Don’t Worry: The Hives Haven’t Gotten Deep

Despite greater fame and fortune, band keeps things simple on new LP.

Nearly four years passed between the release of the Hives’ last album, Veni Vidi Vicious, and the just-released Tyrannosaurus Hives. But the delay wasn’t caused by usual reasons for a young, rising rock band (reasons that usually include some form of over-thinking and/or overindulgence). It’s because Veni didn’t pick up serious momentum until two years after it was first released in 2000, and because the band took their time writing and rehearsing songs for the new album.

However, the recording process itself was very quick. “Recording a song, the basic tracks take like 15 minutes,” singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist said.

“[Even] that’s pushing it, though,” guitarist Nicholaus Arson said.

The Hives didn’t want to labor over the songs because they felt the immediacy of their earlier albums, like their 1997 debut, Barely Legal, would be lost if they overworked the new material.

“There is something about making a debut album that the records you make later don’t have,” Almqvist said. “[On debut albums], you rehearse for a long time and you know all the songs in your muscle-memory and you record them real quickly, because you don’t have the budget to be in the studio. So basically, we decided that was the way to do it.”

Recording in the band’s hometown of Fagersta, Sweden — a small industrial city about a hundred miles northwest of Stockholm — also helped them to keep things real. There, even the people who recognize them aren’t impressed by the budding stars.

“People pretty much mind their own business [in Fagersta],” Almqvist said. “They know about us because they read about us in the paper, but it’s more like, ’That’s the guy I beat up in the third grade? And he’s a big rock star?'”

Still, Tyrannosaurus Hives does feature a raft of new influences, including ’50s rock, ’60s psychedelia and ’80s new wave (see “Hives Album Preview: Out Of The Garage, Into The Laboratory” ). “We like Devo,” Arson said, “and the more mechanical [sound] is kind of what we wanted to achieve on this record. You know, Devo and Kraftwerk and, to some extent, even the Stooges have that nagging beat, but it’s kind of mechanical and with guitars.”

The Hives also come close to making a political statement with the album’s first single, “Walk Idiot Walk.” It could be about President George Bush — but is it really?

“It’s kind of adaptable to your own imagination,” Almqvist said. “It’s mostly about the fact that people with the ambition to get [into] a powerful position, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re able to handle it in a good way. Teachers who can’t teach and leaders who can’t lead — that’s the regular sort of punk rock theme, I guess.”

But those minor stylistic departures are about as far as the Hives plan to wander from their carefully constructed blueprint.

“This band [wasn’t] built for us to stretch out and show artistic ambitions,” Almqvist said. “This is more like something we invented because this is what we think should be done, and this is the way we’re going to do it.”

— Jennifer Vineyard, with reporting by Kurt Loder