Band of the Month – Hoobastank

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Hoobastank is an American rock band which formed in 1994 in Agoura Hills, California. At the start the line-up consisted of vocalist Doug Robb, guitarist Dan Estrin, drummer Chris Hesse and original bassist Markku Lappalainen. According to Chris, Doug had known Dan for a while before competing against him in a high school battle of the bands competition. Subsequently they decided to form a band by recruiting Markku and Chris to form Hoobastank.

Hoobastank started playing gigs at local venue, Cobalt Cafe along with Incubus and others. The band recorded their first full-length self-released album in 1998 strangely titled They Sure Don’t Make Basketball Shorts Like They Used To. The album featured a unique saxophone section headed by Jeremy Wasser.  At this point, Hoobastank had developed a strong reputation in Southern California which attracted interest from Island Records who signed the band in 2000. At the time of signing, the band had already completed a second full-length album titled “Forward” featuring Jeremy Wasser. However Island Records execs felt that the direction they were heading in would sound better without the sax, so Jeremy left the band and the album was delayed. A few tracks were re-recorded for release on the band’s self-titled 2001 release.

Their self-titled album was released in November of 2001. The first single off the album was “Crawling In The Dark” which became a breakthrough hit reaching No 68 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, Number 3 on the Modern Rock Chart, Number 7 on the Mainstream Rock Chart and Number 1 on an download chart in early 2002. The song featured in the 2002 inline skating game, Aggressive Inline on the Xbox, Playstation 2, Playstation and GameCube consoles. The second single “Running Away” was an even bigger hit reaching Number 44 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, Number 2 on the Modern Rock Chart, Number 9 on the Mainstream Rock Chart and Number 3 on the download chart. The Hoobastank album went Platinum and reached Number 25 on the Billboard 200 chart and Number 1 on the Billboard Heatseeker chart. The album received international recognition and the band toured in support of the album through Europe and Asia. The third single from the album “Remember Me” achieved moderate success reaching Number 23 on the Modern Rock Charts. “Losing Grip” is a song which the band created for the soundtrack of the movie The Scorpion King.

In 2003 the band contributed a song named “Right Before Your Eyes” to the Daredevil soundtrack. The band entered the studio with producer Howard Benson. Recording was interrupted for a month when Dan Estrin was seriously injured following a minibike incident in August. Dan had recovered by October and the band performed at the Nokia Unwired Tour with the All-American Rejects and Ozomatli in November.  The band’s name originated when Doug was still very young, his brother was the vice president of BMW Motorcycles in Germany and the street’s name in which he lived was called Hooba Street and before Doug could pronounce it he used to call it Hoobastank. His brother still teases him about it. When the band was trying to come up with a name, it was really difficult to come up with a name that hasn’t already been taken. Someone suggested the name and it stuck.

The band’s second album The Reason was released in December 2003. The single “Same Direction” was available for download on the band’s website. ” Same Direction” reached Number 9 on the US Modern Rock Chart, Number 16 on the Mainstream Rock Chart and Number 16 on the composite World Modern Rock chart (based on the US, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Canada, and Australia). A year later the band released a dvd called Let It Out which is a collection of the band’s music videos. The title track was released in the first half of 2004 and it became a massive hit. The song reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, Number 1 on the US and World Modern Rock Charts. The song was also played on the final episode of Friends. In Canada the song set a new record for the most weeks at Number 1 after it spent 21 weeks at the top of the charts. In the US the album reached Number 3 on the Billboard 200 chart. In early 2004, the band’s profile increased when they landed a supporting slot on Linkin Park’s Meteora world tour.

Their third album Every Man For Himself released in May 2006 and debuted at Number 12 on the Billboard chart. Three singles off the album “If I Were You”, “Inside Of You” and “Born To Lead” were released. Hoobastank co-headlined a tour in 2005 with Velvet Revolver. The band received a chilly reception from some audiences and rumours of a feud between Doug and Scott Weiland started to surface.

On the 2nd of June 2008 Doug Robb posted on the band’s temporary website announcing that the recording process of their upcoming album was almost done and that fans could expect a release date within a couple of weeks. The album For(never) was released on the 27th of January 2009. The first single from the album “My Turn” premiered on radio on the 13th of October 2008.

