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INTERVIEW: DAN ESTRIN of HOOBASTANK – October 2018

| 24 October 2018 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “In celebration of the 15th anniversary of the release of their landmark second album The Reason, the Multi-Platinum band HOOBASTANK, have announced they’ll launch a nationwide U.S. headlining tour this fall.  “The Reason Tour” will see the band perform the pivotal album in its entirety alongside fan favorites and new songs off their recently released sixth studio album PUSH PULL, available now via Napalm Records. The trek will kick-off October 25 in Portland, OR and hit 24 major cities across the states. 2018 marks the 15th anniversary of The Reason which was produced by Howard Benson. The title track became a worldwide hit #2 Billboard Hot 100, #1 US and World Modern Rock charts (#10 Australia, #12 UK, #15 Germany), following the first single “Same Direction” (#9 Modern Rock, #16 Mainstream Rock). The album reached #3 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart and set a record in Canada, with 21 weeks at #1.” We get guitarist Dan Estrin to discuss new music, touring, and much more…

EDIT – this interview took place in early October, and today 10/30/18 HOOBASTANK released the following statement: Multi-platinum band HOOBASTANK are postponing their recently announced fall 2018 cross-country headlining tour due to an unforeseen personal matter. “The Reason Tour”–in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the release of their landmark second album of the same name–would have kept the band on the road through early December. HOOBASTANK would like to apologize to their fans for any inconvenience caused by this cancellation and look forward to heading back on the road in 2019. The promoters will be issuing full refunds for tickets that have been purchased; ticket purchasers will be receiving an email from the promoter with further details on refunds.

Toddstar: Hey Dan – how are you?

Dan: Good how are you?

Toddstar: Good thanks. Well thank you so much for taking the time out, I appreciate it.

Dan: Yeah, no worries man.

Toddstar: It’s exciting to talk about what’s going on in the world of Hoobastank right now. You guys are going out, touring the 15th anniversary of The Reason.

Dan: Yeah. 15th anniversary, it’s been 15 years.

Toddstar: When you guys go back and think about that, is it hard to believe or kind of surreal that 15 years on you guys are still able to celebrate that album?

Dan: Yeah. I definitely have my moments of realization and I’ll reflect almost from an outsider’s perspective at this point. I could see it from somebody else’s eyes as opposed to me going through it myself. Yeah man, it’s pretty rad. The fact that 15 years ago, we unknowingly made something that still touches people and still gets played and we can still go out and have a career supporting and doing. It’s cool.

Toddstar: A lot of bands, they hit big with the debut and then sometimes the sophomore slump kicks in but you guys actually with this album went out and banged one out into the top five on Billboard’s Top 200. What did that feel like at the time?

Dan: Well at the time it felt amazing. Everything was new to us. Selling that many records was new to us, it was a first time for us. But having said that, we were coming off of an album which was our debut album, which sold a million and a half records. Which was amazing as well, and that was the first of us – hitting ground and going and hearing our stuff on the radio, and seeing ourselves on MTV, and coming home from tour and having our friends and families tell us, “Holy shit! You guys are everywhere.” So by the time we got to The Reason, it was even more insane than that. It almost honestly seemed like the next natural step for us. Looking back on it, I didn’t realize at the time that we were just fucking lucky, very very lucky. Yes we had a song that was humongous, but we were just dumb and young. We had no idea going into it.

Toddstar: For a band today to hit number three on the Top 200 – album sales aren’t what they were 15, 20 years ago – looking back is there something that you hold as one of your band accomplishments that will always stand the test of time in your head and heart, or is there something else that kind of overshadows it?

Dan: I don’t know. I don’t have anything else other than the band. I mean I have family. I don’t have my own wife and kids, but I have my own girlfriend and dog, but I haven’t had children that I’ve actually created and am proud of but to me, when I was a kid I just dreamt about being a professional musician. And it went above and beyond that. I understand that we are not in the same position that we were when The Reason was out 15 years ago, I totally get that, but the fact that we’re still able to be out there doing it without having to go get nine to five jobs and we make a healthy living doing this, and we love doing this, and we love each other, it’s fucking dope.

Toddstar: To have a band member say after 15 years that they’re still in love with each other, that doesn’t happen often these days.

