Super proud Hanson: MMMBop is not that bad

By | December 27, 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald

Hanson drummer Zac Hanson is sitting outside a brewery in Normal, Illinois, thinking about beer. In 2014, he and his brothers – guitarist Isaac and vocalist/keyboardist Taylor – started a beer and music festival called The Hop Jam, and they’ve also released their own brew, Mmmhops, its name a play on Hanson’s gazillion-selling 1997 single, MMMBop. Today Zac’s spending a day off visiting another brewer.

“We just look at it as something that will grow and evolve over time,” he offers of The Hanson Brothers Beer Co. “It’s a huge amount of learning, but it represents a lot of the ways we look at music. It’s about quality ingredients and craftsmanship.”

Boys to men:  Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson are headed for Canberra.
Boys to men: Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson are headed for Canberra.

For those who remember Hanson as the kids who rocketed to superstardom on the back of MMMBop, the fact they’re now old enough to drink beer let alone brew it may come as something of a shock.

But at 33 (Zac was 11 when MMMBop exploded, and six when the band formed in Tulsa, Oklahoma), the drummer has weathered well over two decades in the music industry, during which Hanson have sold more than 16 million albums.

Hanson, now, beer brewers and musicians.
Hanson, now, beer brewers and musicians.Credit:Matthew Swaggart

Their latest is String Theory, a double LP recorded with a 46-piece orchestra. Rather than rearrange their greatest hits or lean on material that already had orchestration, the tracklisting favours more obscure, new or unreleased songs (with a few notable exceptions, such as Where’s The Love? and MMMBop), each linked by their lyrical themes.

“They all tell the story about a young man choosing this impossible path,” explains Zac. “Choosing to reach for something that other people don’t understand. Obviously we have a deep connection to that idea, ’cause we started as kids wanting to make music and travel the world.”

The arrangements come courtesy of Beck’s dad, Oscar-winning composer David Campbell, with whom the band have worked on occasion over the years.

“The phrase used most often in our early conversations was, this really should be a new work,” says Zac. “The strings, the woodwind and the brass bring something to each song that transforms it.”

Hanson, from left, Zac, Isaac and Taylor, arrive at  the Grammy Awards show in New York in  1998.
Hanson, from left, Zac, Isaac and Taylor, arrive at the Grammy Awards show in New York in 1998.Credit:TODD PLITT

Hanson will bring their String Theory tour to Australia in February and March, including two dates at the Sydney Opera House. The act of performing with a different orchestra at every stop can be fraught.

“It’s a very intense process,” says Zac. “So you spend the early part of the day talking through the whole show, beat by beat with the conductor.”

Rare is the band that achieves success at such a young age and doesn’t fall foul of the pitfalls of rock stardom. Hanson have navigated the always changing and sometimes rocky waters of the industry with a few key rules.

“We don’t make our dirty laundry something that happens in public,” says the drummer. “We fight regularly. I say we fight three times a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. But I also recognise that … if the shit hits the fan [my brothers] are literally the guys who will kill someone for me.

“Also,” he adds, “you can see in certain life choices [I’ve made], your average guy in a band isn’t getting married at 20 with four kids at 33. But that’s part of a choice to find comfort and connectivity.”

For all their longevity and projects such as String Theory, Zac doesn’t resent the fact that for many, Hanson will always be the band that sang that ubiquitous 1997 hit.

“We’ve never run from MMMBop,” he says. “MMMBop is part of String Theory because it still has a place in our story. I am super proud of it. It’s a song we wrote when I was eight, and the messages in it are still relevant. Most people don’t get known for anything. MMMBop’s not that bad.”