On the 29th of April 2010 a Vanessa Amorosi fan site revelealed details of a collobaration between Hoobastank and the Australian singer, a duet version of The Letter. Later on it was revealed that there was another version of the song between Hoobastank and American-Japanese singer, lyricist, actress and model Anna Tsuchiya. The music video featuring Vanessa Amorosi was shot in Los Angeles at Lacy Street Studio with director Paul Brown. Anna Tsuchiya’s version of the song appears on Hoobastank’s greatest hits album “The Greatest Hits: Don’t Touch My Moustache (Deluxe Edition)“.

The best of album The Greatest Hits: Don’t Touch My Moustache was released on the 5th of August 2010 through Universal Records in Japan. The Deluxe Edition’s tracks were selected from their first four albums by their fans on the band’s official record label website. Hoobastank was the support act for Creed on their 2009 reunion tour. On the 2nd of September 2009, the band announced on Twitter that they were recording an acoustic album. The band covered the song Ghostbusters for Halloween and it was accompanied by a music video on Hoobastank’s Official Youtube Channel. On the 8th of December 2009, the band released the live album Live from the Wiltern exclusively on iTunes. On the 19th of January 2010, Hoobastank released a new song entitled “We Are One” as part of a compilation from Music For Relief in support of the Haiti Earthquake crisis. On the 12th of February 2010, Hoobastank released a new song titled “Never Be Here Again” as part of the Team USA Olympics soundtrack. In May the band announced that they will be performing an acoustic live tour in several places in Japan. They released an acoustic album titled “Is This The Day” on the 4th of August 2010 in Japan. Ending their decade-long connection with Island Records, the band went back to indie status when they released their fifth album on Open E Records.

On the 18th of January 2011 Doug Robb provided the vocals for Apocalyptica’s new single titled “Not Strong Enough”. Another version of the song is available which features Brent Smith from Shinedown on vocals. A music video for the song was released which features Brent Smith. In June 2011, the band went on tour in Iraq for the USO Road Tour, performing for the U.S. military throughout the country.

On the 5th of April 2012 the band announced the tiitle of their new album via Twitter. The album was titled “Fight or Flight” and on the 3rd of May the band revealed the first single “This Is Gonna Hurt”. The album was released on the 11th of September 2012.

I chose to feature Hoobastank this month because I used to listen to their album “The Reason” back when I was in High School and while I was in college. I recently found the album among some other CDs and popped it in the car while my fiance and I went for a drive. It really brought back some great memories and I think all of the songs on that album are really impressive.

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

You can follow the band on Twitter here:

You can follow Doug Robb on Twitter:

You can follow Chris Hesse on Twitter:

You can follow Dan Estrin on Twitter:

You can follow Jesse Charland on Twitter:

Frontman of the Week – Chester Bennington

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Chester Charles Bennington was born on the 20th of March 1976 in Phoenix, Arizona to a mother who was a nurse and a father who was a police detective working mainly with child abuse cases. He became the victim of sexual abuse when he was about 7 or 8 years old. He didn’t want to tell anyone, because he was afraid people might think he is gay or lying. The abuse was subtle at first but escalated up until the age of 13. His parents divorced when he was 11 years old and his father gained custody. His father worked endless double shifts, his older brother and sister had left home, while his other sister was never around. Chester resented everyone in his family and wanted to run away. He decided to express himself through poetry and art. He listened to Depeche Mode and Stone Temple Pilots to help him cope. Chester’s first band that he was a part of was called Grey Daze, he developed meaningful friendships with his band mates. He gained some of his confidence back that he lost during his childhood, but found new ways to escape from the abuse he suffered in childhood. He started to indulge in heavy drinking, doing drugs and having sex with a number of girls. At the age of 16 he was doing a lot of LSD and heavily abusing alcohol. When they couldn’t find acid, they turned to speed. They were doing bong-hits of meth.

At the age of 17, Chester’s mom was so shocked by his emaciated appearance that she banned him from leaving the home. He continued drinking and smoking weed to ward off any cravings he might have. He admits that he was a full-blown raging alcoholic. Grey Daze opened for any national act that would come through Phoenix, they were able to sell out a 2000 seater on their own. They released two albums which was well received locally but failed to spark interest nationally. Tension in the band would ultimately lead to the gradual dissolution of the band.

Surprisingly Chester Bennington at the age of 22 was working at a digital services firm. married and at that point his music career didn’t look very promising.

In Los Angeles there were five musicians who wanted to find a way to blend hip-hop and rock music. Mark Wakefield introduced Mike Shinoda to members of his High School hardcore band, drummer Rob Bourdon and guitarist Brad Delson. Two other friends of the band joined and the band was named Xeno. When Wakefield left the band Xeno needed a vocalist and when Zomba’s Jeff Blue showed some interest in their music they handed over a demo to Jeff hoping something promising would come of it.

