INTERVIEW: TAYLOR HANSON ON THE IMPORTANCE OF FANS, INNOVATION & STAYING TRUE.

By | September 12, 2014

Coup De Main Magazine

t’s 2014 and HANSON have now existed as a band for 22 years (and counting). They’ve survived transitioning from being signed to a major record label to creating their own independent label, outlived Tamagotchis and Jack Dawson in the ‘Titanic’, and now in their third decade of existence the band of brothers are finally here in New Zealand for the very first time.

The band are currently touring in support of their ninth studio album, 2013’s ‘Anthem’, which middle brother TAYLOR HANSON says of the title: “We have always been in awe of the ability music has to engage people, whether it’s a song that makes you want to dance, or a song that inspires you to take action for a cause. We want this record to be the anthem for all of those moments.”

Coup De Main talked to Taylor about his thoughts on the music industry, the importance of fans and innovation, and the upcoming revival of Tinted Windows…

Hanson will be as long as we continue to have passion for it, and as long as our fans feel that they’re taken care of enough to continue show up and be with us – let’s hope that is as long as we’re around.

CDM: I was watching your ‘Strong Enough To Break’ documentary this morning, and it seems crazy that over a decade later, record labels are still using the same bullying tactics as their business-model.
TAYLOR: History has proven that it’s very hard to find people that are interested in putting themselves at risk. Even when industries are dying, people do whatever they can to not risk their own self-preservation. What’s happened in the business, is there’s not a lot of innovators, not a lot of people who are trying to come up with a new way and take some chances. In a lot of ways, the way we’ve run our business – since we’ve started our label – it’s very natural. It’s not really about trying to be against something, it’s really about continuing to support our music and our fans. Since we started the label I think it is interesting, you would think that almost ten years later that you would see some real innovation or some change in the main music business, but you haven’t seen much, and I think that just tells you that people with a certain kind of power are reluctant to let it go and even when they see it dying and changing, you still see resistance to the future. What’s really interesting about where we’re at with music now, is that people are buying music, they’re trading music, they’re streaming music – but they’re doing it more than ever, they’re consuming music more than ever. People still want to come see shows and they still want to buy merchandise and they still want to be a part of music, I think there’s still so much potential for how to go into the future. The way we’ve done things with being self-contained has definitely become more and more of a new industry standard, it’s become something that people realise they have to do.

CDM: I really admire that you guys stuck up for yourself. One of the quotes that stood out to me from the documentary was when one of you said: “It’s such a bummer that we even get made bad guys, just because we want a say in our music.” That’s ridiculous!
TAYLOR: It’s true. All the way back through history, art and business have always kind of collided. It’s not new to think that you have a vision and then you have somebody with dollars that wants to spend money and market it, and they collide. But the thing that we try and make the point about with our story, we never did music that we didn’t care about. The reason we left our old label was ultimately there came a new company, they began to do things that they do with almost everybody – which is just to make it falsely safe, by doing what everybody else is doing. That caused us to head in a direction potentially that wasn’t who we were, so we left the label to be our own company not to change, but to stay the same and to stay true. What’s exciting is that there’s a lot of fans that have more of a sense of what’s gone on in the business and the potential possibilities that are there, than there ever have been before.

CDM: Nowadays, the major record labels are only signing bands on 360 deals. Do you think that would have affected your perspective if you were starting out as Hanson now in 2014? 
TAYLOR: 360 deals are a desperate reach to control a changing business that does not speak to a long-term vision at all. A 360 deal basically means that they’re taking a piece of all the areas of a band’s business, without any real commitment to actually spend money to promote those areas of their business. So, “Hi I’m a record company, I’m gonna take a piece of your t-shirts, I’m gonna own your website, I’m gonna control your fan club, I’m gonna take a piece of your touring.” Historically, record companies just owned the music itself and they gave a percentage to the band because they paid for it. But if we’d cut a 360 deal in the past, our band would be very different, and our career would be very different. I think artists going into the future really need to know that there’s no one-press button that’s gonna get you success. You’ve just gotta realise that what’s awesome about being an artist is that you have something people want, have something that’s powerful, something that connects with others that’s very primal, and to be confident enough to take that seriously and not give it away.

CDM: Is Hanson forever? 
TAYLOR: Nobody knows what’s forever. We’re very humbled by the relationship we’ve been able to have with fans. We’ve had people follow us for a long time, we’ve also had people discover our music three albums in, or four albums in. That allows you to look out at the room, and you see all these different people – different times in their life, different ages. Hanson will be as long as we continue to have passion for it, and as long as our fans feel that they’re taken care of enough to continue show up and be with us – let’s hope that is as long as we’re around.

CDM: Could you ever see yourself writing songs for other people? Or signing more artists to your 3CG Records label in the future?
TAYLOR: Definitely writing songs – producing people is something we want to do. We’ve actually been doing it now. It’s such a great outlet to sit and work with somebody for their project – you take on a whole different way of looking at music. You know that ultimately someone else has to sing it, stand on stage, perform it and share it – so it’s really actually pretty invigorating to sit and help someone else capture what they want to share with people.

IF I I WERE A COUNTRY, MY NATIONAL ANTHEM WOULD BE:

CDM: I absolutely love the Tinted Windows album. ‘Dead Serious’ is such a jam. Is there going to be another record? 
TAYLOR: Actually, there is going to be more Tinted Windows stuff. We’re working on some writing actually probably next month.

CDM: And then you’ll have to come here and play a show! Now, that we’ve had a Hanson show…
TAYLOR: The other guys in Tinted Windows would love to come to New Zealand. It’s a really fun project; it’s an honour to get to play with those guys. There is some process going on now to make a new album.

CDM: Have you and your brothers started thinking about the next Hanson album yet? 
TAYLOR: We are thinking about the next Hanson album. I think the main thing we have on our mind is we just really want to be really creative about the way we release the next record – we want to reach as many places as possible. It’s no accident that we’re finally here in New Zealand, there’s a lot of reasons why we haven’t come before, but we’re here very much on purpose, because we’re looking at the whole world and thinking about fans we have in different places and we’re saying to ourselves it’s rare we to get to reach people in these different areas. We want to bring our music to those people as much as possible.

CDM: It’s wonderful that your band can sell out a show here in New Zealand, when you’re not even represented by a local label – it’s just all on you guys!
TAYLOR: It is amazing, and we’re very in awe of the possibilities of what could come later too.

IF I HAD A DAY OFF IN NEW ZEALAND, I WOULD WANT TO GO BUNGY-JUMPING:

HANSON’s latest album ‘Anthem’ is out now – featuring the single, ‘Get The Girl Back’. Click HERE to purchase now via iTunes.