Face to face with Pelle Alsing. Pt. 3: “I wanted to be like Ringo Starr”
Pelle Alsing: “I don’t know what I’m doing next summer.”
K: Yes, what does actually happen backstage in the break before the encore?
P: We’re waiting for Per. [gesticulating] “Come on, Per!”
K: What is he doing there?
P: Changing his shirt… [louder] “It’s too long now, Per! You have to be faster!”
K: Yeah, the audience meanwhile is wondering if the show is ending or not…
P: Everybody’s waiting for Per all the time. Not only between those songs. You always have to wait for him…
K: You told me you have an older brother who started playing drums before you. How does he deal with the fact that you’re more famous than him? Is he actually still playing drums?
P: Yes, he is still playing drums but he is playing on a lower level. But he really enjoys that I’m playing with Roxette. He likes it and he follows everything.
K: He is proud of you?
P: Yeah, he really likes it!
K: When the tour has finished, you’re going back to your solo projects?
K: How long ahead do you plan? Do you already know what you will do next summer?
P: No, I don’t know what I’m doing next summer. There is a plan for next spring with an artist I cannot mention yet. Not sure what happens yet, but there are some plans.
K: Does it bother you that everyone can buy a computer today and do all the drum tracks in his software nowadays? Is that something that endangers your job?
P: No, not more now than it used to be when all the machines came to the business. Okay, there are not so many studio jobs to do anymore because people do the recordings at home more or less or have their own studios. But I think the live scene is much bigger now than it used to be.
K: It’s where one can make money today…
P: Yes. You don’t make money in the same way you did in the ’90s or ’80s.
K: Then of course it makes sense to be the drummer!
P: Yes [laughs] it’s perfect! Thank God! … For instance, today, there is one big festival in Stockholm. [describes how to get there]
K: Are you playing there today?
P: No. But there are many artists and so. And there is a big blues festival in the Northern part of Stockholm, so there are a lot of things happening live here, especially now in the summer time.
K: Do you go to these festivals yourself?
P: Yes. There was a small festival right across the water here, with Nick Lowe but I was in Norway at this time, so I couldn’t see him. But I spoke to his old band mate Bill Bremner, they both had a band together called Rockpile, he lives in Sweden now, but I was too busy to be able to play with him.
K: What kind of concerts do you like privately?
P: Club gigs. The small ones. Ahm, I went to see the Foo Fighters together with my daughter in the Stockholm stadium. It was her wish and I wanted to see them as well, and she brought some friend. It was good! A really good band!
K: Do you watch the drummer all the time, check his equipment?
P: Of course, I watch the drummer a little bit. I watch everybody. The most important thing is what they do together. I try to pick up some influences from them.
K: When you were younger, did you have idols you wanted to follow?
P: Yeah, I wanted to be like Ringo Starr of The Beatles. Of course!
K: The way he drummed or the way he acted?
P: Everything! His hair, his drumming, everything!
K: How much of him are you now?
P: Ahhhh, not much. There is something I could pick up… They played before us in Holland last summer. The All Starr band. That was great to see! He was singing most of the time but also played some drums.
K: Have you ever met him personally?
P: No, I haven’t. I was hoping to say Hello… but I met the whole band actually. He had an extra drummer, Gregg Bissonette, a guy from L.A.. We started to talk after their show and before our show. We stood backstage, in the tent with the catering, and he asked me, “Are you the drummer of Roxette?” and I said, “Yes”. I know him cos he was playing with artists that I like. He asked me “Do you wanna sit down here with my friends?”. They were all heros for me: Rick Derringer on guitar, there was Edgar Winter on saxophone and keyboards and some other guys… and I said, “No… [laughs] thank you but no thanks…” That was because we had our Roxette table and I wanted to sit with our guys before our show. I regretted it afterwards! We are too Swedish, we are too shy!
J: I would like to know if you have some hobbies?
P: I’m really into sports. I used to be an ice hockey and soccer player in my young days.
J: And you like biking…
P: Yeah, I like biking. Now I cannot do much. But I’m following everything. European championship in football, for instance. The Olympic Games, too. I’m very into that. I follow my team.
