Face to face: Per lets loose with TDR in Karlstad
KARLSTAD – It’s Friday evening, just an hour before the Gyllene Tider concert in Karlstad, Sweden begins. Kai-Uwe Heinze and Justyna Bereza of The Daily Roxette are meeting up with Per in his wardrobe container (yes). There is a red couch, plenty of questions and Live Nation’s media consultant with a stop watch. We get ten minutes. And they really mean ten minutes… GO!
Kai: You’re sitting all alone with us in this small cozy room. What are the boys doing in the meantime?
Per: Anders is probably toying with his iPad, Micke is probably doing cross training, he always does some kind of training, MP is strolling around checking out the wires. Göran got his kids and family here, so I guess they are just schmoozing around and eating popcorn.
K: Okay, let’s ask you one of the most burning questions: What is actually Anders’ favorite song?
P: Of this set? Ha ha! Well, it depends. It depends on the mood of the day… for me. Ha ha! No, I don’t know. I think he likes a lot of the songs from the new album for some reason. I guess it’s because he plays better than ever. He’s a brilliant musician. He’s got this talent of getting “the bigger picture,” just like a great producer. No wonder he’s doing movie soundtracks.
K: Anders also was once awarded as the most handsome guy in Sweden. Have you ever envied him for that?
P: No, but I tease him all the time. It happened back in 1982, there was a teeny magazine [Veckorevyn] and they had three competitors which they had picked themselves and the other two were no competition whatsoever. So Anders won!
And there was another sort of award thing that Micke won. It was “Hemmets Journals lilla guldhjärta,” very family oriented magazine, you know, recipes and silly stuff, they had a kids’ section and Micke got this award, a miniature golden heart. So they beat me there.
K: Speaking of Micke, he was banned from singing a long time ago. What happened since he is now allowed to perform again? I mean, he really shouldn’t…
P: Well, one of the reasons is this… (Per points to his throat). I’m singing all these songs all the time, and most were written when I was really young, in A mostly. That’s a really high pitch for a guy my age since your voice tends to become deeper as you get older. And to change the songs into lower keys make them sound ridiculous.
It’s really challenging for me to sing every night, so I need a couple of minutes when someone else is in charge. That’s why Roxette is perfect for me because Marie is doing most of the vocals.
I wish Micke could sing more, actually. So maybe we should surprise him today and let him sing all the songs… ha ha ha.
When we recorded the Moderna Tider-LP we wanted one song sung by the drummer just like The Beatles always did on their albums. Looking back that’s probably the main reason why Micke wound up with “Min tjej och jag” in the first place. The original version of that song was called “Vilken annan tjej som helst” and was sung by me. But don’t forget that Micke is doing a great job with this song! He really gets the crowd going and he loves to be a cheerleader. I think it’s charming!
K: Big Mike is also the guy who along with you runs the Gyllene Tider Facebook page. Why him?
P: Well, every time he’s doing it, I’m getting really annoyed. So I really think he should stay out of it. I always wanna do it in my own way. Ha ha ha! Noooo, I’m just joking, it’s totally fine. We are a band and everyone is allowed to do everything. I think all five of us have gotten the passwords to run the Facebook page.
K: So I guess he’s the one who is most interested in doing it…
P: Yes, I guess.
K: Rumor has it Göran is the only one who can actually play the intro of “När vi två blir en” correctly…
P: Yeah, in the whole wide world!
K: …would you agree he deserves a personal bodyguard?
P: Yes! He almost got one ‘cos he always has his wife with him. So you’re right, haha.
K: He is also the only band member not permanently working in the music business. How much effort does it take to bring him back in shape again?
P: For the new album and this tour he was so well prepared. I was really amazed. We talked about it before because it was the total opposite in 2004. He came to the rehearsals and didn’t know the songs at all. It was really frustrating!
He told me he thought he knew them but it turned out he didn’t. That was sort of scary for all of us. The same in the studio, he is probably the only one who listens closely to my demos. He knows the songs by heart, he knows the keys. Micke on the other hand is one of the guys you send a song to and he might listen to it but then again, he might not.
I guess he doesn’t want to be too prepared, he wants to follow his gut feeling.
The two nicest surprises this year have been Göran’s preparation and also the way he behaved in the studio, very creative… and the other thing is that Mats is playing the guitar of his life. He is just sooo good. He has never been this good and he’s now taking a lot of space on the stage as well. It’s just… wow!
K: Speaking of MP, he is still rather calm on stage…
P: Yeah, he is a calm person…
K: Will you ever write a song that makes him let it all hang out?
P: Oh, I’ve been trying to do that for 35 years. It’s impossible! He is like a classic… you know in the ‘70s there was a music genre called pub rock, it’s day-night-day all the time slip and slap… and he likes to be standing still forever, drinking beer and doing deng-deng-deng-blo-blo-blo (Per imitates guitar sounds) and he is this kind of person. Which is great. And I’m not.
K: We heard that in private he is both very modest but also quite witty.
K: How would one encounter this if one meets him?
P: Well, he’s the kind of person who says nothing for 30 minutes and then suddenly something extremely funny. Just one-liners. And then he keeps his mouth shut for another 30 minutes. He’s one of those characters. He’s weird but he’s a genius!
K: Ha ha, OK. Per, please tell me three things that are needed to maintain your present hair style.
