The Hives’ Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist Talks Touring, Recording and the Importance of Snazzy Uniforms
Swedish garage rockers the Hives are known for their vigorous stage presence — something they’ve showcased with nonstop touring since the release of their latest album, ‘Lex Hives.’ The band kicked off 2013 by taking the U.S. by storm — check out our exclusive photos of their raucous rip through a sold-out New York City gig — and now, the group is gearing up for some Swedish shows at the end of April and numerous European festival appearances this summer.
Theirs is a busy schedule — click here for a full list of dates — but after playing the recent South American edition of Lollapalooza, singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist took time to call up Diffuser.fm during a few moments of airport downtime. The boundlessly energetic frontman chatted about ‘Lex Hives,’ his fondness for the road and how the classic gang flick ‘The Warriors’ has influenced the Hives’ snazzy stagewear.
You’re on your fifth studio album, ‘Lex Hives. What you keeps making music exciting and fresh?
Well, I think we have to approach ever new record differently. On our last album, the challenge was that we were going to use a lot of different producers and record in a bunch of different studios. The challenge on this album was to come up with something; we have to relate to something. We have to make it difficult. It’s important to keep it difficult, I think.
Your songs are generally very short. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having only a couple minutes to captivate people with each tune?
Honestly, I think it’s our attention spans. You can look at it a few ways. It’s normal that the songs are played faster — otherwise, you’d just be adding a verse and a chorus, and by that time, you kind of have said everything. It’s also more exciting to me when the songs are short. I don’t know — I just like that format: How much can you say in two minutes and thirty seconds? You can say everything.
There are so many amazing songs that are just two minutes long. It’s just something we like, and it naturally happens that way. If we put in an extra verse and chorus and make the song four minutes, I think we’d get kind of bored, and if we get bored, everyone else is going to get bored, too.
How do you guys let go and give yourselves to the fans as fully as you do?
I think it’s very important for us. We actually love doing it. We don’t tour because we have to. We tour because we want to play to our people. I think just the fact that we really love doing it gives us the energy to do it. Does it look like I’m having fun? I am having fun. I really am – I enjoy that energy going back and forth with the crowd. It’s one of my favorite things to do, and I think it comes through. That’s also why we do it so much, and when you do something a lot, you kind of become an expert at it.
The Hives have been going for more than 15 years with no line-up changes, which is unheard for a lot of bands. What is the band’s secret to its longevity?
I think it’s because we’ve known each other for such a long time. We all come from the same little small town. Me and the drummer, Chris [Dangerous], were in first grade together, in the same class from first to ninth grade. My brother plays guitar in the band. It’s just people we’ve known for so long. I just think we really like what we do, and we really like each other. It’s that simple.
You guys are infamous for your snappy onstage attire. Where did the idea to have such snazzy — and matching — garments come from?
I think that’s what we like. Every band, every person, that goes onstage puts thought into what they’re wearing. We’ve just always wanted the band to have an identity. All of our favorite bands have had iconic style. I like a uniform. If you remember that movie ‘The Warriors,’ about the gangs — they had all of these gimmicks that gangs have, and that’s what bands should be like.
Do you ever feel like sometimes you just want to perform in a jeans and t-shirt?
No. In the summertime, we’ll play in shorts because it’s hot, but no, I couldn’t do it. I’d feel really insecure and weird if I was trying to play a show out of uniform. It makes the show happen for us. I like putting on the war paint.
Not many Swedish garage rock bands break into the states. What about the music of the Hives do you think has people gravitating towards it worldwide?
I don’t know. For me, I’m trying to make the best music I can, and to make music according to our taste. It turns out we’re not that different from anybody else. I think it’s a metaphysical thing: We’ve designed it to be about everything we liked about a band. We’re very fortunate. I’m very happy that people like our music.
Check Out The Hives Video for ‘Wait A Minute’