The Summerland Tour with Everclear, Hoobastank, Living Colour and Wheatus kicks off tonight in Boston and will travel across the US (yes, more dates are going to be announced…), but even with it being opening day for the tour, Doug Robb of Hoobastank was able to chat with us about touring, a special anniversary show, and a love for baseball.
Hoobastank seriously took over the airwaves with their self-titled 2001 debut studio album. “Crawling in the Dark,” “Running Away,” and “Remember Me” were all over radio stations and the album has since gone platinum.
Not bad for a group of California guys who met in high school. Here we are in 2021, preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
They followed up the success of “Hoobastank” with “The Reason” which would go double platinum and seal their place in music history.
The 2003 release gave us the rock tracks “Out of Control” and “Same Direction,” but also the song that got played at every wedding (and perhaps jewel heist) 2003-2004, “The Reason.”
With “The Reason,” Hoobastank ruled the airwaves, and as a former alt/rock DJ, I can confirm this fact. Since then, Hoobastank has continued to release great records and push themselves as musicians, but not conform to anyone’s demands. During promotion for their 2018 album, “Push Pull,” Doug Robb said, “We finally stopped attempting to recreate any formula. Instead of trying to be trendy or anticipating how people will react, we did what made us happy. We played to our strengths. Take it or leave it.”
In the 20 years since the release of “Hoobastank,” they have grown from high school friends to family men, lasting longer than many marriages. In 2021, Robb (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Dan Estrin (lead guitar, backing vocals), Chris Hesse (drums, backing vocals), and Jesse Charland (bass, keyboards, backing vocals) will not only welcome us back to shows, but include us in the 20th anniversary of that self-titled album.
Traci: Thank you for talking to me even though I know it is tour day one! How are you doing today?
Doug: I’m doing pretty well.
Traci: Well, we got through 2020! What did you do during lockdowns?
Doug: I golfed a lot. That sounds terrible. (laughing) Every Friday, a group of dad friends, we’d get together and golf. I did a lot of helping my kids with quote-unquote homework. I… What else did I do? (laughing) That covers the majority of it!
Traci: But did you gain the “COVID 19?”
Doug: I did! It wasn’t one of those things where I haven’t even realized I’ve been eating and not doing anything. I was like, “Well, I’m home.” (laughing) I embraced it for a while, although I think at the beginning of this year, I tried to lock it down a little bit and hopefully it’s paid off.
Traci: Did you drive your family crazy by being home so much?
Doug: I don’t think so. It’s weird. I’m a homebody in general, kind of like the introverted homebody. A lot of my friends, who love being out and around other people, I’d kinda tease them, “Now you guys have to slow down to my life.” Nobody’s allowed to go to work and everybody’s got to be at home with their family and kids, which is pretty much what I do anyways. So it wasn’t too bad. But yes, every once in a while, we’d get on each other’s nerves.
Traci: But you all still like each other and are still speaking?
Doug: Yes! That’s a win!
Traci: Ok that’s good! Were you in creative mode during that time?
Doug: You would think like, “Oh, you have a year plus of staying home and not touring. You should be able to write.” I think literally only one time in that span, I talked to our guitar player to get music. I mean, I talked to him all the time, but to get some musical ideas, and he gave it to me and I was pumped about it… and then it’s still kind of on the backburner. I don’t know. It’s not like I didn’t have time to write before. It’s all about inspiration, when inspiration strikes, you could be the busiest guy on the planet, you’ll still figure out a way to write.
Traci: I talked to Art from Everclear last week and he said he just wasn’t in the mood.
Doug: Yeah, that’s kind of what I mean. If you’re not feeling it, you’re not feeling it.
Traci: Did you guys get to practice at all?
Doug: We took the whole shutdown very seriously. We played a show in December of 2019 and didn’t even rehearse with each other as a band until May of 2021. We literally shut it down, although our guitar player and myself, we did a bunch of acoustic Cameo performances, especially over certain holidays. “Yea, we’ll just get together and do this.” So he and I were still singing and playing songs off and on, but the band, we didn’t see each other as a foursome for almost 18 months.
Traci: And then it’s like, “Hey, you’re going on tour in like 45 days!”
