The Hives are back with a bang. «The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons» is their sixth studio album and the first one in eleven years. If you deliver an album with so many instant classics, you are allowed to keep your fans waiting for over a decade. The Swedes didn't lose their explosive live energy as they're getting older. Before their headline show in Zurich, drummer Chris Dangerous generously took time for an interview where he talked among other things about the new record, mentor Randy Fitzsimmons and the band's self-confidence.
Tom Smith (vocals, guitar, keys)
Russell Leetch (bass)
Ed Lay (drums)
Justin Lockey (guitar)
Elliott Williams (synths, guitar)
Benjamin John Power (synths)
Indiespect: How are you feeling today?
Chris Dangerous: I'm okay, I feel good. Yesterday was harder. Don't know why, I was just tired. Now I've slept like 12 hours. I'm getting a little bit more energy in my body earlier in the day, which is good.
Indiespect: Let's talk about your latest record «The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons». It really sounds like: «Fuck, yeah, we're back». It must've felt like a big relief to finally be able to release new music. Did that feeling fuel your record with new energy?
Chris: I don't know. It doesn't really matter when a Hives record comes out or how many years it has been. We always have a pretty clear vision of what we want to achieve. Even though we're 20 years older than at the peak of our powers, it still needs to be the kind of music that we want to listen to. And The Hives for us needs to be the best show we can ever do in front of an audience or the best record that we can ever make to our own ears. That's where we want it to be. And yeah, it took a long time, but a lot of shit happened in between. If it was a relief when it finally was done? Yeah, of course. It's really hard work for us making a Hives record.
Even though we're 20 years older than at the peak of our powers, it still needs to be the kind of music that we want to listen to.
Indiespect: You were still playing shows during the years where you didn't have a new album out. With your energy you were also rocking the crowds during that period. But now it must feel different to have fresh music again.
Chris: Yeah, it's so much fun. And not only for us. The reception of the new record is pretty much what you're saying. People were kind of expecting something that would be a bit slower... Actually I don't know what they were expecting, I have no fucking idea. I'm guessing here. But the reception for the new songs is as good as when we did Hate To Say I Told You So, Tick Tick Boom or whatever. People just seem to love the record and that, of course, brings a lot of energy to us because we love it and we love to play the new songs. We do quite a few of the new songs in the set and people are just fucking with us on that train.
© Phoebe Fox
The Hives: Nicholaus Arson, Chris Dangerous, The Johan and Only, Vigilante Carlstroem, Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist (from left to right)
Indiespect: I didn't have the feeling that I have to get into the new songs first. It almost seemed like I knew them before even though they did not exist.
Chris: I think that has a lot to do with the fact that when you put the five of us in a room it's going to sound a certain way, anyway. People recognize the musicianship of the whole thing. It sounds like The Hives. It's the first thing you hear, it's like, okay, here we go. That's what we like and that's what we try to achieve every time, even though we think the records are very, very different. But it's still gonna have that energy of the five of us playing in a room together, which I think is really cool.
He's been around all the time, it's not like he just fell out of the blue, you know?
Indiespect: Your bass player Johan is now with you for ten years. For him it's the first record since he's part of. Do you know if he felt a bit like a touring musician before since he was just playing the songs that were written before his time? Or did he already back then feel like a real member of The Hives?
Chris: I think he feels a lot like a Hives member. We've known him for a long time and he's worked on other Hives records, but on the technical side of it all.
Indiespect: I didn't know about that. What did he do?
Chris: Engineering and recording some of the stuff. He's been a friend of ours and part of the Hives thing for a long time. His old band, Randy, they're good friends of ours. And so he's been around all the time, it's not like he just fell out of the blue, you know? I really think that he feels like he's a big part of it.
For The Johan and Only «The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons» is the first album he's featured on, even though he's part of The Hives since 2013.
Indiespect: I'm always interested in the artworks of a band. I learnt that the guy that's working with you for a long time is a good friend of Pelle's.
