Face to face with Christoffer Lundquist. Pt. 10: “The audience should feel that this is not entirely safe”
Christoffer playing the guitar for Roxette. Photo taken by Justyna, available in the official Roxette tour programme
K: Are you the one who does the tour arrangements?
C: We do them together!
K: All the band?
C: Yeah. We do them in the rehearsals together and we all contribute a lot, yes.
K: Is there a temptation during this to try something that you couldn’t do on the album, something that might work out better being played live?
C: There’s always the idea to try and… ahm… “Let’s not care too much about the record, let’s make it into something that is totally right for the song and will be good live!” That is always the goal. Sometimes you could have an idea in advance. Like “Silver Blue”, for example. That is really different live compared to the record. For me, the song is fantastic but rhythmically, that’s a bit strange on the recording. I’m not a fan of the rhythmic feel of the song, for me it’s sort of in the way. I feel that the live version brings the song up.
J: It’s such a pity that the song was removed from the playlist, same about “Way Out”.
C: “Silver Blue”, Clarence and I always want to play that, we always vote for that.
K: But I missed this so typical drum track of “Silver Blue”.
C: Yeah, that’s the one I didn’t like, hahaha.
K: So it was you who took it out?
C: Yes! That was the worst part for me. It ruined it.
K: And I thought it was because maybe Pelle could not play that live.
C: That’s also true. I mean, with those songs that are programmed, you have to think differently, you have to think in a way that is natural for a band to play. If you try to play like a programmed record, it’s going to be really, really bad. Obviously, the whole idea with Roxette touring now is that it’s going to be live, it’s going to be organic, it’s going to be for real. So you shouldn’t try and copy the ’80s even though they were great then. They don’t fit here.
J: The production is more rocky and alive.
C: Yeah. I guess, the idea is also that the audience should feel that this is not entirely safe. Things can happen. Which makes it more intense.
J: I like it much better so. Your solos are really great…
C: Thank you…
J: … going wild, bloody fingers. “The Look” is a great song itself but you still add those guitar solos. Or “7Twenty7”, then I feel like I’m at a rock concert!
C: Yes, it’s a lot of fun. All that stuff is a lot of fun.
K: We sometimes have the opportunity to take photos of the concerts. And I still remember a small talk I had with a press photographer in Berlin before the concert. He thought it would going to be a lazy evening, some old people on stage, they won’t do much action. After the photo time was over, he came to me and said “Ouch, that was hard work!“
C: Hahaha, yes, that’s good! That’s a great story!
K: Since you’re part of the band, it’s like this that while the albums have gotten more acoustic and relaxed, it has gotten more rocky on stage. I mean…how?
C: Yeah, that’s a very good question! There is a really simple reason. If Clarence and Per and I try to record a track that sounds rocky like that in the studio, we all hate it! Really, we don’t want to do that at all. It’s horrible. When we try to record rocky stuff like that, it really sounds like old men rocking away… like “Bleeeh“. That energy that you have on stage, you cannot capture it on a studio record.
It’s impossible. No one ever did that. So rock records are something else. I love The Who and Led Zeppelin or whatever. But with Per’s songs, and in this context, rock recordings for all of us are “Bleeeh“. We really hate them! So that never happens.
K: So on stage, you let it all hang out.
K: How do think the audience is reacting on this? Because sometimes, the last song people had heard of Roxette was “Listen To Your Heart” or some ballad they had good memories with. And then you go and play hard guitars. Is it fun for you to surprise people like that?
C: I mean, we are used to that people are surprised by this tour, I think. And for a lot of people, this surprise is a positive one. Some people of course want it to be different and more the old style. But generally, that’s not the feeling. The energy and everything is appreciated. So that makes it fun. You sort of get used to it a little. You sort of expect it. You know that this will work. After a while, you know that it will work. So the expectation is actually that you will get a good response. But then again, you have to work for it. It’s not given. You have to win over the audience. And the best way to do it is just to let go. Don’t try to perform, don’t try to be cool. Don’t try to look good. Just be in the music and forget about it. And then it will work. Then it will be good. But if you try to pretend or be tough, then it’s not good.
J: That’s why the Roxette concerts are much better now than in the old days. I never attended a Roxette concert before you joined in. I only know them from the videos. It was more of a visual spectacle like Lady Gaga does today.
C: It’s a different concept, a different way of thinking. And then they reproduced the records on stage. They had backing tracks and stuff like that because it was supposed to sound like the ’80s records. And that was good then, the right thing to do then, I’m sure.
J: I think, I like it how it’s now, you enjoy it more. That’s what I call live playing. The audience is happy. And you look at the audience, coming, playing, it’s what I expect. I want to enjoy, I don’t want to just sit, watch somebody just playing and then bye bye.
C: And I think the bottom line of what you’re saying is that it’s not performance. There’s a number of people in the same room and the goal is to try to be in the same mind, to have the same feeling. It’s not a couple of guys performing to the other guys, but it’s something we do together. And when you do it well together, then this extra extra extra can happen. And if you don’t meet up so well, it’s not such a good day, maybe. Because you need the collaboration.
