Cody Hanson of Hinder; New Music, PledgeMusic and Everything In-Between

When you think of Hinder you’re probably brought back to an afternoon in high school, sitting in front of the t.v. watching Total Request Live (TRL) on MTV and feeling emotions you’d yet to experience in real life when “Lips of an Angel” came on – or maybe that was just me. Regardless, there is a certain nostalgia that the band possesses for old and new fans alike with the evoking lyrics of their catchy and never-forgotten classics. Hailing from Oklahoma City they came into the public eye in the early 2000’s and since then have consistently released new music, relatable to a new audience each time.

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I was lucky enough to speak with Cody Hanson, the drummer who has served as the heartbeat of the band from the beginning. A lot has changed since the release of Hinder’s first album, Extreme Behavior, including the gain of a new lead vocalist, Marshall Dutton. In a Facebook post back in January, the band announced that Dutton who had been writing and producing for the band since 2009 was in fact going to serve as their new lead singer. While most human beings run screaming from the idea of change, Hanson revealed this seemed like the most natural transition for the band.

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“It felt so normal, if not easier, to transition into working with Marshall as a part of the band,” Hanson revealed. “Marshall’s voice had always been the one on every demo anyway. He’d served as our main songwriter for such a long time that we were used to hearing him on the tracks before we even started working on them for an album. It’s a nice change of pace to skip the middle man and it makes the writing and recording process a lot more efficient.”

In the midst of this major transition, the band also left their longtime stay with Universal and inked a contract with The End Records. They’re set to release their first album through The End, featuring Dutton as the lead vocalist, on May 12th of this year. The album is entitled When the Smoke Clearsperhaps symbolizing the calm after the storm of changes the band has endured throughout the past few years.

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“There really was no inspiration behind the album as a whole,” said Hanson. “It was more about sitting down with some acoustic guitars and working on something that emotionally inspired us in that instance. I guess you could say the motivation was all over the place, it came from different people at different times and it all merged together to form a pretty awesome collection of songs.

The process of recording wasn’t much different than our other albums, especially because we weren’t faced with that pressure from a label breathing down out necks. It was cool to be able to think for ourselves and execute our own creative vision.”

“We really don’t have a schedule in mind when it comes to releasing new music,” Hanson concluded when I asked about their consistent album releases (usually every two years). “We like to take as much time as we can when it comes to touring for an album so that’s always a big follow up to a release that takes a lot of our time. With Marshall on board though, it’s going to be a lot easier for us to crank out songs and continue to release things a lot quicker!”

It’s always difficult to ask a singer, especially a songwriter, their favorite song off of a new album. It’s like they’re trying to choose between their children. It’s a lot easier however, to get an honest opinion from the drummer who wholeheartedly experiences the driving beat of every track in the band’s catalog.

“I actually have two,” Hanson laughed when I told him I knew there had to be one that he got most excited to perform, “‘Wasted Life’ is one that is just super fun to play, it has a really catchy hook that I like a lot, and my other would have to be ‘I Need Another Drink.’ It’s just a cool rock standard with an attitude that makes it fun to get into.”

“Again, it was fun to work on these types of songs without an umbrella of what they should be,” he said when touching on the transition from Universal to The End Records once again, “Universal was great and fine and dandy, but they were becoming more focused on the Pop acts of their label. We kind of wish the change could’ve come sooner, but the switch to The End couldn’t have come at a better time.”

If you follow my blog or column at all, you know I’ve done a lot of work with PledgeMusic artists in the past, so I was super excited to hear that Hinder was getting on board with their artist campaigns and using Pledge as a way to bridge the gap between themselves and their fans. PledgeMusic came about as a concept for Founder and President, Benji Rogers on an air mattress at his mom’s house around 3 a.m. one day. It revolved around the idea of connecting artists and fans from the moment the artist stepped into the studio to the project release and beyond.

“We’ve always been a very social band, so when our management talked about getting involved with Pledge it seemed like the perfect step for us to take. We wanted to bridge the gap and turn fans into friends and Pledge allows us to do that by connecting us with our audience in such a different way. It’s such a creative way for us to get to know the people that constantly support us.”

“I think it’s an asset for both us and our fans,” Hanson said when I asked who he thought benefited more from the amazing experiences PledgeMusic is allowing them to foster. “We get to bond with people who have a
lways been there for us and fans are the most important people in our book.”

Hinder allows their fans to go about supporting their new album release with so many different options on their Pledge page. From personalized voicemail’s from the band, to Instagram video shout-outs, there are a thousand ways for the band to connect with their audience and with any purchase, the listener will be given a download of When the Smoke Clears. I wanted to know the one item in the band’s “store” that they are most excited about selling to a few lucky fans.

“Again, I have two,” he laughed, “a lot of us in the band love to golf, but we’re pretty terrible at at it. It would be fun to get our asses kicked and connect with some of our fans that way,” he joked. “Another would have to be the private concert. I know if I was a kid who could save up the money for something like that, it would be the coolest thing ever.”

The coolest thing ever for me, was being able to talk to such a passionate member of a band that strives to do everything in their power to connect with their audience. From interviews with college journalists to offering handwritten lyric sheets for donations on PledgeMusic, Hinder is all about eliminating the gap between themselves and their fans, making them a breathe of fresh air for the music industry as we know it.

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