Interview - The Hives' Howlin Pelle Almqvist On Tussels In Brussels

Take it as you see fit, the Swedes know how to rawk. Past the Barely Legal of 1997, the Veni Vidi Vicious(-ness) of 2000 and the Tyrannosaurus of 2004, The Hives have arrived at their destination to document their ride to established stardom. They began in 1993 as a popular teen group from Fagersta, Sweden, haulted after three years of touring, and returned in 04 to secure any benefit of a doubt they had split. Tussels In Brussels (Nov. 22nd), the group’s Interscope Records debut, is a DVD that features their 64-minute live show from Belgium in 2005, along with videos and other exclusive footage. I chatted with one of the most dynamic frontmen in music today, Howlin' Pelle (pronounced Pell-é) Almqvist for a brief conversation about the new project, inspiration and their next record.

T: You’re releasing a new DVD called Tussels In Brussels. Tell me a little bit about that.

P: It’s a live hour bit of our shows that contains old photos and the history of our band. With other bands and their documentaries, there are so many and they can be so boring. We wanted to be different.

T: What was it like performing in Belgium?

P: The venue was very high tech which meant that filming was also high tech. We had access to more angles with the crowds.

T: What was the transition like going from the smaller group from Fagersta, Sweden to the major recording artists as you are now?

P: For other bands, the transition is sudden. For us, it was more gradual. It felt very gradual as we got a bit bigger. We’ve been actively touring as a band since we were 14. Between then and now we’re obviously different as people. It was not a dramatic lifestyle change. Now we are more comfortable touring; we’re not all crammed in the same van. Many of us still live in Fagersta, where the houses are so cheap we could have bought them when we were kids. We have more money now so we don’t have to worry about food or housing, just playing music.

T: As for your live shows - which are exceptionally energetic - where does the energy come from? What motivates you to get out of bed and in a sense to do your job everyday?

P: The job motivates me. People have an over-belief that it’s hard being in a rock band. We’ve had the shitty jobs. It’s hard being without your friends, but there are friends within the band. I’m more depressed when I’m not touring. The person I am on stage is who I am. The rest of the day I’m trying to contain myself, trying to relax. For others, it’s the other way around.

T: Did you always know you wanted to be a rock star?

P: I never did and don’t still. Some of the most interesting people don’t know now. After my first tour I knew that I wanted to make a record. Now I get to do everything that they told us we couldn’t do when we were younger. I get to scream and jump up and down as an outlet.

T: Where did the concept for your white on black outfits originate from?

P: The idea came from early on before we were big. Most bands use their outfits to [distinguish] themselves from other bands. It’s what most bands talk about. Our white and black outfits are what we started wearing and now they’re all the colors we have to wear. We can’t see ourselves wearing anything else.

T: Is there anything you can tell me ahead of time about your next record?

P: I’m really enthusiastic about it. The first time we said we wanted to put out the album before it’s too late because it took us four years to release our next record. Now we feel that we have a head start.

The Hives’ past records have been released progressively closer to one another. If history serves as any indication for psychic phenomena, we can perhaps bet on an early encounter. Until then, The forthcoming DVD should be enough to hold over their legions of fans.

Interview - The Hives' Howlin Pelle Almqvist On Tussels In Brussels