Per Gessle: GT50? Sounds like an old single malt whisky.
The Daily Roxette: Hej there Per, first of all congratulations to this, again, very successful tour. First question first (where else?): You’re having a tight tour schedule, how big is your sleep deficit right now?
Per Gessle: Hello you fool, I’m good. I was out of it for a couple of days when I got ill but now I’m back, prouder and pinker than ever. Touring is good for you. You lose some weight so your pants get bigger. It’s more comfortable.
TDR: Damn hard to get hit by the flu in the middle of a tour. How are you feeling, after the flu?
PG: I’m OK now but it was pretty terrible when it hit me. I felt something evil was knocking on the door for a week or so, but when it eventually kicked in I was totally thrown out of the window. No parachute. I had a really high temperature for a couple of days so it was impossible for me to perform. And I H-A-T-E cancelling shows, you know me.
TDR: Yes yes, I know.
PG: It’s such a nightmare for everyone, especially fans who’ve made hotel reservations and travelling plans etc. but also for the crew, promotors, insurance companies. But what can you do? I’m really pleased we could find new dates for Kalmar + Ronneby. And both of them became killer shows!
TDR: And how are you mentally feeling, after this final Gyllene tour? Must be hard in some or many ways?
PG: No, not really. Life goes on and on and on after all. GT is a very powerful band, I’m so proud of all the guys who have delivered by far the best tour we’ve ever done. It’s been amazing both on and off stage. Very few bands can touch us when we’re on a high. It feels really wonderful to end the magic GT-journey like this. And the audience has been unbelievable. The feedback is indescribable. There’s so much joy everywhere you look.
TDR: Agreed. The emotions at the concerts have been off the scale. If you could travel back in time and meet your 40 years younger self in Harplinge, how would younger Per react on you telling him there will be a GT40 tour and you’re almost selling out Ullevi?
PG: That’s the good thing about being young, you don’t know what you’re doing! You imagine things, you might wish for something but you don’t really have a clue what it’s gonna be like if it ever happens for real! The only thing I wanted was to pour my heart out in songs. Fame, fortune and Ullevi are just desserts.
TDR: What’s it like when five elderly gentlemen (read: handsome men in their prime) travel together? Do you indulge yourselves in the parties you threw “back then” or is it more about who has the best pharmacist? Must be easier these days to throw TVs out windows, if anything?
PG: It’s very relaxed. Micke and Göran don’t go by the tour bus, they travel individually since they want their huge families, dogs, snakes and neighbours with them. The rest of us spend time laughing the miles away with common gossip and, of course, stories of serious misbehaving from vintage tours. The girls are always the worst, of course.
TDR: Ain’t it always so? When you played together this summer, did any of you sometimes come and say “Hey, this is too good, let’s not quit?”
PG: Yes, it has happened frequently.
TDR: So Gyllene Tider, the band that doesn’t exist, is really over for good? Come on, you can tell us, we won’t spread the word!
PG: Looks like it!
TDR: Aw… Do you actually have the slightest idea what you’re doing to the Swedish people? How are they supposed to cope with life from now on??
PG: Hahaha you tell me.
TDR: “GT50” how does this sound to you?
PG: Sounds like an old single malt whisky.
TDR: How big are the chances you’ll be performing GT songs in the future, one way or another?
TDR: Micke Syd has from time to time his own very underrated tour through Sweden where he regularly performs GT songs. How about you doing the same and then you call it “Per Gessle’s Gyllene Tider”? Remember where you heard it first!
PG: Hahaha what drugs are you taking??
TDR: Umm, or maybe tour together with Syd…
PG: What? You have to give up those blue pills and see a doctor!
TDR: Right, it’s clearly not for you then. On the subject of this tour, quite a few songs have been modulated to a different key, voice problems, or something else?
