There's a cliched concept in music that an artist's first album is the easiest one to make because it's the album they've been waiting their whole life to make.
So is the experience a similar one for an established, platinum-selling band when there's a 14-year gap between albums?
Yes and no, according to Rob Hyman, lead singer of The Hooters.
“It feels like a second debut, as well as a complete continuation,” Hyman says of The Hooters' latest work, Time Stand Still, the band's first original album since 1993's Out of Body. The gap included a hiatus from 1995 to 2001.
“We started in 80-81 hitting it hard and then in 95 [we split], so that's 15 years,” Hyman says. “That's something you wish for and certainly we all wanted to do it, but it was the same routine. Write a record, do a tour, write another record, do another tour and just try to have a life in between. At some point we were somewhat fatigued, especially on the road. One day you wake up and you're not getting any younger and you're thinking about other things in life, like family and kids.”
Over their time apart, Hyman and his Hooters cohorts — John Lilley, Eric Bazilian, David Ousikkinen and Fran Smith, Jr. — collected riffs and worked on a number of tunes individually or while playing with other musical collaborations. When the group began work on the new album, the effort was eased by the material they accumulated in each other's absence.
The continuation Hyman mentions refers to the band's straight-ahead rock sound that endured even after the group's temporary split.
“It was pretty natural for us to get together again and become The Hooters,” Hyman says. “We can be years apart, and then the five of us get together, pick up our instruments, and we are The Hooters, a band that knows each other as well as anybody can.”
On Time Stand Still, The Hooters successfully rekindled the sound that pushed them to the top of the charts in the mid-1980s with their debut hit, Nervous Night. That album sold over two million copies, prompting Rolling Stone to name the group “Best New Band of the Year.” Now, a little older, a little wiser and after taking time off to “have a life,” The Hooters are trying to reinvigorate some of the support that has allowed them to endure as a bit of a cult band since reconvening in 2001.
While the signature “Hooter” sound remains familiar after all these years, there have been quite a few changes since the band took its leave, particularly concerning the music business. As The Hooters try to reengage their fans, they've turned to modern technology like MySpace and YouTube.
“We had the big record company budgets and parties and we saw the excess, and up and downs of that whole thing,” Hyman says. “Now it just seems like a new day and we are learning as we go. We're trying to be savvy as we go.”
Those efforts include a completely Internet-made music video for “I'm Alive,” the lead single off of Time Stand Still. The video, created by a production team based in Germany, features a variety of spliced-together YouTube clips of fans performing The Hooters' song. The end result is at the same time amusing and impressive.
The one thing technology can't improve, Hyman maintains, is a live show. Fans in the D.C. area, will have the opportunity to check The Hooters out in person when they perform at the Birchmere in Alexandria on March 29.
While the band is excited to promote their new album, Hyman is unsure exactly what the big picture looks like from here on out.
“I think it will take on its own life, it always seems to anyway,” Hyman says. “Right now it's a deliberate pace as people are involved in other projects. I think it's like, let's commit to it for a year or two and see where it leads.”
• For more information on The Hooters, including a look at the “I'm Alive” video, visit www.thehooters.net.