Interview: Hinder (Cody Hanson)
Wed, 05 Nov 2008 07:46:43
"You know it's going to be a great party, when as soon as you walk in the door there are two chicks standing there topless," chuckles Hinder drummer Cody Hanson. Apparently, the band's Las Vegas record release party for Take It To The Limit was a rollicking good time. It all went down at the Hugh Hefner Suite at The Palms. The fire marshals had to show up because there were so many people there, but as always, Hinder had a blast. "Fun" is a general sentiment that's been missing from mainstream rock 'n' roll, but Hinder are about to bring the smiles—and—sex, back. From recording real life moaning to ripping solos with Motley Crue's Mick Mars, Hinder are living the rock star life. In the wake of their massively successful 2006 debut, they certainly deserve it. Hanson spoke to ARTISTdirect.com in this exclusive interview about composing acoustically, wild nights in the studio and much more.
It sounds like you guys have rekindled the energy that's been missing from rock 'n' roll since the days that Guns N' Roses and Motley Crue ruled the world. Was that what you were aiming to do?
Yeah, that's absolutely what we were aiming for. We've said it a million times, but we really got the chance on this album to go in and make the record that we wanted to make. We got to let our influences show a little bit more this time. It turned out great. I'm really proud of it.
What contributed to that freedom you had?
The success of our first record, Extreme Behavior, took a little bit of the pressure off. The label wasn't breathing down our necks the entire time. There was no pressure from them to write a certain type of song or do this or do that. We had a chance to do it on our own. We had a lot more time to write as well. During the first album, we were still writing songs in the studio, while we were recording. For this record, we got the opportunity to have a few writing sessions, take our time and do it right.
Where do the songs usually start for you?
We write everything on acoustic guitars, and that's it. Sometimes, it'll start with a lyrical idea, a chord progression, a riff or a melody. It just depends. Whenever a good idea comes along, we just sit down and hammer it out. We'll go through it and make sure it's right. Our thing is, if it doesn't sound like a hit with just one acoustic guitar and a vocal line, then it's probably not worth messing around with.
That's a great way to look at it because you really break the music down to the basics.
Absolutely, once you put all of the production on the song and add everybody else in, that's just the icing on the cake.
Given that your songs are composed acoustically, would you ever want to do an acoustic album or unplugged show?
Yeah, that might be something that we'd definitely consider doing in the future. We always dig when other bands have done it in the past. I think it could be pretty cool.
So do the songs usually come from you and Austin sitting in a room, hashing out ideas together?
Yeah, usually, one of us will take an idea to the other. If I have a progression, I'll take it to him, and he'll come up with a melody. Then we'll work on lyrics together. It works both ways. It's pretty sweet. The two of us will sit down in a room and hammer it out. Once we have the basic idea, we'll take it to the rest of the guys and let them put their individual flavors on it.
What was it like recording in Vancouver again?
We did it at [producer] Brian Howe's studio. Since our last record, Brian's gotten his own studio. We were able to go there and take our time a little bit more.
"Far From Home" really stands out. What's the story behind that song?
Basically, that song's cool because I'd say it's the most "real" song lyrically on our record. It's about something that a few of us were going through at the time. It describes every long-distance relationship to a "T." It actually started with a line that somebody's girlfriend had said to him. The very first line of the song was an actual line from a conversation and an argument. That one, as we were writing, felt amazing. It was good to get what we felt at the time out there. It was an interesting time for all of us, I guess.
It's not often that a rock band would explore the relationship rigors of the touring lifestyle like that.
Yeah, I'm really hoping that it hits home with a lot of people, and they can relate to it. Maybe it'll help people get through some tough times. One of my favorite things to hear from a fan is that our music has helped them get through some tough times in their personal relationships or just in their life in general. I think that may be one of those songs that really connects with people in that way.
The song is really visual. You can see the story going down.
That's really important in songs. I think a lot of bands out there try too hard. They try to make the music all artsy, poetic and blah, blah, blah. It's cool if you're good at it [Laughs]. However, not many bands can pull it off. We like to tell simple real life stories in our songs. We like to be able to connect and relate with our fans.
Another great one was "Use Me." It's definitely on the opposite end of the spectrum than the story in "Far From Home."
[Laughs] It can't be all serious all the time. I think everybody out there has been used before, and it's not always a bad thing. So, I know when it happens to guys especially, they often don't mind. If a guy's out partying and some chick takes him home and uses him, he's not going to hate it too much [Laughs].
Someone had to say it! You're saying things that a lot of guys think but don't necessarily say because rock music's gotten so dour.
Yeah, definitely. I think it's important, man. As important as it is to touch on real life—serious subjects—it's equally important to have a good time with it and tell stories that are fun. You can't always be serious, dark and depressing. People want an escape from that shit when they listen to music sometimes. I think we're here to provide that. I think it's very important to paint a picture and tell stories in your songs. It helps people relate to it.
It's about time that someone got the girls back into rock too.
Yeah, it's been missing, man. I think rock's about to make a big comeback, and we're going to do everything that we can to lead the way.