Chris: Pretty much to all of us. Yeah, Henrik Walse has done quite a few of them.
Indiespect: How much are you involved with your ideas in that creative process?
Chris: Very much. It's all the five of us brainstorming. It's a big part of who we are too. That's the thing about The Hives. Most things you either see or hear, they come from us. It's not like we hired some Swiss guy to do it.
Most things you either see or hear, they come from us. It's not like we hired some Swiss guy to do it.
Indiespect: It also has to be a reason why it takes its time to create a new record.
Chris: Yeah, it is. We have to be there and poke at everything, in order for us to make it feel like a Hives album.
Chris Dangerous in action – a high energy package on stage.
Indiespect: Before the album was released I listened to quite some Instagram Q&A's that Pelle did during the pandemic. He often mentioned that you had already songs for almost two albums.
Indiespect: Do you already have plans to release new music sooner than later or do you throw old things away and start completely from scratch for each album?
Chris: No, we never throw anything away. It's always going to be there. We just released this, so it's kind of hard to answer. But yeah, hopefully it'll be quicker than 11 years (laughs). Hopefully, nothing bad will happen. A rock can drop on the fucking sky at the end of the day and that might change plans. But we have stuff, absolutely. Is it good enough? I don't know. We're just going to have to wait and see. Now, we're just focusing on touring this record and try to play as many countries, as many continents, as we possibly can, before we let go that.
For us, it's a chance to go to Venezuela and play to people who really just fucking need to hear some good music and need to have a good time.
Indiespect: You really are a global band.You've toured quite a lot of countries. Did you start doing that straight form the beginning?
Chris: That was our plan and goal all along to not just play in Sweden or in Europe. We wanted to play everywhere. We're not just here to do five shows in Sweden. We want to play every country on the planet pretty much. For instance, on this tour... This is the European leg of it, then we change over to the US and then we do South America. And we're actually going to be the first English speaking band playing in Venezuela for ten years. We're doing that in December, which is really cool. I mean, you can throw any kind of political reason behind it. For us, it's a chance to go to Venezuela and play to people who really just fucking need to hear some good music and need to have a good time. Hopefully by us going there, many more can do so. It'll be a much more open space after that, I hope.
«The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons»
Release date: 11.08.2023
- Bogus Operandi
- Trapdoor Solution
- Countdown To Shutdown
- Rigor Mortis Radio
- Stick Up
- Smoke & Mirrors
- Crash Into The Weekend
- Two Kinds Of Trouble
- The Way The Story Goes
- The Bomb
- What Did I Ever Do To You?
- Step Out Of The Way
Indiespect: The energy level you have on stage is pretty much unmatched, I think. You started in the nineties now it's 2023. You also said you're a bit tired now but on stage you would never think that the enery level of The Hives is going down in any way. It seems like it's getting even wilder.
Chris: Yeah, that's the plan
Indiespect: How do you achieve that?
Chris: It's from taking it very, very easy during the day. I try to sleep 12 hours if I can and then just get as low as I can possibly get. Eat something, have a coffee, have water, but not do anything that'll sort of mess with what you're going to do later. It's a lot of resting in order to do the shows and to do them the way we want them to be. We take it super seriously and nothing can interfere with what we're there to do that night. But yeah, it's not getting easier...but hopefully better (laughs)
The Hives for their first headline show in Zurich in 11 years.
Indiespect: When do you start getting into show mode?
Chris: We start about an hour and a half before the show. That's when you start to focus on what you're actually going to do. I need to warm up a lot. I play the drums for almost 40 years. Shit is gonna to happen with your arms. You've got to be more careful so you don't fuck yourself up from not being warmed up enough, from not being where you're supposed to be mentally. Just take it very, very easy and then about an hour and a half before, that's when you sort of switch focus. Doing whatever the fuck we do, hit each other... all kinds of weird shit goes on before we go on stage. But that's in order to get the adrenaline level up and to get the blood flowing and and get ready to do the best we can.
