Tommy Blom’s middle name, Albert. Here Per sings a line from Paul McCartney’s Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey: „We’re so sorry, uncle Albert”.

Tages won a competition, „The Beatles of the Swedish West Coast” in 1964. Per thinks the song they won it with was Sleep Little Girl. His brother had that as a vinyl single. Per has always been a Tages fan. He had lots of their beautiful singles. They were a singles band with different sides, different qualities and that made them stand out in the crowd a bit. According to PG, their biggest quality was that they had several singers. The Beatles and The Hollies also had several guys who could sing and that makes the sound interesting all the time. Also, the band had different writers who wrote different styles of music. They had a good sound, Per thinks, and they also had a great producer, Anders Henriksson. He went on to become a very big producer in the 70’s.

Sven and PG kick off the Tages special with the band’s Swedish No. 1 song, Miss Mac Baren from 1966. Per’s favourite year. Sven tells a funny story about Tages being on tour when their record company called them that they wanted to print the new single sleeve. All they needed was a title for the single, but the band hadn’t even recorded the song yet. So the guys stopped on the road at a café or something and they saw an advertising sign of Mac Baren Tobacco. That’s how the title became Miss Mac Baren. PG tells it turned out to be a great song.

Sven shares Tages got a lot of flak in the beginning for being incompetent musicians, but they shaped up. Per thinks they sound as good as other Swedish bands in that era. Especially Göran Lagerberg is a great bass player, a great songwriter and a great singer. They changed the drummer halfway through their career, but both of them were good. Per thinks it was probably jelaous people from Stockholm who complained. There has always been a battle between Stockholm and Gothenburg.

The next track is another big hit for Tages, Every Raindrop Means A Lot from 1967. A bit adventurous song in a way. Tommy Blom, the singer was on every girl’s poster back then, Sven tells. Per says he was the poster boy of the band. Tommy sings the verse and Göran comes in and sings the chorus. Mr. G tells it’s sort of two songs combined, because it’s different tempos, which makes the song really interesting. It’s one of PG’s favourite tracks from Tages.

The third Tages song was not on an album, it was just a single in 1968, Fantasy Island. It was one of their last and best singles. Per thinks it’s a really wonderful song. They evolved into a slightly psychedelic pop direction. So many bands of this era broke up, when the classic 1966-67 sound turned into lots of psychedelica and Woodstock happened. Per tells music trends change and times are changing, people started to listen to other things. In Sweden a lot of artists and writers started to write in Swedish which didn’t fit this concept of beat generation of bands at all. Then in the 70’s so many things happened musically, the singer-songwriter thing and the progressive music started. Fantasy Island points in that direction vaguely. It’s kind of a swan song for Tages and the 60’s era. The singers quit shortly after this single. Per says it wasn’t a big song for them, they were over, but it’s a great track. If PG should rank the Top 10 singles of the 60’s made by Swedish artists, Fantasy Island is up there. Sven is curious what Per thinks makes the song so special. Mr. G loves the sound of it, the melody, the title, the cover of the single, but he is maybe too nostalgic, he adds. Sven says he doesn’t know how many singles Per has, but wouldn’t he like a jukebox. PG tells he has a jukebox in the West Coast in his workshop.

7Twenty7 demo by Per Gessle is played next.

Then comes Broken Promise Land by Weeping Willows. Sven laughs and tells the band is the drama queens of Swedish pop. The guys are laughing. The band is cool.

Amanda Jenssen’s debut single, Do You Love Me is played. Per loves that song, it’s from 2008. Sven tells she was the runner-up in Swedish Idol. PG thinks she’s got a great voice.

The Way We Used to Beg by Joel Alme is next.

Per picked a song from Ghost. He thinks they never played this band in their show. They have done some great stuff over the years. This is their latest single, Hunter’s Moon.

Anna Ternheim & Dave Ferguson’s The Longer The Waiting (The Sweeter The Kiss) is next. Mr. G thinks it’s a great song written by Roger Cook and Pat McLaughlin and he also thinks Anna is a brilliant singer. This interpretation of this beautiful song is amazing. Per says he plays it a lot at home when he is feeling a little blue. Sven asks PG if he had the chance to meet them when he was in Nashville. Per says no, but he had a good time anyway. Haha. 3 wonderful weeks. Mr. G thinks Nashville is still the most wonderful place. He brought along a couple of Swedish musicians for that album of his, but the whole idea was very much to work with local musicians. They have the best players in the world. Pedal steel guy Dan Dugmore was amazing, fiddle player Stuart Duncan, too. Per is proud to have worked with those people.

