"We're only here to play fantastic rock music": The Hives promise that their upcoming live shows will be like "a regular rock show but there's more of everything"

The Hives 2023 press photo
(Image credit: Ebru Yildiz)

On the eve of a 12-date UK tour by The Hives – the much-travelled garage rockers from Fagersta, Sweden once hailed by Spin magazine as “the best live band on the planet” – frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist discusses last year’s The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons, the group’s sixth album in total and their first full-length one in a decade.


Next year marks thirty years of The Hives. By their very nature, few garage bands survive for that long. 

The secret of staying together is… just don’t break up. People assume that this is a functional band, but we can be as dysfunctional as you like. Just don’t break up. 

The back story behind The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons – the mysterious disappearance of the band’s so-called founder, sixth member and songwriter, whose absence left no new material for a decade – was pretty ingenious. 

You’re implying a lot of things by saying it’s ingenious. 

So the story isn’t true? 

I’m not going to bite. I wish we had released four albums in that time [since Fitzsimmons ‘vanished’], but it didn’t happen. It’s like we fell into a rift in the power-space continuum. Ten years later we were back with new music. 

There was even a celebration of Randy’s life in London, complete with a custom-branded Hives hearse and coffin. 

Yeah, yeah. There was flowers and all that stuff. We are hoping that he feigned his own death, so we tried to tease him out of the woodwork.

In your gut, do you think we have seen the last of Randy Fitzsimmons? 

I’m hanging on to a sliver of hope that he’s still alive. But things are looking pretty grim, unfortunately. 

Classic Rock’s review of The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons dared to suggest that its limelight-shunning subject is actually the alter-ego of your brother Nicholas Arson. 

Twenty years ago the Swedish tax authorities investigated Randy and traced the money to Nicholas, but that’s false. It was conducted by a pretty lazy team of private investigators. 

The album wasn’t too shabby. We described it as “twelve garage-rock buzz-bombs that could have detonated at any time during The Hives’ mid-2000s peak”. 

I was very happy with the reviews. I’m sure there were people that didn’t get it, but at this point they have probably given up trying to bring us down. Even those that are vaguely interested in what we do, they seemed to like it. It’s not for everybody, and it’s not supposed to be. 

In the album’s press release, you boast: “We don’t do ‘pretty good’.The world has enough okay rock music. We’re only here to play fantastic rock music.” 

It’s a goal that we set ourselves, and it took ten years to achieve it – a complete waste of time that makes absolutely no sense, but it’s the only game we have.

Do you hear a lot of The Hives in any of the newer bands that are coming out? 

Since we broke through, yeah I do. When we were kids there were bands like the Ramones and Motörhead, but now we have been canonised too. Now we are one of those bands. And I’m very proud of that. 

You’re playing some good venues, including Hammersmith Apollo in London. Is the set for this tour based on the new record? 

You should expect to hear at least half of those songs, and the rest is, like, greatest hits. 

For anybody who’s never seen the show but might be considering buying a ticket, can you give a flavour of what to expect? 

Imagine a regular rock show but there’s more of everything: it’s faster, louder, we jump higher and we scream more. 

The Hives have shared stages with big names including AC/DC and the Rolling Stones. What remains in terms of boxes still to be ticked? 

Not a lot. I’ve met all my heroes. I’ve played guitar for Iggy Pop. Now I’m reaching a ripe old age where I become the village elder and hope that people look at me the same way.

The Hives' UK tour begins at the O2 Academy in Leeds on March 27. For full dates and ticket availability – most shows are already sold out – visit The Hives' website.  

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.