The Hives, Jack Oblivian
The Vogue, 6259 N. College Ave.
Saturday, May 17, 7:30 p.m., $18.50, 21+
“We give everything, every day, every time,” says The Hives guitarist Nicholas Arson, in an interview with NUVO before embarking upon another leg of their ongoing Black and White tour. “Our career is based on making other bands feel worse about themselves.” Last fall, The Hives did just that when they opened for Maroon 5 on a run of U.S. dates. It was a pairing akin to Jimi Hendrix opening for The Monkees.
Arson, however, had nothing but good to say about the experience. “We just really had a great response. It was just what we were after, actually, to play in front of 5,000 to 10,000 people every night who have never before heard The Hives. It was something we had to do to keep our tools sharp.”
Look for those tools to take the top of your head off when The Hives visit the Vogue Saturday, May 17.
Formed 15 years ago in the land of The Entombed and Abba, The Hives, as Arson puts it, “Was destined for greater things.” They’ve only managed to release four proper albums in that time, but have nonetheless solidified their position as one of the greatest live bands on the planet. Howlin’ Pelle Almquist is the personification of everything that makes a lead singer great. Arson and Vigilante Carlstroem make a mighty racket with their guitars, blending a relentless attack with a simple-minded riffage that somehow comes off like Angus Young listening to too many Kraftwerk records.
Dr. Matt Destruction and Chris Dangerous bring up the rear and form a rhythm section that can thud as well as it can groove. These guys wrote the book on being a proper garage band 10 years before Jack White hooked up with his sister and make gold with the formula. But while today the Whites are acting, playing in side bands, marrying models and making sex tapes, and others from the garage rock salad days are fading fast, The Hives are still doing what they’ve been doing only better.
Their latest, “The Black and White Album,” has one great ear-pinning single (“Tick Tick Boom”) that’s in the tradition of previous hits “Main Offender,” “Hate to Say I told you So” and “Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones.” Once you get past “Tick,” the album continues the upward curve The Hives have followed over their recording career. “You Got It All … Wrong” and “You Dress Up for Armageddon” are slices of the Stooged-up garage rock that The Hives specialize in, while “Giddy Up!” and “Puppet on a String” show the Killers and Arcade Fire how it’s really done.
On the band’s collaboration with N.E.R.D. boy Pharrell Williams, “T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.,” the band pulls off a sweaty dance floor anthem, sort of turning in their “Emotional Rescue.” On the very next song, they pull out their best classic Stones sound with “Return the Favour.”
I asked Arson how it was recording this diverse album. “I loved parts of it, and I thought other parts were a real drag.” He pauses — I think I hear a suitcase closing over the phone, and he’s back on the line. “But, the better parts really made up for the draggy parts and we really had fun and learned a lot from doing it. Those new influences have prolonged our life expectancy, I think.”
I ask Nicholas if the groupie action is better in America than in Europe. He quickly lets it be known that “The Hives are professionals to the point of making love to their guitars, basses and drums. There’s no room for loose women.”
Winding down the conversation, I ask Arson if The Hives were excited to be playing their first gig in Indianapolis. “What the fuck does the Hoosier state mean?” he asks. Of course I had no real suitable answer ready. “But, yeah I think this is our first time in Indiana.” He continues before disconnecting, “However, it’s never too late to make amends. I'm really looking forward to moving The Hives herd onto new fresh pastures to feast on some juicy Indiana corn.”