Christoffer Lundquist and Clarence Öfwerman were interviewed by Judith Seuma and Kirsten Ohlwein, from roxette.blog, last week. In their great interviews, they spoke about NOTP and Roxette's plans for 2010. We also add the words of Per Gessle to The Daily Roxette.
So far I have it all. But of course, there’s the other side of touring, the travelling, being away from your family. To start with, it’s great, because we have lots of fun, we like being together. Short tours are great, like last Spring, that was great all the way through. This one is maybe a bit too long, we are away from our families for nine weeks, towards the end it feels a bit sad. But of course, it’s great playing live and spending time with the other guys in the band.
In this tour there is less room than ever, mostly because of the orchestra. But for example, we planned last Spring’s tour in a way so that we could have more room for this. We consciously tried to do that, let lose a bit, take a bit more chances than normal and hope for the best. What happens is, when you succeed on that, you become stronger and want to do that more often. The communication with the audience then reaches a peak, everybody is in the same moment. Of course, that’s a risk, and sometimes it’s not that great, but I think it’s good to take those chances, that risk. No risk, no fun.
Of course, you can’t do that during this tour. Well, we added the “Hey Jude” part during this NOTP tour to “The Look”. Marie just came up with it. She just started singing “Hey Jude” so we were all “what?”. It came out of nowhere, and it actually sounds great, so we kept it. She is actually like that, she’s always done such things, she has so much music in her, it’s so natural for her to improvise. I think she always did that live on stage, changing melodies. Of course, if you are that secure with that way of singing, you can get away with mistakes and such. We are all “Wow! What happened?”. Marie Fredriksson is wonderful. She is my idol, I think she is such a hero. After all she’s been through, she still can do this in front of so many people, and she is SO strong, she’s got so much inner strength. I bow my head to her. It’s so much fun when she is happy on stage, we all feel that so much. It was bad when she got the throat thing, that was hard. But still, she simply went for it, other artists would have cancelled the show, I mean, she couldn’t speak at all, had no voice. But she was like “no no, up on stage, let’s do it”. I think she has a new sort of dimension in her voice, maybe because of what she has gone through, what comes out is your collected experiences as human being, and she has had more experiences than most of us, so when I hear her singing now, I think it’s even better than before. There is something new there. Some days ago, I don’t remember which concert, I think I heard the best version of “It must have been love” ever, it was like a new song almost, so fragile, so full of feeling. It meant so much in a way. And when she sings the new songs Per wrote, we are all like “wow!”, it’s so fun to hear the two voices singing new songs together, it’s wonderful.
Cologne was a special night in Party Crasher Tour. But unfortunately the recording from the gig in Hamburg went wrong. So we couldn’t have “Hello Stuttgart” on the record. I would have loved that . The “finally Stuttgart” sign is in the tour bus now. It must be weird for fans from Stuttgart who don’t know it and ask “why is Stuttgart so funny?”. But Per recovered great. He said “it’s great to be here in Stuttgart..and Hamburg, and Cologne.” So he really saved himself in the last minute. But he will hear that for the rest of his life.
Our adventures on YouTube are getting worse and worse I think! Haha! When you tour, a certain silliness enters your brain because there is really nothing else to do. So your mind goes a bit empty, that’s what happens.
The break between the first song and our second part is very long, so we sit there for hours. I think Per counted the hours and realized we are going to sit backstage a total of five full days. It’s so difficult to do anything, you try to read books, but you can’t, you can listen to music, that’s the only thing. It’s the same in hotel rooms, you can’t do anything there, it’s so difficult to concentrate and get going. It’s like… BLANK. And then silliness takes over.
The silly videos are actually only boring, those don’t make it. But that’s Per’s decision, he does that on his own. He also goes around with the camera all the time, so always when he comes in the room it’s like “Hellooooo!” holding the camera, he never stops. He’s got this energy, I don’t know where he gets it from, it’s like an infinite source of positive energy, he’s amazing in that way. I’ve never met anybody who is like that actually. He never gets tired.
NOTP is different from my taste of music and style of performing, but getting to know it all and being part of it made me realize how incredibly well everything is organized and how difficult it is to do something like this. And they have done this for such a long time, and people keep coming. They are very nice and really good at what they do. So I appreciate it a lot.
The audience in Antwerp was great, everybody was dancing, ages ranged between 5 and 80, everybody was totally into it, like a huge family party every night. The audience is very different in Germany, it’s a bit older, but at the same time Roxette has more support here, so for us that’s great.
The artists slowly get to know each other. Our dressing rooms are next to each other, and we also eat together. They are all very nice. But maybe the choice of artists was a bit better in Belgium and Holland. Toots was great, I liked him a lot.
