The Hives
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Sunday, February 17, 2008 - 00:00

The Hives everybody! We love The Hives. We love their records. We love their onstage antics. We love their all-round-nice-guy-ness and their cute little touch of arrogance. Here’s singer Howlin’ Pelle and drummer Chris Dangerous giving Punkrocktheory some manlove. PRT: Guys, to kick it into gear, what would you like to share about “the Black and White Album”? Pelle: “I’m happy that it’s done. And I think it’s very good.” Chris: “Absolutely. And it’s sort of a new beginning for us in a way. We’ve done the punk-trilogy thing, and this is starting all over, with everything kinda new. We have a manager, we used producers.” Pelle: “Basically this is our attempt at running something that has never been run as a regular rock band, and try to run it as a regular rock band.” PRT: You’re happy that it’s done? Is it so hard to finish records? Pelle: “I’m always happy when our records are done, because it’s so hard to finish them. It’s important shit, basically.” (laughs) Chris: “We’re perfectionists when it comes to the music and everything about us.” Pelle: “It’s just that, if you’re gonna release a new song, let alone an entire new album in the year 2007, with all the music that’s been done before, we don’t feel that we can just put out records. It has to add something to the history of recorded music. It sounds pretentious, but it’s actually the way we think about it. So it really fucking has to be good and be considered. You know, it has to be a record that hasn’t been done the same way before.” PRT: You quite succeeded in that. It sounds really different, with different influences. Even disco. Pelle: “Funny thing is that everybody we know in bands listen to any kind of music. There are very few musicians that just stick to one kind. We’ve always liked disco music. But you probably couldn’t tell by our early records because we had a vision about what we wanted to do, and disco sure didn’t fit into that. Now is the first time we let ourselves do other stuff.” PRT: Was it necessary for you to include other stuff? Pelle: “That’s why it’s so different. It was necessary, we had to do something else. It’s dangerous to become kinda sick of your own band. It’s not good when you feel like you could do it in your sleep. Then you have to do something you can’t do in your sleep.” Chris: “Challenge ourselves, make it interesting. The whole process of it. We’ve had some weirder songs on previous records, like “Diabolic Scheme” for example. But there’s always been so much in the making that we never gave a fair shot. But this time we said to ourselves: we’re gonna record everything we have and finish everything we have. If someone has a clear vision about something, let’s just go with it and see how it ends up. Some of the songs, four years ago, would never even left the rehearsal room. But that’s what made it so much fun, we just sat around and said we should do this or that, and we did it and it ended up really good.” PRT: Aren’t you afraid to lose older fans with the new stuff? Chris: “Ah, there’s still half an hour of good old fashioned rock ‘n roll on the record like we did on our previous work. It’s just 15 extra minutes of other stuff.” Pelle: “We decided that, instead of like it was on the older records, where everybody has to like every song, but now it’s more like: if someone loved it, it was good enough, even if the rest didn’t like it. It was a way for us to break freee from something that was in jeopardy of becoming a formula.” PRT: Some people might consider your change of style as being pretentious? Pelle: “Yeah, if it’s in danger of being pretentious, then pretentious is good. I don’t really think that because you’re a rock ‘n roll band and rock ‘n roll is meant to be fun, that you’re not allowed to be pretentious, that it’s . the working man’s music, and you should stick to the status quo. I mean, as much as I love AC/DC, it’s also fun to do crazy stuff, or stuff that seems crazy to you as a fan. That’s healthy, instead of giving people what you think they want. We never got fans by trying to figure out what they want. We always played what we wanted to hear. If people like it, they like it. If they don’t, they don’t. Otherwise you’re looking down on your audience, and you think that they can’t follow you. ‘Oh, our poor stupid audience won’t understand what we’re trying to do here’.” Chris: “It’s so much more fun too to raise a few eyebrows than to have the average rock ‘n roll fan sit around at home going by the rulebook.” Pelle: “It’s no good sticking to that rulebook. What we did wasn’t in the rulebook when we started. We invented ourselves, and we have to keep doing that, instead of thinking what people want from us. That’s dangerous.” PRT: Now everybody will just have to wait and see what you’re coming up with next. Pelle: “That’s better, yeah. I’m sure some people will hate the new record, or prefer an older one, but there’ll also be some who didn’t like our older stuff but will love the new work. It balances out.” Chris: “Also, from the e-mails and whatnot we get, the funny thing about this record we get: they don’t say it’s better or worse than