Doug Robb - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Dan Estrin - Lead Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Chris Hesse - Drums, Percussion
"Yesterday I’ve learned from/Tomorrow is uncertain/So why can’t I just/Make my turn today.”
When a band has had as much success as Hoobastank, the motivation to top itself must come from within. That renewed desire can be heard from the very first notes of “My Turn,” the first single from the group’s fourth Island Def Jam Music Group album, Fornever. The album marks a return to the rock roots of the band’s first two releases, 2001’s platinum-plus-selling self-titled debut and 2004’s double-platinum-plus-selling follow-up, The Reason.
The latter was a blockbuster that earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album, and its mega-huge title track garnered Grammy nods for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group. The track was also an international smash that rocketed to #1 at Modern Rock, Adult Top 40 and Top 40 Mainstream and #2 on the Hot 100.
That album was produced by the band’s longtime collaborator Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, Daughtry). “We fought Howard tooth and nail on that record,” laughs lead vocalist Doug Robb, “and I’m glad we did. They wound up being positive, creative arguments that ultimately made the songs better.”
Given their success of their previous collaboration, the band asked Benson to come back and helm the boards for Fornever. The result is a monolithic album of dynamic hard rock.
“It was a reeeeeeeeally long process,” says Robb about writing the album’s songs. “Nothing sounded or felt right at first. We wanted Howard to police us more, be more opinionated, force us to come up with our best stuff, which he, and we, did.”
“It took a bit longer, but what we came up with was worth it,” says guitarist Dan Estrin. “With time, the stuff got heavier and heavier.” “Dan has a kind of love-hate relationship with Howard,” laughs Robb. “But it’s a good friction and an important part of the creative process. It gave the songs a great edge.”
Fornever introduces itself with the electrifying self-motivational anthem “My Turn,” a song that the country’s leading radio stations put in rotation long before its official impact date. Several weeks before the album’s release, the track had already gone Top 5 Most Added at Active Rock and No. 6 at Alternative.
The song’s eye-popping companion video sees Hoobastank taking the medium of music videos to the next level. Shot by Grammy nominated director P.R. Brown (Goo Goo Dolls, Matisyahu, Slipknot) and programmed by Daniel Kim from Deep Fried Productions (Gwen Stefani, Nine Inch Nails, M.I.A.), the innovative “My Turn” music video is interactive, allowing viewers to control the on-screen action.
Designed to be viewed online, the “My Turn” video has the look and feel of a video game, complete with different characters and varying scenarios. Wearing different costumes and swapping instruments, each member of the band performed and was shot individually against a green screen. Together with a gaggle of guests (bikini models, senior citizens, Robb’s mother and father-in-law, among others), the band created a video that’s truly unique—one that offers fans a new experience with each viewing.
“It gives fans the option to create any version of the video that they want,” says Robb. “You can have Chris sing while I play guitar in drag with an old lady on drums, and you can keep switching it up as the video goes along. Create an all-Dan band. An all-dog band. The options are endless. It’s very cool and I think that the fans are gonna have fun with it.”
As for the overall album, Robb describes it as being “about the best aspects of relationships…or the worst. “My Turn,” inspired by a poem written by Doug’s older brother, is an ode to everyman or woman, someone who has worked all their life and is just looking to get the rewards they deserve. “Don’t Think I Love You” starts with Dan’s piercing blues riffs and paints a picture of a couple growing apart because one partner suddenly realizes the other has changed beyond recognition. “So Close So Far” was inspired by the war in Iraq and imagining the anguish of being separated from a loved one that’s fighting in a foreign country. “You’re the One,” a song Robb wrote about proposing to his now-wife, started with a never-before-used chord fingering and was inspired by some of Estrin’s favorite artists, such as U2, Police and Portishead. “Tears of Yesterday,” with a string arrangement by Beck’s father, composer David Campbell, is the curveball in the batch, based on Estrin’s piano riff, which he claims was inspired by his love of “quirky, cheesy ’80s television sitcom themes.”
“The biggest difference this time around was our mental approach,” says Robb. “Five years of constant recording and touring really took its toll. We were absolutely burnt, and had to get our heads back to where they needed to be for the writing process on this record.”
“A successful band is like a puzzle where the right pieces have to fit together,” says Estrin. “And our pieces weren’t fitting properly. I think we were beginning to take our success for granted.”
Taking almost 18 months off, Hoobastank went through a pair of management changes, and a few false starts before starting work on Fornever. “When we came back, we were interested in being a band and playing music together,” says drummer Chris Hesse. “We went into the studio with the same energy and excitement we felt when we made our first album.” “Egos were checked at the door,” adds Robb. “We’ve let go of any false illusions or swagger. And we’re grateful that our fans have remained with us.”
With Fornever, Hoobastank have gotten in touch with what originally motivated them, and that’s made them stronger than ever.
“It’s not all as novel as it used to be,” adds Hesse. “But this point in our career is definitely something new. I don’t know if I’ve ever been as happy with an album as I am with this one. Feels good.”