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March 17, 2009

In our on-going quest to recruit international stars to help people around the world learn English, today on English, baby! there is a lesson on the terms “a.k.a.” and “alter ego” with Nicholaus Arson, who, as guitar player, is one of the leading creative forces behind the gold-selling Swedish garage rock sensation, the Hives.


The Hives just finished a fourth month break, and starting next week will tour Sweden, Finland and Japan, so we figured now would be a good time to feature them on the site. I was thrilled that Nicholaus took my interview request–I remember listening to the Hives’ 2000 album, Vidi Vidi Vicious over and over in my car as a teenager. I got it out to refresh my memory before the interview and still remembered most of the words. Just before we got on the phone I was listening to the Hives’ most recent The Black and White Album and found myself literally dancing in my office. They’ve only gotten better. Here is the unedited text of my phone conversation with Nicholaus.

Jason: So you guys just took a break from playing shows. What were you doing?

Nicholaus: Oh, just having time off, pretty much. Not playing was the main plan, I think.

Jason: How do you relax when you take a few months off like that?

Nicholaus: Well, most of us go home. And I don’t know…Once you’re in a touring mode, you’re used to working at least some portion of the day or at least doing stuff that’s very band-related all the time. You come home and you have a hard time winding down like the first few weeks or so. You pretty much get up in the morning and you start playing instruments and stuff. You work on new stuff. But after a while you get into a more easy-going mode where you can sort of kick back and just do whatever.

Jason: Right on. So you guys weren’t working on new material or anything?

Nicholaus: We are every once in a while. I think we’re working more than we expected to be working, but it’s your hobby. It’s what you do. I suppose it’s a job as well, but it’s what I do when I want to have fun, you know?

Jason: I’ve heard you might have a new album this year. Is that true?

Nicholaus: Eh…maybe.

Jason: What’s your next album going to sound like?

Nicholaus: I have no idea yet, actually. We’ve worked on a bunch of songs, but we’re not in a state where we’ve decided what songs to go with yet or anything. We’re more bulking up for something.

Jason: So you guys are about to do five shows in Sweden and I feel like a lot of bands that aren’t from Sweden will only do one or two cities and I just wondered what you think they’re missing if you don’t do five shows in Sweden.

Nicholaus: There is the possibility of doing five shows in Sweden for most bands. But if you’re on tour…like, we go to Czech Republic, we pretty much only play Prague, you know? Or if it’s summer, we may do a festival here and there, but it’s pretty much what we’re used to doing. But for us it’s a thing where we used to tour Sweden a lot like in ‘99 or 2000, we did tours of Sweden, so we played every bush in this country. For us it’s sort of like going back to places we haven’t played in a long time.

Jason: What’s the hidden gem? What’s the spot that people don’t usually go to but they might should?

Nicholaus: Well, up north is usually good and they’re not spoiled with shows at all, you know. So it’s great to go up north. I guess it’s like…I don’t know…Canada. Canada is usually good. Going up north is something that you may not want to miss out on.

Jason: Gotcha. I wanted to ask you about Randy Fitzsimmons, the songwriter for the Hives.

Nicholaus: No comment. That’s a touchy subject.

Jason: Oh, is it? I didn’t realize it was touchy…

Nicholaus: Touchy for some…for Randy, you know. We’ve sworn allegiance to him. He wants to remain anonymous.

Jason: Right. Definitely. But you collect his checks, right? You have like an alias of Randy so you can pick up his checks?

Nicholaus: Yeah.

Jason: And you guys also have a well-known song, “A.K.A. I.D.I.O.T.” and so I was just wondering if you could explain for our members who are learning English, what “a.k.a.” means?

Nicholaus: Also known as.

Jason: Yeah. Some people think that Randy might be an alter ego of a band member since he’s so hidden. Do you have an alter ego?

Nicholaus: Well, people usually think that we have alter egos because we’re sometimes very calm off-stage and then we’re, perhaps, energetic onstage. People usually think that it’s an alter ego. But it’s not really. You’re the same guy, but that’s how you move to music that you like, you know. We don’t use alter egos in the band, and Randy Fitzsimmons is not an alias for anybody in the band. I collect the money and then we split it six ways. He’s always been a part of the band, but he doesn’t tour and doesn’t show his face.

Jason: That’s so cool. That’s so unusual. One last thing. Can I ask you about Japan real quick?

Nicholaus: Yeah, Japan, yeah sure.

Jason: You’re about to play there and you’ve been there quite a few times. Is it different than playing other places? Is there something special about Japan?

Nicholaus: It is a bit different, actually. It’s a very controlled environment. People aren’t drunk at the shows or anything, but they go crazy. They might be drunk at the club afterwards, or they’re very well-behaved drunks or something. I don’t really know. It’s hard to tell. As soon as you stop playing a song, they’re quiet to listen to what you’re going to say. But as soon as you start playing a song, they go completely nuts.

Jason: Unlike…

Nicholaus: Unlike maybe England or Germany or Sweden. Any place where people drink a lot, you know. Then you’re sort of playing to a sounding amoeba. It’s just a pack of sweaty people forming into one, falling over and screaming and never being quiet. Which is sort of what we always get used to playing to. There is something weird about playing Japan.

Jason: Do you guys like that contrast, being able to play to a calmer audience or an audience that at least slows down when you slow down?

Nicholaus: Um, I don’t know. It’s sort of like trying to outrun your shadow, you know. There’s a freakiness to it that I’m not used to since I’m used to playing to the amoeba type crowd. But I think it’s a respect thing and I appreciate it. They want to show you respect by quieting down and listening to what you have to say.

01:07 AM Dec 13 2013


Iran, Islamic Republic Of

hey jason well done!!!!!1

04:25 AM Sep 12 2012



good janson


12:26 AM Dec 27 2011

harry india

Kind of great...

05:15 PM Jan 03 2011


Jason, you damn lucky guy! haha 

Congratulations, it was a nice interview. I also wonder how the next album will be like, but I'm sure it's gonna be great! 

01:45 AM Jan 03 2011


Saudi Arabia

Great job Jason... I've learned alot from ebaby site... I appreciated your efforts....

12:57 AM Sep 01 2010



Good! jason.

07:59 AM Aug 27 2010



Thank you, Jason, for good interview!

It was interesting to read! :)

12:21 AM Mar 03 2010



Hello Jason, good interview!!!I didn't know this group but I've just visited their website and I like them. 

Congratulations for all the work you are doing with English Baby!!!I'm a teacher of English and I find the site very interesting, with much material, different and interesting topics and it's also great fun!!!I use it with my students to practise our listening comprehension as we think the American accent is difficult to understand, but you help us improve our level!Thanx very much!!!! Ana

06:53 AM Feb 01 2010



i agreed that, Jason, you're so cool Kiss

02:53 PM Jan 01 2010


United States

Ok i dont read these ebaby blogs. But i feel like i wanna say, Jason is hot. Keep doing what you are doing..Im just saying lol

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More entries: Extended Lesson/Interview with Hives Guitarist Nicholaus Arson (12)

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About Jason

What do you like doing in your free time?

Pwn n00bs.

5 things you couldn't live without

1. Bicycling 2. Natural medicine 3. My mom 4. Basketball 5. Trespassing

Favorite Music

Iron Maiden

Favorite Movie

Man on the Moon

Favorite Book

Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges

Favorite Website