While heavy alternative and nu-metal sounds were primary influences on their early sound, American rock quartet Hoobastank has tempered the gloomier elements of such music with a suburban California groove and an eye for accessibility. Their knack for melody and harmony drew early comparisons to Incubus on their platinum debut Hoobastank, but they later set themselves apart with their 2004 number one single, "The Reason," from the Top Three album of the same name. After a trio of releases brought them into the 2010s, they shifted their sound to incorporate dance-friendly pop elements on 2018's Push Pull.
Formed in the Los Angeles suburb of Agoura Hills in early 1994, the band's earliest members were vocalist Doug Robb and guitarist Dan Estrin, who met each other at a high school battle of the bands competition. The two chose to join forces, adding bassist Markku Lappalainen and drummer Chris Hesse. The self-released They Sure Don't Make Basketball Shorts Like They Used To album generated strong local buzz upon its 1998 release, and soon the band had moved from backyard gigs to shows up and down the California coast. Island Records took notice and put Hoobastank on the label's payroll in August 2000. Tours with Incubus and Alien Ant Farm followed. Hoobastank's eponymous debut dropped in November 2001, and the singles "Crawling in the Dark" and "Running Away" found a quick home on radio stations and MTV playlists. The punk-and rock-indebted LP went gold, and the quartet's subsequent summer jaunt through Asia and Europe pushed it to platinum certification later that year.
By early 2003, the band was back in the studio, laying down tracks for a sophomore effort. They offered the raucous lead single "Out of Control" as a free download from their website before releasing a full-length album, The Reason, at the end of the year. Although it showcased a harder-edged vocal performance from Robb, the album's biggest hit was its title track, an emotive ballad that topped the rock charts and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The Reason went double platinum, and the band used that momentum to issue the Let It Out DVD, a collection of band's music videos, one year later.
Their third set, Every Man for Himself, arrived in 2006 and went gold in one month. The album was Hoobastank's first without founding bassist Lappalainen, who'd parted ways with the band before its release. Multiple bassists would fill the vacant slot over the years, with Paul Bushnell and Chris Chaney contributing to studio recordings until Jesse Charland joined as an official replacement in 2009.
Their fourth LP, For(n)ever, arrived in 2009 and that same year, the band released their first acoustic set, Is This the Day?, which featured stripped-down versions of songs from throughout the band's catalog. The album was released in Korea and Japan in 2010, and saw a stateside release in 2011. Ending its decade-long run at Island Records, the band moved back to indie status with the release of its fifth studio album, Fight or Flight on Open E Records in 2012. After promotion concluded for Fight or Flight, the band entered the studio to record album six with producer Matt Wallace, whose work with Train and Maroon 5 would provide a big hint as to Hoobastank's coming direction.
In late 2017, the band signed with Napalm Records, just in time for the arrival of 2018's Push Pull. Debuting a surprising shift in their sound on lead singles like the funky "Push Pull" and "More Beautiful," the album was more Walk the Moon and Fitz & the Tantrums than the typical hard rock sound that had been their mainstay for nearly two decades. ~ Johnny Loftus & Neil Z. Yeung
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