If you read through Hoobastank's biog you'll see the word "normal" mentioned 5 times within the opening paragraph. While they may be considered more "normal" than the likes of Marilyn Manson and Cradle Of Filth there aren't many normal people who have spend the past 12 months touring around the world on the back of a mammoth single "The Reason". There also aren't many bands who've managed to piss off the polar oppossites Evanescence and The Deftones throughout their career and had lucky one-hit wonder accusations thrown at them with every single they've released. Designer Magazine caught up with bassist Markku Lappalainen to look at a whirlwind 12 months in the life of Hoobastank.

Q: We're here in Manchester and this must be like the first show you've played in the city since Move Festival a few years back. You seem to have this relationship with Manchester where your tour will always get cancelled a couple of weeks before
A: Yeah, it's been about 2 years now. I can't remember whether it was Move or not, I think we did a show with Incubus after that. Something weird always happens to the Manchester shows, but we're all sorted for tonight and it's a sold out show so it's gonna be good. It's mad how times change because when this tour was originally scheduled in May we were supposed to playing to about 350 people next door and now we're here to nearly 2000. That's what a hit single does I guess!!!

Q: Back in May you were going to do your own tour, cancelled it to play with Evanescence on their Arena tour and then ended up doing neither. What's the story with the Evanescence scenario?
A: They asked us to do the tour out here and it was all booked and settled. Then they were going to do a tour out in the States so they asked us to do that. But we said we didn't want to do it because we were doing our own stuff and they got all pissed off and said "well you guys can't do the Europe tour". I don't think i'd ever want to work with those guys again for pulling that shit.

The Deftones did that to us to. We were supposed to go out with the Deftones and I guess what's his face had a pear up his ass and said we're not a real rock band. Like whatever?

Q: Have you had that a lot - people saying you're not a real rock band?
A: Yeah. Even before "The Reason" I think people were jealous you know. We've been doing this 10 years. We're not this knock off band. We've had this whole Incubus knock off band thrown at us...we grew up in the same neighbourhood, listening to the same music and obviously we're gonna have some similar styles and stuff. I think most of it was the fact that Doug and Brad were both heavily influenced by Mike Patton from Faith No More, so there's some similar styles with that, but I think our music's totally different.

People just always try to put us down. The same people who said we got lucky after "The Reason" were the same people saying we got lucky after "Crawling In The Dark" and "Out Of Control". Well, how many times can you get lucky? What, we're a 5 hit wonder band or something?

I guess now we're starting to get a little credibility. I don't know why people were shitting on us all the time. Oh well, it's probably cos we weren't all rock n roll and blowing up buildings.

Q Are you surprised at the success over the past year with the single "The Reason"?
A: You notice it more over here. Maybe that's cos we haven't been here so much. I think our goal now is to start coming over to the UK a lot more. As I said earlier last time we came out over here was about 2 years ago and we just haven't had the chance to come back cos we've been so busy in the States. Before we were playing places like the Garage in London and smaller places around the UK and now we're playing 2500 seaters and they're sold out. It's pretty cool.

Q: It was a bizarre moment as a fan and it must have been even stranger as a band. When you first came out you were literally everywhere with "Crawling In The Dark", you hibernated for years and then suddenly you turn on MTV and can't escape "The Reason"
A: After that UK tour we just took about 6 months off and started writing the 2nd album. And then for about the last year we've just been out on the road going across the States in support of this album. It took us to South East Asia, Japan, Australia, Canada and all of the States and the last time we did England it was only for Top Of The Pops. After the UK we go to Brazil, have 10 days off and then another 2 months out in the States. Hopefully then we'll be able to start writing some music you know.

Q: Is it when you do the live shows you really realize what an impact that that song made?
A: Yeah. I don't give a shit about charts or what airplay we have that week. It's all about people coming to your shows. Charts are more for the record company, but the truth is you can be at Number 1 and still be playing a small venue with no-one there. You still have bands that can't get on the charts that still have huge sold out shows.

Q: So how do you feel about the download situation seeing as "The Reason" was downloaded about a trillion times
A: Yeah, we got the report through. Hoobastank's "The Reason" is the most downloaded song of 2004. It's like great, buy the album. People are going to always download it cos it's free and it sucks. I have friends that download, but i'd feel bad if I was doing it. It hurts because record companies in the States will look over here to the UK and say you're not really selling that many albums, it's hard to grasp how many fans you have when people are just downloading music. Over in the States the local record shops are closing down and printed magazines are folding because fans have already downloaded the album before a review comes out - whichever way you look at it, it is hurting people.

The thing is we are an album's band, but every song we do we try and think of it as a single. Before there we all these one hit wonder bands where they had one huge song and the rest of the album sucked. I guess that's why the whole downloading thing is going so well because a label will sign a band on the basis of one song and the rest of it is just filler music. When I was younger I used to listen to tapes so you kinda had to listen to the whole album, when CDs came in you didn't even know track names - it's just track 1 or track 7 or whatever.

Q: On your biog it makes this major point about you being normal people...so much that the word normal is mentioned 5 times within the first paragraph. You've just spent the last year on the road playing sold out gigs which ain't exactly normal - what the f**ks that all about?
A: I guess We just don't have that rock star image. In the late 80s and early 90s you just had this real asshole attitude and yer know, it's like it's not really worth it. There's nothing wrong with being the nice guys of rock. We kinda grew up in a decent neighbourhood and sometimes we can get a little crabby or whatnot, but in the most part we're just really mellow. There's no fights or drugs - our tour bus is like the library.

Q: You must have had your rock n roll moments?
A: I got arrested for drunk driving last May. That's kind of rock'n'roll-ish. Don't drive drunken in California cos it's like the worst. I ended up paying a $10,000 fine and places like Canada look at it as a felony so I have to do all this court paper stuff every time we go.

Q: Do you still want to use the word normal in the UK when normal bands in the UK bands like Travis and Starsailor. We want a bit of mystery in our rock stars?
A: (Laughs) What like were all strung out drug addicts. I guess we're just mellow metal if you wanna put that together. We've been together for 10 years and we're all getting close to 30 so we're not young kids anymore. If we were probably 21 it might be different, we'd have gone crazy, jumped off roof's and broken our legs. We're just old men.

Q: At this stage you must know where you're going to be 12 months from now. How is it living your life permanently on the road?
A:  I'm always writing when i'm on the bus. I play more guitar than bass, but Dan is such a good rhythm guitar player so I show him what I have, but then he'll take it and vamp it up. He's such an innovator. We're just starting writing properly at the moment and there's always this thought that the second album's always the tough one, but I think it's going to be the third one for us.

The way if works is when we get home we'll record all our riffs individually. We all have pro tools set-ups at home and we make a CD and pass it round the other members. Were not like a jam band who jams around. We always write by ourselves. We're just not gonna pressure ourselves too much. Whatever goes out goes out. For us there's not a great pressure to rush anything out, maybe get something out for the end of 2005 / early 2006. We've just released "Disappear" and we'll see how that goes and if it goes well we'll just keep touring.

Sometime it's tough to be everywhere. We try our best and we spend most of our time on the road. It's hard having a phone relationship with your family and stuff. When you go home your dog is like "who are you?" and pee's all over the place. There was a funny story about when I last left. I had my bass case open on the floor and my dog ran in, peed in the case and took off because he knew I was leaving.

The album "The Reason" is out now
The DVD "Let It Out" is out now in the US
For more info

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