I love when I nail down a great interview and the conversation seems to flow easily. I really love it when you find out the transcription service didn't get the whole call recorded. A recent discussion with Hinder drummer Cody Hanson was one of those almost perfect conversations... it was more than an interview. Luckily, we had another conversation similar to it that really speak to the genuine nature of Cody and his love of everything Hinder. We got him to open up about changes in the bands sound, direction, and what he is most proud of...
Toddstar: I apologize for the other day. That was a great interview and my transcription service screwed up...
Cody: It's all good. I've already forgotten the questions anyway. Don't worry. All my answers will be completely different.
Toddstar: Again, thank you so much for taking time out for us. We really appreciate it, Cody. Hinder's got a new song and a new album and new feel within the band. What can you tell us about the new song and the new album that you've got coming towards us?
Cody: The new song, "Hit the Ground", it's kind of a special song to us just because of the lyrical content. I've said in several interviews that every member of this band has lived every single line in the song. Like I said, it's just special. We knew it wasn't the heaviest song on the record so maybe not an obvious choice for a first single, but the hook was so strong and the lyrics were so real and so meaningful to us that it just made sense to kind of tell our story, to tell people what we've been going through for the last few years. We decided to go with that track.
Toddstar: As we've talked about recently, the opening line of the song is 'When the smoke clears...' and you guys are using that as the disc title. There's an interesting story behind how the album got that title. Care to tell us about that?
Cody: We ran a contest on our social media pages to let fans come up with the album title and several of them actually came up with that one, but we just felt like it was fitting. That's kind of how we feel about this album. We've gone through so much over the past few years, and we're just coming out of it and ready to focus on the music and on the fans and move forward and be happy and have fun.
Toddstar: You spoke of a new focus for the band and a new everything, but the guy that is now fronting the band, Marshal Dutton, is no stranger to Hinder. He's been with you guys in one form or another for quite a while now. How easy was it to shift Marshal from behind the console and behind the scene, so to speak, and put him up, front of the band, and say, "Okay, now you're a full blown member. Let's just do this."
Cody: Man, I tell you what, it was, when we actually finally made the decision, it was like this weight was lifted off. We looked and searched for so long for somebody to come in and fill that role, when we should have just made the decision sooner and gone with Marshal. We were focused on the wrong things, I think, but once we actually made that decision it was super easy, super natural. It just made sense and like I said, we're super thrilled with it and can't wait for the future.
Toddstar: The single's got a little different sound, as you alluded to, than some of the bigger hits in the hitter catalog, but it's not too far from what you guys do day in and day out on every album. It kind of stays true to where you are. From a song writing standpoint and a production standpoint, how do you feel that it differs from some of your other stuff?
Cody: I honestly don't feel like it's all that different. I think it's, as you said, we've done songs just like it in the past. It does kind of have that Southern rock feel to it, almost, I guess some would call it like a small country influence but like you said, we've had songs like that. "What Ya Gonna Do?" off the All American Nightmare record was like that. We had another song called, "Anyone But You" off of Welcome To The Freakshow. We've had songs like that in the past so for us, I don't feel like it was much of a stretch at all.
Toddstar: Especially on "Welcome to the Freakshow", you guys had, in my opinion, a lot heavier country sound and I think that had to do with writing with the Warren Brothers. What kind of approach as far as writing did you guys take on this time? I know you and Marshal stuck to a lot of the writing, but how did it work out that you tended not to go outside as much this time?
Cody: Marshal and I have been writing together for so long it's easy. We actually, we did some outside writing at the end but it was all brand new people, people that we had never written with before. We wanted to go and try something new and find some new people that might influence our writing. It's always good to make new relationships in the songwriting world. We made some trips and did some co-writes and things but like you said, there are a lot of songs on the album that were just Marshal and I be ourselves in our room, and those are honestly some of my favorite songs on the album. We just have a great writing chemistry together, so it's a lot of fun.
Toddstar: Does that writing chemistry come from your own ideas and how they merge behind the console, on the production side of it? Because I know you've also got quite the extensive production credit to your name.
