Called a "sentimental hard-rock quartet" by Rolling Stone's Austin Scaggs, Hoobastank stormed the top ten charts with its single "The Reason" at the end of 2003. The song remained on the charts well into 2004, and fueled sales of close to 1.6 million copies of its album The Reason. The album was the group's second project on the Island label. The first, Hoobastank, made a strong showing in 2001 and 2002 with two singles, "Crawling in the Dark" and "Running Away," and getting extensive play on radio stations and the MTV cable network. The group's members have said that, far from trying to break new ground with their work, they simply want to make crowd-pleasing music for people like themselves. By all measures, they have succeeded beautifully.
Hoobastank got together in the mid-1990s in Agoura Hills, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, when singer Doug Robb hooked up with guitar player Dan Estrin. The two were attending the same high school, and they became friends after the separate bands they were playing in broke up at about the same time. Robb had been playing bass, but after Estrin heard him sing, he convinced Robb that he had what it took to switch to vocals. The two brought in bass player Markku Lappalainen and drummer Chris Hesse to complete the lineup.
Doug Robb remembers falling in love with music at the age of three. He learned to play guitar at the age of 14. In high school he dabbled in playing the bass before taking up singing at the suggestion of future bandmate Estrin. He has named Faith No More as his favorite band, although Van Halen runs a close second.
Dan Estrin grew up listening to has father's extensive collection of music from the 1970s and 1980s, and he found his own musical path when he bought his first album at about age 12. That first album was Appetite for Destruction by Guns 'n' Roses, and he later described listening to it as a life-changing experience. He took up guitar playing and then learned bass and drums. Another pivotal moment came when he was a freshman in high school and played his first concert—a talent show that had an audience of several hundred people. "Since that night," he said on Hoobastank's official website, "all I've wanted to do is play music."
Chris Hesse's parents introduced him to piano when he was six years old. He moved on to drums and then guitar, performing on both instruments in local bands. Looking for a bigger music scene than the one in his native Humbolt County, California, he relocated to Los Angeles, where he responded to a newspaper ad to join Hoobastank.
Markku Lappalainen's parents are Finnish. His first instrument was the saxophone, and from there he moved to guitar and then bass. His early musical influences included heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden and Megadeth. Later he discovered techno music, which he has cited as a continuing inspiration. At the time he answered the ad to join Hoobastank he was working as a set builder and a grip in the porn industry. The band was a welcome escape from what he called the hell of his day job.
While the group has cited alternative rock bands like Tool and Alice in Chains as their main influences, they developed a groovier, pop flavor for their self-produced debut album, They Sure Don't Make Basketball Shorts Like They Used To, released in 1998. The album was well received on the local circuit where the band played their first gigs, and that enabled them to land gigs further away, along the California coast.
By 2000 the group had attracted the attention of the Island label, which signed them and paired the group with the bands Incubus and Alien Ant Farm for concert tours. The band's self-titled major label debut followed at the end of 2001. Hoobastank spawned two hit singles, "Crawling in the Dark" and "Running Away," both of which received extensive airplay. The album itself went gold and then platinum. The summer following the release of Hoobastank, the band headed overseas for concert tours of Europe and Asia.
The beginning of 2003 found the group back from the road and in the studio laying down tracks for their second major label album. By summer the band was on the road again for a club tour, which was cut short after Estrin was injured in a motorbike accident. He recovered by the fall, and the band joined the All-American Rejects and Ozomatli on the Nokia Unwired tour.
Leading up to the band's December 2003 release of its next album, the band posted the album's lead single, "Out of Control," on their website. The Reason hit the shelves to strong reviews and wide acclaim. It proved to be the group's most successful recording to date. The title track was hailed by Rolling Stone's Mark Binelli as 2004's "modern-rock power ballad to beat," and it remained on the top ten charts well into that year.
The members of Hoobastank attribute their success partly to their average guy image. "We never take ourselves too seriously," Robb explained on the band's website, "and we're not afraid to make fun of ourselves." A case in point has been the band's name. Estrin admitted to Mark Binelli in Rolling Stone that "it's a stupid … name. I cringe every time I say it or hear it." According to Rolling Stone's Mark Binelli, Hoobastank had intended to leave their unusual name behind when they became more successful, even signing their Island contract as "the band formerly known as Hoobastank." But it was too late—by the time they signed to Island, their loyal following knew them as Hoobastank, and the name stuck.
For the Record …
Members include Dan Estrin , guitar, songwriter; Chris Hesse , drums; Markku Lappalainen , bass; Doug Robb (born on January 1, 1975, in Los Angeles, CA), vocals.
Group formed in Agoura Hills, CA, 1994; released self-produced first album, They Sure Don't Make Basketball Shorts Like They Used To, 1998; signed with Island record label, released major label debut, Hoobastank, 2001; released The Reason, 2003.
Addresses: Record company—Island Def Jam Music Group, Island Records, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019. Website—Hoobastank Official Website: http://www.hoobastank.com.
The band members have also expressed their desire to stay away from the wilder antics of some of their peers. They consider music as their job, and don't come to work drunk or high. In fact, Robb told Rolling Stone's Austin Scaggs, "None of us do drugs. I've never even smoked a cigarette."
They Sure Don't Make Basketball Shorts Like They Used To, self-produced, 1998.
Hoobastank, Island, 2001.
The Reason, Island, 2003.
People, June 21, 2004, p. 46.
Rolling Stone, June 10, 2004, p. 28; July 8-22, 2004, p. 47.
"Hoobastank," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (July 2, 2004).
Hoobastank Official Website, http://www.hoobastank.com (July 2, 2004).
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