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Not A HINDER-ance: An Exclusive Interview With HINDER Drummer CODY HANSON

By Cynthia Fields-Jalil, Writer/Photographer
Friday, September 15, 2017 @ 10:36 AM

"I know I’m probably going to catch shit for this (laughing), but one guy that gets picked on a lot, and I feel like he’s never really gotten the credit that he deserved as a songwriter is Chad Kroeger from NICKELBACK."

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Band Photo Credit Doug Schwarz
Cody Hanson Photo Credit Jeremy Charles

Cody Hanson is one of the founding members in the Oklahoma based rock band HINDER. Cody is the drummer of the band, the songwriter, as well as the co-producer and co-owner of the band’s production company Back Lounge Productions with vocalist Marshal Dutton. Hanson, along with the band’s label The End Records, his bandmate & business partner Dutton, recently released their 6th record, The Reign. I had the opportunity of chatting with Cody regarding his latest release, in addition to a few of his personal endeavors, his life in music, and his thoughtful & wishful thinking.

KNAC.COM: First & Foremost, on behalf of KNAC.COM, all of the HINDER fans out there, and myself, thank you so very much for chatting with me today about your 6th record release on Friday, August 11, 2017, The Reign, it is sincerely appreciated!

How long have you being drumming? Are you self-taught or did you take lessons from a professional?

HANSON: I started playing drums when I was twelve. So, a very long time ago (laughing), and when I first started yeah, I taught myself! And then over time I would take a few lessons here & there but it wasn't ever a thing where I started taking lessons really young and stuck with it. Obviously, now I wish I would've but yeah, I kind of poked away at it and then once I got into high school I got involved in sports and kind of quit playing drums. Once we had our very first band practice it was the very first time that I’d picked up drum sticks in a very long time.

KNAC.COM: Did you aspire to play drums, or did you fall into playing them by chance?

HANSON: Hmmm, well, that was my first instrument that I really had an interest in so yeah it worked out pretty cool. Whenever I was a kid I remember my parents taking me to concerts to watch local bands or whatever it may be and for some reason I was always just fixated on the drummer. It’s still that way even today! I’ve learned how to play other instruments since then but drums are still totally fascinating to me.

KNAC.COM: Which pro drummer are you inspired by, and why?

HANSON: There's a lot of them honestly! There are guys out there that can do amazing things like Thomas Lang (Session Drummer). When I watch him I think to myself “Man somebody could lock me in a basement for 30 years, and make me do nothing but practice, and I could never be as good as that guy!” But there's also guys out there that are just rock guys that go out there and hit really hard and put on a good show and who are really fun to watch, guys like Greg Upchurch (3 DOORS DOWN, PUDDLE OF MUDD), he’s an amazing drummer to me. Daniel Adair (NICKELBACK & 3 DOORS DOWN) is amazing to me. There’s even young guys out there like Arejay Hale (HALESTROM), he’s incredible, he’s a lot of fun to watch. So yeah, I don't really have a favorite drummer, there are a ton of guys out there that are amazing.

KNAC.COM: What was the name of your first band, and in which way did that first band experience contribute to where you are today?

HANSON: Oh man (laughing)?! My first band, I guess you can call it a band, there was this little three-piece metal band, we thought we were anyway, we were really young. We called it ANDROMEDA, it was horrible!

KNAC.COM: (Laughing) That’s pretty cool! So, what was that like, did you guys actually go out there and get gigs or...?

HANSON: No, we never left the living room (laughing)! I don’t think anybody wanted to hear that music! We really were inspired at that time by KORN. We were young and thought it was real cool to act crazy, it was ridiculous to be honest! But we were inspired by KORN but we weren’t talented.

KNAC.COM: Okay (laughing)! You said you’ve learned how to play other instruments, what other instruments do you play?

HANSON: I play a little of the guitar and I'm trying really hard to learn how to play piano a little bit here and there. I’m still awful at it, but you know, I’m trying! I try to play enough of each so that I can keep up with my writing, and stuff.

KNAC.COM: Let’s talk about your up-coming release The Reign that’s scheduled to be released on Friday, August, 11th.

HANSON: Yeah, very exciting!

KNAC.COM: One of the first things that stood out to me was the fact that you actually co-produced the record with Marshal Dutton, HINDER’s lead vocalist. How did you two come together to create The Reign?

HANSON: Marshal and I have been working together for a long time. I actually meet Marshal when he was in a band called FRACTION and they came out and did some touring with us in the early days. And then I actually started managing that band for a little while. I set them up with some showcases and things and it ended up not panning out and so, through out that process Marshal had started learning Pro Tools and doing demos for FRACTION and he was getting really good at it and so I invited him out on the road with us while we were just finishing up the Take It To The Limit album cycle. And so he came out on the road, and we started doing demos for the third album All American Nightmare. As a result of that we just kinda kept writing together and producing together, started a production company together and called it Back Lounge Productions. We were doing everything in the back of a tour bus for months! So we ended up co-producing the third album together with Kevin Churko, and then we’ve co-produced all of the albums since.

KNAC.COM: I thought this was your first stab at really co-producing, I didn’t realize that you’d done the other ones! Wow, you are multi-talented.

HANSON: Yep, we try!

KNAC.COM: Did you both bring your own material to the table or did you or Marshal initially bring all of the material, and then collaborate on the finishing touches together?

HANSON: Most of the time we will just get into the room with some acoustic guitars or a piano or whatever and just kinda come together in the studio and kinda start with either a riff or a core progression or a melody or sometimes we just have a lyric idea or whatever it may be. It's just a bunch of different processes. We just kinda build from there, and then once we feel like we have the song together, then we start the production part.

KNAC.COM: So basically, the creative process is pretty much old school where you lock yourselves away in the studio, and go to work?

HANSON: Yeah, pretty much-for the most part on this one especially. Most of the songs were just Marshal and I. So we weren’t like full band set-up with like drums & guitars, we keep that stripped down and focused on the song itself. We always try to make sure that the song sounds great on acoustic guitar and then we go from there. Sometimes it happens differently. Sometimes Marshal will have an idea that he’s kind of hashed out a little bit, and then he will bring it to me and we will finish it or vice-versa. Sometimes I’ll have an idea that I’ll take to him and we’ll finish it together for the most part. And then, we have a few songs that we’ve collaborated with other writers on.

KNAC.COM: Who are some of the artists that may have influenced your writing style throughout The Reign?

HANSON: Hmmm, that’s a really great question, and a really hard question. I don't really know that I could name one because I don't really listen to music as much as I use to. We write and record so often in so many different styles that I don’t really have a lot of time to listen to a ton of outside stuff. So I feel like we’ve kind of just developed our own style of writing. We write so many different genres of music that you know we just kind of pull from ourselves, and each other.

KNAC.COM: I’ve heard from a lot of artists who have said when they are writing something new, what they do is they try to focus on their music by staying away from listening to other music. This way it doesn't have too much of an influence over them, and it's not something that they actually may have heard a couple weeks ago, or a couple of days ago. Basically, making sure to not influence or hinder their own writing process. Is that pretty much what y’all do?

HANSON: Yeah, that’s fairly accurate. There have been times when you say “Man, remember back in the day...remember that song from the 80’s, or whatever, where they did this cool little part, maybe we should do something that is kind of like that, or kind of give a little back to a certain band or certain era” There’s a song on the album called “Making It Hard” that is just kind of fun with the lyrics. It's obviously 80’s influenced, you know what I mean? We kind of pull from all of those bands that we loved from the 80’s on that track. We’re kind of just all over the place (laughing).

KNAC.COM: Who are your all-time favorite songwriters, and why?

HANSON: My favorite all-time songwriter is probably Jeffrey Steele. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him, he’s written a ton of country hits. His ability to tell a story is incredible lyrically, I don't know that I've ever worked with anybody better. THE WARREN BROTHERS, Brett & Brad Warren, I think are two incredible songwriters out of Nashville as well. And then, I’d say probably Buddy Holly.

KNAC.COM: I love Buddy Holly! You’re pretty much leaning towards the country artists. Is it because every other country song really does tell a story as they always have?

HANSON: Yeah! I just happen to name a couple of guys from Nashville, but there are a bunch of great writers out there that I look up to.

KNAC.COM: What about a rock ’n roll genre writer, anybody in particular?

HANSON: Hmmm, it’s funny, but you know one guy, and I know I’m probably going to catch shit for this (laughing), but one guy that gets picked on a lot, and I feel like he’s never really gotten the credit that he deserved as a songwriter is Chad Kroeger from NICKELBACK. He’s got an ability to write, to tell a story, and really pull from his own experiences and relate to his fans. And I actually think he is a really great song writer.

KNAC.COM: While previewing The Reign, I felt like there were several messages throughout the songs, and so I thought it would be kind of fun if you tell me what your inspiration was for each of the 11 tracks along a quick back story for writing these songs.