Everything got so dark and overly heavy after the nu metal era that you're not going to see a bunch of hot girls at a Lamb of God show.
[Laughs] That's absolutely right. That was kind of another reason why we wanted to put this album out on November 4, election day. It's time for a change in our country, but it's also a time for change in music. It's time for rock 'n' roll to make its comeback—not the dark metal, nu metal or emo. That's completely different. It's time for true, ballsy rock 'n' roll.
“I think it's very important to paint a picture and tell stories in your songs.”
It's funny because a lot of kids probably see this style of fun rock as a new concept.
[Laughs] Yeah, even though it's over 20 years old now! It's fun to watch actually. When I see younger kids get into it, it's funny to hear them go, "Wow, I've never heard this before." To us, it's just stuff that we've heard in the past and music that influenced us at an early age. We're bringing all of those elements back to it, making it new again and making it fresh on our own. It's pretty interesting how rock got so damn boring and depressing for a long time. We're here to squash that and bring the real rock back.
Where did the moaning in "Up All Night" come from?
That's actually real audio. Both parts to that are real. We spliced them together. We had a nice little party down at the studio. It was insane. We had chicks everywhere. There was this little booth setup so people could take chicks in there or whatever. One of the guys, I'm not going to say who, went in their and did his thing. They didn't know that we had slipped a mic in there and recorded the entire thing. We've got the whole act—about 45 minutes. It's pretty sweet [Laughs]. The second part of it, where you hear Mike coming in and yelling at us, was at our house we were staying at in Vancouver. It was probably 5:30 or so in the morning. Austin and myself decided to drag Blower's drunk ass out of bed. We just started throwing him through walls, doors and all of this stuff. Mike was in the bedroom next to it. After we completely trashed the upstairs, he was just sitting there listening and getting more and more mad. He came out and just fucking laid into us. He ripped us a new one. Luckily, my drum tech had a video camera, and he was taping the entire thing. We got to take the audio from it and mix it through to use as the intro for "Up All Night."
How did the collaboration with Mick Mars come about?
His publisher actually contacted us about writing some songs with us. He wanted to get together, collaborate and do some stuff. We were like, "Wow, that's unbelievable—Mick Mars from Motley Crue." We figured, let's ask him if we do that, if he'd want to play on a track on the album. We sent it to him. He loved it. We ended up going to his house up in the hills. He just laid down a few passes of the solo and some different parts of the song. We hung out with him for a while that night, and it was incredible, man. It was awesome. That guy's insane. He's the coolest dude ever. We went to his house. It's this big house in the hills, and it's completely empty. There's nothing in it. There's one couch over in the dining room, and there's nothing else but Marshall stacks and guitars—no furniture, nothing.
Would the 13-year-old Cody Hanson ever have believed that he'd some day cut a song with Mick Mars?
[Laughs] No, I would've never ever imagined that in my entire life. I felt a whole lot less rock 'n' roll after going to his house. After seeing how he lives, I was like, "Man, I'm kind of a loser." It's all for it, and that's it. It's pretty crazy. He's this old dude who has a hard time getting around, yet he's still got this 22-year-old, gothic, hot Swedish girlfriend. It was pretty inspiring to see. It was great.
Even though a lot of your influences are present on this record, you inject a fresh guitar tone and a new attitude into everything that makes these songs "Hinder."
Well, thanks! That's what we were going for. I felt like we got so many bad comparisons on the first record, which is fine, you get that. Everybody gets that on their first album. We didn't really like the way it was perceived. So we wanted to make it our own and make sure when somebody heard it, they said, "Oh, that's Hinder," not, "That sounds like this other band." We tried really hard to accomplish that.
On "Loaded and Alone," you also explore some of the downsides of fame. You guys blew up really quickly.
That might've been the last song that we wrote for the album. Seeing a couple people that we've come across and spending some time with inspired that. I'm a people watcher anyway. I watch people and how they react to certain situations. It always bothers me. I think it's a real shame when people let success or fame go to their heads and change them as people.
"Lips of an Angel" was a massive hit. Even though you did have more time on this album, was there a certain degree of pressure?
We always put pressure on ourselves no matter what. It's always in the back of your mind. All we could do was write the best album that we possibly could. I think we accomplished it. I think it's a much better album, and I think our fans are going to dig it. After stepping away from it and going back to it, I felt like, "Man, I really like this song." I'll get to the next one, and I'll be like, "I really like this one." That's one thing we strive for—to never have a throwaway track on the album. Almost every song could be a hit or single.
How was the record release party in Vegas?
That party was fucking insane, man! It was amazing. I don't even know how many people we had up there. I know the fire marshals had to come out. There were probably a few hundred people standing in line just to get in downstairs. A lot of our friends and business partners couldn't even get in because there were so many people. It was cool. We had to go and actually get permission from Hugh Hefner to use his suite for the party.
Was that tough to get?
Evidently not, man. Hugh was great! They sent out a bunch of Playmates and Playboy Cybergirls. They hooked it up nice. We're great friends with the Maloofs also. So that doesn't hurt. They really took care of us, and they rolled out the red carpet for us on this event.