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I’ll admit to having a soft spot for band-plus-brewery special releases, and I’ve gone out of my way to score bottles of the Iron Maiden beer The Trooper, Mastodon’s The Hunter marzen from Germany’s Mahr’s Brau, and Dan the Automator’s cider-beer hybrid Positive Contact from Dogfish Head, among others. So when I recently opened a box from a local public relations firm that handles music biz clients I was both intrigued and frightened at what I found: four bottles of the Hanson brother’s new Mmmhops craft beer and a copy of their latest album, Anthem.
How would the pale ale—brewed at Oklahoma’s Mustang Brewery—stack up to the other musical brews? And how would the ale pair with the newest release from the band known for one song from 15 years ago? I was about to find out, but it would be difficult to overcome my existing prejudices.
I was primed to dislike Hanson’s ubiquitous single “MMMBop” when it took over airwaves and cable music channels in early 1997. I was wrapping up my freshman year of college in Santa Cruz, California and a girl down the hall of my dorm was infected by the brothers’ saccharine earworm early on. I remember her stereo would alternate between blasting the nauseatingly peppy MMMBop and that even more infectious tune by Deep Blue Something—Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Over and over and over. At a furious volume.
It was enough to drive one to drink, and back in those days I turned to bottles of Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve or Pete’s Wicked Ale. Not paragons of the craft brewing revolution, but not too shabby for 1997.
My tastes in music and in beer are straightforward. I like the 12 bar blues, indulgent guitar solos and hoppy pale ales. For me it doesn’t get much better than a sixer of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a Hold Steady album on the stereo, so I wasn’t expecting much when I sat down with the four bottles, the CD, and a notebook, but I was surprised by the results.
I’ll give it to you straight—both the brew and the disc surpassed my admittedly low expectations. And while you probably won’t find Anthem playing on my stereo much, I wouldn’t hesitate to order a pint of Mmmhops.
The beer is labeled as a “pale ale” but the alcohol content of over 7% ABV, and the intense hop character and firm bitterness place the beer very firmly in the IPA category. My sample bottles were noticeably less-than-fresh (par for the course with these types of sample packages unfortunately), but I was struck by just how much pungent hop character was still present alongside the twang of oxidation. The IPA has a sturdy malt body that carries some sweetness into the finish, and while the hop aroma was faded, there was still enough resinous pine and bright citrus rind character to offset the slightly stale-tasting malts. There was a pleasant flavor of orange oil and tropical fruit that lingered in the finish alongside the pronounced bitterness.
It was an unexpectedly flavorful brew that would have been even more impressive fresh. Living in Los Angeles, I have my pick of world class IPAs brewed in the west coast-style (well attenuated with little malt character and as hoppy as can be—brews like Ballast Point Sculpin, Firestone Walker Union Jack, or Russian River Blind Pig) and the more malt-balanced east coast IPA style—like Mmmhops—is a nice occasional change-of-pace. I’m looking forward to trying Mmmhops again (though that might be tough as the beer is currently only available in the brothers’ home state of Oklahoma).
As for Anthem—the bubblegum rock was more tolerable than I’d anticipated, but I still needed to open some additional bottles to get through the disc. While you might have expected it from the beer, it was actually the album that had more of a “homebrew” vibe. Written, performed, and produced by the brothers, the songs could have used input from some ears that weren’t the bands, someone to pull them back from the worst of their indulgences and maybe even fight to trim the disc’s 13 songs into a more focused tracklist. At its worst, the album sounds overproduced and over polished (especially the lifeless drums and occasionally overwrought lyrics), but the brothers do manage some genuinely fun moments. “You Can’t Stop Us” starts with a downright dirty riff and the most impassioned vocals on the album, but it also has a chorus that sounds like an outtake from a Hagar-era Van Halen song (not a good thing). It’s the Michael Jackson-tinged “I’ve Got Soul,” with its funky guitar line and horn blasts, that is the album at its most fun and unabashed.
