“…Probably our best LP since CBB…” Per meets TDR 2015 – Round 4
EXCLUSIVE - Per Gessle opens up about the brand new Roxette album!
“…Probably our best LP since Crash! Boom! Bang!…” says Per Gessle in reference to the new upcoming Roxette album. It’s a big call to make considering some of the glossy pop gems such as Have A Nice Day and Room Service but Per seems really pumped up about the brand new Roxette recordings and he shares his thoughts with us.
TDR : Howdy Per, thanks for taking time out to speak to us, again.
PG: Oh, it’s always an honor. You smell so good.
TDR: Ahh thanks, must be the new cologne! Moving on, a while ago, in February, you spoke to The Daily Roxette and confirmed that the new single would be released in April with the album out in October. It’s now November. Is everything OK? What happened?
PG: Hahaha, yea. Everything is fine. Thanks for asking. The single and the album have been delayed due to the fact that we didn’t have a record deal. Until now. Since the XXX-tour has been so successful there have been many record companies showing interest in our little band and to create a set up that’s attractive for everyone takes a certain amount of time. And lawyers and business managers love to see time go by.
PG: We’ve been with EMI Records since Day One in 1986 and after lots of inner secrets have been revealed we’ve decided to continue our trek to stardom with them. But now, of course, they’re called Warner Music. It’s a jolly name that reminds me of Alice Cooper. It feels good. It feels like home. Almost. Everybody’s happy. And thanks for waiting, folks. You won’t regret it.
TDR: So, by not rushing the process and by taking more time on the new material, does this mean we’ll get even better quality of material than ever before? Remember, although the Roxers are hungry to hear the new sound – they are more than happy to keep waiting if it means Team Roxette are really, really happy with the final product!
PG: Oh, you’re so timid. And that is certainly a tough question, dear you! It’s all a matter of taste. But yes, since we realized we won’t have an album out until early 2016 I’ve continued to write and record new music with Marie and The Mad Hatters.
I do feel we have a killer album in the can. Probably our best LP since CBB. I don’t know until we’ve mixed all the songs. But, hey, you might think different. Maybe you’ll think it’s our best ever, hahaha!
TDR: I may, you can just hand the tapes to me right now and I’ll let you know! Seriously, can you now shed some light as to what type of sound we can expect from the new material?
PG: No, I shouldn’t do that, should I? However, I do think it sounds very fresh but still pretty classic Roxette. As always, we try to update our sound and production but this time around we’ve dug into the vintage vaults for a little sniff a couple of times which surely will make you…hmmm… smile.
TDR: Earlier in the year, you mentioned on Facebook that you had at least six options as a lead single and then suddenly, things went very quiet. Is that still the case? Have you all settled on what will be the lead single or is it still a work in progress? Are you down to 1-2 or are you contemplating 15 now?
PG: We’ve been fooling around with around twenty songs and out of those we’ve recorded fourteen properly. I think there are at least seven or eight tracks that will make you pump up the volume quite a bit if you’re in a singles mood. There’s a good flow on this album. It’s been a very creative and rewarding process.
TDR: That is good to hear. You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that you’re not the best person when it comes to picking the singles from the album. So in this case, with a new album waiting in the wings, to whom do you leave this decision? And who in the Roxette camp over the past 30 years has had the best track record when it comes to picking hit singles?
PG: It’s a mutual decision led by Marie and myself, Chris & Clair, our management, the record company, various artisans and hairdressers as well as Åsa’s budgie. Pelle Alsing is the best hit picker by far. He’s got a good ear and he’s also a sonic daredevil and a true fan of quality pop music. And he likes his pasta spicy.
My problem is that I’m so involved in the songs. The composition and the chords, the production and the arrangement, every tiny sound and detail, the mixing, the blend of voices and all the candycoated studio tricks. And blah blah blah. My perspective of the songs gets lost in the limitless space of our pop laboratory.
TDR: What can you tell us about the Roxette version of “Some Other Summer”. Is this song still on the new album? And how similar is the Roxette version to the version that Sebastien Drums released this year?
PG: Yes, it’s on the album and it’s really wonderful. It doesn’t sound like Seb’s version at all. Our version sounds like Roxette. As a matter of fact the two versions sound like they came from two different planets. And that was the whole idea with letting Seb have a go with the song before anyone else had heard it. He’s done several more remixes of SOS that you haven’t heard that’s really interesting.
