2012, Features, Interviews — September 3, 2012 at 7:30 am

Taylor Hanson of Hanson

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“To me Rock and Roll is where it starts, and it’s being able to think what is good and not sitting around asking what everyone else approves of, so I guess hopefully more people that don’t necessarily get what Hanson’s about get a chance to dig in a little.”

Twenty years as a band and fifteen years since the song they’re renowned for, Hanson in case you didn’t know are still going strong and producing great pop rock albums, in fact there’s been seven albums since 1997’s ‘Middle Of Nowhere’ which produced ‘MMMBop’ yeah that one… but take a step back, and before you dismiss Hanson, why not have a listen to what they’re doing now.  Albums like ‘This Time Around’, ‘Underneath’, ‘The Walk’ and their most recent ‘Shout It Out’ have some of the best pop rock you’ll hear around.  Essentially, they’re not kids anymore…

Ahead of their pretty much sold out Australian tour, we had the opportunity to speak to Taylor Hanson for a great chat about the band and to get across to people the fact that they’re still making music, their upcoming Australian shows as well as looking back at a couple of albums and moments throughout their career including the creation of their own record label, plus a sneaky question about Tinted Windows…

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Taylor and it’s great to talk to you.
And to you.

I wanted to start by saying of course people will always associate you with ‘MMMBop’, how hard is it for a band like Hanson to get past that stigma and to make people realise you’ve now released 8 albums and that you are more than that one song?
Ha ha ha that’s a little bit of a loaded question, but it’s a good one.  We’ve never been about getting past ‘MMMBop’ we’ve always been about adding new things to it, and so I think our philosophy on how to do it or how to increase that list is what we’re doing right now.  To some degree you don’t know who’s going to be lasting and what songs are going to be quote unquote ‘timeless’ until you spend some time, and we’re here fifteen years later with touring all over the world and running our own label and with lots of people that follow what it is that we do and we still like it ha ha.  We’re doing as a band what we chose to do, we’ve been independent on our own label for almost ten years now and those choices have always just been about the forward movement, the turtle wins the race… the continual just putting out great stuff and sticking to what you do well, that’s what we do. I will say that there’s definitely been some degree of critical mass as we’ve come with this album and getting back to a lot of places like being able to be doing an extensive tour in Australia and we’re focusing on getting to a lot of places we haven’t been for some time and really uniting a lot of fans that have stuck with us through the years and trying to make sure to really feel them and get everybody on the same timeline so to speak, fans all over the world, that’s something that has been a great moment to reach here, we’re at twenty years as a band and so it’s great to be rekindling fire in places where we haven’t been at this point.

Over your career, which is now twenty years as you said, in that time, how have you specifically seen the band grow as artists?
Well we’re just better at what we do, we’ve always been students of great song writing and musicians and we are fans, we geek out about a lot of classic American soul music and rock and roll, but really musicians that come from every walk.  We’re geeks about music and song writing, so I think as an artist, we’re all much better at taking an idea that’s sitting in your brain and fully realising it.  So, one of the comparisons to that, like I said, always talking about Soul Music and the American brand of Gospel and Roots and the way it all comes together in to Rock and Roll. On this record ‘Shout It Out’ it really sonically sounds and matches the actual song writing and the influences more than any other record, when you hear it you actually hear the sound of the album itself, I think is the most cohesive in the way it connects with the song writing, it feels classic, it feels more like a little bit of a throwback and so I think each time as an artist you’re trying to get closer and closer to that version of what you’ve got going on in your head.

Besides ‘MMMBop’ as that’s too easy and I won’t mention it again, but is there one song throughout your career that you feel defines you as a band?
Well that’s kind of a tough thing to pick one song, the short answer is no, there isn’t one song, there isn’t… it’s sort of like asking an author or an actor, ‘what’s the one book?’ or ‘what’s the one movie?’ for one defining thing.  You really don’t know what it is until you step back and you look at all of it, I would say, the way to know this band is, pick any record, really listen through any one album and then go see a show.  It really doesn’t matter which album you hear, we’ve always been coming from a point of view where we haven’t left behind our point of view, we’ve evolved, we’ve had different interests on different albums but we’re coming from the same place I think with what we’re trying to say to the world.  Then go see a show and if you paired one record and a show you really will get the sense of what we are, what we try and communicate to fans.

You are finally heading back to Australia, so at the shows what can people expect from the shows when you’re here in September?
It’ll be a mix, we’ll definitely play old stuff and we’re gonna feature the new record.  One thing about our show is that for fans that have kind of followed what we do, our show is changed nightly, it’s really all about catering to the fans that are following the band and are devout and there are definitely fans as it’s been some time, that are seeing more than one show on this tour I know, so we’re excited about mixing it up every night.  The main thing we’re trying to do on this tour is really just celebrate that we’ve been doing this for fifteen years for the most time that people knew us, we want to touch on the songs that people know and love and introduce them to sort of the defining songs from the new album and kind of share it with them.

