After selling millions of albums with Extreme Behavior and Take It To The Limit, touring the world for five years and living large, the rowdy Oklahoma boys in Hinder faced the reality of a subdued life at home. They had a new album to finish and also needed to adjust to a civilian existence after an endless party. It was more of a startling transition than they expected, but it also gave them some time to contemplate their lives and what the future may hold. The result of all that soul searching comes in the form of their latest hard rock gem, All American Nightmare.
The most striking reflection of their situation is the song “What Ya Gonna Do,” which asks the question without providing a clear-cut answer. “It’s not about an answer, it’s about how everybody interprets it,” explains singer Austin Winkler. “That song is really personal and hits home with me because we are out on the road [a lot], and partying eventually does get old. You grow up and have to deal with reality. Whenever you step on a tour bus it’s a fantasy world. That song came from touring nonstop for five years and then taking eight months off and adjusting to life in general. This isn’t going to last forever, and how are we going to adjust all of the damage that we’ve put our bodies through? I ran my liver into the ground.”
The Hinder gang — Winker, Hanson, bassist Mike Rodden and guitarists Joe Garvey and Mike King — is facing a time of transition. Now in their late twenties, they are on the cusp of growing up, so to speak, and wondering how that growth spurt will change them. But they haven’t gotten all serious and somber. All American Nightmare is still ripe with the bluesy, gritty hard rock that they have made their name on — in fact, it features some of their heaviest music yet — from the snarling title track and the incensed “Striptease” to the melodic ballad “Everybody’s Wrong” and the flippant closing number “Bad Mother Fucker,” a drunken song that sends up male machismo with a satirical razor’s edge that will undoubtedly offend many people.
Hinder certainly haven’t lost their bad boy edge, even as they are growing older and wiser. Many of the songs on All American Nightmare walk the line between party hearty antics and second thoughts about where their wild ride is taking them. The title track even warns, “Be careful what you wish for when you dream”. The metallic “Waking Up The Devil,” which Winkler says is the heaviest song the band has ever recorded, talks about the things that bring out their wild side. And “Two Sides Of Me” discusses the duality inherent in everyone.
“We’re all really nice guys — at least we consider ourselves to be real nice, polite people — but at the same time at night, when shots go down and we start drinking, we also have that side,” adds Hanson. “We’re those guys that are all or nothing. We either don’t do it or just go full steam ahead, at least that’s how I like to live my life. Either put 110% into something or nothing at all.”
Hanson and his bandmates certainly put an excess of blood, sweat and tears into All American Nightmare. After they had a few songs hammered out during the Take It To The Limit tour, the drummer flew out a personal friend to set up a studio in the back of their tour bus where they started doing demos and preproduction for the new album, which was finished in July 2010. The quintet ultimately wrote over 70 songs, recorded approximately 50 of them, then picked eleven for the album and two for bonus tracks.
Creating the album was a prodigious effort, one that was anchored by Hanson, who actually spent a substantial amount of time in the studio on their previous two efforts absorbing all aspects of audio production. He then built a studio in his Oklahoma City home, with Rodden, Garvey and King, in on the venture. The entire new album was recorded there, except for Winkler’s vocals, which were recorded at Kevin Churko’s studio in Las Vegas.
Hanson says co-producing this album was rewarding because he came up production ideas right away that stayed throughout the recording process. ” Whether I get listed as a co-producer on the record or not doesn’t really matter, but the fact is these were my ideas that came up early on,” the drummer declares. “I enjoyed it, and it was a lot of work. A lot of times when people were partying and having fun on the road, I was in the back lounge working on music. I was also down in the studio probably from two o’clock in the afternoon to six in the morning most days during the entire recording process. It was a lot of work, but it goes back to that all or nothing attitude. I enjoy working hard. This band has always been my life. It’s the most important thing to me, so I really enjoy it.”