Way back in the early '80s an article appeared in one of those British rock tabloids that warned aspiring musicians against giving their band a name that ended with “-er.” The writer listed dozens of recent failed bands like Expozer, Dawn Trader, Dragster, and Avenger as well as numerous examples from the '60s and '70s that were doomed to obscurity just for having an “-er” in the group’s name. I can’t remember if the writer mentioned Foreigner or Alice Cooper, but if he did I’m sure they were dismissed in typical off-handed Brit rock crit manner. Of course, this was also before bands like Slayer and Dream Theater made their mark.

Plenty of –er bands like Trixter, Winger, and Slaughter have come and gone since then, and groups like Seether and Oleander keep the –er band tradition alive today. But hard rock hitmakers Hinder not only dare to defy the unproven “-er” theory, they also ignore the first rule of marketing, which is to not name your product anything that may have overtly negative connotations. With a name that  means obstruction, to cause difficulty, or to prevent from doing, Hinder seemed doomed to failure from the beginning, but somehow they managed to release an album that peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard charts.

Although Hinder hails from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which has produced musical treasures like blues singer/songwriter J.J. Cale, jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, and neo-psychedelic experimentalists the Flaming Lips, the band seems to have more in common with Hollywood hair rockers and grunge lite bands from Florida and Canada. With song titles like “Get Stoned,” “Homecoming Queen,” and “Lips of an Angel” and lyrics like “Let’s go home and get stoned/We could end up makin’ love instead of misery” and “I can hardly see/What's in front of me/’Cause the vodka's running on empty,” Hinder deliver all the hard-partyin’, Aquanet-and-alcohol swagger of the Bulletboys.

You remember the Bulletboys, don’t you, and their songs like “Smooth Up In Ya,” “Hard as a Rock,” and “Kissin’ Kitty”? The band may not have earned any Pulitzer Prizes for the insight of their lyrics, but they touched on subjects like hot chicks, mean chicks, good times, and bad vibes in a way that just screamed Sunset Strip with all the sweet finesse of a Gazzarri's wet T-shirt contest. Lanky, black-locked Hinder lead singer Austin Winkler may resemble Crispin Glover more than David Lee Roth--who apparently was the role model for Bulletboys vocalist Marq (with a Q) Torien--but he has the same sleazy stage moves that come in handy when you’re trying to pick up groupies on the dancefloor of Hollywood hangout The Rainbow. Guitarist Joe “Blower” Garvey even comes from the same gut bucket school of Les Paul thrash and trash as BB guitarist Mick Sweda and those other glam metal Micks—Mars and Cripps. And let’s not forget the lingerie clad babe—with her face conveniently cropped—on the cover of Hinder’s debut album, Extreme Behavior, which could easily have been transplanted from 1988.

But even though Hinder have looks, locks, and a logo lifted straight from an 80s video, their sound has more in common with post-grunge bands like Candlebox, Nickelback, Creed, and Staind, which makes their two-syllable name all the more confusing. Whereas grunge was like a double espresso, Hinder’s post-grunge grind is the aural equivalent of a Starbucks frappucino—it goes down smooth, gets you amped for a few minutes, and ultimately is more sugary than bitter.

Like Candlebox, Hinder is a band that has close ties to the recent past, yet is strangely detached from any definable scene. Candlebox’s debut album enjoyed similar success on the FM airwaves and Billboard album charts, peaking at No. 7, but ultimately they were a band without supporting peers—too late to be contemporaries of earlier grunge bands from Seattle and not alternative enough to be comfortably paired with bands like Smashing Pumpkins or the Afghan Whigs. Hinder face a similar conundrum. Currently they’re on tour with Buck Cherry and Papa Roach, which is a compatible grouping of like-minded artists, but where do they go from there? They’re not metal enough to tour with bands like Avenged Sevenfold or Atreyu, and they don’t have the alternative crossover appeal of bands like My Chemical Romance or Finger Eleven.

Hinder have completed their second album, but it’s too early to tell if they’re going to suffer the sophomore slump that slayed countless other -er bands or if they have potential to grow and retain some staying power. Somewhere in the fact that Hinder have just recorded the ten-thousandth cover of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” may lie the answer.