When word came out last week that Hoobastank were canceling the remainder of their U.S. tour, fans began to worry. After all, this isn’t something that happens all the time. For a band that’s been on the road nonstop for more than 14 months to skip out on some shows must mean that something cataclysmic has happened. A meteor striking the Earth. A volcanic eruption. A motorbike accident, like the one guitarist Dan Estrin suffered in 2003.
But it actually was a nasty case of bronchial pneumonia that sidelined Hooba frontman Doug Robb, finally bringing their whirlwind four-continent jaunt to an end. Some inflamed vocal cords, coupled with physical exhaustion, forced the band to end its U.S. tour prematurely. And while Robb feels bad about missing the shows, he’s relieved to finally have his illness under control. After all, he’s been battling it for the last four months.
“We started touring behind The Reason back in October of last year, and I was relatively healthy all the way through August. Not even as much as a cold,” Robb said Wednesday. “Then, in August, we were touring in Southeast Asia, and I got sick. And since then, it’s been the most frustrating four months of my life. Because I could never get healthy.”
He blames the constant grind of touring — primarily the air travel — for his condition, which continued to worsen as the months wore on. It all reached a head when Hoobastank flew from Dallas to Los Angeles to play radio giant KROQ’s annual Almost Acoustic Christmas show.
“I had no voice left at all. I went straight to my doctor and he said it looked pretty bad. He looked at my chest and said it sounded pretty bad,” Robb said. “We went back to KROQ, did some soundchecks, but everything still sounded shaky. And we decided to cancel the show.
“The next day, I went back and had some X-rays, and the doctor looked at them and said, ’You cannot fly. You have bronchial pneumonia and laryngitis and physical exhaustion,’ ” Robb continued. “Now, if this was in the middle of a tour, we would’ve pressed on, but we had six shows left after 14 months of touring, so we weighed the options and decided to postpone the shows and call it a year.”
Robb’s doctor prescribed a mandatory week of bed rest and some industrial-strength antibiotics to finally rid the singer of his ailments, and after a week in the sack and some medicine, he claims he’s feeling much better: Not strong enough to take the stage, but he has been able to manage some gift shopping. “I’m still on some heavy antibiotics, but I made myself get out of the house today and get some gifts,” he said.
He’s also feeling strong enough to make two bold claims: That the canceled dates will be made up in February and, more interestingly, that he’ll begin writing material for a new Hoobastank album with Estrin in early January.
“I’ve got all these ideas, and Dan has some riff ideas, so I’m just waiting on him to show me what he’s got,” Robb said. “In January we’ll start the writing process. January, February and March, we’ll go from light writing to some heavy writing. And before June we’re going to have a new record in the can, ready to go, so we can have it out by late next year.”