By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – From “MMMBop” to “Back In Black.”
Hanson, the band that exploded into music and pop culture in 1997 with the #1 hit and Grammy winning song “MMMBop,” is turning 21 this year, and with that comes a new musical direction.
“I mean the record definitely is very anthemic, very big,” Isaac Hanson said of the band’s new album Anthem, set for release on June 18th. It’s the band’s first album since 2010′s Shout It Out. “But in addition to that I think this is the first record that we can honestly say a few of the tracks really pull heavily from AC/DC type of influences.”
“Which is always a good thing,” Zach Hanson said. “It’s never bad when you say, ‘ok, what would be an awesome Queen lyric that we wish they wrote, that we could try and write right now.’”
“Exactly. So whether it’s something like Queen or something lie AC/DC, there are some big rock anthem type songs. Which may surprise the non-Hanson fan and the Hanson fan alike,” Isaac added.
Though the band’s biggest hit was their first one, Hanson has managed to stay successful and grow through the years. Anthem will be their seventh full-length album, and then band regularly sells out most of their shows. They’re playing three nights in New York on their upcoming tour, and two nights in Chicago. They’re playing the TLA on South St. on November 7th.
The live show was something the band considered when they were writing the new album.
“There was immediately a feeling that we wanted to be more anthemic,” Zach said. “And sort of make a record that had, sort of, almost of writing for the live experience. Writing for when that crowd interaction happens. Writing for, writing the fans’ part in there. ‘Here’s this song, and this is what the fans sing.’”
The first single from Anthem, “Get The Girl Back,” has a Motown feel, which dominated 2010′s Shout It Out.
“‘Get The Girl Back,’ is the perfect bridge from Shout It Out,” Taylor Hanson said. “I mean honestly, that was the decision. We really put a lot of energy into reasserting that side of ourselves with Shout It Out. And a lot of the record actually takes a different turn. But we really liked the idea of sort of bridging the gap between where we left off, and sort of drawing people into what this record is going to offer, which is actually sort of guitar driven. There’s a lot of guitar that makes a serious comeback on this record. So when you first play the first track on the album itself, you’re going to definitely get a different feel than the single. Which is sort of like, we put the piano away for a minute, and we grabbed the B3 and turned up the guitar.”
“[Anthem's] got a little more edge to it, it’s got a little more fire, and get the girl back is sort of the gateway drug,” Zach added.
“It’s intense,” Isaac said.
While the band has moved on, many people still see the kids from the “MMMBop” video from 16 years ago, and the band is more than aware of that fact.
“Wait, you’re in Hanson? You’re not dead already?,” Zach said.
“We actually started a non profit for those people who are confused about time. We can them time missers. We get them watches,” Taylor said. “I think one of the things that’s really unique about this story, about our band, and hopefully as this story becomes one where we are eventually the guys in ZZ Top with beards walking around on stage down the line, is that crazy introduction with that smash song, that reaches far beyond music and sort of into pop culture almost. And so what you get with that, the negative side, is you get all kinds of people who would never buy your music, know about who you are, know about you. The same way somebody knows about a brand, or a drink or something. So because of that awareness you have those people who are aware, but were never going to be fans. You were never going to sell a record or a ticket to that person, so that just comes with the package. The thing that you have to do is focus on the people who always were fans and have always been the music listeners.”
The band’s 21 years together hasn’t been without challenges, Isaac says.
“I can say that there are two points that I think of [where I thought we might quit]. One is the Underneath period when we had to fight it out with label that didn’t sign us in the first place, but they saw dollar signs.”
The band made a documentary called Strong Enough To Break about that fight, and the subsequent release of 2004′s Underneath.
“And then we ended up leaving them and starting our own label. And then the other one, honestly was the beginning of [Anthem]. There was a legitimate point, right at the beginning of the record when everybody was really on edge, and we were not sure whether we were going to get to the point of making the record.”
You can watch the video for “Get The Girl Back,” pre-order Anthem, and buy tickets to their upcoming tour at HANSON.NET.
Follow Spike on Twitter @SpikeEskin.