On the 20th of March 1999 Chester picked up the phone not knowing that Jeff Blue was on the other end. He told Chester that he thought this band that he found might just be the big break that he was looking for. Jeff sent Chester a demo informing him that the band had a hip-hop/rock vibe going on. Chester wasn’t really into hip hop music then, but the band didn’t disappoint and Chester knew he could take their music to the next level. He recorded his vocals the very next day, he played it to Jeff and was on the steps of the Zomba Music studios the very next day. Jeff was sure Chester would be the best man for the job, but the band wasn’t so sure, because they were auditioning vocalists at the time. Chester thought he was doing the band a favour, because he had been in a successful band and they just viewed him as another option on a long list of musicians. The band was indecisive but eventually Chester was hired. The band was now called Hybrid Theory. Chester and Mike Shinoda worked on their music feverishly and Chester shared his abusive past with Mike while they were writing. Chester was homeless in LA and had to sleep in his new band mates’ sofas, cars and at a rehearsal studio. The only thing that kept him going during this time was the knowledge that the band had something special going for them.

When the band wasn’t working on their music, they were trying to generate interest online by posting mp3’s. Despite positive reactions and feedback the band still couldn’t get record labels interested. They played over 50 showcases for various record labels and they couldn’t believe that nobody was interested. Jeff Blue had been hired at Warner Brothers A+R department and decided to make Hybrid Theory his first signing. They signed to Warner Brothers in 2000 and they had another band on their label called Hybrid. That lead to Hybrid Theory changing their name to Linkin Park. Some people at the record label weren’t particularly friendly towards the band the band’s producer only liked about 2 of their songs which meant that the band had to rewrite their album. The label wanted to promote the band as Chester’s band and wanted to make him the star forcing Mike to be demoted to the keyboard player or left out of the band entirely. Chester resisted immediately, because he got the job thanks to Mike. The band cut off all communications with the record label unless it was absolutely necessary. They stood their ground and insisted on recording their music, their own way. They were proud and exhausted when they finished the record.

The band’s debut album was released on the 24th of October 2000, the band was parked outside a 24hr record store waiting to go in to buy the first copy of their new album. The band started to speculate about the amount of album sales that they could expect their debut album to sell in its first week. The band’s bassist thought it might sell 3000 copies, but Chester thought it might sell 8000 copies. At the end of the first week Hybrid Theory had sold 47, 000 copies and the band couldn’t believe it. Following the release of their debut album it is estimated that the band played about 300 shows in 365 days, they played about 5/6 shows a week. The press hailed the band as the latest success story and the leaders of the nu-metal movement, a label which they didn’t appreciate. They didn’t feel as if they had anything in common with the bands that were categorised into the genre they were placed in. The band had to face criticism from the press that claimed that the band were put together by their label and that they were essentially a rock version of a boy band.

Their morale started to drop because of the constant touring, it drained them of their energy and everywhere they went it was either cold, raining or snowing. Chester started to feel estranged from his new band mates, he was drinking and heavily into smoking pot. Chester and his wife were constantly at each other’s throats, his mood swings caused his band mates to be wary of him and they avoided talking to him about anything that might fuel an argument. He felt lonely, he never performed a show sober and smoked weed right up until the time they went on stage. Immediately after the show he would go and get drunk.

From 2001 to 2002 the band’s schedule became even more intense. In their downtime Mike Shinoda remixed Hybrid Theory for their Reanimation project. Mike underestimated the amount of work he was going to have to put in. He ended up having to juggle 30 artist’s work and schedules, he vowed never to do it again.

The band then entered the studio to record their second album Meteora and experienced a lot of pressure due to Hybrid Theory’s success. On the 25th of March 2003 Meteora was released to commercial and critical success. After the album’s release Linkin Park hit the road and didn’t stop touring for another two years.

By the end of 2004 the band needed a break, because they were completely burnt out. Chester was trapped in a marriage which wasn’t working and he was drinking more heavily by the day. He wasn’t leaving the house, he would sit in his closet in the dark the whole day and shake all day. He would wake up drink a pint of Jack Daniels, drink some pills and return to his closet where he would stay for the rest of the day. He fell through windows, endured seizures and went on frequent hospital visits. By his own admission he was a total wreck.

Fortunately he decided to ask for help and everybody he cared about came to his aid. He became sober, divorced, remarried and he opened himself up to his band mates during emotional counselling sessions. Chester didn’t realise the effect his behaviour had on his band mates and he has tried everything he could to stay sober since.

