Per Gessle talks about his tribute to Metallica in Aftonbladet

Aftonbladet did an interview with Per Gessle and asked him about his cover of Nothing Else Matters under The Metallica Blacklist project. On 12th August 1991, Metallica released “The Black Album” and it took the band to the charts. Approximately four months earlier, Swedish pop wonder Roxette had released “Joyride” and was at the top of their career. This year, both albums celebrate 30 years.

Per about when he – among 53 artists – was asked to be part of the project:

I was hesitant at first because I didn’t know all the songs, but when I had to choose a song on my own, it was obvious to be involved. It is of course an honor to be asked.

To Aftonbladet’s question why he picked Nothing Else Matters, he replied:

It was on the radio all the time in the early 90’s and Marie and I always joked that it could have been an amazing Roxette ballad. And that’s exactly how I made it. I’ve used the classic Roxette musicians. We shortened the song properly, made a completely new intro and tried to create an atmosphere in the early 90’s spirit. We even added a typical “roxish” key trick. Lovely. I sang the song together with our two Roxette backup singers Helena Josefsson and Dea Norberg.

What Per thinks about Nothing Else Matters from a songwriter’s perspective:

It’s basically a really good pop song. Nice and efficient chord sequence with a few small unexpected twists. Strong melodies that you can stretch. Sensitive text that is open to interpretation. Perfect score in my book.

Aftonbladet asked Per what it was like touching one of Metallica’s most respected ballads. Mr. G replied:

Very inspiring. From my side, of course, it was important to do it my way without directly caring about, or mimicking, the original. It was the song I wanted to work on. I wanted to make a Roxette production out of it. Nothing else mattered.

Aftonbladet asks if Per is afraid of any possible reactions from pure hard rockers who think he has touched their holy ground.

Haha no. It’s only rock ‘n roll but I like it.

Interviewer Per Magnusson notes that PG had a period as a hard rock fan in the early 70’s with Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. Mr.G confirms:

You’re absolutely right. When we were growing up, both Marie and I listened a lot to Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and early AC/DC. And I liked Motörhead, don’t forget that!

To the question about his relations to Metallica Per replied:

The first thing I actually heard from Metallica was “Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman”. Both were played all the time, everywhere you went. It was in the middle of the period when Marie and I travelled the most around the world. I have no other direct relationship with the band.

To the question if Per has ever met any of the members of Metallica he replied:

Absolutely. I have met Lars Ulrich several times. We have mutual friends both in the United States and in Europe. Last time I saw him was at a bar mitzvah in New York. He is a very nice and social person. He talks a lot so I left him to my wife after a while. She also likes to talk.

PG still is from the recordings of Nothing Else Matters.

PG Roxette covers Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”

Per Gessle – together with Helena Josefsson, Dea Norberg, Clarence Öfwerman, Magnus Börjeson, Christoffer Lundquist and Jonas Isacsson, under the banner “PG Roxette” – is among those 53 artists who have covered their favourite songs from The Black Album of Metallica, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. From the 12 tracks of the album Per didn’t hesitate when asked which one he wanted to interpret – he picked Nothing Else Matters.

The Metallica Blacklist is now released digitally and will be out on 7 LPs / 4 CDs as well on 1st October. All profits will be donated to charities of each contributing artist’s choice along with Metallica’s own foundation, All Within My Hands.

In June, when PG shared the news he said:

I’m thrilled to participate in the “Metallica Blacklist” project. Picking a song to record from their classic “Black Album” was pretty easy for me. “Nothing Else Matters” has always been a favourite of mine. Wow, it’s such a great track!

Under the banner ”PG Roxette” I joined forces with long-time Roxers Clarence Öfwerman + Jonas Isacsson + Christoffer Lundquist + Magnus Börjeson together with Helena Josefsson + Dea Norberg, both closely linked to the Roxette touring band of the past.

My ambition was to treat the song with respect while transforming it to a style of my own. I’m very pleased and proud with the outcome.

All proceeds from the recording will go to Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation and to UNHCR, a charity I chose together with Marie Fredriksson’s family.

Upon the release he adds:

I remember hearing Nothing Else Matters all the time on the radio in the early 90’s when Marie and I travelled the world constantly. We always joked about that it actually could have been an amazing Roxette ballad, hahaha!

