When Hanson’s tour bus rolled into Hartford for a performance at the Webster Theater recently, The Chronicle was able to hop aboard for a pre-show chat with brothers Zac, 18, Taylor, 21, and Isaac, 23 about life on the road, performing for their peers and their thoughts on being one of the first boy bands in the music industry.
For fans who have followed the group since their 1997 debut album, “Middle of Nowhere,” it will come as no surprise that their upcoming third album, “Underneath,” was an effort a while in the making, but as Taylor Hanson explains, the new music illustrates the personal and professional growth Hanson has experienced over the years.
“We’ve gone through so much in the last seven years and so have all those girls out there and all those guys out there. Coming to the show is a lot different then they were when we came out 7 years ago or even fans who knew us locally before that,” he said, pausing to stick his hand out from the bus to wave to the nearby crowd of fans.
It is such dedication to their fans that the brothers say influence their live performances, and keep them having fun with their music.
Eager to get started on playing the music that he loves, Zac Hanson, 18, escaped from the confines of the tour bus to jam for a few minutes, only to be tracked down by tour personnel to sit down with The Chronicle.
“Music is what we do. I love doing music and there’s nothing I want to do more than get in there and play some drums or rock on an acoustic guitar. The fans make it fun, we really have an amazing audience, they’re really active, really want to sing the songs, really want to come to shows, really want be a part of the music,” Zac said.
Since Hanson is in a similar age bracket with their fans, a special bond between the artists and their audience has been forged. On the road with this acoustic tour, Isaac is appreciative of the loyalty his peers have exhibited.
“We’ve been playing together (as a band) for twelve years. A cool evolution (over the years) is that we’re seeing the same people coming to these shows but it’s been another 4 years and they’re still there and they’re loving it.
“(The fans are) having a great time and these shows are doing really, really well and we’re getting the chance to build the anticipation for the music and it’s been really exciting,” Isaac said.
Fans who attended the Webster Theater performance got the chance to see Hanson’s acoustic live show; a performance outlet the band says provides them with the chance to really showcase their music.
The brothers agree that their most recent time on the road performing at smaller venues like clubs and theaters has been rewarding because such venues really lend themselves well to acoustic sound.
“When we’re playing acoustically we wanted to play smaller gigs, we wanted to bring it down, and the idea was to be able to really touch the audience and feature the song and take away the layers around it,” Taylor said.
For the trio, getting on the stage night after night can sometimes be a daunting task. To keep things fresh while on the road, Hanson looks to their audience to energize the performances by singing along or dancing to the music.
Taylor, already a music veteran at the age of 21, puts his concert performances in perspective, saying that if he gets worn out from the rigor of the touring lifestyle, he reminds himself what it is like to be on the other side of the microphone.
“Once you get on stage, you eye the audience and look into those people’s eyes and you just realize again why you’re (performing) and you feed off of that. You realize that if it’s the 100th time for you it’s the first time for somebody else and that brings it back,” he said.
“It’s not always easy and it’s not always your favorite show you ever did, but it’s never old in that sense; it’s always new for somebody and that’s how you have to treat it, it’s the first show for one person here and that’s how you have to play a show.”
Releasing their debut album at a time where pop boy bands were overtaking the music industry did not faze Hanson. The group reasons that although they were lumped into the boy band category, they were really just out to have a good time playing music.
“Honestly I think we’re the only true boy band…we’re the only band of that bunch that was technically boys at that time. We’re just guys in a band who just so happened to be crazy enough to start playing together when we were like really (young),” Isaac said, adding that he hopes the band’s years together will get them to the point where fans would look back and realize the band’s integrity over the years.
Like Isaac, Taylor is optimistic about their future in the music business. Deciding against performing with rehearsed choreography and back up tracks, Hanson stays true to their appreciation for music by showing fans that such a group can exist without the manufactured pop sound.
“For us it’s always been about playing rock n’ roll. We were boys when we started and hopefully by the time we’re 60 we’ll still be the guys that we were when we started out with that same lust for music,” Taylor said.