The Hives

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This article is about the Swedish band. For the disease known as hives, see Urticaria. For other uses, see Hive.
The Hives
The Hives @ Esplande Park (23 7 2011) (5993005757).jpg
The Hives in concert, 2011
Background information
Origin Fagersta, Sweden
Years active 1989–present
Members Howlin' Pelle Almqvist
Nicholaus Arson
Vigilante Carlstroem
Dr. Matt Destruction
Chris Dangerous

The Hives are a Swedish rock band from Fagersta that first garnered attention in the early 2000s as a prominent group of the garage rock revival. Their mainstream success came with the release of the album Veni Vidi Vicious, featuring their most well-known anthem "Hate to Say I Told You So".

The Hives are known for performing in ever-changing, matching black-and-white suits. The band puts emphasis on their energetic live shows, notably with lead vocalist Howlin' Pelle Almqvist's engaging onstage banter and his guitarist brother Nicholaus Arson's crazy stage antics. They have been acclaimed by music critics as one of the best live rock bands in current music.[1][2]

The Hives have released five studio albums: Barely Legal (1997), Veni Vidi Vicious (2000), Tyrannosaurus Hives (2004), The Black and White Album (2007) and Lex Hives (2012). They have one compilation album, Your New Favourite Band (2001) and they have issued a live DVD, Tussles in Brussels (2005).[3]


Beginnings of the Hives (1989-1999)[edit]

The band claims it was formed in 1993 (although formed in 1989 under a different name and sound) under the guidance of Randy Fitzsimmons. Fitzsimmons suggested that they form a garage rock band. He gave each band member a letter asking them to start the band. Fitzsimmons allegedly acts as a songwriter and manager for the band. The band recorded a demo titled Sounds Like Sushi in 1994. The following year they were signed to Burning Heart, a Swedish skate punk record label. The following year they released their debut EP Oh Lord! When? How? Almqvist decided to promote the band to Burning Heart.[4]

In 1997 they released an album called Barely Legal (an early stage name of guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem), and began touring. The following year they released their second EP A.K.A. I-D-I-O-T.

Veni Vidi Vicious and Your New Favourite Band (2000-2002)[edit]

They released their second studio album Veni Vidi Vicious in April 2000 through Burning Heart Records. The band themselves described the album as being like "a velvet glove with brass knuckles, both brutal and sophisticated at the same time". The album yielded the singles "Hate to Say I Told You So", "Main Offender", "Die, All Right!", and "Supply and Demand."

After seeing the video for "Hate to Say I Told You So" on German TV, Alan McGee (Oasis, Creation Records) decided to sign the band to his newly formed Poptones label. Poptones released the 'best of' compilation Your New Favourite Band in 2001, which proved to be their breakthrough record, reaching No. 7 in the UK album charts. Following the success of the album, the band re-released singles "Hate to Say I Told You So" and "Main Offender" which reach numbers No. 23 and No. 24 respectively in the UK Singles chart. The band also re-released Veni Vidi Vicious in the US. "The Hives - Introduce the Metric System in Time" was included on the punk rock sampler album Punk-O-Rama Volume 5 from Epitaph Records.[5]

It was during the promotion of Veni Vidi Vicious and Your New Favourite Band that The Hives signed a record deal with Universal Music, reportedly worth $50 million. This led to a dispute between The Hives and Burning Heart, who claimed that The Hives were still contracted to them for one more album.

The track "Main Offender" was featured in the video game Rock Band while "Die, All Right!" was released as downloadable content for the game's music store on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii.

Tyrannosaurus Hives (2003-2006)[edit]

After extensive touring, the band retreated to Fagersta to record their third album. The result was 2004's Tyrannosaurus Hives, their first new material in four years. The album includes the hit singles "Walk Idiot Walk," which debuted at No. 13 on the UK singles charts, "Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones," another top 50 hit, and "A Little More for Little You." The tracks "B is for Brutus" and "No Pun Intended" were also featured in the games Gran Turismo 4 and SSX on Tour, respectively. In 2006, their song "Diabolic Scheme" was used in the vampire film Frostbiten, marking the first time a The Hives song was used in a major motion picture.

The Hives won "Best International Band" and "Best Dressed Band" at the 2003 NME awards.

