Per leaves door open to more Roxette music in the future
STOCKHOLM - With Roxette's 20th Anniversary celebration really picking up steam, Per Gessle is on the road a lot these days, going from Stockholm to New York to Hamburg… with more travel plans in the works. Back home for the moment, he's agreed to spend some time with The Daily Roxette. As always, we're full of questions, and we know that this time together is limited, so we dive right in:
Gyllene Tider is put on ice "forever," Son of a Plumber is hard to beat in terms of quality, Roxette seems to take a lot of energy from Marie and reports are telling us that you are writing a book about your life. Will we see Per Gessle lying in a hammock on a sunny beach for the rest of his life? Can you tell us about your "secret" plans for 2007 that you hinted at on TV4?
Yes, there is an authorized book coming out in, I guess, September next year. Sven Lindström is doing all the hard work, I'm just playing the leading role.
I would love to do another SOAP album some day and yes, there might be some more Rox music in the future. Beyond that, sorry, but I can't reveal anything [more right now]. But the hammock sounds nice… sunny beach even nicer…
After having had a few stage appearances with Roxette over the last few weeks, you might be able to forecast how the near future of Roxette – especially regarding Marie's situation – may look like. Will there be more Roxette in 2007 or will we have to wait until Rox25 for more hits? What options do you see at the moment?
Same answer as before. I'm working on new things, new songs, new everything like I always do. I like to keep my head busy.
You once mentioned that with the Mazarin tour you discovered the joy of such concerts. Do you feel like going on a huge tour again in the future? Let it be solo or with Rox or…
Yes, I'm sure there will be more tours in the future. I like playing and singing my songs. I like getting the reaction I usually get from the audience. It's hard to beat. It's like a great go-cart lap.
Letting Roxette come back after four years of little international attention bears a certain risk. Are you satisfied with the response you received from both your audience and the media?
I don't think that there is any risk at all. We have such a strong catalog of songs and we're professional (read "old") enough not to release any crap. I've always felt there is life in any band/artist if you can come up with the goods. We do our best. What's there to lose? Getting a bad review?
Your fans seem to like to discuss the "real" Roxette sound, and most see it as being around the Look Sharp!/Joyride era. But Roxette has evolved over the years of course. Do you think there is now a typical "Roxette sound?"
Well, I think the old Rox sound is dead and buried. For good reasons. From an artistic point of view it would feel awkward to walk in the same shoes forever. You have to change. That's the fun of it. The two most recent songs are basically done in the same way as we did Son of a Plumber. Same guys in the studio, same attitude. It's similar with my writing. I don't write like I used to. Today I prefer not to make demos, for instance. And I'm much more fuzzy regarding ideas. They have to be really interesting (for me) to shine through… to become a song… that will be recorded.
We got "Rarities" in 1995, the "Rox Box" in 2006… shall we be patient and wait another 11 years for a third release of this kind? Or will you surprise us in another way? Bad Hair Day perhaps?
Well, there was an entire CD of only demos made for the RoxBox but everyone involved (EMI people, Marie and Clarence, myself, etc.) fell asleep listening to it. So we decided not to release it and only keep some of the goodies for the box. I still think that was an intelligent choice. But, of course, in due time, more stuff will burst out, steaming, through the Rox Shower!
There were many complaints about the tracklist of the RoxBox. Today, people can see that you did not put just old demos on it the fans already knew, but you gave them altered versions and "polished" songs which caused friendly reactions so far. Do you think the whole argument could have been avoided by just having explained the Box a bit more in advance?
No, I think that whole discussion is a joke. It has to be up to Marie and me to decide what to release. If you have a band and want to release 2,000 demos, be my guest! I won't argue with that, it's your choice. And, down the road, a little frustration and confusion among some fans only makes the whole journey a bit more fun, don't you think? Have another coffee!
After Marie's latest releases and your SOAP album which were both more acoustic and calm than most productions we have heard from you, the bets were high to see these influences in Roxette's new music too. Instead "One Wish" is more pop than Roxette has been in a long time. Do you see Roxette as a counterpart to SOAP music-wise and personally?
No, not really. I always say that everything I do is coming from "the same tree," it's just different branches I use all the time. If you work with other people in a band (in my case Rox/GT) you have to compromise a bit, but that's fine with me. In this case we wanted, and needed, a duet and a ballad and that's what I wrote and what we recorded. And that's how we sounded those days in June.
Going back to SOAP. You said it is the most personal album you have made. The reviews you received from music critics were very good. Does it make you long for a SOAP II album? Do you already have concepts for this?
No, no ideas at all… and for the record, I still consider SOAP to be my best work. It sounds EXACTLY how I wanted it to sound. It's a shame for the human race that it didn't sell [he laughs]. So many people would have loved it if they knew it existed. It's almost double platinum in Sweden but it never really took off anywhere else. At least not in any numbers that makes an old fart like me impressed…
So, what can we expect from your biography? Things we never imagined? Scandals? Inside stories? How personal will you get?
I dunno! It's Sven's book, I'm only answering the questions! It's written in a "quotation"-style à la "Please Kill Me" (read it if you haven't already, it's stunning!!!) which means that everything in the book are quotes from people. The most interesting thing with this technique is that you get different opinions and views regarding the same subject. How confusing!!! Scandals? Hope not…
You've made literally millions of people happy with your music but critics usually regard you as a mainstream pop writer. How does it feel being probably one of the most underrated successful musicians in the world? Does it bother you at all?
Wow, I don't think I'm underrated! I think you more or less get the reviews and rewards you deserve.
I've done the best I can, that's about it and that's all I can do. It's not up to me to judge my work from an outside point of view.
Will you go on an extended promo tour this fall, if so to where? Europe, the U.S., South America?
Don't know yet, we're open to basically anything. So far a few TV's have been scheduled. I'm doing quite a lot of media, phoners and face-to-face interviews all the time. One day I have to stop talking!"
Ha ha, like we see THAT happening! Finally, how does it look in the U.S., regarding Roxette? The new CD will be released, but will it be properly supported?
Hope so, we have a new deal with EMI/Capitol and it's a completely new company since we left them. The release date is December 26.
One positive thing is that our presence in the U.S. is as strong as ever with huge back-catalog airplay. So, hopefully something good will come out of it. I'll let you know in the spring…
With those words, Per has to take off again… and we take a final sip of that coffee he's pushing.
thenicekai contributed to this article.
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