If you go
Hanson & Hellogoodbye with Steel Train and Sherwood
Where: 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW
When: 6 p.m. Oct. 20
Details: $30; 930.com
Talk to Hanson fans about why they emotionally connect with the band and you’ll hear stories of family conflict, rape and depression.
Those who don’t know the band might think the three Tulsa, Okla., brothers whose breakout hit — the 1997 release “MMMBop” — are just another pop act. Zac Hanson agreed with fans that the connection was much deeper.
“People would write us off or discredit us in ways when we started. … We were so young,” said Zac Hanson, now 23. “But fans looked at us and said, ‘This is a band of our generation. These are guys that represent me and are not writing for me but they are writing and are me.’ ”
Hanson — comprised of Isaac, 29, Taylor, 26, and Zac — works to stay grounded. Not only do the brothers eschew the Hollywood life, but they work for social causes dear to their generation. Charitable works include the ongoing “The Walk Tour,” which began in 2007 to raise money to fight poverty and AIDS in Africa.
“The Walk has never been intended to be something fashionable or timely in the sense of pop culture but just something we feel is very honest,” Zac Hansonsaid. “We just feel the need to keep doing something that not only benefits others but also allows people to touch something so real.”
That attitude is reflected in the band’s music and has spurred fans to even use personal struggles to help others.
Gabrielle Lyons, 26, of Paso Robles, Calif., calls Hanson’s music “the shining light in my life that helped me survive the aftermath of having been raped. … It is partially because of their music that I’m still alive today and their words and melodies have inspired me to use my pain for the good of others who have suffered like me.”
Although fans debate the band’s sound — Zac Hanson calls it “pop rock” — they are clear that it’s heartfelt, bordering on spiritual.
Listening to samples of the band’s new five-song EP, “Stand Up, Stand Up,” it’s clear the band’s signature sound has matured with the brothers. The lilting harmonies remain, but the lyrics and musical tone are sophisticated and fluid.
“Their lyrics are so amazingly beautiful, especially in … ‘Stand Up, Stand Up,’ ” said Theresa Corbett, 24, of Amelia, Ohio. “The song ‘Use Me Up’ is so haunting it sends chills down my bones.”
Expect more of the same but perhaps in a more uptempo format on the band’s new CD, which the brothers hope to release in May 2010.
“It’s a record that has a lot of energy and a lot of — and I use this word cautiously — joy ,” Zac Hanson said of the upcoming disc. “It’s a joyous record. It’s a combination of things that has allowed us to [forge] a really strong connection with people. We are lucky to be here and we recognize that.”