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Hanson’s back. The musical brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac are celebrating both their 21st year (!) as a band and their sixth studio album, called “Anthem,” which is full of their signature catchy hooks backed by a bigger, more aggressive sound. Hanson’s Anthem Tour will make a stop at The Pabst Theater this Saturday night, Oct. 11.
As in the past, the band will be doing a one-mile barefoot walk starting outside the venue at 3 p.m. to support the fight against poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa. The band is donating $1 per person for everyone who does the walk, and fans have the opportunity to donate more if they would like. In addition to touring to support the new album and their activist work, the brothers are also brewing their own beer, called Mmmhops. We caught up with youngest brother Zac to talk about all of these things and more.
OnMilwaukee.com: Your recent documentary, Re Made in America, the Making of Anthem chronicles the creation of your new album, Anthem, but it also captures what happened after you guys had a surprising decision to face after finding yourselves burnt out after a grueling tour schedule, which was: after 20 years as a band, do we call it quits or recommit to the band? Was there any one person or event that started talks about the issue during your time apart to regroup?
Zac Hanson: In the end we sort of set a timeline, saying, “Let’s not talk or make music for this amount of time and we’ll see how we feel after that.” And what happened really was that the desire to make music continued and we were writing songs while we weren’t working together, and we came up with ideas for the future so that when we finally came together we were just ready to get back on the road.
Pop-rock trio Hanson never left the music scene entirely, while it might have felt that way for casual listeners whose love for the band went only as far as singing along with their ’90s breakthrough hit “MMMBop.” In fact, Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson remain a worldwide favorite who continue to sell albums and sell out concerts.
Taylor Hanson recently spoke to the Sun-Times about the band’s staying power, the power of social media and the new crop of boy bands.
Question: So I wake up today and Hanson is in the headlines again thanks to a viral video in which Zac was spit on after a recent show. What happened?
Taylor Hanson: We were actually walking in from the venue onto the bus and this man decided to walk into the middle of the lounge of the bus. If anyone has ever interacted with someone who is homeless or slightly unbalanced, you know that communicating verbally with them doesn’t always do the job. We respectfully asked him to leave, but he had no intention of leaving. Saying anything else is only going to inflame the situation more, but the one thing I will say is that this was not a fan. Just another day on this travelling circus, I suppose.
Isaac Hanson, one of the three Hanson brothers who gave the world the gift of “MMMBop” (plus several other strong songs over the years), has a special connection to Milwaukee.
“The crowds in Milwaukee are awesome,” he told the Journal Sentinel, ahead of the band’s Oct. 12 show at the Pabst Theater. “The shows are always raucous and fun and exciting. Its almost always the highlight of the tour.”
But the band shares another special bond to Brew City. Our fare city was namechecked in the Hanson original “Man from Milwaukee,” which appeared as a special bonus track on breakthrough 1997 album “Middle of Nowhere.”
So was there a man from Milwaukee who inspired the song?
Actually, Hanson said the inspiration actually came in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“Our van broke down on our way to Los Angeles to make ‘Middle of Nowhere,’” Hanson said. “(Then 11-year-old) Zac was sitting around and for some reason started talking about how Albuquerque and Milwaukee sounded similar. Over the course of a half-hour, Zac was on the curb humming some melody, and he came up with this idea about running into a guy on the side of the road and the question is is the man insane or really from another planet. It’s the kind of sarcastic sense of humor of a young songwriter circa 1996.”
The Hanson brothers are used to groupies. But apparently when Zac Hanson, the singer-drummer and most popular band member, refused to let one particularly unruly hipster aboard the trio’s tour bus at a recent stop in Seattle, the rude dude ended up spitting in the “MMMBop” rocker’s face.
“This (expletive) snuck on Hanson’s bus then spit on Zac’s face. #hanson,” wrote a female fan who witnessed the altercation and posted video to her Instagram page.
Mmm … ewww? The perp walked away and Zac appears to have since shrugged off the incident.
“Gonna be a good show tonight, I cleaned off all the spit and I am reeling ready to go!” the 27-year-old heartthrob tweeted.
If he wanted to, Zac could have easily filed a battery complaint against the guy — since such an act is a prosecutable offense. Just ask Justin Bieber, who was investigated for battery allegations after he spit on his neighbor.
So this nasty individual can thank his lucky stars Zac let it slide.
As it happens, the happily married musician made headlines a month ago after he was caught on video referring to one particularly overzealous fan as a “drunk b—-” after she lobbed sexually explicit come-ons at him during a solo piano rendition of the group’s Lulabelle at a concert in Richmond, Va.
Hanson’s trek meanwhile continues with a show in Vancouver Wednesday night.
To do anything for 20 years is an accomplishment. Think about it. To be a student, to run a business, to play a sport, to hold a job, to be married, to write a novel. Whatever that “it thing” might be, spending 20 years doing it is an eternity in our fast-moving, update, upgrade, society. 20 years doing it extremely well? Now that’s really saying something. Enter Hanson. Isaac, Taylor, Zac, three brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma who formed a band as teens and have still got it.
Hot on their Anthem World Tour, which comes to Portland on Saturday, OMN got the opportunity to chat with Isaac about their long musical ride.