PG: Voice problems? No, not really. We’ve tried to make some songs “heavier” so we’ve lowered the key in some cases. When you alter keys down a bit you sometimes get a rougher and harder sound, like on “Skicka ett vykort…” + “Ljudet av ett annat hjärta” for instance. We’ve tried to do it on even more songs (”Billy” FYI) but it didn’t sound cool. Each song needs individual treatment. “Cole Porter” is actually played in a HIGHER key than it was recorded in. For some reason it sounds better in E-major than in D-major these days.
TDR: Yes I actually saw that capo on your guitar! Now, regarding your two new members, there has never been anyone but the Golden Five on stage, save for 1984, how did you come up with this idea? And do you regret that you haven’t thought of it before?
PG: No, this was the perfect moment. It was an idea I had to begin with. This is the fourth reunion tour for Gyllene Tider and since we’re basically playing the same songs every decade I thought we should present them in a slightly different manner. With two female singers we could have proper backing vocals on “Juni, juli, augusti”, “Gå & fiska!”, “Ljudet av ett annat hjärta” etc. just like I have when I perform those songs on my own solo tours. And having Malin-My on accordion and violin made “Cole Porter” and “Vandrar i ett sommarregn” killers. Happiness!
TDR: Very nice. As you mentioned, the set list of this tour doesn’t really differ from the other tours, and I know you want to play “the hits,” but you have so many other great songs that people know and love, why don’t you ever play them? We’re not talking obscure B-sides now, but songs like “Faller ner på knä,” “Kärleken är inte blind” (yes that IS a B-side, but still), “Himmel No.7” and maybe even “Demon Emptiness.” It’s a moot question now, but still would be interesting to know your thoughts. There were many diamonds in the rough that could and should have been tested live.
PG: Yea, that’s the classic dilemma. Most people coming to these big shows want the greatest hits and we respect that. We rehearsed quite a lot of “obscure” songs but in the end we, as always, decided to pick only a few odd ones and stick with the hits.
PG: On this tour we have played “Vandrar i ett sommarregn”, “Vanliga saker”, “Samma skrot och korn”, ”Det kändes inte som maj”, ”Låt denna trumslagarpojke sjunga!”, ”Marie i växeln” and ”Chrissie, hur mår du?”. All of them are ”outsiders” or “album tracks”. We did ”Vill ha ett svar” in Halmstad #3. That’s a nice one.
TDR: Yes a very nice surprise.
PG: In the end it’s all about getting a good flow in the set list. You want things to go smooth. New songs very few people have heard have to find a special spot so they’re not “blocking” anything. Same goes for album tracks or midtempo songs. It would have been different if we toured all the time. If that was the case we could play more nerd-songs! But this is such a short tour.
TDR: You’re using quite a few of new guitars on this tour apart from your favorite black Gibson ES-335, tell us a little about them?
PG: I still have about 80-90 amazing guitars stacked away here and there, I should use them much more than I do. But then again, these guitars I use on this tour fit the GT sound very well. And I’m happy with that. The “Lennon” Rickenbacker sounds so cool on songs like “Det kändes inte som maj” for instance. I always use that one when I play my stupid solos and riffs on the albums, like “Någon att hålla i hand” or “En sten vid en sjö..” or “…maj” or “Det blir aldrig som man tänkt sej”. I love that sound. The burgundy Gibson Trini Lopez is tuned in D and it sounds pretty similar to my black Gibson ES-335. Then I have some other ones just in case something might go wrong. Shit happens.
TDR: Indeedy. Chris Kläfford, and also Christof Jeppsson in some instances, are doing a great job warming up the audience on this tour. Who decided on the opening act(s)? And why?
PG: We wanted someone who doesn’t really do what we do. Chris has been amazing. He’s such a great singer. Nice person as well. And Christof is really good too. A fab line-up.
TDR: The album was a bit of a surprise to us, and many others. No immediate hits as you may have read in our review, but a very very good and thorough album, the way albums were meant to be. It reached #6 on the charts. How is it selling? Are you happy with the album? I realize you are obviously, but expand a bit on it. France, the band, the demos, the wife-ban etc.
