Roxette's Per Gessle opens up about the band's past, his life-long love of music, singer Marie Fredriksson's near-fatal brain tumour, and writing hit records.
From the age of six, seven, eight, music has been my life. I was always working on weekends delivering newspapers and doing stuff like that so I actually had 100 LPs when I was 10 years old because all my money went into second-hand records.
Growing up I didn't pay much attention to school, I was more interested in playing guitar. I was especially influenced by the '70s new wave and, for me, the new wave meant that I didn't need to be very good – which fitted me perfectly. So I formed a band Gyllene Tyder and we were really lucky - we'd done six shows in front of people before we'd had our first number one record in 1980.
When we started out with Roxette in the '80s, not coming from England, not coming from the 'States, the odds were definitely not on our side. So what we've achieved is amazing. There are so many moments on stage - in Peru or Malaysia or wherever - when Marie and myself look at each other and go: 'Is this really happening?' We know that we've been very lucky and we're very greatful for all that success.
Four or five years ago, I didn't believe there was going to be any more Roxette. Marie was so ill in 2002 and she only had a five percent chance of surviving so the odds were definitely not on our side at all. This tour actually started off when I was touring by myself in 2009. Marie visited me in Amsterdam, in Holland and I asked her if she would join me on stage to do some Roxette tracks.
Marie was really really nervous and she didn't have any self-confidence. She struggled but she got through it and the reception she got from the crowd was just mind-blowing. That was the moment that changed everything for her. Three weeks later she called me up and asked me if I could write a new Roxette album, which became Charm School. That was the start of the second edition of Roxette.
People love our songs, they seem to be part of people's lives - which is just amazing. The songs I write are based on the music I listened to when I was very young - music from the '60s, '70s - so everything I do is basically melody-oriented. I think also it has helped that we're not American, we're not English so we've always been a little bit offside. We're a Swedish band with a Swedish manager, a Swedish producer, so we've done everything outside the global music industry and I think that's really helped us out. There have been times when people have said: "You have to move to New York or LA, or at least move to London", but we've never wanted to do that.
We always listen to our gut feeling. It was the same when I wrote the new album, Charm School. My ambition was not to write a best-selling album. I just wanted to write a great album for Marie - these are the songs I want her to sing. If it works commercially, then hallelujah. If it doesn't, we've still done a great album.
When we perform, we're one of those bands who don't use computers, vocals on tape, or click tracks or whatever - it's just 100 percent live, like when we started out. For us that's so much more fun - sometimes a song goes too fast, sometimes it goes too slow - and every show is unique. We try to make it interesting and enjoyable for ourselves.