Face to face with Christoffer Lundquist. Pt. 11: “I should tell you one other thing that never gets mentioned in the interviews”
K: In the meantime, after more than 100 concerts, it must have turned into a stable job for you already and you know, from 8 PM to 11 PM I’ll have to work. Is it something that is going on in your mind in the afternoon already, do you think, “Oh, today I could try this or that”? Or is there a switch when you come backstage, doing the makeup and stuff?
C: Well, there is a switch. But that’s when we go on stage. That’s when we turn on. You pull the switch then. But all the other time, it goes on in your mind, at least in mine. There is some kind of preparation going on all the time. So it’s stressful if too much other stuff happens because it feels “Uhhhh“. There’s some kind of focus, you’re on your way doing something. And because I try to play a new song before “Joyride” almost every night, I do need to learn this thing and find it, so I have some work to do and that is good also because it keeps away the risk of it being a routine doing the same thing all the time.
K: How do you find these songs actually?
C: From the beginning, this was also just started by itself. I think at the end of the Party Crasher tour, at the last concert, I played a Gyllene Tider song before “Joyride”. And that was a joke. A stupid joke. And then we continued after that with the first six Roxette shows before the actual tour started. We started to talk about this in the tour bus. “Oh, now we’re going to Norway, we should play this and this, hahaha“. You know, famous national tunes. And I did that and then when the actual tour started, we went to Russia and then I think it was the Russian people… no, the first one was… we went out eating in the evening and we started talking with the people at the next table and I just asked them “Is there a local song I can play?“ and they came up with something. I tried it the same night and Per and Marie didn’t know it, I hadn’t told them. So they didn’t know what I was doing but everyone was going crazy. And then I started thinking, “Hmmm this is not a bad idea!” and of course they felt “Yes yes yes yes, do this!“ And now the fans know this, so I get a lot of tips from the fans, from Facebook and sometimes I meet people at airports, and they give me records. And when there’s nothing on that, I ask the people in the catering or the guards outside the dressing room or something, so I make sure I find something.
K: Has it ever happened that you play a song and nobody recognized it?
C: Ooooooh. Yes. Haha! There have been a couple of total flats which makes it more fun. The worst one was last year in Chile. It was a big concert with 14,000 people and someone told me to play a really complicated tango so that everyone was supposed to dance all the time and it was really difficult and different time signatures and all the stuff. I learnt it and I started to play it… and I soon realized that “Oh no!“. No one recognized anything. And also, that was even more fun, because in Amsterdam just now… do you know Focus, the Dutch band, ’70s progressive rock? It’s super nerdy instrumental progressive rock and it happens to be Marie’s teen favorite and she goes crazy whenever there’s a Focus song. So I decided, yes I’m going to play a Focus song and I didn’t tell her. I played the Focus song and she was the only one in the room who recognized it and she was “Yeeees!“ and the audience was… not so happy. But those are the worst ones. Other than that it has been varying degrees of recognition.
K: You also have a lot of fan contacts during the tour. Pelle told me that you get guided by fans. How do people approach you and how do you choose with whom to go in the end?
C: Well, I just grab whatever offer is given me. If there is any time. I don’t choose or pick, I just trust people and it always works. Nobody tries to take advantage, and no one intrudes on the private life, nothing, never. People are really, really nice always. So the whole idea that it’s sort of “dangerous“ to be in contact with the fans because they will go crazy… noooo, that’s stupid. It’s obviously different for Per and Marie but for me it’s just great.
J: It’s good to be a bit in the background. You can feel more safe, can go shopping…
C: Yes, a little bit.
K: When you’re travelling through the world, do you get ideas by listening to the local music you hear there?
C: Yes, sometimes. Sometimes, fans give me records or something. And some of them are really, really great. But ideas… not so much. One thing I guess is that when we travel like we do, you see a little of everything all over the world. You get a sense, you get a little bit of perspective on your own life, your own country, your own traditions. Which is good. You get a little bit less self-centered, I think. You get away a little bit from the idea that your way of life, your standards, your background is some kind of neutral starting point for everyone. I think that every human has this in him: I am zero and everything is related to me in some way. That goes away a little by touring, which is really good. It’s a good help to get that slightly broader perspective but I could certainly work more on it. It’s a really useful thing.
K: When you get in touch with the people when you go around the world… you said you have the aim to make the world better, one way or the other. Have you ever had the idea to concentrate your power by creating a society or organization to pursue a certain aim?
C: I don’t think I would be good at that. Ahm, I think I better do what I’m supposed to do in a way. If there is any surplus, I can give it to people who are good at doing this stuff. But I’m a horrible organizer, I’m a horrible planner, I’m a horrible…. The only thing I can really do is music. I think I’m kind of bad at everything else. And I don’t want power. Power sounds like a horrible concept. I wouldn’t want power.
K: So you would also never go the way from a music producer to be a band manager, like other artists have done it…
C: No no no no no. I couldn’t even book a tour bus. I, I, I, oh… no! I don’t even know my own economy. I get my papers from my accountant, and they have a little red arrow, a plastic tape, saying “Sign here“ and I sign. I don’t read it. I don’t care. And it’s the same with bills, all the bills go straight to the accountant. And the deal is that if my economy is going bad they warn me “You need to do something now, you need to sell something or speed up or whatever“. So I don’t want to know. I hate money. Yeah.
K: You’re still feeling safe?
