Hinder: Fighting For Their Right To Party

Hinder drummer Cody Hanson and his bandmates just bought 120 bottles of Jägermeister. The Oklahoma City rock quintet recently installed a Jägermeister machine on its tour bus. "It's just a machine with three bottles that go in upside down," Hanson says. "It keeps them at the perfect temperature, right above freezing.")

It should come in handy for Hinder's upcoming headlining club tour, which is sponsored by the liquor company. On the road, the band guzzles about five bottles of Jäger per night, the drummer estimates. "We're partying and sharing a couple of them," he says, "but for the most part we're basically killing ourselves. It's a good time, so it's worth it."

The party hasn't stopped since the release of Hinder's 2005 debut album, "Extreme Behavior," which has sold 2.7 million units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. And after more than two years of touring behind the album, which featured crossover radio hit "Lips of an Angel," Hinder will attempt to keep the momentum going with "Take It to the Limit," due Nov. 4 on Universal Republic.

For "Take It to the Limit," the group—Hanson, Winkler, guitarist Joe "Blower" Garvey, bassist Mike Rodden and guitarist Mark King—is connecting with its core rock fan base by selecting in-your-face track "Use Me" as its first radio single. The second single "Without You," an acoustic-tinged ballad, recently went to all formats.

Hinder's male fans should be pleased with the "Take It to the Limit" cover art: a photo of the quintet posing in front of a multimillion-dollar mansion and a bevy of Playboy Playmates. The album will be available in two versions: PG- and X-rated. Both feature the same cover, but the X-rated album, tagged with a warning sticker, contains photos inside of nude Playmates.

"It's a little twist to remind people that this is a rock band and they like to have fun," manager Kevin "Chief" Zaruk says. "It's shot very tastefully."

Hinder has been releasing monthly webisodes about life on the road and the making of "Take It to the Limit" to various rock sites, including ultimate-guitar.com, artistdirect.com, tunelabmusic.com, cagerattle.com, dailymotion.com and the about.com rock page. The group then launched the 35-plus-date Jägermeister Music tour Oct. 24 with support from hard rock groups Rev Theory and Trapt.

Hinder returned to the studio with producer Brian Howes (who produced its debut album) for "Take It to the Limit." Most of the new album was written on the road, in addition to writing sessions in Florida and Canada. Primary songwriters Winkler and Hanson agree that "Take It to the Limit" is "a little more old-school-sounding" than "Extreme Behavior."

"You can see our influences come out," Hanson says, citing acts like Guns N' Roses, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi. "We do some things that haven't been done in a while, as far as the big gang vocals and hooks that you used to hear back in the day from our favorite rock bands."

Hinder's tender side comes out on "Far From Home," which reveals the hardships of maintaining a long-distance relationship while on the road, while "Up All Night" glorifies a "typical night on the town on the Hinder train," according to Winkler. (The latter song starts with the lyrics, "Saw a waitress, couldn't waste it/Opportunity knocks and you take it.")

And while it's been three years since its last album, through extensive touring alongside such acts as Nickelback, 3 Doors Down, Aerosmith, Staind and Godsmack, the group has managed to remain in the public eye.

In 2007, Hinder grossed $4.4 million and drew more than 171,000 fans to 54 headlining concerts, according to Billboard Boxscore. A significant amount of those earnings came from last summer's Bad Boys of Rock amphitheater tour, which also featured support acts Buckcherry and Papa Roach.

Hinder's first road success began in markets around the band's home. In the months following the release of "Extreme Behavior," the act primarily performed in Midwest and Southern markets whose radio stations were playing "Get Stoned," according to Fermaglich. The band received a branding boost from adult film company Girls Gone Wild during a four-week winter club tour in 2006, with video crews filming the group and its college-leaning audiences.

Zaruk says the Girls Gone Wild trek was a blatant attempt to inform radio stations and press outlets that Hinder was a rock act. "We didn't want to sugarcoat it or hide the fact that they were an old-school rock band that has great songs and want to have fun," he says. "If there was any question about what kind of band these guys are, we let them know right away."

Living the rock star lifestyle has played to Hinder's advantage in more ways than one. On some tours, the group played concerts in the same market several times. So what keeps fans in those cities coming back during such a short period of time?

"We take our shows and treat them like a party," Hanson says. "Everybody had that buddy in high school who always threw a party every weekend. And you had fun every time you went, so you just kept on going. That's kind of how our shows are."

Winkler says that partying on the road never gets old, but there are rare moments of regret. "We definitely draw the line when we go on YouTube and a see a show that's just absolutely dreadful," he says. "We know we partied too hard the night before. It happens every once in a while."

Hinder made its biggest connection with fans after the release of "Lips of an Angel," its highest-charting and best-selling song to date. Everyone in the Hinder camp agrees that the track's debut on top 40 radio was the turning point for the band, and replicating its success this time around may be difficult. The decision to follow "Get Stoned" with "Lips of an Angel" came during the Girls Gone Wild trek when Hanson received a phone call from Universal Republic senior VP of A&R Tom Mackay. It was a conversation that would soon change the course of Hinder's career.

"Do me a favor," Mackay told Hanson. "Spend the next week looking out in the crowd and talking to fans about what else they like on the album, so we can get some feedback about what the next single should be."

Five shows later, Mackay got his answer. "Everybody and their mother are shitting their pants about 'Lips of an Angel,' " Hanson told him. "It's biker dudes in leather and 18-year-old girls. They're all going nuts for it."

"Lips of an Angel" debuted on Billboard's various rock radio airplay charts in April 2006, and after experiencing success in that format it crossed over to top 40 outlets. The track bowed on the Mainstream Top 40 chart Aug. 26, 2006, spending three weeks at No. 1. It peaked at No. 3 in October 2006 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Between October and December 2006, with a major boost from "Lips of an Angel," "Extreme Behavior" was selling an average of 81,000 copies per week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The song went on to sell 2 million ringtones, according to Nielsen RingScan, and has sold 2.3 million digital downloads.

Hinder's success at radio comes as no surprise to KTBZ Houston PD Don Jantzen, whose rock station was an early adopter of "Lips of an Angel." "Everybody gets it," he says. "I could play 'Lips of an Angel' for my mom, who is 66, and she would say, ‘That's great!' It's a really broad brush that they paint with."

For the new album's first single, "Use Me," KTBZ has been playing it about 35 times per week, according to Jantzen, who says listeners are reacting positively to the track.

Establishing good relationships with radio programmers has played a large role in Hinder's rise on the charts. During its early visits to stations for on-air interviews and acoustic performances, the band would bring along Hinder-branded tequila bottles. A few shots later, the group was making influential new friends.

"Whether it was seven at night or seven in the morning, they walked in with a case of beer, a bunch of shot glasses and a tequila bottle and said, 'OK, let's have a good interview,' " Zaruk says. "Radio stations were calling Universal after every interview, saying, ‘I haven't done an interview like that in 10 years.' "

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