TDR: Let’s talk a bit about Marie’s role on the new record. How have you found the recording process this time around with Marie compared with Charm School and Travelling? Can we expect a lot of “Marie-driven” vocals on the new album?
PG: Absolutely. There are a couple of classic Marie-is-God-songs on the album. We’ve recorded her vocals in her own studio in Stockholm and she sounds terrific. Vocally it’s a 50/50-split between our voices. That has been the ambition and I think it worked out pretty well in the end.
TDR: Yes, a published excerpt from Marie’s new book mentioned a song titled “It Just Happens” and was described as a power ballad. What else can you tell us about this track?
PG: Wanna know a secret? It’s the longest track on the album! Almost four minutes. Other than that? Nothing. You have to wait. But it’s a really powerful song. Wonderful vocals by Miss Effe on that one. Trust me.
TDR: OK, four minutes? In February you mentioned the plan was to release a short album of about 10 or 11 songs. However, recently, you commented that perhaps you needed to release a double album? Will you do a giant cull and stick to a short album? Or will you indulge us all with 2 CDs worth of Roxette goodness?
PG: No, it will be a single album with eleven or twelve beautiful babies. What’s left (one or two songs) we’ll keep as bonus-tracks or save for a rainy day. As I’ve told you before, leftover songs are not necessarily left out because they stink. Sometimes you have too many songs in the same style so you have to get rid of a few to make an album interesting as a whole. And, yes, we still ”think” in album-terms. We’re raised like that. We live like that. And we will most likely die like that.
TDR: “It’s Possible” popped up on a few live shows during the 2012 leg of the tour, is the intention to perform any of the new songs live on the 2016 XXX Tour? Or does that conflict with the “30 Years of Hits” philosophy that this tour represents?
PG: Good question again. What happened to you, you’re so focused!
TDR: Our server went nuts, gives you time to re-focus!
PG: Well, we don’t know. We have no scheduled rehearsals for the new ones. If new songs will get played we’ll rehearse them during soundchecks. It has happened before, it might happen again. I guess it all comes down to the reception of the new album. If people like it we might play it. We’re not fussy. Except Pelle.
TDR: The 2012 tour album Travelling was a sister project to 1992’s Tourism. Charm School was made, as you said, “because we could” and to celebrate the return of Marie to Roxette, so what does this album mean for Roxette? Why is it being recorded? You could easily continue touring purely on your previous hits, so what is the intention and hope for this new Roxette project?
PG: I think that’s my fault, hahaha. I can’t see myself digging only in the past. Not with Roxette and not with Gyllene Tider or my solowork. I love to write songs and spend endless hours in the studio. That’s where I belong. I love to tour and perform live but it’s the writing process that really makes it for me. To have the pleasure of working with Marie again and NOT write or record new material is not on the agenda. I’m sure Marie feels the same even though she doesn’t spend as much time writing or sleeping in the studio as I do.
Then, of course, most fans come to the shows to hear their favorite songs from the past. That’s fine. I do the same when I go to concerts with artists I like. So we’ll continue playing the old favorites cos that’s what most people want to hear. But that doesn’t mean that we’ll stop working on new chapters in our lives.
TDR: Music videos can be an expensive thing and it’s always tricky for the “elder statesmen” of the music industry to compete with Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber’s new music video – so, having said that, is there a plan to make a new music video for whatever will be the new single?
PG: Yes, sir. Making a video or two is a good idea.
TDR: The Per Gessle Archives (TPGA) did well. You mentioned there might be a part II, including the elusive The Vintage Demos, how’s the time frame on that? Also, you are hanging a lot with MP in T&A these days, the last time that happened TPGA emerged. What’s your excuse this time?
PG: No, there’s no TPGA Part Two in the tunnel at the moment. But hanging with MP is absolutely something I can recommend. We’re having so much fun at the Tits&Ass Palace. He’s such a great guy with such beautiful t-shirts. I’m so lucky to have these wonderful geezers around me in various studios supporting my humble but somewhat complicated ambitions. Christoffer, Clarence and MP. What a trio! What I’m doing at T&A? New songs. Always new songs.
TDR: As always Per, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with The Daily Roxette.
When discussing his projects, Per’s enthusiasm and passion is incredibly infectious and as with anything in life, it’s always best to manage expectations, but after Per shared this thoughts, it’s hard not to get excited about Roxette’s new album which we think should be titled “Soon”. Looking forward to it!