Hanson — Isaac (from left), Taylor and Zac. | JIRO SCHNEIDER PHOTO
Pop-rock trio Hanson never left the music scene entirely, while it might have felt that way for casual listeners whose love for the band went only as far as singing along with their ’90s breakthrough hit “MMMBop.” In fact, Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson remain a worldwide favorite who continue to sell albums and sell out concerts.
Taylor Hanson recently spoke to the Sun-Times about the band’s staying power, the power of social media and the new crop of boy bands.
Question: So I wake up today and Hanson is in the headlines again thanks to a viral video in which Zac was spit on after a recent show. What happened?
Taylor Hanson: We were actually walking in from the venue onto the bus and this man decided to walk into the middle of the lounge of the bus. If anyone has ever interacted with someone who is homeless or slightly unbalanced, you know that communicating verbally with them doesn’t always do the job. We respectfully asked him to leave, but he had no intention of leaving. Saying anything else is only going to inflame the situation more, but the one thing I will say is that this was not a fan. Just another day on this travelling circus, I suppose.
Q.Long before viral videos, many have said that Hanson was one of the first true Internet-driven bands. What’s it like promoting yourself these days?
TH: We had the great fortune of succeeding really young and always have felt that it was important to connect to the audience, but always keep music at the center of it all. What has changed is how you connect to your audience these days has fragmented into a thousand different jobs compared to just having a website back in the ’90s. It’s not just about succeeding in radio and TV and the charts anymore.
Q.What’s your advice to new artists coming up regarding social media as a whole? These days, must you share everything in order to succeed?
TH: The biggest danger out there right now is that, to some degree, there is a bit of mystique that is lost between artists and fans these days. Sure, it may be cool to see what Bono is having for breakfast, but I have always thought there needs to still be a degree of mystery and distance between the artists you admire. I don’t think everyone wants to understand every facet of an artist’s world, you know? We have always tried to balance that. We have always wanted to be relatable and connectable with our fans, but there is a point where you say ‘I’m not going to Tweet that.’ If we do share something, we always try to connect it back to what we do as artists.
Q.Your new album “Anthem” has received a ton of critical acclaim. What did you set out to accomplish with this one?
TH: It was all about creating more size and intensity of the instruments, and in turn, creating more songs that were perfect for the stage. We have always been about making live shows count and making each show interesting and different. Getting to play two nights in Chicago allows us to change things up from night to night, and go back and forth between our entire catalog of music.
Tricia Despres is a Sun-Times free-lance writer.