Blodspengar by Japop is next from 1982. Per remembers the band was called Janne Andersson pop when they came out. Janne is the lead guitar player and the singer. It was a trio. PG thinks they were really cool and they were destined for big times, but it never really happened for them for some reason. According to Sven, Japop was the product of the power pop era, the new wave era and suddenly that was also gone in the early 80’s. Per tells then the synthesizers came in. Destroying everything, Sven adds and they are laughing.

Sven tells the next gang bangs on the studio door, so they have to go, but they will be back in a not so distant future. Per’s goodbye words are „you better stay safe and sound!”

The usual closing track is Anita Lindblom’s Cigarettes.

Still is from the Bag of Trix comment videos recorded by Anders Roos.

Thanks for the technical support to János Tóth!

Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – February 2022

The latest episode of Nordic Rox on Sirius XM was broadcast on 13th February. Per Gessle and Sven Lindström recorded it in a very sunny Stockholm and start the show with discussing Christmas. PG asks Sven if he had a great Xmas and Sven says he absolutely had, apart from the minor detail that he had corona for the second time. Sven asks Mr. G if he managed to get away a bit. Per says he did, but it’s still crazy, this corona thing just gets on your nerves. Sven tells Per had to postpone his tour. PG confirms they had to for regulation reasons, but they will hopefully continue in April. The guys say there is new regulation every minute, that’s the way it is, but Nordic Rox continues.

Sven tells that in the upcoming shows they will focus on musical profiles that have made a mark in Swedish music history. One of those artists is Pugh Rogefeldt. Per says it’s an impossible name to pronounce in English, but for Per’s generation he is one of the or even THE most influential artist of all time. In the 60’s he was the first one to make pop and rock music in Swedish language, which was unheard of at the time. Most bands were doing Beatles or Stones imitations, but he went his own way from day one. He is an amazing songwriter as well. He even invented his own language, Pughish. He was a big inspiration, Per adds. Mr. G thinks Pugh’s first 6 albums are really influential. Sven says they are going to focus on his early years later on the show.

Here they play Lykke Li’s Get Some. Son Of Cathy’s Clown from 1981 comes next by Basse Wickman who is one of Per’s favourites and label mates on Parlophone. Per plays that song a lot and still loves it. Sven says Basse was like the Swedish version of Gene Clark from The Byrds in the 60’s. He had the same haircut, he was influenced by the same music. While the guys are talking, Per is checking out the album sleeve of Sailing Down the Years. Basse is posing there with a Rickenbacker 12-string guitar which Per bought from him 3 years later. He still has it and points at it in his office, showing it to Sven. It’s a 1965 Rickenbacker Sunburst and Sven says it’s looking good. Sven asks Per if he has written any famous songs on that one. PG replies no. The guys are laughing and Sven says it didn’t pay off then, Per reacts „but she’s a beauty”.

Then comes Mirror, one of the latest singles of Sigrid from Denmark. Mr. G thinks it’s a good one. The next song is It Takes a Fool to Remain Sane by The Ark. That was the band’s breakthrough song and Per thinks it’s an amazing one. Sven tells it’s from 2000.

Here comes the Pugh Rogefeldt special. Sven asks Per if he knew Pugh’s real name is Torbjörn Rogefeldt. Torbjörn is an old Viking name. Mr. G knew it and says it’s an impossible name for an artist. The guys are smiling and say it’s like e.g. Reginald Dwight [Elton John’s name. /PP] or Declan MacManus [Elvis Costello’s name. /PP], it doesn’t work. In 1967, while he was on his military service, Pugh sent some demos to Swedish producer Anders Burman at Metronome, which was originally a jazz label. Per adds Burman was a jazz drummer and started his own label. As a producer, he was responsible for a lot of amazing records that were made in the 60’s. Lot’s of folk music, jazz and easy listening. Then he had success with Pugh and also had some interesting singer songwriters in the 70’s, e.g. Ola Magnell. He had good ears. Sven knows Pugh sent out his demos to all the labels and the only one who replied was Anders Burman. Sven says one can understand why. Mr. G thinks Pugh’s music is very melodic, that’s the strength of it. The lyrics are also very special. The only artist Per can think of that sounds similar in a way is Captain Beefheart, his old stuff, but Captain Beefheart wasn’t as melodic as Pugh was. Pugh wrote hit songs and he did it in his own way. On his first albums he worked with a jazz drummer and a bass player, Georg “Jojje” Wadenius, who eventually became a guitar player in Blood, Sweat & Tears.

