Friday, 26 June 2015


CHATTTING to Howlin' Pelle Almqvist of rock band The Hives is a bit of an experience. The 37-year-old certainly has a way with words - he's funny and engaging but at times he can be surreal and off the wall.
It shouldn't have come as a surprise of course. The band, who hail from Sweden, are well-known for their non-conformist attitude. Anyone who's ever been to one of their gigs will have witnessed their energetic performances and on-stage antics, how they mix with the crowd and in Pelle's case, climb on and over the set and have at times a nonsensical banter with the crowd.
Nonetheless it's quite an entertaining chat I have with him ahead of the band's appearance at the Calling Festival which returns this weekend on Clapham Common.
This year former Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds will top the bill with support from Ryan Adams, Echo And The Bunnymen, Wolf Alice and Modest Mouse.
In amongst this lot will be Pelle and his band which he formed back in his home town of Fagersta in Sweden with his brother Nicholaus in 1993.
After a few personnel changes over the years the line up now consists of Pelle and Nicholaus and Vigilante Carlstroem, Dr Matt Destruction and Chris Dangerous.
The band's sound has been influenced by a variety of musical genres including heavy metal and punk.
"My first influence was ACDC," says Pelle. "It was the first music I listened to for myself. It wasn't what was on around at home and it wasn't from my parents - it was just what I listened to.
"Then when I was about 11 or 12 I moved on to punk rock, mostly American stuff like the Dead Kennedys.
"We have been influenced by all sorts of music since then. You can hear Depeche Mode as well as heavy metal in our music so it’s difficult to categorise our sound."
In the 20 years since they formed they have garnered quite a following, this despite having only released five albums.
Their mainstream success came with the release of the 2000 album Veni Vidi Vicious, featuring their most well-known anthem Hate to Say I Told You So.
Since then they have won a multitude of awards and have also been acclaimed by music critics as one of the best live rock bands - something that Pelle is keen to endorse.
"I've heard we are really great," he quips. "I'd like to think we are, though I have never seen The Hives as an audience member.
"I am sure we will be great in Clapham," he adds. "Whenever we are asked to play these gigs we usually do and we are really looking forward to being on the stage and playing for everyone at this one. It's going to be great.
"We have a long standing relationship with London and have done festivals in Hyde Park before and that's always been really fun.
"So it's a big pleasure to do festivals - there is always lovely scenery and with this one I’m looking forward to seeing Ryan Adams, Modern Mouse and Noel Gallagher - it will be huge for us."
Pelle promises it will "be huge" for the audience as well with performances of the band's "classic songs" as well as some from an as yet untitled and not yet recorded new album.
"There is usually a long gap between our albums because everyone loves us and we have to do tours," he says light-heartedly.
"We are not sleeping but busy touring the world and receiving adoration and praise from people around the world.
"We are also working on the next album and it is going to be better than ever."
One thing not in doubt will be the traditional black and white attire the band normally performs in.
"Our outfits are always different but they are always the same two colours," he says. "Originally it was harder to go with colours like purple and pink so we settled on black and white - besides it looks really good in black and white photos.
"It's like a kind of uniform and serves a purpose. It's worked well for us so far."
Sadly for fans it transpires during our chat that the Calling Festival is likely to be the band's only date in London this year. But Pelle is optimistic it won't be long before they are back on English soil.
"It will be short and sweet but I hope we can come back soon," he says. "So you must come along and hear us play - we are apparently the best live rock band...!"

The Hives play the Calling Festival, Clapham Common on Saturday, July 4. Visit for tickets.

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