Per Gessle and Micke Syd Andersson on TV4 about the GT farewell tour

Per and Micke Syd appeared as guests on TV4’s Nyhetsmorgon and were interviewed by Jenny Strömstedt about the upcoming Gyllene Tider farewell tour. Watch it HERE!

When Jenny welcomed the guys, she noticed that they were wearing black clothes and asked if it is kind of grieving the ending of the band. Per and Micke Syd said nah, they are tough. Haha. Micke Syd said they were Sweden’s kindest pop band in the 80’s, so they are working on becoming tough.

Jenny asked what the fans think about the fact that it’s going to be Gyllene Tider’s last tour. Per replied that there are a lot of reactions. Micke Syd started singing Här kommer alla känslorna, but Per told him it’s not a GT song. Micke Syd said but it fits. Mr. G continued answering that GT means so much to a lot of people and it’s awesome. Micke Syd joined in and said fans say for example that their songs are the soundtrack to their lives. They grew up with Gyllene Tider. Per said it’s mainly their 80’s songs that he wrote when he was 19-22 years old. Back then he wouldn’t have thought they would be on a 40th anniversary farewell tour.

Then a short part of Parkliv tour film was shown and after that Micke Syd told the story that even if they beeped out the sound when Per told the phone number of Micke Syd’s mum’s hairdresser salon in the film, fans could read Mr. G’s lips and Micke’s mum got angry by constantly getting tons of calls after that. Jenny asked what the fans wanted. Micke Syd said ”talking to me” and Per joked ”having their hair cut”. Haha. Jenny asked how it worked with the fans back then. Both Micke and Per said they all lived with their parents and it was quite strange when fans were hanging around their houses. They were stealing washed clothes for example. Per said when he turned 21 he got 3400 mails, so his mum’s house was full of them. They also mentioned they had to check in at hotels on different names,picking different names each time. But of course, over the years it got calmer and the guys in GT also grew up and could handle it better. Jenny said that everyone tells about GT that they are like everyday people and so nice. The guys agree that they are nice.

Jenny mentioned that back in the days there were 2 big bands, Gyllene Tider and Noice in Sweden. They talked about the differences and Per said Noice was a big town band, while GT was a small town band. Micke Syd said this fact also determined that they had different mentality.

Per told that the band broke up in 1985 and since then they have always been doing something together on project basis. Like in 1996 or 2004 or 2013. The guys said they have a unique sound and when they play together it’s fantastic. They can’t put their finger on what it is about that uniqueness, but it’s like them 5 become 1 then. Per said when he plays GT songs with other musicians, they don’t sound like Gyllene Tider at all. There is a special style they have in GT and it shows up only when they 5 are playing together.

Jenny asked what the roles are in the band and if Per is the boss. Per said nah, he comes always as the last. Micke Syd told things are changing, but there are of course things that haven’t changed in the band. They also talked about how they play a song from 1980 these days. Micke Syd said they become young again on the inside despite the fact that he will soon turn 60. Per’s reaction to that was ”60?! Shit!” Haha. Jenny asked if it is the same feeling to sing about love now, when they are a little bit older. Per said when you sing a song you also act. Of course, when there is a song you wrote when you were 19 and sing it when you are suddenly not 19 anymore the song becomes different, it gets another meaning.

Per said GT is loved by so many people and one can’t take that for granted. It’s awesome to look back on their 40 years history. Micke Syd said there are so many memories related to their songs one can also see that on fans’ faces on the concerts.

At the end of the interview Jenny asked the most important question, if the guys can guarantee that this will really be a last time they go on tour again. Micke Syd nodded and Per replied ”it feels like that”. Jenny said it was quite a diplomatic answer.

 

Massive birthday celebration of Per Gessle’s 60th on TV4

TV4 already did a short phone interview with Per Gessle on 11h January. Per said that he was in the US, working a bit on Mono Mind, his new project under which he released an album the next day, on his birthday. Mr. G said he would be celebrating his 60th birthday in Florida. Åsa organized a surprise party for him. The program leader asked what the most heart-warming moments in his career are if he looks back and Per said there are so many, but Roxette’s greatness at the end of the 80’s and in the 90’s is sure one of them. He said he is fortunate that he can work with his hobby and to the question if he likes getting older he replied that he still feels quite young and he still doesn’t know what he will become when he grows up.

Then on 12th January TV4 shared a video report about 5 times Per Gessle made whole Sweden sing along. With Gyllene Tider, Roxette and as a solo artist. The video is based on footages from some concerts during the past 40 years and earlier reports, as well as some photos from the past and PG walking on Tylösand beach recently and some years ago. Watch it HERE!

Nice to see Mr. G on TV so many times, but the main thing came on Nyhetsmorgon on his birthday. TV4 invited Per for a longer interview in the morning show. Watch it HERE! The interview was recorded some days before. The reporter, Anders Pihlblad and Mr. G talked about Per’s career, aging, success, future and his actual project, Mono Mind.

Anders first asked Per how it feels turning 60. Per said it’s surreal in a way, 60 is very much. At the same time it’s awesome, because he is reminded that thanks to his age he has been through so many things and lived a lot. Anders is curious if Per has ever worried about his age. Per says kind of. He realizes that time goes by and he sees for example that a lot of his friends or relatives have health problems when they are getting older and this is how they are reminded of getting older. Then he thinks that he is not 58 anymore. It was tough for him to lose his mother, brother and sister after one another in a short period of time. But nothing stands still and you have to learn to live with it. It’s hard to understand though, but you have to find your place in life. The Earth is actually still spinning. When people close to you die you feel emptiness and all people are handling it differently. Per says he partially uses his songwriting for that.

Anders and Per talk a bit about the book Att vara Per Gessle in which Per’s mother and his siblings also talked about Mr. G. Anders asks Per how it feels to have all this documented. Per says it’s awesome. He says that he learned it over the years that documenting as many things as possible is important. For example tours, recordings, projects. Nowadays it’s getting easier with mobile phones. They already recorded a lot of backstage videos and album recordings, as well as took photos during the 80’s. The quality of those materials is catastrophic though, but it’s of course much fun to have them anyway.

