Welcome to your ‘Nightmare’ 

Hinder with Saving Abel, My Darkest Days and Default
7:30 p.m. Saturday
Diamond Ballroom
8001 S. Eastern

Oklahoma City’s Hinder hit the sophomore slump like a speed bump at 60 mph, and the thump to the guys’ noggins hurt.

The shot to their pride was even worse. After selling 3.5 million of their 2005 debut, “Extreme Behavior,” their 2008 follow-up, “Take It to the Limit,” sold less than a million. That endless horizon suddenly narrowed significantly, and the stakes for Hinder’s third disc got much higher.

Time will tell if last week’s release of “All American Nightmare” staves off a darker fate, but the band certainly has taken its best shot. The guys spent more than 20 months working on it, demoing 50 songs before paring it down to the 10 that fill the album. It’s a diverse effort that rocks pretty hard when it sets its mind to it, while spending nearly as much time in pop-ballad mode.

“We’ve never worked harder on an album or been hungrier than we are right now,” said lead singer Austin Winkler. “We had a strategy: ‘Let’s see how many songs we can actually write, instead of just writing what the label asks for.’ I think everybody is going to be pleasantly surprised at all the unique songs we have on this record.”

It does run the gamut, from Guns N’ Roses-style metal and whiskey-drinking Southern rock song to an anthemic, Third Eye Blind-meets-Skid Row dis of hip-hop. For Winkler, part of the problem was their unexpected, out-of-thegate success. They thought every release would be like that, and went back into the studio after nearly two years of touring to give everyone more of the same with their second record.

“That’s kind of what we fell into.

The first record, we kind of hinted at a little ’80s vibe, and then the second album, we kind of swung for the fences with it,” he said. “Judging from the sales, we missed. I love the record. I think there’s some great songs on there. I just think we kind of overdid it a little bit.”

Besides spending a lot more time in preproduction for “Nightmare,” Hinder also replaced producer Brian Howes, who produced the first two albums, with Kevin Churko (Slash, Ozzy Osbourne, Shania Twain).

“He was kind of a heavier rock guy, and we knew it was time to switch it up,” Winkler said. “We needed to broaden our horizons.”

Undoubtedly, one of the disc’s buzz tracks will be “The Life,” a pretty power ballad that reiterates the difficulty of the road, chasing the high life and a dream. “I sold everything I have for something I can’t seem to find,” Winkler sings. “These four walls feel more like a prison, instead of paradise I couldn’t wait to live in, so I drink myself to sleep.”

For Winkler, who married model/ actress Jami Miller two years ago after meeting her on a video shoot, it’s particularly difficult. It helps that the band travels in two buses, allowing for one to house more excessive exploits. Indeed, lead guitarist Joe Garvey is nicknamed “Blower” for being a recipient in front of the entire band.

“The only thing that’s maturing in this camp is the music. The other stuff is just getting worse,” Winkler said. “When it came time for a bachelor party, I didn’t even want one. It was ridiculous, but it was like, ‘You know what? I want to chill.’ Everything that you read about Hinder being a hard-partying band is true. It’s no joke.”

So don’t expect any autobiographies while the guys’ parents are still alive.

“If we wanted to end some people’s lives,” he said, “we could open that up.”

Meanwhile, Hinder focuses on the future beyond Saturday’s hometown show at Diamond Ballroom. Hard work got the group here, and it hopes the work invested in “Nightmare” will pay off. Winkler compared it to when he, Garvey and drummer Cody Hanson met in 2001.

“It was just kind of the drive we had whenever we first got together and started playing our first song, ‘Broken.’ We got that song and got together and played it like 25 times. We thought it was the greatest thing in the world,” Winkler said. “And in all actuality, it probably wasn’t close to that, but it was a kind of hunger and drive we’ve had from the beginning.”

If he could speak to his younger self, Winkler would tell him every drop of sweat is worth it.

“I’d say, ‘Listen, dude, you’re going to achieve your wildest dreams and it’s not going to be anything like you imagined it to be in your head. It’s going to be 10,000 times more and 10,000 times crazier than what you could even possibly dream up.”

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