The Hives Work Hard and Fast

Swedes prepping third album for spring

"We've been restoring old buildings in Sweden," says Howlin' Pelle Almqvist. "There's something about square houses with simple parts that appeals to us as members of the Hives. We fix them up a bit so we can live there."

The jokey, eccentric singer for Swedish garage-punk sensations the Hives says their architectural fetish feeds into the construction of their stripped-down third album, which they are busy assembling at a studio in southern Sweden for release this spring.

"We've recorded about nine songs now," says Almqvist. "It's a little bit different, but the theme of the record is that we have more restraint in the rhythm section -- sort of minimalist, functionalist."

As before, most of the songs on the still-unnamed album were written by Swedish hired gun Randy Fitzsimmons, though Almqvist won't reveal too many details about the recording process. "He'll hum a line or give us an idea for how the song should go, and we have to try to figure out what he's talking about," Almqvist says. "It's really done in a nonmusician way. It's kind of a secret, too."

Almqvist promises that the album will be just as rollicking as their 2002 breakthrough, Veni Vidi Vicious. The lead single, tentatively titled "Walk Idiot Walk," is an angry barnburner in the style of Veni's "Hate to Say I Told You So." "There's a Hives aesthetic that we try to impose on everything -- whether it's houses or music," he says. "But it's still hard and fast compared to most bands."