STILL VICIOUS The Hives

Howlin’
Pelle Almqvist and his style-conscious bandmates are only getting started.

 

BY JOHN B. MOORE

 

Swedish rockers The Hives stepped out of the garage just in
the nick of time.

 

In 2000, radio stations and outdoor concert venues across
the U.S.
were being held hostage by a never-ending drip of band like 3 Doors Down,
Disturbed and the Lex Luthor of bro rock, Nickleback. As a collective record
buying public was showing signs of Stockholm Syndrome, actually shelling out
cash for CDs by their tormenters, Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist and his
style-conscious bandmates in The Hives – weaned on The Stones and The Sex
Pistols – crashed through the stash house clad in matching black and white suits
with copies of Veni Vidi Vicious under their arms and the promise that rock music no longer had to suck.

 

Twelve years and just a handful of albums later (in this
case, handful means three), Almqvist and his boys in black and white (and
lately in formal tuxedos) are finally back with a new record, Lex Hives, their first studio effort in
half a decade. Though the band never really went away, opting
to spend years on the road, they finally have a dozen or so new tracks to add
to their already impressive garage rock cannon.  

 

Already on tour to promote Lex Hives, Almqvist was kind enough to speak recently about what
the band has been up to between studio visits, self-producing this record and
why they aren’t afraid to show fans that they actually dig their day job show
after show.

 

 

 

BLURT: It’s
been about five years since your last full length was released in the U.S. I know you
spent a lot of that time touring. What else has the band been up to during that
time?

ALMQVIST: Fly-fishing, bicycling, legal battles,
hospital visits, travelling, dinners, drinks, recording, rehearsing,
re-recording, mixing.

 

Ok,
fair enough. You guys are known for putting on a fantastic live show and you
have spent the better part of the last 10 years on the road. Does being that
“on” night after night and touring ever get old?

It may get old, but it doesn’t get tired. Now that we have
not had a full tour schedule in two years, that means we miss it a lot. You
need to tour ‘til you’re sick of it and then record ‘til you are sick of that.
In our case we do both for a really long time before getting sick of either.
Just cause we love rock ‘n’ roll. Yes, still.

 

How do
you stay sane on the road, then?

I don’t know how necessary it is to stay sane. A trick,
however, is to do things during the day that are far removed from venues or
buses or airports. It may be going to a forest or a museum depending on
availability of either. Just anything that is very un-rock.

 

What
are some of your best stories from being on the road?

Difficult question. May I counter with what is the best
story from your life the past 20 years? I will do an old trick called “the
first thing that comes to mind”: Once upon a time we play a show in Germany and a
guy just walks into our tour bus and grabs a beer. We have never met him before.
We stare at him like “what the fuck is going on?” and he says:  “No, it’s ok. I am an American.” This
then being some kind of license to go anywhere and take anything apparently? It
later turns out, the guy is from Canada. 

 

Typical
self-entitled Canadian (kidding). Are you glad to start adding some newer songs
into the live shows?

Yes. Ecstatic actually!

 

You
decided, for the most part, to produce this album on your own? How did that
work out? Were there any big disagreements in the studio?

For the entire duration!  Yes, it had its ups and downs
but a lot more ups than downs actually. There was a lot of fussing but we were
surprisingly sensitive to each others’ sensibilities and thoughts as to what
should make it on the album. Sure, we threw some stuff at each other and yelled
a fair amount but anything that’s worth doing is hard doing. 

 

Why did
you decide to bring in Josh Homme from Queens
of the Stone Age in to produce for some of the extra tracks (those tracks were
added to a deluxe version on Lex Hives)?

We were mixing our album in LA and it was finished. Josh
happened to be off at the same time so we stole him for a few days. It would
sorta be a crime not to since we have been wanting to work and hang out with
each other more anyway

 

What
was he like to work with?

He was great to work with. At that time we had been
producing ourselves for a year so it was really great to just ask Josh
everything: Where do I stand? What amp do I plug into? Make this sound cool
somehow will you?
His studio is also pretty damn great.

 

The
thing I really like about this record is that there are some really diverse
songs. “Go Right Ahead” sounds like it could have come from the New York Dolls or Iggy
Pop. Were you listening to anything in particular when writing this album that
had an influence on some of the sounds? 

First of all, thank you for noticing. Yes, I think “Go Right
Ahead” specifically was influenced by us listening to some bargain basement
glam rock compilation. We even got the same type of guitar amp that T Rex used
to get the scuzz right. We always had a really broad spectrum of music that we
listened to. It’s more fun to try to wrestle inspiration for a rock song from
Gospel or Grindcore or Hip Hop something other than another rock song. We just
love hearing music and getting excited to play our own.

 

 

 

What’s
the story behind the song “Patrolling Days”? Is it based on someone
in particular?

It is based on me actually but written in a sort of poetic
manner that maybe makes it hard to decipher. I don’t know what everything in it
means but it feels absolutely like
what it means, if that makes sense.

 

You’re
putting this out on your own label. How did that decision come about?

Our deal with Interscope/Polydor was done and we didn’t want
to wait ‘til we were signed again to make a record so we just started making
one and paying for it ourselves and then you are sort of halfway there already.
It was also in part a sort of “Hives Emancipation Project”.  Knowing that we really still could do
everything ourselves. DIY to the nth degree baby!

 

Do you
have plans to turn it into a proper full service label that signs and
puts out records by other bands?

Not really right now. We have (thought about it) but asking
someone if you can raise their baby is a lot of responsibility and we are only
19-years-old as a band so it feels a little early to adopt.

 

I’ve
always been impressed by how much effort you and the rest of the guys put into
the band – from the all out live shows, the matching outfits – unlike many
bands you actually seem to be enjoying yourselves. Is that accurate to say?

It is right on the money. The joy of being in a band for us
was always about all the fun shit you can do with it rather than what we would
get out of it. It is pretty flexible. We can make a full length movie, a 7 inch
single, a t-shirt, a show, a shoe. Whatever we want to do fits under this
umbrella, and that’s good for us.

 

You
went to a lot of effort to have fun in promoting this album to the fans online
with contests. It’s a pretty impressive web site. Do you plan to do
more interesting things on the site in the coming year?

Yes I hope so. As soon as an idea comes we try to make it
come alive. Right now I am drawing a blank though, but stay tuned.

 

You
guys have already started to play tours again. How long do you plan to be
on the road? And when will you be playing the U.S. again?

We are touring at least through next summer then we will
see. We hit the east coast in June and the west in September
then another US
tour later in the fall. There won’t be a chance to miss us basically!

 

Those
are all the questions I have. Anything else you want to add?

Nah, not really. Oh. Wait. Vive Le Rock!

 

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