Before the Jonas Brothers craze, there was Hanson. Remember the longhaired, sugary sweet trio of brothers responsible for the ridiculously catchy song, Mmmbop released in 1997?
Well, they’re still around and are currently on tour, promoting their fifth album, Shout It Out. The band just wrapped up their tour in South America and Europe and will be gracing Calgary on Jan. 28 at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino.
26-year-old Zac, the drummer and youngest brother of Hanson, took the time to call the Calgary Journal from Oklahoma to talk about the tour, their music and plans to release their own brand of beer.
What have been some of the highlights from the tour?
I think the whole tour in some ways is a highlight, because it’s been a long time since we’ve toured. We’re lucky that we are a band that’s had success. It’s a blessing and a curse having fans all over the world. It’s a blessing to have them; the curse is that it’s so hard to get everywhere. This is really the first time we will ever have a proper Canadian tour.
Photo Courtesy of Big Hassle Media
Why has it taken so long for Hanson to do a Canadian tour?
No reason other than I guess chance and bad luck, it’s just how things come together and where you have to be at this time or that time. I think more important to us is that we are able to make it a focus now. It’s really about your partners and you rely on a lot of different people to help you chose where to go and I think for the first time in a long time, we have great people that are helping us book tours and help find the right partners throughout Canada to actually make a tour happen.
Let’s talk about your latest album, Shout It Out. It has a lot of pop-soul influences on it. You even got to collaborate with legends like Funk Brothers bassist Bob Babbit and horn arranger Jerry Hey, who has worked with musicians such as Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson. Why did these collaborations happen?
The reason those collaborations happened is because we were excited about the idea of having that kind of influence on the record. We as a band grew up listening to music from the’60s and a lot of Motown records and a lot of records that those guys either played or arranged on. When we had the opportunity to work with them it was just sort of a logical conclusion that we would act on it. Jerry had worked a little bit on the third album, did a little bit of horn arrangement. It was a great collaboration for us. It’s sort of like, ‘Do you want a legend to play on your record?’ And if you turn it down, you’re stupid.
You recently mentioned Hanson’s plan to release a beer called Mmmhops. What’s that about?
As a band, we do things that we’re excited about. We were doing a lecture at Oxford and when I talked about this, it got picked up. I was talking about how as an entrepreneur, as somebody who has a business, as a band, you’re kind of a brand and you have to represent yourself in ways that connect with your own personal culture.
It’s sort of something for the (band’s) 20-year anniversary. It’s just something we all thought would be cool. You know, we’re guys. We drink beer once in a while. A good beer is something we’d like to add to the culture of Hanson, that’s just something that fits with who we are.
Are you planning on bringing the beer to Canada?
We’re not totally aware of where the beer will be available; it’s still all up in the air. The intention is not to go tell people that the beer is going to be available at every supermarket around the world and every liquor store, but we are going to do whatever we can to make it available everywhere. We’re talking to several different companies —brewers and microbrewers that we like. Our first goal is to make the best possible beer and secondly is to make it available to as many people as possible. Hopefully people will be able to order it online or get it somewhere in Canada. It is a well-known fact that Canadians like beer.
I’ve noticed that some of the venues you’re playing on your Canadian tour are 18+. Are you guys aiming for an older audience this time around?
No, not at all. It’s completely the opposite of aiming for an older audience. Sometimes the places that are available to play are a casino, or there is just times when the right venue is not all ages. So you just got to play those places then, in general we do all ages shows because you want everyone to be able to come to your shows. In general, our core fan base, we do know is around our age. There are not many fans who are not going to be able to come to a show that’s over 18.
What should Calgarians expect from a Hanson show?
The thing with our show is that we don’t shy away from anybody. If you’re a fan who’s only heard the first album or the third or whatever it is, we try and play stuff from every album at every show. You’re going to hear songs like, Mmmbop and Penny and Me, you’re going to hear a little bit of everything. For us, it’s important to always make people feel like it’s the first show they’ve seen. Mostly, I think it’s a rock-and-roll show. Don’t come unless you’re ready to sing along, hop along and enjoy yourself. If you’re one of those people who likes to stand there with your arms crossed the whole time, a Hanson show is probably not one for you.