Dan: We got together yesterday for the first time since our last show since we got a tour coming up and we rehearsed and I’m not going to lie, there’s definitely the times where you’re just going through the motions and it is kind of like being on autopilot because you’ve done it thousands of times. I was talking somebody about this yesterday – I was walking into 7-Eleven randomly and some dude was like, “Dan Estrin?” , and he was a fan of the band from back in the day, and he was surprised that we were together but thought it was really cool and I said to him, “You know, most of your favorite bands that are no longer together are probably not together because men suck at communication with each other – they just do, they always have. I think that maybe it’s getting better and in a lot of your favorite bands, there was egos and dudes couldn’t communicate their frustrations with each other because they were too fucking tough or it was, you know it’s not cool,  whatever it is you know, and be vulnerable.” It’s not like we have these séances where we hug each other and tell each other how much we love each other, we don’t do that at all. But we try to communicate our frustrations at times over the years. Or we’ve had somebody help us with that because at the end of the day we all care about what we do, we care about each other and people fuck up and treat people shitty at times, unintentionally.

Toddstar: Well, looking at 15 years, you guys have done something that in my mind really stands out, and that’s Push Pull you guys dropped earlier this year, your sixth album. Again, to be 15 years in the game and still be able to put albums out, not just singles, but to put an album out of this quality – this ranks up there, if not higher than The Reason for me personally.

Dan: Thank you.

Toddstar: What is it about this album in your guys’ head and heart that made it the right time to put this material out there?

Dan: It’s not like it came together… it wasn’t necessarily the smoothest process.  I’m having a hard time articulating what I’m trying to say, but other records that we’ve done in the past… the first album, The Reason album, the Every Man For Himself album, musically I knew exactly where I was going and what I wanted to do. I wrote 95% of the music, I had it produced in my head, I had it produced in my demos. Everything was me and Doug – our work ethic was insane with those songs. We just knew what we wanted and we had this vision. Going into this one it was different for me personally, I didn’t fully know. It’s like a lot of the songs on the record, I’d say half the songs on the record are my ideas, they’re my music ideas that I initiated and turned into the band and said, “Let’s turn this into something,” or, “Doug, write something over this.” I can’t explain it. It’s just different for us. I’m stoked to hear you say you liked it as a rock album, or you said something, “It’s a cool rock album.” We didn’t know going in what we were going to do. I sit at home sometimes and I come up with serious pop stuff, like really really poppy stuff, or even R&B sounding stuff, and at times I send that shit to Doug and I just sit back and go, “What’s he going to say?”, because where does he fit in? Sometimes it turns into a Hoobastank song. “Push Pull,” the song, was actually one of those songs, it really was only kind of like this digital drum beat that I had created with a bass line. It was a chord progression but it was played on a bass and sent it to Doug and was like, “It is what it is, if you hear anything, cool.” He sends me back a melody and some lyrics over it and I’m like, “Oh shit! Okay cool.” Kind of helping my mind out to go back to it. But now I had to go back to a song and figure out guitar parts, whereas 15 years ago I was writing songs on guitar. I was coming up with The Reason on guitar, I was coming up with Out of Control on guitar, coming up with Falling in the Dark on the guitar. Nowadays I come up with shit on a bass, or I’ll come up with stuff on a keyboard, or I’ll come up with stuff on the drums, and then later on try to figure out guitar stuff around it. Completely different approach than I used to do.

Toddstar: I can see where you say, “I’m surprised you call it a rock album,” but from “Push Pull,” to “Don’t Look Away,” and then my personal favorite “Buzzkill,” these songs come at you. They got cool riffs, they got killer tempo and cadence, a good rock foundation. Then you guys throw in a great song like “We Don’t Need the World,” which is a cool ballad, but another one that really caught me off guard the first time I listened through it because it didn’t really sound like Hoobastank to me, but was a cool version of Tears For Fears'” Head Over Heels.” How did you guys come up with the thought to do that track?