Are you surprised at the response you’ve received here in Australia regarding the tour?
Our operating procedure here is high hopes and low expectations, so we didn’t have any expectations about the tour but we were definitely hoping for a great response.  So, we’ve been really pleasantly surprised and pleased with how much excitement there seems to be.

You talked about ‘Shout It Out’ being your newest album, but it has been out for almost two years now, are you already working on material for a new album?
Yeah ha ha, we are yeah, we’re working on a new record and we talked to a lot of our fans, not that we’re not making an album, but we’re really excited about approaching the release of music differently, and you can tell part of the way we’re approaching things, even when you go to the website and see there’s an EP just recorded for fan club and we do a whole lot of live streaming events.  So I guess the whole thing about the next album and where we’re headed, is as much as possible continually putting out content and music that people can get in touch with.  Having more of a constant flow of material, so yes we’re working on new music, and you know we may be test driving some songs from a newer album by the time we’re on tour in Australia.

I wanted to ask specifically about your album ‘The Walk’ which was a killer release, and how the concept for that album and the charity work surrounding it came about?
First of all, thanks, that record was definitely a moment and it was a series of choices to make the way that record sounded and just the whole mission behind it.  Ultimately we had a really personal experience, we kind of felt getting call to go to Africa and we were in the middle of making that album when we actually went, we’d already started working on that record and it was as if we needed to make that trip to really figure out what that album was going to be about and what really struck us about the whole trip and the whole mission that ensued afterwards, was particularly now in the world you’ve got this global connection and this global way to communicate with one another, especially our generation and younger. We’ve all grown up with it to go directly to a problem, to not put it in to a government fund, or having trickle down, but to really say ‘I want to give shoes, I want to give clean water’ and HIV Aids and poverty especially in certain areas of Africa are this toxic combination that can be combatted by a lot of tangible, direct giving, and so that really just, it was like we couldn’t let go of that realisation.  We wouldn’t have taken it on if we didn’t feel like we could honestly talk about it, we wouldn’t want to preach about something from a red carpet as a celebrity walking down and giving money to a cause, but we really wanted to be able to do it ourselves.  So I guess the inspiration was seeing a problem and realising that there was some solutions we could be a part of, it inspired a simple idea.  The barefoot one mile walks was a way for us to not just preach something to people but to say ‘Hey we’re going to do this’ and not be afraid to talk about poverty and not be afraid to talk about HIV Aids, and we’re going to ask you to be a part of it and it’s been amazing because we’ve seen there’s a lot of inspiration that can come from that and a lot of good that can be done.  We’ve done in the big scheme of things very little, but when you can drill clean water wells and you can give thousands of shoes and you can buy HIV anti-viral drugs and you can see people all over the world get involved and self-initiate and do walks, it’s hard to not feel good about.

I recently watched ‘Strong Enough To Break’ which was an amazing documentary on the band and the making of my favourite Hanson album ‘Underneath.’ In making it, when it began did you ever think it would end up the way it did?
No, we certainly didn’t when we started.  The way the film started out was we were on our third record and we had a young guy and we put him through film school and he had toured the world doing videography stuff and he wanted be a film maker and he’s gone on to do that.  At the time, he was like ‘let’s do a real music making documentary, let’s show people how you guys write songs and let’s just do an in depth story.’  We were like this is great, we were instantly open and it never mattered what we filmed as it was safe to turn on the camera and just capture everything.  As a result it really became, this is how hard it is to actually get a record made instead of let’s make a record, and again it’s another one of those things where you wouldn’t want to go through that period again but I’m so glad that it exists because it makes a point about a moment in time, I think in ten years from now, especially when you look back, people are going to talk about that era as record labels were losing the site of themselves and the digital thing was all beginning and this really bad model of big labels that have no creative people and spend too much money on the front end and don’t know how to work with their bands ha ha.  It’s how it all crashed and burned and our story is just one example of how to kind of get out of it in one piece, I’m really proud that we were able to make it and it’s been really cool because like last night we were at a show with a couple of different bands, Neon Trees and Awolnation who were playing in our hometown in Oklahoma, and we’re friends with the Awolnation guys and we were sitting there talking about kinda what we’d done and our story and stuff and then Neon Trees bass player comes up to Isaac and talks about how he watched the documentary and how he had seen that story.  To me what’s cool about the film is for whatever reason, it’s had its own second life, it’s been discovered by people which I think that’s the way it should be it’s a story that’s kind of every band’s story.
I literally cheered at the end of it too; I thought it was so cool.
Ha ha ha ha

As a result of the doco you now record and release music under your own record label 3CG Records, how does having the freedom to do this help the band?
Well it’s made some things absolutely liberated, but it also makes everybody’s life, daily life, very challenging because you’re taking on all of it, we’ve actually continued our operation is more and more in house.  We’re the label, we’re the merchandiser, all our web stuff, our fan club community, we’re very much this top to bottom deal and that influences the culture around you.  Has it changed us as a band?  No.  Our music is as open and as liberated as it could be, but it’s never been about changing course it’s really been about, hey we’re not gonna get messed up and start become something else, we’re wanna stay the course, I think in general it’s just allowed us to set out to do what we wanted to do.

