Singer Pelle Almqvist gives an honest appreciation of his mighty fine back catalogue
Cai Trefor

20:47 18th February 2017

The Hives are set to go and perform in support of Green Day at Hyde Park this summer making it sort of a double whammy co-headline situation. The Hives may be slightly less commercially successful but they rival Green Day as a live band. They put on a live show for the ages.

Their inspiration? Well, according to Pelle Almqvist in this interview where he reviews his own back catalogue, it’s down to a moment he saw on television when he was seven.

“It was New Years Eve, I was kid in the mountains of Sweden skiing with my parents and on TV, " he said. "They showed The Who and they played ‘Substitute’ and they smashed up all the gear, and right after that they played a James Brown thing, ‘Papa Got A Brand New bag’. They were both black and white clips from 60s television. I think that’s when I decide that was awesome. I was 7 years old, I’ve basically been trying to recreate that moment since then.”

1. Lex Hives

So why's this your favourite and most recent?

“I think that’s sort of the way it goes. I think we grow better all the time. It’s really even, it’s got no songs that I think are bad. Which is probably unique. It could be argued that because it’s so even it doesn’t have any of the obvious peaks that some of the earlier albums have: it’s more straight through great (chuckles). I like it a lot, it has a lot of songs that I really dig on it. We should be playing more of them live I think. It is very much a product from just us. I guess all of our albums are but this is even more so because we produced it ourselves."

Why did you choose to self-produce?

"We were in a weird time in the band’s life, and when you have a common enemy you tend to stick together more. We had this idea that it was going to be the most DIY album of all time, we almost built a studio because I read this Buddhist quote, 'In order to make an apple pie from scratch you have to first create the universe.' But then it sound like too big of a task so we settled on producing ourselves but producing in existing studios. I wouldn’t say it was a fun experience because it was a hell of a lot of work but I’m glad, it was the only way we could have done that album I think."

2. The Black and White album

Why is this your second favourite?

"It’s difficult Veni Vidi Vicious meant more for changing our lives but I think I like Black and White more. Some of the songs like ‘Tick Tick Boom’ and ‘It Won’t Be Long’ are bigger lives favourites than some of the earlier stuff. It was a time of turmoil for the band but that’s when Some of our best songs came."

Listening back it’s much more less traditional Hives sounding than the other albums. Why is that?

"There were two gangs in the band at that point. Half the band wanted to fuck with The Hives a little bit and make stuff that was very obviously out of the comfort zone. The other half wanted to be very traditional about it. It makes it a weird album to listen to start to finish. The parts are amazing, though and the cover is my favourite, it's awesome."

Why did you work with a lot of producers?

“We were interested in seeing what would happen if we worked on “professionals”. It was our big budget experiment. I think most of it came out fucking great. But then again it does sound a little bit too synthetic. I really miss some of the rawer elements of the sound earlier on."

3. Veni Vidi Vicious

And third we have this quintessential record.

"With our first album, Barely Legal, it doesn't feel like the modern day Hives. To me Veni Vidi Vicious is where we built the backbone of what The Hives are thanks to songs like ‘Die Alright’, ‘Main Offender’, and ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’  I suppose you could put it up on one, but whereas this is the invention album, we perfected the invention later on."

4. Tyrannosaurus Hives

This hasn't fared as well as Veni Vidi Vicious.

"This was the follow up to our success and it felt different making a record that the world waited for. Every record we made up until that point we made thinking no one would hear it and it was just for us. I love a lot of songs on it but I think we play some of them too fast and it’s too tight butted, and there’s not enough groove and the sound is not that awesome. We were going for something and in the end we had to compromise and it ended up being neither."

5. Barely Legal

The raw sounding debut album out in 1997 in fifth...

"It’s really cool, there’s a lot of ideas on it and it’s really inventive and stuff and it’s not very standard for the type of music we were making. But I don’t think that sound was what The Hives were at that point. It’s the most insane sounding of the bunch in a good way. It’s so insanely fast The drums sound like cars being bombed or something.

We were at a point where the faster we played the better it was we play as fast as we humanly can and there’s something about that sound that’s awesome. That’s why early punk sounds great, they suck at playing so they’re playing at their limits. But right after barely legal we were too god at playing fast so it and after that we had to find ways of playing less fast and have it sounding like we could barely play any faster."

Thanks for speaking with us, and when can we expect a new album?

"We have songs that are awesome but we haven’t yet made an album out of it. The future will have to decide when that happens.”

The Hives play Hyde Park with Green Day on 1 July. Check here for tickets.

Photo: Luke Hannaford