Ten years ago the band Hanson experienced a sudden rise to stardom thanks to their widely successful single “Mmbop.” A decade later they are still making music and winning over fans one at a time. The Chronicle spoke with Zac Hanson, the youngest brother and drummer for the band, to talk about life, marriage, music and everything in-between.
Hanson recently released their fourth studio album The Walk. The record was recorded in their Tulsa, Okla., studio on their own label, 3CG Records. The brothers also traveled to South Africa and Mozambique to see the AIDS epidemic up close and personal.
“We wanted to go personally and be there and not just look at the stats or look at the chart or you know, do your Internet research but actually show up and stand there and talk to the doctors and talk to patients and be there and experience it,” Zac said.
While there the brothers recorded clips for songs with a children’s choir from a local orphanage. On the song “Great Divide” the children sing “ngi ne themba,” which means “I have hope.” The amount of hope that the children and other townspeople had was quite inspiring to the brothers.
“I think honestly coming back I didn’t have the feeling I thought I would have,” Zac said. “Going there I expected to have this feeling of ‘wow that’s so horrible’ and honestly I left feeling like ‘wow these people are so incredible.'”
It’s hard for Zac to imagine doing anything else with his life. He began playing shows at the age of six and has been making music ever since. Zac is sure that he would still want to do something creative though. “It’s such an addicting drug, screw crystal-meth, when you have the high of writing something, or creating something out of thin air, there’s nothing like that,” Zac said.
When discussing the current music, Zac stated that he doesn’t think all of it is very original or different. “I think unfortunately for hip hop, rap, gangster rap, whatever you want to call it, it’s reached the point where a lot of crappy rap is being put to the forefront just because rap is kind of in the high of its cycle,” Zac said.
“Because of that, a lot of stuff that isn’t really that innovative or good for that matter is really getting exposure and I think that’s just part of the cycle of music, it happens to each style as they have their rise and fall and it’s all a circle.”
All three brothers are married and two have children, which makes for a crowded tour bus. Although the conditions can often be cramped, Zac loves touring and thinks it’s an amazing experience each time they go out on the road. “That’s so much a part of why we are a band, playing live,” Zac said. “I think right now that’s what I’m really looking forward to, getting out and playing shows every night and seeing the reaction to the new music and talking to people on a personal level.”
Zac isn’t worried about the people that choose to write Hanson off because of their first hit “Mmbop”. “Music is not something that everyone is required to like, that’s why there’s so many different styles and artists,” Zac said. “But I think most of the people you’d be talking about are the type of people who would never take the time to listen to a record. Or for that matter never knew Hanson in the first place.
“When you’re on SNL skits and when you’re put in “Family Guy” and when you’re on “King of the Hill”, when there’s things like that, you’re no longer just a band, it’s no longer about your music, it’s this cultural thing.”
Hanson will be playing the Webster Theatre in Hartford on September 24th.