Friday, September 30, 2011

Tulsan Dwight Twilley records musical autobiography

BY GENE TRIPLETT etriplett@opubco.com    Comment on this article
Published: September 30, 2011
— Etched into the sidewalk in front of the vacant building at 5150 S Sheridan Road is evidence of a bygone musical era. Concrete blocks bear the handprints and autographs of Jackson Browne, Taj Mahal, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Wishbone Ash; the names of touring artists and bands who stopped by to visit what back then was Peaches Records & Tapes, and participated in a ritual inspired by Hollywood and Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Dwight Twilley. PHOTO PROVIDED <strong>PROVIDED</strong>Most of these international stars hailed from far-flung places, but one square bears the names of two local boys who made good back when vinyl was still king of the recording formats: Dwight Twilley and Phil Seymour.
“Back in 1977 when the band was doing the ‘Twilley Don't Mind' tour, we stopped in Tulsa and we were at Peaches, and we signed our names in the stone,” Twilley said from his Tulsa home last week. “And I drew pictures of me and Phil on it. You can see it in the artwork of the new CD.”
And that would be “Soundtrack,” a new autobiographical album that revisits all the major milestones in Twilley's life and career from boyhood to the present — including two life-changing events that occurred before the recording was even completed.
“I know at one point I wanted to capture just the whole experience of being a teenager and suddenly having a hit record and having the millions of chicks around you, at your fingertips, and what an emotional change that is for somebody. Not a normal thing for most people's lives,” Twilley said. “And then one of my early drummers, Jerry Naifeh, died.
“And I'd written lyrics for this song and all that, and then I went back into the studio to go to work on it and, you know, suddenly I just didn't feel like writing that anymore. And so I wrote something else instead. I wrote the song, the first song on the album, called ‘You Close Your Eyes.'
That was in February. Two short months later, Twilley lost another old friend and musical collaborator who had still been an active partner.
“I lost my lead guitarist, the original lead guitarist for the Dwight Twilley Band, a huge loss and a huge part of my sound, Bill Pitcock IV,” Twilley said.
A bandmate off and on since Twilley signed his first major label deal in the mid-'70s, Pitcock contributed his signature work to much of the music on “Soundtrack” before his health suddenly began to fail.
“Towards the end there were a few tracks we had to finish up by ourselves,” Twilley said. “It was pretty emotional considering that both ‘Green Blimp' and this album were just really myself and my wife (Jan) engineering, and Bill Pitcock IV, just the three of us, you know, playing almost everything on the record except for occasional guest stars.”
Autobiographical seed
The idea for the autobiographical album — which features longtime friend Susan Cowsill (The Cowsills) on backing vocals and fellow Tulsan Taylor Hanson (Hanson) on keyboards — came about after Twilley was approached by local filmmakers who wanted to do a documentary about him.
Twilley's story has long been part of the Tulsa music world's lore and legend, starting in 1967 when he ran into his Edison High School mate Phil Seymour at a matinee screening of “A Hard Day's Night” at the old Bowman Twin. Discovering a mutual love of the Beatles' sound, they began playing music together that afternoon.
A couple of years later, when Dwight and Phil thought they were good enough but couldn't afford a trip to Los Angeles or New York, they jumped into Dwight's '58 Chevy station wagon and took their tapes to Memphis, Tenn., where they managed to score a meeting with none other than Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, the man credited with discovering Elvis.
Phillips in turn sent the boys to learn a few rockabilly licks at the knee of Ray Harris, an early Sun recording artist living in Tupelo, Miss., and thus was born the Twilley trademark blending of Beatles tunefulness and slapback-echo twang that would land them a contract with Leon Russell's Shelter Records.
In no time, the Dwight Twilley Band was burning up the airwaves with its debut single “I'm on Fire,” which smoldered for eight weeks on Billboard's Hot 100 in the spring of '75, peaking at No. 16. When the debut album “Sincerely” was released in 1976, Rolling Stone magazine pronounced it “the best debut album of the year.”
But the next 10 years were rocky ones for Twilley, beleaguered by self-destructing record labels and corrupt music industry executives, until his career stalled out in 1986 after the release of the album “Wild Dogs.” He eventually returned to Tulsa with his wife, bought a house and built a studio onto it, and began life anew as an independent recording artist.
Making it right
Now, five albums of new material later, someone is finally making a film about his incredible rock 'n' roll journey, but Twilley insisted on writing the soundtrack for it himself.
“I read their proposal for how they were making the film, and down in the small print, it said they were hiring somebody to write music that sounded like Dwight Twilley,” Twilley said.
“I thought to myself, now wait a minute here. Something about this doesn't feel right. ... But I did come back to them saying I'd much prefer recording the music myself. And basically I just signed on to write the soundtrack for the documentary.”
The film will include the planned retrieval of the sidewalk stone that was signed 34 long years ago by Twilley and Seymour, another absent friend who died of lymphoma in 1993. Twilley was granted permission by the owners of the vacant building to remove the stone and take it home.
So it's a bittersweet year for the power-pop veteran. His new album comes out Tuesday, EMI is reissuing three of his best long-players, “Sincerely,” “Scuba Divers” (1982) and “Jungle” (1984), and one of his most popular '80s album tracks, “Looking for the Magic” (featuring Tom Petty on bass) has been licensed for use in an upcoming slasher movie called “You're Next.”
But he's still faced with rebuilding his band, and finding a guitarist who can maybe come close to duplicating Pitcock's unique style.
“It kind of seems like the end of an era with Bill and Phil gone,” Twilley said. “I'm like the last guy standing.”

