The Hives, ‘The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons’ | The Album Story

The Hives frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist guides us through the making of their highly anticipated new album ‘The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons’, out August 11.

Featuring the singles ‘Bogus Operandi’ and ‘Countdown To Shutdown’, it is the band’s first full-length release in over a decade.

Read The Hives, ‘The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons’ | The Album Story below:

(Click View Fullscreen for digital feature or scroll down for text only version)


While they have maintained a well-earned reputation as one of the hardest working live acts in the business, when it comes to recording music, The Hives have been somewhat absent from the studio for over a decade.

“It had been the right time for 8 years I think” says frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist. “The decision to start was kind of made for us when suddenly there were songs that we actually liked. Once we had that, it was smooth and easy. It was pretty swift. Usually we argue a lot making records and this time that happened slightly less.”

With their signature battering-ram riffs and shout-along choruses in check, The Hives are ready to present their long-awaited sixth studio album to the world: ’The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons’. Pelle guides us through the making of the record, pushing their style to the limit through 12 tightly-wound tracks, coiled and ready to spring into action on live stages across the world. The countdown to shutdown has begun – prepare for the grand return of The Hives.


“We definitely don’t want to make something that sounds mature and older. The thing that we had been missing in music while we were away was that exciting, childish feeling that we always loved in rock ‘n’ roll. It’s been a very serious time, at least for guitar bands. So we wanted it to be exciting and violent and insane and fun. Basically all the things your mum says you shouldn’t do.”

As anyone who has ever seen them tear apart a festival stage will know, fun is exactly the correct word you would use to describe The Hives. But in amongst the usual high energy garage rock, there are new elements sprinkled into the tried and tested formula, with the likes of ‘Crash Into The Weekend’ bringing in the blues.

“In order for it to be exciting, you have to fuck with the form a lot” explains Pelle. “It doesn’t flow naturally, it is hard work. It’s not fun making it sound fun is what I’m saying. The enjoyment is when it is done. If you wanna make something good, you have to try harder.”

It certainly must be challenging to keep things fresh musically while still holding that quintessential The Hives sound intact – how do you adapt without losing that vital calling card?

“It is hard. There is no thinking outside the box. We’re basically in a tight little box, clawing ourselves bloody to make new things inside the box. But everything else feels wrong now. If it doesn’t feel like The Hives, then we don’t use it. Sometimes if something has too big a chorus, it doesn’t feel right so we skip it. The identity becomes self perpetuating.”

“Plus, I think it is so rare for bands to have that immediately identifiable thing” Pelle continues. “We have this little corner in the rock ‘n’ roll universe – it is our corner. That’s one of the things I’m most proud of. Like The Ramones or AC/DC, you immediately recognise it and I wouldn’t want to ruin that. We can do a lot of things but can’t help but sound like The Hives.”


‘The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons’ marks the first time bassist The Johan and Only appears on an album by The Hives – remarkable considering that he has been a part of the band’s lineup since 2013.

“He’s been in the band for a decade. He’s been there for the entire time that we’ve not made records. It feels good to finally have him. There’s proof now that he is in the band” Pelle laughs.

Recorded with producer Patrik Berger, sessions took place in Stockholm, with several tracks cut in the studio owned by ABBA legend Benny Anderson.

“Benny’s almost like a friend now. He played organ with us on a TV show in Sweden. He produced a horror movie that we did a song for. It sounds weird but Benny from ABBA is a guy I know. I have to hand it to the guy – he’s obviously really talented. But it’s so true that talent is for amateurs because he still sits for hours everyday and tries to make music. He doesn’t need to do that but he still shows up to work and tries to make something that he hasn’t heard before. That’s why he is that guy. He didn’t just wake up with a bunch of ABBA songs in his head.”

That work ethic has clearly impacted The Hives who will practice new songs thousands of times before even setting foot in a recording studio, ensuring a much easier and fulfilling experience once they get there.

“Since we started at a time when studio time was very expensive, we started this thing where we will play the songs a million times, flipped upside down, backwards and forwards. So many times that it is in our muscle memory. And then we go into the studio and record it really quickly” Pelle explains. “We just stand and play the song. It is like we are faking the circumstances of a debut album, where you have a lot of time to work on music but not a lot of time to record. So that is how we still do it. We play a song three times, it sounds amazing. We have some Indian food, play another song, it sounds amazing. But that’s only because we have spent a year drudging, making new versions, throwing out old versions, playing it a million different ways without recording it.”


“It took a little longer to get to the good stuff” admits Pelle on writing lyrics for the new record. “I had to wade through a lot of bad versions. It’s always hard but sometimes it is even harder I guess. If you love the riff and you love the sound for The Hives, you don’t want to fuck that up with a bad vocal. It has to be up there with all the other stuff. And if you write a great chorus, you have to write a great verse – you don’t want anything to be a disappointment about it.”

“Lyrics are sometimes on a topic or about something very specific but a lot of the time, it is poetry” he continues. “I never really got poetry when I was a kid but on the definition of it, that’s how I feel about a lot of rock ‘n’ roll lyrics. It is about the feeling you get hearing or reading the words. It is not about what the words actually mean.”

The band’s song titles tend to follow a similar formula, with recent singles ‘Bogus Operandi’ and ‘Rigor Mortis Radio’ harking back to the slogan-led approach seen in megahits ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ and ‘Tick Tick Boom’.

“For Swedes, some things come easy, like melody. I think most Swedish music plays on melody. But we always knew we wanted to be a band that was not based on melody. So how do you make it catchy? You need to come up with a memorable phrase. Or you find a way to make a rhyme structure catchy.”


“It was instructed to us basically. There was no way around it. We knew we were coming back with the first album after eleven years and people are going to want us to explain that. And the explanation is basically in the title. The guy who writes the songs is not there anymore, that’s why it is hard.”

As press releases announcing their comeback explained, the band had not spoken to or heard from their mysterious mentor, Fitzsimmons, since 2012. A figure featured in the band’s lore since the beginning, he is credited on multiple songs and was even said to have given each of the band members their distinctive nicknames. Whether this is fact or an elaborate, imagined backstory is almost irrelevant as once the album title was selected, there really was no other choice that could compete.

“Plus it gave us the chance to make a really cool looking cover” adds Pelle. “All of our videos and album covers tend to be ideas that come from the band. I had an idea and drew it on a napkin and text it to the other guys. It was us with shovels and trench coats in a grave yard. Then Niklas (Almqvist, guitarist) photographed himself in all those positions in his yard and edited it together. Then we just reenacted it with a photographer. But there is a version of the cover with only Niklas in those positions and it looks exactly the same.”


Having built their reputation off the back of their electric live show, how a song will fare in the set is always at the forefront of the band’s mind.

“It’s been really great. But it is mostly relief that we finally get to play new songs.”

With around five currently in rotation, Pelle looks forward to expanding that number when their headline shows roll around later this year, leading to a UK run in 2024.

But beyond live plans, how do they feel about more new music? Will The Hives return once again or will we be left to wait another decade?

“I know I’m not gonna wait that long. I don’t know about the other guys. But I’m not doing it.”

More like this