By Alexander Laurence
Hives are pure rock and roll music. They create music that
sounds like five guys in a room trying to something vital
and exciting. This Swedish band includes Vigilante Carlstroem
(guitar), Dr. Matt Destruction (bass), Chris Dangerous (drums),
Nicholaus Arson (guitar) and their leader, Howlin' Pelle
Almqvist (vocals). Almqvist is a charismatic leader and
The band comes from the small town Fagersta, Sweden. They
were just in high school when they started. In the early
days the band members were known to fight onstage and insult
the audience. Soon they hooked up with invisible member
Randy Fitzsimmons and decided one day that they were “The
Greatest Band.” Their sound combines 1960’s
mod, 1970’s punk rock, and Motown R & B. The Hives
released their debut album, Barely Legal (1997) on Burning
Heart Records. The volatile band broke up soon after. The
group reunited to record their second album, Veni Vidi Vicious
in 2002, an amazingly successful record that won fans and
critics over alike.
In July 2004, they returned with their third album, Tyrannosaurus
Hives, on Interscope. The American release also includes
a DVD, which features some videos, a documentary, and two
With Tyrannosaurus Hives, the Swedish band may have released
their best album to date. Great songs like “Walk Idiot
Walk,” “See Through Head,” “Missing
Link,” and “Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones”
are memorable and deliver the punch. We have at Free Williamsburg
done interview with a lot of Swedish bands over the years.
We sort of ushered in that sound and championed it for years
when no one else was talking about the scene. The Hives
were happy to talk to us. They had to cancel interviews
with Spin Magazine and MTV just to talk to us. I got to
speak with drummer Chris Dangerous for a few moments right
before a show.
are you right now?
Chris: We are in Seattle.
AL: Do you like coming to America?
Chris: We like it a lot. It was very weird coming here
the first time. But we like it now. We are very lucky to
have the success we have had. We like to play anywhere.
As long as we get to play some songs and perform. People
can like it or hate it. We are fine with that. As long as
we accomplish what we want to: and that is to have fun.
AL: Are there any American cities that you prefer to go
Chris: We are just concerned about playing a good show.
There are places that we like to go. We like to go to Austin,
Texas a lot. That was the first place we went to in America.
We played South by Southwest in 1999. At that time, we hung
around for a few days, so we got to see a lot of Austin.
We always like to go back there. We like to go to the big
cities because we always have good shows there. Places like
New York City and Los Angeles always turn out to be some
of the best shows we do. There are a lot of good places
to play in America.
Where are you from in Sweden?
Chris: We are from a real small town called Fagersta, Sweden.
It’s about a two-hour drive northwest of Stockholm.
We have a few hockey players. But it’s known as a
real small steel industry town with twelve thousand people
in it. It’s not that famous.
AL: How did you guys meet each other?
Chris: I don’t know how much you know about the Randy
AL: I know about it.
Chris: It’s true. That is the way it works. He is
still around. We get asked that question a lot.
AL: Are The Hives a boy band? Is it all Randy Fitzsimmons’
Chris: No. I don’t think so at all. It’s more
like there are six people in the band. We were thirteen
when we started. We thought it would be a good idea to play
punk music. We used to see him more in the beginning. The
Hives have always been six people. Randy Fitzsimmons doesn’t
want to be known, he doesn’t want to be on TV, he
doesn’t want to tour, and he doesn’t want to
AL: Will Randy ever join you onstage in the future?
AL: He likes to same home?
Chris: Yeah. He likes to come up with good ideas.
AL: What are some of his hobbies?
Chris: His hobbies? I am not going to tell you. I am not
going to tell you anything. He is the sixth member. That
is all I can say. He doesn’t want anything to be known
AL: The last record Veni Vidi Vicious was pretty good.
There is always that expectation that the following record
will be even better. Do you think that you achieved that?
Chris: Yeah. We feel that we have pulled it off. We have
to think about doing that with everything that we do. We
put in a lot of time and effort with everything that we
do. Of course we like this album, Tyrannosaurus Hives, the
most because it was the last one that we have made. It is
very difficult for us to make music. It doesn’t come
easy. When we are done with a record, we can sit back and
relax and not listen to it for a while. If you can listen
to it a few weeks later and you feel happy, then you know
it might be a good record. I think with this record we are
close to 90% perfect. It is almost everything we expected
AL: Did you want to take the music in a different direction
with this record?
