BY JESSE SCOTT
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Listening to “MMMBop” in the late ’90s, you couldn’t help but wonder where Taylor, Isaac and Zac Hanson would be today.
Would the brothers shed their polished image and become male versions of Lindsay Lohan? Would they retire into obscurity out in Oklahoma? Or would they somehow break the teeny-bop mold and become respected musicians?
There were a lot of questions back then, but now it’s clear: Hanson is legit, and they have grown into a pretty amazing band.
The trio played the Hat Factory in Richmond last night and will head to North Carolina this weekend for stops in Asheville and Raleigh.
“Our live performance is a really music-heavy show,” said lead singer Taylor Hanson, in a recent phone interview from the set of “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” in New York City.
“Wall to wall, it’s everything we’ve ever recorded mixed with an incarnation of the music we love.”
If all you know about Hanson is the band’s 1997 pop hit “MMMBop,” you’ve got a bit of catching up to do. First and foremost, the boys have been through puberty (heck, Taylor even has four kids), and have come into a musical element that’s both unique and lasting.
Nothing captures the 2010 edition of Hanson better than their latest album, “Shout It Out.” The band’s eighth studio album, released on June 8, is injected with heaps of catchy hooks and the harmonies that only these three brothers could effortlessly weave.
To top it all off, Hanson has broken away from the iron fist of major labels, and the brothers now release everything under their own label, 3CG Records.
“We’ve lived a pretty bohemian lifestyle, which has been similar over the past decade,” said Taylor Hanson. “The lifestyle of carrying your life on your back, like a turtle, and making music and being devoted to it has always had an appeal to us.”
But, he added, one thing that continues to evolve for the Hanson brothers is the level of control they exert on the business side.
“We run our own label, merchandise and all of our marketing and promotions. When we’re out on the road we jokingly call ‘off days’ ‘non-show days.’ No sleep for the rock ‘n’ roll pioneers!”
For their current tour, Hanson teamed up with OurStage.com to let fans vote on the opening bands in each city. In addition to getting to share the stage with the multi-platinum band, winners get to participate in a nightly, live-streamed interview with Hanson. The winner for the Richmond show was Brittany Jean.
“It really is a great example of our spirit and investment of being independent,” said Taylor Hanson.
“We think it’s the coolest thing ever being a part of shaping what might be the next great artist that is just coming into their own. We get to be a part of the story.”
In the past, Hanson has organized a partnership with TOMS shoes to fight poverty in Africa and even released a coffee-table book detailing the band’s passion for helping the less fortunate in Africa.
But regardless of what they’ve done, the cool things they are yet to do or truly top-notch music they release, there will always be the naysayers who are still stuck in the late ’90s.
“We could talk someone into knowing that our band is good and be like, ‘No really, trust me,'” said Taylor Hanson. ” But we let the music do the talking as much as possible, and let our fans do the rest of the talking.”
Jesse Scott is a freelance writer in Fredericksburg. Reach him at jesse