Doug: Exactly. We had a couple of warm up shows last month in Texas, so we got together in May like, “Let’s see if we remember how to do this.” It was, I don’t want to say surprisingly, but it was pretty basic, none of us felt that rusty. I mean, stamina wise we needed some help, but we’ve sounded worse, so the 18 month layoff didn’t really affect us.
Traci: “We’ve sounded worse.” That’s a good tagline!
Doug: Yes, we’ve sounded worse than our first rehearsal after 18 months of not playing!
Traci: I saw you went to a ball game at Fenway last night. Do you try to go to a certain place in each city?
Doug: I’m a huge baseball fan, so for the longest time I’ve been trying to just check off all the professional baseball parks. When I’m in the city, and for as many times as we’ve been through Boston and played House of Blues, which is right behind Fenway, I’ve never actually gone in for a game. That’s 20 years of coming in and out of the city. So finally, we had an off day. That’s just what it is, it’s either we’re in there and it’s not baseball season, or we don’t have an off day and the show and the game are the exact same time. It’s a lot of things that have to line up, so I try to do that. Yesterday we got lucky. So I get to check that one off the list. I think I’m around 20 parks now out of the 30-some-odd parks there are. I think it’s pretty standard, baseball games, movies. Sometimes we have off days and we don’t want to do anything. We just don’t even want to see each other. You know, we try to just escape to our hotel rooms and not do anything.
Traci: You grew up in California, and I did also, so I grew up going to Dodger Stadium. When I did go to Fenway, I said, “This is so tiny!”
Doug: It just seemed… weird. I don’t mean weird in a bad way because I’m with you, I was at a Dodger game a couple of weeks ago, and it (Fenway) just seemed like a fake ballpark. Why is it shaped so weird? But it made it so interesting, and I’ve seen it million times on TV. So just being there was cool, and I’m so used to having a baseball park in the middle of the mountains rather than in the middle of the city, which that to me was just as weird. It’s very cool.
Traci: Tonight in Boston, right next to Fenway, is the first night of Summerland! Have you ever been on the road before with any of those guys, Everclear, Wheatus, or Living Colour?
Doug: No, we have definitely crossed paths with Everclear over the years on radio shows and stuff. But none of the other bands, and I’m a fan of all the bands, especially Living Colour. I was a huge fan all through high school, middle school really, and then high school. So honestly, I introduced myself to them yesterday and I just told them, if you see anybody air guitaring and lip synching on the side of the stage, it’s me, don’t kick me out! I’m going to be that guy for the next, you know, whatever amount of weeks.
Traci: Did I see you’re going do some extra shows with them?
Doug: Yeah, there’s a certain amount of shows that are all four bands, but some of the off days we booked shows just with us and Living Colour, which is cool because we both get to play a little bit longer, and I get to see more of them. (laughing)
Traci: You also have the 20th anniversary of the debut album and you are doing something special for that, right?
Doug: On November 20th, which is the exact date, November 20th, 2001, of the release of our debut album, we have a show back at the Whisky in Hollywood, which is one of the places we basically honed our skills. We played up and down the Sunset Strip all the time; we played the Whisky a bunch of times. It’s definitely a throwback vibe to a nostalgic thing. So we’re going to be playing that album from front to back. I’m not sure if we’re going to be playing it in the exact order, because I don’t know if that makes for a good setlist (laughing) as far as the dynamics of the show. But we’re definitely going to play that entire record and anything else the fans want to hear. It’ll be cool, like a kind of a homecoming, class of 2001 type thing.
Traci: It’s got those songs that are pretty decent; “Crawling in the Dark” and “Running Away.” I mean, those are OK songs. (laughing)
Doug: They’re ok, they serve their purpose. (thankfully understanding my tone and laughing)
Traci: What are you looking forward to on this tour?
Doug: I’m just excited about the tour! It’s been a long time coming, and we’re just really happy to be out and playing live music and especially with these bands. We hope to see as many people as we can.
Traci: I know so many music fans are so excited to see you again, support the crews, and support the bands, so you might have a lot of crazy and rabid people attacking you.
Doug: As long as it’s a good way, I’m good!
Ok, do not REALLY attack the guys of Hoobastank, but do get tickets for the special 20th anniversary of “Hoobastank” at the Whisky.