I saw you guys about five years ago at an AIDS benefit in New York City where you were headlining a gig with Pete Yorn and Jimmy Eat World. I was blown away at how engaged the crowd was. After the first song you had them eating out of the palm of your hand. What is that like?
When people come to see us play it is a Saturday night, even if it is a Tuesday and it's raining [laughs]. We want to make people feel happy, no matter how miserable things are.
The adrenalin rush is enormous, of course. It is amazing. To be honest with you, people say we are "the greatest live band" and blah blah, you know? But, it is supposed to be a show. It is supposed to entertain people. You can't do that by looking at your feet. We are not up there with acoustic guitars. That is not our thing. To get all of that energy, we have to put a hell of a lot into it. I think more people should do that because we are having such a good time every night on stage. I think we have more fun than a lot of bands.
The Hives by Sandra Waibl
What was going on for you, creatively and personally, leading up to the sessions for the latest record, The Black and White Album?
This record was a weird one. You were talking about intentions before and we never thought we would make it outside our hometown. That was never our intention. Our intention was to make three punk rock records that we could look back at when we were 50 and be proud of. We didn't think that anyone would ever buy more than 20 copies of each record. We just thought that when we were 50, the kids, like we do with bands, would find them and enjoy them. Then we got popular and fucked that all up [laughs]. So, when we decided to make this fourth record we had to deviate from the original plan. It was time to make something new. That is why we changed everything that had to do with the band, apart from the members.
What were the changes?
We recorded demos. We had over 30 songs, and we recorded with seven different producers. We had never worked with anyone, except for maybe a co-producer on the first record and beyond. We just felt like it was time for a change in the band that we started 15 years ago. It was really weird.
I am happy you decided to make the fourth record.
Yea, so am I because we had to go on. There is not a new band that came along and took our place. So, until then, if we are the best we have to keep going no matter what.
You guys recorded the record in Mississippi?
Yeah, about half of it [was] recorded in Oxford, Mississippi.
Mississippi is the life blood of this nation's musical history. Could you describe the experience you guys had while you were down there?
Let's put it this way, the previous records took us about three weeks in total to record. We recorded for ten weeks in Mississippi and didn't even finish nine songs. We had to go back to Sweden to finish recording. I will tell you this much, Mississippi is a fucking slow place [laughs]. It is not very efficient when you want to play punk rock. Everyone moves so slowly. It was weird for us. We are so used to setting up the drums and pushing the red button. It was nothing like that.
Being a Swedish band and having all of this American influence, are The Hives perceived differently in Europe than in America?
In the beginning it was very different but the day after tomorrow we are starting our seventh tour of the United States. We are sort of getting used to it. After playing pretty much everywhere bands usually play in the world, there's not many places that are different from each other. The only different place we have played is Japan and that is weird!
The cultural differences are so huge. When we first played Japan people didn't applaud in-between the songs because they tried to understand what we were saying. That was just weird. The big difference with America, and most countries work this way, is that there is a big city crowd and then there is the sort of crowd you find in the sticks. That is pretty much true for wherever you go. It is very different to play Stockholm, Sweden than to play our hometown. That is how it pretty much works in America, too. You get more of those differences in America because it is such a big place. A small city crowd is a small city crowd no matter what country. The differences lie within what type of city it is rather than the country.
Do you have a favorite city in America?
Yeah, I like New York a lot. Let's put it this way, if I lived in America I would probably have an apartment in New York, where I would spend most of the time. Then I would go to L.A. to party for a week a few times a year. Then I would have a cabin in Colorado so I could go skiing. I always like to relax. That would be if I lived in America. Now I live in Sweden, not even in Stockholm. I live in sort of the country about two hours from Stockholm, but if I lived in America I would live in New York. I really like it.
The Hives are on tour now...
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