The Hives are Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist (lead vocals), Chris Dangerous (drums, percussion), Dr. Matt Destruction (bass), Vigilante Carlstroem and Nicholaus Arson (guitar). The five come from a small town in Sweden called Fagersta, which has only 11, 000 inhabitants. They are big names in Europe thanks to their incredible confidence, ever-changing performance style and characteristic monochrome costumes. After a stroll through the backstage labyrinth of the Ancienne Belgique, the venue of tonight’s gig in Brussels, I find myself sitting in front of Chris, Matt and Nicholaus. Interview.
How were your end of year holidays; did you go back to your families in Fagersta?
Chris: Yeah, Nicholaus and Matt still live there, while the rest of us are pretty spread out. But it is family time, before we go to Australia.
Matt: We have cooked ham and herring, pickled herring, schnapps...
At times like today, when you’re in a place like Brussels, do you have time to enjoy the city?
Chris: We actually had a day off yesterday, so myself, Matt and Nicholas went back to Sweden for twenty hours or so. The other guys stayed on the bus I think, or at the hotel, and did pretty much nothing. We are kind of hammered after being on tour for such a long time (three weeks at the time of interview - ed). So I did not do anything today. I went to the airport, got driven here and sound checked.
If you have some time, what do you like doing in a foreign city?
Chris: We try to see as much as we can. As long as you have energy for it. I have a bicycle on tour, so I ride a lot. The other guys like to take walks.
You formed The Hives almost twenty years ago. Through all your touring, does Europe seem more diverse or equal than before?
Chris: When we began touring in 1998, Europe was way more diverse than it is now. Now I can even get vegetarian food in France, and speak to people in a way I could not before.
Europe has gotten a lot smaller in that sense, and the culture and everything gets a little more blended nowadays. We were younger and had never been to all these countries. Europe is more equal nowadays.
Which European countries or cities are your favourites, and why?
Chris: We had some really good shows in France, Spain, Belgium and Germany; Norway is fucking beautiful. I mean, you can have great shows everywhere. It feels like touring the US - you go from state to state, and here you go from country to country - I can’t really put one European country in front of another.
Is there a place where you have not been and which is still high on the list?
Nicholaus: Some eastern European countries. We never played Romania, or Bulgaria... Greece is actually a place where I would really like to go, because we are getting emails from fans since we got started pretty much, asking us to come.
Chris: The punk scene in Athens is supposed to be huge. But we have never been, shame on us.
When I lived in Sweden for half a year, I was impressed by the way people dressed so neatly, especially in Stockholm. Is this cultural characteristic also once of the reasons you are always so well dressed on stage, with the black-and-white uniforms?
Chris: We always think of the Italians that way (laughs). We just like looking good when we are playing. We want to dress up for the show and we want to look and sound as good as we can, we are here to entertain people. No point in dressing down…that is just not our thing.
Read the full interview with The Hives on cafebabel Brussels official blog here
Images @ main © MDW; in-text courtesy of © The Hives