You heard us, it’s 2012 and The Hives are still gushing the garage punk. For most of us, cuts such as “Hate to Say I Told You So” and “Main Offender” are nostalgic trips back to middle school; when your studded belt defied what your mom insisted you wore. Since then The Hives have now contrived five albums, and their latest, Lex Hives, was released in June. The summer’s record release saw a slew of festival dates in Europe and the U.S. (including a date at Coachella) until an eventual visit to The Vic Theatre in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Prior to hitting the stage, Hives guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem talked with us about why making a rock ‘n’ roll record is so much fun and where the future of the band lies.
Pop ‘stache: Hard to believe you’ve been a band for some 20 years now. What makes being The Hives still worth being The Hives?
Vilgilante Carlstroem: Well it’s honestly really more fun now than it was back then. That’s all it’s ever been about.
P ’s: What are the musical juices that have always fueled The Hives and who are some new favorites?
VC: These days it’s everything from pop and hip-hop to old rock ‘n’ roll and punk. We try to listen to all types of music. It was difficult to start out when all your folks listened to was rock ‘n’ roll.
P ’s: Lex Hives is completely DIY. What are some benefits of keeping the album within the band opposed to taking on a producer?
VC: For the last album we wanted to do something different. We just wanted it to be as “Hives” as we could make it. Getting a producer would’ve probably been the best way to break the sound we created on Lex Hives. We tried to record the songs as simply as we could.
P ’s: There’re some nice bits of saxophone on couple of tracks. Where did that come from?
VC: Well, we played all kinds of instruments in the past and for a couple of songs we wanted to try something new. We recorded a song with a saxophone at the time and it turned out sounding pretty good. There are a lot of rock ‘n’ roll bands that tend to use saxophones. It’s pretty cool. We noticed we weren’t one of them.
P ’s: How comfortable are you with your “garage punk” label? What’s your description of what listeners can hear on Lex Hives?
VC: I think we just really wanted to record a rock ‘n’ roll record. It’s what we’re used to saying in the rehearsal space. It’s rock ‘n’ roll.
P ’s: Any personal favorites on the tracklist?
VC: It kind of differs from day to day. I really like “Take Back the Toys.” I think it’s one of my favorites on there. And also “Wait a Minute,” we’d been working on that song for a really long time.
P ’s: How happy are you with the record’s overall outcome and reception?
VC: For the last few months we’ve really just been touring around and feeling it out. We were in Stockholm, Paris and New York and did a lot of festivals in Europe and America. Everything’s been great so far.
P ’s: Five years is a fair amount of lag time between albums. What initially made The Hives regroup to hammer out another?
VC: It’s taken five years but we probably toured for three years on the last record. Every summer we come out to festivals and we’re still working and writing during that time. It’s always hard work. Every time we make a record we tour for it a long time, all over the world.
P ’s: What stops on the tour have you been the most excited about? Any highlights so far?
VC: We’re just glad to be back touring and having the fun. It’s been a long time and that’s what I’m pretty much looking forward to. Doing the record was a major highlight and we’ve done some really good festivals in Europe. We were happy that our first date in America, in Washington, was sold out. A lot of people there. I don’t think I can come up with any certain highlights, the touring has just been great.
P ’s: What can The Hives be seen doing in their spare time?
VC: We each work all the time. When we’re not touring or recording we’re rehearsing, I guess we just try to spend as much time as normal together. We might go fishing. There are some things that keep us from rock ‘n’ roll for a while.
P ’s: Can you give us a rough picture of the future?
VC: We’ll tour this album for a few years. As for another record, I don’t think that it will take five years.
P ’s: Leather jackets or suits?
VC: Leathers jackets during the day. Suits at night.