Before their unprecedented ‘World’s First World Wide Web World Tour’, Sweden’s The Hives talked with QRO. Singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist (Per Almqvist), guitarist Nicholaus Arson (Niklas Almqvist), and guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem (Mikael Karlsson) discussed their upcoming multi-date, multi-time zone livestreams, playing to a chat room & phone callers (and cameramen), how Sweden’s looking about COVID, how America’s looking about politics, their longest stretch of not playing since they started the band, having too many new songs to record, HIVEMANOR LIVEMANOR recordings, Elvis, Brazil, Mike’s missing jacket, and much more…
QRO: How are you holding up, during all of this?
Pelle Almqvist: Very bored.
Nicholaus Arson: Healthy, but bored.
Vigilante Carlstroem: Covered in snow.
PA: I don’t know. I had the infection. The one I had wasn’t that bad. I was sick for two weeks, and then I’ve been fine since.
I’m just kind of sick of nothing happening, I guess. It was like being a retired person, all of a sudden, for a year. It made me realize I have to figure out more stuff to do that when I’m retired. [laughs] Freaked me out a little bit. All I want to do is play music.
QRO: And how are your other bandmates & crew doing?
PA: Same, I think. I think everyone’s really bored, just doing less & less.
NA: We’re so used to going away every summer. Going to Europe, doing all these shows, every summer. We’ve done it for twenty years.
We tried having years off, where we would not do as many shows, to maybe have a bit of a vacation summer, and hang out with family & stuff, but we’ve actually never been able to completely pull it off. I think the summer we were going to be completely off; I think we did like half as many shows as we normally do or something. So, this was very weird, to have a completely blank summer.
But it’s getting there. With the help of the digital world tour, I think we can knock out a few tunes over the internet. It will be a remedy, at least.
PA: It’ll be something. I’m a little worried it will be a little like diet soda. [laughs] Almost the real thing, but not quite.
It’s gonna be really fun. Hopefully, in a post-COVID world, we can still do this once in a while, when we’re home. If it turns out good, there’s no reason we can’t keep doing digital world tours in the future.
NA: Every town that I’ve seen, diet soda be super-fucking-popular…
PA: [laughs] Let’s hope this is gonna be as popular as diet soda…
It’s such a classic ‘have your cake and eat it too.’ You can see The Hives, but you don’t actually have to go anywhere. Sounds like a winning thing to me.
I’m just kind of sick of nothing happening, I guess. It was like being a retired person, all of a sudden, for a year.
QRO: How is Sweden doing right now?
PA: That’s a very broad question… [laughs]
We have a controversial strategy, I guess. The political opponents of the ruling government obviously are trying to pick up some cheap shots on how they would have done it a lot better and stuff.
It’s more dead people than comparative countries like Norway or Finland, so there’s been problems.
But it’s way less locked down than other places in Europe. You can still go to bars; they close very early & stuff.
Life is more normal here, I think, comparatively. I have friends in the U.K., and there’s not even a car on the freeway. It’s more normal here than that.
QRO: During all of this, were you guys still able to see each other, virtually or even face-to-face?
PA: Not really.
NA: We’re not supposed to travel or anything like that. The restrictions that we have now are the most strict that we’ve had, I think, all over the pandemic. You’re not supposed to see people outside of your household, travel anywhere really.
PA: We’re only supposed to meet four people, which means that we can’t really do this tour… [laughs] We’re gonna have to stick to one guitar player on this tour…
NA: Is it four now? I thought it was eight.
PA: It was eight, but I think it’s four now.
VC: I think it’s eight.
PA: Okay, forget what I said… [laughs]
VC: We can have three more guitarists…
NA: There’s a horn section…
PA: [laughs] Or maybe we need a cameraman…
VC: Okay, one cameraman and two more guitarists…
We’re only supposed to meet four people, which means that we can’t really do this tour…
QRO: Has there been any specific government help for musicians or music venues in Sweden?
PA: Yeah. There are programs we can apply for money and stuff. Because they’ve shut down what we’re supposed to do to make a living.
You can apply for money, and some people have, and some people have gotten it. Obviously, there are more applicants than get money.
They’re doing stuff. I think it’s healthy.
QRO: To be a little narcissistic, how do things in America right now look to you guys?
PA: I don’t know? Fucking weird…
I don’t really know what to say. It’s pretty unbelievable.
I can either talk about it that short, or I can talk about it for four hours, nothing in between… [laughs]
Things will change soon, I think? In a few weeks, it’ll seem like a bad dream.
