While the heavy alternative sounds of Tool and Alice in Chains were primary influences on Hoobastank’s sound, the post-grunge quartet tempered the gloomier elements of such music with a suburban California groove and an eye for accessibility. 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 to form a competent quartet. The self-released, clumsily titled They Sure Don’t Make Basketball Shorts Like They Used To generated strong local buzz upon its 1998 release, and soon the band had moved from backyard gigs to shows up and down the Cali coast.
Island Records took notice and put Hoobastank on the label’s payroll in August 2000, and tours with the like-minded Incubus (to whom the band would be frequently, although not unreasonably, linked) and flavor-of-the-moment 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 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 its sophomore effort. They then played a few dates in June and July, but were forced to cancel the remainder of the club tour when Estrin was injured in a freak minibike accident. The guitarist was back on his feet by October, and Hoobastank headed out with the All-American Rejects and Ozomatli for the Nokia Unwired tour.
Hoobastank offered the 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. On a 2005 co-headlining tour with Velvet Revolver, however, Hoobastank received a chilly reception from some audiences, and rumors of a feud between Robb and VR frontman Scott Weiland were soon filling Internet message boards. “If I Were You,” the first single from the group’s 2006 album Every Man for Himself, addressed the whole affair. Both the song and the album fell quickly from the charts, but Every Man for Himself nevertheless went gold in one month, a feat that likely owed its success to the band’s previous album.
A new single (“My Turn”) appeared in October 2008, followed by the arrival of Fornever in 2009. That same year, the bandmembers announced that they had begun work on an acoustic album. The result was Is This the Day?, which featured acoustic 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, produced by Gavin Brown, on Open E Records in 2012.