HANSON: "The Reign" is actually a last track that we did for the album. We don't typically do a lot of political material, but with that one we kinda were pulling from something that we were seeing that struck a chord with us. There are a lot of people being really hateful to each other, and that’s kinda hard to watch. And so it’s calling all of those people out that think they’re big and tough and who think it’s cool to bully the people that are down on their luck, to look down on people and to think they’re better than others. I think it’s time for people to stop being ugly to each other. Unfortunately, it’s just going to get worse with social media and everybody saying whatever they want to say with no consequence.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, that’s pretty scary! “Burn It Down”?

HANSON: I’m trying to figure out how to explain this. I guess it’s about a situation, and having a relationship, or having something that two people or a group of people have, and when you get angry you’d be willing just to throw it all away just to spite those people. And you’re willing to just wreck everything just to get your way, and to have your revenge.

KNAC.COM: “King Of The Let Down”?

HANSON: “King Of The Let Down” is more like a fun party song about just being yourself no matter what. Just being who you are even if you are kind of that loser guy, and being okay with that and being proud of it. That song and “Losers Salute” are both kind of in that same thing, and kind of about that same thing. It’s like it says, being proud of who you are no matter who that person is.

KNAC.COM: Very nice! “Remember Me”?

HANSON: We actually wrote that song, obviously it's the first single on the album, but we wrote it for another artist, but it’s kind of about being in the music industry and all the ups and downs. The highs are really high and the lows are really low. And that can be really hard on you, and sometimes you think some ugly thoughts, we’ve seen it a lot lately you know what I mean? It can get very dark, I will say that.

KNAC.COM: Did y’all write that in response to what recently happened with Chris Cornell (SOUNDGRADEN, AUDIOSLAVE, TEMPLE OF THE DOG)? I know it wasn’t anything about Chester Bennington (LINKIN PARK, STONE TEMPLE PILOT, DEAD BY SUNRISE) or anything like that, but was it about anything prior to that?

HANSON: No, no. It wasn’t about anybody else really in particular, it's just really about our own thoughts, our own feelings and experiences.

KNAC.COM: Wow, very deep! “Too Late”?

HANSON: “Too Late” is actually about ummm...it was written from the perspective of a friend of ours who was a musician in Oklahoma City who took his own life a few years back. Yeah, it was kind of a tough moment for a lot of people in our circle. He had reached out to Marshal several times. They were a little closer than he AND I were. And so, we wrote a song from his perspective.

KNAC.COM: I’m so sorry for your loss, that has to be really tough. “Another Way Out”?

HANSON: Well, “Another Way Out” is actually kind of the flip side of all of that. It’s just kind of letting people know that there is another way out whenever you start to..start to feel...have those dark suicidal thoughts. There are people that care and that are willing to help. So we kind of wrote that song with one our fans in mind that we know that struggles with anxiety and depression.

KNAC.COM: Is that fan aware of that?

HANSON: Hmmm, I’m not sure to be honest, she hasn’t heard it yet!

KNAC.COM: That fact in itself could probably help to lift people up sometimes.

HANSON: Yeah, we’re hoping so. I’m definitely going to make sure!

KNAC.COM: “Making It Hard”?

HANSON: (Burst out laughing) That song is kinda like it, it is what it is! We were just writing and it's just a couple of days being silly, writing a fun song, a fun 80’s inspired song with lyrics that were over the top and kinda of crazy. I mean it's got a double meaning, it's only dirty if you have a dirty mind (laughing)!

KNAC.COM: “Drink You Away”?

HANSON: That song is your typical relationship song. I think that lyrically it’s probably one of my favorite songs on the album, just because it’s written in a simple way that tells a story it’s easy to understand. It's about a typical relationship song where you can’t seem to get over the other person no matter what and there are always those constant reminders there no matter what.

KNAC.COM: Okay, “Play To Win”?

HANSON: Ummm, let me think of how to explain this one. “Play To Win” is kind of a big middle finger to someone that we had a relationship with in the past and no longer do. The funny thing is what the people’s (laughing) first thought is going to be. They are going to think they know mostly what the song is about, and who it’s about, but it's not so..it’s just one of those “middle finger” songs to somebody who’s done wrong to you.

KNAC.COM: Alrighty! “Long Gone”?