All kinds of weird shit goes on before we go on stage. But that's in order to get the adrenaline level up and to get
the blood flowing and and get ready to do the best we can.
Indiespect: This might be a bit a tough question to answer. Could you pick one song from each of your six albums that you would recommend someone as a starter kit for The Hives?
Chris: Yeah, I'd go... uhm. What's on Barely Legal? [Chris is thinking for almost half a minute]. I don't know, maybe the starter kit is more about the hits and then you can get into more obscure things, I guess. But the starter kit would be from the new record, Bogus Operandi or Countdown To Shutdown and from Lex Hives maybe Go Right Ahead or something and then Two-Timing Touch And Broken Bones probably from 2004. And then... I mean Veni Vidi Vicious is the one that everyone is always going on about as the first classic. It's Main Offender or Hate To Say I Told You So. Oh, and Tick Tick Boom of course from The Black And White Album. That's what's gonna get you there first. Then you can go from that to exploring and you'll get a pretty good sense of what we've been doing for 30 years. But it's hard to name a song from each record. I guess you could, but I don't wanna. (laughs)
Bogus Operandi: The start of «The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons»
Indiespect: Do you have a favorite weird song of yours?
Chris: I always like to talk about the new record because I'm really fond of it. I mean, The Bomb is a pretty weird fucking song (laughs). So I'll go with that one.
Indiespect: The title of the new record is «The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons». He has been your mentor and was there since the beginning. Do you see a chance that he faked his death or do you think he's really gone?
Chris: Yeah, that's the thing. We think he is dead and that's all we had to go by. But there's some clues in the Bogus Operandi video that he actually faked his death. We don't really know. All we know right now, is that we think he is dead and therefore we paid him some respect by naming the record after him. But yeah, we don't know really. He's a weird one that guy.
All we know right now is that we think is dead and therefore we paid him some respect by naming the record after him.
Indiespect: Aren't you afraid that if he doesn't show up again, maybe the story of The Hives can't go on?
Chris: He's a smart man, obviously, so who knows what he has in store? Something might show up at some point. He might write new letters with more information. Like a plan for us for what to do with his legacy. I have no idea. I can only guess here.
Indiespect: That's interesting. It hasn't to be over with you finding those demos in his empty grave.
Chris: We don't know. He could have posted something that's going to show up someday. It might just be a package outside your door one day and then things will be clear. But I haven't got one so far.
I see you: Chris Dangerous for once not behind hist drum kit.
Indiespect: You and your fellow band members still attend other shows. What is in your opinion the most important skill for a band to have to be a good band?
Chris: Just pure fucking talent and taste. The support band we have now, they're called Bratakus. It's just two girls and a drum machine. They're cool as fuck. It's really good. You got to check it out. They've got everything you need to be that. It's so good, it's so fresh. You're like: Oh, shit, this is cool. We also just finished a tour with the Arctic Monkeys, one of the best bands I know. Possibly some of the shows have been the best shows I've seen in a long time.They're just great. Great at playing their stuff and great at making records and shows and everything around it. I really enjoyed that. We just played Portugal and some old friends played too, Arcade Fire. That's always a fucking joy to see. You run into things or you go to see things. That's what we do. You've got to check out the competition and your friends and...
Indiespect: ...and see that you're still on top.
Chris: Yeah, yeah (laughs hard)
We also just finished a tour with the Arctic Monkeys, one of the best bands I know. Possibly some of the shows
have been the best shows I've seen in a long time.
Indiespect: Talking about the tour with Arctic Monkeys. You had a huge range of venues there. You played stadiums with them and did smaller club shows on your own at the same time. Does that still affect you after all those years?
