Interviews

Interview: Doug Robb and Dan Estrin of HOOBASTANK

Have to say that Hoobastank are a band that I wasn’t too familiar with their music outside of the song that almost everyone knows (the Reason). However, on being accepted in my application to interview them in Manchester, it was time to thoroughly do my musical homework. They were featuring the 15th anniversary of the album that their best-known song was from. However, on examining their musical legacy I was actually quite surprised just how many other musical gems that they had been responsible for. I was also very curious how they would go down with the Manchester audience in what was clearly a very diverse three band billing. Ahead of show time and just after a delayed afternoon sound check, I caught up with the band’s original members vocalist Dan Estrin and vocalist/guitarist Doug Robb.


ANTIHERO: First day of the tour, I don’t suppose you guys get nervous anymore touring? You’ve been in the game a long time.

Doug Robb: I do.

Dan Estrin: We still get nervous. I still do.

Doug Robb: We were in Europe for the last two weeksSo, I feel fine right now but the first show we had in Europe, it was the first show we’d had in a few months, and I get a little bit nervous. It usually takes a few songs to feel okay.

Dan Estrin: Maybe a few shows to really feel like everything’s normal.

ANTIHERO: Do you have a long history of playing in the UK? Have you been over many times before?

Doug Robb: We’ve been over a handful of times… I don’t remember exactly how many.

Dan Estrin: I mean, we were here about three years ago but before that, it had been quite a while.

ANTIHERO: That’s what I’m thinking of. You see tour dates in magazines and stuff, but I can’t recall seeing too many UK Hoobastank tours in recent years anyway.

Doug Robb: From 2002 to 2006 we were here frequently. Maybe once a year and then there was a big gap, but hopefully, we’ll change that.

ANTIHERO: It’s advertised as a co-headlining tour. Does that not present some problems in terms of production/lighting and who goes on first, for example?

Dan Estrin: Not really. I mean, we like to do our own concerts. We just came off of Germany and Paris and a bunch of other dates. That was a really good time. We headlined it. It was a fun two weeks, but we do also enjoy a tour like this where we’re with other bands.

ANTIHERO: How do you view a tour like this? Do you see it as a challenge, especially with these musical styles that are totally different? Or does it not bother you?

Doug Robb: I mean, literally, I’ve never thought of it as a challenge before.

ANTIHERO: Now you’re starting to think of it because I have brought that up.

Dan Estrin: Now, I’m like, “Wait. now.”

ANTIHERO: I mean, it’s a three-band bill. You’re all different musical styles. I don’t see any sort of similarities.

Dan Estrin: Good. Thank you.

ANTIHERO: I was just wondering if that brought additional pressure?

Dan Estrin: No. I mean, maybe less pressure, don’t you think? Because we’re not in the same “game”. We just do our own thing.

ANTIHERO: But I mean it’s a challenge then of in terms of winning over the audience. You’re going to have your own fans here, obviously, but what about the rest of that audience facing you each night on this set of dates.

Doug Robb: We’re going to do whatever we’re going to do. What we do and there’s going to be a percentage of people who are stoked and love it and there’s going to be people that can’t fucking stand it though…

ANTIHERO: All but that one song that they know.

Dan Estrin: No. They’re going to hate that one too because it’s a ballad and it’s a slow song and that’s all they know us from and they’re Buckcherry fans. They’re Adelitas Way fans. I completely understand that. That’s no disrespect to anybody. It’s just how people are. People are haters and people are lovers and … so I feel like. Yeah. It’s out of our hands. As I said, we kind of just got to do what we do and call it that.

ANTIHERO: This tour and set of UK shows have Hoobastank focusing on one album?

Doug Robb: Yeah. It’s the 15th anniversary of the release of that album. So, normally, honestly, we wouldn’t be playing an entire album but for this tour, we’re going to be playing that whole album start to finish, in the same order.

ANTIHERO: Will your set illustrate that release in the same order as it was released? Because some bands mix it up. You know, they’re doing a whole album, but they mix it up. It’s not really, you know as people recall it. If you’ve grown up listening to an album you want to hear it in the exact order track-wise as what you know and love.

