Hanson – Interview [2004]

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Hanson

Don’t Call it a comeback—they’ve been here for years.

With the release of their self-produced album Underneath, Hanson is restating their claim to be at the forefront of popular music. We get the scoop from Zac!

Hip Online: You must be excited to get the record out.

Zac: Very pumped up. The single is out, the records coming out, we’re doing Good Morning America, the Late Show, Leno—we’re just psyched to get the music out because it’s been a long time. We’re ready to get the music out to our fans and playing.

The last record was actually very good, but very mature. Do you think people were scared away or not ready for that from Hanson?

Who knows really. I just hope they like the new album because it shows a different side of the band. I think with every record we have grown and changed in a natural way as musicians and singer/songwriters. As with most artists we are excited by the latest thing we’ve done.

Did you record it in your studio?

We recorded it in a lot of different places–some in Oklahoma, in L.A., and different places across the country.

Did the fact that you have your own studio allow you to try out things that you might not have the time with in another studio?

It does allow us to toy around with stuff and allow it to be a final product. There are certain songs that are completely demos that we knew that was what it needed to sound like–“When You Are Gone” is a good example.

Do you listen to a lot of music or play a lot in order to discover new sounds?

A little bit of both. One thing about this band is that I know we could all be solo artists—because I believe in the skills we all have. I think we could all be successful too, but I think when we come together we create something better than the sum of the parts. We each have different styles and skills that create a stronger product. We’ve worked together for twelve years and we know each other well and can push each other’s limits.

Does the sound of the band Hanson come from the three of you, I guess what I’m asking is if any of you were doing a solo album would it sound completely different than Hanson the group?

Definitely. We wrote eighty songs for this record and demoed forty. Those songs range from country to r&b to hip-hop and Ike wrote a song in French. We even had a song with flamenco guitar on it. But when we come together and sing our harmonies together and write together it’s what holds it together. If I did a record by myself and would sound different and you wouldn’t experience what Tay or Ike bring to it.

How hard is it to cut out thirty of the songs you demoed?

Well, we took a real long time deciding. There are different styles of music and what the music should represent. It’s sort of sad to think that maybe a song may never be heard, but we might use some on soundtracks and in other ways.

I saw there are two different records: acoustic and regular. What are the differences?

Last year we started an acoustic tour and went around the country doing small venues as three people playing acoustic guitar, piano, and hand drums. It was a way to showcase our songs in a different way. It had been four years since the last album came out so we re-introduced ourselves to fans. We wanted to let fans focus on the songs and the core of who the band is. We are just three singers/songwriters who love to make music. So along that tour we made an acoustic album. We wanted to memorialize that tour. It’s not something we do a lot.

How many times on that tour were you thinking, ‘I just want to turn this thing up’?

(Laughs) We’ll I’m the drummer so I like the number eleven because its one louder. We’re going to be touring electrically this summer so that is exciting. We love to give a concert that people can rock to. That’s the best reason to be in a band.

How amazing is it to play on stage and people know the songs and sing-a-long?

What musicians who care about their art want to affect people. You want your music to affect them in a visceral way. To see the fans singing and jumping and clapping and being involved it shows you’ve been successful in your goal of meaning something to people. To know they relate to it is great. The goal of an artist is to speak to a generation.

What do you do when not working on the record?

We’ve been working this whole time, and formed a record label. A lot of time was spent doing that and not really chilling out. I enjoy a lot of extreme sports like dirt biking, surfing, rock climbing, paintball…I just bought a new Subaru Impreza Sti. It’s three-hundred horsepower, but it seats five.

(Laughs) Wow. You better be careful with that thing.

(Laughs) I know.

Are you guys’ sports fans? I know there isn’t much happening in sports in Oklahoma outside of college.

Nobody is hardcore, but we follow college football. We watch OU and OSU. OSU (college basketball team) getting to the final four was great. It’s fun to follow the sports you can. But since we don’t have any professional teams in anything, except lawn bowling (We both laugh), we pretty much go for college.

What’s the goal with this album?

We want to be successful enough that we can make a next album and to go out and affect people with music. We want to mean something. I hope that in twenty years people can look back and say “Hanson was a band that meant more” rather than they had that song on the radio.

What if they say, “Hanson rocked”—would that be good enough?

(Laughs) Well, people look back at the ‘80s and they name great bands like the Cars, Police. Hopefully we can be more than a band that just existed.

Are you taking some college classes? You dropped a visceral on me.

(We both laughs) No college, I actually finished school two years ago at sixteen.

Good luck, and be careful with that Impreza. It sounds like you could be a terror with that thing.

It’s a beast, but it’s a really fun car.

+ Charlie Craine

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