GT25 Special – Reunion – or the art of finding the rights among five errors
HALMSTAD – Recording. From zero to fifteen songs in 29 recording days.
From “Snickarglädje” (“Ornate Decorative Carving”) to “Finn 5 fel!” (“Find 5 Errors!”).
HP was, exclusively, there during the recording of Gyllene Tider’s first studio album in 21 years.
Here is the report from Christoffer Lundquist’s studio, The Aerosol Grey Machine, situated at the end of the road in the middle of the Skåne countryside.
August 1979 – “This is where you will be boys!”
Lasse Lindbom showed Per Gessle, Mats “MP” Persson, Micke “Keef” – that was his name back then – Andersson, Anders Herrlin and Göran Fritzon in through the door to the right after the entrance in the EMI-studio in Skärmarbrink, Stockholm.
Inside the studio technician Björne Boström was checking some settings on the mixer table. Wow, Studer tape recorders and JBL speakers, the bunch established wide-eyed. They had been almost equally impressed six months before when Lindbom in red tracksuit pants and mauve sneakers came to a slushy Harplinge to, on Kjelle Andersson’s behalf, listen to the band.
But it wasn’t big, studio 2 the name was. This was the place the lesser bands used while the big studio, Number One, was reserved for the more established acts.
This wasn’t anything that troubled five country boys. They were pleased with what was offered.
“När ni faller faller ni hårt” was the first song that got finished. It was big. Almost a little magical. That night the boys were gathered around a small cassette player in one of the hotel rooms listening to a raw copy of the song. Cool, they asserted.
Six weeks later everything was finished. Thirteen songs. But it was another song that started getting airplay at Village, a discotheque on Körsbärsvägen in Stockholm where it became a local hit. A song Per only included on the cassette as a bonus to Kjelle Andersson to show how productive they were with the note “This really doesn’t fit in here but I thought you maybe wanted to hear it.” The predecessor was an old cassette that MP had had laying around, “Farlig terräng”. Now Per had written new lyrics:
“Flickorna på TV2”.
March 2004. Pea soup with pork. Pancakes and jam. The whole bunch sat down around the dinner table at Christoffer and Ylva’s. A few begrudged themselves with a glass of wine, others were happy with sparkling water. It was like one big family. There was also Clarence Öfwerman who produced together with Christoffer, and Per, MP, Micke, Göran and Anders.
It was a break in the recordings of “Finn 5 fel!”. It was always a break at 18 when the hotell in Sjöbo arrived with the dinner.
It worked partly as a way to recharge the batteries, and partly as a breakwater for what should be done in the studio. Usually they started working with the new songs after dinner when the ideas were flowing, the whims were many and the limits for what could be done were erased more and more during the night. After breakfast on the other hand, they listened through, rearranged, adjusted and possibly changed what had been recorded the previous night.
It was a very structured way of working, a way of working they had developed during the recordings of Per’s “Mazarin” album: Out of bed at 10, breakfast at 11, recording from after 12 to 18. Dinner and then continued work from 19:30 until the wee hours.
Choosing the recording location was also carefully selected. In the middle of the countryside, in the middle of “nowhere”, in an old Skåne range, where Christoffer had built a studio in one of the buildings that now was cluttered with new and old technology, new and old instruments. This way their work got compressed and efficient since everyone was present and actively participated in the recording process. There was nothing else to do, nowhere else to go. There wasn’t even any cell phone coverage. Just eat, sleep and record.
Besides, there were no obligations. Per knew that if they’d been recording in Stockholm he would’ve been home by 9 every night to tuck Gabriel in and that went for the rest of the parents as well. Just to find this place was half a science of its own, traveling on Skåne roads, from national highways to highways to byways, to dirt road – to cow paths. There, at the end of the road is where the studio was.
Göran followed MP the first day, January 20. “Else I’d never found it” he stated, when MP’s red Volvo in front of him turned at The Old Man’s house.
The Old Man’s house – was an old house, multipurpose room, two bedrooms and six beds, at walking distance from the studio where Christoffer used to board the musicians he worked with. The rest stayed at Sillarp’s summerhouse, bed and breakfast place a few kilometers away.
They started setting up the equipment almost like on a stage. That was the way they’d done it before the recording of “Moderna tider” when they had gotten access to EMI’s large studio, 1. And hooked up everything all according to the presumption that now everyone will play at the same time. Live. No synthesizers. No tricks, which is so easy these days with all the computers. Instead a sort of dogma to only play the instruments they mastered themselves.