We both loved it very much. So what I’ve tried to create now is to make it sound like a classic Roxette song.

I’m extremely proud to be part of this Blacklist-project that connects artists and bands from all over the world for good causes. Thank you Metallica.

Watch a short video of the recordings HERE!

You will find PG Roxette’s interpretation of Nothing Else Matters on Disc 4 on streaming sites.

Listen here at the song’s direct links: Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, YouTube!

Produced by Magnus Börjeson + Clarence Öfwerman + Christoffer Lundquist + Per Gessle
Recorded at Farozon, Malmö + Sweetspot Studios, Halmstad + Aerosol Grey Machine, Vallarum, Sweden in January 2021
Engineers: Magnus Börjeson (Farozon) + Staffan Karlsson (Sweetspot) + Christoffer Lundquist (Aerosol Grey Machine)
Mixed by Ronny Lahti at The Lahti Headquarters, Stockholm, Sweden
Played by:
Magnus Börjeson: Programming + keyboards
Clarence Öfwerman: Programming + keyboards
Christoffer Lundquist: Ondes Martenot + keyboards + electric guitar
Jonas Isacsson: Lead electric guitar
Helena Josefsson: Vocals
Dea Norberg: Vocals
Per Gessle: Vocals

Metallica photo by Patrícia Peres, WorldWired Tour 2018, Budapest. PG still is from the official trailer.

What you’ll find on Spotify as the artist details of PG Roxette:

Per Gessle is one of Scandinavia’s most successful artists and songwriters of all time. With a gift for catchy hooks, both musically and lyrically, he has composed chart-topping pop hits for more than four decades. Starting his career in 1978 as the songwriter and lead vocalist in Swedish early 80´s pop phenomenon Gyllene Tider, he and singer Marie Fredriksson teamed up in Roxette with the humble aim to conquer the pop world. Which they did like no other Scandinavian act. Breaking big all over the world in 1989, they would score four US Billboard Hot 100 Number One’s – “The Look”, “Listen To Your Heart”, “It Must Have Been Love”, and “Joyride”.

When Marie Fredriksson sadly lost her long battle to cancer in 2019, the Roxette saga seemed to be over. But the songs were still here, there and everywhere. And so were the fans. A new chapter had to be written. Which it is. And it’s called PG Roxette.

Per Gessle is determined to keep the Roxette legacy alive. Always being the main songwriter and driving force in the band he continues to work both in the studio and on the road. For this project Per has joined forces with long-time Roxette collaborators Clarence Öfwerman, Jonas Isacsson, Christoffer Lundquist and Magnus Börjeson together with the amazing vocalists Helena Josefsson and Dea Norberg, both closely linked to the Roxette touring band.

PG Roxette “Nothing Else Matters” header pic is from Spotify.

Update on 17th September 2021: a music video has been published and some more info from Per.

Wanna know how NOTHING ELSE MATTERS came about in the studio? Here’s the story.
I’ve always thought NEM was a beautiful song. It’s got strong melodies, pretty straightforward but smart chord progressions, a lyric you can interpret in many different ways. It’s epic. If I should cover it I would love it to sound like a classic Roxette ballad! Shorten it a bit + create a magnetic intro.
We noticed at the Marie Tribute in Gothenburg 2020 how amazing Dea + Helena sound when they sing together. They sang FADING LIKE A FLOWER at the concert and we were all blown away.
So the basic idea for the vocals on PG Roxette’s take on NEM was to use that particular sound you get when you mix two very different voices and blend them. That’s what we did in the verses and in the outro. Dea + Helena share the duties. The choruses were mine to sing. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to work with three distinctive voices in one song. It certainly appeals to my restless mind!
The programming was done primarily by Magnus + Clarence, then Christoffer came aboard and did some overdubs. His recent baby, an Ondes Martenot from 1928 came in handy. Jonas did his guitar parts in Stockholm and he sounded like he always does; out of this world.
It was an amazing journey from start to finish. Ronny Lahti, who worked many times on Roxette albums in the past, did some extraordinary mixes. He’s another master.
And hey, here’s some footage from the recording sessions filmed by Anders Roos.
Badabam from P.