Q&A: The Hives' Howlin' Pelle Almqvist On Being In A 9 To 5 Band, Taking Five Years Between Albums, And The Tupac Hologram

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Annika Berglund
In these hyperactive times, five years can be a musical lifetime. (If you can't hurry up with that next digital EP, then dump out a side project or something, sheez!) But for The Hives—whose long-range plan for world domination was fulfilled within their first two albums (and whose members had more children and contractual junk to deal with these last few years)—five years was merely the right amount of time to fashion Lex Hives (Disques Hives), an album of crackling garage-pop. Their early-2000s fame has waned little in Europe, and they attracted a fairly insane crowd to a "surprise" show at The Studio at Webster Hall a couple months ago. Maybe the long hiatus is part of another grand scheme—it allowed just enough time for a younger crowd who never saw them the first few times around to pant for more. SOTC spoke with Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, who called from a cab somewhere in his current hometown of Stockholm, about the band's recent activities.


What's all that noise?

They're building a new bridge across the water. And the graduating students have recently started this tradition where they ride around drunk on flatbed trucks, wearing white hats and screaming, throwing things around, and that's what I'm seeing outside the window.

Are they going to destroy the bridge?

Now that would be cool, I'd like that!

So here's where I could make a goofy transition from building a bridge to making a new record...

Ha, yes, you just did make that transition.

Ha. Okay, so what happened crossing over five years from The Black and White Album [released in 2007] to Lex Hives?

Yeah, it was a long time, though we didn't plan it that way. We do spend a long time making albums. But I guess also that last album had a lot more touring that went into it. That was a really different situation for us, putting out that album. We used a lot of different producers, spent some money on it, really thought it was different for us. So we felt we better give it a proper shot. That was the longest time doing touring, it was spread out, and the planning took more time. Maybe we did a higher number of actual shows around Veni Vidi Vicious. But what really happened between The Black and White Album and this one were some legal troubles we had to tend to, which I'd rather not delve too deeply into.

Like what, you were moving your tax stuff around like the Rolling Stones, and moving to different countries?

Ha, that would've been pretty cool! I wish, but it's not quite that interesting. It was a year of bad luck. But anyway, it always seems to take us about two years to make a record we're happy with.

Yeah, you don't mind taking time like that, right?

Well, for us, doing it that way has been pretty successful I guess. Usually, when we think we have a "finished" record, we then spend another six months months working on it. And if you compare the two, that's when it really becomes great—those six months of messing with it, fixing what sucks about it.

You also bought a place in Brooklyn, didn't you?

Yes, I do still have a place there. I didn't stay there a long period of time though. I wish I did, and that was the plan. But then we started working on this album. I was going back and forth. I really want to spend a lot more time there than I get to.


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