Chris: I love playing all kinds of shows and it was great doing three nights at the Emirates in London. That's three times to, I don't know, 70,000 people – fucking loved it. Then, next day you could be doing a secret club thing for 200 fans. Get in and that's it. And still, it's fun. It's still playing in The Hives to people that really want to see you, even though they're Arctic Monkeys people. A lot of them haven't seen us. But that's something we also love, turning people over. Saying: we're The Hives, nice to see you. The next day you've got 50,000 more fans. It's incredible.
Two drummers for «Rigor Mortis Radio»: The Hives with Arctic Monkey's drummer Matt Helders
Indiespect: It's also quite a brave decision to have The Hives as a support act.
Chris: Yeah, it's like one of the things people talk about. Never have The Hives as your support act.
Indiespect: You have to have confidence.
Chris: Yeah, you have to be really confident. (laughs)
Never have The Hives as your support act.
Indiespect: The Hives have also always been really confident, at least as long as I know you guys. Was it always like that or did you have to get into that over the years?
Chris: No, we always thought we were the best, even though we were 13 years old, which is completely insane because we weren't. But I guess we were best at doing what no one else did, which was being The Hives. We could go on tour and play for 19 minutes and almost get into fights because people wanted to hear more. We were asking: was the show not good? And they were like, yeah, it was great but it was 19 minutes. Alright. There you go. (laughs)
Jumping and screaming: Pelle doing his thing.
Indiespect: I know some people that don't get the attitude of Tthe Hives. They think you are really arrogant. Do you also like to tease those people?
Chris: Of course we do. That's why we started wearing suits and stuff in the beginning. It was annoying the fuck out of punks. We always like to poke someone a little bit in the side, you know? It's fun, it's rock and roll, it's entertainment. It's not supposed to be dead fucking serious all the time. We're here to put on a show for people to have a good time, listening to good music and maybe from time to time laughs a little bit.
That's why we started wearing suits and stuff in the beginning. It was annoying the fuck out of punks.
Indiespect: I'm also getting older and more often watch shows from the back. But I don't think I could do that with The Hives.
Chris: Oh, that's good. Yeah, that's the plan. You're not supposed to be way in the back just looking. You're supposed to be a part of it.
The Hives don't need a sauna.
Indiespect: How does it make you feel that almost the whole tour is sold out?
Chris: Really glad. It makes me very happy. Like I was saying earlier about the new record. It's like people have been wanting to hear it for a long time and people seem to want to come to the shows. So everything's pretty much sold out. It doesn't feel like a comeback, we've been working all the time, but I know it does for for a lot of people that wanted to hear new stuff. It makes me super happy that the interest is still so high and that everyone still likes to have a good time.
If you mention The Hives and say that you don't care, you've already done.
Indiespect: I don't want to keep you much longer from having an easy and relaxed day. I just have one more question. Are you aware of the German band Kraftklub?
Chris: I heard about them on this tour. I haven't had time to check them out or I don't know anything about them.
Indiespect: They are huge in Germany in the meantime. But when they started, some people were saying that they ripped off your sound and also your looks. They are dressed in red and white and not black and white like you, but still. And they addressed that in one of their lyrics where they said roughly translated: «So you think we look like The Hives? We don't give a shit about The Hives.»
Chris laughs hard.
Chris: If you mention The Hives and say that you don't care, you've already done. You've already cared (laughs)
a five-headed beast called The Hives
Indiespect: Just one more thing, regarding the lyrics of «Two Kinds Of Trouble». There you say: Norwegians and Danes, yeah, just two kinds of trouble. What's the rivalry between countries in Scandinavia about?
Chris: That's just having a little bit of fun, you know. (laughs) It's always been with this Scandinavian stuff, like a younger brother, older brother syndrome going. It's just poking and having a bit of fun.
It's always been with this Scandinavian stuff, like a younger brother, older brother syndrome going.
Indiespect: And you're the oldest brother out of those.
Chris: We would say that, yeah. (laughs)
Indiespect: Alright, what a way to end this conversation. Thank you so much.
Chris: Thank you, it was a pleasure.