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15 minutes with Dan from Hoobastank

Brian Foy | Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Are you guys ever going to explain the name Hoobastank?Yeah, we’re never going to.

Do you just like the ambiguity of it?No, we get asked that question a million times. You would think by know people would know we’re not going to give them a straight answer. We’re not getting sick of dancing around it and [we’re not going to] say: Ok, here is the right answer.

What went on between the time you formed in 1994 and the time you signed with Island/Def Jam in 2000?We did a lot of self-promotion. Doug [the lead singer] and I were constantly at Kinkos making fliers. In ’94, we were at Kinkos making the artwork, and then I would go to the clubs and try to book the shows. We would just play shows and try to sell merchandise and tapes and finally stepped it up with CDs. Every year, dude, that’s all we were doing. We had a huge mailing list, and it sucks – any time we would have a show, we would all have to get together, stamping all these fliers and putting people’s names on it. It was a pain in the ass.

Do you remember when you had caught a break?We did the stupid thing of always saying: “When we get a record deal …,” “When we tour …” No band should ever do that ’cause you shouldn’t expect for it to happen ’cause chances are it’s not. We had it blow up in our face one time because we always thought we were going to get a record deal. We were turned down by a … load of record companies, and then years later we got picked up. I remember there was this time when I was at a gas station. I wasn’t working at a gas station, but I was at a gas station and some kid came up to me and said, “You’re the guitarist from Hoobastank.” We didn’t have a record deal, and he wanted my autograph. I thought that was weird because we weren’t a real band, but if kids are coming up to me, that’s the greatest feeling in the world.You guys have this stage presence … what do you attribute that to?I don’t know … I feel that it’s real. If I’m in a bad mood, you will able to tell-that’s real. If I’m in a bad mood, then I’m not jumping around on stage. I’m sorry I’m not bringing my A game and I’m not giving it a 100%. But I just feel like everything we do is real. When I’m jumping around and everyone is jumping around and having a great time, we’re all loving what we are doing. That’s all I can really do on stage.For an up-and-coming band, you have the hardest yet catchiest riffs.

How do you come up with your music? I actually sit down in front of a recording system on my computer at home. Either that or I’ll be playing an acoustic guitar and come up with ideas and record it on my computer. Then I just program drum beats over it and play the bass over it. Basically, I write the entire thing and record it myself before I show anybody.

Who are your influences on guitar?I’m not really influenced by many guitar players; I’m more influenced by bands and songs. The only guitar player that I was ever influenced by was John Frusciante.

Do you hear a song, then write a few songs, or is there a band that gets you going to write?Now, I don’t know, but back in the day, when I was pretty easily influenced by things, I was influenced by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, by Fishbone, by Faith No More, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine.

So what are you listening to now?I really listen to old stuff, like I just mentioned. I don’t listen to too much new music. Before I go onstage, if I’m going to listen to music, I listen to old [stuff] that I grew up with. The other day, before I went onstage, I listened to Lionel Richie and some Bee Gees.

You get pumped up to the Bee Gees?I don’t get pumped up; I just listen to the stuff I grew up listening to, and I will always remember that.

The last album was your “major label debut.” Did you feel any pressure trying to avoid the sophomore slump?I felt a little bit of pressure, but only the pressure that we put on ourselves. We sold over a million records on the last one, and everyone is expecting for this one to do better. Let’s be realistic – albums don’t sell anymore, and if we sell 500,000 records on this album, we’re going to be lucky. Hopefully we will do better, but whatever we can do is great.

What can we expect from the new album The Reason?It’s not too far off from the last record. It’s just a little bit more mature and evolved. I think that the heavy songs on this album are a little heavier, and the slower, mellower songs are a little slower and more mellow than the last album.

Contact Brian Foy at [email protected]