Anders reads a short part of the book. It’s when Per’s mom tells about Mr. G’s dolls. Per says he had a little Barbie doll collection. He has always been into style and design and it probably comes from his mother, because she was always good at such things. She was kind of a female Ernst, fixing everything. (Ernst Kirchsteiger is a Swedish interior designer, also program leader on TV4. – PP) So Per learned a lot from her and he likes when everything is in order and likes nice things. His mom was always quite modern and supported him even when his conservative father – who died in 1978 when Per was 19 years old – said he should have get a proper job. His mother bought his first guitar for example and encouraged him to play and sing. She thought it was fantastic that Per was creating his own world and wrote songs. So she was Mr. G’s first and biggest fan for sure.

Anders says Per was his first big idol. Per says ”wow!”.  Anders says he brought some stuff from his collection. Per says ”shit!”. Haha. Anders shows the first LP he bought and it was Gyllene Tider’s ”Moderna Tider” that came out in 1981. Per says everyone felt that it was a great record, but they expected to sell like 10000 copies. They sold 140000 in the end. Per says it was awesome and they were so young back then. They were suddenly superstars, but also very uncertain and didn’t know much about anything. They did only 6 shows in public before they became No. 1 with ”Flickorna på TV2”. Per says they learned quite soon that as soon as you become successful it also has it’s backlashes that some wouldn’t want to deal with you anymore because they think you became too commercial. It was the same with Roxette and that also happened to ABBA in the 70’s. One has to be persistent, have the self-confidence and move forward.

Anders shows ”The Look” maxi single. Per looks at the cover and says ”tough guy and girl”. Haha. He says that Roxette had a fantastic journey. Roxette was huge during the first 10 and the last 10 years, but actually it’s still huge. The songs live on.

Anders shows a picture from 1988. Per smiles and says ”shit!” again. He appears in the pic and Anders is there too. He was interviewing Mr. G back then when Roxette had their tour premiere. Per says he looks like he wanted Anders to understand what he was saying, his gestures show that. Anders says then he asked if they would hit other countries too and Per replied they will hit the world. And some months later they became No. 1 in the US. Per says he can’t remember he was that optimistic, but he remembers he printed T-shirts with the text ”Today Sweden – tomorrow the world” and the Roxette logo. So he was determined and focused. He tells that they always wanted to work under their own terms. When they broke through in the US, their American record label wanted them to move there and work from New York or Los Angeles, but they didn’t want to. They wanted to keep their Swedish team and work from Stockholm. This is how they could keep their very own sound.

 

Anders and Per talk about Marie that she had to retire from touring. Per says she lives a quite private life nowadays, but they talk once in a while. It’s very sad what happened, but they had a wonderful journey together with Roxette.

Anders says it feels like Per is still curious and is trying out new things. He asks Per if he is satisfied with his success. Per asks back if one can be satisfied with his own success. He doesn’t know. He likes the creative work and write when he feels like it. The whole creative journey is very attractive for him and of course he wants as many people as possible to listen to his songs and sing along.

Anders wishes Per a fantastic birthday and Per thanks and says it was nice being there.

Then later during the morning show there was another report with Per about Mono Mind. Anders tells a bit about the project, that it has 4 fictive band members and they are releasing an album on Per’s 60th birthday and it’s actually Per Gessle behind this project. Watch it HERE!

There is manager Wicked Pete talking first and Harriet, the dog appears too, as well as Dr. Robot dancing in the crowd. Then Per starts talking and says he felt he wanted to record songs in a different way. He felt his voice limited his possibilities, because as soon as he starts singing everyone knows it’s him. So he tried out different manners, singing in various octaves and wrong keys, changed on computer. This way he found a new voice which is quite technical and maybe not too easy to recognize. It was exciting to record the songs this way and new ideas came up during the recordings. Then there were so many songs that he thought it could become an album.

The guys are talking about the 4 characters and Anders asks Per which one is him. Per says it’s Dr. Robot, the one who sings. He has a very similar personality to Per’s. Mr. G tells in pop history there are a lot of projects with fictional characters. He for example didn’t know David Bowie in 1973. Back then everyone was a figure, a character. Per says the fun thing is that a fictive band like Mono Mind can do anything.

Anders asks about the future, about touring with Gyllene Tider, as Per Gessle or with Mono Mind. Per laughs at the thought of Mono Mind touring. He says MM got 2 nominations on the NRJ Radio Awards in France and they were thinking as a fictive band how they could accept an award if they win. Haha. He also mentions that he would like to see the band members appear in a Family Guy episode. Why not.

 

Bäst när det gäller – Gyllene Tider’s new song is out!

Gyllene Tider together with Linnea Henriksson made the official Swedish Soccer World Cup song. “Bäst när det gäller” (Best when it counts) premiered on Nyhetsmorgon, TV4 today. Per Gessle, Micke Syd Andersson and Linnea Henriksson were on TV to talk about the song and soccer. It was also revealed that a video to the song will be shot this weekend. Cosmos Music made available an official lyrics video until then.

“Bäst när det gäller” is available digitally on the usual platforms. There will be a physical release as well, a 7″ and a 12″ vinyl single on 1st June. The 7″ version is a limited edition single, released in 500 copies. The guys are in blue jerseys on the 7″ sleeve and in yellow on the 12″ sleeve. You can pre-order the singles at Bengans or Ginza or CDON.

Tracklist for the 2-track 7″ single:

  1. Bäst när det gäller
  2. Bäst när det gäller (Instrumental)

Tracklist for the 4-track 12″ single:

  1. Bäst när det gäller
  2. Bäst när det gäller (Bridge & Mountain Remix)
  3. Bäst när det gäller (Galavant Remix)
  4. Bäst när det gäller (Instrumental)

Per says, to write the official song is of course a huge challenge and you can’t say no to that. The guys in GT were extremely proud when they were asked. Mr. G says he already had the title in his mind for a while, but now he had the reason to write the text as well. It became a little story about a couple who are the best when it counts, but also a text filled with soccer references that most recognize.

Bäst när det gäller

När vi träffades i vimlet
Det var ett hat trick att minnas
jag kom från farmarlaget
Du var populär

Du sa du älskade fotboll
Jag såg en sol igenom fönstret
hur kan man låtsas att det regnar
när du ser ut så där?

Vi är bäst när det gäller
Vi är bäst när det gäller
Vi är bäst då när allt står på spel vi är bäst då när allt kan gå fel

Liksom dårar på nätet
Gillar vi ringarna på vattnet
Vi vill att världen ska få veta
Vår karaktär (eller vad säger du, Per?)

