We talk to Chris Hesse, drummer of smash hit rock band Hoobastank!
Chris Hesse is the drummer for the SoCal rock band Hoobastank, which had a smash hit with their album The Reason. Now the band is back with their new album Every Man for Himself and Chris took the time to chat with me on a cold Thursday night.
Keep in mind that this is only a partial transcript of the interview. You can listen to the full interview via the Pop Syndicast. Download links at the bottom of the article or click here to play it in your browser.
There’s not a lot of information past the standard bio. I know Doug and Dan knew each other from a battle of the bands, but how did you become part of the band?
Well, that’s not how they met; they’ve known each other a long time. I don’t even know how the battle of the bands thing came up. At one point they were in separate bands and they competed against each other and Doug was playing bass at that time and not singing, but I actually grew up in Northern California, in Humboldt County and kind of, you know, followed the dream until I moved down to L.A. with a friend of mine who was going to Kyle Lawrence which is like an arts school, a jazz school and I started answering classified ads in the paper for drummer wanted and that was it. That was like twelve years ago.
How many tryouts did you have to go through? Just the one?
Yeah, basically. I’d answered a handful of other ads and I was getting bummed out and was considering moving back home because I didn’t really like L.A. a whole lot. I couldn’t really find anyone I liked to play with. And then I went down there and answered that ad and it was kind of like this thing where both of us, or all of us there was like there wasn’t really even any questions. I’m not saying that because I’m fantastic or anything but like it all fit and I could play drums and I liked they were playing and it was a good match. There wasn’t any more trials or anything like that.
I know that Doug has said that the name ‘Hoobastank’ doesn’t really mean anything; it’s an inside joke, but how did Hoobastank come about?
I don’t know. It was something like one of Dan’s friends made up. I don’t know; it was so long ago…pretty much nonsensical; it doesn’t really have any relevance.
On the new album you guys bring in some crazy instruments (maybe crazy for a rock band anyway), but how did you decide to drop your former horn section, where does the band go from here as far as evolving your sound?
That’s a good question. I think where it does go, we can’t really decide that. It’s something that’s kind of naturally happened. I feel like the more we play as a band together and the older we get the more we’re influenced by stuff, the more our lives change, that’s kind of how our music changes and I feel like since we’ve been signed and putting out records our music really hasn’t changed that much; it’s been pretty subtle. It’s a gradual, gradual change.
Do you make it a point to push yourself on each album, to continue to look for new ways to evolve?
On this album we did, we made a conscious effort to grow as musicians. And I feel like before we were really concentrating as songwriters. On this record we wanted to focus on musicianship and creativity and songwriting as well. We wanted to have some fun ourselves and just make it an interesting record. I think all of us are decent musicians. I don’t think we ever let that show on our record. A little bit. We play pretty basic stuff on our record.
Where did the military theme come from?
I think that was Doug’s idea cause the song…I don’t know I think it has a lot to do with the rhythms, we thought it would be like…I don’t know, maybe it was Dan…we thought it would be like, something like marching would sound really cool in the beginning cause, uh, cause I don’t know (laughs). Then the drill sergeant kind of fell in line with that cause if we’re going to have marching let’s have a drill sergeant in the beginning of it.
After your last album you lost your bassist and on the road he’s been replaced with Josh Moreau. Do you expect to make him a permanent part of Hoobastank?
You know, I think he definitely will be. We love him. He’s a great bass player and a really nice guy…a really great person all around. He’s really easy to be in a band with. I think at this point he’s been with us for six months and we’ve been together for twelve years, but we’ll give it a little more time. Nobody’s opposed to the idea, but we feel like maybe we’ll give it a little more time before he’s a full member. For the press shots for the next album, he’ll be in there.
Have you discovered how this album was leaked and how do you plant to deal with that in the future?
That always happens...that always happens. Every record gets leaked a week or a couple weeks in advance of the release because once it goes to the printers…once they go to ship the cd out to be pressed and manufactured there’s just, you can’t keep your hand in it. And also, a cd will get released a week earlier in another country for whatever reason…that always adds to it. It always gets released in Japan a couple weeks early. The second someone buys it they load it all up.
Will you ever release your first demo album?
Probably not. And I say that only because it’s so far removed from what we do now and if it were released it would just be a novelty. You would listen to it and say, “that’s not Hoobastank. They’re some party, ska, punk-rock band.” Which is, ten years ago, that’s what we were.
For the full interview with Chris Hesse, where you can here about the album’s drill sergeant, the Really Really Sharp Knives, and the controversy of the red and green albums, as well as samples from the album, check out the latest edition of the Pop Syndicast! Here are links to download: