Hello, you fools, they love you – and they're coming back to show you how much
If you’re like more than a few of us at the Time Out Melbourne offices, you’ve occasionally happily fallen down a Spotify wormhole that resulted in a happy-making, hours-long Roxette listening session. Which means you’re probably also excited that the Swedish pop duo – Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle – will be in town in February.
Ahead of their visit, we asked Per – and his amazing, amazing hair – a few questions about the group’s longevity, Sweden’s outstanding pop legacy, how one dresses for success and what a raindrop really tastes like.
Per, Australia has long been home to one of your biggest and most passionate fan bases. Why do you think this country embraced and continues to embrace you so heartily?
Australian fans are very dear to us since they were some of the very first to support us. Every time we’ve visited we’ve had a blast and have been able to create wonderful events together with the crowds. We have many personal friends down under and really love your country. Maybe people feel that?
Surely your fans tell you all kinds of stories about what your music meant to them, or times in their lives when they’ve heard it played. What’s the most romantic one you've heard?Oh, there are so many. People get married to our love songs all the time all over the place. And I’ve heard stories about people waking up from comas to a certain Rox song that they love. Unbelievable. The power of music!
What is the secret to the perfect pop song?
I don’t think there is a perfect pop song. Different people are attracted to different things. For me it’s something that changes my world for a few minutes – a beautiful melody, a lyric that means something to me, a production that supports the idea of the song, a voice that kicks in. It can be anything from “God only knows “ by The Beach Boys to “Roar” by Kate Perry. Excellent pop but very different.
It's almost a cliché these days to note that much of the world's best and most interesting music – pop or otherwise – comes from Scandinavia. What do you reckon it is about Scandinavia that produces so much strong, cutting-edge music? And given your longevity in the business and Roxette's stature of more than two decades, do you feel responsible for any of this?
Swedish songwriters have always been good with top line-melodies but not necessarily with production or the technical part of the studio. When the digital revolution happened in music in the late ’80s it really helped the Swedes. The computer world started it – suddenly everything could sound brilliant no matter where it was recorded, which wasn’t the case before when everything was analogue. And that’s when, for example, the Cheiron people – Max Martin, Denniz Pop and the others – started out. Great songwriters suddenly turned into great producers as well. But I don’t think it had anything to do with Roxette’s success. Or maybe it did. Maybe it inspired a few locals that it actually could be done. The music biz was very much dominated by the US and UK when we started out. I remember EMI UK promoting us as an American band in England. If they said we were from Sweden, radio wouldn’t play our music.
What compelled you to embark on your current tour?
We didn’t expect the feedback we got from fans and media during the 2011-12 tour since we’d been away so long due to Marie’s illness. As you might know, we’ve always been a touring band and as long it works for Marie to travel it’s the most wonderful thing to do. It’s such a treat to be part of this, to go all over the world playing music – a blessing.
Are you and Marie working on new music? You've mentioned you're back in the studio; should we be expecting another big album from you soon?
I don’t know what will happen. We headed to the studio late August to cut some new tracks, but I don’t yet know what will come out of it. Time will tell. A new album would be lovely, if you ask me.
The critics were not always kind to Roxette, but here you are, years later, touring the world and selling out arenas. Did you ever listen to the critics?
I do read reviews once in a while but I never really cared. The music I’ve always enjoyed myself has not necessarily been critically acclaimed. From a writer/artist’s point of view you have to follow your own taste and gut feeling. If you’d listen to too many opinions you’d get very confused!
What can fans expect from this tour when you swing through Oz compared to your last appearance here for the Charm School World Tour in terms of staging, song list, new versus old material, or any special surprises.
We’re gonna try out some old stuff we haven’t performed for years but I’m sure most of the hits will be included in the set. The reason is simple: If I go to a U2 or a Tom Petty show, I want to hear my favourite songs. I’m sure the same goes for the Rox fans!
Now let’s cover off some silly stuff. Per, what does a raindrop actually taste like?
Salty and sweet at the same time! That’s the taste of the typical Swedish Westcoast Raindrop in May.
If one wants to dress for success, what would you suggest they wear? Are leather pants, a trench coat and frosted tips still acceptable?
Well, I’m not so sure about the trench coat… otherwise, just keep an open mind. That’s the beauty of this era we’re living in: anything goes.
Settle an argument for us once and for all. Who has better hair: you or Marie?
Easy – Marie. I’m starting to look like David Crosby!