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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: THE HIVES, UNCUT

SPIN iconBy: SPIN Staff // August 18, 2004

By: Marc Spitz

SPIN: If the Hives have an identity and a series of traits, what’s your personal individual most un-Hives-like trait that you can tell me? [Something] that flies in the face of what the Hives are supposed to do, what fans and people who are followers of the band would be surprised to know.Dr. Matt Destruction: I don’t know really?well, I like bass guitar.I’ve got a yellow bass guitar.

Are you not allowed to play it onstage?Chris Dangerous: It’s got to be black and white.Matt: Yeah, it’s got to be black and white, so it’s really, so we usually have stuff like that.You can’t just say that one thing is Hives–well, you can say that.We usually can do in a car, see a thing that we feel is really Hive-ish.But that’s like–it’s really hard to explain, in a way.It’s like a feeling and a look, and you know, I can’t describe it.Cool, clean or like, really good-looking black and white stuff.

Are there subjects that are debated?Is it democratic?There’s that famous example of like–I think with the Ramones, like Dee Dee Ramone brought the song “Chinese Rock” for them to play, and they voted it down, they said, “no, this isn’t a Ramones song, this is a drug song,” and then the Heartbreakers, Johnny Thunders ended up recording it.Is there something that comes up, like an opportunity, and then someone makes a suggestion, will you determine whether it’s Hives-worthy or not?Chris: Yeah, we vote about everything.

Marc: About everything?Matt: Yeah, like you want to cut off your mustache–if I was about to cut take off my mustache, the others guys would say, “no.”Chris: Vote him down.

What does that accomplish?Matt: It’s like, we talk about everything that, we’re serious and care about pretty much everything, but we’re okay with it.Chris: We don’t know any other people, so that everything we do sort of involves–

Really, so it’s sort of an insular band?Chris: Yeah, I mean, we’re like, I don’t know, we’re like a cult.I don’t know, really.It’s just that we’ve been in this band and we’ve been away from home for roughly five or six years, so the sort of friends you had, sort of the things you did get lost along the way, so everything you do is kind of…Matt: Hives-ish.Chris: Everything’s about the band.

So if you had a vision one day, and said that we need a sax player, or a go-go dancer.Chris: You know, we’d never have.

It’s just funny that all of you have this really strong, which I’ll get to later–Chris: Ideal

Ideal, almost–Chris: What this band should be.

Or what rock and roll should be.Chris: Yeah, pretty much.

Like there’s a definite right and a definite wrong. Matt: And that’s like, for us, what we think, and what we do.

Is the kind of brevity of the songs feed into it as well?Chris: The what?Matt: Brevity?I don’t know that word.

The shortness.The songs are fairly short.Short and fast.Chris: Yeah, that’s the way we like it.It’s got to be short and simple.You can’t have jams and stuff.There’s just no point and everything has a purpose, and there’s just no way we’d sort of fill out or something just to make–plus we like short songs.Matt: It kind of gets to the point.No use having a long song that you really get tired of.If you can get all of the pieces in two minutes, why not do that instead of just–Chris: We could write or play a seven-minute song, but then we’d probably lost our heads if we’d done they, but they are longer now.

Yeah, stylistically, there’s some–Chris: When we started out, a song could be under a minute–Matt: Or a second.Chris: But I mean now, they’re a little bit longer, but they won’t get much longer than this.It’s sort of the perfect length for rock songs, I mean it’s around 2:30, 3 minutes.

Most of the best rock songs are under three minutes.Chris: Yeah, and I mean that’s about it.And you don’t want to hear a song now that was a good song, but when you’re through with it, you want people to put it on again.Let’s repeat it.

You started playing in the garage, but do you consider yourselves a garage band.Is that kind of a term that’s held on you, or is that–Matt: We like some garage music and stuff, but you always want tobe–Chris: We started out in a garage, but I don’t if we’re a garage-punk-rock-shitty-rock-I-don’t-know-band.It’s all rock.

You’ve been working on this record for quite a while.Chris: A Year.About a year.

What’s diff–I talked to Pelle six months ago, maybe five months ago, and it was before I had heard any of the music.And um, I mean there are on certain songs a sort of different sound, kind of like some guitars sound like synthesizers, but are really guitars–Chris: Well, it’s all part of the master plan.

Like “The Antidote,” that song.Chris: When we started on this album, we wanted to sort of make a completely different album than sort of the past two ones, and then, we–

Like even more different that it actually ended up being.Chris: Yeah, yeah.We wanted it to be really dry sounding, and really–

Mechanical?Chris: Yeah.And then we started to record in November and then we went home to rehearse some more, and then more and more everything started to get to the old sound that it has.I mean some of the songs that we played right after we quit touring, we sort of got fed up with that and we started to sound a bit like our old selves again.But the mechanical thing is still there, we want to play realinstruments and get them to sound like machines basically, that was the whole idea, not the other way around, like people do today.

Why are you attempting to do that?Chris: Uh, I don’t know because we like everything about Kraftwork and Devo, and we’re really into sounding really metallic and like machines.

Kraftwork and Devo played machines, though.Chris: Exactly, and we don’t.So that’s why we–we want to try to play the instruments.

