Hoobastank's origin can be traced back to Agoura Hills, California in the early 90s when vocalist Doug Robb and guitarist Dan Estrin found themselves competing against one another in a high school battle of the bands. Each impressed with the other, they began collaborating and eventually quit their respective groups to join forces. When their creative chemistry began to bubble with the addition of bassist Markku Lappalainen and drummer Chris Hesse, they took their show on the road. Since they were headed in exactly the opposite direction of a then burgeoning rap rock stampede, the group stood out the moment it hit the West Coast club circuit. It was a difference that fans caught on to immediately.
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"There's a sense of realness about us," says Robb. "We don't put up any fronts. We're just four normal guys who play music and I think that kids have always appreciated us for it. We've had people come up to us after shows and say that we look like we're having a good time when we play and I don't think that comes across enough these days. Fans want to see players who connect with their music rather than some group that just wants to focus on its image."
In 1998, Hoobastank went worldwide with their self-released first album, They Sure Don't Make Basketball Shorts Like They Used To. While the disc sold well at shows and local retailers, it took off online, expanding the band's fan base to places as far away as England, Israel, Russia and Brazil. Within a matter of months, the band had sold every copy.
Says Estrin, "It's an incredible feeling to know that our music is finding its way to people around the world. We couldn't believe it when one kid e-mailed us from Brazil to let us know he had created a site dedicated to the band after hearing our album for the first time. That's just awesome."
4 With their self-titled Island debut, Hoobastank is preparing to deliver on the promise of its earlier success. Listeners tired of rock's same-sounding rap will rejoice upon hearing the melodic resonance of Hoobastank an album produced by Jim Wirt (Incubus, Fiona Apple) and mixed by Jay Baumgardner (Papa Roach, Alien Ant Farm, Orgy). The electrifying disc slices through the genre's stylistic fetishes and goes straight for its emotional core, blending invigorating melodies and sharp, insistent hooks with blasting rhythm rock guitars.
There's much to like about Hoobastank, a surging rock record of deftly written compositions. The album's stylistic touchstones--sharp wordplay, soaring climaxes and a raw, overriding energy--showcases the quartet's mercurial talents and establishes them as a band with a sound and vision all their own.
The disc kicks off with the thick groove of "Remember Me," a song in which Robb recalls an encounter with an old "friend." "I wrote this after running into the most popular kid in high school several years after we graduated," he begins. "As a teenager, I was really quiet and shy and this guy was a football star and the big man on campus. Back then, I really wanted to be his friend and hang with his clique, but he'd dis me all the time because 'I wasn't cool enough.' At the time I ran into him, the band had already made a name for itself around the L.A. area and a lot of people knew who we were. He approached me in a supermarket and said, 'Doug, I love your band! I heard you got signed--we gotta hang!' I thought it was pretty ironic how things had turned around. I often run into people who wouldn't give me the time of day way back when, but now want to be my friend. The whole thing makes me pretty nauseous."
"Up and Gone" is about finding peace and hope in in life. Says Robb, "This is about a friend of mine whose father left when he was young, forcing him to grow up a lot faster than he needed to. At 13, he was in a gang and doing coke, while I was learning how to play guitar and chasing frogs down at the creek. I was being a kid while he had to work and help support his mom. The song is told from the point of view of someone that wasn't allowed to be a kid. Because he couldn't do any of the things he wanted, he finds himself somehow trying to regain his lost innocence."
"Crawling in the Dark" is a look at life choices and the self-doubt that sometimes accompanies them. "This was written during the band's early days," recalls Robb. "Back then, there were often times when we were unsure of what was going to happen to us. It took us six years to get here, but every time we'd get down on ourselves or begin to feel doubt, we'd get positive feedback from our fans or someone in the industry telling us that we sounded great. That was the sort of stuff that kept us going--not to mention the fact that we love making music."
"I'll never forget loading our equipment into the recording studio on the first day and thinking, 'I can't believe this is actually happening,'" adds drummer Chris Hesse. "After all those years, it was such a great feeling to know that we were finally getting a chance to make a real record.
"There was this collective feeling of excitement and anticipation on the first day of recording," says bassist Markku Lappalainen. "We were in the studio for six days a week, ten hours a day for two months and it was awesome. At the end, after sitting back and listening to the rough mixes, we all hugged because we were so happy to have finally finished our first album. We had waited so long for that day to finally come." And this is only just the beginning for Hoobastank.
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