NORTH BAY – American pop-rock trio Hanson bravely set out on the Canadian leg of their Shout It Out World Tour in January, travelling by bus through snowy winter months.
Scheduled to play in North Bay on Monday, Feb. 6 at the Capitol Centre, the three brothers, Isaac, Taylor, and Zac Hanson, were only 16, 14 and 11 years old respectively when their hit song MMMBop went to the top of the charts in 1997.
Fifteen years later, the brothers are still making music together, with Isaac on guitar, Taylor singing lead, and Zac on drums. They are especially happy to be making good on a promise to visit Canadian fans.
Youngest member of the trio, Zac Hanson, 26, spoke to North Bay Nipissing News in a telephone interview while on the road in Alberta. He said their new album highlights, more than any other, the music the brothers grew up listening to: Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, which inspired them to form their own band.
The evolution from boys to men
Like their early musical influences, Hanson recorded much of Shout It Out live so that the guitar, piano, drums, and in some instances, the lead vocal, were all recorded in one take. This retro approach to recording is all part of the band’s remarkable evolution and staying power as they grew from young teen pop stars to men with families of their own.
“You know the interesting thing about our evolution is – some things are just undeniably our age and the way we sound,” said Zac. “My voice, for instance, going from being an 11-to-12-year old to being a 26-year-old, there’s definitely that sound that I think people who listen to Hanson records now – you can’t help but notice those things… Hopefully, you just become a better musician. We’ve played so many more shows as a unit. I think our roles, the skills, the way we play together live has evolved dramatically.”
Now that the band has matured, Zac noted the content of their music has changed from pop standards about unrequited love to something richer and deeper.
“I think when you listen to ‘Shout It Out,’ the new album, even the love songs are less about trying to find love and more about trying to keep love, and I think that’s a reflection of an evolution of a slightly different perspective on life than maybe in years past.”
MMMBop video a snapshot in time
With more than 9.5 million views of their MMMBop music video on YouTube, Zac explained what it’s like at 26 to look back at his 11-year-old self performing.
“I think it’s probably like most people when they look at childhood photos of themselves: there’s a little nostalgia, there’s a little bit of cringing, there’s a little bit of pride in there. Depending on the moment, it brings in different feelings.
“Probably, depending on who’s bringing it up, you know – like if it’s your mom, going ‘Hey, I just watched this YouTube video,’ you’re probably cringing, but if it’s ‘20/20’ doing an interview talking about you being an important band from the ‘90s, you’re like, ‘OK, that feels good.’ I don’t know, it varies.”
Hanson promises a “high energy” show
The brothers are promising a high energy show and want their audience to come along for the ride, which varies from quiet solos to rocking numbers where the fans are encouraged to dance, clap, and sing.
“The main thing about a Hanson show is you really should come to interact, to be a part of the show,” said Zac. “I think it’s important for us to stem the tide, the trend of: ‘cross my arms,’ and audiences they’re saying ‘entertain me.’ That’s not the kind of show that we do. Come to be involved, come to sing, come to enjoy yourself, because for us, it is a high energy show; it is something where it’s supposed to be the highlight of your day.”
Hanson performs at the Capitol Centre on Monday, February 6.
Story by M.C. Parker