We’re still not sick of Christmas music, believe it or not

By | December 25, 2018

Marketplace

The brothers in Hanson — Zac, Taylor and Isaac — are reissuing their 1997 holiday album "Snowed In" this year. Their second holiday album, "Finally it's Christmas," came out in 2017.The brothers in Hanson — Zac, Taylor and Isaac — are reissuing their 1997 holiday album “Snowed In” this year. Their second holiday album, “Finally it’s Christmas,” came out in 2017. – Peter Balonon-Rosen/Marketplace

Just a few months after they broke out with “MMMBop,” the Hanson brothers moved into a London studio where they spent a very busy four and a half weeks making their Christmas album “Snowed In.”

“It was a very immersive experience. You never left the studio, right?” Zac Hanson, the youngest brother, said. “You just went from bed to the kitchen to the studio back to the kitchen back to the studio.”

Isaac Hanson cut in. “Which was just like a dream, actually.”

“We were all in a bubble,” Taylor Hanson added.

It paid off. “Snowed In” went platinum, and it was one of the best-selling Christmas records of the 90s, along with Kenny G and Mariah Carey. Still, Hanson waited two decades to record a follow-up, “Finally It’s Christmas,” last year.

“You know, a lot of the conversation about making Christmas records or not can get very kind of weirdly … callous,” Isaac said. “Even with the success of that record … we were very conscious of the fact that we don’t want to be just churning out marketable products,” Taylor added. 

But there’s pressure on recording artists to do just that. Holiday music gets more and more popular every year. While the recording industry has changed seismically since the 90s, there are still a lot of good reasons to make a Christmas album, even if you might not make the next “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” 

An original hit can be lucrative — Carey’s reportedly earned $60 million in royalties on that track alone. And the data show people are hungry for new Christmas music, said Jon Miller, vice president of audience insights at Nielsen. Even though physical and digital sales have slowed significantly, streaming numbers and the growing popularity of all-holiday radio stations has more than made up the gap.

About 500 radio stations switched to an all-holiday format last holiday season, Miller said, and people streamed Christmas songs 5 billion times in November and December alone.

“Globally it’s just there’s more appetite for holiday music,” Miller said. “Every year there’s more stations that do it. There’s more songs being streamed. So it appears that Americans just want more and more every year.”

And that’s broadened the market, Miller said. Nielsen’s data from last holiday season show people tend to stream more new Christmas music than they hear on the radio, which leans more on classics.

But those classics are never far from recording artists’ minds.

“It’s incredibly intimidating to write Christmas songs because essentially — unlike anything else you do — you’re saying ‘OK, here’s a classic!’” Zac Hanson said.

Ingrid Michaelson said her new Christmas album “Ingrid Michaelson’s Songs for the Season” was one of her toughest records to make. She worked with a symphony and got her hands on vintage equipment in pursuit of a classic, mid-century sound.

On top of all that, Michaelson said, writing a brand-new song came with a lot of pressure. The one she ended up with, “Happy, Happy Christmas” is a melancholy song reflecting on her parents’ deaths. Anything else felt too cheesy, she said.

“I remember my manager was like, ‘It would be really lovely if you could get another original.’ Like, I agree with you. I do. But I just can’t do it,” Michaelson said. “It’s not happening, and I’m not going to force some crappy Christmas song into the world.”

There is good reason for Michaelson’s reluctance. Music fans have more choices than ever in the streaming era, and that means artists have to compete more for attention. A Christmas album can hang around for years. That can be a benefit too — it helps keep fans interested over the winter months.

“If you’re on the road hawking your wares there’s a point, like a lot of businesses but especially with music, where you you might as well take a month off,” Taylor Hanson said. “If it’s authentic, and if it’s something you can stand behind, [making a Christmas album] is a cool way to sort of share in something — a lot of people are having these experiences and you get to [do] the soundtrack.”

An artist can hopefully count on fans streaming the album or going to a Christmas show for years after. Hanson is reissuing “Snowed In” this year on vinyl, a format that was far out of fashion in the CD heyday of 1997 when the album debuted. Other reissues come a lot sooner.

