Like countless other musicians from around the globe, Oklahoma indie-rock band Hanson is at the SXSW Music and Media Conference in Austin, Texas to play live music and promote their new single. But the brothers are taking the extra step to ensure that their music industry peers don’t turn a blind eye to where attention is truly needed — to aid with disaster relief in Japan.
PopCrush caught up with Taylor and Isaac following a short acoustic performance on Austin’s famed 6th street — and as a duo, the two eldest brothers were in rare form. The band’s youngest member, 25-year-old drummer Zac, was missing, doing an interview elsewhere downtown in hopes to spread the gospel a little further.
“Our part in it is, we realized we had enough fans, enough know-how, and enough friends that are here. We use live-streaming content all the time, and so this has just been a labor of getting the word out,” middle brother Taylor tells PopCrush exclusively.
Today, at noon central (SXSW time), the brothers will launch a 12-hour live web cast leading up to their official showcase at Antone’s at midnight. With the help of fellow musicians like R.E.M., Widespread Panic, Ben Folds, The Boxer Rebellion, North Mississippi Allstars, Charlie Mars, Bowling For Soup, Andy Grammer and Portugual the Man, the ‘Penny and Me’ hitmakers are hoping to raise money — and attention — for Japan. In addition to the ongoing web stream, sessions with SXSW bands who donate their time and talent will be turned into an album to be made available on iTunes, with all of the proceeds going to the American Red Cross.
“You’ve got an issue that is so extreme, I think people are overwhelmed by it,” Taylor presses. “They think, oh, Japan — they’ve got an economy that’s strong, they’re not Haiti. This is on a scale that’s really never been seen before.”
This is not the first time the Grammy-nominated trio has sported the philanthropist hat — in 2007, the band joined hands with TOMS Shoes and quite literally took to the streets to raise awareness for AIDS in Africa. With their fans behind them, the band took off their shoes and walked a barefoot mile from each concert venue on their tour to give people a very real idea of what life is like in impoverished countries. The tradition continued on the band’s 2008, 2009, and 2010 tours — and Hanson and their fans hit goals to donate countless pairs of shoes, help build clean water sources, and give less fortunate kids a shot at a proper education.
“They need so much,” Taylor adds, referring to the recent disasters that have shaken Japan. “What matters is that everyone at this event tried to do something. Because if this event ends, if SXSW ends, and people didn’t galvanize and focus on trying to respond in the moment, then it’s going to be a horrible, horrible notch in the belt for the music business — and the rest of time, for that matter. So we’re digging in and trying to do our part.”
SXSW as a whole is backing Hanson in their efforts, and all donations from today’s live-streaming web cast will go directly to the Red Cross. View the SXSW 4 Japan live-stream with Hanson, and for more information, and to lend a hand to those in need in Japan, visit here.