HANSON: That’s one of the ones we wrote out in LA with a couple of guys. It’s just one of those relationship songs where you try to paint a picture and write a song that’s relatable to everyone out there. I’m sure that everybody's been through that situation. It’s kind of just your standard “break up” song, I guess.

KNAC.COM: How soon do y’all plan on hitting the road in support of The Reign?

HANSON: We’re hoping in mid-October. That’s what I am hoping for.

KNAC.COM: Do you know how many cities y’all are going to hit?

HANSON: We don’t yet, we’re still trying to put together the package.

KNAC.COM: Do you have any idea, or any hint if you're coming to Texas namely Houston, Texas?

HANSON: Houston’s one of our favorite markets to come through, and so I would imagine that we’ll definitely be making a stop there.

KNAC.COM: So how does Cody Hanson relax, and where is your favorite all time place to relax?

HANSON: I don’t know that I do relax, that’s what my wife tells me (laughing)! I think probably Costa Rica, it’s one of my favorite places in the world.

KNAC.COM: Why Costa Rica?

HANSON: They have a different way of doing things there. It’s like their attitude towards the world, and then obviously the beautiful beaches and people are very friendly, it’s just really cool! Yeah, its pretty inspiring actually!

KNAC.COM: By the way, I hear you are an animal lover, and that you are particularly interested in rescue animals. How involved are you, and do you personally own a rescued animal?

HANSON: Yeah, I own two rescued animals actually, and my wife and I started a foundation, just last year was our first year for New Year’s. We hold a big event and all the proceeds will go to...we’re getting ready to take a different rescue every year and donate all of the money to help them out with bills, and whatever they need.

KNAC.COM: So what are the rescued animals that you have?

HANSON: I have a cat named Smitty Kitty (laughing), and then I have a Chihuahua. She is the most chilled Chihuahua ever! She doesn't really look much like a Chihuahua, or at least that is what everybody tells me. She is the most adorable thing on the planet to me.

KNAC.COM: What is her name?

HANSON: Gracie! And then I also have a big Mastiff Lab mix named Bernice! We had another dog that we recently lost. He was almost 15 and so we had a whole zoo here for a while (laughing)! I wasn’t prepared, I’ll say that, he was like our kid, ya know?

KNAC.COM: Do you care to name the charity, or the foundation that you started, and do you have a Facebook page/social media page for it?

HANSON: Yeah, we call it Pawsitively Purrfect!

KNAC.COM: So, with the recent demands and changes for all music artists to stay relevant in the industry, and to maintain the support of their fans-who are now wanting more interaction with their favorite artist, what is the best social media platform for you?

HANSON: Hmmm, that’s a really good question! I’d say either Facebook or Instagram are the easiest for me to get around. It’s interesting, I find that people tend to be more positive on Instagram and even Twitter for some reason, I’m not sure why that is.

KNAC.COM: So, if a fan reaches out to you are you likely to respond to them directly, and do you ever have real interaction with them?

HANSON: All the time, yeah! If fans reach out as far as like direct messaging or something like we try to always respond if possible. Unless it just gets lost or something like that we typically respond. You know we normally do it out in the “open public” like on Facebook or something like that. But yeah, if somebody hits us up in public, we usually respond immediately.

KNAC.COM: Is there anything in particular that you would like to make mention of?

HANSON: I don’t think so. We have obviously the album’s coming out tomorrow, but we also have a new video for “Remember Me” coming out in a few weeks, and so definitely keep an eye out for that! It’s an awesome video, probably the best video that we’ve ever put out.

KNAC.COM: Did you both produce that video as well or did you have somebody else do that?

HANSON: No, we hired a team of people here in Oklahoma City, and they did it, it was pretty cool! Marshal and I got to be our own stunt people for a fight scene, and I got to accidentally punch Marshal in the face a couple times (laughing). It’s neat, it's a cool video!

KNAC.COM: Do you have any personal message that you would like to address to all of the HINDER fans out there?

HANSON: Just thank you to everyone for sticking with us through all these years! Making it to our sixth full length album is a pretty big accomplishment, and so “Thanks for always being there, and thanks for the support!”

KNAC.COM: Thanks again for the awesome opportunity to chat with you a bit, its been fun! Totally ROCK your day!

HANSON: Well thank you so much, I appreciate it!

Pick up your copy of The Reign right HERE

Social Media:

Facebook: facebook.com/Hinder
Twitter: @Hindermusic
Band Website: hindermusic.com

Cynthia owns and operates Jalil Photos Rock in Houston, Texas and specializes in rock music photography.

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