By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Tyrannosaurus distills the Hivesian principles of binary logic, brevity, symmetry and methodical ass kicking to a deeper degree of purity. It’s new economy but with lots of soul: The guitars buzz, hum and crackle as if channeled through amps on the verge of explosion. Human noisemaking — whoo-hooing, stuttering, hiccups ’n’ handclaps — intertwines with bouncy, Devo-inspired prattle. Indeed, there’s a ballad, complete with a toy string section and a hitherto-unattempted guitar solo.
This time around, Almqvist’s bratty snarl even wraps around a lyrical theme — that of “being the wrong person in the wrong place,” he explains. “There’s a lot of finger-pointing at people who are not very fit for their positions. Our last record was basically ‘I am right!’ This one is ‘You are wrong!’ That’s how far we’ve gotten in four years.”
There’s a scientificprocess of selection and editing behind the Hives’ less-is-more approach. It’s most obviously at work in the band’s matching stage costumes — sharply creased black basics accessorized on their current U.S. tour with white smoking jackets, spats and “Southern gentlemen of leisure” ties.
But their attention to detail extends to an almost subatomic level. This is a band with a solid work ethic, who value old-fashioned showmanship and the discipline it requires. Their out-of-control performance aesthetic is clearly matched by tight control of offstage variables. “We try to be involved in everything,” says Almqvist, “from making the videos to picking the guitar strings to writing the bio.”
That bio is an infamous document in which the Hives playfully introduced themselves as protégés of one Randy Fitzsimmons, a supposed Swedish Svengali who in 1993 rounded them up boy-band style and gave them their mission. A charming ruse, but in fact the Hives all came of age in Fagersta (population: 12,381), a central-Sweden backwater the band have previously likened to “a small Pittsburgh in the middle of Canada.” They bonded in their midteens, because they all loved things hopelessly out of fashion at the time — film noir, vintage Little Richard and Sex Pistols albums, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World — and wanted to make music.
“We assumed that we would do three records and nobody would like them, but 10 or 15 years later we’d have some sort of a cult following,” says Almqvist. “We always thought of ourselves as a band that wouldn’t be huge but would be remembered. So now that we’re pretty big, maybe we won’t be remembered!”
Just in case they are, though, they’d prefer to go down in the books as “a band that was more than a band. One of those Devo, Ramones, Kraftwerk, AC/DC-type things, about whom there is so much to remember and debate even when they don’t exist anymore.
“Is that asking for too much?” Almqvist wonders with mock candor. “I don’t know that it will happen, but it’d be fun.”
The Hives play at Henry Fonda Music Box Theater Monday and Tuesday, August 2 and 3.