Hanson band member turned aviation activist to speak at WMU

by Jeanne Baron
Sept. 29, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Ravi, pilot and guitarist.KALAMAZOO--Ravi, an accomplished pilot and former guitarist for the 1990s band Hanson, will present a guest lecture for Western Michigan University students from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, in Room 1720 of the Chemistry Building.
A frequent motivational speaker, Ravi is known in aviation circles as "The Raviator." During his WMU talk on "Rejuvenating Aviation From the Ground Up," he will provide his unique perspective on the aviation industry as well as discuss the challenges he has encountered in his efforts to bring renewed passion to the aviation industry.
All WMU students are welcome to attend the talk, which is being sponsored by the College of Aviation.
Ravi combines his love of flying and music to help change the perception that aviation is in decline and to inspire pilots and other aviation professionals to re-connect with their dream of being part of the aviation industry. He tours the world lecturing on crucial issues facing the aviation and music industries, performing original songs, and conducting music clinics.
Born in Washington, D.C., Ravi is a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family, India's political family dynasty. His businessman father partnered with Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan to form an airline, but Ravi chose to begin his professional life as a musician.
He shot to worldwide fame at a young age as Hanson's guitarist, performing in front of thousands of fans as well as at the White House and on TV shows such as "Saturday Night Live," "David Lettermen" and "Jay Leno" before appearing as a solo artist.
For more information about Ravi's talk, contact Tom Thinnes, recruitment and outreach manager in the WMU College of Aviation, at tom.thinnes@wmich.edu or (269) 964-5768. Visit theraviator.com for more information about Ravi.

Gavin DeGraw, Michelle Branch and Hanson to perform in south Fort Myers

Gavin DeGrawRadio station WINK-FM has announced a star-filled line-up for its “Almost Acoustic Christmas” concert this December.
The annual pop concert will feature performances by Gavin DeGraw, Michelle Branch, James Blunt, Parachute and former boy band Hanson, according to the WINK website. There will also be performances by Mat Kearney and Fitz and The Tantrums.
The concert starts 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4 at Hammond Stadium in south Fort Myers. Doors open at noon.
Tickets are $20 and will be available online. Concert organizers couldn’t be reached for comment.
For more information, go to winkfm.com

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's the end of the world as Weird Al knows it

And he feels fine when talking about Lady Gaga, Segways and his new album, Alpocalypse.


