Doug Robb, lead vocalist of Hoobastank, formed the band in 1994 along with guitarist Dan Estrin, drummer Chris Hesse, and original bassist Markku Lappalainen. With six studio albums and an EP under their belt, the band has achieved worldwide success. Their hit “The Reason” (2004), rose to number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and has over 140-million YouTube views.
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Sean Ritchie: Coming from just outside of Los Angeles with the Malibu Creek State Park in your backyard, describe the scenery of where you’re from.
Doug Robb: You kind of nailed it right there. I was like, “Geeze the Malibu Creek State Park, I used to ride my bike there.” It’s a lot of rolling hills — mostly rolling hills. They get super, super green in the spring, but right now everything is just brown, brown, brown. If you head towards the beach it turns into a canyon-like mountain — it’s really pretty. I think you take it for granted a lot. Whenever I have friends or family that come from out of town, we’ll drive to the beach, and they’ll say, “Oh, this is amazing!” It’s really amazing scenery.
SR: I can only imagine. What about the rest of California? Where would you suggest people to travel to if they’re visiting?
DR: As far as natural beauty, you can’t beat just driving up the coast — take Route 1, the freeway, from LA all the way up to Monterey. It’s a long drive; you can break it up into a couple of days. Somewhere around the halfway point, between Hearst Castle and Monterey, the drive [becomes] one of the most amazing drives in the world.
Photo courtesy | Faungg
SR: Have you caught a sunset driving along?
DR: Where I live all the time, but it’s been a while since I drove way up the coast. It’s one of those things that you kind of take for granted and then you see it every once in a while and you go, “Whoa, this is pretty awesome.”
SR: Out of all the cities you have performed in, are there any that stand out in terms of crowd atmosphere? Was it inline with the city’s nightlife?
DR: I think the bands favorite place to play, as far as crowd reaction, has always been Japan — Tokyo to be more specific. The audience in Japan is crazy; they’re nuts. I guess you could probably say the nightlife could be that way too. Tokyo is one of those cities that’s so hectic and never turns off. The nightlife can be pretty wild.
Photo courtesy | Roy Chan
SR: What is the first thing you try and do when visiting a new destination?
DR: I guess it all depends. I usually ask somebody who knows what there is to do and interesting to see. Usually they’ll talk about some kind of historical or natural thing.
SR: Something that someone that’s grown up there would only know?
DR: Yeah exactly. It’s a combination of being in a city, stereotypically having to see a touristy place, but then [wanting to be] shown something that the average tourist wouldn’t see.
SR: How does music and travel fit together?
DR: They are kind of one in the same, really. From ’95 to 2000 pretty much all of our shows were in southern California, with the exception of a handful. But from 2000 to 2015, 99-percent of our shows became outside of the LA area. We’ve been able to travel so much and go to places that I’ve never dreamt of going at all, let alone playing shows there.
SR: When creating music, where does the inspiration come from? Does traveling to new environments play a role?
DR: Yeah, inspiration comes from anything. It could come from passing a piano, running your fingers down the keys and going, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. What just happened there?” It could also be when on a bus watching the Midwest pass you by. It comes from anywhere, but [travel] definitely does inspire you, if you let it.
SR: What does seeing and experiencing different cultures mean to you?
DR: I was fortunate enough to travel a decent amount before we had a record deal, with my family and stuff. Being half Japanese, a lot of my family is in Japan so we’ve made lots of trips back there. I think traveling was one of those things that my parents made important. They wanted me to see the world, and that it was more than just LA, or the United States for that matter. When you’re a kid you don’t really appreciate it that much, but when you’re older you understand the importance of it.
I think it’s extremely important for people to travel and to experience other cultures, countries and ways of life. I think it shrinks the world; it’s a pretty obvious answer. You realize that we’re all just people. We laugh, we cry, we sing and dance. We’re all human beings and the only thing that’s different really is the way we interpret our everyday lives. I think music has made that even more obvious to me, because if I’m talking with people in Delhi, who’ve come to see us play in India, we already have something in common here. It kind of just breaks the ice. I think it does nothing but good for people to travel and see the world. You become a better human being for it.
Photo courtesy | Björn Ognibeni
SR: Yeah, travel’s uniting abilities are one of our main motivations at SCP. You mentioned Japan. Do you travel there often? Is there something in particular you like to do out there?
DR: Yeah, well of all the countries that we frequent, it’s probably the country that we go to most outside of the states. As a band, I think we’ve gone there about 15-times in the last 15-years — something like that, maybe more. It’s strange for me to go, “You know what? I’ve actually been to Tokyo, Osaka and cities in between more often in the last 15-years than I have been to San Diego, which is driving distance — or San Francisco.” I haven’t needed to go to those cities as often as I have Japan. So it’s weird, but awesome to go there and be totally familiar — to know that there’s a great ramen joint around this ally. When we go to Japan that’s kind of the thing we do. Our base player, drummer, and myself we go hunting for good ramen — we know our spots.
SR: Yeah, knowing the local spots is how you have to do it. Lastly, when is the next trip and what for?
DR: We just got back from the United Kingdom, about two weeks ago. The next trip will be in about 10-days and it starts in New York and works it’s way back, ending in [Las] Vegas. It’s a month-long run of shows.
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For more on Doug Robb and Hoobastank visit their website:
Additional photo courtesy | Renjith Sasidharan