30 Mar 2003

Small town, big feelings (IV): Invasion of Iraq

The invasion of Iraq by United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Poland and Denmark (other countries are also involved) has begun on March 20, 2003 without the approval of United Nations and with many mass meetings against it (LJdM's editor has also been in many of them since January). U.S. President George W. Bush claimed that the objective of the invasion was "to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people. But not many people can trust in Bush either.

Per Gessle speaks about the war (Per opposes strongly) in last interviews this week during the promotion of the Pop Hits album.

PS: By the way, Per likes arts and has masterpieces by Picasso (not "the Guernica", obviously) and other famous artists. Gessle was born in Halmstad, Swedish city with this sculpture of Picasso.
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Well, I read somewhere that every war is always a big failure. It’s terrible that we can’t solve these things in a diplomatic way. It’s scary, ’cos you see all these pictures on TV. It’s just horrendous. We’re not living in the 80s, so peace songs don’t have any effect. Musicians and lyrics used to have power, but now it doesn’t matter anymore. The only thing we can hope for now, is that it will be a short one and it will be over very soon.
Per Gessle

28 Mar 2003

Small town, big feelings (III): Opportunity nox

The new compilation of Roxette, the Pop hits, has been released this week.The album includes a new songs, Opportunity Nox (the single), and other old demos like Little Miss Sorrow, Better off on her own, Stupid (Spun version), Makin' love to you and Bla bla bla bla bla You broke my heart.

On Friday 31 January 2003, Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle were awarded a Royal Medal of the Eighth Size with a blue ribbon' by the king of Sweden, for their outstanding achievements in both the Swedish and International music world. It was the first public appearance together since September (due to Marie's health after a tumour surgery last year).

Opportunity Nox features very little of Marie Fredriksson's vocals and adds Milla Andersson's backing vocals of the demo. Produced by Clarence Öfwerman, Christoffer Lundquist also plays acoustic and bass guitar. It sounds really close to Ramones' covers recorded by this team last year. Swedish newspapers Aftonbladet and Expressen both has given the song 4 stars and called it Roxette's best song since "Dangerous" and "Joyride" respectively.

Lund is a university town in Sweden with an eclectic music scene. It's about one hour's drive to the nearest large town, Malmö, and eight hours to Stockholm. In the Winter, there are only a few hours of sunlight but the creative energy in Lund is boundless. Lund Records was formed a few years ago by local record and filmmakers.

LUND CALLING: FROM SWEDEN - LoveCat Music has released today a compilation with some indie bands from Lund. The recordings were made between 1994 and 1998 by Lund Records, but many of them (e.g., Favorita) were never released.

  • FAVORITA: Magnus Borjeson: vocals and bass; Fredik Blank: guitar; Benjamin Peetre: keyboard; Conny Stade: drums.
  • POETIZED: Oliver Hallquist: vocals; Erik Hjarpe: keyboards; Gustav Lindroth: bass; Mattias Nihlen: guitar; Clemens Martensson: drums.
  • DAMM!: Måns Svante, Måns Block, Måns Mernsten
  • THE MUTTS: Hakan Akesson: guitar/vocals; Fredrik Svensson: drums; Tommy Nilsson: bass
  • THE LANGHORNS: Rikard Swardh: drums; Martin Berglund: bass; Michael Sellers: guitars.
  • THE CREEPS: Robert Jelinek: lead and backing vocals/electric guitar; Hans Ingemansson: Hamond organ/Wurlitzer electric piano/ grand piano; Anders Johansson: electric bass guitar; Patrick Olsson: drums
You can listen to these interesting bands here:

Edit 2007: Magnus Borjeson from Favorita has worked with Per Gessle in Mazarin and En Händig Man. It is the first time some songs from Favorita are released since 1996. Erik Hjarpe has worked with Sandy Mouche and Helena Josefsson.

I was actually on my way to a pressconference in Brussels when the phone rang and I got this message that Marie was ill. So, of course, it was a big blow for first and foremost herself and her family, but also for all of us. It was devastating. But now it's six months later, and it's been scary times, but Marie's health has improved a lot and she's almost back to normal.

Marie's state changes by day, although she's doing much better nowadays then she did last autumn. It's going up and down like night and day, it's the state of the day that decides what she is able to. She is definitely feeling much better. It takes time for her to come back. And she has to decided for herself she feels like doing so, there's no reason for her to stress. She will take it easy for the rest of this year. It will take a while for her to come back.

Previously, the intention was to perform with Roxette in the summer, but now, the release of The Pop Hits could become the only event for Roxette this year. Under normal circumstances we would certainly have taken a few months this spring to promote the album. Now I hardly think it will be so. It can turn out that we don't do anything this year. But we're not in panic that we have to record a new Roxette album.

