Zac Hanson, Taylor Hanson, and Isaac Hanson of the band Hanson talk about being involved in this event and the importance of arts programs in education, on being home-schooled, on their tour at the VH1 Save The Music Foundation Presents: Family Day at New York NY.
Taylor Hanson sees the beer he and his brothers have launched as an example of their music career to a degree. After massive hits in the 1990s, the band has continued to produce good music that more importantly reflects their identity, their home and their work creating something new, Hanson said.
“One of the things that is great about beer culture right now is the boom that has developed in the last 20 years of just people identifying with craft beers,” Hanson told the Tulsa World in a recent interview. “One of the things that is particularly cool about it is really taking an industry that’s been driven by really huge marketing dollars and taking it back down to this artisanal spirit and really building relationships with your audience.”
Plus, they just really like beer.
Oklahomans can get at taste of the Hanson beer, Mmmhops, which is now available at most liquor retailers in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and at many more stores and bars across the state soon. It took several years to get the project off the ground, from the first idea to determining what kind of beer they wanted to make to who would actually make it. What came out was a pale ale-style beer with a hoppy flavor and full body, Hanson said. “The way we developed the beer was to start with this huge list of references of beers that we admire, reverse engineer them,” Hanson said. “And a little bit of drinking.”
Mustang Brewing in Oklahoma City produces the beer. Working with them was a great experience, Hanson said, talking about what they wanted and how to achieve that end.
“We began meeting other brewers and began learning how to talk shop and understand what goes into this whole process,” Hanson said. “We were really excited when we finally met Mustang. What’s interesting about Mustang guys is they’ve done some brewing for smaller brewing companies but they really have a spirit of wanting to try things, wanting to step in there and experiment.”
Hanson’s latest CD, “Anthem,” has been released and Hanson is starting the first leg of a North American tour that visits theaters and large clubs. What’s more, “Anthem” is a cheery album, full of the kind of pop-rock — ahem, anthems — that should have audiences singing and clapping along to the songs.
The tone of “Anthem” is striking considering what happened about a year ago.
“I think this record was an interesting one because we really reached a point in 2012 where this record almost didn’t get made,” Zac Hanson said in a mid-August phone interview. “It was the first time, really ever, we had come up against a challenge that was maybe bigger than this band, in the sense of it was hard to overcome, just personal, not taking care of what’s most important. And you do something long enough, you begin to take those relationships with each other, the things that come so easily for so long, for granted.”
Noting that he and his brothers, Isaac and Taylor, aren’t the type to air their dirty laundry in public, Hanson didn’t delve into ugly details, but it’s clear that the normal sibling harmony had gone off key.
“I think the best way to say it is just we became overworked,” Hanson said, noting the time invested into various Hanson business concerns had taken a toll. “We run the (record) label. We manage ourselves. We produce the records. All the projects we do in addition to music, and things like Take the Walk (a charitable effort by the band), all the merchandise, and we’re starting a beer company, all of those things (were happening). And then if you do all of those things and then you get to go do the music, but the music is sort of burdened by all of those things, your relationship is burdened by all of the stresses of everything around you.
It’s unusual to see someone walking barefoot along the Baywalk in November, but the band Hanson was able to encourage about half of a group of 75 fans to do just that Saturday afternoon.
The Grammy-nominated group, consisting of brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson, who have been performing and recording for 21 years, is in town for a performance on their Anthem World Tour. As with their other performances since 2007, they invited local fans and others to join them in a barefoot ‘Take The Walk’ stroll for charity.
Hanson donates one dollar for each person registered for the walk. Each walker identified one of five charities the band supports, all tied to poverty, to apply their contribution.
Taylor Hanson, who proved to be the main spokesman for the event, explained that walking barefoot helps differentiate what they are trying to accomplish.
“It’s about connecting people in a tangible way to poverty, and specifically HIV / AIDS, because if you can deal with poverty you can deal with the issues of HIV in the communities in Africa. The cycle of poverty contributes massively to that disease being spread,” he detailed.
Hanson likes the idea that the charity events are humble and unpolished.
Oklahoma’s trio of blond-mopped brothers, most famous for their breakout 1997 single MMMBop, have been performing together for 21 years. They have always written their own tunes and played their own instruments. They still tour the world regularly.
But when we sit down at the Thompson Hotel this past summer, Taylor (now 30), Zac (28) and Isaac Hanson (32) – now all brunettes, actually – aren’t particularly hell-bent on proving themselves. By now, they seem settled and confident as a self-run band who certainly don’t have the fame they once did, but don’t seem to mind, either.
They’ve got southern charm and friendliness to spare. They’re also very professional, media-familiar in the way most former child stars are, and focused on promoting their sixth studio album, Anthem, whose supporting tour they bring to the Danforth Music Hall Saturday (November 9).
It seems like you always have a novel approach to your live shows.
Zac: Some of the early people we worked with – business partners and managers – were all big fans of the jam band scene. One thing we pulled from them was the idea that each concert is an individual experience, which is part of building the relationship with your fans, giving them the sense that they’re always going to get something special. It’s not a broadway show where you’re going to hit your marks every night. There’s supposed to be risk.
Taylor: It’s not just, “We’re here to go through the city and check it off the box.” It’s a calling card. Our statement about who we are as a band is very much about the community, very much about the show. A lot of people know Hanson for having pop hits, but really what makes Hanson is that relationship with the fans.
If you still know Hanson as the three fresh-faced adolescents who gave us the hit song “MMMBop” in 1996, here’s a dose of perspective: This year the band reaches drinking age, and the brothers are celebrating with their own craft beer.
While the group has been around for 21 years, the brothers are well beyond that. The oldest, guitarist Isaac Hanson, turns 34 this month. On Monday and Tuesday, he joins brothers Taylor, 30, and Zac, 28, for concerts at Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, where they have performed for the past few years. Performances are at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. each day and are included with park admission.
“Taylor in particular is a big foodie,” says Isaac. “It’s kind of an easy gig for us, in the sense that we get do do three relatively short shows each day, then get the chance to eat some good food.”
Hanson has toured relentlessly in support of their six studio albums and they have cultivated more than a taste for good food along the way. The entreprenurial brothers have donated funds to charity efforts through sales of their own coffee (Kikombe Cha Kutoa), and this year they released their own craft beer, an American Pale Ale cheekily titled “Mmmhops.”