The scary thing for me was how much the album grew on me after a few listens while writing this article. After a couple of pints and a couple of listens, I was groovin’ to Anthem and tapping my foot even if my tongue was tucked in my cheek. As slick as the production is, and as on the nose as the lyrics can be, you can tell that the brothers were having a blast making the album—and that vibe is almost as infectious as that first breakout hit song, MMMBop—a song that built their studio, record label, and beer brand.
Make your jokes and take your shots at the brothers Hanson, but don’t say that they’re not music lovers and beer lovers. They’re just guys with the means to pursue their passions, and enough smarts to not care about the haters. Anthem is about being true to yourself, and the Mmmhops brew is true to the spirit of craft beer (and pretty tasty too)!
A quartet of music’s top young acts rocked Philadelphia’s Piazza at Schmidt’s on Sunday night–local hip-hop duo OCD: Moosh & Twist, singer-songwriter LP, Pennsylvania native Wiz Khalifa and DJ/producer Afrojack–a terrific bill made even more remarkable by the fact that all attendees received their tickets not by purchasing them, but by doing good deeds.
The first Under 30 Music Festival, planned by Forbes in partnership with AEG and nonprofit resulted in the distribution of some 8,000 tickets to people who joined the campaign to end extreme poverty around the world. It was a smaller version of the Global Citizen Festival, and we hope it’ll grow in a similar fashion.
But Sunday night’s events were just a prelude to one of the most remarkable weeks in my time at this publication: the inaugural Forbes Under30 Summit. Think of it as a velvet-rope version of South By Southwest, reserved for the 1,000-plus members and graduates of our 30 Under 30 lists and a handful of mentors like former AOL AOL +1% chief Steve Case and billionaire investor Peter Thiel.
The event, which wrapped up yesterday, included keynotes from youthful newsmakers ranging from new anti-cyberbullying activist Monica Lewinsky to Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai. There was still room, however, for plenty of discussion about the music business.
Summit attendees included the aforementioned musical acts, as well as the likes of Taylor Hanson (who also made a guest appearance at the concert, delivering a memorable duet with LP); Atom Factory founder and veteran artist manager Troy Carter; and a half-dozen members of last year’s 30 Under 30 list in music.
Many of those people took the main stage in front of 1,500 people–Afrojack discussed the art and science of leading a crowd in a one-on-one with yours truly; Carter served as a judge on a Shark Tank-style startup contest; Wiz Khalifa stuck around to preside over the Under 30 Fashion Show; Questlove did the same at the Under 30 Food Festival; others joined breakout sessions like my Music Goes Moneyball panel.
Now that I’m back and have had a moment to collect my thoughts, here are four of the key music-related takeaways I brought home from Philly.
Goodbye, genre boundaries. So it’s not exactly news that the lines between genres are blurring–I’ve certainly written about that extensively myself–but the past few days have underscored that even more sharply for me. From the Taylor Hanson/LP duet, to Troy Carter’s entrepreneurial exhibition, to Wiz Khalifa’s fashion forays, it’s becoming ever more obvious that the boundaries are breaking down not just between types of music but between music and other industries. Which is part of the reason why…
Artists must be their own advocates and marketers. As Hanson put it during the Music Goes Moneyball panel, “There are no open-source music companies. There are a lot of black boxes.” Understanding that is part of the reason his band of brothers is still quietly earning a living, touring the world while releasing records through their 3CG Records and supplementing their income by extending the Hanson brand into products their maturing fan base can enjoy, such as, yes, MmmHops beer. They also understand that…
Data is the new A&R. In the aforementioned panel, Taylor Hanson joined yours truly along with Spotify’s Sachin Dochi and Next Big Sound founder Alex White (whom I profiled last year). We talked about how big data is revolutionizing the music business–and, in many cases, it’s becoming as much a part of A&R as sabermetric analysis is with major league baseball front offices. “People don’t get in the music industry because they love data. Except for me,” said White, with a chuckle. “There’s never been this much data.” In the end, though…
There’s no draw like a good cause and good music. As much as I learned from the rest of the Summit, the highlight for me was the Under 30 Music Festival. Granted, there’s a level of bias here (I helped plan it). But watching thousands of onlookers of all ages–all of whom had done something worthy to gain admission–brave the elements as the show stretched into the night? It may sound corny, but that’s what it’s all about, and I sure hope to do it again next year.