Att aldrig tappa kontrollen
Att aldrig ta nåt med en klackspark är aldrig tvåa på bollen
När du ser på mej så där

Vi är bäst när det gäller
Vi är bäst när det gäller
Vi är bäst då när allt står på spel vi är bäst då när allt kan gå fel

© Per Gessle

 

Gessle enligt Gessle – the English summary – Part 2

Part 2 of TV4’s documentary, Gessle enligt Gessle contains a lot of talking about Roxette, footage of Per’s Nashville adventure, including the photo session with Anton Corbijn and also the funniest anecdote of Per and Åsa’s first meeting with Paul McCartney. Of course, Part 2 also contains footage from the Halmstad gig of Per’s En vacker kväll tour.

In case you missed the summary of Part 1, check it out HERE! Watch Part 1 and Part 2 on TV4’s website if you are in Sweden or Part 1 and Part 2 on YouTube if you are anywhere else in the world.

Here is my summary in English of Part 2. All stills are from Part 2.

In the intro Niklas tells that so far he got to know a lot about Per’s upbringing, his guitars, how to wake up a patient in coma, the break-up and if he helps in the kitchen. But he still had many questions. How could he manage being world famous? How low can one hold a guitar? Who has the firmest ass, Per or Paul McCartney? Will there be anything with Roxette again?

STUDIO (Skärmarbrink)

Niklas says he was about 30 when he came by “The Look” and he starts playing the riff. Per immediately says Jonas Isacsson. When they recorded the song, it was built very much on Per’s demo with the sequencer base and all, but they didn’t have the riff then. They asked Jonas to play something George Harrisonish on the guitar. Something in “Taxman” style or “I Want To Tell You”. The Revolver-George Harrison. Jonas came up with different suggestions including this riff.

Niklas starts reading the Swedish translation of the lyrics of “The Look”: Eld i isen, naken intill T-benet, en älskares förklädnad, banka på huvudtrumman, skaka som en galen tjur, hon har utseendet.

Per laughs and Niklas asks if he can recognize it. He states it wouldn’t have been too easy to come up with this text in Swedish. Niklas says he would probably change the last line to hon har ett lok instead of hon har utseendet. The lyrics are very special. It’s a nonsense text. Per wrote “The Look” to learn how to program his new synth, an Ensoniq ESQ-1. The first song he wrote on it was “The Look”. A 3-chord hit inspired by ZZ Top. They were big then. Then Per came to that half-rapping text.  “Walking like a man, hitting like a hammer, she’s a juvenile scam.” That rhythm became the whole song in some way. Mr. G put together a nonsense text to remember the rhythm. When he tried to write a real text, he felt he could not. He swapped out some words in the nonsense text and gave it some kind of logic. Niklas asks if there is any logic in the text. Per says there is, some kind of tumultuous experience of love. He thought there was a certain “I Am The Walrus” feeling about it. Like “Goo goo g’joob”. There is almost no real logic, but that’s what makes it exciting. When “The Look” became a hit all over the world, it was said in the English-speaking countries that no English-speaking person would have been able to write that text. But it was to Roxette’s advantage and to the advantage of the song. It stands out.

Per’s demo to “The Look” is called “He’s Got The Look”. It was supposed to be sung by Marie, but when she started singing, she felt that it was not for her. She couldn’t identify with it. Almost all the songs Per has written for Roxette he had written for Marie to sing them. The songs Per sings are those Marie didn’t want to sing. At the same time there were more regular duets like “The Big L” written for two to sing.

Niklas says the first real Roxette hit was a coincidence, it wasn’t meant for Roxette. Per says it’s true. There was an ambition that Marie and Per had talked about for many years, to do something together. But what that would be, they didn’t know. Per had written a song to Pernilla Wahlgren called “Svarta glas”. But she never recorded it. Per’s demo circulated a bit and then one day Per bumped into the head of EMI, Roffe Nygren at the EMI office and then he said how good “Svarta glas” is. “Write an English text and record it with Marie, so you have the song you’ve been talking about to do with Marie for all these years.” So Per did it and presented it to Marie. They made a duet that became the summer hit in 1986.

Per had started talking about making his third Swedish solo album, but EMI was not interested, so he had no record company. But Per had met Clarence Öfwerman who would produce the “possible” record. So he produced “Neverending Love”. It became such a big success that they recorded the first Roxette album.

Niklas has 11 questions about when “The Look” became No. 1 in the US. First of all, he is interested in how Per found it out. Mr. G says he was in Halmstad and someone called. Probably Thomas Erdtman as they worked with him since a few months. He jokes he has so many No. 1s, that’s why he can’t remember exactly. Marie Dimberg and someone from EMI went to Café Opera and celebrated in the evening but Per wasn’t there.

Niklas asks if Per remembers what he was wearing. Per says of course not. But Hallandsposten took pictures and on the photos he is wearing an ugly dotted shirt.

Next question is whom Per called first. Per says probably Marie. Niklas says it must have been totally crazy. What did Per do in the evening? He was sitting at home and watched Rapport (the news) on TV. As usual. Niklas asks what happened the next evening, where did they go. Per says there was a big press conference in Grand Hotel. Niklas asks what they were drinking. Per replies he doesn’t know, but probably champagne. Niklas asks who paid the bill. Per doesn’t know, but it was certainly their record company. Niklas asks if they stayed there long. Per says certainly and asks Niklas if he was there too. Niklas thinks he wasn’t there.

Per tells Marie and he were never together when any of their songs became No. 1. “Listen To Your Heart” was the second one. Then Per was in Halmstad again and they talked on the phone. When the third song, “It Must Have Been Love” became No. 1, Per sat with Jonathan Green at EMI in England. Per called and checked if they stayed No. 1 for one more week. They did. When “Joyride” became No. 1, Mr. G was in Paris.

Per asks who has come up with these smart questions. Niklas replies it was him.