The first Pugh song the guys play is Här kommer natten. Sven says it’s porbably one of the more rock-orientated songs, but it’s still not a typical hit. It’s a bit psychedelic. Per adds it was Pugh’s breakthrough song in 1969. It’s got a really beautiful melody according to Mr. G.

Per thinks Pugh’s music is very melodic, but at the same time very experimental, so he really needed superqualified quality musicians. Janne “Loffe” Carlsson was one of them. He played drums in Hansson & Karlsson and he also played drums for Jimi Hendrix. He and Jojje were professional musicians and Pugh really needed that stability to make this crazy music happening, otherwise it would be unlistenable.

Mr. G thinks the first album, Ja, dä ä dä is beautiful. Sven tells Swedish language you associated with easy listening music or jazz or schlager and Pugh showed that it didn’t necessarily had to be that. Per says Pugh opened up a lot of doors. That generation of artists and songwriters did that. Suddenly, when the singer songwriter thing happened internationally in the late 60’s with Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Cat Stevens among others, there were tons of Swedish artists doing the same thing in Swedish. It was really interesting. Even today some of those albums are outstanding.

Sven asks Per if he remembers he got Pugh’s album when it came out. PG says he didn’t get the debut album, he got the second one. Sven got the second album too. As years passed by, Pugh became bigger and bigger and he played in Halmstad at the big theatre there, which takes 800 people. It was in the early 70’s and that was an amazing show for a 13-year-old PG to watch. Pugh was a superstar those days.

The guys play another song from Pugh’s debut album, Små lätta moln. A very beautiful song which was also a big success for Rogefeldt. Pugh from Västerås. Per tells the title translates into Tiny Light Clouds. Sven adds Per immediately figured he can steal and use this title. Per laughs and says „recycle”.

The guys talk about Rogefeldt’s second album, Pughish. It’s a new language he invented for that album. Per thinks it’s a crazy idea to write songs in a brand new language. Some of those songs are in a language nobody understands. Sven laughs and says it must be a great message to the A&R guy at the record company that wants to sell records that the guy is already a bit complicated, not reaching the broad masses and now for the second album he invented his own language. Brilliant idea, Per thinks.

The next track they play is Föräldralåten from 1970. It’s a great song and a big commercial success for Pugh. Sven says it’s about a nagging mother. This wraps up Nordic Rox’s tribute to Pugh Rogefeldt.

A Roxette track is coming up next. 7Twenty7 is from the Have A Nice Day album, which they recorded outside Málaga, in Spain. They were there all in all for 3 months, recorded lots of tracks and had so many musicians coming in and out, trying things out. They aso had a new co-producer, which was weird. It was a pretty complicated album to make, but Per likes it a lot. It was a new direction for Roxette, a bit more synthesizer-driven than the previous albums. Lot of the songs were written in a more classic way, 7Twenty7 also had a very guitar-driven demo Per made, but they changed that a bit in the studio. Sven is curious how Per likes the studio version vs. the demo. Mr. G admits he likes the demo better. When Roxette got together again and went on tour in 2010, 7Twenty7 was back in its demo shape, it was guitar-driven again. Sven is a fan of the studio version as well. Per tells it’s because Sven is from Malmö. They laugh. Even if Sven tells it’s 7Twenty7 by Roxette coming next, they play Per’s demo.

The next song is Genghis Khan by Miike Snow. Per thinks it’s a great track. Miike Snow was involved in a dance music production as well, in Galantis, as Per informs.

Come Along by Titiyo is next, written by Joakim Berg from Kent and Peter Svensson from The Cardigans. Peter is doing lots of great stuff right now in the States, Per says. He also worked together with Ariana Grande.