the last one, but everyone likes different songs. It’s about the songs. Maybe it’s the day and age, but it’s fun to hear a guy hate two songs, and the next one loves them.” Pelle: “It’s bizarre, it’s not a record where one song is the best one, it feels like everyone has different favourites. That’s cool, but it makes it hard to pick a single.” (laughs) PRT: Talking about raising eyebrows: you worked with Pharrell Williams. How did you come up with that? Chris: “We played the Summersonic Festival in Japan in 2004 and we met him there. He said to us backstage that he would love to work with us someday. And while we were waiting around for the other producers, we just thought about it, we gave him a call and he said “let’s do it”. So we flew to Miami and did it. You know, you can’t really fuck up the Hives that bad. I know that people were scared about what it’s gonna sound like. But the funny thing is that what most people think is a Pharrell-song, is one of the songs we did ourselves. “Giddy Up!”, that’s us!” Pelle: the best thing about working with him was that it surprised us as well, that we actually did it. We were in danger of becoming a formula, we just had to do something desperately different. It was great, we discovered a new way of working. But it’s really easy to overestimate the role of the producer sometimes. If it’s produced by ‘yadda yadda’, but that doesn’t mean that it will sound like it was produced by ‘yadda yadda’. Look at the Ramones, they had 15 producers, but it still sounds like the Ramones. The reason this record sounds different, is more because we wanted it to sound different than who produced it.” PRT: Were you guys afraid of working with producers? Chris: “Yeah. Every song we ever recorded was done with Pelle Gunnerfeldt and us, in a 50-50 split. So it was scary. Like, oh shit, what’s gonna happen.” Pelle: “We didn’t know how it worked either. Does this mean he decides now, or are we still in charge? We didn’t know. We were scared of working with producers, but we weren’t half as scared as we were of doing it the same way again. We decided for the least frightening thing.” Chris: “It was great really, to work with these great producers. They are popular, and good at what they do. Walking into the studio in London with Jacknife Lee, hearing his ideas for a song that we would never have thought of. Very good things came out of it.” PRT: Did you ever, five young guys from Fagersta, expected to work with those people? Chris: “We never expected to sell more than a 100 copies. We thought that what we did was good, but we’d never thought that a broad audience would accept punk rock from a small town in Sweden.” Pelle: “We had a sort of Van Gogh-vision of the future where we would do what we did, then quit, have regular jobs and then 50 years from now people would discover it like it was a treasyre and we’d be gods. That was our vision of success, somebody finding our record in the sales bin and thinking it was the best record that ever came out.” PRT: Is there a limit to what you’re doing now? The audience and the shows kep getting bigger. Is there a limit for your success? Chris: “Not if you ask us. We could go around the world touring stadiums like U2 or the Chili Peppers. That would be great, actually.” Pelle: “I have no problem with success anymore. I have no problem with being less populair either. I just know that this is what I want to do with my life. And we’ll try to be as popular as we can.” Chris: “We really like our band. And if more people everyday do so, that’s good for us.” Pelle: “Being popular is also fucking cool. If you ever had the dream of being a rockstar as a little kid, it’s coo lto play for a lot of people. It’s simple math. And all the silly rock star things, are really fun when you can actually do them. Buyin a fast car and a big house and playing for a lot of people is fun.” PRT: You have a fast car? Pelle: “It’s not very fast. But it’s a convertible.” (laughs) Chris: “I have numerous fast cars and a big house.” Pelle: “He’s not as scared as me of driving fast. I have an old sports car, it’s not fast. But it looks cool.” PRT: And that’s important. Pelle: “It’s more important than being fast.” (laughs) PRT: Do you already have any ideas of next step? Chris: “No, the fifth record could turn out any way. We have talked a bit, we have a few songs left over from this that we think are really good. But when it’s time to seriously think about it, we’ll regroup in Hive Manor and see what comes out iof it.” Pelle: “It’s hard to talk about them as leftovers, because they are too good. I even think some of them are better than some songs on the record. But they weren’t finished yet. But hopefully we can just keep working on stuff. Instead of like in the past. That’s the good thing about having a manager. Now when we have time off we can work on music instead of on paperwork. So we can hopefully get more stuff done now, musically.” PRT: Last question: which is better: “Black Album” or “White Album”? Pelle: “Which black and which white?” PRT: Metallica and Beatles, are there any others worth mentioning? Pelle: “Metallica.” Chris: “Metallica.” Pelle: “Just listen to “Sad But True” really loud… It kicks ass!”