Niklas is sitting and talking to Per Gessle in the old EMI studio in Skärmarbrink, outside of Stockholm. They are talking about Roxette’s huge success. Niklas is curious about how one can handle this success. Per says they were of course a bit shocked by the success. At the same time, they were a bit older. Marie was 30 and Per 29 when it happened. They already had some experience, but they had no classical management that guided them. They did a lot of weird stuff. E.g. they went around and sang playback for radio stations and their guests. Playback in the radio is fun, haha. They didn’t know how it worked and they felt it was not what they wanted. Eventually, their experience and being good live were something that differentiated them from their competitors at the time. Milli Vanilli, for example. Niklas asks if Milli Vanilli was their worst competitor. Per says there was Paula Abdul, Richard Marx and The Bangles. They were quite OK live too, but Marie was a wonderful singer. Roxette’s record company abroad, also in the United States, was convinced that Roxette was a one-hit-wonder. A Swedish band in 1989. But when they came with their third single the record company loved it. It was “Listen To Your Heart”, which also became No. 1. Then the door was open. Then came “Dangerous” that was 2nd on the charts. Then came “It Must Have Been Love”.

Per tells a story when he was in New York at the Apollo Theater. He got the invitation from his friend, Scott Greenstein who is the head of Sirius XM satellite radio in the US, having 70 million subscribers. Sirius had a concert for Paul McCartney. Åsa and Per went there since Scott had fixed tickets and only celebrities were there. Per sat here, Åsa, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Tony Bennett, Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Simon. Then Scott asked if they wanted to meet Paul. “Sure. I’ve never met Paul McCartney, it would be fun”, said Per. He, Åsa and DJ Howard Stern, who also worked with Sirius, they went in the greenroom to greet Paul McCartney. They walked in and talked a bit and suddenly Paul appeared in his Beatles suit, with his thumbs up. “Fancy a picture, anyone?” Sure. Per stood there, Åsa stood in the middle, Paul on the other side and there was a photographer too. Suddenly, Per felt a hand on his ass. He thought, huh? “Hope it’s Åsa.” Then there was nothing more about it. “Break a leg”. Good to see you. And when they left, Per asked Åsa: “Did you put your hand on my ass?” “Yes. I put my hand on your ass and my other hand on Paul’s to see who had the coolest ass.” Paul had it. Haha. Per says: “Isn’t that cute? My wife in a nutshell. His ass was much firmer, she said.”

 

Niklas introduces the next part by telling in September 2002, Roxette was booked for a press conference before “Night of the Proms”. A huge music event that was going to become a European tour. Roxette would have been the main act. Per was on his way to the airport when their manager, Marie Dimberg called him and said that Marie Fredriksson had collapsed at home in the bathroom. It turned out she suffered from a brain tumor and that was the beginning of a long break for Roxette. Marie eventually became healthy and Roxette came back. In 2011, Per and Marie went on a successful  world tour seen by 1.5 million people in 46 countries. From June 2016, the duo was booked for a major European tour, but Marie had to cancel it for health reasons just two months before the premiere gig. Niklas asks Per how did it feel. Per says Marie made the right decision. She felt it was time to quit and Per respects it to 110%. But at the same time it felt like an end.

Niklas asks if there will be more records or tours with Roxette. Per says tours for sure not, but records… he doesn’t know. He doesn’t think so. It’s hard to make records. There must be a reason for it. Per tries to think positively though. They have had so many amazing things with Roxette. Songs, recordings and concerts. It feels great to carry it in your luggage.

Niklas says when Roxette was put on ice, Per started writing in Swedish again. Something that was originally thought to be a project for Gyllene Tider, but became Per’s solo album, “Mazarin”. Per says in the ‘80s he felt he had reached as far as he could and then it was really nice to start working in English. When he went back to Swedish and wrote “Mazarin” in 2002 it was an incredible kick, because he had not done it for so long.

Including hits like “Tycker om när du tar på mig” and “Här kommer alla känslorna på en och samma gång”, the album became a big success in Sweden. Per says he didn’t want to release any singles from the album. He had worked so long with singles in mind regarding Roxette. Ironically, one of his biggest singles ever was “Här kommer alla känslorna på en och samma gång”. For a while, he wouldn’t even want to have it on the album. It was too much pastiche and it had no real refrain.

Roxette’s career is full of success, No. 1’s, world tours and strange interviews. Niklas is curious about how Per looks back on those times. Per says one of the biggest kicks was when they were doing a TV thing in the Netherlands. There was a guy who stood and screamed from the second floor of a courtyard of a hotel. He shouted: “I love your record!” It was Tom Petty. Then Per thought: “Shit, this is…” Niklas says it must have been awesome and asks for more stories.

Per talks about their tour in South America 1991, no it was 1992. Nobody wanted to play in South America. There was recession and no one was paid. Everyone cancelled their shows, Madonna, Guns N’ Roses, Michael Jackson. If you go to South America, you do it because it’s fun. Roxette thought it’s much fun, so they went there and played. They were planned to play in not too big venues, for 4-5000 people, but when they got there everything exploded for them. They played in 16 football stadiums instead. For 65000 people in São Paulo, 55000 in Santiago and 50000 twice in Buenos Aires. Niklas says they are still crazy in Argentina. Per says it has always been a great place for Roxette. Niklas says probably because they didn’t cancel their shows. Per says they really show what they feel. It’s much fun to play there. They don’t care that Roxette is not from England or the US, they are just music for them.

Niklas tells Per’s inspiration and motivation must have been on top mainly after the first US No. 1. Per says it’s clear that you get a huge self-confidence of success. They knew that it was a very good album. There were many songs on it and Per told Marie: “If we are lucky to get through with one of the songs, we have a good future because we have so many songs that are good.” Per was triggered by success. That was something very different between Marie and Per. Marie was often quite happy with their success, but Per never was. He always wanted more. When it was the worst in the ’90s, they did 1800 interviews in 8 months, around the world. At the same time Per wrote the “Joyride” album. It sounds like it was very hard but it was easy because Per was so terribly motivated. He just wanted to move forward. Niklas asks Per if he ever stopeed. Per says he is not that type. He always wants it to work and get as big as possible. Niklas says Per also wants to decide, he wants to control. Per says indeed, sometimes. Niklas asks if it has ever been a problem in Roxette. Per says it’s hard for him to answer. He has never experienced it as a problem. He’s always been interested in the music industry, how it works and all the craziness that goes on while Marie has never really been into it. She loves to be on stage, sing and develop her musicality. So Per always got more space in a Roxette project.

Niklas says he can get tired of his music. He can feel he is so predictable playing his usual chords, G, C, D, E minor, C and then Am7 like some kind of Italian salad spice. He is curious if Per ever gets tired of his own melodies. Mr. G says that’s why he tries to write as little as possible. If he gets an idea that he thinks is exciting, he can sit at the piano and play in a tone that he doesn’t feel comfortable with. For example, E flat minor or something, so he knows he’ll make a mistake. Within 10 seconds he makes a fool of himself. He is fooling his own mind and he records it, because it often happens that he can’t repeat it if it’s not on tape.

