Interview: Guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem of The Hives Discusses Their New Album, 'Lex Hives'
Widely hailed as one of the best live acts in music and one of the last remaining members of the 2000's garage rock revival, The Hives are set to unleash their new album Lex Hives on the masses on June 5 for the United States.
The band decided to self-produce their fifth full-length album in order to get as much Hives essence as physically possible onto one disc.
In order to bring material to people's ears as soon as possible, the band has undertaken a massive world tour that has already had them play Coachella and sites across Europe.
Guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem took time out of recuperating back in Sweden to talk about the new album and The Hives' epic live shows.
GUITAR WORLD: When did you start working on Lex Hives?
Pretty much immediately after we stopped touring on the last one, probably a couple years ago. Around two years ago.
This was your first self-produced album. What's the main difference between working with a producer and doing it yourself? Was it a mostly democratic process or did one person take charge?
I guess on the first three we had a guy that helped us record, but on the last album we had a bunch of producers. The good thing about having a producer is that you have someone that you can discuss things with. You're getting paranoid after working on the record for a year whether it's any good. As for the process, if we find something that one person finds more important, then they take charge but usually we try to keep going as long as everyone's happy. That's what we've always done. If someone's unhappy, then you work it out.
What are you proud of about this album? What is something you want Lex Hives to impress on people?
I guess we wanted to make it bigger. We wanted it to be very Hives-ey, we wanted to go back to the way we recorded at the beginning. So we found ourselves recording straight to tape and trying to capture our sound again. We didn't use any synthesizers or things like that. We tried to capture as much as we could recording live.
While the main part of the album was self-produced, the bonus tracks were produced by Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. How did that collaboration start?
Well, as a band in the summer you tour and play festivals, that’s how we've spent our summers for 15 years. We met Josh a long time ago playing festivals alongside Queens of the Stone Age, we've been friends for a long time and been talking about doing something together for a long time. We were mixing and we still had some work to do on the record for a couple of b-sides and it just worked out. I think it turned out really well.
You are widely recognized as one of the best live bands out there. What takes a show from good to great?
You want the band to do something more than just stand up and play the record. The show, it could be good in different ways, but you want something to happen all the time. If you see a bad band or a boring band, you don’t like the songs and you sort of walk away. You just try to have a really good show. Also, it makes it fun for us to play with energy.
What's it like playing new songs live for the first time? How have fans been reacting to the new material?
First of all, it's really exciting to have some new songs to play. It takes a couple of times before you can get it right, but we usually do a couple of small shows before we start playing bigger festivals or tours. The overall reaction has been really great so far. I mean, we played Coachella and have been doing some small shows in Europe. It's really fun. It's amazing how YouTube works, you play the song once and the next show people know the lyrics already.
What are some of your favorite songs to play live?
I like the “Try it Again” and “Main Offender” is probably my all-time favorite song, I love that song. But again, it's really exciting to be playing new songs.
You're in the midst of a massive world tour. What's it like preparing to go back out on the road for so long? Any road rituals or preparations?
Not really, no. You just make sure you're at the airport at the right time.
You've basically covered the globe, any particular country (besides Sweden) particularly fun to play for?
I kind of like the mix of not being at the same place all the time. If you stay somewhere for too long, you want to get going to the next new place. I like touring the States because it's such a big country. I love Australia because it's a beautiful country. We played South America for the first time, that was really fun. Argentina and Chile were beautiful and we'll definitely be going back.
Anything I haven't touched on that you'd like to add?
It's like I said before, we wanted to try and get as much Hives as we possibly could. Try and record live and try to make it old-school. The way it should be done. Instead of spending ages making every drum beat perfect and moving guitars around, we really tried to keep going. You play the song and if you like the way you sound, you keep it. If you don't like it, you play it again.
When are you going to be in the States?
I think we'll be back in June for the East Coast. Come see us, we'll make you happy.
The Hives on Tour in June:
June 19 - Washington, D.C. @ 9:30 Club
June 20 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
June 22 - New York, NY @ Terminal 5
June 23 - Boston, MA @ House of Blues
June 25 - Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
June 26 - Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy
June 27 - Pontiac, MI @ Clutch Cargo's
June 29 - Milwaukee, WI @ Summerfest
June 30 - Chicago, IL @ The Vic Theatre
John Grimley writes The Oil Slick blog for GuitarWorld.com.