Image Travis Schneider
The Hives’ last album, The Black and White Album, was released 5 years ago on multiple labels all around the globe. Now independent and on their own record label appropriately named Disque Hives, the band is preparing for the release of what could be their magnum opus, fifth album Lex Hives. The record, as its latin title suggests, stands as their endeavour to conceive a definitive Hives record – the law of hives. JUICE got chatty with the inimitable frontman of The Hives, Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, and learnt not to depend on other publications for source, how powerful his rockstar presence is to a crowd of abiding fans, and the reason behind a rather strange sonic coincidence.
Is Howlin’ really part of your name? Okay, that was a stupid question, of course not. How did you get the name?
I got it because since I was a skinny little kid from Sweden I’ve been obsessed with cool old Mississippi blues men, like Howlin’ Wolf, which serves as my inspiration. Also, Pelle Almqvist is not such a rockin’ name. In Sweden that’s just a regular guy’s name. It’s also got to do with my singing voice.
Because you sound like you’re howling…
Yeah, I wasn’t really singing that much [laughs].
We read in an article that Lex Hives is a departure from previous albums. Any truth in that at all?
I don’t think it is, really. It’s a Hives album, we love The Hives ourselves and so do other people, and we wanna know what The Hives would do next so we make a Hives album. Sure some songs on it are a big departure but some songs are very classic Hives.
Never trust another publication we guess. In the same article, it also said you were the most happiest with this record. Is this another misinformation or were you really not that happy with your previous records?
Um, it differs from them. I think the latest record is when all the band members are the happiest with an album. In the past, some are very happy but some are less happy… well, we’re happy with all of our albums otherwise they wouldn’t come out but this one is very special.
Would you say this is The Hives’ magnum opus?
Naw, I wouldn’t say that. Too short of a time to make that judgment yet.
True, it’s not even out yet. What’s the significance behind the album title, Lex Hives? Lex is a system of laws…
We’re really into the idea that we can amend our own system of laws. You don’t have to follow the laws of normal everyday society. Also it’s Lex Hives – the law of The Hives – because on this album we were gonna do everything ourselves, from recording to coming up with album artwork to doing the videos…
And your own label Disque Hives.
Yeah, and so on and so forth, as much as ourselves that we can get in there comfortably.
What was it like transitioning from being an artist under a label to running your own label anyway?
It’s really not that different because every album we ever made, apart a little bit of Tyrannosaurus Hives, we had creative control. The labels never really had anything much to say about how our albums turn out in the past. We have always made the album ourselves and gave them to record companies to print and sell ‘em, that sort of thing. There’s very little difference in how we make an album, there is though after we finish an album. Not so much when we’re recording it.
The lead single to Lex Hives, ‘Go Right Ahead’, sounds suspiciously a lot like Electric Light Orchestra’s (ELO) ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’…
We made the song, and we were really happy with the song. But months later we realised that it sounded a lot like ELO’s ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’, so we contacted Jeff Lynns and basically gave him a cut off the songwriting. It wasn’t intentional though. Somehow subconsciously that ELO track was probably where it came from.
But ELO is an influence to The Hives, yeah?
We really like ELO but it’s not a lot. There are probably 50 bands that are more important to us influence-wise. I think they’re great but they sound nothing like The Hives, their sound is way more studio than the stuff we do.
Took you guys 5 years to record a new album, and you’re already recording enough material for a 6th album. Why the sudden burst of creativity?
I dunno. I think it’s something that started with The Black and White Album when we met all these producers and learnt different ways of working. On this album, working with just each other was really creatively exciting, to not have other people involved. It was just the 5 of us. I think that’s where the all the inspiration\ came from, we really feel like we’re in good shape creatively.
You’re pretty badass on stage with your crowd control skills. What was the weirst sh*t you ever said to your audience during a live show?
One time I got them to hit themselves in the face [laughs].
… you what now?! They actually follow what you tell them to do?
Yeah. It was an experiment and it worked [laughs]. They seem tired and they needed to wake up.