Bold as Love by Whyte Seeds is wrapping up the episode and as usual, the guys say goodbye and Anita Lindblom’s Cigarettes is the last track played.

Still is from the Bag of Trix comment videos recorded by Anders Roos.

Thanks for the technical support to János Tóth!

Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – January 2022

Episode No. 501 of Nordic Rox on Sirius XM was broadcast on 2nd January. Per Gessle and Sven Lindström are still in party mood after celebrating the 500th episode. They go through the songs they played the most during the past 15 years.

The guys start talking about The Cardigans and Sven is curious if Per remembers anything about them when they popped up in Mr. G’s life in the 90’s. PG says they did some great songs, Peter Svensson was the main writer and Nina Persson was the lead singer. It was a breath of fresh air when they came out. Their songs stood the test of time pretty well when you hear them on the radio, Per thinks. They are obviously one of the guys’ favourites on Nordic Rox. Sven and PG play My Favourite Game from their fourth album, Gran Turismo.

Next song is The Band from the debut album of Mando Diao. Bring ‘Em In was released in 2002. When singer Björn Dixgård met Gustaf Norén, the other singer in the band on a party, they ended up sitting there all night, discussing The Beatles. That’s a good start. Per tells Sven „it could have been us!” The guys are laughing.

Sven asks Per what he remembers most from the 90’s music scene. Mr. G says the early 90’s for them was very hectic with Roxette. They toured a lot, the MTV thing was very big, then the grunge thing came, the British stuff with Oasis and Blur happened in the mid 90’s. Productionwise and musically things changed, you had influences by bands like e.g. Massive Attack. Per likes the 80’s and 90’s sound a lot, probably because he was working so much in those decades and so he was very much part of it. Today when he works in the studio programming stuff, he tends to go back to the 90’s a bit and listen to what he was doing. He likes those drum loops from the 90’s. Sven thinks there is a great variety of hits from the 90’s which is quite fun and interesting. It’s like the second wave of the 60’s in different clothes. Per thinks it’s also a bit more melody-driven than pop music is today. Back then it was more pop, nowadays it’s more hip hop. Per says Sven and he are getting older, their roots are in the 60’s and 70’s, so of course the 90’s are much closer to where they come from.

Sven adds there was also a creative wave of pop stuff in Sweden inspired by Roxette’s success. They kicked the door open in 1989 showing – as the second band after ABBA – that it was possible to break through internationally. Sven thinks that inspired a lot of Swedish bands. PG says he is sure it did, because it’s a small country and if someone makes it as big as they did, all the other artists think „if they can do it, we certainly can do it too”. The competition is always there. PG thinks that’s a good thing. If you inspire your friends and fellow musicians and artists in your own native country, it’s just amazing. The 90’s were big, so many Swedish acts happened, e.g. Ace of Base, Robyn, Popsicle. Here Not Forever is played by Popsicle. Next one is the beautiful Julian by Say Lou Lou.

Sven tells he is sitting there with Per while he is taking a rare break in songwriting. He asks PG when he started writing songs. Per says he started writing lyrics when he was 13-14 years old. He was really into lyrics for some reason. He was pretty influenced by the singer-songwriter movement in the 70’s. Then the new wave happened which inspired people like PG who couldn’t play anything to be able to form a band. Then he started writing pop tunes. That’s his style and that’s where he comes from. He comes from the melodic songwriting tradition, based in the 60’s. Sven is curious if Per has any idea of how many songs he has written. Per doesn’t know. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds. Sven mentions that a couple of years ago PG released a 10-CD box of demos. The Per Gessle Archives Vol. 1, Per laughs. He says there are so many songs. He bought the Pete Townshend demo albums and from a fan point of view he thought that it was really interesting to hear what it sounds like when a songwriter starts off, the ideas before the band or an additional singer comes in. So he just felt like there are lots of people interested in his work or interested in how the songs started out. Normally, he tends to make demos of every song he makes. Not all the time though. Sometimes it’s just fascinating to go into the studio with a bunch of people without demos, just present them verbally and see what happens. The thing with the demo can be that if it turns out really cool, it’s sort of blocking you in the next phase. Because you always go back to the demo and prefer it sometimes, which is a nightmare if you collaborate with other people. So there are pros and cons. Generally speaking, Per thinks if you are interested in an artist, it’s great to hear the demos as well. The raw idea, where the song comes from. And sometimes you have a different intro, different tempo, different key, so… maybe it’s just Per, but he is a little bit of a nerd, he says. The guys are laughing.