K: Actually I have to thank you because now I can bring people to Roxette concerts without being embarrassed.
C: Ha ha ha! You can bring normal people, hahaha!
K: Well, when I went to school, one of the most uncool things you could say is that you like Roxette. But now you can bring your friends to concerts, “Come, stand here, watch this!“ and after that, they are all overwhelmed.
C: Yes, hehehe, good!
K: We also have the feeling, that in this band, every member has his own profile…
K: It’s not like in the old days that Per and Marie are in the first line, maybe technically they still are and the media wants them to be there…
C: Nja, of course…
K: But now, every one of the band gets his personal promotion, too. What we see of you are these typical “Sooo Christoffer“-videos. How is it, are you not bored of them yet?
C: No, nonono. No, it’s just silly, yeah!
J: Per follows you with his camera all the time…
C: And of course we don’t try to make those videos good. If we would, it wouldn’t be a good idea. They are getting worse and worse, I think. And that’s good.
J: I love them!
C: Haha! Well about the live thing again… I think one of the fun parts of that is that the music business is going in the other direction. Especially for big acts. When big acts go on tour, they control everything. It’s all only click tracks, it’s all synced, it’s all 100 times planned etc. And I simply don’t go to these concerts anymore because it’s no point. It’s just sooo boring and it goes for everyone almost. That’s another thing I think that has to do with self-confidence. These artists are afraid and they are trying to make it safe. And if you make it safe, you can only get it “so” good. But if you take risks, you can get anywhere. So Roxette being a big act doing it like this is very unique, I think. And it’s bold, it’s bold of Per and Marie to do that. 50 years old, one has been seriously ill and they do it like this instead of hiding behind make up and lights and whatnot. It’s great! They are bold people to do that!
J: And Per is jumping like a fawn on stage nowadays. He was not like this before.
C: Yeah yeah, he’s totally into it, I agree. But in this band, Per’s playing is important, he’s gotten an important musical role. In the old band, he didn’t because that was so organized. So his style of playing didn’t actually fit, so you could hardly hear him. He was playing but you heard the others, like Jonas, instead. But now he’s needed, he’s really needed in the band. And he has a very special timing. It’s like everyone does, but he has a really really special timing. And in a way, we all play around his timing because now he plays the songs like it’s more natural for him to play them rather than following a sequencer. Like the writer’s playing is actually coming through. So we have to relate to that, so it becomes more of his music, in my view.
K: Who is the one who sets the rhythm on stage? Normally, it should be the drummer, thus Pelle…
C: Yeah, well. There are different kinds of drummers. Some drummers keep the rhythm, and some don’t. Pelle is the kind of drummer that keeps the rhythm like maybe the AC/DC drummer as opposed to maybe Ringo Starr who would play fields and follow the vocals and different stuff. Pelle is a rhythm keeper. So he is the central hub in the band, for sure. But it’s not like everyone follows him, that’s not how it works. Everyone follows everyone.
K: It’s organic on stage then…
C: Very much so.
J: Okay, let’s talk about the current tour. You’re starting to North America tomorrow. Will you bring your family?
C: No, not this time. They haven’t gone to many of the faraway places because it’s school and it’s expensive and it’s not that much fun, actually. You go there playing every day, see a hotel room and that’s what you do.
J: I saw that in Rio, most of you band members brought their families…
C: Yes, last time the others did and this time I did because my sister-in-law, my wife’s younger sister, she lives in Rio and she just married there. So the whole family went there to visit her and we did it at the same time as we played there. But other than that, my family is not really into going on long trips, they don’t like flying and the hotels and so on. So we don’t do it too much.
K: How is it for you, you grew up in a small region in Sweden, now you tour all over the world. Is it a big step for you, is it a big change in your mind to wake up in a different hotel room every morning, to follow the tour manager’s schedule? Is it very strict there, actually?
C: It’s like a mixture of two parallel worlds in a way. Because when you’re in the tour, it’s almost like you’re in the same place all the time because it’s the same people, hotel rooms are identical everywhere. The routines are the same, airports look the same and we spend so much time in these places, so it’s like we don’t travel. And on the other hand, when you look out of the window, one day you’re in Jakarta, one day you’re in New York, the next day in Sydney, so it’s crazy. It’s a bit of both. But after a while, obviously, if you see so much, you can’t take any more. I mean, the next “fantastic“ church is like “Well, yeah, okay…“. That happens. But then out of a sudden, you get
the energy and go out and it’s “Ohhh, fantastic“, a new world.
J: You don’t even know where you are, I saw in your videos. Per never remembers where he is…
C: Oh, this is very much true. You can’t remember. You certainly don’t know what day of the week it is, no idea. And a lot of time, you don’t know where you are either.
Tomorrow on TDR: Face to face with Christoffer Lundquist. Pt. 11: “I should tell you one other thing that never gets mentioned in the interviews”
The recording room at AGM
Every microphone “sounds” a bit different
Technical errors may occur.