Multi-platinum rock band Hinder has been relentlessly recording new music and introducing fresh sounds to the genre. Since “Lips of An Angel” from their debut album, Extreme Behavior, secured a spot in the top 10 across several Billboard singles in 2005, the Oklahoma-based rock band has produced five additional studio albums and played more than 15 headlining tours. We spoke to drummer Cody Hanson and lead singer Marshal Dutton about the band’s signature style and the direction in which they’ve taken their latest material.
As a rock band that consistently evolves their sound, having incorporated hints of indie, country, pop and more, what sounds are you planning to experiment with next?
Cody: I’m not so sure that there are any genres left to experiment with, but as music continues to change with the times, there will always be new elements to play around with and blend with the Hinder style and sound. I think the latest batch of songs lean a little more toward “vintage Hinder.”
Marshal: I’m not sure that it’s always a conscious choice to experiment with a particular genre. When you’re influenced by different styles, they seem to make their way into your writing without much intent, so it’s hard to say what experiment will happen next. It could be polka for all I know!
Cody: According to your interview with entertainment website, Pure Grain Audio, one has to know how to play acoustic guitar or piano to write songs. Hinder members play both. In 2016, you released all-acoustic EP Stripped. Any future plans of doing something similar with piano?
Cody: We don’t have plans for anything like that at the moment, but that’s not a bad idea!
Marshal: I play piano every day and I love it, so I would be into that. Cody and Mark [rhythm guitarist] play piano as well. It could totally happen!
Explain your creative process and the many inspirations behind your variety in sound.
Cody: Our creative process varies from song to song. Sometimes it will start with an acoustic guitar and a riff or it may start with a hook or melody. We try to keep it as fresh as possible and play around with different approaches.
Each album revolves around a theme. Do you decide what theme before the writing process begins? How does each member contribute to each theme?
Cody: We don’t really think of it that way: we just start writing and see what comes out. To be honest, in the past, we’ve caught ourselves chasing the styles that were popular at that moment. I think we’ve decided this time around that we’re done with that approach. We just want to create a good song no matter what the style is. If happens to sound like Hinder from 2005, that’s totally fine—and if it sounds like Hinder circa 2017, that’s great too! I think our new music will be a nice blend of all the styles we’ve done throughout the years.
Marshal: The theme seems to emerge through the process, somehow. I think it evolves throughout the entire process as well, so deciding a unified direction at the beginning seems a bit backwards. As far as contributions go—some days you’re full of ideas and the next day you’ve got nothing—so every song is different, and the contributions round out, I imagine.
What emotions, if any, do you try to extract from your fans with your music? Does this change with each album and theme?
Cody: We always try to relate to fans by writing about real and relatable topics. Each song is different, depending on how we’re feeling that day. It could be about world events one day, and about a past relationship the next. As long as we connect with fans and make people feel something, that’s the most important part.
While Hinder established itself in the rock industry more than 15 years ago, do you ever fear that switching your sound too drastically will negatively impact your music career?
Cody: That has absolutely been a fear in the past! However, I think if every album is the same, you run the risk of people getting bored. We always keep our fans in mind while writing, but we have such a diverse fan base that it’s difficult to know exactly what everyone wants. The past few albums, we’ve tried to make each song different, so that there is something for everyone. Right now, we’re just trying to write great songs.
Marshal: You do what you do: People either like it or they don’t. For every 10 people that like a new sound, there are 10 more who likely hate it. Worrying about it too much seems unnecessarily stressful.
With how vastly different in sound each album is, what keeps them all in unison with Hinder? How do listeners distinguish your rock band from others from album to album?
Cody: I think you just develop a style that is your own after so many years. While we try to break out of our habits while writing, we catch ourselves going back to the same melodic moves, whether it be in a vocal melody, a guitar hook, or whatever. Sometimes what sounds good to your ears just becomes your style.
You recently released a preview to a new song, “Halo.” How would you describe its sound?
Cody: “Halo” is one of the heavier tracks that we’ve written so far out of the latest batch of songs. I’d say it’s one of the more “modern” sounding tracks that’s similar to what you’d hear on Active Rock radio these days. On this album, however, we’ve tried our best to get out of the mindset of writing for radio. That’s not what it should be about. We want to write songs for our fans and for ourselves.
Marshal: “Halo” was a lot of fun to put together. Harmonically, it’s interesting because it changes keys back and forth, and in certain spots, they seem to overlap, and the quality becomes ambiguous. I find that interesting about the song in particular because I’m not sure it was 100 percent intentional! As Angus Young would say, “it was a happy accident.”
Is “Halo” a taste of an upcoming EP or album to be announced?
Cody: We haven’t decided just yet how we’re going to release new music going forward. You will definitely hear new music from us soon, but the format in which you will hear it is undetermined. Either way, we’re excited about the new material and we can’t wait to share it with everyone!
Marshal: There is plenty of new material to come!
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