MuzikMan: I remember when you guys were very young and the newest sensations and pop darlings. I have to say that after listening to your latest live release Best of Hanson Live and Electric, it certainly gives me a different impression of who you are, or who you have become as a band. Besides a great new album that has gained the respect and adulation of music lovers everywhere, what has changed since you first started?
Hanson: We have been a band for thirteen years as of May, and those years passing, that much more time playing and writing together, we are a stronger band then we ever have been. We still make music for the same reasons we started. I don’t think that will change. There is something about music that can change your day and on some occasions your life. Hearing James Taylor, or the Beatles, the Stones, a little Tom Petty, it does something to you. I would like to do the same thing for someone else.
MuzikMan: Your sound is a very defined, clean and energetic rock-pop, do you feel that there is a totally new audience unaware of your past out there just waiting to take you in their arms and embrace you or is there a mixture of old and new fans eager to hear what you have to offer now?
Hanson: The fans who have followed us for seven or eight years, we want to keep bringing them along on the Hanson musical journey, and at the same time with each album you hope to find new people who may be hearing you for the first time. In the same way our music has never stopped evolving, the fans of the music will change too.
MuzikMan: I love your new album, it crackles and snaps with energy. You sound incredibly good for a trio. Did you use any other musicians for this recording besides relying on yourself?
Hanson: For the live show we have a bass player and a rhythm guitar player. What can you do? We only have six arms. We are really proud of the way it came out.
MuzikMan: What is the difference in being tied to a major label and being an indie organization? I understand that you are visiting colleges to make students aware of the fact that the future of music is in their hands and not major corporations, can you elaborate on what this is all about and how people are reacting?
Hanson: Being “indie” is not a way to stick it to the man. For us, forming our own label is about looking to the future. The major label system is one that works single to single, and week to week, thinking less about the career and more about the stock price. We are career-minded, believing in the idea of a catalog of great albums that people can come back to over and over. We are going to colleges to talk to students about being active. Just like electing a president, it is your choice to be a part, to speak out about what you want to hear on radio and see on MTV, etc. Young people today are being defined by what is played in the radio and seen on TV.
MuzikMan: If you were to offer advice to young people that have dreams and goals like you once had when you were very young, what would you say to them? What can young musicians do now to protect their interest, remain focused, and true to their intentions as legitimate recording artists?
Hanson: Know who you want to be. That does not mean “tell me what you want to sound like,” it means every time you put out a CD or print a t-shirt you are showing and telling people what to think of YOU!
You run across a lot of talented musicians, but few have the drive to do the extra work. Be one of the few.
Keep as many rights as you can. If you believe in what you are doing then you need to invest back in it by keeping rights and not taking big advances.
MuzikMan: What are you hoping to gain with this new start and the positive reception you have received thus far? Is it your purpose to stay in the music business for the remainder of your lives or are there other interests, projects, and goals you all have as individuals and band members?
Hanson: Music is our life blood. To make it is a gift that we get from the fans who buy our albums. As long as there are music fans, there will be Hanson chipping away at the goal – meaningful, passionate music.
MuzikMan: What is your own personal take on the new album, what did it mean to each of you while recording and what were some of the hurdles you overcame during the process? Was it all worth it? Did it turn out as you envisioned when you started?
Hanson: Live and Electric is a sum-up of the last thirteen years as a band. It is a way to show the songs we have written and played for years in the context of where we are today. Playing live is a big part of who we are, and this gives fans who have never seen a show the chance to experience the rest of Hanson.
There were hurdles, as with every album: mics that went bad half way through the show, bad levels, etc. This album was a moment in time. You only get one chance to play it, no re-dos, no “STOP! Let’s try that again.” But the imperfection is part of what is missing in so much music today. It can be perfect, but if it loses the soul on the way it doesn’t matter.
MuzikMan: In closing, what is next for Hanson? Are you touring a lot to promote the new album, what are your plans for the next project? Are you going to stay with the same style of music or are your fans in for some surprises? Where are you taking the tour? Who will you playing with on the tour? What are you most excited about?
Hanson: We make music for the same reasons that we did when we started, but we are not the same band we were thirteen years ago. In the same way you are always gaining new inspiration from looking at your music from different points in your career. I hope that people will say “that is not what I thought I would get,” every time they play a Hanson record. We are already writing for the next studio album.
One of the things we are always pushing is the support of new independent music. With our tour this fall at colleges we will be having a local independent artist opening at every show. We want to give a leg up to great music if we can.
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September 2, 2005