Feature Interview: Zac Hanson ‘Hanson’

By | May 15, 2014

AAA Backstage

Hanson are all grown up and ready to rock and/or roll. The brothers will be making their way to our shores in August to play some sold out shows and baby brother Zac Hanson talked to Velvet Winter about touring with family, the new album and possibly the greatest craft beer ever.

You and your brothers are heading back our way in August, what are you most excited about to do in Australia this time round?

Is it terrible that I’m excited to play concerts, I mean; I should say something else like hold a koala or go surfing or something. We love making music and that’s why we do it, we’ve been lucky to be a band for 22 years and the thing that keeps you going is enjoying what you actually do. There’s awesome experiences that you get to have and things that surround that rejuvenate you but in the end you do it because you love making music and we really feel like for years we’ve said “If you haven’t seen Hanson play live then you’re only getting half of the picture” because that’s only half of who we are and who we want to be. It’s going to be good to come back and play shows, it’s going to be good to be back to relatively quick.

You’re on the Anthem world tour, what does this show have in store for Australia?

Lots of music from Anthem, which is our new album, and this is a really fun record to play live. It was written really thinking about the live shows. We almost wrote in fan parts for some of these songs it just felt right for these songs. It’s a really fun record to play but we don’t shy away from playing old stuff too. You know, all the way back to Mmmbop we really feel like it’s important to be great custodians of fan experience and thinking about being a fan. If I was going to see my favourite band what songs would I want to hear? And it’s usually songs from all over you’re career and so we don’t shy away from old songs we feel like it’s a better tapestry when you play a bit of both.

It’s an inevitable question so here it goes. Some bands have that song that got that they are so infamously known for that they start to resent it. You know, Radiohead have Creep, Oasis has Wonderwall. Is this how you feel about Mmmbop?

I think bands get sick of their songs because they let it define them. Mmmbop doesn’t define who we are; it defines a certain portion of our career, a moment in who we are as a band. The truth is I think Mmmbop is the perfect song to be a song that lives with us for a long time because of what that song talks about. If you read that lyrics for Mmmbop the first verse says “You have so many relationships in your life, if only one or two will last. You go through all the pain and strife, then you turn your back and they’re gone so fast” and when we play that song year after year, the people that come back to your shows their choosing to have that relationship with you and that song has changing in its meaning with time and so I think any band anyone would get tired of just the same thing every night but we don’t. We play a little bit of everything, we change the set list every night, and we play covers. Also you make new records and you make new music, you don’t let it become stagnant. I think you’re able to look at it with perspective and say well this song doesn’t represent exactly who I am now but it represents me from 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago. It’s you and you just find a way to reinvent yourself every time.

In the past you’ve had trouble with labels, what it like being in charge of your own music through your label 3CG?

Gosh it’s been 10 years of 3CG and it’s been kind of crazy. We came out at such an interesting time as a band because we saw the last breathe of the really healthy music business that was analogue. That sort of old school pre internet stuff transitioned from a period in ‘96 to now of the time of the digital revolution of music. I was in the airport and I saw a family and the kids must have been 8 and 10 and the little one just turns to her dad and says “Daddy, What’s a record?” I was just laughing to myself, like it’s so wild the period that we’ve gotten to be a part of and the change in the way people consume music. I think for us all the choices we’ve made, all the choices other bands make to sign to a record label it’s all for the same purpose. We want to be successful in making music so we can make more music. So when the industry changes and the players change and the way you can distribute music changes your approach should change as much as ideas are the feel for great invention. I think we just see our desire to be making hopefully great songs should just follow the greatest idea and so 10 years ago being independent seemed like the right thing to do and it’s paid off for us. It hasn’t really changed the music as much as it’s changed the opportunities and the relationships. I think we just want to be able to build lasting relationships around great content and great experiences rather than fighting to get marketing dollars from a recording label.

What was the process of recording Anthem like? Was it different from your other records?

This record we recorded a lot of it live off the floor, more and more we wanted to capture the way we play as a unit. I think it’s important to have that sound the way the three of us sound together. This record was written lot thinking about the live show, what the audience would think. The main difference with the way that this album was recorded was the scope of all the sounds and finding the simplicity and just not being afraid of anything. Songs like You Can’t Stop Us we put 75 vocals on that song or a song like Save Me From Myself which is basically just a piano, a vocal and an accordion. It’s just like really recording not from the perspective of “I have a sound that I want to replicate” but really saying “what does this song need?” and just making the best version of it. Then we found the record in the process.

So you’re selling out these Australian shows and having extra shows announced, how does it feel to have such loyal fans so far away?

As amazing as it is it’s sort of a blessing and a curse having fans from all over the world. I can be hard to get everywhere.  It can be hard to get places like Australia but I’m happy that this is our second time in about two years to come to Australia and it feels really good to come back that fast. Whenever you see this kind of response you just feel excited to live up to the passion that people are showing. Hopefully it makes you step up your game.

You mentioned it hard getting around the world; with you are your brothers all having young families are they going to come on tour with you or do you have to leave them at home?

It just depends, tour can be gruelling you know you’re going from city to city, up in the morning doing press, out late in the evening playing shows and meeting fans. So it’s not always a great place to share experiences with little kids because it’s just nonstop. As much as possible you make time for that and for this tour I think my family will come down for some of it, it’s just about picking the right moment.

Ok, so I couldn’t go past this. In 2012 you and your brothers release your own beer and called it Mmmhops. First of all congratulations on the best name for a beer ever, second could you ever see something like this taking you away from music?

I think being a musician is about being a creator so whether its visual art or music or being a custodian of great flavours they all connect with a love of creating things. We see the beer as such an awesome companion for music. What do you want to do when you go to a concert? You want to have a beer in your hand and you want to sing along and you want to have a great time. So the beer really fits into what we do as a band. I don’t think it’s going to take us away from what we are its more a part of us. Craft beer just has such a kinship with independent music. It’s just another creative endeavour.

One last question, if you could go back and tell that kid in the Mmmbop video one thing what would it be?

Invest in Starbucks!


Hanson’s Anthem Tour, Australia & New Zealand 2014

Tuesday, 5th August 2014

The Tivoli, Brisbane (18+ show)

Tix: Via Ticketmaster

Wednesday, 6th August 2014

Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast (18+ show)

Tix: Via Oztix

Friday, 8th August 2014

Enmore Theatre, Sydney (All ages)

Tix: Via Ticketek

Saturday, 9th August 2014 – SOLD OUT

Palais Theatre, Melbourne (All ages)

Tix: Via Ticketmaster

Sunday, 10th August 2014 – NEW SHOW

The Hi-Fi, Melbourne (18+ show)

Tix: The Hi-Fi

Tuesday, 12th August 2014

HQ, Adelaide (18+ show)

Tix: Via Oztix

Wednesday, 13th August – NEW SHOW

The Hi-Fi, Sydney (18+ show)

Tix: The Hi-Fi

Friday, 15th August 2014

Metropolis, Fremantle (18+ show)

Tix: Via Oztix

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