Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Hanson

By | May 6, 2022


In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz an artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: the brothers take the test

Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Hanson - NME interview


On Germany’s biggest chatshow, which singer-songwriter claimed he had fought in Iraq with Hanson in a special celebrity unit?

Taylor: “He fought with us in Iraq?! I need more coffee for this answer.”

Zac: “Zero idea! Eminem?”

WRONG. It was Adam Green, whom you collaborated with at your writing retreats – dubbed Fools Banquet – where you invited artists such as Andrew W.K. and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic to write songs together.

Taylor: “Of course! Adam is a good friend, and he would definitely say something like that. It’s very him.”

Zac: “When we finished a song with Adam, somebody commented: ‘These lyrics are really weird’. and Adam replied: ‘Yeah, that’s Zac’s fault’. It was a great source of pride to have out-weirded Adam Green!”

Taylor: “Fools Banquet created a safe and exciting environment for people to try things, so a crowning achievement was having both Adam Green and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic there and just the collision of these brilliant and unique minds creating songs. Fabulous!”


Which metal song did you cover on April Fool’s Day 2011, joking that you were going to record an album of their songs?

Taylor: “I know Slipknot was the band. I feel I should Google myself now [Laughs].”

Zac: “We did it on the road, but the reason I don’t remember the name of the song was because I’d never heard it before we decided to cover it and I don’t think I’ve listened to it after it. No offence to Slipknot!”

WRONG. But close – it was ‘Wait and Bleed’. Ever receive any feedback from the band?

Zac: “No, we never received any feedback from Slipknot, but normally, from my experience, if someone does a version of a song and they just ruin it, you don’t really say anything about it [Laughs]. So Slipknot were probably like: ‘Yikes! OK! Next!’”


Game of Thrones actor Emilia Clarke covered Hanson’s ‘90s chart-topper ‘MMMBop’ in fictional language Dothraki in 2016. Can you complete the following of your lyrics: ‘Yer zhorre ma many relationships she jin atthirar/ Disse ato che akat tikh nakhok…‘?

Zac: “I really want to try, but I’m pretty positive anything I say will just be Klingon!”

Taylor: “The question really is: can you speak Dothraki? Wow! These are low blows [Laughs].”

WRONG. The rest – of course! – is: “Yer elat vi ei jin pain akka strife/ Arrek yer turn yeri irge akka mori’re elat ma dik”. Which means: “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.”

Taylor: [Laughs] “It doesn’t quite have that hooky quality to it. I feel a little bit attacked by it.”

Zac: “There’s so many wild random things that song gets included in, because it’s part of a cultural moment.”

Taylor: “We should collect an entire album of ‘‘MMMBop’ covers. You’d have Phish doing it live in the guise of James Brown and the YouTube edit of all the Star Wars characters singing it.”

What did you make of Haim’s 2019 ‘HaimBop‘ cosplay of Hanson where they lip-synched to ‘MMMBop’ in blond wigs?

Zac: “It was good. And they seem like they could do a good version of it, because they can sing and there’s three of them.”

Isaac: “”We’re still angling for the Haim-Hanson collaboration.”

Taylor: “Haimson?”

Stevie Nicks and Puff Daddy both listed ‘MMMBop’ as their favourite song of 1997; does anything about that period seem surreal in retrospect?

Isaac: “The trippiest thing for me is my 15-year-old son loves Aerosmith and Bon Jovi and saw a picture of me as a 16-year-old standing next to Jon Bon Jovi and Steven Tyler at the MTV Europe Awards and he looked at me stunned, going: ‘Dad! What the hell?! What is going on?!”


In Family Guy, when Hanson’s bus breaks down in front of Peter Griffin’s house, who does he mistake you for before shooting you?

Hanson: [In unison]: The Children of the Corn.”

CORRECT. Did you see it?

Isaac: “Yes, I totally get the joke. It’s hilarious. That one definitely gets replayed.”

Zac: “My wife was watching the US version of The Office and suddenly an episode comes on where they’re discussing nepotism and whether they should have held open auditions for the band Hanson: ‘What if no one named Hanson showed up?” There’s so many weird references to the band.”

It wasn’t the only Hanson name-drop in Family Guy. In one episode, while playing a game of ‘Who would you sleep with?’, libidinous Quagmire is upset when he discovers that Taylor is actually a guy, an update of the old T-shirt slogan joke in the ‘90s: ‘I Slept With The Chick In Hanson’. Did you find it funny at the time?

Taylor: “Yeah. As the Chick in Hanson, I would say it goes with the package of having a certain level of attention. It’s like high school. People pick the thing to make a joke of – that was what they picked for me.”

Ever tempted to don one of those shirts yourself?

Taylor: “Not especially! ‘Cause it’s not scientifically possible to have intercourse with yourself in that way.”


In the 1990s, which indie musician responded to criticism that his show was too highbrow by replying: “If you want to be entertained, go and see Hanson.”?

Zac: “I want to say Radiohead? I think that sounds like a Thom Yorke kind of statement [Laughs].”


Taylor: “[Laughs] There you go! We should use that quote! Never mind ‘I Slept With The Chick From Hanson’ – that’s the quote I want on a T-shirt!’”

You covered Radiohead’s ‘Optimistic’  on tour in 2005. Did Thom and co ever hear it?

Isaac: “No, we haven’t heard directly from them. It was after the Sundance festival which is when we ran into them [where Radiohead sneaked an underage Hanson into a Sundance party at the height of their ’90s success].”

