Yes, this really happened.
With the announcement that Hanson has planned to embark on a tour of Australia this September, here at Lifelounge we began joking around about what you would ask the beloved Hanson brothers if you had the chance: What have they been doing post 1997? Why did they all get married so young? Did they really abstain until they got hitched? What the hell does ‘MMMBop’ actually mean?
This two hour conversation revealed to us that maybe Hanson holds more of a place in our hearts than we ever realised. Their 1997 debut Middle of Nowhere sold over 10 million copies, they were nominated for three Grammys and plus, whether or not you knew what sex he was, the middle one was really good looking…
We were told that we wouldn’t know who we’d be interviewing until the call was connected, and as the operator came on the crackly line she uttered a phrase that every female preteen in the late ’90s dreamed of hearing – “Sinead, you have Taylor Hanson”.
TAYLOR FLIPPING HANSON YOU GUYS!
Sinead Stubbins: (sharp intake of breath) Hi Taylor, how’s it going?
Taylor Hanson: It’s going well, how are you?
SS: Look full disclosure, I had a Hanson poster above my bed for most of the late ’90s. The ten-year-old me is pretty overwhelmed right now.
TH: (laughs) Hey, it’s good to start off with some full disclosure! I can’t say the same in reverse, but I appreciate that.
SS: You guys had a pretty loyal fanbase back in the day, are you ever shocked that lots of them have followed you along ten odd albums later?
TH: I would say that we continue to be respectful of it and don’t take it for granted. You know for us it’s not just about a song, it’s our passion. We hope the reason that we’ve been able to continue to have a strong connection with fans, is that we really believe in the community. Lots of people connecting with one another, sharing a common interest, and after that you just try to continue to make records that you’re excited about.
SS: I remember there were Hanson temporary tattoos, that’s pretty much how we showed our loyalty.
TH: There were many permanent tattoos!
TH: Oh, yes.
SS: Like, your face on someone’s back or something?
TH: You know what, I could articulate lots of tattoos I’ve seen but I’m sure if you search around online you’ll find them. I mean, there’s a lot. I mean, we started out as fans of music, everybody does. You have to be respectful and think to yourself ‘well, we just need to continue to make things that people connect with’.
SS: What’s the weirdest Hanson merchandise you can remember?
TH: Honestly, the more bizarre things are the things more recently. We make Hanson chocolates, Hanson coffee, we created a Monopoly game that is Hanson themed– instead of trying to be a real estate mogul you try to be the biggest band in the world. We’re working on a Hanson beer.
SS: Awesome. You guys had a lot of problems with Island Def Jam trying to retain creative control of Hanson– basically they rejected most of the songs you wrote. Did you ever feel that post-’90s the Hanson name was working against you?
TH: Yeah, sure. First of all it’s rare to have a level of success where people who don’t even know your music, know of you. With the first record being so ubiquitous there’s a lot of hate – three young, blonde haired guys… that being said we never got into this to cater to a novelty.
SS: You were discovered at SXSW!
TH: We used to tell people ‘just think of us as old guys with high voices’. We’re just a band who started in a garage, and we’re getting lucky that our record is exploding. At times it would have seemed easier to say our name was ‘Big Red Shoe’ (in an undertone to himself) man that’s a crap name… but whatever. Everyone has their hurdles to climb over, but we never saw it as an option to be somebody else. In a way, to choose to do that would be to acknowledge all of the false things that people assumed about us when we started.
SS: You’ve been nominated for Grammys!
TH: We’ve never really sat around and mulled over it. But when you do come out and you have a lot of young fans, and are a boy band I guess, it makes sense. But it’s always been us.
SS: You guys had a particularly religious upbringing…
TH: When people hear that they think we were standing on soapboxes and preaching. We grew up like a lot of people, we had belief systems.
SS: I only ask because I was interested in how being teenage dudes in one of the biggest bands in the world, how you avoided temptations?
SS: Basically, I mean girls. How did you avoid girls.
TH: There’s no simple answer to that one. You try and keep your pants zipped and keep things under control! I will say though, you have to hold success in this business softly. You can’t ever feel like ‘oh I’m just going to kick my shoes off’, this is a business where 99% of people fail. I always thought of the recklessness and complete loss of perspective as being opposed to keeping things together. You have a good time, you do things, I have had experiences along the way…
TH: Yeah! But I was never interested enough in that stuff to follow them down the rabbit hole.
SS: Really? You in particular would have had girls throwing themselves at you! The other two must have been heaps jealous.
TH: (laughs) You know it was strange and we never took it too seriously. You can’t. There’s a reality to the sexual tension of being in a band. If you get to be in the middle of that, well it’s amazing. You just laugh it off. It’s always been like us against the world, pointing and laughing. There’s definitely been moments of ‘oh my god, this is strange…’ You look down and see the fervour of the attention and they’re all looking at you… you pinch yourself. I respect it– like a dragon waiting in a cage! It could just as soon eat me as praise me.
SS: Sure. Bieber must feel that way.
TH: I think he’s carved out his own spot. I don’t follow what he does, but he has a great voice.
SS: You guys have eight children between you now. Do you ever think of forcing them to play instruments in a Hanson family band? Like Degrassi Next Generation?
TH: If they do start a band, god help them. I can’t imagine that someone in the next generation won’t choose to make music, but we will avidly protect the copyright of Hanson as a band! But it’s definitely not a job for the faint of heart, you have to have a thick skin. You have to be prepared for a lot of highs, and a lot of super lows.
SS: Is Hanson Day an actual thing in Tulsa or is that just an internet rumour?
TH: It is! It was a day that was declared by our state’s governor. It’s not like a state holiday or whatever, you don’t see people of all creeds and colours celebrating Hanson. You have to be a fan to continue to recognise it.
SS: In my head everyone wears Hanson t-shirts and hold hands while singing “Where’s the Love”.
TH: Well it’s grown to become that. It started as being something the fans did, now in May we’re doing an event where thousands of fans will be coming together.
SS: What’s been the most intense fan moment?
TH: I don’t think we can print that…
SS: This is going on the internet Taylor, we totally can.
TH: (laughs) No, no! I don’t even want to articulate the weirdest… We’ve had girls sneak into our hotel rooms, we’ve had fans sleep underneath cars in parking garages where they knew we’d be coming. We’ve had many body parts requested to be signed.
SS: That must have been confronting for Zac when he was quite young.
TH: Yeah, it was an education! There’s nothing like sex education in the front row.
SS: How do you feel about “MMMBop” 15 years on? Do you think it’s aged well?
TH: Well it’s hard for me to say. But you try and write songs that are as timeless as they can be, and when we play “MMMBop” it still feels fresh. It feels good. It now carries a whole new point, especially because it’s about how things are fleeting and relationships come and go. And we survived.
SS: Hey… what is an MMMBop?
TH: (Laughs manically) You’re really going there on this one, aren’t you? To be literal it was meant to be a statement about time.
SS: Oh. I hope you enjoy Australia Taylor! I’ll get my temporary tattoo ready.
TH: Get your permanent tattoo ready. You gotta step it up.
HANSON’S ‘SHOUT IT OUT’ TOUR
Thursday 13 September HQ, Adelaide
Friday 14 September Palace Theatre, Melbourne
Saturday 15 September HiFi, Sydney
Thursday 20 September HiFi, Brisbane
Friday 21 September Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast
Saturday 22 September Metropolis, Fremantle