After Hinder first recorded the tender "Lips of an Angel," the Oklahoma City rockers confidently sent the demo to their record company.
"Our label guy was like, 'Nice song, it sounds like a B-side to me,' " singer Austin Winkler recalled. "I was like, 'F--- off, dude. This is not a B-side.' "
Hinder fought to get the song on their debut album, and it's a good thing he did. "Lips of an Angel" is currently the #9 song on Billboard's Hot 100 and has helped Extreme Behavior, released almost a year ago, climb into the top 10.
"He's definitely eating his words," Winkler said, laughing. And just so the label never forgets, "We named our bus the Blue B-side!"
Hinder just finished crossing the country in that bus, opening for Nickelback and Hoobastank, and they're already back for another round with Staind — not bad, considering they had never played a show outside of Oklahoma when they were signed.
The band formed in 2001 after guitarist Joe Garvey and drummer Cody Hanson met Winkler at a party where his cover band was playing. After adding guitarist Mark King and bassist Mike Rodden and gigging around town, the band took out a $45,000 loan, rented an RV and drove up to Vancouver to record an album.
Hinder only finished six songs before the money ran out, but it was enough for an EP they could shop to record labels. Roadrunner was the first to show interest, with Universal and Atlantic soon making trips to Oklahoma City to wine and dine the band.
"The guy from Atlantic, he had to catch a flight and we were at a strip club, so he left us with an open tab, thinking we're gonna have one more drink and then leave," Winkler recalled. "I don't think so! As soon as he walked out that door, we're calling all of our friends. 'Get up here, dude — open bar at the strip club!' We were like, 'Can I get $200 in ones?' "
To that A&R rep's dismay, Hinder went with Universal. "They weren't afraid to take risks and try some of the things we wanted to do," said Winkler, who feels the biggest of those risks was not pigeonholing the band into a certain style of rock.
"As far as I'm concerned, a good song is a good song no matter what the genre is," he said. "Our first single was 'Get Stoned' and our second was 'Lips of an Angel,' two totally different types of songs. If you listen to the album, not one song sounds like the other, and that's what we were going for."
The common thread is the lyrics, which come straight from Winkler's personal experiences. That includes the cheating confession "Lips of an Angel."
"I wouldn't actually say 'cheating,' " he clarified. "I would say 'hard to be faithful.' What actually happened was we were writing the record and my prior ex-girlfriend called me while my current girlfriend was in the next room. I was just trying to keep it down so I could talk to her and tell her I missed her and that kind of stuff. And that song pretty much wrote itself 'cause it was all true."
Winkler considers the band's next single, "How Long," a highway-driving anthem, but it too comes from relationship woes.
"It's about your girlfriend dumping you, and she gives you the whole 'It's not you, it's me' line," the singer explained. "But then two weeks later you see her walking around with one of your friends and making out with him."
Hinder have yet to shoot the video, but Winkler's not too concerned about running out of time. "We're gonna tour this record as long as we can, at least hopefully for another year," he said. After all, it's Hinder's dedication to the road (they've played more than 300 shows since Extreme Behavior hit shelves) to which they credit their slow-building success.
But that's not the only reason they love touring.
"We have a bar on our bus — anything you want, we got it," Winkler said. "Last night we were in Dayton, Ohio, and we had chicks in their underwear. It was great."