With travel off the table, sharp-dressing garage rock legends The Hives are taking matters into their own hands. Welcome to the World Wide Web World Tour!
Since the late ’90s, legendary Swedish garage rockers The Hives have played hundreds of incendiary live shows across the planet. Accustomed to menacingly strutting the main stages of festivals the world over, they’ve been forced to rethink their shows in the wake of a new reality.
Stripped-back and casual live streams from the home studio aren’t going to cut it for the Fagersta five-piece. The Hives World Wide Web World Tour is a full costume, full sound and lighting affair, complete with crowd interaction from the cities they’re streaming to. Plus, each city will be able to vote on the setlist. Why go to all the effort? Well, as the band says, “Virus or no virus, we are in show business goddammit!”
Ahead of the band’s show in Sydney on January 28 (that’s this Thursday folks!) We caught up with guitarist Nicholaus Arson about the crowd’s response so far, life in their hermetically sealed bunker, and taking phone calls on stage.
HAPPY: Congrats on the World Wide Web World Tour! You’ve played in Berlin, London and New York so far. What has the response been like?
NICHOLAUS ARSON: The response has been superb. And it has been alike whether it has been from fans, friends, people working on the production, or the band itself. We knew we had something really good going on, but there’s always that little percentage that can tip everything sideways.
This has been nothing but perfection all the way. Which is a little scary going into the second week since things can only get worse or more perfect. The Hives are always up for a good challenge though — looking forward to it!
HAPPY: Have the shows been radically different from one another? Do you still get a sense of a place’s unique culture, even though you’re not there physically?
NICHOLAUS ARSON: Radically different might be an overstatement to some, but for us, they have really been different in the sense that we usually don’t mess around with the setlist as much as we’ve done here. People have voted in some older tunes that we haven’t played in a really long time. That has been tons of fun.
Also, the part where we are taking calls and we get to hear the people who are watching it live really gives us a sense of connection with them. The crowd noises are from both previously recorded shows and stuff that people have been sending in is really inspiring too. It totally works. Rock bands are easily fooled.
HAPPY: What inspired you to do the tour in this radical new way?
NICHOLAUS ARSON: I think most of the inspiration came from us missing live touring as much as we did. Also watching live streams that mostly just gave us a sense of what not to do. We want to emulate live touring to the greatest extent possible, which is why we’re doing the shows back-to-back, several dates like a tour, and trying to connect with the crowd and stuff. It has been fucking awesome!
You’re lacking sleep and your body hurts just like real touring. It’s a great feeling! I’ve also even been taking some calls and calling fans back after the shows. It’s hilarious! People are fired up and partying along with us!
HAPPY: And about those phone calls, have you had any weird requests?
NICHOLAUS ARSON: Not really no. Or well, yes, I guess. It’s mostly just people wanting us to get on with the show. Which is pretty funny since they are the ones calling in interrupting the show haha.
HAPPY: You’re playing in a ‘hermetically sealed, virus-safe bunker’. Can you paint a picture of it for us?
NICHOLAUS ARSON: If you watched any of our previous shows, it’s pretty much that, but floating around in a void in space rubbed in Alco-Gel. Kind of.
HAPPY: For more than 20 years, The Hives have done rock ‘n’ roll in a completely different way. Sharp, staccato guitar tones, fuzzed-out basslines, heavily gated and punchy drums and dry, upfront vocals. How do you translate your signature sound to the World Wide Web World Tour format?
NICHOLAUS ARSON: Piece of cake since the soundman for these shows is the legendary Pelle Gunnerfeldt, who recorded our three first albums, as well as other great Hives material. Everything is sounding beyond stellar!
HAPPY: How does it compare to doing shows in front of real-life people? Can you imagine a future where touring like this is the norm?
NICHOLAUS ARSON: It’s different and it doesn’t replace it for sure, but it’s as close as we can come to real touring these days and it totally works. We’ve also definitely felt like we want to do more of these shows. Maybe when we release one of the new albums, we’re working on we’ll play it like this, or something like that.
HAPPY: While you’ve been in the bunker, have you been cooking up any other plans? A new full-length album perhaps? We’ve been waiting a while, just sayin’…
NICHOLAUS ARSON: We sure have. We have two full-length albums ready to rehearse and record, and we’re currently working on a third one. Wait for the ketchupeffekt (the ketchup effect) once we’re allowed to go record these future classics!
HAPPY: Finally, it takes some balls to call your website www.BestLiveBandOnThePlanet.com. Who, in your opinion, is the second-best live band on the planet?
NICHOLAUS ARSON: I can answer that in a week. Right now, there’s nothing more important for people to do than tune-in and watch the current world number one do their thing for three more shows.
For more info, and to head along to the Sydney show, visit The Hives website.