Whobastank? Nobody Recognizes Them, But They Don’t Mind

Hoobastank would rather be known for their music than their looks.

Hoobastank released a platinum debut that yielded three hit singles; they toured with Incubus, 311 and even Jay-Z; and their new single’s all over the radio, but still most people wouldn’t recognize the band if Doug, Dan, Chris and Markku bit them on the ass.

While the guys of this California band might be as faceless today as Foreigner and Styx were in the early 1980s — in the same way “Hot Blooded” and “Mr. Roboto” were more recognizable than the members of either band — Hoobastank’s music is what matters most.

“I think [one magazine gave us] an award for Most Faceless Band of 2002,” singer Doug Robb confessed. “And what’s funny is … I think they were trying to insult us, but it was really a compliment. Right beneath [our picture], the caption read something like, ‘That’s right, boys. No one would recognize you walking down the street. Sorry, you are only going to have to be recognized for your music.’ Well isn’t that the whole point?”

That doesn’t mean that being one of the most nondescript bands in rock doesn’t have its share of inconveniences. They’ve often been doubted when attempting to gain entrance to their own backstage areas, and bouncers sometimes have to check the guest list twice before permitting them to pass a VIP section’s velvet ropes.

“We’re those guys that get off the bus and walk up to the venue and no one knows whether we’re the band or not,” guitarist Dan Estrin said. “We don’t look like guys in a band. We’ve done some tours with bands that you can tell they’re musicians.”

“You can tell they spend a good amount of time getting ready to get off the bus,” added Robb. “And then there’s us. We’re walking off with eye boogers and sweatpants and flip-flops on, and we’re like, ‘Oh, where’s the bathroom.’ People just don’t expect to see that. That’s just the way we are.”

The performance-based video for “Out of Control,” the first single from Hoobastank’s second album, The Reason, gives each bandmember some close-up face time, a possible boon to their recognition factor (see “Hoobastank Rock And Reel In ‘Out of Control’ Video” ).

But while viewers are getting an accurate depiction of how they look, the song isn’t the best representation of the Hoobastank sound. The band is much more diverse — with songs ranging from hook-filled pop gems and dramatic diatribes to acoustic fare and harmonic lovelies — than the blistering rocker makes the group out to be.

The Reason, like its self-titled predecessor, is simply a reflection of Hoobastank’s influences, which strangely span the gamut from sappy mom rock to speed metal.

“I was just influenced by the stuff I grew up listening to,” said Estrin, who composed all the music on The Reason. “Everything from Air Supply to old Metallica. I didn’t listen to anything new that made me think, ‘I want to go that way.’ I didn’t want to make the second album the experimental album. I can’t do the artsy-album thing.”

After touring Japan in early January, Hoobastank will hit the road with P.O.D. and Linkin Park.

Hoobastank tour dates, according to Island Records:

  • 1/16 – Fairfax, VA @ Patriot Center
  • 1/17 – Worcester, MA @ Worcester’s Centrum Centre
  • 1/18 – Uniondale, NY @ Nassau Coliseum
  • 1/20 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wachovia Spectrum
  • 1/21 – Cleveland, OH @ CSU Convocation Center
  • 1/23 – Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre
  • 1/24 – Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre
  • 1/25 – Columbus, OH @ Nationwide Arena
  • 1/27 – Auburn Hills, MI @ Palace Of Auburn Hills
  • 1/29 – Rosemont, IL @ Allstate Arena
  • 1/30 – Madison, WI @ Alliant Energy Center
  • 1/31 – Saint Paul, MN @ Xcel Energy Center
  • 2/2 – Colorado Springs, CO @ World Arena
  • 2/6 – Inglewood, CA @ The Forum
  • 2/10 – West Valley City, UT @ E Center
  • 2/12 – Vancouver, BC @ PNE / Pacific Coliseum
  • 2/13 – Tacoma, WA @ Tacoma Dome
  • 2/14 – Portland, OR @ Memorial Coliseum
  • 2/16 – San Jose, CA @ HP Pavilion At San Jose
  • 2/17 – San Diego, CA @ Cox Arena
  • 2/18 – Sacramento, CA @ ARCO Arena
  • 2/20 – Las Vegas, NV @ Thomas & Mack Center
  • 2/22 – Norman, OK @ Lloyd Noble Center
  • 2/25 – San Antonio, TX @ Freeman Coliseum
  • 2/26 – Houston, TX @ Toyota Center
  • 2/27 – North Little Rock, AR @ Alltel Arena
  • 2/29 – Nashville, TN @ Gaylord Entertainment Center