Taylor Hanson is a singer, song writer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and co-owner of 3CG Records. His band Hanson celebrates their 20 year anniversary this year. We spoke to Taylor to find out what music means to him.
Q: This year marks the 20th anniversary of Hanson. There have been some well-documented high points and low points throughout the past two decades for the band, but what are you looking forward to in the year ahead?
Taylor: So many things, I mean one, the music, the next record, we’re working on new songs, we’re already thinking ahead in a big way. I think also just as a band reaching 20 years…maybe we’ll be 40 or 60 years, but it’s sort of a midlife mark, call it the midlife crisis! There’s definitely some re-evaluating going on, you’re going “What are the next things we want to accomplish, what are the things that we want to do?” and so I think I’m excited about adding new things to the Hanson resume.
Q: Celebrating 20 years, I’m sure there’s been some reflection on all the experiences you’ve had over the twenty years since you really began. Can you pick a career highlight?
Taylor: You definitely reminisce a little bit, when you try and step back from things, you’re reminded of the first time you did this, or the first time you did that. I think our first major tour that we went out and played – shows that were not promotional events, not like a random acoustic show, but the (1998) US tour that we called the Albertane Tour. There are a lot of moments from that summer that I think of as being highlights just because it was beginning to do what we’d always set out to do. It’s one thing to record a record and have success but then to really begin to have your whole crew and band and everybody out there, and playing to your fans every night, and being at a level that you dream of being at, being able to look out at thousands of fans – that’s a highlight, that’s a peak where you go “It doesn’t get better than that” and I think in the sense of our label (3CG Records) the day that we realised, back in 2003, recognising the fact that we’ve come through the fog of a lot of label turmoil and that we were on track to survive with this new situation – owning your own label, marketing your own stuff and building a team. You know, really that year, 2003, going in to the release of our third record there was a period there where I just remember going “This is stage two, we’ve made it, we’ve got into the next chapter and I feel like we’re going to come out of this okay.”
Q: A great song can be timeless, and resonate with people all over the world, regardless of their gender, lifestyle or age. What do you think makes your music connect so powerfully with your fans?
Taylor: That’s a really good question. What makes it connect…I guess for us making music, you have to start by genuinely having passion for it, so I guess I would hope that the first part of it is that there’s an honesty, and a sort of truth in it. The classic description of rock and roll is “three chords and the truth.” So I think in writing a great song you have to tell the truth…I mean it has to resonate, it has to actually be authentic. I think that authenticity and honesty that is in writing a great song, is something that makes it last. You know, literally, (1997 single) MMMBop was basically three chords turned around, back and forth – there’s just three chords. That’s all you need if you have ‘the truth’ as well and then a lot of understanding of music I guess. The other thing I would say is that we admire great songwriting, we admire great craftsmen, people who have made timeless records already, so we’ve always been students of other great songwriters and other great musicians. So I think we’ve always tried to, not imitate, but honour other great people and put as much of that into what we do, as possible, and really just learn from it. And a great melody, and a great rhythm – it IS timeless. You know, that can be redone and reshaped a million times over, so that I think just being able to just create something that is honest and create something that is driven by your own passion – I think those are the only rules.
Q: And a question that is maybe as simple as it is complicated – what does music means to you?
Taylor: What music means to me…well, I don’t think I’d go through life without having music and so I guess it’s everything! It’s a necessity to this crazy condition of life, and I think music is really about connection, it’s really about the connection with reminding you of who you are and reminding you of connecting with others. Maybe that’s a better definition, music means connection, it brings life into the situation, whatever it is, and it’s a language that everybody seems to understand.