2012 was a massive year for Swedish rock ‘n’ rollers, The Hives. They released their first album in 5 years, embarked on an extensive touring schedule, and once again reminded audiences why they are the ‘best band in the world‘. On the eve of another bought of touring, we sat down with frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist to talk about longevity, re-establishing the ‘rules of the Hives’ and how he hopes the band will be remembered.
By Meghan Player
“It certainly was,” the enigmatic frontman enthuses. Taking the time to reflect on the previous year, Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist is understandably happy with how 2012 looked for the band. “Coachella was the first official gig and it was very memorable. Before that, we played a surprise punk club show in Stockholm,” he explains. “[It was] the size of a wardrobe – two shows in one night for sweaty teenagers who crawled all over us.”
The return to touring – and indeed sweaty club shows – was marked by the bands first record in 5 years. ‘Lex Hives‘ – a high energy, adrenalin-fuelled, punchy album – and perhaps the most ambitious and grandiose Hives album to date.
“I’m very proud of the record!”, Almqvist beams. “I think it’s our most consistent album yet. It was really fun to just play as a band in one studio – like a live show.”
“We really tried to make [the album] sooner,” he explains when asked about the ‘5 year break’, “but too much shit got in the way and fucked up our work flow. It really was a terrible couple of years, but we’re hoping to be back on track now.”
Getting back on track for, not only the album, but the touring that followed meant an interesting, yet simple change for the band – establishing a set of ‘rules’ that would see them return to the circuit renewed and energised.
Interestingly the rules were quite simple – inspiring the band to go back to their roots and only make music that they themselves would listen to. A simple concept that may continue with their next album.
“I think we have to see what makes us excited the next time we make a record, and take it from there,” Almqvist explains. “We want every album to feel like a new one, and at least to us, different from the last.”
Creating a different album to what the band released previously, also meant approaching Lex Hives in a new, ‘experimental’ way – with the band covering all aspects of its production. Undoubtedly, this meant ten times more work for the band itself – a process that the singer is more than happy to explain.
“It was as much an experiment as it was about design,” he tells. “We wanted to feel the strength that comes from doing it all and to also see what it would be like.”
“It was a lot of fucking work though,” he laughs. “So we might want to ask for a bit of help on the next one.”
The hint of a new album on the horizon is impossible to ignore – but certainly begs the question – “where does the band go from here?”
“We have some great stuff for a new [album], but making albums always seems the easiest before you start. We’ll just have to keep working on it til it is better.”
While the band continue to work on the follow-up to Lex Hives – there is one thing that will remain certain with the release. It will always be a reflection of the band itself – a core ethos that has been present throughout their career, even when the style or structure of an album or song changed.
“We love the Hives as a band as much as our fans,” Almqvist explains, “but making exactly the same thing seems to make a band lose energy over the years. At least, that’s what it sounds like to me when I listen to other bands.”
“Ideally, you could do both AC/DC consistency and David Bowie reinvention – but I don’t see that happening a lot,” he continues. “We usually land somewhere in between – half the reviews say we sound exactly the same, but that’s mostly because they don’t listen to much other rock.”
“It’s like when your mum says all Black Metal or Rap sounds the same.”
With that being said, it makes one curious to know just how the Hives would like to be remembered in 20, 30, 40 years time.
“Simply for being The Hives because nobody else would be. For bringing back what makes rock and roll exciting after many years of rap metal and other bullshit.”
Amen to that.
Many thanks to Pelle for taking the time to chat to us. Special thanks also to Jodie @ DewProcess.
You can check out the latest tour details for The Hives at: http://www.thehivesbroadcastingservice.com