Niklas says his theory is that the best songs are written very fast. Per says the best songs are in A. All Motörhead songs are in A. Niklas says AC / DC songs are in A too. Per says the best ideas, the essence of a good song come fast. Often there is something that is the soul of a song. It can be the hook, or a rhythm that is the essence of the song. It usually comes very fast, but everything else doesn’t have to go fast. If Per is stuck or if he doesn’t think it’s good enough, he’ll leave it or throw it away.

Here comes a little footage from the photo session with Anton Corbijn in Nashville and then Niklas asks Per about being on stage. Per says he has never really felt comfortable on stage until the last few years. It has always been difficult to be on stage, because he is not good at it. They should have had more time for that with Gyllene Tider, but they had done six gigs in front of people before they became No. 1 on the charts. Per has learned it the hard way, doing hundreds of gigs to see what works and what doesn’t. Today he feels comfortable on stage. One should think as little as possible and try to be as natural as possible. Now that he is getting close to 60, it has been a long journey, maybe now he starts to understand how it works.

Niklas asks Per how low can he have a guitar hanging and if it goes up with the age. Per says it does. In his case, he started holding it higher in 1996 when he had a slipped disc because his whole body was crooked. The doctor said Mr. G should raise the guitar 10 centimeters higher. I was doing this on my head.

Niklas asks Per how good he is as a guitarist. Per says on a 10-point scale he is still only 3. He says he sounds best on acoustic guitar and when he plays alone, without a plectrum, with his fingers. He shows how it goes and starts playing “Småstadsprat”.

The guys are talking about titles. Per says a title he likes triggers his imagination to become a story. Niklas asks how Per finds the titles. Mr. G says it can be something a taxi driver says, an article in a newspaper… “Flickan i en Cole Porter-sång” is from a movie. “I want that girl in a Cole Porter song”, says Jack Lemmon in “Save the Tiger”. Per has always had an archive of titles. Everything from “How Do You Do!” or “Small Talk” to “Listen To Your Heart”. All those songs started with a title. Mr. G says if you look at the song titles on Spotify’s top 50 list, it’s all bad titles. They don’t give anything. Per always tries to avoid the anonymous. In pop or rock music format, anonymity is the worst to be used. You only have three minutes to be ready with a song. You need to make it packed so it grabs attention all the time. A catchy refrain, great production, the intro… It shouldn’t be too tedious, nor too ineffective.

Here comes a little Nashville footage again.

HOTEL TYLÖSAND

Niklas asks Per if he can feel that kind of strong emotion in the studio when what they record becomes so good so that you start crying. Per says it happens. Those are the moments you are in the studio for. The creative process must have a goal and a purpose. It’s to feel that what you’re recording is good. Sometimes when Per has written a song or text and it’s been a while, and then he reads it or listens to it again, he can’t remember that he has written it. He can’t understand how it became the result. It’s recorded, it’s there in the song or the music, but he doesn’t really know how it all resulted in it. It lives its own life.

Here comes a little Nashville footage again. Niklas says, for many years, Per has recorded his solo albums in Christoffer Lundquist’s studio in Skåne. When it was about to record again a year ago, it became Nashville instead. It resulted in two new albums, “En vacker natt” and “En vacker dag”. Niklas asks Per if it was as much fun in Nashville as one could think it is. Per says  there is very much music. The first week they concentrated a lot on the recordings. The second week they started to go out to have dinner and go to clubs. There are so many. Acoustic clubs where three undiscovered talents play every night and everyone sits there and they think and drink beer. Of course, the music culture characterizes the whole town. Per wanted it to be a very personal record. His heart was heavy and maybe it was partly because his whole family died. His mother, brother and sister.

TYLÖSAND BEACH

Niklas asks how Per handles his loss, losing his mother, brother and sister in a very short time. Mr. G thinks it’s a tough question. In both his mother’s and sister’s case, they were sick for a very long time, so he had kind of time to prepare himself. But it’s hard of course, when it suddenly happens. Shit, they are no longer there. But time is healing.

HOTEL TYLÖSAND

Per wanted to make a record about how he felt at that time. The album is not really about it, but it has put a color and a tone on the entire recording. Per wanted to go somewhere else and they talked about England and France. But then someone came up with Nashville and it wasn’t a stupid idea after all. He liked it. He thought then he could make an even bigger change using local musicians. The Nashville sound fit him pretty well with pedal steel and violin and so on. It’s close to the singer / songwriter tradition Per has always loved.

Niklas asks if the American musicians thought it was good. Per thinks so. He was afraid they would think he came in with some kind of division 2 country songs. But it wasn’t the case. They were there for a few days, so they became friends. Then Per told them he was a bit afraid, since they had worked with Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson and all the amazing people. They liked it very much. It is noticeable on their part. Stuart Duncan is dancing ballet on his violin. Stuart Duncan, what a guy!

STUDIO (Skärmarbrink)

Niklas tells Per worked together with Lars Winnerbäck, who is both there on the album and was a guest artist on Per’s tour. Niklas is curious about why it became Lars Winnerbäck. Per says he met Lasse at a concert he played. He is a nice guy. Then Mr. G saw him in Niklas’ program on TV where he played a Gyllene Tider song. They became friends, he is really a lovely guy. Per immediately thought of him.

Per is so used to writing either for Marie or for singing duets with her. You usually interpret a duet like a guy and a girl singing to each other. Per didn’t write “Småstadsprat” as a duet. But when two guys sing a duet, then they don’t sing to each other. They are singing about the same thing. Lyrically, it becomes quite exciting when two guys are singing.

TYLÖSAND BEACH

Everything Per has done has made him a different person. Sometimes it feels like he has just begun. He wants to do more stuff, he is always looking for something, he always has stuff going on. It’s very much him in a way.

 

 

Thanx a lot for the technical support, János Tóth!

Gessle enligt Gessle – the English summary – Part 1

Gessle enligt Gessle (Gessle according to Gessle) is a 2-part documentary on Per Gessle, covering the story of his early life, musical career including Gyllene Tider, Roxette, solo, songwriting and his En vacker kväll tour. The docu was recorded during the summer tour and in September and it was broadcast on 18th-19th December on TV4.

