Hanson hits Forbes’ 30 Under 30 music fest with businessmen attitude

By | October 3, 2015


(L-R) Zac Hanson, Taylor Hanson and Isaac Hanson of Hanson attend the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 21, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

(L-R) Zac Hanson, Taylor Hanson and Isaac Hanson of Hanson attend the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 21, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Getty Images for Clear Channel

“I don’t think many people realize that the word ‘strife’ is in an ‘MMMBop’ lyric.”

Isaac Hanson would know, he wrote it.

The eldest Hanson brother quickly rattled off the first few lines of the band’s mega-pop hit over the phone like he’s done this before: “You have so many relationships in this life/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 there it was. The bubbly, chart-topping, Grammy-nominated, feel-good song of the late ’90s actually contains the word “strife.” And questions lifelong partnerships. And yet features the distinguishable, boppy scat-like chorus of syllables.

“We always felt that song needed to mean something more than the lyrics and the melody, and it needed to have a certain groundedness in real life,” Hanson continued. Even in 1997, a teenage Hanson and his adolescent brothers Taylor and Zac realized this.

Thirteen years and eight albums later, and no longer the baby-faced, longhaired musicians from Tulsa, Oklahoma, the trio is still in the same frame of mind. “Despite the optimistic nature of much of our music, there’s a certain melancholy to most of our lyrics,” he said. “I often tease that we write happy sad songs.”

Now in their 30s —­ except for youngest Zac, who hits the big 3-0 on Oct. 22  —­ the Hansons have a lot to sing happy songs about. They’ve had five studio albums chart in the Top 40 on the Billboard 200, they’re spreading the love through charitable efforts like one-mile barefoot walks before select concerts, and are certified businessmen with their beer company, Mmmhops Pale Ale. Their extensive resume makes them the perfect fit to play the free Forbes Under 30 Music Festival Tuesday at Festival Pier.

Though the brothers’ two distinct audiences of music fans and Mmmhops drinkers don’t see too much crossover, Isaac Hanson, sounding ever the mogul, draws an interesting parallel between his family’s life ventures: beer and music. “In some ways, the creation of beer is like the creation of the song,” he began. “The brewery is the studio, and working with the people in the brewery is much like working with the people in the studio.”

Then comes the comparison of microbreweries and big beer companies being equated with indie labels and giant record companies – and it all starts to make sense.

“There’s a certain similarity in the mind of people who love beer and those who love and write music,” he said. And one of the main focal points on Hanson’s upcoming tour, which officially kicks off here in Philly, is paying homage to the musicians of past and present that have shaped and inspired Hanson themselves. With their Roots & Rock ’N’ Roll tour, the band will skirt through their own catalog and put their spin on tunes from Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, the Darkness and Ed Sheeran — recordings of which are all included on their Roots & Rock ’N’ Roll EP.

It’s a little bit of looking forward and backward, Hanson said. That one band’s career can be affected by both Billy Joel —­ whose 1983 album An Innocent Man had a profound impact on Hanson —­ and recent chart-topper Ed Sheeran is a special thing. And that they’re mirroring these influences with their own work, which according to Hanson, has withstood the test of time.

“It’s a rare circumstance when you’ve been doing it as long as we have to be proud of what you did when you were 16,” he said. “I feel very comfortable with that headspace.”

Hanson, with A$AP Rocky, Shawn Mendes and Lindsey Stirling
Festival Pier, 601 N. Columbus Blvd.
6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6, free, Tickets & Info
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/entertainment/music_nightlife/Hanson-hits-Phila-30-Under-30-festival-with-businessmens-attitude.html#vtAOzlFyXRVBhj8S.99