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 our 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 at the Big Day Out for UK icons Blur. 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 says. “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 Australia we hardly ever say no. The audience, the country, everything about it… it’s just a place that we really love.”
After last playing in Australia at the beginning of 2013, the five-piece has been busy touring in support of 2012’s Lex Hives album, mainly in the US. Part of the adventure saw The Hives supporting Pink on numerous stops of her The Truth About Love tour. It was a different experience for the well-dressed rockers, playing shortened sets to mainstream pop audiences.
“It’s quite interesting,” Dangerous says. “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.”
Even if you’ve seen The Hives perform in the past, there’s always room for surprises in any of their live shows. Pity the poor Pink fans who didn’t know what they were in for…
“I wish I could be that person,” says Dangerous. “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.”
The secret to the long stints on the road, Dangerous explains, is not letting illness or injury get in the way. “For us it’s all about every show being as good as the other one. 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].”
Still, The Hives’ unpredictability means it’s not always fun and games. Last month, vocalist Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist dedicated a song to the people of Boston during a show in their city. Unfortunately, that song happened to be ‘Tick Tick Boom’, and it was deemed by some to be too soon/too much after the Boston Marathon bombing earlier in the year. The Hives apologised via Facebook and it seems the slip-up was accidental rather than a poor-taste joke.
“When we’re up onstage – 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.”
The Hives’ last Australian tour saw the band perform in tuxedos. As Dangerous hit the drum riser, readying to pound into album and 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 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.”
Image: Tobias Sutter