Hanson still making connections with fans

By | October 4, 2011

CT Post

Not many people would have been too surprised if the band Hanson disappeared after taking the music world by storm with 1997’s bubblegum-pop classic “MMMBop.”

The trio, comprised of brothers from Tulsa, Okla., then ages 11 through 16, would have been tossed in the bin of discarded one-hit wonders — a novelty act of sorts because of their youth — and that would be that.

But the Hansons didn’t want to follow that script, and thanks to various forms of social media, as well as a strenuous touring schedule, the group has held on to its base of fans and supplemented them with new ones.

“We kind of arrived on the worldwide music scene at a time when our generation was growing up with the Internet and mobile phones and we seized that moment and were able to build a strong relationship with our fans,” keyboardist-singer Taylor Hanson, 28, said in a recent phone interview as the band was en route to a concert in Boulder, Colo. “We were younger, so our peers also were being shaped by that technology. That helped us establish a kind of a foothold.

“At the height of the first record, the Hanson website was No. 3 on the list of most traffic for a music website. Which tells you how many fans were using the Internet to connect about music. We’re really built around innovating and developing a relationship with our fans directly through the Web and then jumping off from there.”

For its present tour, Hanson again has used the Internet as a way to get fans involved, having them vote on the group’s website which of their five albums will be featured at each tour stop.

“We were just really looking for a way to make it special,” Taylor Hanson said. “We’ve been touring a lot and, for our fans, we wanted things to change a bit, be a little different. So we were just looking for creative ideas.

“Last year, we put together a series of concerts where for five nights in a row — once in New York and once in London — we featured a different album each night.

It was such a cool thing because it allowed us to play the records as a body of work. When we did that, it kind of triggered the idea that it might be great to take that on the road. That was the impetus for this tour concept.

“And since you can’t play five nights in every city without spending a year on the road, we decided to put it in the fans’ hands, to let them decide on what they wanted to hear.”

Hanson — which also includes guitarist-singer Isaac, 30, and drummer-singer Zac, 25 — may have initially been a little concerned that “Middle of Nowhere” — their debut album that included “MMMBop” and sold more than 10 million copies worldwide — would dominate the voting. According to Taylor, however, voting has “just been all over the place.

“It’s really been pretty diverse and I think one of the reasons is that those that are the most passionate about voting are going to be the most dedicated fans, the ones that are the most involved.

“So the passive fan is going to be less likely to vote a bunch of times or get their friends to vote for the album they like. But the ones that are really hardcore, who know all the albums, tend to be more active.

“It keeps us on our toes because we don’t know what the winning album is going to be. We’ve got to be ready to play anything.”

The connections made through the use of the Internet and other forms of social media have allowed Hanson to grow musically, with their loyal fans coming along for the ride.

The group has come a long way artistically since “MMMBop,” and longtime followers have been able to witness all the changes in the group’s sound through the web.

“That was the idea,” Taylor said. “Of course, you’re continually balancing the challenges of being successful and also making music that you’re excited about, making records that you feel proud of.

“We tried to keep the thing that was at the core of our band, and also continue to do things that are different and exciting.”

Toad’s Place is at 300 York St., New Haven. Saturday, Oct. 8, 7 p.m. $25 advance, $30 day of show. 203-624-8623, www.toadsplace.com.

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