The original demo version of Opportunity nox was called “Yellow-Bellied Alligator.” Yea, I have the original lyrics in my computer but I won’t reveal them. They’re awful (even though the title is very cool…)
Per Gessle

15 Mar 2003

Helena Josefsson, backing singer at AGM Studios (V): Winokur's Swedish Diary (V)

Justin Winokur came back to Sweden to finish the recordings for his new album at AGM Studios with Christoffer Lundquist. Helena Josefsson has taken part as backing singer.

The album could be released this summer.

Arriving in Sweden again —gotta go and finish recording my songs!

Last night was kind of a mess. We tried to work on Shooting Star but it was just terrible. We played together like an absurd caricature of a mediocre band. No matter what we did, it just turned out sub–par.

2003 - AGM by Justin Winokur 1

So we decided to take a different approach. Christoffer learned my chords and played the song on the Rhoades electric piano and laid down a track of that. All of a sudden everything clicked. I could sing the notes, and the song felt better that we imagined it ever would have—especially after the boom crash mess we had spent the last few hours trudging through. But, it was after midnight and we were all too tired to work any more. Delirious with exhaustion, I was falling asleep each time I blinked—dreaming 300 millisecond dreams each time. In spite of our new brilliant path, this song would have to wait for the morning.

It was funny, though. When I got back to Gubben's Hus I couldn't fall asleep. I tried melatonin, 5-HTP, and focused meditative breathing. Even the beating of those drums was no match for my unyielding circadian rhythm. So I laid awake much of the night, in and out of fragmented sleep—hoping desperately to put the sporadic dozing minutes together into the completed puzzle of a full–night's sleep.

Today was much more productive than yesterday. Through some miracle we were able to lay down bass guitar, drums, and scratch guitar for five songs. I still can not believe it. Even a band that has practiced together for many months can often not record basic tracks for five songs in one day. Now imagine that three people who have never played the songs together getting together and hammering it all out in a short 12 hours!

Life is ironic, and no facet of it is exempt from this irony. And my recording session was especially plagued by it. Of course, the songs we thought would be the easiest ended up taking many hours to even get to the point where we could play together without everything turning into a catastrophic musical fiasco. Yet we layed down Blue Eyes—the song I thought would require the most work—in a mere 45 minutes.

Today was truly incredible, though. I thought that there was no way that any mortal humans could completely track three songs in four days. So of course Christoffer suggested we ought to do four. And when I arrive I played him a song of mine he had not heard before—Celestial. So then the four song plan turned immediately into the five song plan. Maybe we're immortal, then. Basic tracks completed today: Shooting Star, Just Go Out With Me, Just Go Out With Me, Celestial, and Blue Eyes.

2003 - AGM by Justin Winokur 2

Jens Jansson was really a trooper, and his drumming was excellent. I was sad he had to go. He is so much fun just to be around. When we dropped him off in Sjöbo to catch a bus back to Malmö at about 10:55 PM, I suggested to Christoffer that maybe we ought to drop by the one depressing pub in town and have a drink to unwind. So, we did what Christoffer and I do second best next to making music together: we took a break there and sat and had some great conversations.

I had hoped to run into some of the people I hung out with last time I was at that bar in Sjöbo, but none of them showed up. That says a lot about that town. It is quite small, but just not quite small enough that all the people you know are at the pub on a Friday evening. I remember last time I was at that bar was a Saturday night and it seemed empty. The bartender told me that I missed the boat—Friday night was the good night. But, today was Friday. Was this as good as Vollsjö gets? An acoustic guitar player played to an audience of zero in the other room, and the restaurant–by–day and pub–by–night was nowhere near packed with no more than 25 people. Welcome to a hopping Friday night at the only bar in Sjöbo.

Soon the acoustic guitar player's set ended, and he was immediately replaced with painfully unintelligent Euro techno. The music and the obnoxiously loud level at which it was played seemed much more appropriate for a large European dance club packed full of drunk 18–year–olds looking to fuck. In a nearly empty pub in a forgotten rural town drowning in the ocean of the Southern farmlands of Sweden the pounding dance music seemed almost comical. Nobody was dancing. Not a single cell in any of the bodies in the room was dancing. Yet the room was filled with smoke. My hearing and the clean, fresh scent of my smoke–free garments are not worth this abuse, I thought. Time to stop by the store, pick up some cookies, and go home. And that is what we did. Christoffer sent me off with a bottle of whiskey to help me fall asleep better than last night. Ah, better lihing through chemicals. And, after a few shots of the spirits, I'm in the mood for snoring. After another cookie or two, that is. Good night for now...
Justin Winokur

14 Mar 2003

Small town, big feelings (II): P, C & C in the Aerosol Grey Machine Studio

We have news from the Aerosol Grey Machine Studio, the studio owned by Christoffer Lundquist. Per Gessle and Vibeke Saugestad are involved.

