Hanson talks to PEOPLE about finding a new way to connect with fans, as well as looking forward to releasing a new album and hitting the road again in 2021
For Hanson, 2020 was set to be a big year in terms of a world tour and a brand-new album before the coronavirus pandemic gripped the globe — but they’ve found a unique way to keep their musical ride alive.
In an exclusive new chat with PEOPLE ahead of their upcoming livestreamed concert series, Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson open up about how they were inspired not only by their devoted fans to put on a series of (socially distant) back-to-back in-person/virtual hybrid shows — with a new theme each month! — but by the idea of supporting a beloved music venue in their town of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“We started going, ‘What way can we start to bring people together — start to breathe that positivity into the community — and share music in a way to also help local venues?’ ″ says Zac, 34. ″You’re starting to see that the venues and the places you love to go play are really struggling, maybe even more than some of the artists. And we go, ‘How do we connect with that?’ ″
For the brothers, the ″perfect″ fit was a venue ″up the street from” their 3CG Records office in downtown Tulsa: Cain’s Ballroom, which they’ve played many times in the past and have a deep affection for.
″It’s about 10 percent of what would normally be in the room, so it’s a very small number,” Zac explains of the in-person audience capacity. “But it allows us to go, ‘We’re going to invite hardcore fans, the Hanson.net fan-club members, into the room, and then we’re going to broadcast to the world and give people something to look forward to if you’re a Hanson fan.’ ”
Isaac, 39, explains that Cain’s is a ″family-run business″ that is ″trying to keep their heads above water″ amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and associated lack of in-person events. ″We’ve had a longstanding friendship with not only just the owners, but also having played there so many times. So it’s a full ecosystem kind of situation,” he says.
Hanson will perform three shows a month from October through January. The first theme honors their album The Best of HANSON, Live and Electric, which they’re celebrating the 15th anniversary of this year. The band hit the road in support of the album in 2005 — the same year they toured colleges around the country to screen their documentary Strong Enough to Break, about the formation of their independent record label.
″We just wanted to pick things each month that had either an inspiration or kind of an ecosystem around that would have things to pull from, like cool covers we haven’t played, songs people know,″ Taylor, 37, tells PEOPLE. ″So that’s the message of each month … picking themes that have almost their own sub-context.”
Zac says that a theme based on their recently released seven-song EP Continental Breakfast in Bed is ″definitely something we’re thinking about,″ but the concepts could be based on anything from specific albums to timeframes to projects that have been extra meaningful to them and their fans over the band’s 28-year history, presenting a unique challenge: ″The secret sauce behind the idea of themes associated with these streaming tours is we do like to push ourselves. I think it makes you a better performer when you’re having to be on your A game.″
″We’re really excited about November and December, and January is kind of going to be a curve ball,” Isaac teases, while Taylor quips, “And there will probably be some sleigh bells in December. I’m just saying.”
For the lucky fans who snatch up tickets (which immediately sold out for October) to see the shows in person, they will be subject to temperature checks at the door and social-distancing measures like sitting at their own tables that are ″far apart″ and give ″plenty of space to be comfortable” and safe, says Zac.
Meanwhile, at home, the brothers and their respective immediate families — Zac has four children, Isaac has three and Taylor has six — are figuring out the new normal in terms of school for their kids, having grown up being homeschooled themselves.
″We took one of our sons out of school last year to homeschool and then we put the other back in, and our daughter’s at school. So we’ve got a combo situation at my house,″ says Isaac (or ″Principal Isaac,″ as Zac quips). ″And I will say that one of the coolest things about 2020 is you have so many available resources.″
″It has definitely been a year of [personal] testing, as well,″ Taylor adds. ″Hopefully our kids have begun to appreciate the things that we already were taking for granted [and] appreciate them more. Because think about it as if you’re 15 — you’re that much more like, ‘Man, I really want to get out. I’ve got all these things I want to do.’ ”
It has also been a time for Zac to work on an exciting side project of his own. ″I have several friends [with whom I’ve] been talking about starting a band for years. And this made some time to actually do that, and it’s been awesome,″ he shares. ″I don’t know when or where the music will ever come out, but the joy of realizing that project and laughing together and making music together has been really awesome.”
For now, the guys are looking forward to kicking off the first of four three-concert series next week, before hitting the road for their world tour and releasing their 12th studio album Against the World in 2021 — as well as reflecting on their gratitude for having been able to come up with a creative way to ″bridge the gap″ among themselves and fans during the global health crisis (and support Cain’s, to boot).
″Of course we have, like most people, gotten a chance to have a little more time with family, which is huge and is the silver lining of this whole year,” says Taylor, who’s currently expecting his seventh child with wife Natalie. “But it really does point out how grateful we have been for the fans that have been with us.”
“We were getting excited about sharing different themes [in] different months. And then to combine that with this idea that we really can bring to attention the importance of supporting your local venues and working with a great venue that’s doing just enough to create a safe environment for people in person and trying to bridge the gap,” he adds. “That just feels like a great match.”
Tickets for Hanson’s October livestream concert series — streaming Oct. 9, 10 and 11 — are available now on Hanson.net. New themes will be announced for the following month at the end of each series.