“I was being told by people, like, ‘Oh, yeah, there’s only a handful of people putting out holiday records this year, it’s a really quiet year. And then all of a sudden it was like: Sia deluxe album! … Gwen Stefani deluxe album!” Michaelson said. “And I was like, wait a minute, they just put it out last year, and then you put out a deluxe album the next year?”

She joked, “OK, I guess I’m going to do a deluxe album next year.”

That kind of long tail is all the more important these days. Some Christmas albums still sell big, like Michael Bublé’s “Christmas” or Pentatonix’s several holiday releases, but most artists can’t live on sales and streaming royaltiesalone.

“The last avenues left to musicians for finding profit, and I won’t say easy profit … are live performance and placement in movies and TV and advertisements,” said Rhett Miller, lead singer and songwriter of the the Old 97’s. “That’s a way that you can make money when there’s no real money to be made from album sales or — God forbid — streaming services.”

Miller’s band is on a nationwide tour this winter to support its first Christmas album, “Love the Holidays.” One of that record’s nine Christmas songs stands a better chance than their other output of being featured in a a movie or show, Miller said, which could itself become a perennial favorite. 

There’s a persistent notion of the Christmas album as a quick, easy cash-in, but the math doesn’t totally add up in the streaming era. The Hanson brothers own their own label now, and they’re getting creative.

“You really can’t look at streaming as a really great revenue source,” Zac Hanson said, but “can an album be enough to get you to buy a ticket? And if you buy a ticket to a concert, does that mean we’ve engaged you enough to buy a T-shirt? And if you buy a T-shirt are you willing to … pay for annual membership to get music that no one else does?”

But none of that works if you’re making music just to make money, Isaac Hanson added.

Taylor Hanson On “String Theory,” Christmas And 25 Years Of Hanson

By | December 21, 2018

WAMC

Zac, Taylor and Isaac Hanson

Zac, Taylor and Isaac Hanson

You’ve probably heard the band Hanson do a lot of things over the past 25 years: chart-topping pop anthems, live albums, even Christmas music. But now the brothers from Oklahoma are exploring a whole new approach. The band’s new double album “String Theory” features new songs and old hits with symphonic accompaniment. Not only that — the brothers have also been taking the show on the road, performing with orchestras around the world. Joining us to talk about the group’s latest effort is multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Taylor Hanson.

HANSON: Happy Holidays!

By | December 20, 2018

https://mailchi.mp/hanson/hanson-happy-holidays?e=6c705f9886 

WEEKLY PIC

The Christmas season is upon us which  means presents, lots of food and your relatives embarrassing you…as is displayed in this candid funny pic of us from the Finally It’s Christmas album. We hope you and your family are getting a chance to enjoy all the things that make this season a great one.

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Tuesday Trivia

By | December 18, 2018

TuesdayTrivia

It is Taylor that would like to take a Great American Motorcycle trip.

Which Hanson chickened out on Skydiving?

Do you have a Hanson trivia question you'd like to submit for consideration for our Tuesday Trivia question?  Send the question & answer to blog@hansonstage.com

HANSON: Snow Globe Sessions

By | December 13, 2018


WEEKLY PIC

The best way to spread Christmas cheer, around one mic, singing loudly for all to hear.


MESSAGE FROM THE BAND

Around this time of year, we are lucky to be able to take time off to focus on what matters most. Even though 2019 is still a few weeks away, this Friday we will lock up the studio and close out the year focused on family and celebrating Christmas. We know how important music is to any celebration so starting Friday and leading up to the 25th we will be posting a few special videos for hanson.net members that we are calling Snow Globe Sessions. We gathered around one mic with a Rhodes, an acoustic guitar and some sleigh bells and will share a few of our favorite Christmas songs for your listening pleasure.

We will be posting one song for Hanson.net fan club members on the 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 22nd, so check back for them if you need a little holiday pick me up.

We can’t wait for 2019, but until then, Merry Christmas

Isaac, Taylor and Zac


HOLIDAY ORDER DEADLINE!