Why this documentary is different to most of those we could see in the Roxette World is that it’s Niklas Strömstedt, well-known musician and a good old friend to Per who is doing a long interview with Mr. G. Niklas and Per know each other since long and Niklas has always respected Per, his creativity and ability to write music. You can feel this admiration during the whole docu. The program is very natural, 2 friends talking about their passion, i.e. music. Per said Niklas asked questions in the documentary as a friend, as another musician, so it was indeed different vs. previous docus.

After seeing this documentary, recorded by Grumpy Productions (the same company that recorded the latest GT DVD), covering a lot from the summer tour as well, one doesn’t really need a separate tour DVD. But if a decision is made to release the Halmstad concert one day, we will of course be very happy about it.

A real hardcore fan won’t hear too much new information, but there are a few new anecdotes and the structure and the mood of the whole docu is just perfect. The interview is nicely interrupted by footage from the EVK concert in Halmstad. All in all, it’s very enjoyable and a real delight to all fans.

Watch Part 1 and Part 2 on TV4’s website if you are in Sweden or Part 1 and Part 2 on YouTube if you are anywhere else in the world.

Here is my summary in English of Part 1. You’ll see the ”chapters” according to the places where the actual scenes were recorded. (Part 2 summary comes soon.) All stills are from Part 1.

TYLÖSAND BEACH

After a short tour scene, we can see beautiful Tylösand, Per and Niklas are walking along the beach and Per starts talking. He says he likes Halmstad, he likes being there. He has been travelling a lot ever since Roxette broke through, but he always has to come back to Halmstad to breathe out. It’s a special feeling. Besides that, his mum was there, MP’s studio is there. He just belongs to Halmstad and Halmstad belongs to him.

Niklas tells he has known Per Gessle since appr. 40 years. First time they met was on a chilly Tuesday in August 1979 at the EMI studio in Stockholm. They have occasionally written songs and played together. Niklas has a great respect for Per’s creativity, artistry and his ability to create hits.

They talk after Per came back from Nashville and was on a successful tour from Piteå to Helsingborg.

While walking at the beach, Per says the first thing he is thinking of when he wakes up in the morning is having the job done. And it’s music. Niklas is kidding and says not like others of their age to be thinking: “It doesn’t hurt so much today.” Per takes it for granted that it doesn’t hurt, fortunately. He says you look at the emails and what has happened during the night, there are always things to do and it always has to do with music in some way.

Niklas feels it’s time to dig deeper in Per’s upbringing and amazing career. It’s more than 40 years since Per conquered Sweden and a bit later the world with his music. Niklas knows for example that Per sold 85 million albums, but he still has tons of questions. E.g. how he celebrated his first Billboard No. 1, if he helps at home, how he felt when Gyllene Tider split, what happens inside when one loses his closest.

Niklas asks Per if he ever rests. Per says he does. He doesn’t work as much as it seems. He is not sitting at the piano between 10 and 12 each day. He doesn’t write every day, but he always has his antennas out. If he hears or reads something he likes, he takes notes and later either he uses it or not. Niklas asks if it’s hard to have the antennas always out. Mr. G says it’s hard, but probably harder for those around him than for himself. He just works like this. He can’t switch it off.

A WALK IN HALMSTAD

Niklas starts the next chapter by talking a bit about Per’s family. Per was born on 12th January 1959 in an incredibly cold Halmstad. His sister, Gunilla was 14 and his brother, Bengt was 7 when Mr. G was born. Per’s father, Kurt was a plumber and his mother, Elisabeth was painting porcelain.

The guys are taking a walk along the river, Nissan in Halmstad. Niklas asks Per about how he remembers the Halmstad he grew up in. Per says it didn’t look like this. There are many new buildings. He grew up in Furet district by the way. It was a ’50s-’60s villa area. It was a little idyllic in its way, but Per didn’t like it. He liked most his record player back then too.

Niklas asks Per if they played a lot of music at home and what Per’s parents were listening to. Per says his parents weren’t really interested in music, but his brother was. He was born in 1951 and grew up with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, in the middle of the ’60s. His sister grew up with Elvis and Tommy Steele. So it was a lot of pop and rock music in the house. Per liked them all. He bought Melody Maker and New Musical Express magazines as a 12-13-year-old and was following the charts. In the ’60s he liked almost everything. The Monkees, Herman’s Hermits, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Tages. The first LP he bought was The Kink Kontroversy. He bought it from his brother who needed money for cigarette. It cost 5 crowns from his pocket money.

Niklas asks Per what is his first ever memory. Per says he remembers having all his toy cars in the pantry in the kitchen. It’s a good memory. He was laying there and crawling. He had a little Goldfinger and an Aston Martin.

HOTEL TYLÖSAND

Niklas asks Per in what way he was mommy’s boy. Per says his mum always supported him. She bought his first guitar. She said: “If you want a guitar, we will buy a really good one.” There was an old steel-string guitar in the house which couldn’t be played. So his mum bought a Bjärton nylon-string guitar.

Niklas asks which was the first song Per wrote himself. It was “Symbol of the autumn”, a song in English. Niklas is curious if Per has all his old demos. Per thinks so, but he can’t remember if he threw them out or just ignored them. He then tells the story of he and his friend being Sweden’s first troubadours employed by the city council. For 3 months they were playing at nursing homes for old people and so. He had his little Bjärton guitar and they played “Drömmen om Elin”, “Svarte Rudolf” and “Så skimrande var aldrig havet”. Niklas asks if Per could play “Drömmen om Elin”, but Per isn’t sure about it, so he chooses “Svarte Rudolf” instead. He says he played it for a radio a long time ago. Niklas gives the guitar to Per, but keeps the plectrum for himself. Per starts playing the song, but he can’t remember the text.

Mr. G says they got a schedule for each week and he has lots of stories from those times. One of them is when they had to go to the long-term care at the hospital in Halmstad. They had never been there and when they got in, there was no one who greeted them. They just entered a hall where there were two patients on the two sides so they sat in the middle and played. The patients didn’t move, they were just lying there. Per and his friend played “Man borde inte sova” or “Streets of London”. Suddenly the staff came and wondered what they were doing there. Just then, one of the two guys woke up, it was a young guy. It was a big thing, because he had been in coma. He woke up when Per and his friend played. Maybe they played “Proud Mary” or something he recognized. Then came like 20 doctors and staff and asked “Can you come and play here too?” It was a big deal because the guy woke up from coma. During those three minutes Per and his friend managed to wake him up… Fate is strange.

