The Hives Back 'Tyrannosaurus' Out Of The Garage

Excerpted from the magazine for

Fresh off a European festival appearance the night before, Howlin' Pelle Almqvist is tired and his voice is hoarse.

But the Hives' charismatic frontman wants to make one thing clear: The Swedish band never wanted to be lumped into the so-called neo-garage movement. "It was never much of a scene," he says of the group of garage bands that broke through two years ago. "A lot of the bands don't even play garage rock."

Even though Almqvist doesn't like being part of the trend, the band reaped the benefits of the publicity.

And now, Interscope Records is hoping that the public will take quickly to "Tyrannosaurus Hives," the garage punk revivalists' latest offering, due July 20 in the United States and one day earlier in the rest of the world.

Universal Music U.K. won a bidding war for worldwide rights to distribute the Hives at the end of 2002, inking the self-managed quintet to a contract estimated to be worth in excess of $10 million.

However, that signing came at the height of the neo-garage rock craze, when a wave of young acts steeped in '60s garage and post-punk influences were generating "next big thing" headlines. Since then, other members of that wave -- including the White Stripes, the Strokes and the Vines -- have had varying levels of sales with follow-up releases in the wake of that hype. And not one act from these types of bands has spawned a crossover pop radio hit.

Retail and radio executives are noncommittal about what all this means for the Hives. But no matter how they perform, industry watchers say that hope for any kind of neo-garage movement is long dead and these bands have to be judged on their own merits.

The band's first album, "Veni Vidi Vicious," has sold 397,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, since it was released in 2000 through Epitaph/Burning Heart Records. (In 2002 the album was licensed for North American distribution through Warner Bros. Records.)

The Hives' first single from their new project, "Walk Idiot Walk," is already No. 23 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart this issue.

The band will appear on an upcoming installment of the WB's "Pepsi Smash" and on "Late Show With David Letterman" July 22. It will also be featured on upcoming covers of Spin, Filter, NME and Kerrang.

Making the set attractive to buyers is a low suggested retail price of $13.98, while online shoppers at the iTunes Music Store will find exclusive downloads.

The Hives are also going back to the road, where they built an audience the first time around. The band toured for almost three years in support of "Veni Vidi Vicious."

Almqvist says the band is looking forward to returning to the road and reconnecting with its existing fan base and converting new followers.

Following a handful of European dates, the group kicked off a U.S. club tour July 20 in Washington, D.C. The run will close Aug. 4 in San Diego and shift to Japan where the group will play the Summer Sonic Festival Aug. 7-8 alongside

European festival dates will dominate the band's schedule in August, with a continental club and theater tour lined up for September and October. Full details can be found on the band's official Web site.

Excerpted from the July 24, 2004, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to subscribers.

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