The band also won five prestigious Swedish Grammis for Tyrannosaurus Hives at the 23rd annual Swedish Grammis Awards, presented on 7 February 2005 for "Artist of the Year"; "Rock Group of the Year"; "Album of the Year"; "Producer of the Year" (with collaborator, Pelle Gunnerfeldt); and "Walk Idiot Walk" took home the MTV "Best Music Video" prize.[6][7]

The Black and White Album (2007-2011)[edit]

The Hives' official website was overhauled in the second week of August 2007, with a grungier, "emergency broadcast" layout. The new site revealed the album's cover and the title of the first single, "Tick Tick Boom", with a release date of August 14 in the United States and 8 October in the United Kingdom. The release dates for the new record, The Black and White Album, were 15 October in the UK on Polydor and November 13 in the US on A&M/Octone in 2007. It was mostly recorded in Oxford, Mississippi, Miami, and in their native Sweden.

The Hives were featured in a Finish Line commercial performing "Tick Tick Boom", as well as a Nike commercial featuring the song "Return The Favour". "Tick Tick Boom" was also used in many different advertisements including: the 2007 season of the NFL Network, commercials for the CBS series Jericho, and the USA series Burn Notice, as well as the films Jumper (2008), MacGruber, and Get Smart, and was also the official theme song for WWE Survivor Series 2007. The Hives song "Try It Again" was featured in the trailer for the US film Get Him to the Greek.

On 9 January 2008, the band received the "Best Live Act" award at the Swedish Grammis.[8][9]

On 2 October 2008, Nicholaus Arson added a diary entry on the band's official website writing "Right now we are at home resting our tired limbs and starting to gear up for the work ahead making a new record." This entry came after the band had finished their world tour supporting The Black and White Album.

The Hives performed at the 2008 NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta, Georgia, singing "Tick Tick Boom" during the players' presentation.

On 2 July 2010, the band released an EP titled Tarred and Feathered, which covered "Civilization's Dying" by Zero Boys, "Nasty Secretary" by Joy Rider & Avis Davis and "Early Morning Wake Up Call" by Flash and the Pan.[10][11] "Nasty Secretary" is also a song on the US release of the Gran Turismo 5 soundtrack. On 9 January 2011, Nicholaus Arson wrote another short diary entry on the band's website saying that they had recorded some new songs before Christmas, and were planning to continue recording throughout January.[12]

Even though they were recording for their next album, they played at various festivals during 2010 to 2011 where they previewed a few new songs. These festivals include but are not limited to: Sziget Festival 2010 in Hungary; Rock Am Ring 2010 in Germany; Hard Rock Calling 2010 and Wireless Festival 2011 in the UK; Splendour in the Grass 2011 in Australia; Way Out West 2011 in Sweden.

On 9 November 2011, Arson wrote on the band's website that they were currently recording the demos for what will be the fifth full-length album.[13]

The album's first single, "Tick Tick Boom", was featured in the setlist for the music-simulation video game Lego: Rock Band.

Lex Hives (2012-present)[edit]

On 12 March 2012, the band announced their fifth full-length album, Lex Hives. The album was released on their own label, Disque Hives on 1 June in Sweden/GSA, 4 June in the UK, and June 5 in the USA and Canada, comprising twelve self-produced tracks, with a deluxe version containing bonus tracks produced by Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme.[14][15]

The first single to be released from the album, "Go Right Ahead," was made available for public streaming alongside this announcement.[16] Five teaser videos were posted on their official YouTube channel, each showing a member of the band playing their part of the song in the lead up to the announcement.[17] The song was also played live at the Norwegian/Swedish talkshow "Skavlan", broadcast on March 30, 2012.[18]

In a 15 March 2012 NME article, Almqvist hinted at two new track titles from Lex Hives: "I Want More" and "My Time Is Coming".[19] Tracks on the album included "Patrolling Days", "Bad Call" and "Take Back The Toys" which had been played live during their tours in 2010 and 2011.[20][21][22] One song from the album, "1000 Answers," was featured in FIFA 12 and later appeared in SSX.

On 23 March 2012, the song titles for 12 tracks were posted, however they were purposely jumbled up. Fans had to post their guesses as to what they thought the tracks were called on the band's official Facebook page, with the first person to unscramble all the song titles correctly to "receive a phone call from The Hives" with 10 runners ups getting unspecified "rewards".[23]

The Hives played a series of secret shows in smaller Stockholm venues in March, 2012.[24] The first was played at Debaser Slussen on 28 March, followed by a double set at Kafé 44 on 29 March and another show at Debaser Medis on 31 March. Notable songs they showcased for the first time from Lex Hives included "My Time is Coming" and "Wait a Minute".[25]

After a run of Californian live shows and the two weekends at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (April 15 and April 22), the band performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on 23 April 2012.[26] The music video for "Go Right Ahead" was released on 9 May 2012.

Since its release, "Come On!" has been used as the theme for Xbox One's Invitation commercials and on the documentary The Crash Reel.