Happy birthday Zac Hanson! As the MMMBop singer turns 29, HELLO! Online takes a look at what the stars have in store for Zac, and for you…
Perhaps, if we could only shed the weight of all our cares and concerns, we could become so light in spirit that the breeze of serendipity would sweep us off our feet and allow us to float on a pillow of wings towards some glorious stress-free future. We often imagine such possibilities in our dreams; but in waking life we soon discover that our most optimistic visions are obscured by the clouds of anxiety. Perhaps we should have more faith in those inspiring visions. This weekend brings you reason to trust them.
Click here to read your horoscope.
Zac Hanson was born on 22 October 1985 in Arlington, Virginia and grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Zac was home-schooled by his mother and at a young age he and his brothers, future band matesTaylor and Isaac, discovered their father’s rock and roll albums and their love for music began to blossom.
In 1992, along with his two older brothers, he formed boyband Hanson and learnt to play drums, guitar and piano.
The band took the world by storm in 1997 with the release of their first major album and debut single MMMBop, which made it to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Zac is still the second youngest artist to ever be nominated for a Grammy award when, at only 11-years-old, he was shortlisted in the Best Record of the Year category.
The Hanson boys formed their own record label 3CG in 2003 and have now played together for more than twenty years. In 2013 they released album Anthem, featuring the single Get the Girl Back which made huge waves in the indie market.
Zac married longtime girlfriend Kate Tucker in 2006 in front of 140 guests at the Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The couple have three children together: John, Junia and George Hanson.
Taylor: I started off with music on the first night of the conference sitting in with the amazing LP. As far as philly music, I am excited to heard a bit of questlove tonight when he dj’s the #under30summit after party
Taylor: There is more music purchased or exchanged than ever before. We do need to work to create more platforms that value content creators (to help make a sustainable future for all creators) but I think the future is bright.
Taylor: The music industry does not have a history of learning from it’s mistakes or for that matter innovating from within. I think that is becuase it has not historically been veiwed as a business that people outside of entertainment would be able to invest in, but now with this more open business world that merges all creative sciences we have a better shot at making the music world a bit smarter
Taylor: Songwriters need to be even more focused on knowing their business and protecting their content value.
Taylor: We are focused on doing different projects (like taking the time to be at the Forbes #under30summit and you can expect a special tour next year. love new orleans!
Taylor Hanson at Forbes’ Under 30 Summit
The concept of rooting business decisions more in quantitative, rather than qualitative, examination transformed the baseball industry. Now a small, if evangelical, group of entrepreneurs and musicians are trying to apply the same mindset to booking tours, releasing albums and managing fame. It was part of the discussion at FORBES’ Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia today, one that featured Hanson, Spotify’s Sachin Doshi and entrepreneur Alex White.
Taking center stage of this shift are entertainers like Hanson, who has experimented with social media data to line up gigs in seemingly strange locations. “All of a sudden we could have 200 people in a bar in the dessert,” says the blonde boy band singer and CEO of 3CG Records.
Not just artists are playing at Moneyball — capitalists too. White’s New York-based startup Next Big Sound takes data on artists and sells it to managers and entertainers in one $20-a-month dashbord. Next Big Sound pulls through Facebook likes, Pandora downloads and other mentions for artists to make more analytical choices.
“People don’t get in the music industry because they love data. Except for me,” says White. “There’s never been this much data. There was just CD sales and radio.” One piece of data he especially liked: examining how many times an artist’s MySpace page was viewed and comparing it to how many songs were downloaded from that MySpace page.
