“If you have the perfect rock show, do you change it next week?” The Hives’ guitarist, Nicholaus Arson, was not asking rhetorically; when the band gathered backstage at Rolling Stone’s Coachella Rock Room, they were one day away from performing during the second weekend of the festival.
The Swedish garage rockers, who broke internationally with 2000’s Veni Vidi Vicious and its ubiquitous single “Hate to Say I Told You So,” are preparing for the release of their self-produced and self-released fifth album, Lex Hives – an album that Arson called “as much Hives as humanly possible.” Known for being a sensational live act, they’re also taking the accompanying tour seriously – although, as lead singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist puts it, their performance motivation is simple. “What we do to be a good live band is basically just, we just so desperately don’t want to suck. If you hate sucking enough, you’re going to be moving in the other direction all the time,” he said frankly. “It’s worth anything to do a good show. Bruises and cuts and scrapes and all that stuff will heal, but the emotional wounds of being a bad band will never heal.”
Interview by Stacey Anderson, video by Eric Helton