Growing up with parents who supported their musical talent and a dad who’s job as an accountant for an oil drilling contractor required him to travel, the Hanson brothers were fortunate to see and explore a lot of the world.
“We really did not spend very much time in traditional schooling environments. When I was a young kid and we were traveling because of my dad’s job, we spent a little bit of time in Ecuador and a little bit of time in Venezuela and a little bit of time in Trinidad and Tobago. During that time, we went to kind of more traditional schools, We also did some co-ops where various families get together and spend three days a week in school and parents trade-off teaching different subjects. I had a very good time doing that, but ultimately as a kid I was more interested in music. As we got older, and got the opportunity to play shows and make records, schooling became something that we did exclusively at home. I would get through my lessons so that I could start writing songs or rehearsing!” Hanson explains.
Hanson has been at this for 20 years. That’s a lifetime in this current musical industry. And a testament to their music. Solid. Talented playing. Uplifting performing. Slowly building up a reputation and fan following that’s real, not superficial. They are proof that you can still make it if you’re not polarizing. That you can still be heard even if you haven’t been in a brawl or crashed your car. That you don’t need rehab, bankruptcy, revealing outfits or bizarre texts to stay relevant. That just because the industry changed doesn’t mean that you have to scrap what you stand for.
“The music business has changed an extraordinary amount. We kind of jokingly said this in the recent past and I actually think it is a very interesting comparison. I think the music business is kind of like the whaling industry. We are still trying to sell blubber for the lamps that need to burn it to operate. Everybody else is moving towards kerosene.”
Hanson were in Las Vegas on Saturday, September 21 to attend the iHeartRadio Music Festival, where Yahoo Music had the chance to chat with Isaac, Taylor, and Zac. And they had a lot to say about how they (perhaps unlike ex-teen star/iHeart performer Miley Cyrus) managed to make a smooth, embarrassment-free transition into adulthood.
“The truth is, we were always in it for the music. We always have been, even when Zac was 11 years old high on sugar,” said Taylor. “I think that’s a huge part of transitioning at all…People like Miley, she’s making a statement like, ‘I am now an adult because I’m doing things with my body.’ But you don’t want to see our butts, let’s be honest!”
“We have a no-twerking policy,” added Zac.
Watch the Hansons discuss Miley, the current boy-band resurgence (and how they were never really a “boy band”), and that one time they got to jam with Saturday iHeart performer Paul McCartney!
The brothers—Isaac, Taylor, and Zac—may be immortalized in our collective minds as the baby-faced boy band who loved harmonizing almost much as they loved long hair. They may be emblazoned forever in the our ’90s-nostalgia-loving hearts as cherubic 16-, 13-, and 11-year-olds, respectively. But now not only are the “MMMBop” singers all over the age of 21 (and married with children)—hi, you’re old—they have created and are selling their own beer.
It is called—get ready for it—Mmmhops.
On the best day of my life, a breezy Thursday in early September, Isaac, Taylor, and Zachary Hanson (now … seriously … 32, 30, and 27) traveled to The Daily Beast’s Manhattan offices to play beer pong, talk about Mmmhops, and just generally be dreamy.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the words “Hanson beer” sound a little hokey together. After all, when those words initially started rolling out in the press almost two years ago, back before the band of brothers had formulated much of a plan or even landed on the style they’d ultimately brew, it seemed more like an offhanded interview comment (or an upcoming marketing gimmick) than an actual business plan. It would be another year and a half before the beer, an American Pale Ale called Mmmhops, would make its debut at The Hangover Part III’s Los Angeles premiere party this past May. (The song from which the beer takes its name, Hanson’s 1997 pop smash, “MMMBop,” was featured on the soundtrack, and the makers of the song posed for photos with stars from the movie on the beer’s Twitter account. Yes, the beer has a Twitter account.) Not much has happened since.
I decided to investigate. I sent a few emails, then made a few phone calls, then, two Sundays ago, braved an intimidating “Red Rover” situation with a long and winding line of Hansonites that stretched from the front door of Variety Playhouse, all the way back down the alley between the venue and El Myr, snaking around the outskirts of the parking lot, then halfway back up to Euclid Ave. I was on a mission. I was going to drink Mmmhops with Hanson.
“This is an endeavor on its own. It’s not a promotional thing,” drummer Zac, 27, says as we crack open a few bottles backstage. “We’re not, like, making some up, having it on tour, then next year you won’t see it. It’s about taking the right steps, not moving too fast.”
The Hansons are a friendly bunch without coming off as too polished or cheesy. They act like goobers in a way that three still-relatively-young brothers who hang out every day might act like goobers. They have plenty of handlers, but none flutter around while we drink beer and chat.
Mmmhops pours a light amber color with medium head. It’s neither particularly fragrant or bitter, though there’s some bready sweetness on the nose. Tastewise, it’s a very balanced pale ale, much heavier on the malts than its name implies. (Play-on phrases aside, they probably should’ve bestowed the “Mmmhops” moniker on something a little more “mmmhoppier,” as it were.) The Hansons have talked it up as a “craft beer gateway drug,” which is a pretty fair assessment of this 7.5 percent ABV brew.