In the German part I am sort of getting into the Alan Parsons project part a bit more. I haven’t listened to it before. The second song is really nice (sings a part of Silence and I). The instrumental section in the middle is nice. Maybe that would be my favorite. And before it was Toots Thielemans. Yes, maybe you shouldn’t listen to him too many times. I think it was a bit long maybe. The film music medley was going on and going on. The Bluesette was great. Jazz is not my thing. I don’t know much about Jazz, but he is a melodic jazz player. He is 87 and plays something new every night. He has had a couple of strokes as well and he comes on stage, improvising, in front of 10.000 people. And he has some Swedish connection. In the 60’s he was working a lot with classic Swedish jazz singer Monica Zetterlund, who is fantastic, and also a pair of Swedish comedians, who everybody loves and knows, Hasse och Tage. He wrote music for their films and they made lyrics in Swedish for them. His jazz tunes are very well known in Sweden. He speaks Swedish. He comed and says “hej, hur mår du?” (laughs). And he was in the bar and was singing the theme from Swedish children’s movies that he made the music for. He was fantastic.
Clarence Öfwerman and I wrote the arrangements this summer. And they have an arranger and he added some things here and there. But we wrote the main part. And also they added things for “The Look” and “Joyride”, we wrote less for these and they said that we have to keep people in the orchestra happy, they have to play something, so we added a bit of stuff that maybe we wouldn’t have written to keep people play. But it’s still stuff that we like. That was fun. We actually wrote arrangements for the songs we were supposed to play in 2002, too. They were never used in the end. So there were arrangements for “Crash!Boom!Bang!” and “Anyone”. They were put together to one song for the huge orchestra. I hope we can use that some day. It’s a great song. It’s one of the best songs on “Have a nice day.”
We performed “Junk” with Brainpool and a symphony orchestra once. That was like the concert of my life. I never had so much fun. When we started the project I thought like “oh, this is going to be scary, it’s not going to work” and I remember maybe two or three songs into it it just felt like “yes, this is right, this is how it should be”. But that’s because it is a rock opera. But touring with Roxette or maybe a whole Per Gessle concert with an orchestra doesn’t really make sense. In this context it’s good, but otherwise not. The whole idea “Classic meets Pop” is very rarely successful, I think. A lot of bands have done it, Metallica (S&M, 1999) etc etc. And it feels like something bands do when they get bored. “We have to develop. Let’s get an orchestra”. For me, it’s not my style, but it’s very well done. They use it in a good way, I think, but I prefer Metallica without the orchestra.
I really don’t know how are we going to record the new album of Roxette. We are talking about it all the time, it might be a mixture. This time we might have a bit more or real playing, more than in Party Crasher where we used programmed drums. That was fun to do, we hadn’t done that before, but we’ll see.
I sort of play with my guitar what sounds natural to me. I haven’t listened to so much heavy metal music. No, that’s not my thing. But I like riffs. I like all the riffs Jonas Isascsson plays and that he came up with . I always rememberThe Look intro. That’s brilliant stuff I think. For me that sounds like it comes from The Beatles. It doesn’t sound like it comes from heavy metal. It’s a bit of both actually, but for me it sounds more like a Beatles riff. Jonas is such a great musician, he’s so technical and he can play so many styles. I am not like that at all. He’s just a hundred times better than I am. Jonas does that great. Yeah, Jonas is the best guitarist Alan Parsons ever had. I hope, Alan Parsons realizes it. You can see that he likes it. He’s into it, improvising and having fun. Playing with Jonas is great. He’s so musical, he has such a good ear and listens and adapts and always comes up with great stuff and this is wonderful.
The first couple of nights I got the stomach flu and I was bluaaaaah all over the place and I couldn’t be in the same dressing room like the others, so I wasn’t actually there in the first four nights. I sat in my own little isolation cell, no contact with anyone, no idea what was going on… Yeah, I am getting old. The guy I met in the reception was the back fixer. I haven’t been able to sleep because my arm hurts. It’s hard being a rock musician. I think it’s a combination of playing the bass and stress, maybe. You are tensed and then the muscles and nerves get squeezed..
“The Proms” guys always make jokes. In Frankfurt, during Heaven 17 there is a lot of smoke on the stage, one of the violin guys from the orchestra, had a gas mask on stage, just for the fun. He’s crazy. One day he played with the violin on his back. Patrick is also fun, he’s been doing this from the beginning, he has done about 700 concerts. He is also good getting the audience to participate.
I just put the notes together. I have never studied anything about classic music. In some of my early works as a producer I just tried it out, and I learnt a lot from that. I still don’t know how to do that properly, but it works. Now Christoffer Lundquist and I do it together, none of us is really educated in this direction, so we only trust our ears.
I added the original “Wish I Could Fly” arrangements to the song for NOTP. Then we added some trumpets and stuff. Well, there are some things in “Listen to your heart” which were added by NOTP guys. We did about 90-95% of the arrangements. The Proms guys added the rest, which are mostly wind instruments.
It’s nice to get the response of the audience. It’s wonderful with Marie, she’s stronger and stronger. I think from the 4th or 5th concert it’s just going up. Marie surprised us all being this good, it’s fantastic.
