Zac Hanson of Hanson

By | May 27, 2014

May the Rock Be With You

“You always believe in yourself and that you’ve built a relationship with the music that will last, but yeah, it’s something that puts a smile on your face, when you see people respond and you see sold out shows, you believe in it but I think it’s still surprising when those things happen.”

From Tour Release: HANSON, are back with their brand new album ANTHEM, along with the album’s lead single ‘Get The Girl Back’. The album’s release coincides with the announcement of the Australia and New Zealand leg of their ANTHEM World Tour. Since their breakout album ‘Middle Of Nowhere’ in 1997, ANTHEM is the bands sixth studio album of all original material and the fourth to be released on their own independent label 3CG Records, which they founded in 2003. 2013 marked the 21st anniversary of HANSON. The band celebrated the anniversary with the launch of their own craft beer Mmmhops, inspired by the title of their breakout single. HANSON have been nominated for multiple Grammys, released five prior studio albums, which spawned a string of hit singles, and sold over 16 million albums worldwide.

Zac gave me a call to have a chat about Hanson’s return to Australia this August, as well as new music, beer, fan dedication and more… So, if you’d all please stand for this ‘Anthem’…

How’s everything today, Zac?
It’s good, excited we’ve got a tour coming up, because as a band that’s what you want to be doing, playing shows and so and then just working on other projects and making lots of music…

We’ll get to all that shortly, but let’s talk about your last tour of Australia which was a huge success, were you surprised with the reaction the band received after so long away?
You always believe in yourself and that you’ve built a relationship with the music that will last, but yeah, it’s something that puts a smile on your face, when you see people respond and you see sold out shows, you believe in it but I think it’s still surprising when those things happen. It feels great to come back around only two years later, this is by far the fastest we’ve ever been back to Australia, we definitely want that to be the norm, not the exception.

Well we’d love that, and you’ve already got a couple of sold out signs hanging up, so that’s always a good start…
*laughs* Yeah, we do, the response for this tour has also been amazing, you know we always love playing in Australia, we’ve always had such an amazing response, I feel like for one reason or another… I had somebody tell me in an interview ‘You’re a National Treasure’ I’m like, we’re not even from Australia *laughs* but I think there’s maybe a spirit in what we do that has connected with Australians, and you don’t take that for granted, you really want to be able to come down and when you do, play shows and to live up to people’s expectations by putting yourself into everything you do.

With ‘Anthem’ out now, what can we expect set wise this time around?
We’ll feature ‘Anthem’, there’ll be a lot of songs from that record, just because it’s the new record and it’s the Anthem world tour, but we never shy away from old stuff, we feel like being able to play that whole cross section of music is the best, that’s part of highlighting what you do now, we want people to be able to hear the similarities and the differences by hearing everything back to ‘Mmm Bop’ to today… played now, like when you hear ‘Mmm Bop’, or ‘Where’s The Love’ or ‘If Only’ then you hear ‘Get The Girl Back’ you can sort of in your mind see that tapestry of music and where the connective tissue is. Also when you write set lists you want to write it from the perspective of being a fan, and what you would want to see if you were seeing your favourite band, you want to hear those hit songs that you were introduced to the band with, you know, I still want to hear ‘Mr Jones’ when you go see the Counting Crows, even though they have a million great songs that I love, but that’s a huge part of my relationship with them, so you don’t take that for granted.

So we’re not going to get a show of track eleven from each album and obscure B-sides as a surprise set?
*laughs* We’ll probably throw some obscure stuff in there, there’s this awesome relationship in being in a band where we just celebrated twenty two years as a band, ‘Mmm Bop’ is not that old, but we’ve been that long as a band, and it’s really cool because you know there’s these tiers of fans, and there’s all these songs that only some people know, so you take that into consideration and you do some special songs, but just a smattering of them…

What I found is that Hanson fans are a truly dedicated bunch, I know of many Aussies that have made the trip over to Tulsa and Jamaica for events and elsewhere, what the hell is it about this band that comes with this level of dedication?
*laughs* If I could tell you exactly what that is then I’d probably be franchising it *laughs* all I can say is that we really care about what we do and we really try and let that show in everything we create, and we feel like the relationship with our fans that you have a responsibility as a band to take care of that. So, for one reason or another, we’ve been lucky that the use of our fans when we first met people is a huge asset as we were able to connect and to be the band for a generation, not just marketed to a generation but be of a generation of people growing up, so at a point when so many young people were defining who they wanted to be, we were able to be part of that culture they wanted to grow up in to. So I don’t know, I don’t know exactly what it is, we feel like it’s a really special thing, and we want to continue that and do everything we can do to live up to our fans expectations.

