If Hanson conjures images of a towheaded six-year-old Mmmbopping on drums as his brothers bounce around the stage, the sophistication of the next few lines will be scary.
“I think the mistake that the music business made early on was fighting change. There’s a difference between social/political change and just the environment of commerce,” says Isaac Hanson, the oldest of the one-time tween heartthrobs, in a telephone interview from “Hanson HQ” in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“When commerce is changing so dramatically, ie. the Internet, you’re really just putting yourself in a position where you’re fighting inevitability (if you don’t adapt),” he goes on to say.
The music biz is the only industry that’s seen 20 per cent shaved from its bottom line year-over-year for the last 10 years due in no small part to theft, he continues.
Clearly, the band of brothers have grown up a little in the years since most North Americans remember them, though they never stopped making and producing music. With eight records to their name, one can forgive them for becoming rather opinionated about the love ’em and leave ’em business that’s rendered their band a cult classic rather than a Bieberesque blockbuster.
Rolling into a conversation on record labels and conglomeration within the industry, Isaac is soon sugar-coating the obvious. If any band didn’t quite change with the times or adapt to attract new fans, it’s Hanson.
On the other hand, a quick listen of their latest album, Shout it Out, and it’s clear their original talent for building catchy pop tunes is still alive and well. Solid hooks and whistle-worthy melodies counteract the strangely retro video offerings that accompany it. Admittedly, the odd mix of personal style that seems to pull one brother from the ’50s while another takes a crack at ’90s grunge and the last musters a Marlboro Man appeal (sans cigarettes), probably doesn’t help them crack mainstream.
Opening for the band when they touch down in Kelowna next week, though, is an act whose well en route to her own success story. Carly Rae Jepsen, whose single Call Me Maybe is doing exactly what a media-savvy wannabe pop princess needs to parlay musical leanings to stardom, is raking in attention. Call Me Maybe topped the iTunes downloads after Justin Bieber gave her the nod via Twitter, a solid building block for a girl whose toehold in the industry came off a defunct TV sing-off contest (Canadian Idol).
Back in 1997, Hanson hit with a similar bang to Bieber, sending crazed fans to their concerts in droves; but 15 years later, where the 140 characters of a Bieber tweet wields power only a record deal once did, the Hanson brothers typically use social media to discuss what’s for lunch.
Isaac doesn’t seem remotely concerned about any of this, mind you, and to their credit, neither are the core group of 20-somethings who still snap up Hanson tickets religiously. The group has played Toronto four years in a row, after all, even if they don’t really make many other Canadian dates.
For Hanson, tweeting and making YouTube videos of the inane idiosyncrasies of their lives is all about pulling the fans back into the process, helping people appreciate that musicians are real people trying to earn a living. In so doing, they hope it may make it easier for people to see how downloading their music for free really is akin to stealing a Snicker’s bar from your local convenience store, Isaac says.
From where he sits, allowing corporations like Apple to own the music industry really isn’t the best route to producing good art anyway. They’re trying to sell computers, not push music, he points out as the interview draws to a close.
It could be sour grapes, but it’s equally possible it’s solid vision from a group that’s managed to earn a nice living for the bulk of their lives off the kind of tunes that just get stuck in your head.
For those who like pop with a little bop, Hanson plays Kelowna Community Theatre this Tuesday, Jan. 24 beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are $19.50 for students and $44.80 full price, available through Select Your Tickets,www.selectyourtickets.com or 250-762-5050.