• 0
  • 2504
Image for The Hives In The Firing Line: "I’d rather people sing about fucking unicorns"

The Hives In The Firing Line:"I’d rather people singabout fucking unicorns"

Blood, piss and cheese. The Hives’ Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist goes In The Firing Line with DAVID SWAN to discuss, among other things, the various things fans have hurled at him on stage.

They’ve spent the past two decades doggedly out-performing their contemporaries in an attempt to prove their self-proclaimed status as “saviours of rock ‘n’ roll”. And few who’ve witnessed The Hives’ live show could disagree: The Swedish garage rock revivalists truly are one of the 50 Bands You Must See Before You Die.

When I reach their enigmatic leader Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist he is wandering around one of the seedier corners of Hamburg, Germany, which he describes as a “rock-costume area, where the local alcoholics are staring me down … it’s a lot like Australia, actually.” With a curious mix of bravado and that infamous Swedish sense of humour, Almqvist is the perfect contender for FL’s “In The Firing Line” series of hard-hitting interviews, and when challenged to defend his band’s legacy, albums and decision to record a duet with Cyndi Lauper, the “greatest frontman in rock ‘n’ roll” comes out swinging.

The Hives are famous for their on-stage attire – what are you wearing right now?
I’m wearing our off-stage uniform: A large leather jacket, some black jeans, some black boots, and a white shirt, to balance it up.

Just a plain white shirt?
It’s a pretty plain white shirt. I like to keep it regular. It’s a Ramones sort of look, it’s my little tribute to them.

Are your albums just excuses to add songs to your live set-lists?
No, our albums are hard work in and of themselves. We couldn’t tour if we didn’t make albums, but the album always comes first.

Is your on-stage banter really 100 per cent off-the-cuff?
It really is 100 per cent off the cuff, which means that I’m nervous about losing my identity. I always go up on stage kind of frightened that it won’t work, and I won’t come up with anything to say. But usually the second the music stops, I just say something and it’s always the perfect thing to say [laughs].

Why is rock ‘n’ roll so serious 99 percent of the time?
It’s a different generation. A lot of [bands] have such fantastic lives they don’t know what to complain about. Every time they run into a bump along the road, they start whining about it in the music, which I’m not that into. I prefer rock ‘n’ roll to be an escape from everyday problems, not nagging on about your everyday problems. If you work nine to five, Monday through Friday, and then you go to see a rock show on Saturday and they sing about working nine to five, I don’t see the point in that. I’d rather people sing about fucking unicorns, that’s what I want to listen to. All I want is for someone to put on a good fucking Saturday night show singing about unicorns [laughs].

“It’s hard work being the saviours of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Would you ever do a serious album?
Our albums are serious! It’s not something we just do for kicks, it’s something we take really, really seriously. I don’t think there has to be a disconnect between being serious and having fun. I think that serious things can be done in fun ways, like being a comedian. Sometimes comedians have the most serious points to make, but they do it in a funny way. To make a serious album, it doesn’t have to be a black funeral affair. I think every album we make is serious, that’s how I look at it.

How much of your on-stage energy is due to alcohol and how much is just raw personality?
It’s just the way I am, I think. And also I think what people don’t realise about energy is that you get more, the more you spend. The more energy you spend, the more energy your body will give you – you’ve just got to keep at it. The energy you get from the crowd plays into it too, big time. I’m also in the best shape of my life at the moment, I attribute that to rock ‘n’ roll.

Are there any cities around the world that just don’t “get” The Hives sense of humour?
Yeah, it’s happened a lot. We used to even get into fights on our earlier tours – people would just be confused by us so they wouldn’t know how to react. And sometimes people either just stare blankly at us or leave altogether, but hey that’s part of the show [laughs]. Generally now if people come to see us, they know what they’re in for.

What is the singular most fucked up thing that’s happened on tour?
OK, jeepers – this is difficult! I don’t think I can narrow it down to just one, that would be an injustice to everyone that’s thrown stuff at us. We’ve had blood thrown at us while we were onstage. We’ve gotten piss thrown at us a few times. I’ve got a big chunk of cheese thrown into my face while I was onstage – a friend of mine threw them actually. And then there’s the classic bras and panties, but they’re a given, aren’t they? So I think blood, piss and cheese. It’s hard to single it out though, because that sort of stuff becomes normal.

Actually one of the weirdest things that happened during a show was when [lead guitarist] Nicholaus [Arson] jumped over the drums and landed on the cords for the entire lighting rig, so we had to do the rest of the show in pitch black darkness. On that same tour, [rhythm guitarist] Vigilante [Carlstroem] had to play lying down the entire show because some skinheads had jumped on his back before the show. It’s hard work being the saviours of rock ‘n’ roll.

Click through to page two for more Pelle

  • 1
  • 2

Comments

www.fasterlouder.com.au arrow left