Dan: It was weird, we spent a lot of the time in the studio with Matt Wallace, a producer we go way back with and had a great working relationship with but also had just a killer friendship with. We had always talked about doing covers – nothing that we wanted to necessarily put out as a single. Sure, if it’s amazing and it’s a single, great but not to be a single. We all had different shit that we liked to listen to so we all wrote down 10 songs that were songs that we would be stoked to cover, and some of us put down the same stuff unknowingly and some of us put down random shit, and Matt the producer kind of just steered the ship a little bit and said, “Okay let’s go through this and let’s go sing by song and listen to them and we will rate them, we will put them in a rating one to five and once we’re done we’ll see which one out of all these songs, what has the highest rating and go from there.” Based on what everybody liked. Everybody liked everybody else’s songs but there was, “I like this one better,” or, “I like this one.” Everybody had different opinions. That Tears For Fears song just kind of came togethe … and it was one of the ones that we all kind of voted on because we all dug the song. Now that you ask that, looking back at it if I rewind to even before we decided to do a cover song, had somebody said, “You guys are going to cover Tears For Fears in that song,” I would’ve been like, “Shut the fuck up,” like, “Don’t even.” I would’ve just never expected to do it but I guess that’s also what makes it kind of cool is that it just happened.

Toddstar: Once it started playing I actually had to grab the sleeve to check the credits to see the arranged order to see if it was indeed the Tears For Fears song because again, it doesn’t sound like Tears For Fears but it doesn’t sound like Hoobastank, it’s a cool hybrid where you guys really put your own stamp on it which is kind of cool.

Dan: Yeah, I mean it’s hard man, it’s hard to be in a band that is known for a particular time, which is the early/mid-2000’s, and still be together and still be perceived as that time back then. Any time that you want to try to evolve or grow as a human being and as a musician, you got people that are butt-hurt about it and people that don’t like it, or people that do like it and it’s cool it’s just evolving and growing. We’ve been trying to incorporate other things into our music as Hoobastank because we all four enjoy other styles of music other than shit from 2004. Even in 2004 when we wrote The Reason and we were putting out Out of Control and The Reason and all that stuff, we were all listening to other stuff at the time. I remember at the peak of this band, Doug is listening to Justin Timberlake. He’s listening to a Justin Timberlake album and fucking how killer this thing is. This is when we were the heaviest we were. We were always into different styles of music, whether it was Metallica or it was Justin Timberlake.

Toddstar: Okay. I know you’re busy so I got one more for you before we cut you loose. Looking over this album and then looking forward to the tour, again celebrating 15 years of The Reason – where you guys pick up and start October 25th in Portland, Oregon, work your way across the country – what song or two from the new album do you think is going to blend the best with the songs from The Reason and the rest of the catalog, that are going to take the fans by storm when you’re out playing them live on this tour?

Dan: That’s a tough one. There’s the ones that we enjoy playing as a band and that we enjoy listening to. The opening song on the record is called “Don’t Look Away,” and not that it’s a sing-along single or anything like that but we just like when we play it live; we all enjoy the vibe of it. It’s just more of a stand still kind of with your drink in your hand kind of like bopping your head just like, “Yeah.” That’s a good one to play. I’m not saying the crowd goes ape-shit for it. We really haven’t played it since the record’s been out. What else have we been playing? I don’t know sometimes I think “Buzzkill” will go over well. There’s a song called “Better Left Unsaid” that I think could go over well. I feel like that’s a question for you though because you know the record, and it’s not like I have deep or lengthy conversations with people that know all of our records. I’m not saying you have to tell me that. You had made a comment you had said that the songs that stood out to were “Buzzkill.” What else did you say?

Toddstar: “Push Pull,” the title track, I dig. That one I liked first listen through, but “Buzzkill,” once I heard it a second time, it’s the song I go back to time and time again. And if I want something … really the one-two punch of mellower track is “We Don’t Need the World” and “Fallen Star.” To me, that is the perfect one-two punch of classic mellow Hoobastank. Depending on my mood, if I want to rock out, I want to hear “Buzzkill” or “Push Pull” or “Don’t Look Away.” If I want to mellow out I go to track eight and ten and move on. That’s why I say it’s just a good album top to bottom you guys really hit one out of the park.

Dan: Well thanks man I appreciate hearing you say that.

Toddstar: Well listen man I know you’re busy, I know you got things going on, you guys are getting ready for the tour – starting in Portland, Oregon on October 25th and we can’t wait to see you in Detroit on November 6th at The Majestic, but safe travels ’til then and hopefully we’ll get the chance to say, “Hello,” when you’re rolling through Detroit.

Dan: Sounds good. I appreciate it thank you.

Toddstar: Thanks Dan.

Dan: Alright man talk to you soon.

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Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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