What are the implications of all this? “Data can show us when to release the next record,” says Spotify’s Doshi. “That’s certainly something in our streaming environment that we can work with artists and bands.”
Hanson, the popular music band from the 90′s, has created their own Mmmhops Pale Ale beer and debuted it at this year’s 2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival. The craft beer is named after their hit song, “MMMBop” and is brewed at their Hanson Brothers Beer Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is the first time Mmmhops is available in Florida and the craft beer can be found at the Epcot’s Festival Center. Hanson recently presented Mmmhops at a beverage seminar at the Festival Center to an excited crowd of fans.
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The beverage seminar was a talk on how the brothers came up with the beer idea and how they designed this beer to be an introduction to drinking a hoppy beer. The goal was to make it a drinkable full bodied beer with a hoppy flavor, but not go overboard with a hoppy bitter flavor. They were very knowledgable talking about craft beers and brewing, dropping some beer knowledge to the crowd, while keeping it entertaining for the fans. An autographed beer signed by Hanson was available for purchase with a quick meet and greet, plus a photo opportunity.
Afterwards I got a chance to interview the band about their Mmmhops beer and we talked about craft beers, what food to pair with Mmmhops, and discovering craft beer and food while traveling. These guys are super chill and were great to interview. Watch the video interview directly below…
Please excuse the loud waterfall sound in the background
Link to video on YouTube: http://youtu.be/BtdJ5p-0bBY
Later that evening, Hanson performed at Epcot’s Eat to the Beat Concert Series:
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Zac Hanson on drums.
After watching Hanson perform, I must admit they are a talented group of singers, performers, and musicians. Their fans have so much energy to sing and dance to every song. According to Hanson, this is Hanson’s forth or fifth year performing at Epcot Food & Wine Festival.
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I actually tried the Mmmhops beer during a media event a few weeks ago and it’s as the band describes it, an introductory hoppy beer and full-bodied Pale Ale. It was paired with the Florida Grass Fed-Beef Slider with Pimento Cheese (from Hops & Barley marketplace) and the beer went really well with the flavors of the slider. Mmmhops with a burger would be a great combination together.
Hanson is definitely serious about their craft beer and Mmmhops sounds like it’s only the beginning for Hanson Brothers Beer Company. They mentioned in the interview that they are hoping to see more craft beer presence at the festival, which you definitely can see this year with an entire room dedicated to craft beers at Epcot Food & Wine. Hopefully the festival will have Mmmhops served at one of the marketplaces in the future.
Mmmhops beer is currently available at the Epcot’s Festival Center and select locations in the Midwest. Since the brewery is based in Oklahoma, that Midwest area of the U.S. is where the concentration of distribution is right now. Hanson mentioned that Mmmhops would be available later this year in select locations around Florida. You can always buy the beer online on the websitewww.mmmhops.com.
Find out more about Epcot Food & Wine Festival: droolius.com/tag/epcot-food-wine-festival/
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival continues until November 10, 2014.
Words and photos by Julius Mayo Jr.
Content and photos © Droolius.com 2014
Droolius with Hanson (photo op with the band).
Disclaimer: I was invited as media to interview Hanson. I was not compensated to write this post and all opinions are always my own.
LAKE BUENA VISTA — Fans started lining up at 6 a.m. to see Hanson talk beer.
Yes, beer. Yes, Hanson. The towheaded brothers behind the earwig [sic] MMMBop have come to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival to play music for the past five years. But this year, they had a brilliant business tie-in.
They were legal now, way legal, producing a brand of pale ale aptly named Mmmhops. The beer is making its Florida debut at the festival, sold in cups at the Fife & Drum kiosk at the American Adventure pavilion and in bottles in the festival center.
That’s where Isaac, Taylor and Zac gathered in September for a “beer seminar” and to sign bottles for fans. The brothers formed their beer company in 2013, their 21st year as a band (get it?). The song MMMBop has almost come of age, too, they said.