3:52 p.m. EDT, September 28, 2011

This past June, Weird Al Yankovic released Alpocalypse, his first studio album in nearly five years. He’s now touring the country to promote it, and will perform Tuesday, Oct. 4 at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. We caught up with him last week before a show in Houston.

What inspired you to finally do a new album?

It was a long process. This might’ve been the longest I’ve gone between CDs, and there’s no great reason for that other than that I’ve been very busy with other things and I was waiting for the right thing to come along and that didn’t happen until Lady Gaga put out “Born This Way.” That’s when I thought all the cosmic tumblers had aligned and it was time for me to put out the album. It’s more of the same kind of stuff I’ve done since the beginning. It’s half-parody, half-original. There’s the requisite polka medley. It’s all infused with my warped sense of humor.

What was it like working with members of Hanson and the Doors on this album?
I got to work with [Doors keyboardist] Ray Manzarek and Taylor Hanson on a couple tracks. I did a Doors pastiche called “Craigslist.” It was just a random thought I had late one night. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be anachronistic and weird and stupidly funny to do a song in the style of the Doors, but have it be about Craigslist?” I asked Ray Manzarek, “Hey, would you like to play keyboards on this?” And he said yes, so it was a huge thrill for me to work with Ray in the studio. It was just mind-boggling. And Taylor Hanson I’ve been friends with for a long time. I’ve known the Hanson guys since the late ’90s. We’ve been working on each other’s projects here and there, and I just did a cameo appearance in one of their music videos, playing the tambourine. And I directed one of their music videos early on. One of my songs was supposed to sound kind of like Hanson, and I thought, “Well, Why don’t I get Taylor to play on that?” He happened to be in town and came into the studio and put down some tasty tracks.

Has Lady Gaga said anything to you about [the “Born This Way” parody] “Perform This Way?”
I haven’t talked to her directly about it, but according to an interview she did with Rolling Stone, she called it a “rite of passage” and she said it was “empowering.” She accurately found that it was not meant to be a putdown in any way. She said, “It sounds like Al’s got my back,” which was the case. When I write parodies, it’s never meant to step on people’s toes. It’s all in good fun and most of the artists realize that. I had a bit of a problem with her management on this particular song. But once it was in Lady Gaga’s court, she immediately approved it because she got the joke.

How do you decide what to parody?
It’s just whatever strikes me as funny. People ask me that a lot, and I could come up with some gag answers, but the real answer is who knows? Our brains work in mysterious ways and the synapses fire randomly and something will strike me as funny. And it may actually be funny or I may be out of my mind. I have to go with what I think is funny.

Have fans ever sent you parodies of your parodies?
I’ve seen some of that. I’ve had a couple of tribute albums done of fans doing cover songs, some of which are parodies of my original songs. It’s always flattering. I love it when fans will put the funhouse mirror back on me.

What songs can fans expect to hear on the Alpocalpyse tour?
A lot of stuff from Alpocalpyse obviously and pretty much all the big hits. It’s a little bit of everything, a good mix. If you want to check out my special on Comedy Central, it’s going to debut Oct. 1. It’s not the full show, since the actual show is around two hours long, but it gives you a taste of what you’re liable to see in the show.”

Do you have a favorite song from your career?
I get that a lot and it’s hard to pick, but my go-to answer for that is “White and Nerdy” just because it was my biggest hit. It sold over a million legal downloads and it’s my only platinum single. Plus, it’s not entirely autobiographical but I have a lot in common with the protagonist of that song. I didn’t have to do a whole lot of research to be able to write that song.