Dan Estrin: We do it in the order. There’s no mixing of tracks around. If anybody has the album there’s no mystery to what they’re going to hear next. It’s just like listening to a C.D., whatever and, if we have time, we’ll play a song or two off of the older ones after. It’s not just going to be the album. Twelve songs and bye. We’re going to fill whatever amount of time they give to us. It was initially supposed to be 75 minutes, I heard, but now it’s 60 because of … We’re already running late because of …. just logistics. So, we’ll play as much as we can. We’ll play all the album and then with whatever time we have left, we’ll put as many others in.

ANTIHERO: What about that album then? Did you have to go back and re-examine some of the songs? Given that it is now fifteen years old. I mean, I’m sure there are songs that you probably haven’t’ played live. So, what’s that like just revisiting that yourself?

Dan Estrin: Well, there’s a song called “Lucky” and this … In Japan…

Doug Robb: We’ve played it now a lot.

Dan Estrin: Yeah, but, the first time we ever played it live was on …

Doug Robb: Reunion. Not reunion but the 15th anniversary.

ANTIHERO: That’s the thing about revisiting an album, I’m sure when you first toured it when it first came out, I bet that you didn’t play all of the tracks… nobody plays all the new album.

Dan Estrin: Yeah. That song in particular, “Lucky”, we never played ever, once, live. So, it’s like going back and “Oh. How does that go?” Yeah, we kind of… in rehearsal, we had to re-learn how to play a song. And I have to remember what I sang and, you know … But it already seems, as almost as comfortable as some of the other songs, you know?

ANTIHERO: What was the first music that you recall hearing growing up? Maybe something on the radio, maybe a first show?

Dan Estrin: I mean, it was just … I don’t remember an actual first of any, “Oh I heard that,” but I just … 80s melodies. All those 80s melodies I just remember growing up to in the car with family, in the house with my family. I don’t remember a specific song.

I mean, I remember what songs I used to really like at a very young age, but as far as just remembering hearing music, you really want to get that specific, I remember being like three and a half, four and hearing my parents … We had lived in this really small apartment and I remember them … I was asleep and I remember them playing some Latin music by this guy Raphael and I remember, being young, at most four years old, because it was before I was in kindergarten, and standing up when I’m supposed to be asleep and dancing around my room in my underwear to this like salsa type music. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. I just knew it felt good and right to me.

DreamHost

ANTIHERO: Got you movin’. I’m sure you recall though the first time that you heard your own music on the radio.

Dan Estrin: I don’t actually. I don’t remember the first time. Oh, you know what, I’m sorry. I do remember the first time. Now that you say that. It was an early tour we were doing. I want to say we were on tour doing … You don’t have to say how far back … We were with Sum 41 doing a week of dates.

Doug Robb: Yeah, it was 2001.

Dan Estrin: It was early on, on the first record and we were in New York City and I remember we pulled up to the venue we were playing at. We were opening for Sum 41. We pulled up to the venue and we had to get off the bus because the bus couldn’t … Very similar to here, the bus couldn’t stay at the venue because of the parking. We had the radio on for some reason in the bus. In the background. and I remember him saying, “Holy Shit. There it is.” It’s a weird feeling. It was a lot more surreal to hear it when I went home though and heard it on the radio in my hometown. Knowing the radio stations that you grew up listening to, the ones you were listening to as you were driving around, and all of a sudden, there’s your song on it. That was pretty impressive and exciting for me.

ANTIHERO: What would have been the first song that you performed live? I’m sure that’s easier probably to remember.

Dan Estrin: What do you mean? First ever?

ANTIHERO: Song that you performed live.

Dan Estrin: As a band or as an individual?

ANTIHERO: As a band. Did you start like most bands do with cover versions and things like that or did you immediately start writing and performing your own material?

Dan Estrin: (chat between themselves) What was the first show that we ever did? It was in your parents’ back yard. What did we open up the show with? We opened up with the “Chips” theme song.

Doug Robb: Yeah, actually you’re right.

Dan Estrin: First thing we ever played was the fucking theme song for “CHIPS”.

ANTIHERO: I remember it. Was that the guys on the motorbikes? The police guys?

Dan Estrin: Yeah.

Doug Robb: I thought it was the Juicy Fruit commercial.

Dan Estrin: No, we did that mid-set.

