Interview: Roxette (2011)7 min read
Swedish pop duo Roxette, consisting of Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle, emerged onto the pop scene back in 1986 with their debut record Pearls Of Passion followed by their international 1988 breakthrough, the iconic Look Sharp.
Instantly winning over fans and critics alike Look Sharp included the massive singles The Look, Dangerous, Dressed For Success and Listen To You Heart. The band also taught the world a thing or two about power ballads with mammoth number ones that included the classic It Must Have Been Love as well as further future hits throughout the nineties such as Fading Like A Flower (Every time You Leave), Spending My Time, Crash! Boom! Bang! and Joyride. Catchy melodies and infectious hooks would pave the bands way and secure a position within the international spotlight.
Having taken the best part of the last decade away from the band due to singer Marie Fredriksson being diagnosed with a brain tumor in late 2002 for which she has since fully recovered, Roxette made their long awaited return to the world stage last year with performances around Europe. This year saw Roxette release their first record in ten years Charm School and take to the road for a never ending world tour. While the band were jetting around Europe, Marie and Per were kind enough to spare some time for a Q&A with Brendon, a dedicated Roxette aficionado. Here is what the band had to say.
Brendon Veevers: How are you both?
Per Gessle: In a humble state, full of positive energy from the music, the crowds and the most recent room service.
BV: Where does this Q&A find you?
PG: In my hotel suite in Helsinki, Finland
BV: So, Roxette has had quite an incredible year with a new record, Charm School, and a tour than seems to be going exceptionally well. What are your thoughts on everything that has happened in these past 24 months and the international comeback of Roxette?
PG: It’s been overwhelming. We didn’t expect anything like this!! We started touring in Feb and it looks like the tour will go on for at least another year. So it will eventually be the biggest Roxette-tour ever!!! We’re playing to almost 1.5 million people. Amazing. It has become like the Groundhog’s Day-movie. As soon as we do a show another one gets added!!!
BV: You have taken your time with getting back on the road full time and with good reason, due to your (Marie) health. Marie, how how are you feeling being back on the road with Roxette?
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Marie Fredriksson: Fantastic! The crowds all over the planet give me so much energy, so much love and affection. Without the fans this wouldn’t be possible. It sounds like a strange “rehab” but it works for me! I’m very happy and extremely fortunate to experience this.
BV: You are known the world over for singles including It Must Have Been Love, Joyride, The Look, Listen To Your Heart and my personal favorite Spending My Time. What are your personal favorite Roxette song(s)?
MF: Perfect Day
PG: Milk And Toast And Honey
BV: What was it like to finally be back in the studio to record Charm School?
MF: Strange to begin with. But after a while we remembered where the record-button was located!
PG: It felt really special to have Marie on board again. I’ve been doing so many records without her the last decade, I had to pinch my arm a few times when she was singing! Like in the old days. Very special.
BV: You will be releasing a special version of Charm School called Charm School Revisited very soon. When will UK fans be able to get thier hands on a copy of the release and what can we look forward to on the record?
PG: Guess it will be released in November. It’s a double-CD with all Per’s Charm School-demos included. We noticed through Roxette Official on Facebook that the fans appreciate the demos so much. It felt like a cool idea to release them.
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BV: Are there any plans to continue after Charm School Revisited? Will we get another Roxette studio album?
PG: Yea, there will be a TOURISM II released in March 2012. It’s a brand new album recorded on the road, in hotelrooms and on soundchecks. It also got some live stuff of course as well as eight brand new studio recordings. We’ve been busy with this album since June this year. It’s gonna be fab!!!! Touring like we do creates a certain energy in the band. It’s great to use that in new recordings. We released TOURISM I with the same concept in 1992 and it was a big success for us.
BV: You have worked with a lot of the same producers and musicians throughout your time as Roxette including Clarence Ofwerman and Christoffer Lundquist who are fundamental parts of the Roxette team and who join you on tour. You must all be very close as a band?
PG: Yes, we have the best band there is. Old friends with strange haircuts all of them. Chris & Clare are crucial to our sound. Without them we would have sounded very different.
BV: You have an amazing team behind you who have been with you for most of, if not all, of your Roxette careers. If you could work with any other artists who would you chose?
PG: Tom Petty or Nick Lowe
BV: You are going to be playing London’s Wembley Arena on November 15th and its the first UK concert for Roxette in quite a few years and we are all very excited. What can UK fans expect?
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PG: Basically a greatest hits-show. We decided early on that we should play what people want to hear. And we love those songs too so it’s never a problem.
BV: The demand for Roxette live has been huge with well over 700,000 people having already seen the tour. Will there be another tour after Charm School?
PG: So far this tour has shows booked until October 2012. After that we don’t know. Mental hospital maybe?
BV: We got to see you on the Belguim leg of the Night of the Proms tour last year as well as in Halmstad, Sweden and we have to say they were phenomenal performances and the set list was every Roxette fans dream. What are your favorite songs to play live?
MF: I love to sing those big ballads. They’re demanding but I like that.
PG: I love to play those guitar-driven songs like 7Twenty7 or The Look. They make me sweat!
BV: As songwriters and recording artists, what is the process of recording a new Roxette record?
PG: I’m the writer, Marie’s the singer. That has always been the Roxette concept. Sometimes we step out of that pattern, of course. Me, Chris & Clare are doing the basic backing tracks, Marie joins in when it’s time to twist and shout.
BV: The music industry has changed a lot over the past 25 years and we are now in a predominantly digital world. How different has the process of recording an album changed for Roxette?
PG: The recording process hasn’t really changed at all for us. We still have the same musical ideals as before. However, the music industry has become very different and has definitely lost some of its magic. At least for us who started out in the 70’s.
BV: Roxette songs are known all over the world and part of the reason for that is due to fact that they are so catchy and contain such memorable hooks. What do you think is the recipe for a perfect pop song?
PG: I don’t think there is one. From a writer’s point of view I think you have to stay true to your heart and trust your gut feeling. It’s impossible for me to write a song in a style that I don’t like.
BV: You both have families, how have they adapted to both of you being back on the road so much and in the international spotlight once again and do they travel with you?
PG: Yes, both Mikael and Asa works with The Roxette Group. So the problem is all those kids!!! Sometimes they join us and we bring teachers along!
BV: You have both been such inspiring artists and role models to so many people around the world, what advice would you give to someone wanting to persue a career as a recording and touring artist like yourselves?
PG: Oh, it’s hard to do these days. The commercial music industry doesn’t really support individuals, songwriters and weirdos in a way it used to. Today it’s much more about quick fame and fast bucks. So…. if you think you have what it takes…… don’t give up and prove the industry wrong!!!
BV: So what’s next for Roxette?
PG: Meet and greet with the Finnish fans. Then tea and make-up.
BV: Thank you for your time
Roxette: You’re always welcome.
Roxette will be playing London’s Wembley Arena on November 15th and their new album Charm School is out now.
::: RenownedForSound.com’s Editor and Founder –
Interviewing and reviewing the best in new music and globally recognized artists is his passion.
Over the years he has been lucky enough to review thousands of music releases and concerts and interview artists ranging from top selling superstars like 27-time Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss, Boyz II Men, Roxette, Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Loeb and iconic Eagles front man/songwriter, Glenn Frey through to more recent successes including Newton Faulkner, Janelle Monae and Caro Emerald.
Brendon manages and coordinates the amazing team of writers on RenownedForSound.com who are based in the UK, the U.S and Australia.