For the Hives, Sweden's ultimate contribution to the canon of "karrangin' " guitar chords and shouted choruses, it's back to brass tacks these days. Their most recent release, the "cheaply" recorded and undeniably rocking Lex Hives, bottles some of the lightning that earned the band its reputation as one of the best live acts on the planet. It captures the blur of sweat, piss, and vinegar these Swedes turn into onstage, quite the antithesis of the overhyped and underappreciated The Black and White Album, which had many feeling like the Hives had gone into the night for good.
Riding the wave of critical acclaim earned by this recent release, the band is touring the States again and tearing a swath of rock 'n' roll destruction across the land as it greets a largely new audience, opening for P!nk. We caught up with frontman Howlin' Pelle Almqvist in advance of the band's performance at Sunrise's BB&T Center.
New Times: How did "the greatest rock 'n' roll band on the planet" wind up touring with P!nk, of all people?
Pelle Almqvist: We wanted to be the small band again, because sometimes you've got to do that to get a reality check and see if you can convince new fans. It is also more the fact that most big rock bands... I don't know, they usually don't want to bring us on tour. They say they do, but then at the end of it, they usually take some singer/songwriter and make it not a competition! The bottom line is, she asked us and we said yes! [laughs]
Do you have any insight into why the Swedish bands, like Refused, Ghost, and of course the Hives, have such a flair for developing a mystique?
I think from your point of view, it's probably the fact that we're from Sweden, the other side of planet Earth, basically. Well, I think that because you want to communicate things, you know, not just make a record and put it out. There is so much else that you can do that's fun to do than just making the actual album, whether it's Ghost's masks or whatever it is. I'm more entertained by the fact that Ghost wears masks than just being in shorts and T-shirts playing those songs; it wouldn't be the same thing. I feel like everything is a part of your art, and all of these things are what makes a band great.