PG: Physically, it has sold very well in this day and age. About 15,000 CDs + vinyls. That’s amazing considering Spotify holds a 95 % market share in this country. Spotify’s main target group is the age group of 18-25 and that’s not where most GT-listeners find themselves. So the Spotify streaming numbers are so-so. But it’s growing at a steady pace. For us, it’s our best album. I say that because it turned out EXACTLY the way we wanted it to. And it takes a lot of experience, know-how and patience to get to that point. It’s very rare. It holds some of my finest writing, it doesn’t contain any typical hit songs mainly because we didn’t try to create any obvious “singles”. We wanted the album to be a solid musical journey. Gyllene Tider showing where we come from, paying homage to our pop and rock roots while still sounding mature and somewhat aged. We’re not 21 anymore. Not even me. Only in the “Leva livet”-song!
TDR: I noticed of course that the magnificent Ullevi show, among a few others, was recorded on video. How and when are we going to see the results? TV7? VHS? Super 8? Stereo?
PG: Yea, we’ve actually filmed and recorded all the shows but Ullevi and Kalmar were done with many more cameras and mics. It might become a GT documentary + a live show, time will tell. It will be presented to Planet Earth before Xmas. Cinema release, maybe? That would be cool.
TDR: Aha, Parkliv 2? Not a bad thought at all. What are you most proud of this time around, the tour and album? What went really well, better than expected?
PG: Everything. I had high hopes and visions but both the recording sessions in France, the rehearsals and the tour became something I will cherish forever.
TDR: What do you think about making a thick book about GT’s full history with lots of photos, anecdotes and revealed secrets?
PG: How about that!
TDR: Maybe throw in the Archives box we talked about a few years ago? The world is truly missing, nay craving, that “Cilla 16” demo…
PG: No, it’s not. But it’s certainly time for an extension of the PG Archives don’t you think? The Nashville demos, The GT Samma skrot och korn demos… Could be fun. Maybe next year. Or next decade.
TDR: Exactly what I think. Now that the doors have closed on your two main projects Roxette and Gyllene Tider, and while you of course have your solo career, do you ever think about forming yet another band, preferably named something with “The…”?
TDR: It’s been 40 years, depending on how you count, there are so many questions I could ask you about this, but we’ll try to be on the dot. What has been good these years? What has been not as great? Did you ever believe this would happen? We know, we touched on it previously, but it’s a huge subject. Gyllene is de facto Sweden’s biggest act ever… Yes yes ABBA schmabba.
PG: I’ve been doing this a very long time, mind you, taking things step by step. Success is never anything you can count on or rely on, you learn that very fast. I’ve been very lucky to have had three amazing careers in my life, GT + Rox + solo. I never sit down and regret things, some situations could of course have been managed differently but in the end I’ve been blessed. Thank you.
TDR: We heard that Mono Mind is still going strong. Do you have time to produce more songs at the moment?
PG: Mono Mind is on vacation. Got a postcard last week and they mentioned something about a Las Vegas reunion. Maybe they use the same drugs as you?
TDR: Mayhap they do… Blue was it? Knowing you there’s another project, or many even, already planned. What will be the next thing we will hear from you? “Time will tell” is not a valid answer.
PG: I don’t know. I’ll try to take a break after the tour. I think I’ll watch movies for a month or two. My system needs that. It’s been very hectic for me and my tiny brain the last couple of years.
TDR: Very good. Do you have an idea if (read: where) you will go on tour next summer?
PG: No tour in the can at this point, sorry.
TDR: Don’t be sorry, you need the rest! Oh, and before we forget it… What will happen to this huge GT neon light on top of the stage after the tour ends? Will you give it away? We’re asking for a friend, of course…
PG: Time will tell. Thanks for stopping by.
Pic by Kai.