Per tells another story. It’s about Tilda, 91 and Agnes, 97 in a nursing home. The ladies were sitting and eating lunch at a table. Per had a small capo for the guitar. Per and his friend Peter sat there and Per put his capo on the table. They played some songs and when he wanted to pick up his capo, it was gone. Eskil, 101 years old, was sitting there and had it in his mouth. He had dipped it in the soup. He thought it was cracking bread or something. Such things always happened. Haha.

Niklas and Per start talking about clothes. Per says he wasn’t interested in clothes when he was a kid. He was quite overweight and looked pretty grotesque in all clothes. It was only later, in his late teens, in the ’70s when he tried to get some sort of look. He remembers the punk outfit and the new wave look. Narrow ties. A little bit like what Gyllene Tider looked back then.

The guys move on to the school topic. Per says he regrets he didn’t spend much time and energy on school. It was horrible. Where he went to school they didn’t learn anything. It has always been easy for him to learn things. If you had a good result on a high school test, you were booed in the class. Per thinks it was chemistry. They didn’t enter the classroom for a whole semester. The whole class sat outside the classroom. The teacher came out and tried to get them in, but it didn’t work. Everyone received an approved grade, even though they had not had a single lesson.

There is a concert cut from Halmstad where Per tells when he started writing songs in the ’70s he wrote in English. He learned English by listening to pop music. You didn’t learn anything at school, but on the records you found your own language.

STUDIO (Skärmarbrink)

Niklas remembers that one day when he was at EMI’s office in Solna, Gyllene Tider came straight from the studio to record “Sommartider”. Lasse and Kjell had told Per he should write a hit. Per says “Sommartider” and “Sleeping In My Car” are the only songs he has written for those to become hits. He hesitated for a long time if the title should be “Sommartider”, because Magnus Uggla had a song called “Sommartid”. Niklas asks if Per knew it already then that it would become a hit. Per says no. He remembers that they were sitting in Anders’ car in Halmstad and the song was played on the radio and the host said it would be that summer’s hit. They were just screaming in the car: Yes!

HOTEL TYLÖSAND

Niklas asks Per if he cooks. Per says he doesn’t really, but it’s fun to help in the kitchen. With the meat sauce. Or most of the times, to lay the table. Niklas asks if Per would like to have some signature dishes. Per says it would be fun. He thinks cooking is a creative job too and it’s strange he doesn’t cook. But with his traveling lifestyle he eats a lot in restaurants and hotels. He met his wife quite early and she loves to cook. So it became her role to cook. Per is doing the dishes. Niklas jokes and asks if it means Per takes the washed-up dishes out of the dishwasher. Per says something like that.

STUDIO (Skärmarbrink)

Before the guys enter the studio in Desperado style, Niklas talks a bit about Gyllene Tider that started out as Grape Rock, established by Per and Mats MP Persson in 1977. Despite MP’s musical talent and Per’s sharp songwriting skills they realized that they can’t have a band if they are only 2. So they established Gyllene Tider together with bassist Janne Carlsson, Göran Fritzon on keyboards and drummer Micke Andersson, whose name back then didn’t include Syd. The bassist had been changed quite early to Anders Herrlin and GT became the band they still are. GT became local celebrities in Halmstad. They released an EP in 900 copies and the songs of the EP reached music producer Kjell Andersson. He offered the band a contract with the record company EMI.

MP was fond of writing Status Quo boogie songs. “Arabiska nätter” is a bit like that, with the world’s strangest guitar riff. The guys are playing a bit of the song here. Per says it was a little controversial, but very much 1977. Niklas asks why it hasn’t been released. Per says when they got the record contract, Kjell liked some stuff they had, the lyrics and that certain pop style that fit those times. It didn’t include the Status Quo-boogie.

Niklas asks how it went on, if it was easy to bring new songs to the rehearsals. Per says it was. As soon as they got response to what they did, everyone was so enthusiastic. Everyone wanted to move forward. As soon as they had a song idea, they recorded it and sent it to Kjell at EMI. Then they got response. It went like that until 1984. It was only Mats and Per who wrote songs. It’s different if you are Fleetwood Mac where everyone writes songs. Or The Beatles where several wrote songs. Regarding texts, it was only Per who wrote lyrics. Niklas asks how many songs Per has written. Per jokes first and says 4, but in the end he says 800-900.

Niklas says Per has always been very clever and intelligent in his Swedish texts. Talking about “Här kommer alla känslorna på en och samma gång” there are so many words rhyming to “gång”. Per found good words there. Betong, ballong, perrong.

The guys play a bit of “Tycker om när du tar på mig” here.

Niklas says Per makes a lot of effort and asks him if he is fiddling a lot with the lyrics. Per replies Jesus Christ, a lot. It takes a very long time to write texts. The older you get it takes even longer. One tries to come up with a simple and strong feeling in a text. But you usually try to describe it as beautifully as possible. It’s easy to write a love text but to write an intelligent love text that no one has heard before is very difficult. People often ask if Per “goes to work” and writes songs all day long. He doesn’t do it at all. He does the opposite. He writes as little as he can. But when he has an idea, he wants it to go fast and focused. You can’t construct a damn good melody track if it doesn’t help itself. When Per started playing music, it was the punk and the new wave movement era. Before that, one had to be very good at playing. Per wasn’t. The idea of punk was that everyone could play. It was appealing to Per. It made you dare to start writing songs and put together a band. When GT got a record contract a few years later, they had no thought of reaching anything special.

Niklas says GT were very cute. It was everyone’s perception around the guys. They started promoting milk and Jordache jeans. Niklas asks how they got there. Per says it was a way of earning money. Jordache jeans wanted to enter the market and Gyllene Tider was the biggest. They got a lot of money after each sold pair of jeans. It was a good deal. Per says imagine if Jordache jeans had become rocky and tough. Then they would have been rocky and tough guys too. But it didn’t happen.

Niklas says you have to be careful regarding what you are promoting. You don’t advertise just anything. Per says he is right and there are a few things he can’t imagine promoting. Political things for example. And another thing is that the advertisement shouldn’t be crap. You don’t want “Queen of Rain” or “Listen To Your Heart” in a context that downgrades the song. Per can imagine advertising strawberry milk or cars. But it depends a bit on how it’s done.

