August 27, 2013
by Richard Peckett
On hearing the name Hanson, most people will peppily reply by humming a quick chorus of “MMMBop.” But there’s more to the band of brothers – Isaac, Taylor and Zac – than long flowing locks and that hit released back in 1997. A lot’s changed for Hanson since “MMMBop.” They have 10 kids between them, their own label, they’ve released a beer called MMMHops and sold 16 million albums worldwide.
Tut tut to those of you who had them down as one-hit wonders. The cherubic trio are celebrating their 21st anniversary as a band with the release of their sixth studio album, “Anthem,” which includes trademark soulful pop/rock tracks like “Get the Girl Back.”
Metro chats with the band’s oldest member, Isaac, on the run-up to their six-month world tour, about brotherly bickering, the industry’s failings and not giving in to groupie temptation.
Has making your new album been easier than making a marriage work?
I think it’s very similar to making a marriage work. (Laughs) It’s probably more complicated because there are three people involved. Going into this album we had to make some real adjustments. We had been hitting the ground pretty hard after touring for the previous two years.
It’s been publicized that the album nearly didn’t happen due to disagreements. Were you working too hard?
It was part of it. We had a different plan for the record – it was much more 2013. The current way of looking at music is just not working for the whole business and nobody is willing to reassess that.
What did you want to do differently?
We wanted to make it an ongoing musical experience but I’ll leave it at that. We’re hoping that we’ll look at that project again in the future.
Who normally incites the arguments?
(Laughs) All of us are perfectly willing to cause trouble. I will say I have a tendency to play devil’s advocate quite a lot, so that keeps me in the mix.
What happened during the recording of “Anthem”?
The initial blowout was because we were working on our fan club EP that we release every single year and we had been up really really late a lot of nights in a row. People were stressed about what was coming and we were working on the song “Tonight” at about 2 a.m. We were frustrated with the process and I said something to Zac, Zac said something to me and so on. It ended with a few fists being thrown and people walking out.
Has your enthusiasm for music waned at all since you first started?
Um, my enthusiasm for music has never waned because I think music is the ultimate expression of fear, joy, sadness and anger – it’s a great healer.
Is it the industry that’s at fault?
The music business is messed up. I compare the music business to the whaling industry. The music business is still trying to sell blubber to people who want kerosene.
That’s an interesting comparison. What’s the blubber and what’s the kerosene?
The blubber is, frankly, plastic: The CD itself is not the future; the relationship with the audience is the future. In the process of trying to hold onto plastic, the business has missed the opportunities that are right in front of them to provide future revenue, growth, profitability and sustainability.
And the kerosene?
I’m referring to the music business’s one-on-one embracement and partnership with the artist and not necessarily the ownership of the artist. Artists are to blame, too.
Are artists too dependent on the label?
Artists in so many cases become very insecure and need handlers to go through life because they allow themselves to perpetuate their own insecurity.
Is this happening to artists today?
It’s always trying to happen.
Justin Bieber is having a meltdown. Do you think that’s what’s going on with him?
I have no idea. But if you don’t know who you are, everyone will tell you who you should be. If you know who you are, the music you’re trying to make and why you’re there, then that’s sustainable, that’s your foundation. Even if the girls and the fame go away, you’re there for the music.
Speaking of girls, you must have got a fair bit of attention when you were younger, so were you ever tempted by the groupies?
There are plenty of attractive females in the audience but I was never the one who felt like that was the goal. My life was already plenty complicated and plenty challenging to fill it with a sloppy mess of one-night stands.