EDITOR'S NOTE: As the holiday season winds down, The Daily Roxette's News Editor Thomas Evensson was recently afforded the opportunity to sit down for a chat with Per Gessle. As you'll see, with a new single and album out in the very near future – not to mention a World Tour – they had no shortage of things to talk about! —LEO
STOCKHOLM - With a few logs burning in the fireplace, Per offers a glass of glögg (mulled wine) as we sit down in a couple of comfortable chairs by the fireplace. On the table, there's a plate of pepparkakor (traditional Swedish Christmas ginger cookies).
The Daily Roxette: So Per… a new album, a brand spanking fresh single, an upcoming world tour. The fans say ‘woohoo’, what say you?
Per Gessle: I say ‘Yee-Haa!’. We're very pleased with the new album. We decided early on to try to make a classic Roxette record and I think we succeeded. Also, since Marie is very motivated and up for any challenge these days, a full scale Roxette tour feels just right.
We certainly long for these upcoming shows!! You know me, I love playing music with these people. And to have the benefit of the Rox crowds all over the planet you can't help but to shout ‘Yee-Haa!’
TDR: Roxette has been on a long, long road from its first attempts of a comeback starting with “One Wish” back in 2006 to this most recent decision to once again step back into the limelight. We saw the TV-shows Per, we saw Night Of The Proms, we saw last summer's concerts, but we also noticed the breaks. How did you and Marie finally find this path back?
PG: You have to remember that when Marie fell ill she only had about a five percent chance of surviving. Only one-out-of-twenty survive what she’s gone through! When you think about that it's almost a miracle that we're sitting here discussing a new Rox album and a new Rox tour. You have to keep that in mind. I certainly do. So every step of the way since 2002 has been dictated by what Marie wanted and what she was able to do. Slowly but surely she has built up enough self-confidence and motivation to start thinking in larger terms: concerts, media, blah blah blah… I can see how she improves with every thing she does. After a couple of days in the studio she started to deliver magic like in the past. It’s the same on stage. I'm sure you noticed that if you saw, for instance, Night of the Proms show #2 compared to show #35!!! It feels so good! [One can see Per is very happy about this as his face radiates when speaking about Marie.]
TDR: Yes, it is incredible to see the progress in her performance and she obviously enjoys the love she receives from the fans. Yet most of the promo stuff is being done by you. In the old times, the focus was more on Marie, now you're the face in front of the cameras. Do you think your solo career has given you more self-esteem? What will the consequences for the public image of Roxette be next year?
PG: Well, I don’t agree. I’ve always been the one doing by far the most promo jobs. Basically because Marie always hated it. I didn’t have a problem with it in the past and I still don’t. But it’s pretty natural for the media to focus on Marie since she’s the lead singer and therefore the main character in the band. I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the future but I’m pretty sure Marie won’t do that many interviews since she’s really tired of talking about her illness. And that’s what most media people want to discuss. Not my brilliant chord progressions. [He winks.]
TDR: That’s hard to understand, those D-E-A progressions… out of this world! And now that the new single “She’s Got Nothing On (But the Radio)” is out any day, which of your own footsteps are you tracing (if any)? Did you have a certain sound in your mind when you planned this album?
[Per takes a sip of his glögg and thinks.]
PG: Yea, like I said we wanted the songs to get the classic Roxette treatment. However, we didn't use Jonas [Isacsson] or Pelle [Alsing] on the record. We started out with Jens [Jansson] on drums, which felt great. But after the summer break we decided to focus on programming when it came to the backing tracks. We tried to get Anders [Herrlin] onboard to guide us through the manuals but he was so busy with his movies – he’s doing plenty of soundtracks – so he couldn't come by. Next time, maybe?
TDR: Yes by all means, bring in ‘The Herrlin’ next time around!
PG: Also, most of the guitar parts are played by Chris [Lundquist]. He can play things I hear in my head but can't play myself. Story of my life…
TDR: But you have a party in your head, Chris probably doesn’t? Talking about Chris, can we expect another head-banging guitar solo by the born-again hippie this time?
PG: Lots of them, I hope. Chris is one of the world’s best players. He’s got that unique talent combining an out-of-this-world musicality with an equally out-of-this-world emotional antenna. That’s very, very rare. Most musicians of Chris’ caliber are just technical virtuosos… brilliant but boring. Chris has that gut feeling, that very generous pop heart that is extremely rewarding to hear beating. When he’s groovin’ together with Clarence [Öfwerman], we’re talking Super League.
[Per switches topics and begins to talk about the – in TDR’s opinion – rocky, sleeve design… how both he and Marie loves Pär Wickholm’s work.]
PG: He’s got a certain attitude which is attractive. I love, for instance, his ‘Party Crasher’ sleeve so we told him to do something special, a collage, starting out with approximately 200 pics he received from Marie and I. He did a great job as expected. He's a charmer.
TDR: Yes, the Gessle over Europe sleeve is a masterpiece! Speaking of albums, who came up with the title Charm School? Any subliminal meaning?
PG: Well, one of the main songs was called “Charm School.” It was a killer track, possibly strong enough to be the core of the album. But like in most love stories things sometimes go wrong. The production went crazy and ugly. We re-recorded it but lost interest after a couple of days, so it had to go through a very painful and slow death. However, I'm sure it will pop up somewhere else.” [Per gives a mischievous smile.] “Some songs seem to have nine lives, you know…
TDR: We do know! There must be dozens of songs that fans have heard of that just disappeared. What is the old saying? ‘Good demos never die; they just go to the drawer and mature?’ Maybe you’ll release it as a B-side? We're happy about everything that turns a CD-single into maxi singles! Have other singles been chosen already?
PG: No, not yet. We’re still trying to convince an upcoming partner in the U.S. that we exist so we’re waiting for more feedback.
