Before the Hives put together “Tussles in Brussels,” the full-of-swagger Swedish five-piece’s first DVD, frontman Pelle Almqvist and his bandmates went shopping. The Hives purchased a dozen DVDs — each from a different and still relevant rock act — and watched them all. Almqvist didn’t want the Hives’ DVD to be formulaic.
“We put a lot of work into making the DVD the way we wanted to present it,” he explained. “As live DVDs go, I can honestly say that ours is better. I know what I am talking about — I have seen 12 others. We’d always wanted to do [a DVD], because there’s all this talk about us being a good live band, so we figured we should have a DVD out. But a lot of DVDs follow the same framework.”
That’s why “Tussles in Brussels” features a 64-minute Hives set shot in a club, not an arena. “Most people just take the biggest show they’ve ever done and make a DVD of it because it will look humongous,” said the Swede. “It looks more interesting this way, especially because it’s a forum we work really well in, where we feel most comfortable — 2,500-capacity clubs. And everyone can see you and you can see everybody. You’re playing to people rather than a big amoeba of folks.”
The documentary portion is also unique, Almqvist said. Whereas most bands’ DVDs feature footage shot during radio interviews and “meetings with the Japanese fans, where they don’t understand what they’re [hearing] but they’re really happy,” followed by “the part where they shoot out the van window and there’s a guy sitting there thinking about his girlfriend.” “Tussles” boasts the work of director Kalle Haglund, who chronicles the band’s saga from its humble beginnings in Fagersta to the present day. The segment, narrated by the E Street Band’s Little Steven Van Zandt, features “old pictures and stuff of us when we’re like 15 years old, dressed in black and white.”
The Hives shot two new videos just for the DVD: “A Little More for Little You” and “Abra Cadaver,” which were both shot over a single day in Memphis with horror film director John Michael McCarthy behind the camera. Fans might be surprised to find the disc doesn’t include the “Die, All Right!,” “Hate to Say I Told You So” and “Main Offender” videos. Almqvist said the band’s former label, Warner Bros., wouldn’t permit the videos from the band’s 2000 breakthrough, Veni Vidi Vicious, to be used in the Interscope-issued DVD.
But there’s much more than just “Tussles in Brussels” on the Hives’ collective plate. Almqvist said the band’s started working on the follow-up to 2004’s Tyrannosaurus Hives, which, if all goes well, could be out before the summer — and if not then, next autumn.
“We’ve got some stuff that’s like — I wouldn’t call it leftovers — but we have some stuff that’s really great that didn’t fit on the last album, thematically or whatever,” he explained. “We also have some new stuff that sounds really good, but we just started, basically. It feels like the process is much faster this time than last time.”
The Hives have yet to line up a producer for the still-untitled effort, but they’ve got about six tracks written and waiting to be recorded. Beyond that, Almqvist is mum.
“We learned awhile ago not to say too much, because we’ll just wind up eating our words,” he joked. “I can say everybody’s really anxious to start with the new record.”