I think from what I’ve seen with things like ‘the walk’ that your level of accessibility is something they appreciate as well…
Sure, well we have never been afraid, I guess there’s a benefit to some of the mystique, the velvet rope, but we want to be able to knowing people and people knowing you for what you do and being able to share these moments together is a really cool thing, and doing things like you said, the idea of doing the walk together, that’s not even music, that’s just something we care about as people, but you’re able to share these experiences and I think music has this amazing power where people really define themselves through artists they love and music they love, like ‘this is OUR favourite band’ or ‘that’s OUR’ song’ and people say that about music, and it’s powerful. You just try not to take it for granted and just do your best…

Your newest album ‘Anthem’ has been our for a little while now and recently released in Australia, do you feel that as you all grow up that not only the music grows, but yourselves as musicians / artists also do?
Well I think what’s true about our band is that we literally have grown up from in my case being a pretty young kid and that’s part of your band, I don’t like to make too big a deal of it because I really am proud of the music we made when I was really young, when I was eleven. I hate it when people use age to belittle artists, you see so many talented artists ‘oh like she’s really great for being X’ rather than just saying ‘she’s really great’, so I think it’s important for us with every record we are evolving, it’s not about becoming something different, it’s pushing yourself to find new inspiration, and we’re never afraid of not being Hanson, or not sounding like Hanson, we are Hanson *laughs* so you just make what you’re excited about and then let the rest deal with itself.

Taking it all on as a band this time around (pun intended), what did you enjoy about the creative process of making ‘Anthem’ essentially solely as a band with no outside assistance?
Yeah we’ve always written our own stuff, but this record was a particularly intense process of writing and recording and producing all on our own, and sometimes it’s great to have a collaborator, but this many years in you just know when it’s something that you just need to do together, with no outside parties, 100% Hanson. This record, the process of writing it was interesting as we had spent a lot of time touring off the last album and were really thinking a lot about the live show and you hear it in the songs, you hear a song that is reflective of thinking about the live show. Over the last couple of years we wanted to make sure that the sound of the three of us playing together, what that really feels like, is really a part of the way people identify Hanson, not just the vocals and the melodies, but when they hear us play, that there’s a sound that is recognizable, and so that’s another thing I think was a part of this record and of the production of this record really, not too many parts, the right parts. There’s always an exception to that rule, like ‘You Can’t Stop Us Now’ for instance has some seventy odd vocals on it and backwards piano slams, things that are not of humans you know? *laughs* but as a core principal, this idea of an identity, we’ve always liked being a band that was from somewhere, and I think in the same sense we like the idea that there is a sound, that Taylor on Piano, Isaac on guitar, me on drums, there’s a feeling that people will get.

Yeah, you mentioned that before in the growing up reference, which I meant in a musical way, not as an age thing…
Yeah, it’s ok, it’s a reality though, it’s an interesting thing, I laugh sometimes because we’ve been a band since I was so young I’m almost middle aged and I’m not even thirty, just because of the amount of association you have with people, and a huge amount of life, which is an amazing thing, it’s something you can never buy…

To me though, you guys have always sounded like Hanson, you truly do still sound like the band you were back then, there’s been no reinvention, no techno or heavy metal albums or anything left field, you guys are Hanson which is great…
I’m glad you say that because you want to be fresh but we’ve never been afraid of who we are, and we’re very lucky, from the very beginning we wrote all our music and we know why we were making music. It’s hard on a lot of artists, young, old, whatever, but mostly people who are new or people who are trying to hold on to success that you’re just trying so you’ll do anything, and that was never something that we wanted to do, I’d rather go back to Oklahoma and play in my garage than do something that I will regret forever *laughs*.

