For a band that began in 1992 with members aged 6, 8, and 11, Hanson has always been wise beyond its years. As an 8-year-old fan at the time — and, admittedly, until this interview — I had never really stopped to analyze their music lyrically. But Hanson has an old soul, one that has always manifested in the group’s music.
“Those who know our songs… know [we love] the idea of hooks and choruses,” says Zac Hanson, the youngest brother of the trio. “If you study it, there’s not a lot of fat, not a lot of excess. It’s always been really important for us to be writers and to be the craftsmen of our narrative.”
Maybe that philosophy is what has allowed the band from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to make music for more than 25 years. And now Zac, Taylor, and Isaac are embarking on their latest tour, with a stop at the Fillmore Miami Beach Thursday, October 25, ahead of the November 9 release of their latest album, String Theory.
“The story [of String Theory] is about aspiration and fortitude and facing struggles and what you do with that,” Zac explains. “As we built that story, it became a reflection of who we really are right now.”
A compilation of fan favorites, new songs, and never-before-released music recorded with a 46-piece symphony orchestra, String Theory was arranged by Academy Award-winning composer David Campbell.
“‘MmmBop’ was about life and loss and perspective,” Zac says. “[String Theory] is a reflection of us doing the same thing, but with this new project.”
Though he and his brothers look forward to this next chapter of their musical career, creating music is something they’ve never taken for granted.
“Twenty-five years in, we’re so lucky to be able to do what we do,” he says humbly. “It’s amazing to be these many years into it and still have a global fan base and the ability to travel and make this your life.”
Their drive, passion, and talent are major factors in the band’s longevity, but “a shared ethos” has definitely contributed to their success, Zac says.
“Most people say that being in a band with your siblings must be extremely difficult, but having the same point of reference and going through things together, that’s a huge asset.”
“Being the writers of our music has always been key for us,” he says. “We’ve written our music and our stories. I don’t cringe at my thoughts as a kid — it’s who I was then. It’s not somebody else’s thoughts.”
Yet Hanson didn’t always enjoy full creative liberty. The brothers discovered true musical freedom when they established their own label, 3CG Records, in 2003.
“The creation of 3CG wasn’t really a direction to change our course, but to keep it,” Zac recalls. “Digital technology was changing the landscape so desperately. We wanted to be in control of who our relationships were. We didn’t want to be in a position where the whims of the corporate business were crippling our ability to make albums the way we wanted to.”
Sure enough, launching the label proved to be one of the best decisions they could have made, and more than a quarter-century later, here they are. Though it all worked out for them, the industry as a whole hasn’t changed.
“[It] hasn’t become any less volatile,” Zac says. “It’s become more of a mess. I think you see consistently selfish decisions made by the industry as a whole. They have chosen to buy into the technologies that are devaluing music at the hopes of gaining membership, but they’re saying to the artist: ‘Your music is worth almost nothing.'”
Fortunately for Hanson, that hasn’t been the case. The pop trio is still connecting with fans and selling out concerts. In fact, their March 2019 show at the Sydney Opera House is sold out. Now the brothers are gearing up for their gig at the Fillmore, which also marks their first time playing in the Magic City.
“It seems like it’s about time,” Zac laughs. “This is a good thing — that we still find new places to go to.”
And when the lights fade and the show ends, that’s what it’s all about.
“Ultimately, I think the reason we keep going is that we’re all so interested in what happens next and in the songs that haven’t been written,” he says. “It can always get better.”