Sven says the 10-CD box called volume 1 is signaling that there is plenty more fish in that sea. PG says he has so many songs and demos on cassettes and DAT tapes, as well as on mini discs, so he stumble into new demos all the time. Some of them he forgot about, some were recorded by Roxette or other people. There might be another box. Sven says they will dig deep into it when it arrives. Per says „good luck”.

Next song is She Owns The Streets by The Raveonettes from Denmark. It’s one of Per’s favourite tracks from the band. Another song they play is Do You Know by The Lollipops, also from Denmark from 1964. This is probably the first ever Danish music Per ever heard in his life, he remembers this song from when he was a kid. PG says there was a guy, Svend Asmussen (Danish jazz violinist) who was on Swedish TV all the time, but he wasn’t in the pop field. Sven thinks Do You Know was a knockout. It was on the Swedish Top10 chart, Tio i topp. The guitarist and bassist in the band were brothers, Sven tells. They were 13-14 years old which adds a great vibe to it. Per says Denmark rulez.

The guys go back to Sweden and play a slightly obscure artist, Paola. Above The Candy Store is next. All Per knows about Paola is that she was produced by Klas Åhlund from the band Teddybears. Per thinks they were a couple in the early years of this century. Klas wrote and produced the song Hang With Me which Robyn made into a massive hit. Mr. G thinks that’s a good song.

After that comes Bandstarter by Brainpool. PG says he loves Brainpool. His publishing company signed them when they were really young and worked with them for 2-3 albums. Bandstarter is from the second album and it was their big breakthrough song in Sweden. Sven says it was massive in the mid 90’s. They were supporting Roxette on the European leg of their Crash! Boom! Bang! world tour in 1995. It’s a great band and Per still works with the bass player, Christoffer Lundquist, who is one of Per’s key players in his band producing and playing everything with strings on. Sven tells Chris is a multitalented genius. Per says he wouldn’t call Christoffer a genius, but he is good. Sven says Chris doesn’t listen to this show so he won’t go to Per’s head. The guys are laughing. PG goes on with telling the lead singer of Brainpool, Janne left the band, but they continued as a trio and every third year they are doing gigs. They just pop up making a gig somewhere or a rock opera.

The next song is Istället för musik förvirring (Instead of music confusion) by the magnificent Swedish band Bob Hund (Bob the dog, if you translate it). Per says you have to practice your Swedish once in a while and the track has a great title and it’s a great song. Before they play it, Sven says „fasten your seatbelts”. The band didn’t sound like anything else when they came out in the 90’s. Per says it’s vacuum cleaner music. He thinks you have to see them live to understand what they are about. The lyrics are really cool, Thomas Öberg is just a great lyric writer. He makes you think a lot when you listen to his stuff.

While sitting in sunny Stockholm, the guys pick Manchild by Neneh Cherry. PG thinks it’s such a great song and Neneh Cherry is such an amazing singer. She is not really working too much these days and Per misses her a lot. The song is from the album Raw Like Sushi. Per says now it sounds old-fashioned, but it was a long time ago and he thinks it’s really cool.

The guys are wrapping up the show, ending it with a bang in the shape of Roxette. Sven picks Opportunity Nox. He is curious what Per remembers about writing that one. PG says they were supposed to release two compilation albums, one with uptempo songs and one with ballads, so they needed a couple of new tracks. He wrote 8-10 new songs and picked two uptempo and two ballads. Opportunity Nox was one of them. They worked with slightly new people in the production team. Per plays the lead guitar solo which is why it sounds like it does. The guys are lauging and say they like it. Per says it’s got a great energy to it. This side of Roxette is something that he cherishes, the power pop side of Roxette. Sven is curious if the remaining songs that didn’t make the compilation albums will pop up on The Per Gessle Archives Vol. 14. The guys are laughing and Per says if he can find them, then probably yes. That’s the only way to do it, to get one great song you have to write 3 or 4, Mr. G adds.

After Roxette is speeding up the pop tempo, the guys say goodbye and Anita Lindblom’s Cigarettes closes the episode.

