(Photo: Doug McSchooler/For IndyStar)
A few hours before Hanson took the stage at the Indiana State Fair Chevrolet Free Stage on Friday night, adult brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac sat down with IndyStar to talk about bringing their families on tour, what they should (and shouldn’t) eat at the fair, their upcoming project performing with orchestras around the country and their beer company, MMMhops.
IndyStar: Have you eaten anything at the State Fair yet?
Isaac: Not just yet, but we apparently are supposed to try a lemon…
Zac: Shake-up. Somebody told us that that’s what we needed to get.
Taylor: What is that?
Zac: We know about the fair, we know about the fair. Eat some funnel cakes and corn dogs and look at some livestock and ride a ride that’ll make you throw up after you’ve eaten all those things.
Isaac: You can walk around and realize, “Wow, Clydesdales really are that big. Holy crap.”
Zac: I think it’s important to know your place in the food chain.
IndyStar: When you go out to the fair, do you wear a disguise or…do you just go out as Hanson?
Zac: You know, we don’t put on mustaches or anything, but you just go incognito if you think that’s going to be a problem. But, it’s a good thing. It’s people saying they like a song or wanting a photo, and it’s important to understand that’s part of the job. People are doing it because they’re really connecting with what you do and you want to thank them for that.
IndyStar: I just watched the “Where’s the Love” music video for the first time in, I don’t know, 20 years. And I can’t get over the gold shirt and yellow-lensed glasses. What piece of fashion from the ’90s or early 2000s do you guys miss the most?
Zac: Synthetic fabric was such a thing, and I’m actually glad it’s gone.
Isaac: Oh yeah, I mean, it didn’t breathe at all.
Zac: Everything was glow-in-the-dark.
Isaac: Some of that is coming back now.
Taylor: Very back.
Isaac: It’s a 20-year cycle. I could re-purpose some of my clothes from that era.
IndyStar: What about the yellow glasses?
Zac: Uh, I…we’ll see.
Isaac: I mean, Guy Fieri wears stuff like all the time.
Zac: Yeah, but he’s in his own…Those like more like gaming glasses to me, like I’d put them on while playing Xbox.
IndyStar What’s it like bringing your families, your kids, on tour with you?
Taylor: I have the oldest kids between the three of us, so they’ve been around. It’s a little chaotic. I mean, most people are used to a certain kind of lifestyle, your 9-5, so touring is pretty nuts in comparison to the average bear.
Zac: And every day is different, the last two shows was Wolf Trap (National Park for the Performing Arts) with the National Symphony Orchestra outside of D.C., and then we were in Pittsburgh before that with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra there. You don’t know what you’re going to be experiencing every day. And you have to be the type of person that enjoys that adventure to be a touring musician.
Isaac: You have to stay in the present.
Taylor: If you have a problem with flavors you haven’t tried before or situations where showers are optional, I call it urban camping.
IndyStar: So, speaking of orchestras, tell me about your String Theory tour with symphony orchestras around the country and why you guys decide to go in that direction.
Taylor: We just wanted to do something that was challenging and exciting. And a lot of times, we’re doing something we’re excited about, but the wow factor is more internal and people don’t know how much you had to push yourself to do this collaboration or that. But when you talk about a symphony, it’s so clearly such a different tone. We have a lot of songs that have room for the size, and there’s a story in the song that you know would come to life when interpreted that way. We’re getting to play with some of the world’s greatest symphonies.
Zac: It’s a great excuse to really just enjoy the process.
Isaac: We really quickly said to ourselves, let’s take the time. Because you may never do this is again, so you better do it as close to right as you can get it.
Zac: Except you can never do anything the first time right.
Isaac: <laughs> Exactly, but, you know, we’re trying.
Taylor: If you have longevity, you don’t do it by rinse and repeat. Yeah, maybe you find some things that you do well and that’s part of your identity. Chic-fil-A? Keep making a Chic-fil-A sandwich, but add a little milkshake and some lemon. You need to be adding things to your story, and that’s why I think we’ve been able to keep a relationship with a lot of fans for a long time, because they know that we’re not phoning it in. We’re not just like, and press play, here’s what you expect. We’re also not running from where we’ve been, either.
IndyStar: There are a lot of little little girls outside waiting for the show to start right now. What are your thoughts about that new fan base?
Taylor: It’s an interesting thing. The artists we admire most are the kind of people that you go to their shows and see three or four generations of people. And so the idea that we’ve been able to do this long enough that some of that is coming in is sort of seeing a hope realized. You want to be the kind of band that the music is not about a moment, it’s about a moment for that person.
Isaac: When my kids listen to AC/DC, it’s their band.
Taylor: I will say this: We have already in our career been too young to be songwriters. Too pop to be a rock band, too rock to be a pop band, then too old to be a pop band, then too pop to be a rock band, then too indie to be major then too major to be indie. You’re always not something, and at the end of the day, what you can control, the goal is to make as much of what you actually do do versus what you don’t do, the thing people remember. Literally, we’ve gone from having every single person that’s works for us be twice our age to many of our team members, from lawyers to attorneys to our crew members to being younger than we are.
Zac: And we’re only in our 30s.
Taylor: Yeah, so we now have songs that older than the whole front row. We’re like, you guys are younger than “MMMBop.” And that’s a weird and awesome thing.
IndyStar: I have to ask about your beer, MMMHops. Why go into craft beer?
Zac: There’s a kind of kinship to our spirit as a band. For the last 15 years, we’ve run our own record label, becoming independent at a time when it wasn’t popular and doing your own thing and then you look at the beer world and it’s full of guys who are just doing their own thing, creating their own flavor. And I think it really connected well for us. Then being able to put the two together. Every May we have our own (Hop Jam) craft beer festival in Oklahoma that we host, so we’re able to go, here’s music we love, here’s beer we love, these are two worlds that we care about and kind of host this great big party in this place that we’re from.
IndyStar: Is the beer good?
Zac: We think so.
Taylor: It’s more of a English pale ale style, it’s a little more traditional, and it is very strong. It’s about 7 percent.
Zac: We’ve discovered that beer is more apple pie than apple pie.
Isaac: Our goal would be in the long term to continue to find ways to find the music and the beer themselves as individuals things to intersect.
Zac: The harder we work at music, the more we need the beer.