While many consider the Hives to be the answer to their rock and roll prayers, a single question remains at the fore: when can fans expect a new album?
Their current LP, Veni Vidi Vicious, is two years old — although a major-label reissue in June fostered much wider exposure — and longtime Hives fans are jonesing for some new material. Despite feeling their fans' pain, the Hives will serve no album before its time.
"We hope to finish it when we're done with it," was guitarist Nicholaus Arson's closeted response to the well-worn query. He's reluctant to cite a date because sometimes things don't always go according to plan. "If it doesn't sound good on October 5, for example, when you're supposed to go into the studio, there's no point in going into the studio."
Since their U.S. tour and all promotional obligations drew to a close with the completion of their performance at last week's VMAs (see "Guns N' Roses Cap Night Of Spectacles From Diddy, Eminem, Timberlake"), the Hives plans to hit the studio within two weeks of returning to Sweden.
The bandmembers blame the lag between albums on their continuously growing worldwide popularity. Any time they've been ready to hit the studio with songs they've already written, success would strike in Japan, for instance, and the band would scrap new-album duties for a tour there.
Live shows have been the Hives' piece de resistance, as any concert review can attest. The confidence they have in their performance — they consider themselves the best live band around — is translated as dramatic posturing and showboating on stage, which may irritate some. But that just might be all according to plan.
"The point of being an annoying person on stage is that the people who get annoyed at you being that way are the exact people you want to annoy," explained singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist. "So it's just been working out perfectly. All the right people hate us now."
The Hives can probably now count their former label Burning Heart as one of their detractors. The band parted ways with the Swedish imprint, which is distributed by Epitaph domestically, and recently signed a lucrative deal with Universal Music. The band was under the impression that they had fulfilled their contract requirements with Burning Heart, while the label insists they owe one more album. Almqvist said that he's expecting a lawsuit to be filed.
"They've done some things that we were unhappy with," was his only comment on the matter.
While waiting for the new album, Hives fans will have to satisfy themselves with Veni Vidi Vicious' second single, "Main Offender," and accompanying video. However, because "Hate To Say I Told You So," is still generating buzz at radio, an official date for the song to appear on the airwaves hasn't been set.
The success and critical acclaim the Hives have garnered these last few months comes as somewhat of a surprise. Laurelled in just about every country they've invaded, the band doesn't think that the Hives don't deserve admiration from U.S. audiences; they thought U.S. audiences didn't deserve the Hives.
"What's been popular in America for a long time hasn't really made any sense to me," Almqvist said. "So that's why I'm kind of surprised that we're popular, because I just figured if that is what's popular, then we won't be popular, and that's fine. But it seems to be working out OK."