Still is from the Bag of Trix comment videos recorded by Anders Roos.

Thanks for the technical support to János Tóth!

Per Gessle on Nordic Rox – Room Service 20

You might remember that in the June episode of Nordic Rox on Sirius XM, at the end of the Joyride 30th anniversary chat, Per Gessle and Sven Lindström mentioned they would celebrate the 20th anniversary of Room Service in the next episode. That episode was broadcast in September, but it took a bit more time than usually to get access to that part. Thanx a lot for Sven’s support!

Just like the Joyride 30 episode, Room Service 20 was also recorded in Per’s kitchen in Stockholm, so the guys probably had a full day anniversary recording. Per says it’s a great little kitchen, they have a lot of meetings there and exquisite lunches. Sven introduces the show: „another day, another anniversary, they say in the pop business”. Per laughs and says „that’s what happens when you’re getting old”.

Per tells Room Service is one of his favourite Roxette albums, maybe because they recorded it in the old ABBA studio in Stockholm. It’s closed now, most studios are closed these days. Mr. G says they worked with a new engineer, Ronny Lahti, a guy that Per is still working with. It was a fun album to make.

The guys play an ABBA song, Voulez-Vous that was recorded in Florida instead of that Stockholm studio. Then comes Broder Daniel’s Army Of Dreamers. The next one is Titiyo’s probably biggest hit, Come Along from 2001 to check the atmosphere of the year when Room Service was released.

Sven asks Per how he remembers 2001 and if there is anything that sticks out. Mr. G says he was touring, they did a big European tour with Roxette. Apart from that, he probably had a big hangover. The guys are laughing and Per asks Sven how he remembers that year. Sven says he wasn’t touring, but he was probably stuck with a hangover.

Here they play I’m Alive by The Hives, one of Per’s favourite bands. Then comes Get Some by Lykke Li and Hopeless Case Of A Kid In Denial by The Hellacopters. Regarding The Hives, Sven tells it was their first single in 7 years when they released it two years ago. Mr. G says they play fast, but are pretty slow in releasing records. Sven says they just don’t do it like Per, working 24/7. PG says he doesn’t do that either, it just looks like that. The guys are laughing. Per says he just keeps himself busy, he likes it like that, he likes to work a lot. If you have a project going on or a record or a career for that matter, you have to work, Per adds. You have to maximize everything and at the same time you have to challenge yourself and try to expand your possibilities and explore new things all the time. When it comes to writing or when it comes to producing and performing as well. It’s hard to do. Sven asks Per if he is the kind of person who can work endlessly as long as he doesn’t feel like it’s work, when he is driving it himself. Mr. G says he is a very lucky guy, because he winded up with a profession that doesn’t feel like a profession. When he looks back on his life, it has always been about pop and rock music. Eventually, he could make a living out of playing pop music and writing music and it’s just a blessing. So for him it doesn’t feel like he is going to work. Of course there are days, especially in the old days when you did endless months of promoting, then it becomes a work. You deal with journalits, you are doing photo sessions and in-stores and it becomes tedious after a while. But at the end of the day it’s a tiny price to pay for being able to do what you love the most, which is being part of this crazy industry.

Sven says one piece of that crazy industry is The Centre Of The Heart (Is A Suburb To The Brain). Per tells he wrote this track for Have A Nice Day. They even recorded it for HAND, but there was something missing, it just didn’t feel right. They just left it, forgot about it and later when Per was in France he came to think of it. He heard some other music which reminded him of TCOTH, but it was much faster. He called Clarence and told him they should go back to TCOTH and speed it up, to make it a little bit more uptempo, because it had all the great ingredients, it’s catchy and has a great chorus. It became the first single of Room Service. Sven tells Roxette pemiered it on Melodifestivalen (ESC) on Swedish TV. Sven asks Per about the lyric, mainly this part „a suburb to the brain”. Per laughs and says „it just makes sense, doesn’t it?” The guys are playing the song.

Sven asks Per about the international release of Room Service. Mr. G says of course it has tough competition when you compare it to Look Sharp! or Joyride, but it went very well and they had lots of success with the three singles from it.