Zac: “Radiohead are all about the idea of dismantling a song and being exploratory, whereas we were doing the opposite: ‘Let’s make it more of a chorus! Where’s the melody? Where’s the hook?’ I hope they didn’t feel we were doing a disservice to them, and that they appreciated it.”


Apart from Hanson, name the three other artists the New Radicals threaten to kick the asses of in their 1998 single ‘You Get What You Give’?

Isaac: “Beck.

Zac: “And Marilyn Manson.”

Isaac: “Courtney Love, right?”


Taylor: [Laughs] “We became friends with [New Radicals frontman] Gregg Alexander and asked him about it point-blank….”

Zac: “While surrounded by the three of us [Laughs]”

Taylor: “And he was very cagey about it. He replied: ‘Well… it wasn’t really meant to be negative…’. To which I asked: ‘Well, you did say you were going to kick our asses!’ He was playing a character that was combative, but he just wants to be in the studio writing songs. That was him dipping his toe into the water of ‘I’m a rebel!’”


Whose music did you once describe as “chlamydia of the ears”?

All laugh.

Zac: “I know this one! Justin Bieber!”

CORRECT. Particularly his VD-tastic track ‘Despacito’.

Isaac: “Not my favourite moment of ours, to be honest. That’s not my favourite Justin Bieber song, but I do actually like that song.”

Taylor: “What? ‘Chlamydia of the Ears’? [Laughs] We actually met Justin before he blew up when he was really young. He seemed like a starry-eyed young kid ready to go – and then he conquered the world.”

Isaac: “To get a little brotherly, I couldn’t help but see him as somewhere between Zac or Taylor. I remember thinking ,’I hope he’s able to deal with the pressure’, because it’s a lot to put on one person. Having the three of us together definitely cut against what could have been an overwhelming amount of pressure.”

Zac: “I don’t remember meeting him. But I think at the time I was probably thinking: ‘I hope that guy doesn’t end up making music that sounds like chlamydia!’”


You helped Andrew W.K. break the World Record for Longest Drumming Session in 2013. How long did it last for?

Zac: “I think he was going for 24 hours.”


Zac: “He had to play consistently for 24 hours, so some of that was only one-handed. Exhausting! I don’t want to do anything for 24 hours, much less play drums. Andrew’s great. There’s his over-the-top wild party rocker persona and then his other side who will sit and play us sonatas.”

Taylor: “He’s a cross between Burt Bacharach and Cookie Monster.”

Zac: “He has a willingness to go all the way there and challenges you to be a better musician.”


Hanson cameo in Katy Perry’s 2011 ‘Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)’ video. Which classic John Hughes film was it based on?

Zac: “Was it Sixteen Candles?”

CORRECT. His 1984 coming-of-age comedy.

Taylor: “It’s Sixteen Candles plus acid.”

Zac: “That was surreal because we got a call in the middle of recording a record saying: ‘Do you want to play on the lawn in Katy Perry’s new video? Kenny G’s going to be there.’ Sold!”

Taylor: “She was nice and fun. In the video, we’re meant to be playing at this house party,  and annoyed everyone because we kept on turning on the amplifiers. We were saying: ‘But what if we actually did a show?’. ‘Cause you’re there with your instruments in front of a crowd of people. They’d say: ‘We’re shooting a video. You don’t have to work the room, guys. Everybody here is paid to like you.’”


What date is Hanson Day?

Zac: “May 6.”

CORRECT. Which was initiated in your hometown of Tulsa to celebrate the release of your 1997 album ‘Middle of Nowhere’, before becoming an annual event. Hopefully nobody missed the post deadline for sending their Merry Hanson Day cards!

Zac: “That’s a hard one to forget! It’s really just a continuation of Cinco de Mayo [on May 5], so you celebrate Mexican independence followed by your favourite band.”

Isaac: “Someday, we hope to get all the governments of the world to agree that Hanson Day should be a national holiday because that’s one way to make yourself everybody’s favourite band – give them the day off work.”

Zac: “We do celebrate Hanson Day. It was intended to be a one-time thing [in 1997] by the state Governor but nowadays it’s become a week-long celebration for fans to come to Oklahoma and we host concerts and lectures and this will be the first place people will have the chance to listen to our new album ‘Red Green Blue’.

Tell us about the new album…

Zac: “It’s a three-part album and each of us wrote a third of it. We’ve been together over 30 years and everything we do now is on a scale. It’s no longer about, ‘Let’s make 10 more songs’; it’s what stories are we telling and what does it say about who we are? This seemed like a cool way to deconstruct who Hanson is and what makes us a band.”

Bonus question! For a half-point: Which pop-punk icon claims his band’s most-steamed Spotify track “sounds like Hanson”?

Taylor: “No idea!”

WRONG. Tom DeLonge, formerly of Blink-182, claimed in 2022 that whenever people send him ‘All The Small Things’ , he responds  ‘Really?!’ It’s like Hanson. It’s like these kids playing the old pop-punk.

Hanson break into a pitch-perfect rendition of ‘All The Small Things’.

Zac: “Hey, man – I wish we had written it!”

The verdict: 7/10 

Isaac: “Yes! Over 50 per cent! I think the ratio grew when I started answering!”

– Hanson’s ‘Red Green Blue’ is released on May 20. The band embark on a 30th anniversary tour throughout the UK from June 2022. See here for full dates

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