HOTEL TYLÖSAND

They guys perform a bit of “På promenad genom stan” on one of the suites’ balcony in Hotel Tylösand.

Per tells his first real electric guitar was very expensive. He bought it in England. MP, Per and Janne (first bassist in GT) went to England in 1978. The pound was down and he bought a wine-red Gibson Les Paul Custom. Dave Davies in The Kinks had one like that. MP bought a black Telecaster, Per bought his Gibson and Janne bought a left-handed bass. He was left-handed. Besides these, they bought speakers or amplifiers. Marshall stuff. Per says they had the guitars with them on their way back home and it turned out they should pay VAT. It was before the EU. They had no idea about it. So either they had to smuggle the guitars or pay the VAT. They had no money so they decided to smuggle, but they got caught. Per wrote a letter of apology to the customs and police by hand. He told the whole story and that it wasn’t their intention to break the law. They made the wrong decision, sorry. So they got back their instruments, but they got a fine of 2000 crowns. Niklas asks if it was worth it. Per says absolutely.

The guys had no money so they worked. Per thinks MP worked with his dad who had a construction company. Per worked at Fammarps mushrooms and weighed mushrooms. Mr. G worked there for two summers. All the money went on buying guitars, strings and new capo. Here they laugh remembering the nursing home incident where the capo got eaten.

Per says the only thing that existed was music. That wonderful, parallel universe called pop. It was better living in that world than in your own.

Niklas says Gyllene Tider reunited every now and then and asks why. Per says it’s fun to play together. It’s a fantastic little pop band. There is some timelessness in what they have done. There is this magic that occurs when an artist has fun with the audience. It differs very much from anything else Per does. It’s a lovely time trip every time they play together.

Per says when they start rehearsing with the band they can’t really rehearse the songs. They just know them. It’s an awesome band. Per hopes there will be more Gyllene Tider, as long as everyone is alive. It’s them 5 who can do it. Per plays some songs on his own tours and it’s also good, but it’s not Gyllene Tider. Niklas asks how is it playing those songs with others. Per says in summer he played some greatest hits from his catalogue and of all the songs it was the GT hits that were the hardest to play.

STUDIO (Skärmarbrink)

In 1985 Anders Herrlin decided to leave Gyllene Tider. It was the end of the band, at least then. At a meeting Anders told GT wasn’t fun anymore. Niklas asks Per how he reacted on it. Per says MP and he were driving home in the same car and they were sitting silently during the whole way. They were wondering about what happened. They just felt it was over in a way. Per went home and started thinking about the next step. It was obvious to him to make a solo album. Which he later did, including songs like “Blå december” or “Galning”. The latter was actually recorded by GT.

Niklas asks Per if he wrote about this break-up, if he used this feeling of being disappointed and sad in his songwriting. Per can hardly remember, but that album is quite sad. The last thing Gyllene Tider did before that was the English album and a rather half-good tour. It felt a bit like it might not be so stupid to quit, after all. Niklas says as it may be in relationships. It just happens. Per jokes “it’s not my fault.” Niklas says he means “it’s not your fault.” Per says “Vi passar så bra isär” (we’re so good apart). Haha. Niklas asks if it was Per who wrote that song. Per says it was Hasse Alfredson.

Per continues his story-telling. He made another solo album that didn’t go well and he tried to find his place in the music industry. He started writing songs with Torgny Söderberg, “Kärleken är evig” and something else.

Per’s solo album, “Scener” didn’t work at all. Niklas is curious how he felt back then, if it was a tough period. Per says it was horrible. When you are successful, when things work, it’s easy to make decisions and new steps. But when things are not going well, you’re stuck. You simply make wrong decisions. Per felt very confused, especially musically. “What do I want to do?”, asked himself. Niklas asks if he ever thought about doing something else. Per says no, it never went so far. One has to survive in a way. He remembers he was asked to form a band and play in a pub in Halmstad over a summer. He thanked no and the question went on to The Husbands. It didn’t fit Per. He didn’t want to play in such a band. He wanted to write songs and develop his way of writing. He has always prioritized songwriting. So it’s really tough when it doesn’t work. Those years, 1984 and 1985 were tough.

Then there was the opportunity to start working with Marie. Niklas asks how it happened. Per says it was back in the ’70s. Gyllene Tider and Marie’s band shared a rehearsal studio. Marie and Per have always been very good friends. They have always talked about doing something together. Marie sang on some Gyllene Tider songs, she was on TV with GT. “Vandrar i ett sommarregn.” And she eventually ended up on the same record label as Per. They have always supported each other’s careers. In 1985 Marie broke through as a solo artist. It wasn’t obvious for her to work with Per. What attracted her to cooperate with Per was that it was in English and maybe to go abroad. Niklas says Per must have been thrilled that Marie wanted to work with him. Per says he was happy for every song they recorded. He knew that tomorrow it could be over. All the time it was like that. They released their first LP “Pearls of Passion”, which was Per’s third unpublished solo album that he basically translated from Swedish into English. So all the first Roxette songs, e.g. “So Far Away” was called “Som i en dröm”,  “Soul Deep” was called “Dansa nerför ett stup i rekordfart”. Per wrote English lyrics and Marie sang. Mr. G had never heard Marie singing that way. She was also a singer / songwriter. “Sjunde vågen”, “Het vind” and “Ännu doftar kärlek”. But now there was another Marie. Per was proud and happy about that he could get it out of her via his songs. She got another type of material, which was exciting. Per thinks that was the driver why she sticked to Roxette.

The guys play a bit of “Dansa nerför ett stup i rekordfart” here.

Per says it sounded pretty bad with him, but when Marie sings it… Per always had the feeling that Roxette was a bit on loan, that it wasn’t that important to Marie. But Per had nothing else. After the first album, which became a big success in Sweden, Marie went back to her Swedish career and released “Efter stormen”. But then they had such success with “Pearls of Passion” that they decided to make another album and focus even more on abroad. Then Per wrote what became “Look Sharp!”.

Despite the huge success in Sweden, there was no real interest in Roxette abroad. But on Sparregatan in Borås, the band had a big fan, American exchange student Dean Cushman. He brought the “Look Sharp!” album to Minneapolis, where it got in the hands of Brian Philips, head of the local KDWB radio station. Philips loved “The Look”, which quickly became a monster hit across the United States.

To be continued… (in Part 2)

Thanx a lot for the technical support, János Tóth!