Place your Christmas Orders by December 14th for delivery before Christmas, December 25th 2018.

Guarantee only available for U.S. Orders due to varying international customs speeds.


BACK TO THE ISLAND GUESTS!

HANSON is excited to announce two very special guests for Back To The Island 2019: Lewis Watson and Jacob Tovar. Back To The Island is an amazing week dedicated to recharging life’s batteries through spending time with cool people and listening to great music.  We are very excited to bring two very good friends this year that both bring something special to the stage.  Jacob will remind you what country music should sound like and Lewis will have you singing along like not ever wanting to go home.  We look forward to seeing all the new and returning Islanders at BTTI 2019.


SNOW GLOBE SESSIONS

Fan Club Exclusive: We are going to share a few of our favorite Christmas songs for your listening pleasure. We will be posting one song for Hanson.net fan club members on the 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 22nd, so check back for them if you need a little holiday pick me up.


JOIN HANSON.NET!

With the String Theory album and tour just around the corner, don’t forget to renew your Hanson.net membership for 2018!
During The String Theory enjoy these members benefits.

•    Pre-sale concert tickets
•    Member lines at concerts
•    Meet & Greets opportunities with the band
•    Fan Club Reporter’s interviews
•    Exclusive videos
•    Check-in at the concert to win one of a kind items

You can find your current expiration date by going to your My Account page. Not a member join today!

Hanson and fans almost MMMbopped; tent collapses after Williamsburg concert

By | December 11, 2018

Wavy

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – The band Hanson had to cut a holiday performance at the Williamsburg Winery short Sunday afternoon. And it’s a good thing they did or they may have been MMMbopped when the tent they were performing under partially collapsed.

This was their last concert of the year, and the band posted on Instagram that they were feeling festive as the snow fell outside. But the winter storm conditions quickly worsened and the snow total increased so they ended the performance early and got everyone out of the tent.  The heavy snow later caused the tent to partially collapse.

 

10 On Your Side reached out the James City County Fire Department, which confirmed there were no injuries reported. Battalion Chief Alton Catlett said the biggest problem was people had trouble getting out of the parking lot.

The Super Doppler 10 weather team reports five inches of snow fell in Williamsburg Sunday.

Mary Kathleen Grady was at the concert. She told 10 On Your Side there were hundreds of cars stuck in the dirt parking lot, including hers, but a group of strangers helped push her vehicle out to the road. Sarah Brock Mooney shared a similar story and provided this photo.

Monday afternoon, as word of the collapse spread, the Williamsburg Winery posted on their official Facebook page:

“We want to express our sincere gratitude for everyone who attended and was involved with yesterday’s Uncorked and Unplugged with Hanson, Brynn Elliott and Heather Murphy and thank you to our partners in Hampton Roads (94.9 The Point & 101.3 2WD) and in Richmond (Mix981Richmond& Q94 Richmond). The weather conditions that arose unexpectedly after the forecast called for a dusting to a 1/2 inch of snow followed by rain, certainly brought about some challenges. Our primary focus all day, especially when the snow increased, was to make sure everyone got out of the venue safely.

We are so grateful for our Winery team, our Radio partners and our community partners at James City County for working tirelessly all day monitoring the situation and taking the necessary measures to ensure everyone’s safety. A huge thank you to you, the fans, for your passion, feedback and for braving the elements and being patient during the snowfall. We know that the elements brought about less than ideal situations and unexpected circumstances.

Please feel free to contact our radio partners with questions about the show at 757-965-2368.

Thank you and happy holidays

Tuesday Trivia

By | December 11, 2018

TuesdayTrivia

An I Was Born Challenge the guys would like to try next is using para jets.

Which Hanson has a great american motorcycle trip on their bucket list?

Do you have a Hanson trivia question you'd like to submit for consideration for our Tuesday Trivia question?  Send the question & answer to blog@hansonstage.com