The renewed atmosphere led the band to feel as if they had more creative freedom in writing and recording their third album. They were tempted to repeat their formula, but they had to take a risk and try something new. Minutes to Midnight went to number 1 in 23 countries. Linkin Park’s fourth album A Thousand Suns was released on the 14h of September 2010. Their fifth album Living Things was released on the 26th of June 2012 with the first single Burn It Down met with critical success.

Recently the band Stone Temple Pilots fired their lead vocalist Scott Weiland. Shortly after the announcement on the 19th of May 2013 STP released a free download of their new single Out of Time ft Chester Bennington via their official website. The website featured new promotional pictures with Chester Bennington and the rest of the band which implied that he will be recording and touring with the band at least for the time being. Chester grew up listening to the band and when the opportunity came up to join the band, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Chester has endured much difficulty in his life, but I believe that his experiences made him who he is today. A strong, talented and resilient man.

You can follow Chester Bennington on Twitter here:

You can follow Linkin Park on Twitter:

You can follow Stone Temple Pilots on Twitter:

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

Band of the Month – Linkin Park and Living Things Review

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Linkin Park

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I have recently bought the Living Things album and I will share my thoughts and opinions on the album with you. Please keep in mind you may agree or disagree with me, these are my own opinions and thoughts.

Over the years I have loosely followed Linkin Park’s career. When Hybrid Theory was released Linkin Park exploded on to the music scene. All my friends had the album, everyone was listening to them. At that moment in time their music was mainly defined as rock music. Meteora followed more or less in the same vein as Hybrid Theory. The songs that stand out to me in this era are “One Step Closer”, “In The End”, “Lying From You”, “Numb” and “Breaking The Habit”.

Their next album was Minutes to Midnight which I would classify as a much soft rock, because it was significantly slower than their previous works. At first I didn’t really know what to make of this change, but later on I started to appreciate the musicianship more. These songs weren’t just there to make money, they meant something. I concentrated more on the messages that these songs convey and I understood the album more.

I really loved their collaboration with Jay-Z was really impressive and creative. I listened to that album quite a lot and the dvd isn’t something you will easily forget.

I’m only going to touch on A Thousand Suns, because I didn’t purchase the album, but the singles off of the album I found really interesting and it definitely included a more electronic based sound than their previous endeavours. I loved the music video for Waiting for the End it was impressive, visually interesting and it suited the content of the song.

Now we come to the topic of Living Things their latest album released on June 26, 2012. The opening track ‘Echo’ is an emotional track of resilience and strength. Mike Shinoda’s rap technique has always amazed me, his pronunciation is perfect and as a rock music fan this is a huge compliment from my side. This album really marries a lot of different techniques and sounds into one. There is rap, rock and electronic influences and it somehow works. Chester Bennington delivers quality vocals and shows off the variety of tones there are to his voice. In my personal opinion he can tone down on the amount of screaming now and then, but this can be a matter of taste. The 1st single “Burn It Down” is a great listen and combines all the layers of music instruments used probably the best. Lies Greed Misery is strangely my favourite track as Mike specifically shines on this track. It has an infectious beat and it sounds as if it carries some inspiration from their Jay-Z collaboration. The more I listen to the album the more I like it and the more I accept the new direction Linkin Park has taken these past few years.

A lot of people have been blasting Linkin Park for changing their sound so regularly; I think this is a quality that should be admired not ridiculed. There are bands out there that are being hated upon for keeping their sound more or less the same, so you can’t really please everyone.

Altough I like my rock music more organic, I would definitely pop in Living Things when I want to listen to something different and refreshing. Linkin Park is evolving with the times and so is their music. They want to remain relevant in the music industry by constantly adapting to the current climate of the industry.

I have some fantastic news to share with my fellow South Africans!

Linkin Park is coming to perform in South Africa in November 2012!

“Linkin Park will perform at the Cape Town Stadium on 7 November and at the Soccer City Complex, FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on 10 November.”

“Tickets go on sale to the public for the Johannesburg show on Thursday 26 July and then for Cape Town show on Friday 27 July from Computicket.”

To view the full article please follow this link.

I hope all my fellow South Africans enjoy the concert.

I’m really delighted that more famous musicians are visiting our beautiful country, as this means more artists will follow.

Rock Regards,

Lauren Kruger

PS: A HUGE Happy Birthday to Slash who turned 47 yesterday, a living legend!

Linkin Park Band

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