Cody: Yeah. Marshal and I have a production company outside of Hinder called Back Lounge Productions, and we write and produce for other artists as well. We take songwriting as a separate thing from production. Then we take mixing and mastering, that separate from production and songwriting. We kind of just do it in stages. We like to write a song that is as broken down as possible, with a piano or acoustic guitars. When we feel like we have a great song, then we move on to the production stage. That's when we forget about ourselves as songwriters and try to think of new production ideas. Then like I said, when we move on from that, then it's mixing, which is a whole different animal that I could talk about for hours.
Toddstar: Maybe we'll save that one for the next interview.
Cody: There you go.
Toddstar: You guys have a few dates coming up before the album comes out. The album comes out May 12, as you alluded to in one of our last conversations. Some of these dates coming up, one of them is somewhere near and dear to my heart and I believe it's near and dear to your heart, the world famous Machine Shop in Flint, MI (http://www.themachineshop.info). I believe you guys even filmed the video for "Get Stoned" there.
Cody: Yeah. We've done a lot of filming at The Machine Shop. That's one of our favorite venues in the entire world to play. It's super unique. I've never seen a venue that gets so much support from a community before. It seems like the entire city loves that place and every time somebody comes out it's a major event. Like I said, it's very unique and the entire staff at the venue is super cool. Kevin is super cool, and I don't know, man, like I said, every time I see that venue on the schedule it makes me happy. We love going back there.
Toddstar: When you're touring and you're seeing places like this, what's it like knowing that you're going to be walking into a place like The Machine Shop, when you guys could certainly be going into the bigger venues? What's it like to play those smaller places compared to a bigger venue?
Cody: Like I said, some of them are just magical, but we honestly don't have a preference on big venues versus small venues. They're both cool for different reasons, but I will say I do like, one thing I like about smaller venues is that it's like an intimate show. You can reach out and touch people if you want. Another thing that's cool about it is we always go back in to the venue after the shows, hang out with people, drink beer, have some shots, whatever it is, and get to know our fans. We've made a lot of friends, a lot of great relationships that way. We're just looking forward to getting out and doing it again.
Toddstar: You guys certainly seem to thrive in a smaller, intimate setting. I remember watching the acoustic tour you guys did a couple years ago, and that was just phenomenal to see. When it comes to the songwriting side of the business, who influences you or who influenced the way you write, Cody, because you have a very different style than, first of all, most drummers but most guys writing today, they have a different style. Yet, you seem to stand out a little bit. Who influenced that?
Cody: Thank you, first of all. I don't know. I think, I listened to a lot of country music growing up, even in my early adult years, I guess. I like to tell stories in songs and when at all possible, write from a personal experience but if not for some reason, tell somebody else's story or just tell a story that you feel could relate to somebody or help somebody out in some way. Making people relate to your songs is what it's all about. I think it's important to make things melodic and simple and easy to understand. I think that's probably part of it.
Toddstar: That said, what song have you written that you think you most easily identify with or is most personal to you?
Cody: Man, I don't know. That's a tough one. I write so many songs all the time that nobody will ever hear, probably. They're locked away in the vault. There's a song Marshal and I actually wrote together; it's called "Untold", that nobody will ever hear, but it was a super personal experience of mine about a breakup whenever I was younger. For some reason, that song just kind of, it tells an exact story and a picture of one night. That one is probably one of the most personal, but again, nobody will ever hear it. Honestly, I think right now, lyrically, honestly the single off the record "Hit the Ground" is really personal, not just for me but for the entire band. Like I said, anybody who's paid attention to our story, especially over the last few years, can listen to that song and know what we've been going through or know where we're at mentally, at least.
Toddstar: The last couple albums stand out in my mind. First of all, they're great to run and work out to, but they seem to have just a sexy, funky sound to them that you guys added. Is that a sound or a style that you guys just morphed into, you kind of grew into it or is that something you guys went for? Can we expect that kind of bottom end, funky, sexy sound on the new album?
Cody: I don't think we really go for anything, any one kind of sound intentionally. I think we just, we write the best songs that we can write and then once we get to the production phase we treat each song individually, especially on the last few albums. We haven't really wanted the whole album to have one theme or one sound. We feel like it's important to give each song its own moment and try to do what's best for the song in the production phase. Who really knows what you can expect, I guess, on the new one?
