Hanson headlined our third and final Sounds Like PAPER concert of the summer last night, and, let us just say, Hanson fans mean business. The very enthusiastic crowd, which consisted of all age groups, went nuts when the trio broke into their mid ’90s hit “MMMBop” and our ears are still ringing. PAPERMAG talked to the boys before they hit the stage about their diverse and loyal fans, photography, books and giving back to the world.
Taylor, you’ve been keeping PAPERMAG photo diary, and a lot of people were asking how you got into photography and what kinds of cameras are you working with
TH: I’m a complete novice. For me, it’s about being there in the moment and capturing stuff that happens more than it is about really being a “photographer.” But my camera is the best point-and-shoot around — it’s a Deluxe 4 which is a Leica camera. But taking good pictures is mostly about just being astute. I find is that i have a hard time keeping journals and we realized you could capture a thought or a feelings better through a picture. It allows you to take trivial moments and make them a little less trivial. It can be a shot of someone just sitting there scratching their head, thinking, but when you look back on it you go “Oh there’s something kinda beautiful about that.” Then you remember all the different things that were going on around it.
Hanson does charitable walks with their fans barefoot. Why did you start doing that?
TH: The walks are a serious labor of love. It’s a grassroots thing with just us and there’s no glamour or a to-do list. That’s one of the things that’s great about it.
Isaac Hanson: Our walks have evolved into people all over the world taking their own walks where we donate a dollar to a certain cause for each mile walked. So the goal has been to encourage others to take action and take responsibility. And these causes may not fully resonate with you, and they may not be something you feel you can talk passionately about, but the important thing for you to understand your own capacity to lead and to go off and do important things in your everyday life. To realize that simple things can make a profound impact.
You guys have been a band for over 15 years already. Do you see a shelf-life to being a touring band? Do you want to be doing this until your in your fifties, or do any of you have individual aspirations you’d want to pursue outside of the band?
IH: Well, we all have individual aspirations for sure.
Zac Hanson: By the time we get to be 50 or 60 hopefully we’ll be slowing down a little.
TH: I don’t think at any point we’d ever say “we’re retiring as a band,” because it’s sorta like saying ‘I’m gonna stop caring about something.’ I have a side project called Tinted Windows and we all write with different people but we are as independent as any band you’ll ever meet. We own our label, we write everything, we produce it so if somebody’s like “Allright, I’m gonna go do a record with Quest Love” we’re not gonna go “No.” But our band is everything we are. We’re good with our fans and trying to have that relationship and keep it alive. We’re trying to start working on a whole new generation of people, and their kids, and their kids…
Do you guys still see young kids coming to your shows?
ZH: Most of our fans are our age — mostly 22-27. What we have seen are their younger sisters and younger brothers, or even their children.
IH: Now that’s really a crazy phenomenon.
TH: It should be about having fans stick with you for a long time. We were recently in Chicago and asked the audience “Who has seen two shows?” and everybody screamed. Then we asked “Who’s seen three..four…five..ten shows?” Like three-quarters of the audience had seen 10 hanson shows.
ZH: You have people who love Hanson and then people who don’t love Hanson, and we like that. We want our music to create some sort of emotional reaction — negative or positive — that it’s getting into people its forcing people to care. Nobody wants an audience of fans who are like “eh.”
Taylor, we noticed on your photo diary, that you’ve been reading Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart, who we contacted and is quite excited to hear about. We did a book giveway on our website, too.
TH: I really love his style of writing, but I’m actually only about three quarters through because I always read multiple books at once and I’m at that point where I have to push through. Then I’ll be able to give my full review.
What else are you reading on the road?
TH: Lots of random poetry by Ralph Waldo Emerson, I’m kind of a freak about Frank Lloyd Wright so I end up with random biographies of his and different people who wrote stuff about his architecture. It’s funny when when people ask ‘What do you do on the road?’ We don’t have time to do anything on the road!
IH: From 6 in the morning until 7 at night we’re out doing a radio or a tv thing for a couple hours and in the process we’re catching up on sleep.
TH: (Laughs) And then you know, you wake up in a pool of your own vomit every day from the night before.