After logging more than a year on the Billboard 200 albums chart with their Grammy-nominated double-platinum second album, The Reason, Island recording group Hoobastank returns with their long-awaited new album, EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF,, due to arrive in stores on April 18th. Hoobastank worked on the new album starting in the summer 2005, with renowned producer Howard Benson, who produced POD, My Chemical Romance and Hoobastank’s The Reason.
We interview Singer Doug Robb!
HIP: Life getting busy again?
Doug: Yeah. It’s the album and tour machine starting up again.
It has to be a big difference from the last time you finished a record.
(Laughs) Yeah, not only is how busy we are different but also our mindset. You are so green when you start that you just let everything happen on its own.
Was recording the album different this time around or did you stick with what has been successful in the past?
There was no pressure except not to duplicate the second album. Songs and albums are successful for a lot of reasons. There is no control over that so you have to get that out of your head.
When did you decide to go into the studio?
We started writing in January of 2005. We wrote some of it on tour and continued to write and when we got back we just jumped into the studio during the summer. But then we took another summer festival tour. It was weird to record Monday through Thursday and then fly out and tour Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It made the process a little longer.
Does the touring make you tighter for recording?
It does make it tighter but what is even better is that traditionally a band likes to go in and record an album in one shot. But we had days off and that gave us an opportunity to listen to what we had done and make adjustments. Honestly there are a lot of things I’d change on the last album we did. With this album I have no regrets.
How long after the second album came out that you realized there were things you would have changed?
Before the album even came out.
(Laughs) Maybe its taboo to rip into your own shit but I feel very fortunate to have the success of The Reason but after it was done being mastered I never listened to it again. It wasn’t my proudest work. I don’t feel that way about this album. I listen to it constantly.
Was that a big lesson going into the new album?
Absolutely, huge lesson learned. And we all agreed that this time around we didn’t want to feel this way when the album was done. We all have regrets which is weird because it was a commercial success.
Is writing becoming more natural?
It’s been a different process for every record. The first album had songs written before we got a record deal. Songs were written in practice and the songs took shape and we continued to adjust it while playing it live. Once you get a record deal you have to get all the evolving done before you record it. So the second record was weird because the music was written completely by Dan. He would record it at his house and give me a CD and then I’d write lyrics and write melodies and hand it back to him. If we liked the way it sounded we’d show it to the other two guys. I don’t know it wasn’t as creatively rewarding. The studio just became a place to redo our demo whereas this time around we got the basic structures to the songs and we stopped and then went into the studio. In the studio we put everything together and finished the songs in there which turned the studio into a creative environment and made it exciting because we didn’t know what we’d end with when we left.
When going into the studio to write a lyric do you have ideas or thoughts you want to touch on?
Lyrically I have tons of phrases and ideas. Usually it starts with melody whereas in the past the music would come first but a lot of this record I would write a melody and we’d structure the song around it. But I think the record is stronger this way because if you have to write a melody around a structure you are writing the best melody around that instead of writing the best possible melody. So we did it the reverse way.
It seems like the natural way would be coming up with the melody originally. So what was this thing about the Velvet Revolver tour?
I’m finding out that athletes or whoever goes on TV and get misquoted and say that and I wonder if people are going out of their way to twist someone’s words but this is a situation now where I don’t think the media twisted my words but only hear what they want to hear. They asked me about the first single which is about being appreciative of fame or everyday things in life we take for granted. I told them I wrote it on tour with Velvet Revolver and we had great shows with them and bad shows with them. Slash and everyone else was cool except the singer. The band was the coolest guys on the planet but the singer wasn’t. But that was just one ingredient of many. At the same time I was watching so much on TV about people fucking up and trying to apologize and it was frustrating and at the same time we were having bad shows mixed in with good shows. You totally saw it too because we were acting like bitches sometimes and it totally felt like we really have to enjoy this and not worry about all this other b.s. So I tell this whole story and the only thing they get out of it is Scott Weiland. That’s like making a cake and someone asking me what goes into it and I say ‘sugar, and flour’ and whatever and all they write about is sugar. I was like ‘wow, they just take what they want’ so I’m not talking about the Velvet Revolver story anymore.
See and I would correlate the song with athletes I see on TV.
See, and nobody wrote that. I said word for word that I was so upset with the whole Terrell Owens situation and the NHL lockout. I talked about that and no one wrote about that. I guess the Velvet Revolver story was juicy.
Terrell Owens is the definition of taking things for granted and being a bitch. (We both laugh)
A lot of people don’t know that about me… I’m actually a bigger sports fan than a music fan. So much of my stuff comes from observational stuff from sports.
What are you into?
The big four.
I’m an L.A. guy and the only football games I went to as a kid were the Raider games. I’m a Raider fan or so I say. (Laughs)
I’m a Bills fans so I’m there with you down on the bottom. (We both laugh)
One of my most painful memories was of the painful drubbing [the Bills gave the Raiders] 51-3. That was like tears.
Yeah, but we lost the Super Bowl so I was crying a few weeks later.
Excited about March Madness?
Oh yeah. I’m a total L.A. homer so I’m UCLA and Lakers and Clippers.
I’m a Kansas Jayhawk fan having gone to school there. But they got knocked out in the first round.
What happened to that team?
I don’t know. But it was heartbreaking.
Since you are a sports fan do you take anything on the road?
I have a duffel bag filled with baseballs, bats, and mitts. We play home run derby, and shag flies on the road and throw the football. My other band members don’t know shit about sports. They have no clue what is going on so I end up playing with the crew guys.
That’s the thing about sports—you have to have someone to talk to about them.
Yeah, and my tour manager is from New York so he is all about the Yankees and Jets.
Speaking of tour manager, what are the plans for the summer? Will you be hitting the road heavy?
The schedule is always changing. For about two and a half weeks next month we are doing a small club tour. We’re going to play all the major cities at clubs and the tickets will be free.
That is great.
I know. We also have some international stuff this summer and then probably a headlining tour in late June or July.
Did you guys get any time off in the last few years?
It’s weird because it’s kind of a yes and no. We’ve been home for a long time but we’ve been doing business related stuff so it doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes our manager has to come to us and tell us the days he is giving us off and he wants us to go and do something to recharge our batteries. It’s almost like you have to make it known to us that we have time off so we do something else.
The fans will see that you haven’t had a record out in a little while and they’ll think you’ve had all that time off but you’ve been working.
Yeah, and I used to do that too. I used to see a band play and not see them play for a year and think they were sitting on their asses. But you don’t know they’ve toured around the world.
+ Charlie Craine