A decade and a half after their first album, 1997’s Barely Legal—and four years after their fourth, The Black and White Album—The Hives are still garage rock. They’ll tell you themselves that Lex Hives, their latest, is both the best and the “most Hives” album they’ve ever released. In the meantime the band has honed their ability to create those classic, can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head rock riffs, and distilled it to a science—and they’re happier than ever. The Swedish quintet—Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, Nicholaus Arson, Vigilante Carlstroem, Dr. Matt Destruction and Chris Dangerous—still dress up and rock hard.
We caught up with Chris Dangerous to discuss what’s changed, what hasn’t, and the nonstop touring that’s defining their 2012.
ILANA KAPLAN: Can you tell me a little bit about your newest album?
CHRIS DANGEROUS: Yeah. Our new album will be released in the U.S. on June 5. It’s called Lex Hives. It’s probably the record that we’re most happy with as far as everyone goes. All of us were so excited about it. This is probably the best album that we’ve made. It’s a record where we did most of the things ourselves. We produced it and played everything. We’re very, very happy with it. As far as a whole record goes, this is the best one we’ve definitely done.
KAPLAN: It’s been awhile since your last album; what have you guys been up to since then?
DANGEROUS: It doesn’t really feel like a long time, but it has been. It takes us a long time to tour after every record. We are sort of equally famous all over the planet, so we have to travel around and make a few laps before we’re done. We toured for almost three years. We can’t really write while we’re traveling. We have to go back and make a new record. We started pretty much straightaway after we were done with our last shows. It just takes a long time if you want something to be really good.
KAPLAN: How did you come up with the title of your latest album?
DANGEROUS: Lex Hives? It came from that whole battle that we did everything on our album. We wanted to make something as “Hives” as we possibly could. Coming from the last album or the album before this one or The Black and White Album, we had worked with producers, and we were going all over the world. We really wanted to do something completely different from that again. We just wanted to make it basically as much “Hives” as possible. It’s all “Hives.” This is the way it sounds. We gave twelve good reasons.
KAPLAN: What are your touring plans for the rest of the year?
DANGEROUS: Coachella was really the start of it. We had those shows on the West Coast. Now we played New York yesterday, which was really a secret kind of gig. We’re going back to Europe now. We’re going to London, Berlin, Portugal, then we go home for a bit and then we’re going to the European festivals. We do that for the month of May, and we come back to the US in June, mostly East Coast stuff. Then we go back to Europe. We’ve got a European tour scheduled. Then we have also a US tour in the fall.
KAPLAN: What do you think is the biggest difference from your first album to your latest album?
DANGEROUS: That’s a big difference. That’s a long… Oh shit, you know! The first record, Barely Legal, was released in 1997, and this is 2012. The biggest difference is probably that we no longer sound exactly the same. The smaller difference would be the members. I mean we’re completely different people. It’s 15 years we’re talking here, so the differences are huge of course. It’s still the same band and still the same love of playing. Our love of playing is the same, but things have changed, you know?
KAPLAN: Do you feel like you guys need to prove yourselves because it’s been some time since your last album?
DANGEROUS: I mean, we always want to make an album that’s better than the rest. If we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t be around, I guess. We always have to prove ourselves to each other and to ourselves that we can make better music, that we can make better songs, records and whatever. We are making music that we love. If people love it, that’s great. If people hate it, I’m sorry, but that’s what we had to do.
KAPLAN: Who are some of your influences on this album?
DANGEROUS: The influences don’t really change on this album. You start listening to music at a very young age. You build up a library of influences. It’s not like the influences of the first album aren’t here now, like the Dead Kennedys. It’s just that the library of influences gets bigger and bigger. When it really comes to listening to music at the same time, as when you’re making it, you can’t really do it. You’re so focused on your own stuff; it’s weird to listen to other people’s music. Out of that library, you can pick something out, but you can preview that sound.
KAPLAN: Who are some bands that you haven’t had a chance to play with that you’d love to play with?
DANGEROUS: There are a bunch! Now that we have the hologram thing out, I’d love to play with Jimi Hendrix and Elvis. I’d like to play with Justice. We’ve been talking about that for a long time. They put on quite a show. There’s a Swedish band called Graveyard that we’d like to tour with.
KAPLAN: What do you want your fans to get out of the new record?
DANGEROUS: The same things I get out of it: sheer pleasure and a new way to think about and listen to music. Lex Hives is something I thoroughly enjoy and love to listen to. That’s what I hope fans will do too. It creates feelings.
THE HIVES’ NEW ALBUM, LEX HIVES, IS OUT NATIONWIDE.