T he Hives have a new look to accompany their latest album, "Lex Hives" -- top hats and tails. But frontman Pelle Almqvist has mixed feelings about the finery.
"They're pretty complicated to get in and out of, and really, really hot," Almqvist tells Billboard.com. "But it does look pretty splendid. It was bound to happen at some point, I think; We really dig looking like a cross between Fred Astaire and Dracula. They don't smell that great, though..."
The tuxedos, however, seem an appropriate way to celebrate "Lex Hives," which is the Swedish group's first new album in five years, which was produced entirely by the band and is its first release on its own Disques Hives label.
"It was really fun to see what we were on our own, what we do when left to our own devices," Almqvist explains. "There was no A&Ring involved, no other people involved. During most of making this album we weren't talking to record companies. It was as much in-the-house as we could make it. It was fun again to do all the bits and pieces ourselves...and also a very difficult process. I mean, if you're going to produce your album you've got to first learn HOW to produce."
Almqvist says that process was "a function of democracy" but not without its dysfunction as well. "It's like five dictators battling it out in a room, trying to get it to work," he says. "That takes its time. We need to all like what we do, otherwise it's very, very difficult to continue. The songs always have to feel like we're writing a new song, not that we're writing an old song again. But we've been doing it for such a long time that we know what we like, so we listen a lot to our music while making it." The sessions also included a hook-up in Los Angeles with Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme that yielded some digital bonus tracks, including covers of "Insane" by guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem's Dragtones and "High School Shuffle" by Alex Carole and the Crush, which was originally produced by Hives drummer Chris Dangerous.
The song "Go Right Ahead," meanwhile, includes a writing credit for Jeff Lynne since it borrows from Electric Light Orchestra's "Don't Bring Me Down." "There's a lot of similarity so we felt we might as well admit to that," Almqvist says. "(Lynne) was completely fine with it. We never heard anything negative about it."
The Hives are currently touring to promote "Lex Hives," and Almqvist expects the quintet to be on the road well into 2013. But he says the group's aim is to not take another five years before delivering its next album and already has a head start on that. "There's a good chunk of really great stuff that's not on ('Lex Hives') that we're hoping might make the next one," he says. "Seeing as it was five years between this one and the last album, I don't want to say too much, 'cause you never know what will happen. But we're hoping it will be faster."