K: Which is your team?
K: You’re going to the stadiums?
P: No, I’m disappointed of the team. They are somewhere in the middle of the second league now…
K: What else? Do you do gardening?
P: No, I live in an apartment. But I often go out with my wife and my dog, it takes us five to seven minutes, then we’re in the forest, walk around, let the dog run, looking for some mushrooms…
K: What race is the dog?
P: It’s a pinscher, medium size, not a Doberman, the ears are rather hanging than standing.
P: And there are two cats. They get along well with the dog ‘cos they were there first. We also have a weekend house in the archipelago of Stockholm, we go there sometimes. Lots of German neighbors all around. But no problem, I like Germans, I like Germany, I think it’s great in Germany on tour. Everything is working well there.
J: And they have good beer!
P: Very good. The best beer in the world, I would say. Are you into sports?
K: When I was a boy, I played in a football team, which regularly lost 0:30…
P: Sounds like Clarence’s football team. After one season, they had scored one goal but caught 78 goals from the other teams.
K: I should talk to him. Do you have a studio at home?
P: No, I have a place where I can drum not far from my apartment, the studio is downtown Stockholm.
[We start talking of places worth to see in Stockholm, suddenly. We share some experiences, compare life in different countries. For instance, beer prices. We all agree that Oslo must be the most expensive place to buy beer in the world. 15 Euro for one glass. Pelle says, that was even too much for the band. We then complain about the parking fees in Stockholm. You see, a lot of uninteresting stuff that doesn’t belong here. Time to turn the talk into a more professional direction again, right?]
K: Who is actually making the contracts with you for the concerts?
P: It’s BoJo [Bosse Johansson] and the guys of Live Nation. It’s also Desert AB. Marie Dimberg is not involved. But we have a good connection all together, no problems at all. Thank God!
K: We talked to Marie Dimberg yesterday and she told us that for her it feels like all of you are like one big family…
P: Everybody’s having kinda fun in the band together. Dea is the newest in the band, and she is really good as a team member! I must admit that we were a little frightened when Helena said, “I cannot join you anymore because I will have one more kid”. You know one asshole is enough to mess up the whole thing for everybody else. But Dea is a really nice sweetheart girl. And even in the crew… we have a fantastic crew! My drum technician, I’ve known him since he was a young guy, actually. He lived in the North of Sweden, but I never worked with him except for Roxette. The guy I was working with in the crew was Jakob, who cares of Christoffer’s guitars. He was a crew member in the reunion band of the Raj Montana Band in 1997.
K: Is this the guy who looks a bit like Micke Syd?
P: Yes, just with a beard. He’s very much younger than us.
K: It’s a hard job for them…
P: Yeah. We are flying in the afternoon; they have to fly early in the morning already, mostly one day before us.
K: Do you bring your families to concerts abroad?
P: I’ll bring my wife to New York on this tour. The whole family, I have a 21 year old daughter, joined us in Australia. We went to New Zealand, but this show got cancelled because Per got ill during the flight. But we were there now, so we stayed in New Zealand for a week and then we stayed in Australia for a few weeks. We also were in Brasil, Rio, we stayed there after the tour last year. Clarence’ family, my family, Magnus’ family and BoJo’s family. We’ve been to Barcelona, Gothenburg, Copenhagen….
Pelle and us start chatting about travelling again. No, not the album. The real life. Nothing really that fits in this interview, sorry. We take some photos for this article, then Pelle asks us, who else we will meet the next days and we tell him our plans. We also tell him that we had problems contacting Clarence, since he obviously was in Spain when we wrote to him. Pelle grabs his cellphone and enters my phone number. “I’ll give him your number, I’m sure he just forgot to answer.”
And right, only a little later the same evening, we fix a meeting with Clarence for the other day… You’ll read that one next.
Pelle’s famous solo performance after having waited for Per for too long:
(Check out more live videos on Justyna’s youtube channel.)
Tomorrow on TDR: Face to face with Clarence Öfwerman. Pt.1: “I had an accident with a train, a train hitting me.”
Pelle Alsing drums for Roxette. Photo taken in Leipzig/Germany 2011
Technical errors may occur.