MUSIC - The Hives five years on

IT'S been a while since The Hives last rocked Glasgow, and singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist wants to make up for lost time after the Swedish five-piece took five years between making albums.

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The smart-suited Swedish fivesome are glad to be back on the road again
The smart-suited Swedish fivesome are glad to be back on the road again

"It's been a rough ride the past couple of years," says Pelle, ahead of the group's O2 ABC show on Thursday night.

"We got the album out eventually but there were a lot of obstacles to overcome. We're hoping the next one will have less and can come out faster."

Those difficulties involved some dealings with management and money, a situation that the energetic singer found extremely frustrating, as well as placing the band in a creatively unhappy position.

"It took a lot of effort and time to get back. It was pretty frustrating, and made us all angry and tired. We have to feel good to be working – you know how people say they create better when they're depressed? That's rubbish.

"If you're properly depressed, and not just a little sad, then you're not going to make anything. And when we were having these problems, we weren't making any music."

Now Pelle and his brilliantly named cohorts – Nicholaus Arson, Vigilante Carlstroem, Dr Matt Destruction and Chris Dangerous – are bringing their frantic rock'n'roll back on the road.

The sharp-suited fivesome released their fifth record, Lex Hives, earlier this year and their live shows continue to be acclaimed for their energetic performances and Pelle's tongue-in-cheek banter.

While he's known for his onstage scissor kicks, he's not quite as flamboyant offstage, but simply seems happy to be on the road again, and he's equally delighted with Lex Hives.

"We had a set idea for the album that we wanted to make, and that was a reaction against the last album," he explains.

"We did the Black and White album in 2007, and that was very much a studio product. There were drum machines, synths and pianos involved, and this time we wanted to make a record in which the band were just standing in the studio playing together.

"The music we love was often made that way, from rockabilly to Motown to all those great '70s punk records. It was all musicians playing and performing."

It was the likes of the Misfits and Iron Maiden, below, that inspired Pelle to form a band in the early 1990s, and the group initially grafted for success in Sweden.

In 2002 they reached ears further afield when Hate To Say I Told You So crashed into the singles charts, and they've since become established as a thrilling live act.

For Pelle, music is at its most exciting when it hits you directly.

"I do appreciate other kinds of music too, but there's something about music played from the gut," he explains. "Some art forms work better when the brain is involved, but rock'n'roll is usually better when you just go for the gut.

"I think house music actually not intellectual, but you can't argue with it and I actually like that directness."

As if to confirm the band's interest in different styles of music, they've been signed to support American songstress P!nk on an American tour next year. It's a run that Pelle knows will be challenging, given the style clash.

"We're not snobs about who to play to and you have to challenge yourselves and play to people who don't naturally like us," he adds.

"We love playing to our own crowds but we also like getting a reality check, and that involves playing to people who don't like you. That keeps us hungry."

He's looking forward to playing in Glasgow this week: "We have had some awesome shows in Glasgow over the years but it's been a long time since we played there.

"We're really looking forward to it and I hope people come to check it out."

And then, ever the showman, he adds a final touch of bravado.

"Anywhere there's a Hives gig the crowd is usually great. Other bands and their songs aren't nearly as good, after all -"

n The Hives, O2 ABC, Thursday, 7pm, £17,50. Tickets available from gigsinscotland.com.

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