Best known for the feel-good hit “MMMBop,” Hanson captured the hearts and ears of young people in the 1990s. But the pop-rock band of brothers soon fell under the radar after the band’s label merged with major record company Island Def Jam. After starting their own independent label, Hanson felt they were able to make music that allowed them to express themselves more creatively. The band released Shout It Out, their eighth studio album, in June.
The Summer Northwestern spoke with Taylor Hanson, the second oldest brother in the band.
The Summer Northwestern: First of all, congratulations on your new album. Was it still as exciting as coming out with your first album?
Taylor Hanson: There’s a part of you that’s proud and excited and it can be strange because you’ve had these songs for such a long time. There’s a sense of sending yourself to college. You’ve been with them and known every aspect of them and are now releasing them to the world.
Summer NU: Can you tell us a little about what it sounds like and what it was like recording it?
Hanson: The record is a record that was really recorded very live. We needed to get a clean headspace when we recorded it so we went to a ranch. It’s set up like a classic 1960s record. We tried to capture the essence of the songs. Going into the record, there was just a good feeling about the energy and aesthetics of the album. It’s a record that is more about where we come from and it was more pop and upbeat and a celebratory record from the beginning.
Summer NU: A lot of your fans have been with you since MMMBop came out in the 90s. How much do you keep them in mind when making and recording your music?
Hanson: I think you always keep your fans in mind in the point of view of being an honest voice and trying to be authentic. It doesn’t mean that we cater to the style. We grew up listening to music that was before our time. There’s always a sense of trying to depict who we are. You’re always hoping your fans will connect to the music, but you essentially have to make records you’re excited about.
Summer NU: I know you are all dads now. How does that affect your life on the road?
Hanson: It can be extra busy between just trying to stay connected to your family and stay connected to this. When the family’s on the road, it makes it more fun.
Summer NU: While we’re on the topic of family, what is it like being in a band with your brothers?
Hanson: Well, I think that the more accurate question is “what’s is like NOT being in a band with your brothers?” We’ve been a band together so long that you have a certain sense of connections you don’t have with other people. It goes farther than being with your brothers.
You don’t always get along, you often have strong disagreements about things—things you’re really passionate about. But there’s no question you have a lasting shared connection.
Summer NU: You’ve been nominated for three Grammy awards in the past. What else would you like to achieve with your music career in the future?
Hanson: There’s a lot of things, and honestly I don’t think you can put it on one list. We’re absolutely so proud of what we’ve done up to this point, just being able to make music as a career.
There’s a very broad goal: being able to create things people are able to connect to. It’s not a matter of just getting accolades or awards, it’s more the act of creating something and putting it out there. I think the goal is to reach as many people as possible.
Summer NU: Any advice for college-aged musicians?
Hanson: If you want to make music, it has to be something you absolutely have to do. It can’t be something that you like to do and enjoy it. I think even if you have other interests, you have to throw yourself completely at music. School is a great tool to prepare you to know your crowd, but keep in mind the thing that makes a lasting career is that drive.