Toddstar: Again, you guys have some dates coming up before the album comes out. How are you going to blend some of the new material in?
Cody: On this, the first few runs that we're doing for March and April, we're probably going to leave the set how we've playing it. We're only putting two songs on the set, the single and then one other one. We're just gonna keep some of the stuff on lockdown, because we're really anxious for everybody to hear the stuff but we want it to be new and a surprise when they do get it. We'll probably ramp it up in May and play some more material off the new record.
Toddstar: Modern technology and Smartphones and all that stuff, more and more bands you find are doing that. They're trying to keep as much under wraps as they can until an album drops. From an artist's perspective, what's that like for you, when you've got something you're so proud of and you want everybody, yet you know that the minute you let any of it go, it's everywhere?
Cody: Yeah, it's tough, man. It's really, really, really tough. I'll probably share new music with more people than I should. I've been lucky so far that it hasn't been leaked, but it's really, really hard to, I don't know, to just keep it to yourself. You spend so much time. We spent over, well over a year working on this new album. When you've worked so hard on something, it's really tough not to share it. You want people to hear it. You want to know what they think. You want to get their opinions, unless their opinions are negative. Then you don't want to hear it. You get so excited about it, so yeah, it's really difficult.
Toddstar: You talked about leaking stuff and getting stuff out there and how long you've worked on this newer material. "Hit the Ground" actually is a little bit older. It's getting legs again, thanks to the rerelease with the lyric video, but you guys originally released this. Whose idea was it to go in and tweak it and throw Marshal's vocals on top of it?
Cody: It was ours. We knew, once we decided that that was the move that we wanted to make and we were 100 percent sure, we wanted people to hear a preview of what the whole album was going to be like with Marshal's voice. We decided... Marshal has a little bit of a rock thing going on, so we wanted to make the, tweak the production a little bit to make it a little more suited toward him and his voice.
Toddstar: I've got a couple more for ya. I know you're busy. With everything you've done, Hinder's been around a while. You've had some great hit singles. You've had some hit videos. You've had some great tours. You've brought some bands up with you. You've gone out with a lot of great bands. Everything said, songwriting, production, everything. What are the couple things in your musical career that you look back on and you're most proud of and want to be remembered for, Cody?
Cody: Man, that's a tough one. Going out and getting to do our first headlining arena tour and amphitheater tour, when we did the "Bad Boys of Rock" tour, that was really special to me. We got to headline and have some of our favorite bands that we listened to when we were younger play before us. We had Buckcherry and Papa Roach on that tour, and we learned a lot just playing after those bands. For me, that was a big accomplishment, a big achievement, something that I'll always remember. As far as being remembered, something to be remembered for, I just want it to be, honestly, just great songs and being personable, I guess. Like I said, our fans are very important to us. We love to go out and make personal relationships with every single fan that we can. I don't know, I think it would be really cool to be remembered that way.
Toddstar: You've been at this a while. Again, Hinder's been going strong for 14 years now, and you've got the album, the new album coming out. You've got the single, which is great. You've got a tour coming up. Everything is looking up for Cody and for Hinder. At this point for you, with all the change and everything that's gone on, what's the meaning of life for you, Cody?
Cody: Just to be happy, honestly. Like you said, we've gone through a ton and we've learned a lot over the last 15 years or whatever it's been. I hate even saying that, but we've learned a lot and we've recently realized that the most important thing is to be happy. The rest of it will come if it's supposed to, but being around the people that you love and you care about and that care about you in return, I think that's the most important thing.
Toddstar: I couldn't say it better myself. Every time I've ever talked to you, you've always said that it's to be happy. You're obviously doing something right, Cody.
Cody: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Toddstar: We appreciate you taking time out for us, and we can't wait to see you guys set the night on fire in Flint, MI on March 17 at the world famous Machine Shop.
Cody: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Toddstar: All right, Cody. We'll talk to you soon.
Cody: All right, man. Take care.