Doug Robb: Or was it Rocky? (starts doing the music)

Dan Estrin: You’re right. It might have been the Rocky theme song.

ANTIHERO: Did you have a whole set of theme songs?

Dan Estrin: No, but whenever we did covers it would always kind of be sarcastic. You know, this joking thing.

Doug Robb: We did Chips at The Troubadour.

Dan Estrin: At the Troubadour, yeah. And in my parents’ backyard. The first time we ever played, I remember because I came out kind of like running out.

Doug Robb: Yeah, running out.

Dan Estrin: Yeah. Like a rock band attire.

Doug Robb: That’s right.

ANTIHERO: You’ve already achieved huge commercial success, but what personal hopes and dreams do you still have? I mean, career-wise? Have you just checked all of your personal boxes?

Dan Estrin: Something that keeps your drive and keeps you still going. Enjoy what you’re doing.

Doug Robb: I don’t know. It’s kind of a drug. It’s all a drug that you just enjoy and, I don’t know, I feel like that’s the feeling about playing shows. I have a lot of personal goals. I feel like, any commercial success is awesome. It’s great but it’s almost like we’ve been doing this for so long I don’t anything else. You know? Like it’s just woven into what, who I am. You know? This is what I do. I go from a show and then we’re going to write music and then we’re gonna play shows and I think … I don’t know. Just opportunities. Any opportunities that come our way and allow us to be able to continue to play music at the ages we are and in the future without ever having to do anything else, you know?

ANTIHERO: A lot of bands have to do other things, you know. You think of these bands that are touring that when they’re not touring, they still have to take other jobs just to have enough income to keep them, stable when they’re off the road.

Dan Estrin: We were very fortunate to have the success that we’ve had which allows us to still be able and come do this and as long as … Yeah, it’d be amazing if we were able to come back and play to larger and larger audiences but the reality of the situation is that our most memorable stuff took place a long fucking time ago and so people are very nostalgic and they want to hear, whatever it is. We can just continue to do this.

ANTIHERO: Just a final one then. If the roles were reversed, who would you like to personally interview?

Dan Estrin: If the roles were reversed? Oh wow. Oh my God, I mean, it’s crazy. I can’t really think of one. That’s weird that you say that. We did our latest record we put out last year, we worked with producer Matt Wallace, who did some of our favourite records when we were younger and picking his brain. Like, me asking questions. Sometimes we’d stay up late in the studio and listen to old things. That was kind of like … I felt like I was on the other side again and really excited to hear these like, “Well, what was it like to this and this and this.

But there isn’t anybody I can think of right now that I’m like, “Oh my God. I would love to interview right now.”I’m sure there’s somebody. The irony is the more you hear them, whether through documentaries or interviews, like these legendary musicians, the more you go, “Oh, they’re just like me.” They’ve experienced all of the same bullshit we have and go through the same struggles we have and that’s … In one way it’s cool, like, because it humanizes everybody, but at the same time, I start to lose that passion. Like, “I wish I could know …” I want to interview this person. There’s a likelihood if I go and interview fucking Elton John, he’s going to tell me, “Oh yeah. I’ve had these periods where I can’t write.” We’re all the same. Oh my God, I get it. We’re just all … We’re in the same boat here, you know?

Doug Robb: The South Park guys. I’d just hang with them.I’d want to hang with creators of South Park. Just to hang with people that we love. Because we’re super into humour and sarcasm and just … Seth MacFarlane.

Dan Estrin: Seth MacFarlane. We got to hang with him a little bit.

Doug Robb: Yeah. He came to one of our shows and did some of the voices for us.

ANTIHERO: Thanks for making time to chat to me. I appreciate it.

 

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Mark Dean

I'm a 40+ music fan. Fond mostly of rock and metal - my staple musical food delights. Originally from Northern Ireland, I am now based in the UK-Manchester. I have a hectic musical existence with regular shows and interviews. Been writing freelance for five years now with several international websites. Passionate about what I do, I have been fortunate already to interview many of my all-time musical heroes. My music passion was first created by seeing Status Quo at the tender age of 15. While I still am passionate about my rock and metal, I have found that with age my taste has diversified so that now I am actually dipping into different musical genres and styles for the first time.Photo: Mark Dean with Jeff Kendrick of Devildriver - Photography by Olga Kuzmenko

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