Do you actually own a Segway?
I do. I probably wouldn’t if it weren’t part of my live show, but I come out on stage every night on a Segway for “White and Nerdy.” And when I’m not on the road, I ride it around the house. What’s something fans would be surprised to know about you? A lot of fans don’t know that I’m actually an elderly Korean woman. Now the secret’s out of the bag!

Weird Al Yankovic will perform 8 p.m. Oct. 4 at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 5747 Seminole Way, in Hollywood. Tickets cost $45-$65. Call 954-797-5531 or visit Hardrocklivehollywoodfl.com.
Contact Joanie Cox at jcox@citylinkmagazine.com

vc repórter: ingressos para show do Hanson em SP estão esgotados

28 de setembro de 2011 15h24 

O trio é formado pelos irmãos Isaac, Taylor e Zac. Foto: Divulgação 

Os ingressos para o show do trio americano Hanson, que acontece no dia 6 de novembro em São Paulo, já estão esgotados. A banda toca em Porto Alegre no dia 4, na Casa do Gaúcho, e em São Paulo, no Citibank Hall.

De acordo com a produtora Time For Fun, ainda existem ingressos disponíveis para a apresentação do grupo em Porto Alegre e os preços vão de R$ 80 (pista) a R$ 150 (pista premium).

O trio americano, que esteve no País pela última vez em 2005, pisa em solo brasileiro para divulgar seu oitavo álbum Shout It Out, lançado em 2010. A banda é formada pelos irmãos Isaac, Taylor e Zac, famosos pelos sucessos MMMBop e Save Me.

Serviço - Hanson:
Porto Alegre
Única apresentação: 04/11/2011 (sexta-feira)
Local: Casa do Gaúcho - Parque Maurício Sirotsky Sobrinho
Horário: 21h
Duração do show: aproximadamente 1h30
Classificação etária: Não será permitida a entrada de menores de 12 anos; 12 anos e 13 anos: permitida a entrada (acompanhados dos pais ou responsáveis legais); a partir de 14 anos: permitida a entrada (desacompanhados)
Capacidade: 2.800 lugares
Meio de Pagamento Preferencial: Credicard
Acesso para deficientes
Preços
Pista Premium: R$150,00
Pista: R$80,00
Mezanino: R$120,00

São Paulo
Única apresentação: 6 de novembro
Local: Citibank Hall - Av. Jamaris, 213 - Moema
Site: www.citibankhall.com.br
Telefones para informações: 4003-6464
Venda a grupos: (11) 2846-6166 / 6232
Única apresentação 06 de novembro de 2011
Horário: Domingo, 20h
Duração espetáculo: aproximadamente 1h30
Classificação etária: Não será permitida a entrada de menores de 12 anos; 12 anos e 13 anos: permitida a entrada (acompanhados dos pais ou responsáveis legais); 14 anos em diante: permitida a entrada (desacompanhados)
Capacidade pista: 3.148 pessoas
Abertura da casa: 1h30 antes do espetáculo
Estacionamento: terceirizado: R$ 30,00 (com manobrista)
Acesso para deficientes
Ar condicionado
Ingressos esgotados


A internauta Gina Liscamurugy, de Salvador (BA), participou do vc repórter, canal de jornalismo participativo do Terra. Se você também quiser mandar fotos, textos ou vídeos, clique aqui.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Interview: Zac Hanson

19 years later, the “Mmmbop” singer on the importance of creating an art object in the digital age, the return of soul music, and establishing a sustainable career

 by Morgan McNaught September 27, 2011 

 Hanson’s first single, “MmmBop,” was released over 19 years ago, but these wunderkinds have shown no signs of slowing down. The three-time Grammy Award winners have created their own record label, released one of the most successful independent records to date, and if anything, have only gotten hipper with time. A free 2010 show at New York’s South Street Seaport in which they curiously shared the bill with rapper Drake caused a riot when twice the number of expected fans showed up.

