The Hives. Do these guys really need an introduction? For years they've been one of the best live acts around and they've been consistently cranking out good garage rock tunes. Their recently released a new album called "Lex Hives" and we thought that was as good a reason as any to do an interview with guitarist Nick
PRT: Is “Lex Hives” about you guys laying down the law?
Nick: Very much so, but it’s also The Hives playing to the rules they themselves invented. This is a record based and executed according to the 12 Holy Scriptures that landed in The Hives’ rehearsal space some time in 1993…a hives declaration of back-to-back radness, if you will.
PRT: I thought the new album feels more like a return to your previous releases, rather than a follow-up to “The Black And White Album”. Was that a conscious decision or just the way it turned out?
Nick: Whatever we do is always a conscious decision, and yes, we knew that The Black And White album was probably as much hi-fi as we would ever get. So yeah, naturally a 'return' to the more garage-y type sound that we always loved would give an impression that we were returning to early-style Hives sounding stuff. A lot of stuff on Lex Hives however is stuff that we feel wouldn’t have been on any previous records.
PRT: You worked with a bunch of different people on “The Black And White Album” but chose to produce the new album yourselves. Did you learn a lot from working with the likes of Jacknife Lee and The Neptunes? And how come you wanted to do it yourself this time?
Nick: Yeah, we wanted to tap into how they work. What we came out with is basically all their short cuts whenever you get stuck, as well as fresh ideas on how to reason about music - ours or other. It was funnier to work as The Hives after that experience, than it was right before The Black And White Album I think.
PRT: Producing the whole thing yourself, did you find it harder to step away from a song? Aren’t you too close to the songs to kill your darlings when it’s necessary?
Nick: Nah, we’ve always had all axes swinging when making music to our own good in our eyes and ears. But according to some of our friends, they sometimes think we have bitchin tracks that we would cut because of what they would consider ‘our madness.’ I went through our old demos one day while making Lex Hives and found 300 tunes of which 150 were original song ideas, and of those, I liked maybe 3. So whatever we work on, we release maybe 1%. Ineffective? Yes. But if you’re digging for gold or diamonds...
PRT: In one review of "Lex Hives" in a British gossip magazine they wrote that "this feels more like a parody than an honest celebration of rock 'n' roll ridiculousness". Now, we at Punkrocktheory disagree. But what hurts more: being called a parody or being called ridiculous? And why?
Nick: None of that really hurts. Being called a parody or ridiculous by a British gossip magazine is kind of like being told you have bad breath by someone who regularly eats poo.
PRT: How hard was it to write the lyrics for "Come On"?
Nick: Don’t wanna give anything away here, but it was pretty easy. All we had to do was choose between "come on!" and "don't come on!" - and between those two, the answer was pretty easy.
PRT: Are there any tips and tricks for genius on-stage banter like Howlin' Pelle's?
Nick: Fast synapses and no other experiences to draw from then old Saturday Night Live episodes, I suppose.
PRT: You've already contributed songs to soundtracks of some big movies. But what movie should have had a soundtrack written entirely by The Hives?
Nick: The answer to that question is all of them or James Bond.
PRT: You're arguably one of the best live acts around. But somehow the headlining slots that are still being reserved for the likes of Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers or Metallica. Are you too "punk", too "raw" to get those?
Nick: Dunno. I think it’s something that comes from the fact that in the so-called “real world” they’ve sold a couple more million records than we have. In The Hives universe, I agree with you.
PRT: Did you catch one of the Refused reunion shows? And how did you - as former touring buddies - feel about seeing them back on stage?
Nick: We sure did. We love them and used to tour with them. The first time we played together was in 1994, I think. When we heard they were doing a reunion, Pelle called Dennis and said: "if you’re doing this, we are playing with you!" He said yes, so we did some shows together. It’s great to see them play again.