MANILA, Philippines – Being a band of brothers doesn’t necessarily spell longevity in the music biz. Take it from the Hansons — Isaac, Taylor and Zac.
“Definitely not,” the American pop-rock band, otherwise known as the Hanson, told The STAR in an exclusive interview prior to a presscon last Thursday.
“Being brothers or siblings in a band is not unique. You have the Jackson 5, Beach Boys, Kings of Leon, Oasis… There’s plenty of families in music,” explained Taylor, 29.
But he said that being brothers in a band is a quality that can be an advantage in more ways than one for any musician, starting with the fact that the vocal cords are similar. “Chances are you also grew up listening to the same kind of music. (And) you have the shared experience of time that make you able to glue more on stage and writing songs,” he added.
The band from Tulsa, Oklahoma is in town for a two-city concert — yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City and tonight in Cebu at the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug — mounted by Dayly Entertainment and Fox International Channel to promote its latest album Shout it Out, now in stores under PolyEast Records.
It’s not the Hanson’s first visit here though; the band first came to the country for a concert in November of 2004.
It’s hard to imagine that it’s been 15 years since the Hanson first broke through the music scene with its first smash hit MMMbop from the album Middle of Nowhere in 1997. Come to think of it: Long before the tweensation of a trio that is the Jonas Brothers came to the picture, the Hanson was the pop-rock threesome reigning supreme.
And how the boys have changed, if only to state the obvious. Okay, they’re no longer boys but still cute in a very grown-up kind of way, and talking about big changes in their careers and even personal lives. They’ve managed to stick together and still make music, but the journey’s not without challenges.
Isaac, 31, said, “In some ways as we have gotten older, as we have more uniquely separate lives, it does create other challenges. We all have wives and kids, and we also run a record company, things like that. Some of the early advantages (are) you were kind of around each other, living in the same house, and things like that.”
Taylor, for his part, said, “It’s just anything that’s over time. It doesn’t matter what you do. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you do something for 20 years, as we are, things gotta be slightly different. The way you create your part, the way you create your music, it’s going to change, too, so will you. No one is the same 20 years after.”
Zac, 26, said, “One thing with our music though, we’re confident musically more than ever. I mean we’ve always written our songs, always played our songs but we’ve stretched a lot of different muscles for the last 10 years. Especially in the last decade, we’ve gone album into album, really trying to do something that would be different, exciting, stretching ourselves in some way. There’s nothing that we’re afraid to try. We know the key component that makes Hanson unique. A lot of bands reach 20 years of career, and you’re kind of burned-out. At this point, we still have so many things we want to do and can do.”
Isaac had an interesting thing to say about how music brings them together as it drives others apart. Music history has, after all, furnished us with loads of examples of siblings and non-siblings in a band going on separate, if not bitter, ways. So, you might make wonderful music together, but everything boils down to the kind of relationship you have with each other.
“We have a pretty fluid relationship,” said Taylor. “We know what to expect from one another. Part of that is figuring out how to be in a band, just realizing how to lean on each other in different times. Everybody plays a role and keeps it moving forward. A lot of bands at some point can’t stand each other anymore. But I think with us, we kind of just played off each other, worked through musical and creative differences, and even in just the way we run our business. So we just make it work.”
For the past years, Hanson has chosen to go independent. When told that these past years gave some Filipino fans the impression that they were lying low, Taylor said, “The last five years, we have been touring, although not to the Philippines. (But) we’ve probably toured more countries than ever. I really just think, as we’ve changed, a lot of our partners have changed. It’s really been a building process for us, to find the right partners to get us back around the world. It’s harder and harder… In 1997, when we first came out, the music industry was at an all-time high, all around the world. Imagine the money that was being made, the albums that were being sold, and since then, the industry just generally just collapsed. With that, it’s harder to build a global network.”
“Especially if you’re an independent artist now,” Isaac chimed in.
Taylor said, “I think it’s a natural struggle that you have to go through (as an artist). But you just have to keep going.”
Nevertheless, for this year, one of the biggest goals of the band is to reach out to as many countries as it can and bring its latest work, the 12-track Shout It Out, which debuted at No. 2 on the US Billboard Independent Charts. It has been described as the group’s most ambitious album to date, paying tribute to funk, soul, R&B and other musical influences when the Hansons were growing up. The band also tapped the help of Motown legends. In a review, Billboard wrote that the album “represents some of the band’s most soulful work ever committed to record.” Another Billboard review wrote that the album is “a fun listen that beams with genuine talent and creative artistry.”
So, how are the guys taking this promising start for Shout it Out? Zac said, “We’re really excited. Historically, the band, obviously, we’ve toured the US a lot. But outside the States, it’s always been where a huge part of our fans are. To come to the Philippines and be here, years later after our last album, and see amazing response to the record, it makes you feel good. Being an independent band, it’s an extra challenge to put all those things together. So it feels great! Hopefully, this makes a good building process for the next cycle.”
Isaac said, “I feel like we’re in a better track to be more consistent around the world, and perhaps to be returning to the Philippines on much regular basis.”
“World domination,” Taylor mused.
“We’ll be kind though, we’ll not be tyranical,” Zac offered.
“We’ll be benevolent,” Taylor added.
“Benevolent musical dictators,” Isaac also said.
And so the Hanson ended our interview, finishing off each other’s sentences, goofing around, and showing us what brothers, in music or not, are supposed to be.
(For details and ticket reservations to the Cebu concert tonight, call 232-6888/514-3500.)