NA: That definitely has shock value to it. But like when we were talking about COVID just now, whenever I’ve been talking to my American friends, it just seems like whenever we mention COVID, they think we live in sort of the ‘Gates to Hell.’ Sweden has been, with the political stances Sweden has had, with the health department, how they’ve handled the virus – it’s sort of like that, but the other way round, if that makes any sense?
PA: The COVID thing, in the States, too, I guess there’s less people that have health care, more risk group people in the States than in Sweden.
NA: In the same way that, whenever you talk about COVID and you think of Sweden and go, ‘They’re fucked,’ that’s pretty much the same way we look at America now, politically. [laughs]
Fucked, but it will be okay, soon.
QRO: Where did the idea for ‘The World’s First World Wide Web World Tour’ come from?
PA: I think it came from like the spring, when we were watching livestreams, early on, and we were trying to figure out how we would have done it different.
And the idea seemed more fun to do a tour, than just one general livestream, because so much of our thing is reacting to stuff that happens in the room, while we’re playing. Stuff won’t be happening in the room, while we’re playing, but at least there’s a connection, you can play to people in Germany, can play to people in the States and stuff. It seems more like a real show.
A lot of bands, actually, have shows that are exactly the same. They say the same thing, they do the same thing, everywhere in the world. For us, one of the most fun things about touring is the fact that it is a new place, every day. So, we’re trying to recreate that thing, sort of.
Plus, it seemed like a foolish enough idea, for no reason whatsoever, just do many shows.
NA: It also seemed weirdly petty to only plan for one show. We’re gonna put all this work, and all this rehearsing into playing one show, it just didn’t seem enough. We just wanna do more.
If we do one show, by the end of an hour, an hour-and-a-half, after that, it’s over. But if we do this, we get to play again the next day.
PA: It’ll feel like we’re on tour.
NA: It’s a little bit more expensive, but it’s more fun, for sure.
PA: Maybe we can trash our hotel room each night, too…
You can have technology do all these convenient things, and we’re trying to make it less convenient. That’s where the fun starts. [laughs]
QRO: Are you worried about all the time differences, playing at like 6:00 AM your time for Sydney?
PA: We’re not that worried.
When we fly to Australia and play, we fly there and the next day we play a show; you’re completely fucked. This jetlag is gonna be better than the real thing. Actually going to the States and playing can be pretty difficult.
NA: I thought about it at first and was like, ‘Yeah, that’s gonna to be a bitch.’ But it’s not. It’s going to be exactly what you want from a show. Like, it’s gonna hurt the same way, your body’s going to hurt the same way it’s supposed to hurt.
PA: We can manage. We’ve done worse things than that. We played like a show in New York, then we fly to the U.K. to do a TV show, and then we fly back the next day to do a show in Chicago. We can handle it.
If nothing else, we can do that well…
QRO: Hey – after Brexit, who knows when you next can play in the U.K. in-person…
NA: Yeah, they’re fucked…
PA: Just add a bunch of tax and stuff to it, I don’t think it’s gonna be viable to go to the U.K. and play.
At least, it’s gonna turn it into a hobby. [laughs] We’ll go once in a while if we need some fish & chips or something…
There’s no way of knowing exactly what it’s going to be, but it’s definitely not going to make it easier.
NA: We’ll see what happens. It would be a shame, though. We’ve had tons of great times in the U.K.
QRO: For your tour, why begin with a Berlin show, then end with a Stockholm show, even though both take place at the same time of day?
PA: Because we want to have a last party, a homecoming party…
NA: We always used to end our tours with a Stockholm show. Whenever we came home from a long year of touring, we would sort of come home the end of December, and then do that last show in Stockholm. Be all tired, and look like shit – after that, you could go home and spend Christmas with whoever you wanted to spend Christmas with.
The last show would always sort of be the Sweden show.
QRO: Are there going to be different set lists for each performance, like on a regular tour?
NA: Yeah, we’re gonna try to play around with it as much as we can.
Whenever we do proper touring, we don’t generally mess around with the set list as much. Like, we’d go on a three-month tour or something, and we’d only change a few songs here & there, because it’d be an actually new place, every time. But with this one, you’re gonna have to throw a lot of stuff around more than we normally do, so this will be more varied, as far as set lists goes.
PA: Plus, people can buy tickets to all the shows. It would feel weird to just do the same one every time.
We have fans that go to every show, but that’s a lot of flying & traveling & stuff. There are probably going to be more people this time that do it.
QRO: More can they stay up for the 6:00 AM show?…
PA: Yeah, exactly. Let them work out the time difference…
Kind of like being a Swedish NFL fan. You have to stay up.
