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Interview: Isaac Hanson talks about Hanson’s The Walk CD and Tour

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Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson, the talented brothers from Tulsa who hit the pop world with hurricane force in 1996 with the breakout hit "MMMBop," are back.

Now releasing albums on their own indy label – 3CG Records — the brothers’ music has matured into a distinctive rock/pop sound with a hint of emo – think Fall Out Boy. But the trio hasn’t left their pop/adolescent roots behind. Fans who’ve grown up with the band will still hear some of those old favorites – plus a broad selection of other songs.

Here’s what singer/guitarist Isaac Hanson said about the group and their ongoing musical evolution:

I understand that you’ve worked to leave your pop roots behind.

I think that is people’s perception of it as a whole. What I feel like we were doing is trying to bring together our music over the last 10 years. The last album (Underneath, released in 2004) was our first indy release. With this record (The Walk, released July 24, 2007), we are trying to establish the reality of what this band truly is and sounds like. I don’t want people to say, `Oh, that’s Isaac Hanson and that’s how he sings.’ I want them to hear the band.

How has your songwriting changed as you’ve grown older?

HansonIn the past we have approached records from the point of songwriters. When you write songs at a young age, the song is ingrained in your head. The band molded itself around each individual song. We’d say, `This song is funk. Let’s go funk.' We always moved ourselves into the songs instead of vice versa. Now we’re trying to put forth the sound of this band.

Was that difficult to do when you were signed to Island Def Jam?

I think we could have done some of it. But the understanding of the artistic essence of this band — on some level, not on all levels — was lost. That is a problem so many bands deal with. Rooney had to make their second album (Calling the World, released July 17, 2007) over [many times before it was released]. That is happening all over the business, and it’s happening to unknown bands. We have no idea because the people getting out records have no idea. So that music is lost.

How did you approach your latest album, The Walk, to ensure the band’s distinctive sound could be heard?

We wanted to combine sounds from the last three records to show our musical tendencies…We said live combines everything. So we focused on doing this record as live as possible. We took the songs from the point of view of what we would do as a live band. We limited overdubs to five parts. Less is more. It really is.

Are you looking for a new fan base or have your fans grown up with you?

So many of our fans have grown with us. We play 1,500-2,000 seat rooms every time we go out. We have done very, very well the past several years. A lot of people in the crowd are our fans from the beginning, guys or girls. We have always had a large percentage of girls. But that is also changing a lot. We are finding some guys who were fans at very young ages are rediscovering the band. They first saw us as young guys with long hair. Now they can relate to us in a different way. It has been a process. We are surviving in a business that is unrelenting.

What is the goal of the band?

My goal is survival. When I’m 60 years old, I want to be out on stage and have people screaming their guts out because they are having so much fun. When we were 11, 14, and 16, we knew that music was our lives’ passion. People would always look at us when we said that, and thought `How do you know that now, at such a young age?’ But how the hell could we be writing songs at such a young age if we didn’t have the passion?

We don’t take any of that for granted. Every time somebody walks up to us and says – `Hey, I listen to your music and totally love it’ – that is the kind of thing thousands and thousands of bands seek. We don’t take it for granted for a minute. That is what every guy holding a guitar and every girl trying to make something happen in music is hoping for. Don’t act like it’s not big deal, because it is a very big deal.

What should people expect at your shows during this tour?

We have always tried to make our concerts as musical as possible and as untheatrical as possible. Music speaks so much louder than words, why use a lot of words? But people will hear random covers from the `50s through `70s to everything from "MMMBop" to what we recorded over the last 10 years to a couple songs we worked out in sound check and think have potential. We are not, by any means, a jam band but our shows are an evolving experience.

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About Nancy Dunham

  • me

    “a hint of emo- think fall out boy.” if Hanson reads this…I don’t think they will be happy with comparison. There is a HUGE difference between Fall Out Boy’s “emo” sound and Hanson’s emotional lyrics.
    That is probably why they took that section out when they posted this article on their website.

  • http://www.hanson.net nu101

    yes…i agree completely. “emo” is more of a sound in itself now, not just emotional lyrics. in fact, it’s not so much that Hanson’s lyrics are emotional, but they envoke emotion in their listeners, which is a far cry from what, at least I, get out of listening to Fall Out Boy and other “emo” bands. (not knocking “emo” bands, but maybe knocking FOB a little…:P)

  • Nancy

    Thanks so much for your comments. Although Hansons’ reps did give me positive comments about the article, I enjoyed your thoughts. Debating and disagreeing about the qualities of music is what keeps it interesting. Thanks again for reading this interview!

    Nancy

  • http://www.myspace.com/areyoulistening_123 Hayley

    Wow…Hanson, Emo? There is something I know isn’t true, but sort of expected it with the harsh whay that word is being thrown around these days..if Hanson read this..I hope you make it back to Australia <3

  • Nancy

    They did indeed read it and linked it to their site! Having said that, I appreciate you taking the time to write!

  • rex

    they are so good!!!!
    I promise ya ol!!!!

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