The Hives have been announced as one of the replacement acts for Blur at the Big Day Out, happening in Perth on Sunday, February 2, at Claremont Showgrounds. BOB GORDON reports.
Chris Dangerous, drummer of The Hives, is no doubt dressed to the nines and sipping on a Heineken somewhere as he waits for the operator to hook up this interview call.
“I’m pretty fucking good,” he affirms, with bandmates chatting up a storm backstage, as the line is connected. “I just played a show in a huge arena in Newark, New Jersey.”
It’s fitting, really, that The Hives would already be out there on the road at a time when they have come to save the day (along with Deftones and Beady Eye), filling in for UK icons, Blur, who backed out of their forthcoming Big Day Out appearances. That the Swedes’ inclusion comes at the cost of some rare downtime at home only adds to their rockworthiness.
“Actually that fill-in spot has worked out perfectly because we were just gonna be at home,” Dangerous says. “We were going to try to rehearse some new stuff, but then the question was asked and we looked at our calendar and it just fit perfectly.
“I mean, we love playing in Australia. We’ve had so many great tours over there and the Big Day Out is such a great experience for any band. We’ve done it before and we know they’re serious about anything they do. So it’s really a no-brainer for us.”
The added bonus of squeezing a little more summer into their year would appear to have sealed the deal.
“Exactly,” Dangerous states. “It’s always good to be at home, you know, when you have some downtime with your family, but when there’s an offer to come to Australian we hardly ever say no. The audience, the country, everything about it… it’s just a place that we really love. We’re definitely stoked to be playing the Big Day Out again. It’s going to be so much fun.”
After playing in Australia back in January, The Hives have been busy touring in support of 2012’s Lex Hives album, mainly in the US.
“We’ve toured so much in the US this year,” he explains. “More than ever before. I don’t know why it happened that way. It’s always great to anyway, but we were offered some fun tours to be part of, pretty much just like the Blur thing. They just happened; the fun stuff that just comes up.”
Part of that fun stuff was the opportunity to support Pink on numerous stops of her The Truth About Love US tour. It’s a different experience for The Hives, playing shortened sets to mainstream pop audiences.
“It’s quite interesting,” Dangerous ponders.” We were quite scared in the beginning but we’ve always been really good in the face of difficult competition. We love to walk into these arenas and try to explain to people what we’re doing and why they should love us. Pretty much every night we’ve gained some 15,000 new fans who would never have heard us before.
“It’s challenging, it sure is, because you’ve really got to win them over. It’s a huge crowd and no one’s heard of you but by the end of the set people are just cheering and really loving what we do… and at least then they promise to come back too (laughs). It’s fun for both of us.”
Even if you’ve seen The Hives perform there’s always room for surprise anytime you see them live. Pity the poor Pink fans who don’t know what they’re in for…
“Exactly, it’s probably a shock for them,” Dangerous laughs. “It’s gonna change their lives, because they’ve probably never seen anything like it.
“I wish I could be that person. To not know about our band and go see us for the first time and just get fucking blown away. I would like to be those people.”
There’s always a room for a first with The Hives and one came recently on the US jaunt when they were part of the Cyndi Lauper & Friends concert at New York’s Beacon Theatre. Lauper and The Hives were presented with a rare moment to perform their 2008 festive season single collaboration, A Christmas Duel.
“Yeah, that was fantastic,” Dangerous enthuses. “It’s the first time ever that song had been played live. We’d only played it once before and that was in the studio when we recorded it. It was so great. And Cyndi Lauper is such a great person… what a voice, you know? To be able to do it at last… it was just perfect.”
As perfect as it seems, it also gets unpredictable at times, and it certainly did a fortnight ago when vocalist, Pelle Almqvist, dedicated a song to the people of Boston during a show in that city. Unfortunately that song happened to be Tick Tick Boom and was deemed by some to be too soon/too much after the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year. The Hives apologised via Facebook and it seems the slip-up was accidental rather then ill-considered.
“When we’re up on stage – and we do this a lot – we always want to dedicate a song to people who came to the show,” Dangerous says. “It was really unfortunate that it happened to be that song. When we’re onstage we don’t really think about anything but trying to make the best show possible. It’s unfortunate, but we’ve had so many comments coming back just saying, ‘you don’t have to apologise; you’re a rock band who just like to dedicate their songs’.
“You could probably interpret a lot from the lyrics into whatever you want, but it’s still just a song. The title of the song is Tick Tick Boom but it doesn’t have to do with bombs. It’s not about that. It’s just very unfortunate and unlucky.”
Another tour, another raft of experiences it would seem. Earlier this year, when LA skatepunkers, FIDLAR, hit our shores they sang the praises of The Hives, who took them on their first tour of Europe and gave them a little advice along the way.
“That first tour we did was with The Hives,” FIDLAR vocalist/guitarist, Zac Carper, recalled. “And after the tour Nick (Arson) the guitar player came up to me and said, ‘This is the first tour you’ve ever done. What did you learn?’ I said straight away, ‘not to bring my skateboard ever again’ (laughs) because we’d play then just get wasted and go skating all night and wake up the next morning and go, ‘oh my god what the fuck did we do?’
“That’s what The Hives guys had found too; after their first tour they never brought along their skateboards again.”
When reminded of this Dangerous laughs and explains simply that when your business is showbusiness you simply can’t be letting the show down.
“For us it’s all about every show being as good as the other one,” he says. “I’ve played the same night that I was robbed with pepper spray; or when my body’s been in such bad shape that I couldn’t even stand up but somehow I’ve pulled through and played a show.
“The main thing is if you’re in a band and you go out on a six-week-long tour you might not want to do everything you can to destroy yourself on the first night. It’s gonna bite you back and it’s gonna hurt. There’s not really much advice you can give, it’s really just being able to play the show every night. Whatever situation you face, somehow you gotta pull through. It’s easier if you don’t try and hurt yourself (laughs).”
The Lex Hives Australian tour last summer saw the band resplendent in tuxedos. As Dangerous hit the drum riser, readying to pound into album/set opener, Come On, he flicked his tuxedo tails dramatically behind him before sitting on his drum stool, in the manner most associated with classical pianists.
It was a nice touch, to say the very least.
“I do that every night when I have a tux on,” he laughs. “It just felt right, having a tux on when you’re about to play a song, no matter if it’s the piano or the drums!
“For this tour, at least, we’re wearing mariachi outfits so I can’t do it now. I’m not sure what we’re wearing for the Big Day Out. We’ll see what is fitting for the occasion.”
A new album from The Hives, meanwhile, looks a little further off, given they’ll be rockin’ the Antipodes for several weeks in the New Year, rather than hitting the studio.
“We’ll see what happens,” Dangerous says. “It’s always a work in progress. You never know when things will feel right for us to release but we’re definitely gonna try and work on stuff as soon as we can. It’s just very hard for us while we’re on tour; it’s always been like that and we need a little bit of downtime at home before we can start. You’ve got to reset your mind into that kind of mode.”