Marie also added “Hey Jude”. It’s actually an old thing, Marie used to add this sometimes in some concerts too. It’s fun she does this again. She fell into it again. One line in “Place your love” is also a bit similar to “Hey Jude”, a small homage. Improvising is what great artists do. It’s difficult to do something every night, but sometimes it just works. It’s also not good to try every night to do something new, because it doesn’t always work. You just have to wait for and feel the moment.
I thought NOTP would be worse with all this waiting, and also the concept, which isn’t much Roxette. And I wasn’t sure about the audience. But I think it’s great. We do our thing, and then we have some time for ourselves. We listened to the other artists a couple of times, but not every night. I would love to do this again, with different songs.
We actually wrote arrangements for “Crash! Boom! Bang” together with “Anyone”, and back to “Crash!Boom!Bang”. It was similar to the “Room Service” tour, but with these arrangements we went back to “C!B!B” again in the end. So it was a bit different. We also did “Dressed for Success”. But I think lots of songs would fit this concept. “Queen of rain”, with Per and Marie singing the chorus together.
We will record new songs again in Bremen and in Cologne. We are just trying out things, keys, who shall sing what part and this kind of stuff. We have some songs with Marie’s vocals, guide vocals, something we can work with, and then we’ll have Marie come to the studio to sing the final vocals. We have no demos for the new Roxette songs. We only have the guitar and vocals. The idea of the songs, but it’s very basic. But I understand that fans like demos so much, I would also like to listen to the Beatles demos, for example.
We have started working on a new record, that's the plan. I'm filming a lot of the recordings. But on the other hand, I can't publish them, because I don't want people to hear those songs. So it's like a dead end. But I think it's fun, it's a fun way of communicating and the Internet has made everything so much easier. From a fan's point of view I think it's just fantastic to be able to see what's going on in the studio, backstage or in the tour bus. We only just started the recordings, but I wrote a lot of songs this year after the tour with Roxette in mind. We have started on two songs, but we have like 13. We have a pretty good idea of what we want to do, which is the hardest thing. So far so good. After NOTP we are going to start late January. We're recording in Christopher's studio and then we're doing Marie's vocals in Stockholm.
After Night of the Proms I'm going to work on the Roxette album. And then - I don't know. I'm sure there will be another Gyllene Tider tour, and I'm sure there will be another Per Gessle tour in Europe, as well as another Per Gessle album. You know, I'm just writing. Like this summer: we knew that Night of the Proms was going to happen and then I told Marie "let's try to do an album". Then I started working on songs, that's how I work. After that album, who knows? Maybe if we think the time is right for Gyllene Tider to do something, and then I will start working on Gyllene Tider songs. Maybe a summer tour.
The problem that I have with the Party Crasher project is that I have a non-working record company. EMI is really not working anymore. Nowhere. A little bit in England, but in England I'm with Sony. Sony is much better in England. I’ve walked my head into a wall so many times regarding that album. It was the same with Son of a Plumber when that album came out. The response I was getting from the record company was nothing. So I have to find another way. You know, it's a contract thing as well. I have to sort all these business things out. But, of course, I'm very disappointed that there hasn't been a proper American release for Son of a Plumber or Party Crasher. On the other hand, both albums are quite timeless, so eventually something could happen. Maybe if a song from Party Crasher would be in a commercial, then the whole album could happen I think. I'm not really in charge of that, but you know me - my plan is always to dominate the world. It's a tough one, though. In the music industry you’re in between chairs, so to speak. It's really hard to know what's going on and how you're going to work. There's always an opportunity to do an American tour, like I did in Europe, but that costs so much money. Someone has to pay for it, someone has to pay guys like him (Per points at Oskar, the tour manager and tech guy who laughs out loud). But I'd love to do it. The Over Europe tour, the Party Crasher tour, was one of the most fun tours ever made for me. The same goes for the band. Those were great shows, and I love that album. That's why I released a live album. Normally, when you come back from a tour, you feel like: "Yeah, well, that was the tour." But in this case it actually gave some songs new life and it just is a great testament of my catalogue of songs. I just feel very comfortable.
About the demos? Well, I have a plan for the future but it also has a lot to do with the recording contracts. I thought about something like putting my demos on iTunes or whatever. Basically because I think that if you're interested in my music, it's interesting to listen to my demos. And there are so many of them. For up until the Son of a Plumber album, there are demos for basically every song I have written. Of course some of them have been released, I did this Bad Hair Day thing and some Christmas things as well. But there are so many songs, I don't really know what to do with them, so the idea is probably to make some sort of an archive. Like I said, I have to sort out all this with the record company. I do know there's a big interest. I've been doing this for over 30 years now. When you are my age and you have this - I have written more than 1000 songs in my life - I think it's great to be able to have an archive, one that if you're interested you can listen to it. It's the same with the reason why I wanted Sven Lindström to do that book: because it's been a long career. If you wait too long, people are going to forget. Maybe you will even forget it yourself, or the ones you're working with. It's fun to do it when you're still around and you have the motivation to do it.