Prepping for the release of the band’s fifth album, Fight or Flight, Hoobastank is readying themselves and their team for the group’s first independent release. After more than a decade with Island/Def Jam, the band moved away from their longtime partner for one main reason, so they could be in complete control of their own destiny. In the past they could blame this department at the label or that department, or a number of other outside factors outside of their control. -Not anymore, with Fight or Flight, it’s up to Hoobastank vocalist Doug Robb and the rest of the band. They’re in control and that’s ultimately what the band wanted.
“It’s not about ‘we’re the smartest people in the world and the only people that could make those decision,’” stated Robb. “It’s about being able to make those decisions.”
“There were some different things discussed, there were a lot of different options. One of the options and the one we ended up taking was through management. So our management ends up being our own little record label. We outsourced some things that would normally be in house and got the ball rolling that way.”
The band may be in the driver’s seat but they’re still getting some help from a label, just not one here in the U.S., or even in North America.
“We still have a contract with Universal in Japan and Southeast Asia so they actually funded the record or at least 95% of the album,” said Robb. “When we signed on with new management we had this record done and all we needed was a way to distribute it and get it out there. The major obstacle with an independent record is finding the funds to get it done, but that was already taken care of. The decisions we weren’t used to making was stuff like art direction.”
“We were always involved in it but it was at arm’s length. The art department and the product management had this idea and they wanted to push for this. Not that they were terrible ideas ever but it’s never been a case like this one. We had to come up with art direction and art concepts and then take that to people who do that stuff. People used to come to us with ideas and now everything has to be generated with us.”
The business side is somewhat interesting, but the real story of how this album was made comes with the band changing producers. After moving to the independent side of music the band also moved away from producer Howard Benson and decided to work with Gavin Brown.
“We were all looking for something different and we were looking for someone who would take more of a hands on approach with the guitar playing and the rest of the music,” said Robb regarding working with Brown. “Gavin was that guy, he was there for every guitar part and every drum part. He had a lot more to say with that stuff. Ironically it became less of a hands on thing for vocals. He had a lot of suggestions as far as lyrical stuff goes, but he spent the least amount of time on vocals. He had a very long leash for me. He let me do what I was going to do. He was interested and had things to say, but more than any other record for us, I was kind of on my own for vocals. I don’t mean that in a bad way, just a factual way. I was kind of on my own in that area.”
They made an album with more attention to detail this time around; fans will find out if it paid off in July when the album gets released. The selling of the album is a big part of the band’s success, but playing the album on tour is another beast altogether. In the grand scheme of things, selling tickets is more important than selling albums.
“Strictly from the ‘making a living’ standpoint but it was never about the record sales,” said Robb. “Record sales could be up or down but it didn’t really affect how you were going to pay your mortgage, it was always about touring and playing shows. I’m not really worried about selling a ton of records as long as we can put people in the seats at the shows.”
The band will be playing lots of new stuff on the road, but don’t expect them to completely move away from the old favorites.
“We have a catalogue of music that we’ve been playing for ten years. We’re going to go the route of playing a combination of songs that people want to hear and the songs that we enjoy playing. There are a handful of songs that fit both of those criteria and then we’re going to throw in some of the new material. The set is going to be heavy loaded with this new stuff and if some of the old fans that aren’t familiar with it are a little upset we’re going to have to pound them over the head with new music until they like it. We’re going to throw out as many bones to them as we can while we play what we feel is the cool, stronger stuff off the new record, but we’ll see.”
The new Hoobastank album, Fight or Flight comes out July 31st.