“If you play that song backwards, it says ‘Drink more beer,’ ” middle brother Taylor quipped to an adoring crowd of hundreds.
Confession: I was fangirling with them. I merrily accepted an interview with the band, because my Hanson hang-up is no big secret. In the 1990s, Hanson was mine. My David Cassidy, my Justin Bieber, my One Direction. My friends and I wrote them mail with glitter stickers down the side. I was sure I’d marry Taylor. Can we call that institutional knowledge?
Alas, time has passed: Isaac is 33; Taylor is 31; Zac is 28.
The Hansons are all married with a combined 11 children. They’ve produced 10 albums and toured the world. Surely they needed a hobby, or at least a drink. Backstage, I tried to find an elegant way to ask Hanson if the beer meant they were in the baby stages of a midlife crisis.
“I don’t know if this is what you’re extrapolating,” Taylor said, my eyes shooting with cartoon hearts. “But I think that if you look, there are a lot of people our age and younger that are really passionate about the craft beer scene. For us, part of what we’re able to say with our interest in beer is, we’re much like many people of our generation. …
“Sometimes what you’re really excited about happens to be on the right curve, where it’s lining up with the cultural movement. And in this case, I would say that’s very much true.”
They partnered with the Mustang Brewing Co. in Oklahoma and started producing a pale ale with Zythos, Centennial and Willamette hops, plus a potent 7.5 percent alcohol content (it really mmm-bops you). They formed a beer and music festival in Tulsa called Hop Jam.
The beer is available around Oklahoma and the Midwest, and online. They say there will be more varieties.
“A good pale ale is an anchor to put in the ground and build around,” said Taylor. “Ours is the kind of pale ale that we think introduces you to higher flavored beers.”
The brothers’ interest in beer feels legitimate. They’re into brands like Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, Dogfish Head and 3 Floyds. They tossed around terms like “malty,” “triple IPA” and “IBU,” or International Bittering Units.
As for the name, they’re not worried it’s gimmicky.
“We always felt like if we want to move forward, we need to take our past with us,” Taylor said. “You can’t wipe things out. And we’re proud of MMMBop.”
It was nominated for Grammys, licensed in everything from The Hangover Part III to Despicable Me 2. And the brothers are sincere when they talk about the message, that it can help people navigate life, even through those prickly thirties.
“That song talks about how, over time you’ll discover that very few things in life last and that you have to consciously define that for yourself,” said Zac, who was 11 when the brothers recorded the song. “When we see the audiences at shows and see these people who have been with you for 20-some-odd years, it rings true what that song is saying. But I think the beer … it’s like the toast to that.”
“To the ones who really care,” added Isaac, quoting the song.
Well, I cared. I bought two bottles of Mmmhops for the Disneyfied price of $15.45 and cracked one open at dinner.
It was a little bitter going down. But the longer it lasted, the more it kept opening up.
Contact Stephanie Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8716. Follow @stephhayes.
.if you go
Drink some Mmmhops
The 19th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival runs 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily through Nov. 10 at Walt Disney World. Included with daily admission: $94, $88 ages 3-9, 2 and younger free. Some events may also require a special event ticket. Food and drinks range from $3 to $8 at each stop along the tour of countries. Epcot at Walt Disney World, 1515 N Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista. Call (407) 939-3378 for more information or go to disneyworld.com/foodandwine.
For the first time, Forbes is bringing together 1,000+ members of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list with some of the globe’s top leaders and mentors to create partnerships that will change the world over the next 50 years. The Under 30 Summit will take place in Philadelphia from Oct. 19 – 22.
It’s been nearly 20 years since Hanson ruled the charts with the impossibly catchy “MmmBop.” But unbeknownst to many, Hanson has quietly adjusted to the new music world–and seems to have found a blueprint for sustainable success.