Chris: Yeah. We tried to take the music in a few directions.
After a while, it would still sound like us. At this point
we can play any song and it will still sound like us because
we have been playing together for ten years. We wanted to
make a record that was really different. There is no point
in making a record you have already done.
AL: It seems like there are some rock and roll songs, some
punk rock songs, and some Motown R & B influenced songs.
Was that deliberate?
Chris: I don’t know if it was deliberate. We make
the songs that we wanted to make. We listen to all types
of music. Everything from early disco music to current hiphop.
The record is going to sound like different things. Everything
we do is deliberate. The stuff on the record didn’t
end up there by chance.
AL: I think that Tyrannosaurus Hives is better than the
Chris: I think that Veni Vidi Vicious is really good. But
if you say the new one is better than it must be true.
AL: How do you write songs? What comes first?
Chris: The music comes first. It’s cool when we can
come up with some lyrics and write a song in the studio.
But usually it happens that the music comes first and lyrics
afterwards. A good song is always music first. That is what
you hear when you hear a good song. The lyrics are like
this extra layer that you can explore if you want to go
further into the song.
AL: Do you like writing songs, playing live, or recording
in a studio?
Chris: We all like playing live. We have played a lot of
shows in the past ten years. I am not sure how many. It’s
a lot. That is what we enjoy doing the most. Recording your
songs is not as fun. Playing live in front of an audience
is why we joined a band.
AL: Do you like to play with any certain bands?
Chris: Of course. There are millions of them. We do like
the bands that we are on tour right now, who are Sahara
Hotnights and The Reigning Sound. We have toured with them
before. We like them a lot. They are good friends. Sahara
Hotnights are from Sweden. Sweden is not that big, so when
you take a step outside of Fagersta, you meet other bands
and people. Greg Cartwright had a band before The Reigning
Sound called The Compulsive Gamblers. He had a band before
that called The Oblivians. That was a band that we listened
to a lot when we were growing up. When we started playing
over her we contacted Greg and he was interested in playing
AL: Pelle does a lot of talking in between songs.
Chris: He talks all the time.
AL: Was that always a part of the first Hives’ shows?
Was Pelle always a cheerleader for the band?
Chris: Yeah. It’s hard to keep him quiet really.
It’s the way we want to do a show. It’s always
interesting to get a reaction from an audience. Pelle was
good at getting noticed and getting an immediate reaction.
Some people would get mad. It was always funny to us to
get a reaction from the punks. It’s the way we have
Did Pelle talk more if there was a negative reaction from
Chris: No, he wouldn’t talk more. He would just say
more rude things. More people love us now, so it’s
hard to say rude things when people love you. It worked
out great in the beginning, but things have changed a bit.
If there is some idiot in the audience who saying something,
Pelle is going to talk directly to him.
AL: Does he stare him down?
Chris: Stare him down. Talk to him. Make him leave if things
are getting ugly.
AL: Do people throw things at you?
Chris: Yeah. Everything from woman’s underwear to
huge bottles of beer. Someone meant to kill us. It didn’t
AL: When you play in Sweden does Pelle speak in Swedish?
Chris: Yeah. It’s our first language. It would be
stupid to talk to fellow Swedes in English. It’s still
us. It doesn’t matter what language we are speaking.
AL: I went to the Weenie Roast concert this summer. You
played with Velvet Revolver and The Strokes. It seemed like
someone from Velvet Revolver was doing a soundcheck while
you were playing. Pelle got on their case for that.
Chris: Yeah. It always happens with us at festivals. It’s
people trying to set up their drum set when another band
is playing. You are not supposed to play your bass drum
when another band is playing onstage. People should know
that. We got upset. We don’t care if Elvis Presley
is setting up their backline. We would have still made fun
of them because it wasn’t polite to do that.
AL: This American tour was short.
Chris: We played about twelve shows. We are going to Japan
to play some shows and then we will be back in America in
October 2004. We want to play for the people. There are
a few other countries besides America. We want to get them
all in. But we will be back in the Fall you know. We haven’t
picked the bands that are going to support us on the next
tour. We will when we get back to Sweden and can think about
it. We are enjoying this tour right now.
AL: Do you have any advice for young people who want to
form a band and like the Hives?
Chris: Buy all our records and listen to them a lot.
Hives Photos by Danna Kinsky