QRO: When was the last time you all performed live for a crowd (online or real)?
PA: Well, we did a Mexico show before Christmas.
NA: No crowd, though, there.
PA: We did a real show in November?
VC: I think it was last December. Over a year ago. Played up in Fäviken show.
PA: We played the closing of a legendary Michelin Star restaurant thing. We did it like when we were teenagers; we did it for travel and food…
NA: Fancier food this time…
PA: We did like a super-duper secret show in November, but we’re not allowed to say anything more – we’d have to eliminate you. But there was some kind of performance.
That doesn’t help – we’re still out of practice…
QRO: Is this the longest you haven’t played to a crowd in forever?
PA: It must be.
It felt like a long pause before we did Tyrannosaurus Hives album, we stayed at home for like a year to make that.
VC: We always had summer shows, festivals.
PA: This is the absolutely longest. The longest since like ’93?… [laughs]
NA: Since before we started, I think… [laughs]
PA: It’s horrible…
QRO: Does a series like these WWWW shows at least somewhat ‘scratch the itch’ of not being able to tour?
NA: Yeah, definitely.
PA: Yeah, it makes us feel we like we can do something, to feel like we exist again. That’s part of the plan, at least.
NA: The plan is to do something, to sort of round the edges of boredom. But the more you look into it, and the more you think about it, this is actually going to be very good, I think. It’ll be fun.
PA: I’m really looking forward to it.
You can have technology do all these convenient things, and we’re trying to make it less convenient. That’s where the fun starts.
QRO: Have you been practicing for this? Are you in each other’s bubbles yet?
PA: During the fall, we rehearsed a bit. Now we’ve had a long Christmas break. We’ll start tomorrow.
NA: We rehearsed a lot for the last livestream thing we did, but there’s more rehearsals to be done. All the songs are there; we just need to sort of nail it down a little bit.
PA: And figure out exactly how the rest of it’s going to work out, with phone calls and that sort of thing. Still have production work to do.
I’m hoping it’s going to be more like the Elvis ’68 comeback special, more like a TV show, when stuff happens, there’s not just a cold, dead stare, and play the songs, and then, that’ll be it. We’ll do our best.
QRO: This is random, but I have the same birthday as Elvis, which was last Friday [January 8th].
PA: Oh, congratulations.
NA: It’s not random.
PA: It means something.
There was a band from our hometown [Fagersta] that had a song called, “Born When the King Died”. I thought it was about that the dude had the same birthday as Elvis, but it turns out, later I asked him, and he didn’t. [laughs] I guess it was the same year.
NA: Was it ’77? I can’t remember. I remember I had a shirt with Elvis on it, and it had his year of birth and…
PA: Like one of those Kurt Cobain, ‘Rest In Peace’…
NA: But this was before Kurt Cobain, since it was Elvis. It was an older shirt…
PA: This might be going out on a limb, and be provocative or whatever, but Elvis was really good. [laughs]
I’m hoping it’s going to be more like the Elvis ’68 comeback special
QRO: How was the Mexico livestream, that you did in November?
PA: It was really good; it was fun.
But we realized that a lot of things are difficult about it, cause it was the first one we did. Having no crowd is painful… [laughs]
NA: It was good & fun & all to be playing, but it was also horrible to be in a room with just cameramen. No reaction whatsoever.
PA: Yeah, you just finish a song, and it’s like dead silence. I know it feels wrong… [laughs]
We did that, and we learned a thing or two, and hopefully we can remedy it for this thing, for the rest of the shows.
QRO: Was that almost a warm-up or prep for this WWWW tour?
NA: Yeah, kinda.
PA: It was kind of supposed to be a part of this thing, but we postponed this thing, and Mexico still wanted us to do that show last year. So, it kind of became a one-off. For a while, it was included in the tour.
NA: We have some tech stuff to solve, so we had to postpone whatever we were planning. So, it ended up with that thing ending up being on its own.
QRO: What are you going to do without a crowd to jump into?
NA: Jump the other way…
PA: It won’t be anything. I’ll just jump down on the floor, I guess. We’ll have crowd noise on the speakers, at least. That’ll help.
NA: Jump into the band.
PA: I’ll have to jump the other way, jump into the drummer or something. [laughs]
NA: Find people to jump into.
PA: Have a really long mic cable, and chase staff around, I guess…
QRO: Most importantly: What will you be wearing?…
I’ll have to jump the other way, jump into the drummer or something.
PA: Dolce Gabbana… [laughs]
We’ll be wearing something black & white, as we always are.