At the first Rockn'roller Festival in Tel Aviv on 17 June 2014, The Hives played a new song called "Two Kinds Of Trouble".[27]

On the 13th of February 2015, the band released the single "Blood Red Moon" for their up and coming sixth album.


The Hives completed recording vocals and guitar in late November 2006 for a song called "Throw It On Me", a collaboration with hip-hop producer Timbaland. The song was included on his album, Timbaland Presents Shock Value, released on 3 April 2007. They also performed in a music video for the track. The Hives also have recently spoken of a collaboration with Jack White's The Raconteurs on a song for their new album, originally entitled "Footsteps", however it was later revealed that Howlin' Pelle had literally recorded footsteps. Howlin' Pelle also did a collaboration with Swedish rock artist Moneybrother, a cover of an Operation Ivy song "Freeze Up". They used Swedish lyrics and called it "Jag skriver inte på nått", which translates as "I Won't Sign Anything".

The Hives' members - Chris Dangerous (drums/percussion), Nicholaus Arson (guitar), Vigilante Carlstroem (guitar), Dr. Matt Destruction (bass) - contributed instrumentals on "Time For Some Action" and "Windows" on N.E.R.D.'s "Seeing Sounds" album, with The Hives' frontman Howlin' Pelle Almqvist providing guest vocals on "Time For Some Action". On Seeing Sounds they are credited with their real names instead of the pseudonyms they use within the band.[28][29]

In October 2008 it was revealed the band had recorded a Christmas duet entitled "A Christmas Duel" with Cyndi Lauper, which was available as a free download from their website on 28 November 2008.[30] On 27 November 2008, The Hives official website had begun to play the Cyndi Lauper/The Hives duet automatically whenever it is visited. During December 2011, a splash page with an image of The Hives and "Happy Holidays" in the background could be accessed and "A Christmas Duel" automatically plays.[31]

In a November 2008 interview with leading Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Swedish rapper Petter announced that The Hives were working on a new version of his track "Repa skivan" for his upcoming album.[32]

Style and onstage personas[edit]

Randy Fitzsimmons[edit]

All songwriting except covers on the band's albums are credited to "Randy Fitzsimmons". The band claim Fitzsimmons is an honorary "sixth Hive," who along with writing their music, discovered and manages the band.

Live performances[edit]

Pelle Almqvist in concert.

The Hives live show has been highly rated - Spin magazine rating them 8th best in rock music.[33] In concert, vocalist Pelle Almqvist and his guitarist brother Nicholaus Arson handle showmanship while the other members attend to musical business. Pelle is known for his "colourful idiocy"[34] - stage diving, scissor kicks, climbing amps, and eschewing false modesty with pronouncements such as:

"I've been busy being fantastic."[35]
Pelle: "I'm out of control! Tell me to take it easy!"
Crowd: "Take it easy!"
Pelle: "No, I wooon't!"[36]
Pelle: "My name is Pelle and I'm your new best friend!"
Pelle: "Bad music is the devil and I will be your exorcising priest, helpin' you out!"
Pelle: "We will not be held responsible for any lost, stolen or broken teeth during this next song."[37]

And unlikely explanations for the need for the crowd to make more noise:

Pelle: "I don't know if you know this but there are monsters in [name of the city they are performing in]. If the club goes silent then the monsters come and kill everybody!"
Pelle: "This is a stick-up! Put your hands up! Now, last song I told you to put your hands in the air...But I never said you could take them down. Now! OBEY ME! Put your hands in the air and make some noise!"
Pelle: "Silence is not invited. Silence is not on the guest list. Silence didn't know anyone in the music industry who could get him in tonight."[37]

At the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, The Hives performed "Main Offender" in a "Battle of the Bands" type of set up, with The Vines playing their hit "Get Free" right after The Hives. Before The Vines began playing, Pelle Almqvist said to the crowd, "I know you want us to play more, but that's all the time we have so you can turn off [your TV] now!"[38]

When asked about their benevolent efforts to connect with the audience Chris Dangerous once replied that “there are so many bands out there that don’t say a word to the crowd. I don’t get it. They don’t even look at the audience and that’s ridiculous."[39] As Pelle Almqvist's acclaimed showmanship is a subject of many interviews, he has wisely offered that "the show doesn't stop just because the song stops," referring to his banter and interactions with the crowd between songs.[40]

The Hives played at Rock Werchter Festival 2008 in Belgium and played for an extra 15 minutes, refusing to leave the stage because they, along with the audience, were having too much fun: "They say that that's all the time The Hives have and we can't play anymore. They say that that was the last song. Well, do I look like I fucking care?" In a 2011 interview at the same festival they were reminded about this and how "security chased them around the stage," at which Almqvist cheekily replied, "If you're on stage and there's 50,000 people watching you, you can basically do anything you want. We don't feel like enough people take advantage of this."[41]

