Per Gessle: “I can’t discuss that.”
Per is in the process of signing all his pre-ordered boxes, more than 1,000. His arm hurts, but that doesn’t stop him from grinning. We caught up with him and asked him a few questions that’s been on all our minds: Per, big (huge you might say even) box, 2 books, wine, Rox record and Rox tour… How do you find all the time? How does your wife feel about all this?
Well Tom, you have to ask her! She’s pretty busy herself with our hotel and our son and the two budgies. I’m doing all the cookin’!
She’s the next call on my list, promise. Now, you’ve just started recording the new Rox record, what can we expect, a full album, EP, single? How’s doing Marie after her vacation, she looks great in your photos?
Marie’s fine. We start rehearsing for the tour pretty soon and have also recorded a couple of new tracks. They sound fab by the way! I have written quite a few new songs for Rox and we’re looking forward to record them one of these years.
Time’s getting short yes. Will you have time for any signing sessions, for the box or the books? Boox..?
I’ll do some signings at the Gothenburg Book Fair next weekend if you wanna pop by!
Hey, sure why not! When exactly did you come up with the idea for the PGA?
When I realized that so many people seemed to be truly interested. I noticed that every time I shared demos on the Internet. So… I talked to MP to see if it was possible to find all the old stuff in the vaults. And it was. He has done a fantastic job getting it all together. Mending old analogue tapes and making them sound perfect. Per thinks. And hey, Pär Wickholm (the designer) has created his masterpiece with the PGA box.
And the Cosmos Music people who release it have had so many cool ideas. They work endlessly. Without all those guys and dolls this couldn’t have happened! I’m just the Godfather, saying yes or no.
New record company Cosmos yes, will you publish more stuff over there, like Roxette as well? Maybe they can give you an offer you can’t refuse…
I don’t know. We don’t have any contracts with anybody at the moment so I guess anything can happen. We’re open for suggestions.
This box is some kind of legacy of your musical career. Do we need to start worrying about you?
Don’t worry, be happy. I’m on a roll! I have so many projects going on you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.
Test us; we might not be as surprised as you may think! Speaking of projects… you once collaborated with David Guetta. Where did this lead to and will we see you behind the turntables? “The Look” remixes?
I can’t discuss that with you at this point for reasons I can’t discuss with you at this point. Sorry.
Uh yeah… So, which other projects by other artists have inspired you, if you can discuss that?
I think I’m the only artist/songwriter in the world who has released a box like this.
It feels really cool since not many people can do it. The only other ones I can think of are Bob Dylan and Neil Young. But they’re doing something quite different. Releasing old live shows and bootlegs and stuff like that. What I listen to? I listen to a lot of music. Everything from Lana del Ray to Nine Inch Nails and Nick Drake and Pink Floyd.
Which criteria did you choose the songs by?
There was only one criterion. It had to be listenable which means it had to be entertaining.
It’s not a complete archive at all. There are loads of songs left. And don’t forget that quite a few demos of mine have been released before. The Charm School songs. The World According to Gessle-songs. Old ‘80s tracks. I didn’t want to re-release those.
No there’s quite a few previously released tracks in the box, which obviously is nice. How did you decide on the running order?
The running order gave itself. I listened to the songs while walking on the beach and decided it was time for a ballad or vice versa.
It’s sometimes obvious that you use parts, ideas and themes over and over. How do you keep track of these samples? Do you have some kind of sound database? Do you store lyrics the same way? Or is it all in your brain?
I use an idea until I get it right! Same with lyrics and titles. Sometimes you have an idea and you can’t express it properly. So you have another go after seven years. If they are any good I remember them in my head.
After this release, how many songs are still hidden and will we ever be able to hear them?
I don’t really know. More than fifty, I suppose. There might be some releases in the future with Rox-demos sung by Marie and Gyllene Tider-demos straight from the rehearsals back in 1980. Time will tell. Most of what’s left is rubbish. I think so anyway. Maybe we’ve forgotten a gem or two.
I’m pretty sure there are at least two more hidden gems. Funny though that most of the songs you call rubbish get big praise among the fan crowds. I’d consider just releasing the stuff and let people make their own minds up… no?
No. I have a gut feeling I have to trust.
Swedish media has, surprisingly enough, responded very positively to your PGA releases so far, why do you think that is?
Oh the Swedish media love stuff like this. Every music journalist does.
Anders Nunstedt (Expressen), for instance, is known to be quite negative with your work in the past, but is very positive of PGA so far. Do you still care what critics have to say on your music?
No, not really. Don’t forget that Anders have also written lovely stuff about my work in the past but can be quite fuzzy at times. Everyone has a right to an opinion. I don’t really make enemies.
I know, but lately he’s been more negative than positive. Until now! Speaking of the box, this release is more than just a collection of B-sides; it allows us a very deep technical glance at your creative process. How do you hope and think the hardcore fan base will react?
I think most people will enjoy it. I try to tell everyone it’s not a Greatest Hits-compilation, it’s a collection of work-in-progress and that’s very different. But if you like my songwriting style and my songs it might be very rewarding for you to get into this box head over heels.
If you’re not really interested in my musical history you should do something else. Play badminton, for instance.
When you talk about your songs and the creative process behind them in the commentaries of the PGA, you show another level of your personality. Do you hope that people tend to see you differently after this release? Less hit-oriented but actually more a sucker for good music?
Oh, I don’t know. I do what I do. I’m me and it’s gonna be like that forever. I’m not trying to change anything in the perception of me or my work. I’ve always been very honest to myself in everything I’ve done.
While roaming through your huge tunes/demos collection, do you possibly pick up ideas for the forthcoming Roxette-album?
No, I try to write differently these days so I don’t really look back that much anymore when it comes to composing. You’ll understand a bit more what I’m talking about when you hear some new stuff from me.
On the topic of the next album, and assuming that it will be released prior to your next tour, is it being produced with regard on good live performance?
No, if there will be a proper album made it won’t be out until late next year since we’re touring so much. There’s no time to record it. We can only a few songs at a time. But there might be single releases.
Can you give any indication on the direction of the new Rox recordings? If you even know yet. You have previously mentioned a slight chance of an EDM influenced record, can we expect something along these lines, or will it be more ‘traditional’ Rox?
Both, I guess. Every time I go into the studio I try not to repeat myself but at the end of the day it always sounds exactly like me (or Rox) anyway. That’s good and bad. But I’m definitely trying to write things differently this time around.
That will be interesting to hear. Now, a couple of tour dates have been published but for a few months no new ones have been added. Plus there are huge gaps in the schedule, what’s the reason behind this? Do we speak of a tour that is supposed to last 6 months, a year or possibly even longer?
If everything goes as planned it will be very long…
Ha ha! What could ever stop you??
Health problems I guess. But we are vikings!
What made you and Marie decide to go on another tour so soon after the last one?
We love to play for you guys! And Pelle loves to stay in hotels. And Magnus needs to pay the rent.
Will the tour band consist of the same people as last time?
Same band, new hairspray.
Oh and I just remembered, how is that PGS champagne coming?
We had a little problem down in France with my hardcore champagne-labels…. But things are getting sorted out by now. So everything’s a bit delayed. Hope to get three different bottles out before New Year’s Eve. Badabam! Cheers!
And with that we leave Per with his aching arm. Thank you!
Technical errors may occur.
September 20th, 2014
Internal reference code for TDR's Good Reporters: [tdr 164648]
This article was posted here on TDR in these categories:
Archive, News, TDR:Exclusive, TDR:Per Gessle, TDR:Releases, TDR:Roxette, vintage.