According to The Daily Roxette and Roxette Service, Per Gessle has been working in a new Swedish solo album since last year. It will be released in May.

As usual, Per recorded the demos in T&A Studio (Halmstad) with MP Persson, between May 2002 and February 2003. When they began, they did not really know if it could be a solo album or maybe an album by Gyllene Tider.

After the summer 2002, Per planned a project with a small band: Clarence Öfwerman (keyboards and Roxette's producer), Christoffer Lundquist (bass and backing vocals) and Jens Jansson (drums and percussion).

Between December 2002 and February 2003, they have been working in the Aerosol Grey Machine Studio (owned by Christoffer Lundquist since 1998), a house in Vollsjö, a small urban area (788 habitants) in the Sjöbo Municipality (Sjöbo Kommun).

AGM is nestled in a beautiful rural environment in southern Sweden. The AGM is primarily an analogue studio with lots of vintage equipment and an two live echo-chambers. Lodging is close: "Gubbens hus" (The old man's house) is a three-room house with six beds, bathroom, shower, kitchen, micro wave oven and TV, within walking distance from the studio.

It seems Per, Clarence, Chris and Jens have called Helena Josefsson from Sandy Mouche in order to do the backing vocals in the album.

We will have more news about it in May. Just read Per Gessle's words below.

I did it on my own responsability. I decided to not to contact the record company before everything would already be finished. I started by writing down thoughts about the album. It should be about small town thoughts, but with big feelings. Clarence Öfwerman and I got rooms at the local bed & breakfast, a single room each. No families, no kids, just the two of us and Christoffer. We started our days by watching music movies, and finished them by playing disco. A lot of things we did imprinted on the album. If you would grind the three of us and everything we like it would sound just like the album. Christoffer has played a lot of guitar, he proved to be quite good. I play the bass, because I don’t know how to - so it gets to be charming. A guitarist doesn’t play the way a real bass player would. You do those sexy things you hear a bass player do, the fast climbs along the neck, but you do it at the wrong places. And maybe a bit too often. You get tasteless and totally ruthless. It’s fun when you can’t play for real, you get happy.

Recordings with Roxette can be enormously finical and stretch out over a long period, with many different studios involved. This time the three of us have worked really intensive, which gives the album a very clear identity. Roxette’s albums are more… I would say anonymous, if the word didn’t have such a bad ring to it. Totally different. Just the reverse.

It's been a totally fantastic recording. An incredible recording really. We have stayed in a hostel and worked basically around the clock, five weeks down in a snow-covered Skåne. Christoffer and Clarence have shared my dream to make a warm, immediate and yet kind of thoughtful album. Small town. Small thoughts but Big feelings. I don’t think I can get any more personal than this.
Per Gessle

In 2003, Christoffer Lundquist, Per Gessle's new producer, was looking for a female voice. And he asked people in the area. They mentioned my name, since I have sung with a lot of other artists from the south of Sweden. And I got to the AGM studio to record. Per Gessle wasn´t there but he liked it and I was in!
Helena Josefsson (Sandy Mouche)

Vibeke Saugestad is a Norwegian singer that has released this week a new album, Overdrive, a follow up to her first solo album, 2001's Into The Shimmering. She also sang and/or played keyboards in the bands Weld, Thelyblast, Thinkerbell, and Yum Yums. The album is produced by Christoffer Lundquist and the musicians are David Birde (Brainpool), Magnus Börjeson (Beagle), Morten Henriksen and Tomas Dahl (Yum Yums). David and Magnus are the songwriters of most of the songs.

According to music reviews, whereas Into The Shimmering toned down Vibeke's rocking tendencies to fit into a softer, somewhat balladic mould, Overdrive is generally much more uptempo and hard-edged. The album includes the songs: 'C'mon C'mon C'mon', 'Lovesong', 'My Final Invitation', 'Here She Comes Again', 'All You Ever Need'.

10 Mar 2003

Helena Josefsson, backing singer at Malmö's studios (III): The Ark - Disease

The Ark, the Swedish glam rock band from Malmö, has unleashed a new single from their second album, "In Lust We Trust". "Disease" features Helena Josefsson (Sandy Mouche) as background singer.