On 25 June 2010 they performed at Hard Rock Calling in London's Hyde Park preceding Ben Harper and the headline act, Pearl Jam. On stage, Almqvist jokingly declared "I am here to save your evening."[42]

They have toured with The Hellacopters, The Donnas, the Eagles of Death Metal, and with Swedish hardcore punk band Refused in 1998.[citation needed]


The Hives are always strictly dressed in black-and-white uniforms for the reason that "it makes [them] look like [they] belong together" in a gang-like manner though they have often offered various reasons to journalists.[43][44]

Howlin' Pelle Almqvist and Chris Dangerous at Rock en Seine 2007 donning "The Black and White Album" uniforms.
Nicholaus Arson onstage in the band's white workwear attire during a period of recording new material in 2009.

Band outfits[edit]

The Hives are noted for wearing matching suits or outfits, always in nothing but black and white. However, their clothing has changed with each album. They wore suits with ascots for Veni Vidi Vicious, suits with colonel-styled laces and white spats for Tyrannosaurus Hives and bandanas and suspenders for their 2007 tours (notably at the German Hurricane Festival). For their fourth album, The Black and White Album, they went with a school uniform look, with black blazers bearing an "H" crest on the left breast, and striped black and white ties. As of late September 2008 and near the end of their "Black and White Tour", The Hives changed their school uniform attire from black to white. In the summer of 2009 The Hives walked out on stage in Hultsfred wearing new clothes that could be described as white workwear with a black shirt underneath, keeping the same striped tie and crest from the last tour. In 2010 they wore new clothes when the summer tour began in Hässleholm, Sweden, dressed as what could be described as a mix between old French soldiers' uniforms and boy scouts' uniforms. From 2011 onwards, The Hives wore matching formal white tie evening wear with top hats. This can also be seen on the cover of their latest album, Lex Hives. On 27 October 2012 The Hives wore custom tailored mariachi outfits made in Los Angeles, CA[45] on stage at the opening of the "Friends Arena" in Stockholm, Sweden. They returned to the top hat and tails for the remainder of 2012 and for the first half of 2013. They donned the mariachi outfits for the 2013 European summer festival season which began at the Ardèche Aluna Festival in Ruoms, France.

Offstage band outfits[edit]

The Hives do not always wear their onstage clothing outside of their live shows, but they still remain in uniform and in the strict colour scheme of black-and-white. They usually wear these outfits when walking around backstage or during interviews. Most of their offstage clothes are less extravagant than the ones they wear onstage for comfort and practical reasons. For part of the Veni Vidi Vicious era they wore black T-shirts bearing their names on the front. During the Tyrannosaurus Hives era, they had white bomber jackets with their names embroidered on the back.[46] During their years touring The Black and White Album, they wore long-sleeved black and white striped shirts with black pants. With the Lex Hives tour, they currently wear black jeans, plain white shirts and black leather biker jackets custom made by Lewis Leathers.[47]

Stage crew outfits[edit]

The Hives' roadies have also been dressed uniformly to critical acclaim. In 2010 they were decked in industrial white, one-piece overalls with the band crested logo, identical to the workwear the band wore in 2009.[48] Since the introduction of The Hives' formal tuxedos outfit in 2011, their stage crew have been dressed in black ninja attire also bearing the band's crested logo on their chest.[49] The band have jokingly remarked that their Ninja have been "1500 years in the making" and that the only thing that trumps a ninja is a 'Hive'.[50] All throughout 2012, starting at their show at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the stage crew was spotted with small 'Go-Pro' digital video cameras strapped to their chests.

The Stage Crews in Ninja outfits, with a small digital video camera on their chest, in Santa Ana, California USA on September 11th, 2012.

The Hives on Cartoon Network[edit]

The Hives have been featured playing "Fall Is Just Something Grownups Invented" on Cartoon Network in the fall of 2007. There are several versions of the song shown: one, a shortened version, that is simply played between shows and features children dancing, another, full version, with lyrics and the same children dancing, and a finale, featuring The Hives themselves performing.[51]

Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), 15, November, 2014 - The Hives @ HSBC Arena. Photo: Lucas Tavares / Agência O Globo


The band has retained the same five members throughout the whole duration of their existence. They have mentioned that if any one of them left then they would not continue since "it would really be strange to go on without one of the guys," but they have emphasised that it would be an odd and unlikely situation since they work under the motivation that the five of them are "The Hives now, then and forever".[52]

Official members
Live members


For a more comprehensive list, see The Hives discography.




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External links[edit]