Are you at the point yet of signing other artists to the label?
We’re close.  The dilemma that we have since we started the label is that we’ve had bad record companies ourselves and the worst thing we could do, and we’ve joked about this is, we don’t want to become the devil that we all know, and really the only way to avoid that is to know that you’re really prepared to give something that is really valuable to an artist and really be dedicated to them.  So we are probably now, at almost ten years as a label, we have an operation where we feel we can really bring something to the table for an artist, we can really do something that isn’t just ‘hey we’re a record company, we can get your record distributed’ we want to actually want to be a partner.  Short answer is, we’re close.

Looking back over your career is there anything you would’ve done differently?
There are some shirts I wouldn’t have worn, and there’s probably some outfits, some clothes.  The hard thing about really sitting back and saying oh I never would’ve done that is, it’s life is strange, you do one thing and it makes you decide to do another, you’re glad you did.  Sometimes bad decisions lead to good ones, so I don’t know, I’ve never been into going backwards and editing the past, I just have a hard time doing it.

What does the remainder of 2012 have in store for Hanson?
For one, really working hard on the next album, music, all the things are coming. We’re actually kind of plotting a proper world tour hopefully that will happen next year, getting back to places that we’ve been able to touch on, maybe who knows, maybe looking ahead at coming back to Australia instead of knowing it’s going to be six or seven years, we don’t really want that to be the case.  A lot of planning and a lot of working on a new record and honestly for us at this point, in all seriousness we’re really excited about coming back for the Australian tour.

I have to ask, just because I loved the album, but what’s the status of Tinted Windows?
Adam and James and I are kind of throwing ideas back and forth as we speak, the thing with Tinted Windows is that it’s fun and its great and it’s not anybody’s like bread and butter and so the way we try to approach it is, as time allows, you get together and you write a song or you record something, so I think there will probably be another Tinted Windows record at some point, but I wouldn’t sit around holding your breath for it because you’ll be holding your breath for a while.

Do you have you got a message for your Australian fans?
It’s hard to put one message in there, I mean the big message just has to be thank you.  The people that are actually fans, especially, thanks for your patience and I hope we’re visiting enough cities that where ever you are that you get to come and actually catch a show.

Thanks for doing this Taylor, we’ve copped a little flack for putting up Hanson before but with our site we cover every form of rock and we wanted to hopefully get some people to read this and realise that you are more than that one song, as I mentioned before, so we’re hoping we can get your music out there to some people who may not have had a listen before.
Yeah, first of all, thanks, I’m glad you’ve followed what we do, you know Rock music is about, to me Rock and Roll is where it starts, and it’s being able to think what is good and not sitting around asking what everyone else approves of, so I guess hopefully more people that don’t necessarily get what Hanson’s about get a chance to dig in a little.
For the one or two that don’t, there’s another five that do…
Ha ha yeah, exactly, we’re not worried about it.

Essential Information

From: Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Band members: Isaac – Guitar, Bass, Piano, Vocals, Taylor – Piano, Guitar, Drums, Vocals, Zac – Drums, Piano, Guitar, Vocals

Website: http://www.hanson.net

Latest release:  Shout It Out (2010 – and now digitally in Australia, September 7 2012)

Catch Hanson on their Shout It Out Australian Tour 2012

Tuesday 11 September Hifi, Brisbane (Final tickets still available!)
with special guest Matt Wertz
www.moshtix.com.au

Thursday 13 September HQ, Adelaide (Sold Out!!!)
with special guest Matt Wertz

Friday 14 September Palace Theatre, Melbourne (Sold Out!!!)
with special guest Matt Wertz

Saturday 15 September HiFi, Sydney (Sold Out!!!)
with special guest Matt Wertz

Sunday 16 September Enmore (All Ages Show) Sydney (Final tickets still available!)
with special guest Matt Wertz
www.enmoretheatre.com.au / www.ticketek.com.au

Tuesday 18 September Palace Theatre, Melbourne (Sold Out!!!)
with special guest Matt Wertz

Thursday 20 September HiFi, Brisbane (Sold Out !!!)
with special guest Matt Wertz

Friday 21 September Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast (Sold Out!!!)
with special guest Matt Wertz

Saturday  22 September Metropolis, Fremantle (Sold Out!!!)
with special guest Matt Wertz

 

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