Despite hitting the jackpot with the first three singles from his band’s debut album, Doug Robb of the California rock crew Hoobastank is the first to admit that he hasn’t got the Midas touch. And that’s just fine, because the golden grip of King Midas is no match for the good fortune of Lady Luck.
“You can’t try to write a hit,” the singer said. “There’s no formula or else everybody would be doing it. You just have to write the way you write and get it done … I’m not changing anything about how I write and we’ll see how the chips fall.”
Having just returned from playing a pair of shows in Japan, Robb and his bandmates Markku Lappalainen (bass), Dan Estrin (guitar) and Chris Hesse (drums) have begun writing the follow-up to Hoobastank’s eponymous debut. The Agoura Hills, California, group has completed rough sketches for about seven or eight songs, Robb explained, and hopes to start recording them in a month. While it’s too early to lend much accuracy to his prediction, he says he’d like the album to drop in August.
Robb sees these early stages as a clean canvas on which the band is able to paint freely, not worrying about straying outside any imposed lines.
“I don’t think we’re making a conscious effort to be different than anything we’ve ever done,” he said. “We’re just letting things happen naturally. We didn’t sit and say, ’We want to sound this way on this record, or do this on this record.’ I think your sound is going to evolve a little bit and you’re going to do things a little differently.”
Despite being in a formative stage, Hoobastank have already tapped producer Howard Benson, whom they fell in love with after listening to his work on albums by P.O.D. and Blindside. In order to expand their scope, they decided not to use Jim Writ, who produced their debut.
“We met with a few producers and thought Howard had the same vision of what the record would be or what the band should be,” Robb explained. “I wanted to use this next record as a springboard to build a lasting success, rather than start again and end up in the same place. He felt the same way.”
When Hoobastank’s debut LP came out in November 2001, two things clung to what would eventually become a million-copy gravy train: their association as protégés of Incubus, who hail from neighboring Calabasas, California, and the question, “What the heck is a Hoobastank?”
Although theories on the phonetically funny moniker range from it being Lappalainen’s middle name to being the Finnish translation of “hopscotch,” the jury’s still out on the truth. Unfortunately the annoyance of being shoved in the shadow of Incubus continues to dog the band.
“I personally thought that the Incubus shadow was only apparent to people who didn’t know our music and who didn’t really know their music,” Robb said, a bit aggravated. “Any person who’s a big fan of Incubus … and then went out and bought our CDs — especially if they saw us live — will know that we have kind of [always been] out of their shadow … eventually you step out of the shadow naturally. In the beginning, everyone’s looking for comparisons so they can describe the band, [but] I don’t think that that shadow really exists for a lot of people today.”
Before the new Hooba happens, fans can get a whiff of ’Stank on the soundtrack to the upcoming film “Daredevil.” Hoobastank wrote “Right Before Your Eyes,” a new song for the album, which is expected to be placed alongside cuts by Saliva, Nickelback and a Rob Zombie-fronted Drowning Pool.
“It’s about changing,” he said. “Not like changing your clothes, but just about growing. With traveling and touring, I’ve definitely [developed] a different view on the world since last year.”