SVT - Interview with Per Gessle - part 1

After a story career with 4 songs No1 in the USA, among others, as well as a lot of tickets sold for the shows, it has happened what was worse in Roxette: Marie has been discovered to have a brain tumor. All thought that it was the end of the story, but this spring Roxette have succeeded to gather thousands of people on the arenas in Russia, South America and they get higher up in the charts. For the moment there is a break in their tour, before flying to the South Africa, that is why we have Per Gessle as a guest, we will talk about this life power that exists in Roxette, because they used to talk about a safe future already at the beginning of the group, in spite of all obstacles.  


See the original interview in Swedish HERE


Rep: Now we have a piece of news from the USA where they announce that 2 of the best young Swedish artists have reached the top of the charts. Roxette is made of Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle and there are only ABBA and Björn Skifs that have succeeded to have the same career so far.

Champagne, kisses and camera lights, as well as few words from a specialist: Björn Skifs: ”To conquer the American tops means something special.”  


Rep: Welcome, Per Gessle!

Per: Thank you very much!

Rep: Which is your relation with Björn Skifs?

Per: (laughs) He is a fantastic person and an extraordinary artist.

Rep: And of course a great colleague.

Per: Indeed.

Rep: So, as I said few minutes ago, you have a little break in your tour that has started in Russia, then near the Baltic Sea till South America. How did it feel?

Per: Absolutely fantastic. We have waited so much and now the tour becomes longer and longer and it is really great.

Rep: You have also taken some pictures and films in South America, as well as everywhere, as for example when you get off a car in a parking place, very carefully so that nothing bad could happen...

Per: Yes, this film must be from somewhere in Brazil. It’s a bit strange, but this is it. When you land somewhere, there are 200 - 300 people who shout and…TV teams…and police… Exactly as when you are a pop star, correct?  

Rep: That’s right. Already from the beginning, in the 90s, when Roxette were the greatest, there was the biggest craziness in South America. And it seems that something has happened, let’s see the images… it is like Beatles had been there, sometimes.

Per: Yes, it is incredible. I think this is somewhere in... I don’t know exactly where it is…

Rep: How does it feel now, to be together with Marie on tour again?  

Per: It is... you know... after my Party Crasher tour in 2009..when she came to the show in Amsterdam to say Hello and I asked her if she could come on stage with me. That time she sang The Look and It Must Have Been Love and she was very nervous and she told me, after that, that she didn’t have any self confidence, anything, but she has got a fantastic feedback from the audience, it has been a really magical evening. After a few weeks she called me and she asked me if I wanted to write a new Roxette album. Of course I wanted! Then we started very carefully, we went to Night of the Proms in the autumn of 2009, we wanted to see how much Marie resisted. And she succeeded to sing 5 songs. And the longer the tour became, the better it was. Then we could have 7 – 8 concerts last year. And that mini tour has become a world tour this year.

Rep: There is not only South America that knows about Marie’s disease, but also the whole world. And of course that all these years, people have wondered how she felt.  

Per: She feels well and this depends a lot on the love and the positive energy that she gets from her fans, this is the best way of rehabilitation in the world. This is because I notice how she behaves, at the beginning she used to stay on the stage in only one place and she concentrated a lot, now she moves more and she is a part of the audience. We have had 17 – 18 concerts so far and we still have 70 left, I think. So there will happen a lot for sure.  

Rep: But how do you feel, in fact, today, when you finally can go on tour with Marie again?  

Per: Now, of course, there is the feeling that Roxette is like a baby, it is much more difficult than it was in 2002. Especially because there has been such a long break. We have a list of singles, we have about 50 hits, so of course there are old hits that we can play during 2 hours and we go on with these few songs that the world recognizes. I know that the world needs these concerts as much as we need them, too. All are there, all sing with us. It has happened that the audience interrupts the concert at Spending My Time, It Must Have Been Love and they sang the songs for us. It is really fantastic.

Rep: Anyway, the new album is on the first place in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and it seems that it has reached no 7 in World Chart Top 40, so the radio stations in the world.

Per: Yes, there is a list that exists in Los Angeles and there the single She’s Got Nothing On  is on the 7th place. So it is one of the first 7 songs played in the whole world.  

Rep: In the whole world...

Per: Yes, it’s great.

Rep: Let’s listen to it!  


Rep: What the name of that guy?

Per: Which of them?? Jerry… 

Rep: (laughs) We are talking here, we are thinking about history, the songs that you wrote the latest year. Tell us about it!

Per: Aaaa, I think that one of the secrets is that we maintain in the frames on the classical music from America and England. We have written our songs by ourselves and we have worked with Swedish artists who also live outside Stockholm, Clarence has produced everything, he has been doing this since ’86.

Rep: How can you maintain?

Per: We hope that it will be ok, as long as on the radio we listen to music that sounds almost the same, they have the same technique… as if they had had the same producer, the radio stations broadcast the same type of music. When I was young, they used to broadcast different types of music, you could listen to Beatles, followed by a song with Led Zeppelin or Harry Belafonte on the radio - P3. And it was great. I don’t understand how people today accept the same type of music on the radio, it is like you see like a horse, only one way. And a colourless image is created, an image that I have never seen.  

Rep: So they are almost the same.

Per: I think they don’t have the possibility to create a new sound, I think that the old groups keep their sound. I don’t know which the reason is…

Rep: Who do you think that kept their sound, excepting Roxette?

Per: There are many, regarding me, I have never been so negative. There is a group called Hurts, from the ’80s, they sound very classically, traditionally, that makes you feel fresh.

Rep: Let’s come back to Roxette’s history. Let’s remember that Roxette was born because Pernilla Wahlgren had refused a song that you had written to her, is that right?

Per: Absolutely, Pernilla Wahlgren said that she had signed a contract with a records studio called Alfa Records. She had done this in secret. She had met another producer that had written something for her, then I went home and I wrote Svarta Glas, but nothing happened, I didn’t get any answer. After 3 - 5 years somebody came to me and said that I should send this song to Pernilla, but I had already spoken to Marie to make a duo with her. I had already known her for a long time, there was already  ’85 – ’86, so I wrote an English text for Svarta Glas, Neverending Love, which became the first Roxette hit.

Rep: And the rest is history. Another very well known story is with the American student, Dean Cushman and, before the SVT news, I would like us to listen a bit to what he has taken with him to America, after a few years of studying in Sweden. (…) I think that you haven’t thought about this song, The Look, to crash the tops in the SUA, probably you used to hope somehow, but he has taken the disk with him to the radio station in Minneapolis and asked them to broadcast the songs. This Dean Cushman has got a golden disk from the records company, I have a picture with him, for his contribution.  

Per: Yes, but I met him and I want to say that there is a programme where you could play by yourself what records you wanted, you could choose the song. Then, after he had listened to The Look, the boss was also interested in the rest of the songs, because there was a newspaper on the disk cover. The first song, The Look, hasn’t been a single in Sweden, but Listen To Your Heart and Dressed for Success…so The Look – the boss thought that it was fantastic, then the people started to call and say that they wanted to listen to The Look again and again. But of course, when I met Dean Cushman I talked a lot to him.  

Rep: Do you think that other artists have had the same beginning?

Per: I have heard that also The Police had a similar start, anyway, for us it was something wonderful.  

Rep: Soon we will talk about how it had been if this hadn’t started. It becomes exciting! And we will also talk about how Per has received the news that Marie was ill. What kind of influence this thing had on him and a few things about the Gyllene Tider guys, all these after the news.