Who would have ever thought that teeny boppers Hanson would still be on top nearly 14 years after “MMMbop” topped the charts? But it’s true.
The trio of bros now have not only eight kids among them but another number one hit (their new video, “Give A Little,” is no. 1 on VH-1’s Top 20 Countdown) and they just rocked the house on Dancing With The Stars.
I just caught up with frontman Taylor Hanson, now 28 (yes, ladies, the one you’ve long referred to as “the cute one”) to ask about the band’s longevity, his recent spinoff supergroup Tinted Windows and, of course, this year’s teen sensation, Justin Bieber.
UsMagazine.com: You’ve outlasted so many acts. Do you ever look around now and think, ‘I can’t believe I’m still doing this!’?
Taylor Hanson: I’m not surprised we are here, but I’m proud of surviving for a long time. You take pride in doing what you set out to do. We’ve worked really hard to try and keep this as our day job and we still love it.
Us: What’s your secret?
TH: We don’t count our eggs before they hatch and never take anything for granted. Our job is to go out and to make music that genuinely gets you excited.
Us: Looking back now, what is your take on Hanson?
TH: You can say a lot of things about Hanson but I don’t think anyone could say that we’ve ever been trendy, and as a band we are not capable of doing things we aren’t excited about.
Us: What was the whole Tinted Windows thing? You got a lot of good reception and that was a great album. Was that trying something different or was it really trying to leave the band?
TH: Oh no, it was never about leaving the band. One of things that is sort of behind the scenes of Hanson is how much we write, and the last several years we set up retreats where we write songs with tons of different artists every year. Tinted Windows was partly was spurned by that process. With Hanson, we grew up listening to classic rock ‘n roll and soul music, and that kind of shines in this record. It just really comes out.
Us: So are you guys going to do another one? Is there going to be another Tinted Windows?
TH: It really is a side project, and it’s honestly just trying to keep it enjoyable and fun and not have it be one of the things that’s hanging over everybody’s head.
Us: So to get back to Hanson, “Give A Little” is Number One now on VH-1’s top 20. How is that? The duration of the group’s number 1’s is pretty awesome.
TH: Number one anything is always nice! I think the record taps into something that is a very pure sense of what got us into music, and the record is recorded in a way that is of another generation. I feel like it’s inspired by stuff we always wanted to try to live up to: classic pop, soul songs…simple stuff that leaves out anything extra except for just the essence. With the single last year we felt like we were just shining a light on a particular aspect and sound of the band that is just the essence of what particularly makes us tick.
US: So you also just did Dancing With the Stars. How was that?
TH: The narrative of the song with the guy, the girl, the dancing, the whole thing, it was pretty surreal. I have serious respect for the work that it takes to pull that off. We were backstage with Ralph Macchio talking with him for a while and dude, the guy is just back there busting it. You have to respect the effort that it takes, and it definitely made me want to tune into the show after watching it all go down.
Us: Would you ever want to do the show yourself?
TH: I don’t know. You’d have to consider it. In a vacuum, no I couldn’t imagine dancing on national television like that, but a lot of cool people have gone on there and it’s been fun to watch. A lot of the dancers were tugging on the coattails as we were there, going, ‘you guys have to get on the show.’ Maybe Zac should do it — he’s got the moves. He gets to hide behind the drums most of the time but maybe he wants to come out of the drummer cage.
Us: How was Kirstie Alley? Did you get to see her?
TH: She was super nice. We briefly met and said hello when we were sound checking. I don’t have any dirt, but it was great and the whole production was amazing.
Us: You have four kids yourself, Isaac has two, Zac has two, are your kids going to have a band just like you guys?
TH: We could have never predicted we would have been a band and our parents never could have made it happen. That’s something that has to happen organically. They’re still under the age of ten so I give them anonymity at least until they hit double digits. I’m going to take the pressure off, but after double digits maybe we’ll talk.
Us: How is being a dad? How do you juggle four kids as well as touring and everything?
TH: I have an amazing wife and I don’t sleep a lot. You just realize that life goes by really fast and that this period doesn’t last forever. Ten years from now we’ll have teenagers, which is insane, and so you just have to realize the craziness of little kids and trying to figure out how to manage time. You have to make the most of every minute.
Us: Is it weird for you seeing your brothers having kids?
TH: It kind of makes sense when I see them with kids because I know where their heads are at. It’s always surreal when people think I know everything and have it figured out.
Us: You guys started out so young, have you met Justin Bieber? Do you have any advice for him getting through this whole thing like you did?
TH: I think it’s honestly hard to succeed whether you start out really young or you go into it at 20 or 40. You have to live and breathe music, and it has to be something you’re just committed to. We met Justin at the start of his career at a Grammy event about a year and a half ago and he honestly seemed like just a nice kid that was really happy that people were paying attention to what he was doing. I will say that one of the hardest things to do is to survive success and in some ways it’s easier than surviving failure because when you do succeed, and you reach a place you want to be, just figuring out how to maintain that and also just maintain focus and perspective is a challenge.
Us: Do you think he’ll make it and still be making music at the age you guys are now?
TH: I don’t know. It’s rare to succeed like he has, so you have to give him credit for what he’s done regardless of anything that’s going on behind the scenes or how he makes his records. I will say there are young people, likeTaylor Swift, who’ve had a lot of success in the last few years. She’s somebody who I feel will be making records for years. You just can’t take no for answer to survive. You have to stay with it.
Us: Any upcoming plans?
TH: We’re going to be in London in a couple of weeks to do a five night engagement, which will be fun. We’ve had a lot of top ten singles there and toured there multiple times. It’s going to be insane!