Hoobastank – Interview [2004]


Their band doesn’t have a normal name, but the four guys of Hoobastank are normal guys. They have normal lives, they do normal things, and they have the same sense of humor as their fans. That’s why Hoobastank-guitarist Dan Estrin, bassist Markku Lappalainen, drummer Chris Hesse and singer Doug Robb-connect with them. Their songs have that intangible ability to speak for and to the things that normal kids think and feel.

We talk with guitarist Dan Estrin.

How’s the tour been?

It’s been fucking awesome. I can’t complain when we’re playing in front of a thousand kids a night and getting good sponsors. All the bands are super cool.

Have you had contrasting experiences on the road where the bands weren’t cool?

Well we don’t always hang everyday and only see each other around. On this tour everyone is really mellow, usually we are on tour with bands that want to party. This tour we just hang out.

You always hear about the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, do you live it?

No, I never have. I didn’t go to parties in high school and I didn’t fuck around, drink or smoke. I was kind of a straight edge kid but I never preached that shit. I can’t party every night and then just cool out. Some people do it every night, I don’t know how.

I read Hoobastank.com that fans get to meet you. It must be fun to meet them.

It’s great. I wish I could have done that when I was a kid.

I read the band bio and it says you want to stay normal guys and then fans put you on a pedestal?

That is uncomfortable and can freak you out when they are weird about it, but we try to be really mellow with them.

Who puts the most pressure on the band to record a new record?

Ourselves. There wasn’t much pressure from the record label. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make great records.

What is the process like to record? Do you say we have to record new songs now?

We know when we have to start writing and come up with ideas. Like I might have a new idea and the other guys might not hear it for a few months. So what I do is record it to remind myself later and then I’ll work on it more.

Is it just as exciting to come up with a new musical idea as it is on stage?

I love to come up with a new song and hear it all finished. It’s always really gratifying.

I read the credits where you get musical credit and Doug gets the lyrical credit. Do you write together or do you bring him music and he writes lyrics to it?

Both actually. Sometimes I write a melody and bring it in and Doug will take it from there or we’ll work on it together. There is no set way how we write. On this album it was different, there were songs written by other members but they weren’t recorded.

What’s it like to hear the words to something you wrote?

It’s pretty cool. It depends on whether I like it or not and if I’m not feeling it right away I’ll let Doug know.

Does he ever pick up your emotions and write lyrics to something where you are like ‘wow that is exactly what I was thinking?’

Yeah sometimes. There are times when it’s perfect and other times where I tell him what I was thinking and give him an idea.

When did you feel like you could make music a career?

I don’t remember an actual time. I remember playing my first show when I was fifteen and I loved it so much that I wanted to do it forever.

Was it a band?

Yeah it was.

Is there anything comparable to stepping out on stage to people who know the songs?

I can’t think of anything that gives you such a great feeling. When you play a show and the reaction to the crowd is perfect there is nothing better.

What about kids pointing out songs that they love and it meant something to them?

I think it’s really cool. It’s a great feeling to know we are doing something that can influence someone’s life in a good way.

What song or band did that for you?

I was really into the Chili Peppers and Guns ‘N’ Roses. They always made me feel a certain way and made me want to play guitar.

Chili Peppers are a good example of great players and songwriters. Did you learn their tracks and want to be them?

I used to come home everyday and try to learn their songs. Or I’d rehearse all their songs. I remember coming home everyday and do it.

Could you pick the guitar parts up by yourself?

Sometimes I would pick it up myself or get a hold of the tablatures.

Is there ever a goal for the band or is tomorrow just another day?

I would like to say I have a goal, I kind of do, but I’m not everyday crossing things off. I go day by day but I want this band to have more success and be around for a long time. I want to play bigger rooms and have more people come up to us and travel more.

What does it feel like to know someone is reading this hoping to one day be like Hoobastank? And what would you say to them?

Just play, but I mean there are a lot of bands that just sit around and wait for things to come to them. I felt like a couple of us were constantly doing stuff like booking shows and marketing. You have to get out there and put the name out there. But don’t play to get a record deal, play because you love doing it and never expect to get anything out of it. If you want to have something happen you have to go out and make it happen.

+ Charlie Craine