TDR: How were you inspired, if that’s the right word, for writing material for this album?
PG: Basically I wrote for Marie. Starting at square one, I think we tried every song with her as the lead singer. But some songs she didn’t feel comfortable with, so I sang those instead. Or we scrapped them. It’s pretty easy going. For me, the whole idea with Roxette is to use Marie's voice as much as possible otherwise it will only become another Per Gessle project. [Per is excited now.] And I love the fact that she's ‘taking over’ the songs, making them her own. For instance, there's a ballad, “No One Makes It On Her Own,” which suddenly gets a whole new meaning and touches you on a totally different level than it did when it was sung by me (on the demo). She’s got that rare power. A great gift.
TDR: Amazing! Did you try to get influenced by contemporary music in order to achieve maximum chart success?
PG: No, not at all. We never discuss chart success or "we have to have a single" anymore. We're way past that. We're very aware that contemporary radio such as Radio One in the UK or P3 in Sweden won't touch our new material since we're old enough to be the programmers' parents.
The main reason for doing a new album after all these years is because we can!!! I still love to write songs, Marie loves to sing them. So I guess in a way Charm School is made to please ourselves. But, of course, we know we have a huge fan base all over the world, our music has touched zillions of people in the past, and still does, so the new stuff is made with love for them as well. We know that a lot of folks are looking forward to this record and have waited for a Rox return for many years. It's a blessing to have those ties with people and we'll never forget that.
[Per is as always underestimating himself. This reporter thinks "Radio" sounds pretty young and ready for the charts of this planet.]
TDR: Was there no pressure from the record company to follow a certain route?
PG: You’re joking! We never play our music for the record company until the project’s closed. We used to do that in the early days… we had to because we spent so much of their money in the studio. I’ve been writing songs professionally for more than 30 years, if they don’t trust me and my ambitions they signed the wrong guy. And I've never really disappointed them, have I?
TDR: Well there was this hrrrm Heartland album… just kidding!
Written by Jud on December 28, 2010 to Per Gessle.
Pelle Hörmander's traditional after-Christmas interview with Per Gessle will be aired today on Radio Halland during the program Konsekvens, which runs from 15:03 and 16:45 CET. The interview with Per is expected at around 15:30.
You can listen to Radio Halland online.
Thanks Tomasz Wysocki and Roxette Latinamerica for the information.
NYC - Per Gessle was spotted at the Apollo in Harlem, New York City last night at a concert by Sir Paul Macca McCartney. The concert celebrated 20 million Sirius XM subscribers. Per was in good company; Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Jerry Seinfeld, Keith Richards, Steve Buscemi etc. The list is endless. Per says Macca opened with "Magical Mystery Tour" and comments "hard to beat!"
Written by tevensso on October 8, 2010 to Per Gessle. Source: STIM.se.
STIM - the Swedish Performing Rights Society - protects the interests of authors and publishers of music in Sweden. STIM has for the first time ever published a list of the most played songwriters in Sweden. The list covers plays from 2004 until now. Per Gessle is at #8 with 449 songs. Georg Riedel is at #1, he's the one who has composed all the music to Astrid Lindgren's books and movies.
LONDON - Actor Dolph Lundgren was interviewed in The Guardian for his upcoming movie, The Expendables. In it, the reporter asked if he were friends with any Swedish celebrities:
Guardian: "You're Swedish. Are you mates with that bloke from True Blood, ABBA, Roxette, and the Swedish Chef from The Muppets?"
Lundgren: "I've met Skarsgård; we're doing something together. ABBA, I don't know. I know Per Gessle, he's a Ferrari fan. And I parted ways with the chef in a back room in New York with a baseball bat."
Photo: Antti Puskala courtesy of Per Gessle.
Written by tevensso on July 31, 2010 to Per Gessle.
HALMSTAD - Between June 16 and August 13 there is a small, but nice, exhibition about Per Gessle, Gyllene Tider and Roxette at Söndrum's public library. It's photographer Dan Karlsson who shows and sells photos of concerts in Halmstad.
The library is situated next to ICA in Söndrum centrum, on the way out to Tylösand.
HALMSTAD - For you who are visiting Halmstad this summer, be sure to pick up a copy of the brand new (and free) lifestyle magazine called Tylösand Magazine. The magazine is published by Ormsmarck Media Group in Halmstad and Joakim Ormsmarck says to TDR "I've always felt there was something missing in Tylösand, but after having a picnic at Tylösand with my wife, some wine, cheese and crackers we both realized that Tylösand doesn't have its own magazine!" Said and done, they created this magazine for all the thousands of guests and visitors that pass thru Halmstad and Tylösand every summer. (And also for the 50 people who visit Tylösand in the winter.)
The premiere copy has, among several interesting articles, also an interesting interview about art with Per Gessle, Lasse Nordin and Nette Johansson - the Tres Hombres - the art gallery at Hotell Tylösand.
Written by tevensso on June 18, 2010 to Per Gessle. Source: Aftonbladet.
STOCKHOLM (Updated) - At the party for Crown Princess Victoria and her fiancé Daniel Per Gessle surprised them both with a song especially written for them. Aftonbladet describes it as a romantic ballad. And for the party tomorrow, where Roxette will perform several songs according to Expressen, there will be another new song.
Update: SVT ended its broadcast after the traditional wedding waltz. After that the party ensued where Roxette performed as planned. Swedish singer Carola performed her song "Evighet" shortly after 1 AM, but the party didn't take off until Roxette entered the stage. According to Aftonbladet the Crown Princess really rocked her butt off to Roxette. The band performed several of its greatest hits, among them "It Must Have Been Love". "That has got to be the ultimate song" commented Anders Borg, Swedish Secretary of Treasure.
Per Gessle left the party at 6 AM.