Regarding the tour PG says they hadn’t been touring since 1995, so in 2001 they had a slightly different band and they started working with Jonas Åkerlund who designed the stage set with lots of clips. It was different vs. what they had done before.

Sven tells the album sleeve was shot at The Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo, California. Per tells they went there for almost a week to shoot the TCOTH video. Jonas is not only an awesome music video director, but an amazing photographer as well. They spent a whole day taking pictures in different locations of that amazing place. Madonna Inn is just the craziest place Per has ever seen. Mr. G tells it was fun and the video became great as well.

The next track is My World, MY Love, My Life which is one of Per’s favourites and Sven asks PG what makes it so special for him. Per tells some songs just turn out great soundwise. He has always loved the sound of this track. He loves Jonas Isacsson’s guitar playing, the melody, Marie’s voice and the key she sings in. It sums up that era of Roxette very well for Per. It’s the closing track of the album.

After the song is played, Per says it’s 20 years… Sven asks „it’s 20 years of…?” PG replies „wisdom!” Sven is curious if Per got wiser. Mr. G laughs and replies „of course, by the minute!” Sven says Room Service is an interesting album in many ways. He adds it could have been the last Roxette album, because in 2002 Marie got ill and the future for Roxette looked really dark. Per says in a way it became the last album, the last of that main, classic Roxette era. Marie’s illness affected her so much. When she came back in 2010 it was a different thing. Sven tells that against all odds Marie recovered from this really severe illness and made a comeback with Roxette. They enjoyed many years of incredible touring then. Per says Marie was an amazon for sure. She came back in 2009. They did 55 shows with Night of the Proms, they headlined that in Europe and it was a great start for Marie to come back, because even though they were the headliners, they only did 5 songs. She wanted to see how it felt and it felt actually good for her. She got better and better and she loved being on stage. She felt at home there. After that they decided to go back on the road as Roxette, so they continued working for another 5.5 years. Those 20 years since Room Service contained some amazing drama.

Sven asks Per what his thoughts were back then, in 2000-2001, where Roxette was going. Per always says they had amazing success all over the world during those 8 years between 1988 and 1995, they worked constantly and did all those world tours. In 1995 Marie wanted to have a second child, she wanted to take a break for a couple of years, so Per did a lot of other things with Gyllene Tider and solo stuff, as well as doing compilation albums with Roxette. This meant he had to write three or four songs for Roxette. Then they did a comback in 1999 with Have A Nice Day, but decided not to tour, mainly because Per had become a father and Marie wanted to stay home with her kids. They waited for another album, Room Service to tour with. The journey went on. Who knows what would have happened if Marie wouldn’t have become ill in 2002.

The guys play one of the main ballads of the album, Milk And Toast And Honey. Sven asks Per if he remembers writing this one. Mr. G tells he had this song in his head for many months before he even bothered to write it down. It’s a natural song for him, it came natural with its baselines and everything. Per heard the melodies, all the chords and modulations, he was just waiting for a good idea for a lyric. He got the title and created something around the title. It went very smooth. Mr. G loves this song and the video a lot. The clip was shot in the Stockholm archipelago and Marie is just amazing. She is singing so well and makes it a really beautiful song.

Towards the end of the episode Sven says they had Joyride 30th anniversary, Room Service 20th anniversary, but they all pale in comparison to Gyllene Tider celebrating the 40th anniversary of Moderna Tider. Per tells it was released in 1981 and it became a megahit in Sweden. Mr. G says it was crazy days, Sven adds GT were insane teenage idols, having Beatlesque popularity. PG adds they toured a whole year in Scandinavia and especially the summer was really amazing. Sven tells GT was heavily influenced by the new wave, punk and power pop era, as well as the 60’s. The guys play (Kom så ska vi) Leva livet from the album. Per is thinking how to translate it into English. Sven says „Come on and let’s live life!”, Per says „C’mon, join the joyride!” Haha. PG tells it was a big song for them. He wrote it on his 21st birthday. Per: „Why didn’t I have a party? Maybe I had a party afterwards.” Sven: „You were working!” Per: „Ah, I was working, of course, even in the 80’s.” They are laughing.

Before saying thanks to the listeners, Sven tells it was a teaser for an upcoming show featuring the power pop sounds of Gyllene Tider.

The show ends with Anita Lindblom’s Cigarettes as usual.