Since the beginning of last year, Hanson has played more than 95 shows in over a dozen countries, grossing north of $40,000 per concert, according to touring data provider Pollstar. The band continues to release a new album roughly every three years through its own 3CG Records; the latest, Anthem, landed at No. 22 on the Billboard 200.
“First and foremost, I’m an artist,” says Taylor Hanson. “Songwriting and creating music from the ground up has always led what we do. That’s one of the coolest things that we’ve been able to do over time. Even when we started out, it was truly ours.”
In recent years, though, taking a hands-on approach to managing their career has been a key part of the brothers’ experience–and that’s one of the things Taylor will be discussing on the “Music Goes Moneyball” panel at the upcoming Forbes Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia.
The panel, named after my FORBES article of the same title, will also feature Next Big Sound’s Alex White, Spotify’s Sachin Doshi and yours truly as a moderator. It’s set to take place at 12:30pm on Oct 20th on the main floor of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
We’ll be exploring how big data and predictive analytics (the sort championed by Next Big Sound) have changed the music business for artists, entrepreneurs and executives. And few musicians have been keeping a closer eye on this trend than Hanson.
“Data is such a funny thing because it’s only as good as your ability to read it,” he says. “Your business being structured to respond is something that’s really key in this era.”
Though Hanson was among the early adopters of Next Big Sound, Taylor and his brothers have been studying the composition and location of their audience for years thanks to the trove of information offered up by their robust fan club.
By simply using their own database, they can tell where largest clusters of fans are, and plan tours accordingly. Hanson has also been known to poll its fans directly to determine what cities make most sense to play.
Meanwhile, Hanson’s devout following has grown up with the band, and the brothers have expanded their business accordingly. For instance: they launched their own craft beer called–what else–MmmHops. With every bottle purchased, fans receive a free song and automatically make a donation to Hanson’s non-profit, Take The Walk.
“One of the things we’ve tried to do, especially over the past five years, is really embrace the face that we’re not just in the music business,” says Taylor. “We’re in the business of Hanson.”
You previously told me one of the first cassettes you ever received was a Hanson album. Who’s your favorite brother?
Ha! Oh, man. Well they’re all cute. Back in the day, it was the little one that I thought was the cutest. Is his name Zac? I think so.
Have you ever found yourself at an art show wondering, “I wish there was a Hanson connection here?” If so, head on down to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the Philbrook Museum of Art is promoting its new show of 1970s Pop art by boasting a custom-designed soundtrack of ’70s pop hits curated by the one-time teen pop sensations, with users invited to plug in to Spotify on their smartphones for a more immersive experience. The show itself is dubbed “Fever & Flash: Pop in the 1970s,” and is curated by the very capable Lauren Ross. It centers on a suite of 1972 Andy Warhol polaroids dubbed the “Little Red Book,” as well as works by Marisol, Claes Oldenburg, Eduardo Paolozzi, Robert Rauschenberg, Fritz Scholder, Saul Steinberg, Larry Rivers, and others, promising a taste of “the 1970s’s distinctive mix of patriotism, unrest, glamor, and fame.” But enough about the art! The now 33-year-old Isaac Hanson himself was on hand at the museum to tout the collaboration recently, and a Tulsa World video interview shows him explaining the rigorous artistic process that went into creating the “Fever & Flesh” soundtrack: “I took a look at my favorite albums from that era and talked to the guys about it and threw some ideas around and came up with a fun playlist.”
And you don’t have to be in Tulsa to enjoy the Hanson brothers’ selections! The Philbrook’s Hanson Spotify playlist is public—though, fair warning, it contains the much-loathed Frankie Valli tune “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night!),” in addition to Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young,” and a host of other toe-tapping tunes that you haven’t heard since the last time you were at a wedding reception. Still, if the “playlist” idea gets more people to see the show, that’s OK. And fans in search of an artier take on the ’70s pop playlist idea can look forward to a promised future Philbrook collabo with Flaming Lips singer Wayne Coyne.