Multi-platinum, GRAMMY nominated band Hoobastank has recently released their sixth studio album entitled Push Pull (Napalm Records). The band has made a name for themselves in the rock world over the years. It all started nearly twenty years ago in Agoura Hills, California, which is a suburb of Los Angeles. Some of their most recognizable hits include Crawling in the Dark, Remember Me, and Running Away. In the early 2000’s the rock scene was looking for a new sound after the grunge movement, and Hoobastank undoubtedly brought a much needed energizing fresh sound to adoring music fans.
Screamer Magazine sat down with lead vocalist Doug Robb to learn more about the new album and the creative process. Robb explained that this album is different from previous albums in many ways. He said, “Every album process is different – the recording, the experiences that go into each one. From where I’m sitting, since I’m so close to the music and writing process, it wasn’t an approach to do something so differently or to explore different sounds. I just think it kind of happened naturally that way.” The band’s producer, Matt Wallace had a lot to do with the band’s updated, new sound. “He pushed us and challenged us to try some new things,” Robb said.
Robb explained that each Hoobastank album is recorded differently from the one before. Basically, it’s a slightly different process each time. “I’ve heard that the results of this album have been unexpected,” he said. When it comes to writing and recording, Robb explained that “it normally meant that the guitar player, the bass player or myself coming up with a musical idea and then I will come up with some melodies and lyrics. I’ll record it and send it back to them and it goes back and forth until something resembles a song,” he said. That was how all the demos were made. “We’ve had a lot of material stockpiled over the years,” he said.
In the past, the band would write the music first and then work together to go through all the demos. They would then record the drums, the bass, the guitar and finally, the vocals. It was more of a layering process; however, while working with Wallace, the album was recorded in a different way than they’ve ever done before. “This album was different because we worked on the songs individually, not the completion, but a lot more than we would have done in the past. Never before had all four of us and the producer been working on the songs simultaneously at the same time,” he continued, “but this time, Matt Wallace would be in the main part of the studio working with song parts we were giving him. I’d be in another room with my own computer and phone creating singing ideas, putting it on a thumb drive and getting it to him, then there was another room where our guitar player was working on guitar parts, then Wallace would go to the other rooms with the drummer and bass player.” Wallace really took his time working with each member of the band separately in order to create this new, fresh album.
As Robb reflected back over the recording of the album he said that it almost reminded him of a kitchen. “The producer was the chef and we were sous chefs, and he would come into our rooms and say ‘I need this ingredient’.” That is how the song ideas were molded into what they are now. “We’ve never done anything like that – that collaborative – before. Usually, when we started recording at the beginning of the month, I wouldn’t even have to show up until later in the month,” he said. This was the first time that everyone was involved every day. Robb stated that it was a very cool experience. It helped to bring a freshness to the new music.
Hoobastank has covered songs in the past, but it was always done in a non-serious way. However, for Push Pull, they decided to be serious about the covers chosen. One of the songs chosen for this album was the Tears for Fears’ song Head Over Heels. “The producer kind of threw it out there and asked if we had considered doing a cover….he said not like a joke, but something you could put your own sound on it,” Robb explained. The band members all agreed to go home one night and pick ten to fifteen songs that they loved and met the next day to go through the songs. He said, “ten to fifteen turned into like fifty each.” They spent two ten hour days going through songs and whittling them down until they decided on this song. The band really enjoyed this exercise. “The songs were totally eclectic, such as Adele to ‘70s funk, and everything in between,” Robb said. They rated each song and it came down to Seal’s Crazy and Tears for Fears’ Head Over Heels. “We started on Seal’s Crazy and right off the bat, it just didn’t feel right. It’s such a rad song and I didn’t think we were doing it any justice…immediately, the Tears for Fears song just came more natural,” he said.
When it comes to the continuously evolving world of the music industry, Robb said that he doesn’t pay much attention to it. “Maybe I should be paying more attention to it, but I write music because I like to write music. It’s satisfying and I love performing music. I feel like whenever I get caught up in the music business, I go nuts….maybe how I deal with it is not paying attention to it. Things are constantly changing and the landscape is totally changing now.” The band members have been able to prove themselves successful even with the ever-changing music business.
Hoobastank has definitely evolved over the years. It has happened naturally for the band. You can hear the subtle differences in their albums, but they have shifted a little more than lyrics and melodies instead of heavy songs. There is definitely a positive evolution of the band. Their music is honest and have let their songs reflect what the band is all about.
Robb wants people to know that none of the changes on this album were artificial. If there is something that sounds less heavy or more pop, it wasn’t intentional. “It’s a very honest record and there are some songs on the album that just aren’t that heavy…I feel like with this album that we let the songs be themselves,” he said.
Hoobastank gained their first taste of success in the early 2000’s and they definitely have not lost their edge. Their music has certainly evolved over the years, but the band still retains their unique sound.
The album explores the renewed sound of Hoobastank with both a rock and pop vibe.
Doug Robb – Lead vocals/rhythm guitar
Dan Estrin – Lead guitar/keyboards
Chris Hessee – Drums/percussion/backing vocals
Jesse Charland – Bass/keyboards/backing vocals
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