Göran carried his treasure in, the 1972 Farfisa VIP 233 B. It had temporarily been dusted off in connection with the recording of Svante Karlsson’s “Autograph” and had gotten a complete overhaul two weeks before, when Göran had started practicing. It is true that Göran had gotten a “sister” to it from his girlfriend Jenny, a VIP 255, but it didn’t sound the same so to be on the safe side all the notes on the Farfisa had been sampled to a hard drive. Just in case…
Micke, who took a detour of 80 km arrived late at night and the day after the rest of the gang joined.
It was time to test, to jam together for the first time since the final of Återtåget at Brottet nearly 8 years ago…
This is like a really good soccer team, but without self-confidence, Micke thought. Half an hour later they were like a really good soccer team, but with a huge self-confidence. Everything had just been there immediately. They had looked at each other and just smiled and realized that the magic still was there. “En sten vid en sjö i en skog” was the first one of the new songs. During the following four days six background tracks were recorded. Then everyone realized that it no longer was a single or an ep but – a full-length album.
That a new Gyllene Tider record was to be released for the anniversary had been clear since a while back when Per already fall 2002 had sent out a demo wondering if the songs were good enough. They were, but they fit a possible solo album better they all agreed. And that’s where they would end up – on Per’s new solo project “Mazarin”.
When the next time they received five new demos it was very bare bones, usually only an acoustic guitar and vocals. “We only need seven more bombs and we have an entire album” Per mailed the other members.
Then he’s already writing on three more songs, MP thought.
“Snickarglädje” was one of the suggestions to name the album. But it became “Finn 5 fel!”, a name that had been lurking for years without getting used. Until now.
The thought was to make the debut album once again, but 25 years later. And with the essential difference that all these years of experience and musical knowledge was compressed into peeling off the unnecessary already from the start.
At the same time it was about finding that boyishness again, it feels like we’re all 19 again, Per thought when they started getting silly, and compromise ones musical egos that refused to let go of something that wasn’t completely perfect.
Therefore the expression “all of a sudden” became a concept during the recordings. Normally you’d first learn the song, then do your own thing and finally record it. The danger in that is that it sounds too adjusted to suit. Here the first take, the unrehearsed and spontaneous could be the final one.
“We recorded all the takes” Christoffer and Clarence could suddenly say.
That would minimize the risk of playing the songs to pieces.
Work commenced again, with the final parts of “En sten…”.
“I have an idea, how ‘bout if the organ followed the descending part?” Anders suggested. “You mean like this?” Göran replied.
The recordings had gone by fast, been inspiring and during the journey Per had written another two songs “Choklad, vanilj, jordgubb” and “Har du nånsin sett en dröm gå förbi?” “OK, I’ll just square this one then,” Per said and drew some lines around one of the songs that were written on an orange note taped to the wall.
It was a sign that the song was all done, time to move on to the next song.
The time closed on nine o’clock in the evening.
“Only six hours left of the working day” Clarence stated.
“Tuffa tider (för en drömmare)” was the next in line.
A funny little pop pastiche that included only a ukulele and vocals at first. Everything had started at dinner with some nostalgia talk about George Harrison and ended with Per coming home with three ukuleles and a mauve colored Gretsch guitar. The day after when he had learned the basics – a ukulele is tuned like a violin, not a guitar – he wrote “Tuffa tider”. That’s what usually happened when he bought a new instrument, for example when he had written “Vandrar i ett sommarregn” after buying Basse Wickman’s 12-stringed Rickenbacker.
What’s this?! It sounds like Robban Broberg on drugs, was Anders’ first impression. He refused to play the regular “dance band” bass on it and suggested instead a semi-reggae version, it was more of a musical challenge. The rest of the boys warmed up to the idea. It was so decided. With MP doing the solo on an ocarina.
“A total Lennon feel,” Clarence thought.
“But shouldn’t we try a Göinge girls variety of the choir?” wondered Christoffer.
Anders’ bass guitar was the last dub before Per, just before midnight, crossed off another new song on the note on the wall.
They also started finishing the ballad “Jag borde förstås vetat bättre” but realized that the time was close to 3 AM. It was incidentally one of the songs they had had visions of making a duet with Agnetha Fältskog, but since she never even replied they chose Anders’ girlfriend Jenny Löfgren and Helena Josefsson from the Mazarin tour.
“Per, do you want aaoooo-choir on this one?” Clarence, Christoffer, Anders and Göran wondered.
“Just say yes or no” they smiled.
It was time to end another long day of recording. Christoffer went to bed, some walked to The Old Man’s house – the rest took the car to the summerhouse.
Now it was close. Only two days more in Skåne, another two in the Polar Studio and a few more in T&A where parts of the lead vocals would be added remained. Then “Finn 5 fel!” would be finished for mixing – Gyllene Tider’s first studio album since ”The Heartland Café” 21 years ago.
Translation by Thomas Evensson for TDR
Technical errors may occur.
July 6th, 2004
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