Arts, Local

Backstage with The Hives at Shaky Knees

The Hives performed at the 2021 Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta.
The Hives performed at the 2021 Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta.
Credit Göran Broberg

This past weekend, Shaky Knees brought some of the last several decades’ most famed musical talents to Atlanta stages, including St. Vincent, Idles, Modest Mouse, and Alice Cooper. “City Lights” Senior Producer Kim Drobes caught up with a band she was particularly excited to see at the festival, Swedish garage-rock revivalists, The Hives.

Carrying a reputation of being one of their generation’s best live acts, The Hives couldn’t stay quiet for an entire pandemic. So, they performed the “World Wide Web Tour” earlier this year, a series of live-streamed shows.

“Those were really good,” said Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, lead vocalist for the band. Guitarist Nicholaus Arson, added, “Some of our finest work.”

Almqvist described their production team using sound effects of live audiences to create the energy of an in-person concert.

“We did one of those digital shows without crowd sounds, and we hated it,” Arson said. “We were terrible like just stressed out. So, then we had a guy sampling everything, sampling actual crowd sounds from the towns we were supposed to play … and also, people could phone in and scream, ‘The Hives are the best.’”

Nothing quite matches the screams and excitement of Hives fans in-person, however. The band had performed a late-night show the night prior to their Saturday performance at the festival. They played a packed house at Center Stage and shared the bill with California teen band, The Alive, whose high-energy rock got the crowd ready. “We were that age when we started,” said Almqvist.

“It just put a smile on my face,” added Arson.

The Hives’ own origins, starting out as teens in the 1990s, brought to mind reflections on the rock band’s extraordinary, unexpected longevity. “When we formed, we didn’t think any band ever made more than three good records,” said Almqvist. “So, we figured, ‘Okay, if we’re going to do this right, then we should also only make three good records.’ But then when we made two to three records, we realized that ‘Oh, I like the fourth record too, now.’”

“If we’re talking about it like, we’ve almost been a band for thirty years, it feels like four weeks,” laughed Arson. “That’s the secret to longevity — our really bad perception of time,” said Almqvist.

After a pandemic spent writing new material, the band said they expect their new songs to be some of their best material yet. With the enduring love, this weekend’s audiences proved, and after many months in captivity, Hives fans are clearly quite ready to rock.

More on The Hives, and their upcoming projects and tour dates, is available at