Actually, Mike just sent a text if anybody has his jacket. I guess we’re gonna have to find that first… [laughs]
QRO: Yeah, I suppose all your stuff…
PA: It’s everywhere. I don’t know, man. Do you guys have guitar strings?… [laughs]
It’s a bit messy. We don’t really know where all the stuff is, but that’s what we’re going to do this week, figure all that stuff out.
QRO: I’m sure fans want to know: for the comment section, will you read that?
PA: It’s going to be scrolling in front of us, so we can read it.
QRO: Oh, cool!
PA: And we’re also going to be taking callers. You can call in, and we’ll talk to you a bit, while they tune their rusty guitars.
There’s going to be callers in, and there’s going to be a chat window where we can see what people’s reactions are.
They usually go so fast, though, because there’s so many people…
NA: This will be kind of new to us, actually listening to people. [laughs] We’ll have people screaming at the shows, but actually listening to them, might be another…
Having said all that Pelle just said, I’m kind of wondering, for my own part, if we’re actually going to be playing songs in between. [laughs]
It’ll be like radio – well, it’s like a regular Hives show: three minutes of talking, and then we play a song…
PA: It’s fifty-fifty…
It’s like a regular Hives show: three minutes of talking, and then we play a song…
QRO: Oh, and Pelle, I saw you on the video with Nicole Atkins. It was cool…
PA: Oh, thank you. It was fun.
Nick played guitar on her Christmas song [“Every Single Christmas”], organ or guitar?
NA: A little bit of both.
PA: She’s a friend. Last time we were in Nashville, we hung out a lot with her. She’s really fun.
QRO: I interviewed her earlier in the pandemic (QRO interview).
PA: She was one of the artists we know that were really screwed by it. You put out a record (Italian Ice – QRO review) right as the pandemic hits, basically means you’ve spent all the money, but you can’t make any new money. That sucks.
HIVEMANOR LIVEMANOR #1: Metro Theatre in Sydney, AUS – 5 January 2009 (full show)
QRO: And where did the idea of the HIVEMANOR LIVEMANOR concert recording postings come from?
PA: We had a bunch of shows, and then we’d been trying to figure out what to do with them. Do we put them up on the homepage and you can pay to see them, like some sort of pay-per-view? We just figured we’ll give them away for free during the pandemic, so there’s some Hives, because we miss it, too.
It’s been a while since we did one, since we started planning this, but if it keeps going, we might as well just release all the stuff we have. It’s been really fun, to see people react to it.
QRO: Why was the first one, in Sydney, a covers show?
PA: Somebody paid us money to do just a covers show, so we learned a bunch of songs and did it. It was really fun.
The Hives play stuff at soundcheck, so we know a lot of halves of songs. We know forty-five seconds to a minute of a song, and there’ll always be a part that we don’t know. We just had to figure out the other two minutes of a bunch of songs.
It was VICE Magazine. They have a series where they have cover shows.
It’s one of the few live things with The Hives that I watched that I actually really loved, because it was other songs.
NA: That was one of things with the HIVEMANOR LIVEMANOR series, that is, we had all these shows recorded, but we don’t really like going back and watch our own footage. We wanna create new stuff all the time.
But this was actually a time, then, for reflection, if you will…
PA: I think we have other ones we should put up. I’ll hassle management about it… [laughs]
QRO: I watched another one that was in France. It was neat to see a band playing in France – you seemed to know some French…
PA: I know every language… [laughs]
I only know it one-way, though. I can’t respond. It’s a handicap; it’s like a gift, with a curse wrapped into it… [laughs]
HIVEMANOR LIVEMANOR #2: Rock En Seine – 22 August 2014
QRO: When you’re playing like the Brazil WWWW stop, all the comments will be in Portuguese…
PA: I’ll figure it out… [laughs]
They mostly just say “Come to Brazil!”
Brazil’s been awesome, really, really fun.
QRO: I know it can be hard for them to get tours, to fly all the way down…
It has been a pain, but then the million “Come to Brazil!” posts have, because that’s become such a thing, I think it’s actually helped. You realize that there is a crowd.
The first time we went to Mexico, I don’t think we had sold any records, barely. But they booked a huge place, and we sold it out. It’s harder to know the statistics in South America.
But I urge everybody to go, cause it’s really fun.
NA: We’ve had amazing shows in South America. All those places that go, “Come to Mexico!” “Come to Chile!” “Come to Argentina!” We’ve had great shows both in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Mexico…
PA: They’re right: you should come to Brazil… [laughs]
NA: Yeah, they are right… [laughs]
The million “Come to Brazil!” posts have, because that’s become such a thing, I think it’s actually helped. You realize that there is a crowd.
