Hooked on Hoobastank

Bill Mossman
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July 13, 2011
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Hoobastank: Darin Estrin, Chris Hesse and Doug Robb

The alternative band with catchy singles and an odd name gets ready to rock the crowds at BayFest 2011

At first blush, Hoobastank seems like the kind of band that was simply following a familiar path to commercial success when it plunged headlong into rock ‘n’ roll waters more than a decade ago.

Birthed near the California coastline during the post-grunge years, the alternative rock group could be accused of copying the fish-andreap formula, which goes like this: First, you lure music lovers in with an unusual name; second, you hook ‘em with carefully crafted emotive ballads and power chord-heavy anthems; third, you reel ‘em in with a front man that makes the girls go weak in the knees, and fourth, you sit back and count your catch.

Then you talk to vocalist Doug Robb and realize that none of this was ever planned nor was stardom even remotely expected.

“I always loved music but I was never too far-sighted about it as a career because I was always in the now,” says Robb, 36, who unwittingly came up with the band’s unique name after his mispronunciation of “Hooba Street” a roadway in Germany, where his brother lives struck a chord with other band members. “Plus,” he continues, “even if the thought of stardom ever did cross my mind, it would have been ridiculous because it would have seemed like a long shot.”

Thankfully, Robb and his bandmates most notably guitarist Darin Estrin and drummer Chris Hesse cast their lines into the California club scene anyway, oblivious to the number of people (including executives from record label Island Records) who would wind up swallowing their brand of rock hook, line and sinker.

The result is a decade’s worth of commercial success beginning with the group’s self-titled debut album, which spawned singles Crawling in the Dark and Running Away, and continuing with the landmark 2004 album The Reason, featuring the hugely popular title track single that topped the rock charts and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Today, the band has sold more than 10 million albums and continues to play in jam-packed concerts around the world including this weekend’s BayFest 2011 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, where Hoobastank takes the stage at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Fernando Pacheco (above) and Jake Shimabukuro

Musical Notes caught up with Robb following a recent USO Road Tour in Iraq, and got Hoobastank’s leading man to nibble on a few questions.

MN: Are you looking forward to visiting the 50th State?

Robb: Sure. I’ve actually been to Hawaii many times, starting when I was about 4. And I’d say that playing a show in Hawaii and then getting to relax there is a pretty good tradeoff. It’s like hardly working.

MN: So how do you plan to relax while in the Islands?

Robb: My wife and I might head out to Haleiwa, our little getaway spot, and just hang out there and eat a lot of Spam musubi and drink shave ice real shave ice, that is, not like snow cones.

MN: Spam musubi, eh? What are you going to say next that you plan on devouring poi and raw fish too?

Robb: (laughing) No, I don’t like poi, although I don’t think it’s as bad as some people say. But I do love Spam musubi. I am halfJapanese, you know.

MN: You’re also a talented singer. If you weren’t performing with Hoobastank, with whom would you want to share the stage?

Jake Shimabukuro

Robb: I’d love to sing for Van Halen, just to see what it would be like. I grew up listening to David Lee Roth.

MN: Speaking of growing up, you mentioned earlier that you hadn’t envisioned yourself as a career musician in your formative years. What would you be doing today if you weren’t a rock ‘n’ roll star?

Robb: I’d probably be a teacher because I’ve spent much of my life working with kids. My mom runs a preschool, and I’ve worked with kindergarteners before, helping to run the program as a beforeand after-school teacher. I also worked with the YMCA and as a counselor at a teen camp.


Aside from Hoobastank, alternative rock fans can look forward to headliner Puddle of Mudd known for hit singles such as Blurry, Control and She Hates Me at BayFest 2011. Lead guitarist/vocalist Wes Scantlin‘s group follows Hoobastank at 8:45. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $30 at the gate, and can be purchased at http://www.BayFestHawaii.com, military ticket outlets and the UH Stan Sheriff Center ... It’s been a busy July for the ska-punkrock-reggae band Pimpbot.

First, Fernando “The Love Machine” Pacheco while still the group’s lead singer and trombonist has decided to jump back on local radio airwaves as the face and voice of classic rock station 105.9 KPOI FM. Second, drummer Eric Lagrimas got hitched to the best he’s ever had (and we’re not talking “Baseball” here, but to his longtime girlfriend) during a civil ceremony in Honolulu and instantly shattered at least a thousand young hearts! And third, the band introduced its third album this week featuring those frenetic, schizoid sounds and infectious reggae beats that Pimpbot maniacs have come to know and love. Released on the band’s 10year anniversary, the self-titled album demonstrates an evolution in the group’s musical direction and growing songwriting abilities. “This third album is very ska-centered,” says Pacheco, “yet it does explore the sub-genre, ranging from ska-punk to dirty reggae” ... The Honolulu Jazz

Quartet also turns 10 this year and is releasing a CD at Gordon Biersch July 20, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Recorded tracks include Remembrance, written for the survivors of the World Trade Center attacks nearly 10 years ago, and performed by vocalist Anita Hall ... Finally, the ukulele takes center stage this Sunday at Kapiolani Park Bandstand, where there’ll be much more than my-dog-hasfleas pluckings going on. The 41st annual Ukulele Festival showcases local and international masters of the four-stringed instrument, including Ohta-San, JakeShimabukuro, Hookena and Herb Ohta Jr. Join this cast and more from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the free event.


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