Interview with Per form Cafe magazine

The following interview appeared in the Swedish Cafe magazine. You can find the Swedish version here. Per Gessle about the money, the art of covering up a scandal and the difference between a “sha-la-la” and a “na-na-na.”
1. The first single off your new album, En händig man, will be the hit of the summer, I understand? - Yes that would be nice. But don’t think much about writing hits anymore. With Roxette it was extremely important to have three obvious singles for the USA market so I always put a lot of energy into writing three songs. But when I make music for Sweden I just write – and then someone else gets to choose the singles.
2. Are you a ”handy man” yourself? Can you switch tires on your Ferrari 599 GTB if you had a flat? - Ha ha ha, no I can’t. I wouldn’t even try. I would just call someone.
3. You make commercial music for the masses but are still greeted by the reviewers. How come you don’t get axed like Tomas Ledin? - I think it has to do with that I’m genuinely interested in music. I feel togetherness with these nerdy music journalists, because I’m a nerd myself. I’ve noticed that Marie (Fredriksson) never got the same respect I’ve gotten from the critics. It has got to do with that.
4. Your lyrics have always been considered shit though? - Yes… Maybe they are shit too. But people always come up to me and thank me for songs I’ve written that have meant things to them. Many people play my songs at their weddings and such. So I still feel that my lyrics must touch them somehow.
5. How much do you work with your lyrics? - A lot. They go through all kinds of filters until they are finished lyrics. Every sentence, every word are weighed on a scale before let through. Many English lyrics are super banal; just listen to any of today’s top 10 hits. When I sing in Swedish I think people listen more to what’s really said and that makes it so much more obvious.
6. There’s a lot of “sha-la-la” in your songs. Is that something you pull out when you don’t know what to rhyme? - No not at all. “Sha-la-la” is used to enhance a song. Some parts don’t work with words, then you use a ”sha-la-la.” Look at Sha-la-la (Make me happy) by Al Green or Brown eyed girl by Van Morrison.Those songs would never have been as great without “sha-la-la.”
7. Sometimes you use ”na-na-na” too. Is there a difference to “sha-la-la” and “na-na-na”? -Huge! “Sha-la-la” creates a groove and a schvung. It’s perfect to have in a chorus. “Na-na-na” is softer. In The Look it wouldn’t have worked at all with ”sha-la-la” in the middle eight, it would have gotten too sing-along.
8. You take this seriously. - It’s one hell of a difference. It’s incredibly important.
9. Any other bodily functions you experiment with in your songs? - There’s “la-la-la” too, but I don’t use that much. Then there’s “ooh” which can be useful. And we can’t forget “Mmmm.” You do remember Crash Test Dummies’ Mmm mmm mmm mmm?
10. Can’t you just say ”Aa”? - Sure! But it would be more of an “Aah” It’s not a favourite of mine, but Led Zeppelin used that one a lot. The Beatles used sounds to a maximum. In Girl they used a damned nice inhaling sound and in Drive my car they sounded like a car horn. Damn that was great!
11. What is the Swedish song writing equivalent to the English “yeah”? - That’s interesting. And quite hard. You can’t say ”Ja.” “Hej” works though, but it’s more of a “he-hej” then.
12. You stand out like a totally non scandalous person, totally liberated from things like drug scandals, infidelity affairs and fights. How do you do to keep all that from the press? - I decided from the start to keep my personal life personal. I wouldn’t do a “in Per Gessle’s house” article in a million years for example. I don’t go to premieres, unless I’m forced to go to Spider-Man 3 by my son, or something similar. I try to keep my scandals to myself.
13. What’s the worst scandal you’ve been in? - That’s private.
14. You’re a multi millionaire since a long time. What do you treat yourself with today, that you didn’t before? - The best thing is that my family and I can decide over what we do to 100 %. We live in a nice house, when we go out and eat we drink nice wines and if I go shoe shopping I don’t think about if the shoes are 40 kronor or… 50 kronor.
15. Exactly how much money do you have in the bank now? - No idea.
16. You have to have a vague idea about it at least? - Nope, I have no clue about how much money I have in the different companies. Honestly I don’t care either. I sign some papers once a year and the bother is gone.
17. You are not interested in being a business man? - Not at all. I often read in the papers what a shrewd business man I am, but the truth is that I don’t have a clue about anything like that.
18. Stocks? Funds? - Don’t know how it works. On the other hand I’ve bought quite a lot of art that turned out to be a nice deal. But that wasn’t for profit or anything. It’s not like I’ll sell these pieces of art.
19. Do you have any loans? - I don’t know. Maybe I do. It’s nice to not know these things.
by Alex Schulman Published: 6/25/2007