Hanson isn’t riding a wave of ’90s nostalgia for their current tour, which includes a Saturday night stop at Little Lake MusicFest.
The trio of brothers are doing what they’ve always done, which is play music, Taylor Hanson told The Examiner during a phone interview Tuesday.
Hanson, which also includes brothers Isaac and Zac, rose to fame in the late 1990s on the strength of the 1997 hit single MmmBop, which was nominated for several Grammy Awards.
“We’ve never leaned on that (nostalgia). The majority of who we’re speaking to after about five minutes into a Hanson show, you’re going to be there for what you’re hearing now,” Taylor said.
That doesn’t mean Hanson shies away from the tunes that brought them success.
“We’re really proud of MmmBop,” he said. “It was a song we wrote, that was nominated for Grammys made by kids in a garage band.”
Taylor adds that the song isn’t just a singable tune, it’s about how life is fleeting but that message is often only picked up on by fans.
“It’s not shrug your shoulders and say ‘Oh, we’ve got to play MmmBop.’ ”
Other hit songs from the 1997 album Middle of Nowhere included Weird and Where’s the Love.
“But we hope people to see the whole picture, know all the albums and all the things. But you have to embrace the stuff that has reached a lot of people.”
Now, 15 years and four albums later, Hanson is doing their first robust tour of Canada, Taylor said.
The tour is promoting Hanson’s latest album Shout it Out, which was released in 2010 in the U.S. but has had a delayed released worldwide, Taylor said.
Their latest release has Hanson’s signature mix of pop, rock and soul sounds mixed with strong melody and harmonies.
A new album will hopefully be ready by next spring, he added.
“In the meantime, we’re playing a smattering of different shows . . . just getting out there and playing while working on new music.”
Hanson may have faded from mainstream pop music, but they never really left the music scene. They’ve had several top 10 releases on the indie charts, Taylor said, and continued writing, recording and producing.
“We were always focused on the music. We still love it,” he said.
When the group broke on the scene the young trio (Taylor was 14, Isaac was 17, and Zac was 11) stood out from popular bands of the day.
“We were in juxtaposition to grunge,” Taylor said. “Everybody else was in flannel and hadn’t showered in weeks.”
But Taylor is quick to point out that groups of young musicians aren’t anything new, listing artists such as Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and the Jackson Five as some who found youthful success.
“Pop culture has a really short memory,” he said.
Even the current mass of young entertainers shouldn’t be that surprising, Taylor said.
“It makes a lot of sense; who buys a lot rock and roll records? Young girls.”
Hanson’s desire to focus on the music is one of the reasons they left behind major labels to become independent, eventually starting their own record label 3CG.
“It was not having the sense we could steer the ship. It’s never been about giving ‘the man’ the middle finger,” Taylor said. “It’s about managing our brand, what Hanson is and to be able to release music when we feel it’s important.”
The band’s success has afforded Hanson the ability to invest in themselves, he added, and worked on projects they believed in.
Hanson’s last album The Walk was inspired by a trip to Africa and the extreme poverty they witnessed. The brothers would take part in barefoot walks to raise money for the children of Africa.
But between social causes, nostalgia and challenges with record labels, it always comes back to the brothers and their music.
“It has to be about music, there’s a shared conviction, we’ve faced all kinds of challenges but there’s still a strong connection when we play and when we write,” Taylor said. “Music is stronger than blood in this case.”
NOTE: Hanson is the closing act for the 2012 Little Lake MusicFest.