Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Hives: The Band I Forgot to Love.

Back in 2002, I'd just gotten my first dose of real cable television, and was starting to open my eyes to the world of music. This resulted in the first album I'd ever asked for: Hybrid Theory.


However, 2002 was also the time when MTV2 was beginning to get very alternative with it's music videos and circulated them constantly with music-oriented shows. This was before it was dominated by the same 4 Jackass episodes.

Woah the episode where Chris is a devil in California...haven't seen THAT one before.

This opened my eyes to groups with much more raw talent, such as the White Stripes, the Strokes, but firstly and most notably...The Hives.

Why? Even at 12 years old and in all my nu-metal glory, I had a certain affinity for this band. Their most popular video, "Hate to Say I Told You So", was on constant rotation, and I was mesmerized by their uniforms and lead singer Howlin' Pete Almqvist's (Which sounds like a skateboard trick in Tony Hawk's Pro-Skater) eccentric yet captivating style. Something I felt represented an innate part of my then quirky self.

Not to mention their music. It was the first time alternative/garage/indie rock had caught my ear, something that now defines most of what I listen to. The stuttering rhythms and drum-fueled verses/choruses of their music always made me want to dance.

As opposed to cut myself.

Later that year, they had a "Battle of the Bands" style performance between them and the Vines on the MTV Music Video awards.

Quick tangent: I have to admit I've never hated Jimmy Fallon and Kirsten Dunst more in my life than in this lead-in. "HERE AREEE 2 OF OURRR FAAAAAVVOORITE NUUUBANDSSS". Why do you sound drunk Kirsten? And why do both of you look like you've excitedly dropped a fart bomb in a high school hallway?

Anyway, it was the last thing I prominently remembered about them back then. It was well-hyped by the channel; the two breakthrough bands not only brought their own reputations (The Hives' Pete was already touted as one of the greatest frontmen of all-time by this point, and the Vines were considered the second coming of Nirvana), but also MTV advertised the battle in every VMA commercial.

After that fantastic showcase, the Hives disappeared on me. Too young to buy my own albums or look up music on the Internet, I didn't claw any deeper for the Hives. That, and I was busy loving the Vines and Linkin Park. Then 2 years later I fell in love with Franz Ferdinand and Green Day's "American Idiot", and the Hives became nothing more than a vague reminder of 2002, if I thought of them at all.

I somehow got the idea to look up the Vines a couple days ago, and decided to review that battle of the bands between them and the Hives. I'd always appreciate the Vines' stronger and more raucous attitude, so I came into it with the bias that the Vines would win my heart again. Boy was I wrong.

And boy was I happy about it.

The Hives' style is infectious. They combine their rigid uniformity, all with matching suits reminiscent of the 1950's, with lyrics and music of a punk-inspiration. The contrast is strong and obvious, but they mesh together well. Particularly because of Pete, who acts as a sort of glue between the contradictory styles they combine. He fearlessly manages to put on a great performance every time thanks to his great wails and dance. All with a swagger that's just undeniably lovable. He says just before the Vines come on after their performance:

I know you want us to play more. But that's all the time we have, so you can turn off now!
The band then perfectly finishes off the performance behind him. It's fantastic.

It's sad that I didn't appreciate them when I could've. Everything about them, save for maybe the quirky uniforms, are styles/energies that I would love to encapsulate not only in music, but just about everything I do. They're loud, flamboyant, they don't give a shit, and love it that way.

The song/video that I personally love is "Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones". The riff is great, with a rhythm that is unique, stylish, and incredibly catchy. Hell, even the drumming is infectious, which almost never happens in music. The lyrics' punk-like swagger compliments Pete and the band as well:

"Best keep quiet
You don't listen to me anyway

You're gonna lose and it's gonna show

It's far too late to avoid it so

Oh what's that sum
It added up to nothing cause you're much too dumb

And the video is awesome as well. The band plays the intro in sync, each member perfectly expressing the music they're playing through their body. Particularly the lead guitarist, who's signature head-banging style never looked better. Then comes Pete rising from the ground, as the vocals kick in. The multiplying band members as well as the huge lights behind them all perfectly summarize the song. It's one of the best fitting music videos that I've ever seen; not only capturing the song's attitude, but amplifying it and giving it a sense of life.

I love this band man. Their imposing persona is something a lot of bands lack nowadays. Sure, bands have one or two members that you can easily remember, but the Hives' consistency and their huge personality is something bands don't seem to do anymore. They'd settle for wearing the same ol' clothes they got 3 years ago from Marshalls.

So while The Hives may be lost in indie obscurity thanks to bands of a similar ilk that popped up around the same time (As mentioned earlier, The Strokes, White Stripes, and later, the Arctic Monkeys), their unforgettable style and music will always be a reminder of why they deserve to be immortalized. And I'll cherish them for all the time I didn't these past 8 years.

Love you Swedish dorks.

1 comment:

  1. It's not fair to them though; their other songs are great.

    Also, full disclosure, Tick Tick Boom went under some legal controversy for allegedly ripping off...this:

    It's a god awful piece of shit altogether. Unfortunately, I can see why they sued.