Has it been difficult? Was it tough to kind of master that?Chris: I don’t know, I think we’ve done fairly well, I mean we started out even liking the stuff that I’m talking about on the last record, which was four or five years ago, but know we sort of took it a bit further.

The rhythm section must be a bit repetitive, you know what I mean?Chris: Yeah, everything is sort of monotone.

But you dig that.Chris: Yeah, it’s really good.That’s what we like.Matt: Yeah, all the songs have different feeling, and we like it that way.Chris: You can still mess around very much with that.That’s what we’ve done, and that’s really what we want to do.Play like machines.Matt: In the beginning, when we start playing, we usually play as fast as we could.Our effort was playing as fast as we could, and as good as we could, and we got too good at playing really, really fast, because people didn’t really get what we were doing, and now we’re really good at playing this like this.Chris: Really, really hard and stuff.Matt: Yeah, so now we play really, really hard, and kind of machine-like.This is where we are now.We want to try different stuff, but still have that energy.

Sort of a cycle, do you think?Like you perfect one style, and then you can’t really do anymore with it?Matt: Yeah.Chris: Pretty much, yeah.

But there’s, like “Diabolical Scheme,” it’s almost a ballad.Chris: It is.

It is a ballad.They described it as an R. Kelly song.Chris: Yeah.Matt: Yeah, yeah.

There are curveballs you still throw.Matt: Of course.

That are completely unexpected.Chris: We can’t make twelve songs that sound exactly the same.We want to make twelve really, really good songs that’s very individual.

Do you all collect record, because I know Pelle is sort of a record collector.Chris:I mean, in–we all have and buy a lot of records, but it’s not–I think he and Vigilante might have the most records.

What are some of your favorites, like if you had to pick on or two of all time?Chris: Of all time?I dunno.I think we just happened to talk about a record today that’s really good, and that’s Crystal Gazing Luck Amazing, by the Compulsive Gamblers.Born to Run by Springsteen, that’s another one.

That’s surprising.Chris: Not really.That’s a good record.

That’s a great record, yeah.Chris: So it doesn’t have to be a certain style.It’s–as long as there’s good music there.It’s not like we don’t listen to certain things.Chris: You can find good music just about everywhere.

It’s interesting, because many other aspect about your band are very, it has to be this way–Chris: Yeah, it has to be good.

Yeah, but it but all it has be is good.Chris: It doesn’t have to be from ’64.

It could be the boss. Springsteen.Chris: Yeah, could be just about anything.It can be a song by R. Kelly.

Are you surprised by the level of success that you’ve achieved?Chris: Yeah.I mean in some ways, yeah.Absolutely.We thought that people were going to like the record, but we thought in twenty years’ time.We never though that we’d sell loads of records, and makes load of money.

Sort of, America, and probably in England and probably here to, it’s kind of like a movement that you’re a part of.Chris: Yeah, exactly.That’s the thing that’s actually been strange about this band.No one has ever really successfully put us in some kind of what-do-you-call-it?Matt: A box?Chris: Yeah.We’ve played with ska bands, and we’ve played with hardcore bands, and it was never really like, we never fit into to any of those styles of music, and then all of the sudden, I mean three or four bands got popular that maybe had a hard time finding its place, an it sort of became a new thing.I don’t know.

Garage rock bands, they called them.Or the new rock.Chris: Exactly.And I mean it’s not, we’re so–we’re not alike at all, that’s the same thing.Matt: If you go out and say, “we’re a garage band,” then you are a garage band.Then if you go out and say, we’re a rock band,” then you’re a rock band.I think that’s the way it works.Chris: I think that we’re a garage-punk band.

That said, is there any pressure, cause I think that certainly the media and industry certainly see you as a movement, and the movements don’t really last forever.Chris: No.

You look at any ska band, or grunge band, or you know, there almost like if you don’t break out of that, you’re just gonna be relegated to that forever.Is there any pressure to–Chris: To get out of it?

Just not to go down with that ship when it goes down.Matt: Noooo.Chris: Look at England.They change what is popular every night, so I have no idea.It doesn’t matter if we get unpopular.That’s not why we started, and that’s not why we’re gonna end it either.”Ah, no one bought our record.”That’s a load of crap.Matt: You can’t make music just cause you’re gonna sell records, and if you don’t sell any records you just quit.It has to be something else that makes you do that or something.You can have–as long as we have a good time–and we have a good time playing, and we like it, and we feel that we have the energy, we have set up ourselves that you need to have to do a good show and sell records, then you can keep doing it, so the pressure comes from us, and whatever other people label–they can’t do a damn thing about it.Of course if they want us to play somewhere, and if we have time–if we had the time, we would do that.We can still play at places, small places.Chris: The only thing about the record is that we want complete control over what we do.

So there isn’t really ambitious to be the biggest band in the world?Chris: I mean if we can be the biggest band in the world to five people, that’sgood enough.And that’s the five of us, or six of us or seven of us.But I mean, no, it’s not like we’ve succeeded if we sell 10 million records.We’ve succeeded if the record’s good.That’s the only thing that matters.