P: Hmmm, I don’t need three things. I just air-dry it and she (points to his make up room) fixes it. But it looks the same when I came here, it looks the same in the morning as well…
K: He he, congrats! Now three short ones, please: When was the last time you actually did the “Gå & fiska!” thing (Gone fishing)?
P: Oh, it was in the ‘60s, when I was a little kid. I only went trolling twice in my life… and I didn’t like it.
K: The last time you sat “På en sten vid en sjö i en skog” (on a rock by a lake in a forest)?
P: (Thinks)… Hasn’t happened. (wide grin)
K: What?? Hasn’t happened??
P: No, ha ha.
K: When was the last time you waited for somebody at the Picasso? (Statue in Halmstad.)
P: Oh, that’s a very long time ago but it has actually happened! It was also in the ‘70s. I tried to visit the Halmstad city center the other day, I needed to get a new iPhone because mine fell on the floor and crashed. But it’s such a hassle to go into town because of all these people taking pictures and stopping you in the street all the time! So I don’t really do that unless I really have to. On a quiet Tuesday in November it’s very easy-going in Halmstad but in the summer there are just too many tourists.
Justyna: Marie joined the band in Göteborg. What was the idea behind it and will it happen again in Stockholm?
P: It won’t happen again in Stockholm. The idea was that we wanted to do something special. I phoned her up three days before the show, I didn’t even know if she was in Sweden or in Spain. And she was in Sweden, Mikael was in Spain. I told her we’re gonna do this Ullevi show and it’s gonna be 40,000 people or more, so wouldn’t you want to join us and play “När alla vännerna gått hem?” And she went “Yes, I love it, badadada!“ So Mikael came back from Spain and they did all the preparations.
J: It was fantastic, I saw that some people were crying…
P: Yeah I know, it was a perfect thing! For Swedish artists, Ullevi is the ultimate venue to play because it’s so huge. And I knew that Marie would love to play there. You never know if a chance like that will ever occur again.
J: The tracklist is ever so slightly changing from gig to gig. And I wonder if there will room for surprises like “Henry dansa inte disco?”
P: No, “Henry” won’t make it this time. But there will be other songs. Soon we’ll do more soundchecks, which we can’t do all the time due to travel arrangements. We’re gonna do a couple of songs, like “Arabiska nätter” or “Vill ha ett svar”… Because it’s fun. As soon as we get a setlist that seems to work you can sort of fool around with it a little bit here and there. That’s exactly where we are now. Sometimes we play “En sten vid en sjö…”, sometimes we don’t. There are other songs, like “Marie i växeln”…
J: Or “Vera” that was played only in Halmstad… right?
P: Yes but it got changed into “Man blir yr.” We didn’t play “Man blir yr” in Halmstad. So things are gonna happen on the tour.
J: What are your plans after the tour, Per?
P: I think the next thing you’re gonna hear from me officially is that we’re gonna do a video for “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” from the Small Apartments soundtrack. So I’m gonna release that one as a commercial single. Because I like it.
K: It’s a lovely song. We all love it.
J: Yes, it’s great!
P: Thanks. And as always I have studio time booked in Skåne, but I don’t know what I’m gonna record yet. I’ll decide that in August, September.
J: There’s always something going on…
P: Yes, always something going on. But it won’t be any more Gyllene Tider. And I don’t know if it’s gonna be Roxette. Could be Roxette though. I don’t know. I haven’t really talked to Marie about it, we will see. And like I said, I don’t really have any songs. It’s getting harder and harder. I have like two months to write what’s gonna be a triple album, ha ha ha.
K: “Man blir yr” (You get dizzy), probably the official soundtrack to your summer wines, has remained the only single so far. Why has there not been released a second one yet? You have so many good songs on the album…
P: Well, because “Man blir yr” is still going strong on the radio. Some stations started to play “Single” but I think the next official single will be “Dags att tänka på refrängen“.
K: According to EMI it will be yes. When to be released? I heard end of July?
P: I don’t know. But we have some other versions of songs that should be on the flip side.
K: OK. The stage you’re using looks much more sophisticated than Roxette’s…
P: It’s because this is a summer tour, we wanted to do a bigger production than for Roxette. Roxette is flying all over the world so we have to have a production that is very easy to bring along. When you fly to South America or to Prague or whatever, you have local lights, local PA systems. So the things that you have you can easily bring along, our own stuff, our own stage and everything. So this is much bigger here.
K: I hear you. Now, the obvious Live Blu-Ray for Gyllene Tider… you wouldn’t happen to have any details yet I guess?
P: I don’t know even. We’re doing that together with TV4, I think. It can be that they have to broadcast it first. That usually is the deal.
K: The Stockholm concert probably?
P: We don’t know yet, we’re working on that. Could be Halmstad. And we already filmed at Ullevi. Is it gonna be broadcast for Xmas maybe? If so, it’s gonna be available after Xmas. But the Roxette-DVD/Blu-Ray is almost done. The production people are on holiday right now. It’s good, it includes excellent interviews with Dea and Helena!
K&J: That sounds great! Thank you for the interview!
P: Thank you, enjoy the show!
Technical errors may occur.
July 23rd, 2013
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This article was posted here on TDR in these categories:
TDR:Exclusive, TDR:Face to face, TDR:Gyllene Tider, TDR:Per Gessle, vintage.