C: Oh, yeah! I trust these people. I put a lot of trust in their hands, obviously. But I feel totally safe. And I couldn’t do it if not. I couldn’t do this, running a studio, running a company by my own… never! I wouldn’t have a chance.
J: I think that women like sitting over the papers and checking more than men do.
C: Yeah, a lot of the time men at are not good at that. I know, Ylva is a lot better than me. I just start to sweat when I see the papers.
J: Yes, I think women like going more into details.
C: Yeah, I agree.
K: While you’re on tour, who runs the studio for you? I can’t imagine it’s closed down for that time.
C: It is actually not run very much. There is one other guy who’s working here as well. A friend of mine called Mathias [Oldén], he’s a great engineer and producer and he brings some of his bands here every now and then. But other than that, you can’t really run a studio like that. No one goes and rents a studio, you rent the studio and the person. That’s how it works these days. It was a lot more like that before. There were commercial studios, you could go in and work with anyone, but that has disappeared. There is no possibility to make a business like that, it’s really too expensive to run a studio. So the only studios that remain are like this one here, one or two guys run it and they spend actually more money keeping the studio than they will ever get back. It’s economically totally insane how it used to be.
K: I see. What would be your plans after the tour, except for your own album, maybe? Do you already have bands that want to be produced here?
C: Well, I think I’m booked one and a half years ahead. Something like that, roughly. Some secret projects because everything is really secret in the music business. Well, it’s actually really silly but that’s just how it is. And a couple of indie records I’m going to make and my own record.
K: Basically we’re through with our questions. I might still squeeze my brain and bring out some more stupid questions but that would be a waste of time. How long have we been sitting here, do you have a clock somewhere?
C: No, let me see…. three hours now.
C: Yeah, it’s cool! Actually I should tell you one other thing that never gets mentioned in the interviews. Because I a lot of the time get asked what I contribute, what’s my role, what do I do and stuff. And I’m very rarely asked “What do you get? What do you learn from the others?“ No one asked that question for some reason. And that’s a really, really big part of this for me. Because since we started working together, Per has always given me jobs that I didn’t ask for. Because I didn’t know or think I could do them. And this has been a constant thing with him. When we did the Mazarin record, I was the bass player with Brainpool. I played guitar on records every now and then but I was certainly not a guitar player. No confidence, no style of my own. But then we did the Mazarin record and I played a lot of guitar and then Per said, “Okay, you should play guitar on the tour“. That’s one of those things. I would never have dreamed to suggest that I would be a guitar player ever. I was the bass player. And when we did Gyllene Tider, he said “Michael Ilbert is going to mix the record, he’s the best in mixing.“ But he didn’t have time do to all of them, so Per said, “You can do that as well“. Uh, I have never mixed anything on that level for that kind of big thing. But he gave me that confidence and that turned out well. And then, with Party Crasher, he asked me, “Can you be the lead guitar player?“ because before it was Jonas or MP who played the lead guitar and he said, “We should only have two guitars“. Before the rehearsal started, he said, “You have two days to tell me if we need another guitar player.“ Of course, when he says this to me, I said “Oh no, I’m going to make it!“ And this list is really long. This is what I get back. The main part I get back. The main part is not being more successful or making more money or getting more people to the studio because Per Gessle uses it. This is one hell of a thing to get back, to be challenged and have someone believing that you can do things.
J: This is great because it makes you believing in yourself.
K: And this is actually the same thing you told me three hours ago: This what you did in your younger years, finding new challenges for yourself. Now the “pressure“ comes from outside but you seem happy with this.
C: Yes! It’s not scary. I get a little “Huuuu“ but then I want to try. When they opened the bridge between Danmark and Sweden, Per got the question to write the music for this and he said “Yes!” and it was going to be music for a symphonic orchestra. He went to Clarence and me and said, “Can we do some music for this?“ and we said “Uh, of course!“ That was the first time with a symphonic orchestra. Neither Clarence nor I ever did that before. And this list, as I said, it goes on and on and on.
K: I heard that this particular project ended up differently than you had imagined it…
C: Oh yeah. They totally fucked that up. They ruined the whole thing. It was beautiful before the guy ruined it, yes.
K: What was the original concept of this song? I heard the finished version only which I found “naajaa“.
C: Yes, it’s horrible…
K: So what was so different then?
C: It was Per’s melody, and the guy basically erased it. It was a bit inspired by Beach Boys’s “Pet sounds” instrumentals, like orchestra music but with a pop touch. There were no drums, no guitar, it was only an orchestra, it was supposed to be in that style. Then, this guy added hard rock drums, changed the keys to make it sound “interesting” and added lots of instruments and phrases and stuff that we really hate and so on. It got totally lost. It was simpler and more clean and more classic, to start with.
K: So that was a thing you gave out of hands that didn’t turn out well.
C: Yeah, that was certainly a bad experience…
Our time is up, Christoffer really needs to leave. He shows us the way to the place where the band sleeps during the recording days. We shoot some pictures together. Then we say Good bye, wish all the best to each other and Christoffer rushes out of the door. And we’re all alone in the middle of the famous Aerosol Grey Machine…
(End of the summer episodes of TDR’s “Face to face” series)
Tomorrow on TDR: Surprise, surprise!
Genius gone wrong: Christoffer playing nerdy tunes in Amsterdam
The Aerosol Grey Machine
Tape recorders are important!
AGM: Situated in the green
Chris and Kai dancing
Justyna and Päron dancing
Technical errors may occur.