They’ve celebrated 20 years as a band, toured the world countless times and given the world a reason to dance again. Before heading back to Australia for the Big Day Out, we spoke to guitarist Nicholaus Arson about returning to our shores, festival preparation and the follow-up to Lex Hives.
By Meghan Player
“Happy New Year!” comes the jubilant Swedish voice from the other end of the line. Speaking from his home, Nicholaus Arson – the wide-eyed, frantic guitarist of the Hives – is unsurprisingly excited to be beginning 2014 by heading to Australia.
“We had a great time the last time we were there for the Big Day Out. It’s a pretty cool festival,” he enthuses. “At least with our experience, you get to hang out with all these bands, over a longer period of time. Last time around we were hanging around a lot with The Darkness and Slipknot. So, I mean, it’s a pretty cool deal. You have your days off in between, so you can plan to do stuff. It’s only our second time doing Big Day Out, but I’m pretty psyched to come back.”
Initially not included on the lineup, the band received the call to join the long-running festival after Blur pulled out of their headlining slot last month. But, it seems the band are more than happy to head back to our shores, even if it means braving the Australian heat.
“It’ll be super warm – but we always say: the Hives don’t adapt to the weather, the weather adapts to the Hives.”
While the band are no strangers to Australian festivals, or even the Big Day Out audience [having performed as part of the lineup in 2010], the guitarist seems quite adamant that there won’t be any pre-festival preparation required.
“You know, we come out and put on the rock show like a million times before, so it’s not like we need to prepare anything special. We come out, we do it the way we’re supposed to do it, and that’s a win every time,” he laughs. “It’s more like other people will have to adapt to the Hives, we don’t really adapt to other people. Like, ‘what do I wear when I go and see the Hives?’”
While the audience does have to wonder about appropriate clothing selection, the Hives have constantly kept their stage presentation a cut about the others, with various “uniforms” contributing to their live set over the years – the latest being mariachi inspired. However, Arson isn’t entirely sure they were the best choice for the Australian summer.
“It will be hot as shit. No doubt,” laughs the guitarist. “They are hot as shit. From what I can understand, Mexico is a pretty warm country – but as far as the clothes being adapted to that weather, I don’t see how they do it.”
And as if the last-minute tour [and recently announced sideshow in Melbourne] wasn’t enough to get fans of the Hives excited, the good news keeps on coming – with the band currently working on a new album.
“Yeah! We’re constantly working on a new album,” he explains. “We have a lot of stuff recorded, and we’re working on a lot of stuff as we speak. Well, not right now. The time that we have, we’re constantly working on a new record.”
“Looking at it from my perspective, I’m almost half-way through. I think it’s starting to look really good,” he continues. “But, you know, we’ve got to rehearse some more and we usually try to play the songs live as well before we go out and start recording them. It’s always a good to see how they work live. I think we have at least six really great Hives songs. I’m really looking forward to recording our next record.”
Following on from their last release, Lex Hives – a brilliant mix of punk, rock and roll and glam-rock – the new album promises to be just as blistering and exciting; however, Arson is quick to dismiss that anything is set in stone.
“It’s hard to say at this point. We do have a lot of songs that are great, but that’s not to say that we’d be releasing that sort of Hives record,” he tells. “If we decide on a theme record, then we will decide on something else. But I think, at least in my head, it might be something that would be continuing off the last album – but being more punk or garage-y. I have one of those records in my head that I think would be cool to make. But, we’ll see.”
With new material in the works, and the bands process of “test driving” the new songs with the live audience before heading into the studio to record, it seems silly not to ask if any new tracks will appear during the Big Day Out.
“Maybe. I don’t think we’ll have time to rehearse before that, but I definitely want to start playing new songs for the Summer. Maybe we can put one new song in the set, but that will be at the expense of another great Hives tune,” he laughs.
Without a doubt, 2014 is shaping up to be another big year for the Hives – with touring and writing the new album taking up the most part of the year – and I, for one, can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.
Many thanks to Nicholaus for taking the time to chat to us. Special thanks also to Genna @ BDO. You can catch the Hives as part of the Big Day Out 2014. Check out: www.bigdayout.com for details.