QRO: And have you been working on any new material? It has been almost a decade since Lex Hives (QRO review)…
PA: Yeah, we have a lot of songs. We’ve had some difficulty agreeing on which ones are the good ones, and we have so far not decided exactly how to record it. We were going to the States to record, but the pandemic hit, and ruined that.
There’s a lot of material, and we should be able to make stuff come out.
NA: There’s tons of stuff. We’re currently working on two records, and then kind of working on a third record as well. So, there’s tons of material.
It would have been fun to have spent some time recording that stuff, but since everything shut down, it’s like somebody messed up your game plan, and you’re gonna have to figure out an alternative route around it.
PA: It’s like a roadblock.
I mean, I’m happy we didn’t release a record in the middle of the pandemic. Because we want to release a record and then go and tour it, otherwise it feels like it didn’t really even happen. It’s not finished if you didn’t tour.
Hopefully, when things look up, we’ll release a record or two.
QRO: Could you play any new stuff at these WWWW shows?
PA: There’s at least one unreleased song that we’ll be playing.
NA: Oh, there’s more. There’s a bunch of unreleased songs that we’ll be playing. Some of them, we’ve played live, but we haven’t released. So, there will be a bunch of unreleased songs.
We have a lot of songs. We’ve had some difficulty agreeing on which ones are the good ones.
QRO: Do you have a home studio, or have access to a studio, or are you waiting until COVID’s over?
NA: We have access to many studios, but maybe not exactly the one you wanna – when you want to put together a record, you wanna make a specific record for each moment. You don’t wanna just go in and just have a default setting, record a record or seven. You wanna make each record special.
It depends on what type of record. If you put together a sequence of songs and say, ‘This is the record, where do we want to record this, and then, what would be a cool sound for this record?’ Because they would sound different.
One record, you want to record at a special place in Costa Rica or something, and then the other, in, I don’t know, the sticks in Sweden.
It’d be easier right now, to go to the sticks in Sweden. [laughs]
PA: Because we’re already there…
NA: If we have one of those records, then we can actually start working on that.
For now, like we said, the game plan is a little out of place.
PA: At least it’s not for lack of songs. We have a bunch of songs.
NA: It seemed like almost the problem was that we had too many songs, for a while, and we were trying to cram them all into one record, and that was really hard.
It just got easier if we said, ‘Well, we have got all these songs, why don’t we just start working on several records?’ And then that became easier, and more fun. More inspiring, almost.
QRO: But you’d want to record one record in one place, another record in another place?
PA: Yeah, I think so.
It could be the same place, maybe different people. It’s fun if you can hear the identity of each record, so when you can hear the song, you can hear which Hives record it is fun.
NA: Our biggest dream has not been, as of yet, to record all three records in our rehearsal space, where we all hang out. [laughs] There are other plans that we feel might be better to execute. We’ll see.
If we wake up one morning and feel like we want to record all three in our rehearsal space, then, that’s easy. We can do that. [laughs] But so far, it’s not the biggest dream. It’s not what we set out to do.
Want to go bigger & better, I guess…
Want to go bigger & better
QRO: And during this time, have you picked up and/or accelerated any bad habits?
NA: More doing nothing, that’s been the problem for me, at least, I think. [laughs] You wake up, and you have a cup of morning coffee, and then you sort of want the day to end. It’s been terrible, I think.
PA: I think that’s the problem for me. I didn’t really pick up any bad habits that I didn’t have before, but it’s just too idle. It’s just nothing happening, and then you lose pace.
It’s like being unemployed again. It can take like three days to finish even the simplest tasks… [laughs]
NA: I’ve picked up more good habits than bad habits.
Cause what you can do where I live, is just walk into the woods, and then you’re free to hang out and do whatever you want there. So, I’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors.
And it’s fun and all, but it’s…
PA: It’s not rock n’ roll.
NA: It’s not rock n’ roll.
The Best Live Band On The Planet™, The Hives, present
The World’s First World Wide Web World Tour 2021
- You will be able to send in audio messages and they will be played for The Hives in the room in real-time. As if you were in the crowd shouting!
- We will be accepting telephone calls!
- You will vote on a selection of songs we include in the set!
- Bright lights, loud noises!
- We will use crowd noise recorded in the very same city we are playing for. The New York show will have real New Yorkians cheering and screaming in the background. The Sydney show will have actual Sydneyans, and Berlin bang-on bonafide Berlinus berlinus, and so forth.