When pop trio Hanson stormed the scene in the late ’90s with its ubiquitous and infectious hit MMMBop, it seemed that the sky was the limit for the band. In reality, that song’s popularity was pretty much the limit as far as superstardom goes. Still, the brothers — Isaac (guitar), Taylor (keyboards) and Zac (drums) — persevered, churning out melodic album after album. The group hits the Culture Room on Saturday. Drummer Zac Hanson, 26, who was only 12 at the height of the band’s popularity, talks about the tour.
What can we expect from your show?
This tour’s a little different, because we are playing albums. We’re letting fans vote on them and that changes the way we would normally do a show. Every night, we’ll play a full album as much as possible like the way it sounded, in the exact order on the record. We’re playing a lot of other stuff, too, but we’re featuring one album per set, and that definitely makes for a different kind of show.
Have you determined which album you’ll play here?
Fort Lauderdale is actually the last show, and I think Shout It Out is the record we’re gonna be doing down there.
What would you tell people who think only of ‘MMMBop’ when they think of Hanson?
That’s an interesting dilemma, because there are a lot of people who know that song or know our band sort of as a pop-culture reference but don’t really have any sort of musical reference. I guess it’s the double-edged sword of being successful enough that people know you around the world. There are plenty of people who know that phrase or know that word, but they couldn’t sing you anything that remotely sounded anything like that song. I think for people who were fans of the band on that first record and haven’t continued to follow the band, it’s the same band with the same core influences. But in time, hopefully, skill improves and you continue to push yourself and make music that gets you going and never settle.
Success didn’t come so easily for you guys after “Middle of Nowhere” — do you think that made you stronger as a group?
Well, before Middle of Nowhere, we were a band for quite a while. We probably played three or 400 shows and made three independent records, so we were no overnight success, even though to some it might seem that way. For us, it’s always remained the same, whether it’s a record that sells eight million copies or one million copies. It’s never been something that we were gonna stop. Careers are ups and downs. It wouldn’t be worth having a career if it was just up. There are no great movies or books or stories where it’s like, “He had an idea, and then he did it, and he was successful — the end!”
1.) Hanson at the State: It’s been years – decades even – since MMMBop put Hanson on the map. The brothers are older now and have families with kids of their own. But they are still putting out hummable music, which they play Friday at the State. The show begins at 7. Admission is $27-$31. Go to www.statetheatreconcerts.com.
Which Tour: Underneath Acoustic
City/State: Cleveland, OH
I went with: a guy friend of mine I dragged along who became a Hanson fan!
I expected the show to: be amazing. I’d been a fan for a few years (since This Time Around came out) but hadn’t been able to see them live. Compounding my excitement was the fact that I’d been named Tour Reporter for that show!
We waited in line for: not long at all – because I was Reporter, I was able to get into the venue pretty quickly. Hee!
My favorite song they did was: “A Song To Sing” as the encore. Three incredible voices and a piano.
A funny thing that happened during the show was: Isaac was noodling around on the guitar between songs. He played what
I interpreted as the first two chords of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” and
I whooped quite loudly. Much later, I found out that these are also
the first two chords of “Call Me”!
Also, I was up in the balcony area, taking some pictures towards the
end of the show and an older man came up to me and told me that I
couldn’t be taking pictures. I showed him my pass and he said it was
okay – and introduced himself – it was Walker, the guys’ father! We
had a short chat (as much as you can during a concert!) and I asked
him to thank the guys once again for their time before the show.
After the show we: Slept!
The show did/did not meet my expectations because:
Totally met my expectations. Hanson put on a fantastic show, they
sounded great, the crowd was very into it and I’ve seen Hanson quite a
bit in the 8 years since!
Anything else you would like to include:
Being Tour Reporter during your first Hanson concert isn’t something I
would completely recommend. I was so focused on making sure I had
every single detail down correctly that I feel I didn’t fully enjoy
the performance for myself. But I was able to see them for the UAL
DVD taping about a month later at the Chicago House of Blues and that
one was definitely fully enjoyed!!