It might seem like a long time since The Hives were back with a new set of songs, but it doesn’t mean that the Swedish garage rockers haven’t been busy touring the world. While the delay was longer than normal since The Black and White Album, it was the cost of taking complete creative control as producers this time around — a move away from the “hassle” of the last record, according to Chris Dangerous.
We recently spoke with Chris to tell us about the band’s return to Coachella nine years later and why they grabbed the reins on their latest work, Lex Hives. If he says this is his favorite album, believe him. While he says it every time, it’s simply means he’s that confident with each new release the band puts out.
SSv: It’s good to have you guys back in the scene, but I wanted to start with the perceived amount of time off. It might be a while between albums, but how much real rest did you have given the tours and support you had going on.
Chris: Not much, to be honest with you. It’s like you said. We usually take about four years between records, but now it’s five. We toured The Black and White Album for almost three years, and normally we start rehearsing pretty much straight away for the new one. We don’t really get time off, you know?
We wanna get going with the new project when we’re done touring, and the other way around. When we’re done recording on the record, we’re done, we’re through, we wanna play it straight away. So not really much time off, no.
SSv: I read everything about the band going independent — making the album, producing the album yourselves, and having that level of control and responsibility. I was hoping you could take us into that a bit more.
Chris: Sure man. As far as the record concept, we did that on the previous two records, too. It’s just that there was licensure to one big company, so it was pretty much the same deal, where we were pretty much in charge of licensing.
But as far as making [the record], after The Black and White Album, I think we felt pretty early on that we were going to produce it ourselves. We worked with so many people on the last record, and the logistics were not the best, you know to just to record music. [Laughs] It was such a hassle to get everything to work.
So on this record, we weren’t going to wait for anyone. We’re not gonna add stuff that didn’t have to do with the chorus, so we [said] ‘Let’s just produce it ourselves.’ And so we just rehearsed, and whenever we felt so ready to record something or try to record something, we just booked the studio out and went there and went for it.
SSv: Had you thought about producing yourselves before on past albums?
Chris: Yeah, I mean we sort of did. We sort of did on the [three] first ones. They were recorded with our friend, Pelle Gunnerfeldt, but you know, he wasn’t producing in a producer-kind-of-way, you know? It was more of an idea to sort of help us out with so many things, but mostly producing the sound of the record. So the first time it felt like we really had a producer, or producers, was on The Black and White Album.
SSv: When you first come out on the road again, it’s a string of sold out dates. That had to feel good.
Chris: Oh yeah, it felt really cool. To be able to come back and play Coachella, you know nine years after the first one felt really good. You know, we had a great spot on the main stage, and it just felt really, really good. And then, after the first tour date, we felt like we were unstoppable. [Laughs] You know, it’s great to be back. It just feels great.
SSv: By the way, how was Jimmy Kimmel?
Chris: Oh, that was a lot of fun. I love doin’ that show.
SSv: Was it pretty clear from the outset that “Go Right Ahead” was going to be the single?
Chris: Yeah, I think so. It was one of the first songs that was done, and everyone loved it. Everyone who heard it thought it was a great song. I mean, it’s a really good song. I love playing it and hearing it.
SSv: I want to go back to making the album yourself. What was the biggest challenge there? Was it hard to get everyone to agree on things?
Chris: Yeah, absolutely, the biggest challenge is absolutely [when you have five] people with a very set mind though, on how what they want things to sound and all of that. I mean, it takes some time, you know. Of course, it’s easier, in a way it is to just have one person go, ‘Here’s what we’re gonna do,’ and then everyone has to follow that. But [when] we really decided that we were going to produce it ourselves, we sorta knew that we were gonna end up here
But you know, if you really feel strongly about something, you’re probably not going to give up. You’re going to get what you want, but maybe to be able to do that, you have to take a step back in other things. I think we pulled through pretty good. [Laughs]
SSv: Was it a healthy enough way of working that you would do it again? Or do you feel like that’s really uncertain at this time?
Chris: I don’t know. We just got done with it, so we haven’t really thought about how we are gonna do the next one, apart from the fact that we have a bunch of songs that didn’t end up on this one. There’s songs recorded that we were pretty sure were gonna end up on this record, but when we’re done with the track listing, it simply didn’t feel right, you know?
So there are a bunch of songs where a few are really, really good that could be the start of a whole new record. But with the tour, I don’t know at this time. It’s too early there to say.
SSv: Were there songs that you fought for that didn’t make it on the album? I mean, you mentioned all five of you having to agree on things.
Chris: Not really. Well, what happened was that we thought we had a record, and we didn’t do it – it didn’t feel perfect, so something had to change. And we weren’t really sure what it was, until we sort of put different songs on it. You know, and that was like a decision that we all made. ‘Hey, we’re gonna make a great record, not a bunch of great songs.’ You know, to be able to make a great record, songs have to fit on there, and have to have a real place on the record.
I’m very happy with what we achieved there. And I know those songs were gonna be there. So it’s not like I miss a song on the record, I think the record is perfect. I think it’s the best one we’ve done. I just know that we have more great songs for the next one.
SSv: By the way, have you said that before? That ‘this is the best record we’ve done’? I mean, do you feel that way about each release?
Chris: Yeah, I do. If I didn’t, you know, we couldn’t keep on going. If we thought that we’d done a record that’s not better than the previous one, there wouldn’t be a good feeling. But you sort of learn too, the older you get, what you wanna have on the record, and now listening through them, especially with the new one, it’s… I just love it.
*Photo courtesy of Annika Berglund.