You’d probably get a few people in your driveway though, but that’s a different story…
*laughs* Yeah, well that could be a cool thing, we’ll just have garage parties every weekend.

Well, that technically was half my idea, so I’ll take half the cut and we’ll go from there…
*laughs* You’re gonna have to fly to Oklahoma and tear tickets and then we’ll see… *laughs*

I’ll do it, don’t tempt me… So are you currently working on new material for a new album?
Yeah, we are continually, not only stuff for us, but stuff for other people and we love the idea of being a part of and being big custodians of the music business and not just our own band culture, but that plethora of great musicians that are out there and trying to connect people and so all the time you’re writing and always working on the next project for Hanson. It’ll be a little bit before the new Hanson album, but yeah already writing, thinking about what it could be…

I am a huge fan of your documentary ‘Strong Enough To Break’, and talked about it in depth with Taylorlast tour, but have you thought to continue the filming process and maybe make and release another film?
Sure, you know that was such an interesting process and you probably talked about it with Taylor, but we didn’t know that that film would become what it was when it started, we thought it would be something very different, very much just about music, not about the process of getting music made. Yeah, on this last album we created a documentary on the inside process of recording, we feel like those kind of projects that surround the music, and enhance that core relationship of you and the songs that you like are really powerful and something that should be part of the way people are able to experience your songs and understand why you do what you do. *laughs* That was in depth, sometimes it’s hard to be on camera every single day for years on end, but we continue to want to do more projects like that.

As I am an adult of legal drinking age, I feel I need to ask about Mmmhops… your beer, of which can you please bring me a six pack when you’re here in Sydney, but in all seriousness, how did it come about that Hanson have a beer?
It is a very natural process, it goes like this… we make music, and when you’re making music you sometimes want to drink beer, and when you have a beer, you want to be a part of that, so you figure out how you can make your own beer *laughs* it’s really kind of that simple. There’s a huge explosion of craft beer in the US and when you’re travelling around the country it seems like everywhere you go people are like ‘Try OUR beer’, ‘Try this brewery from our state or city’ so you try enough of those and you start to see this kinship to being a creator of things, as a musician you’re creating things, as a brewer you’re developing these recipes that are yours, and I think that’s also the kindred spirit of being a small label and to being a small brewer and your blood, sweat and tears in getting your beer on the shelves or your music on the shelves. I don’t know, a lot of things came together and we were teasing and we came across Mmmhops, we took what was a great idea we felt like it was just part of our band culture and we thought that’s just too awesome and stupid and perfect to not really follow through with this, so this is the first step. It’s really its own thing, we’ll be doing the beer regardless of Hanson, but it’s great, it goes so well together, watching music while drinking a beer, it’s a match made in heaven.

You should bring it down here and sell it at your shows…
We would love to… *laughs*

Lastly, let’s predict the remainder of the year, so I want you to finish this sentence for me, by the end of 2014, Hanson will…
Be one year older…

Well we all know that will happen…
It’s still predicting… *laughs*

Essential Information

From: Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Band members: Isaac – Guitar, Bass, Piano, Vocals, Taylor – Piano, Guitar, Drums, Vocals, Zac – Drums, Piano, Guitar, Vocals


Latest release:  Anthem (Out Now)

Catch Hanson in Australia / NZ this August at the following dates:

Tue 5 Aug, The Tivoli (18+) | 136 100

Wed 6 Aug, Coolangatta Hotel (18+) | 1300 762 454

Fri 8 Aug, Enmore Theatre (All Ages) | 132 849

Sat 9 Aug, Palais Theatre (All Ages) | 136 100

Sun 10 Aug, The Hi-Fi (18+) | 1300 843 443

Tue 12 Aug, HQ (18+) | 1300 762 454

Wed 13 Aug, The Hi-Fi (18+) | 1300 843 443

Fri 15 Aug, Metropolis Fremantle (18+) | 1300 762 454

Sun 17 Aug, Powerstation (18+) | (09) 970 9700

For more information go to:

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