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Within Reason 

Hoobastank ventures out but not too far with new album

click to enlarge Hoobastanks sun is either setting or rising. If only we - had a compass
  • Hoobastanks sun is either setting or rising. If only we had a compass

There's no stronger indication that a band is struggling than when its members talk about taking audiences on a musical journey.

The musical landscape is littered with albums that, instead of reaching for the stars, reach for straws, scraping the bottom of the barrel and coming up with, to be frank, complete garbage. So when Hoobastank guitarist Dan Estrin starts opining about the band's latest effort, Every Man for Himself, being a diverse and all-encompassing project, the bullshit meter is turned on just in case.

Luckily forthe guitarist, who met his bandmates over a decade ago outside Los Angeles, while everyone was still in high school, Every Man for Himself does contain some interesting moments (the epic "More Than a Memory") and some more standard pop-rock fare ("If I Were You" and "Born to Lead"). And thankfully, it sounds nothing like the group's ubiquitous 2004 hit song, "The Reason."

"It's a little bit different for us," Estrin says from a tour stop on Long Island in New York. "We have songs that aren't just so straightforward three-minute songs and we just didn't go, "Let's cut this so it's a fucking single.' That may have been something we focused a little bit more on in the past, making it a single. Here, we just wanted to make good songs that people could listen to and almost go on a journey while they're listening to it."

Perhaps the journey Estrin is referring to is, well, Journey, the band that rocked baby boomers in the '70s, but mopped up the Top 40 charts in the '80s with one junior high school dance ballad after another. The members of Hoobastank early on were pegged as post-grunge rockers, but "The Reason" found them plenty of soccer-mom love. And it doesn't seem like they'd mind experiencing this same career arc.

He shuffles through his iPod, where the Beastie Boys, Neil Diamond and The Police are played with impunity alongside Led Zeppelin, Phil Collins, Elvis Presley and Bon Jovi.

"If we were able to get to a position like Bon Jovi," he says, "I'd be more than happy."

In fact, Hoobastank's current tour finds the band covering the New Jersey hair metal act's "Living on a Prayer."

Still, Estrin understands that there's an inherent plus-minus game associated with becoming a band like Bon Jovi, which has transitioned to adult contemporary radio darling without a concerted effort to return to its rock roots. On the plus side: financial success, which Hoobastank tasted when "The Reason" topped the charts. On the minus: "The Reason" became perhaps the most annoyingly overplayed song of '04.

"While it was happening, it was killer and fucking awesome," he says. "But then it gets to a point where it starts being not cool to the public and the audience. That's when it starts getting played too much. It happened with this song, and it happened with a lot of songs."

But it's tough to say if it ever really bothered Erstin.

"Shit, checks keep rolling in," he says. "That may sound like a shitty thing to say, but this is my job."

Hoobastank with Halifax and Agent Sparks

Monday, Dec. 18, 8 p.m.

The Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., Denver

Tickets: $18; visit ticketweb.com.


Hoobastank with Halifax and Agent Sparks

Tuesday, Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m.

The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.

Tickets: $17 ($20 at the door); visit ticketweb.com.

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