History isn’t usually kind to bands like Hanson. Despite the demise of most of their pre-millennia contemporaries, the three bright-eyed wonder boys from Oklahoma never stopped making records.
Isaac, Taylor and Zac might all be married now, but the three brothers still exude some of that youthful exuberance after all these years — both musically and personally.
A&E sat down with the former teen-pop darlings to talk about their newest album, The Jonas Brothers and why there’s no room left for cynicism.
It’s been 15 years since you were first considered a “boy band.” What do you think about more contemporary teen pop like The Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus?
Zac: There’s some amazing contemporary pop, but I don’t know if they’d fall under that. So much of their success has been driven by their public persona, not by the quality. I’m sure some of those artists are talented, but it’s so driven by things like Disney, the movies, the TV shows, and it really isn’t based on this great world-changing music.
Well, do you think marketing becoming more crucial to success is just a result of how the music industry has changed?
Zac: Well it’s not just music … Everything’s wrapped up into that. From Chiquita bananas to music to selling USB drives, whatever it is; that’s just the way the world works now. Because we’re holding little computers in our hands, you know, smart phones, laptops, wifi proliferation, 4G … it’s just like, you’re constantly being marketed to and as a musician that’s selling culture. You have to find a way to fight that battle as well. You have to find a way to know that you’re marketing yourself and find a way to represent yourself in a real way that will connect with people.
Does that ever make you cynical?
Isaac: I think it’s a very cynical business in many cases … because it’s very complicated. And I think you’ll feel that, and that will happen in any artists’ career. But the truth of the matter is we were always in this because we loved what we did. We loved writing songs, we loved making music and making records we feel like we could play 15 years from now. And there’s no room for cynicism in that.
Plenty of fans that come to your shows are still from the “MMbop” generation. When you first made it big did you think you’d have that kind of staying power today?
Zac: I mean, we hoped we would, but I think what we knew was that we would be doing it until we were old and gray. You know, when we were younger people would ask us ‘What are you going to do in 10 years?’ and it’s like ‘Are you an idiot? We’re doing our job.’ We always felt that way and being able to do it and seeing it realized, that’s always surprising.
When you were younger did you ever have any anxiety about being pigeonholed into one-hit wonder status?
Taylor: When you start to worry about things like that, you pigeonhole yourself sometimes because you make the kind of choices that are based on not wanting to be a one-hit wonder instead of the kind of choices that gave you those hits in the first place. So we’ve always tried to just keep doing that: say to ourselves ‘when we wrote “MMMbop,” what were we trying to achieve?’ When you make your records it’s not in order to be a hit, you’re looking at your own feelings about the record you’re making and you’re going, ‘Does this live up to my standards?’ And if you continually do that, you’ll achieve all those other things.
If you would name your band anything besides Hanson, what would it be?
Zac: Greatest band of all time? Is that too long?
Taylor: The Hanson
Isaac: I don’t know … Three-Headed Hydra?