The brothers kicked off this years’ Musical Ride Tour Sept. 4 in Seattle and will venture to 40 U.S. cities—including Chicago for shows tonight and Wednesday—letting audience members vote which album the group will play in its entirety. By making their shows a never-duplicated experience, Hanson gives fans the opportunity to look back and participate in the benchmarks of their illustrious career.

Zac Hanson sat down with The A.V. Club to talk about importance of creating an art object in the digital age, the return of soul music, and establishing a sustainable career.

The A.V. Club: On your latest record, Shout It Out, you worked with The Funk Brothers’ Bob Babbitt, who a lot of people might know from Standing In The Shadows Of Motown. What was that like? 
Zac Hanson: Bob is amazing. I don’t know what I expected, but he’s just a huge personality with amazing stories of playing with people like Stevie Wonder when he was a kid.

But Bob’s also just got this feel. It’s undeniable for me; he’s been playing for so long on so many great records. I think one of the things that was interesting about Bob is sometimes when he’d be playing the part, you kind of would hear it and you’d be thinking, “Oh, he’s a little too far behind beat,” and then you’d listen back to it, and it would just feel so great. It’s just from years and years and years and years of playing.

AVC: Your new tour had to be crazy to prepare for.
ZH: It is definitely a crazy thing to prepare for, and it makes for a much harder job each night. But it’s a challenge, it’s something that sort of excites us.

The concept basically formed out of the fact that we had something called “five of five,” at least that’s what we called it, where in London we had just done five concerts, and each night we had just performed one album—and the next album and the next album and the next album. [It sort of] formed out of the fact that we wanted a cool way to launch the new album, Shout It Out . So we had done that once in New York last year, and then in London when we launched the release of Shout It Out there. And so when we finished that, we were preparing for a U.S. tour knowing that we wanted to do one. And we just said, “How do we sort of take this kind of a [concept] of playing albums,” because we spent all this time to prepare for that one-off event, “and turn it into a tour and sort of let people experience that more?”

The other thing was we always liked the idea of just letting the fans feel more invested in what we’re doing and sort of unique experiences. It just seemed like a cool combination of things that excite people to vote for their favorite album, their favorite record, and give us a challenge each night.

The show is a little more than that, you know; we’re playing songs that aren’t on the record that wins, sort of, but the show is primarily whatever record wins.

AVC: You’ve been really interactive with fans lately. How did that come about?
ZH: We were about to release Shout It Out , and we actually said, “How do we just make something a really immersive experience for this record?” We knew it would be super limited, but it was something that we felt like would be exciting for everyone to know it existed, to be a part of seeing it be creative. We made a record player, we made custom headphones, we made LPs, we made an owner’s manual of how to listen to the record, what to do while listening to each song. We gave demos and sort of rush recordings as part of it on a USB key, and, gosh, what else was in there? There was the screen-printed poster. And it was part of this whole package of just trying to create this kind of experience where you sit down and you wrap yourself in the record, and how it was made, and reading the lyrics, and looking at pictures, and there’s a photo book as a part of it, there was a 45-minute documentary about making the record. And we just were trying to give that kind of immersive experience that’s sort of lost in the digital age of sort of “download it to my iPod and just put it on shuffle.”

AVC: It’s harder and harder to get people to actually buy something. So by creating this experience for someone and kind of letting them in and giving them a piece of yourself and your art, your process is really lovely.
ZH: The thing with us that we always try and do is, I guess in the digital world, where things are changing, and more and more you’re put in the spotlight 100 percent of the time, and they want to know when you’re going to the bathroom and what you had to drink, it’s sort of like, how do you take that kind of an idea and then really put the focus more on the art and on the reason people want to know when you’re going to the bathroom and what you ate and, you know...

AVC: Totally.
ZH: Because that’s the key. It’s fine, obviously, that we have Twitter accounts and Facebook and whatever, and I literally do post up some random thing that I thought or ate. But it’s more like in general, how do you focus things more on the art? Like, the last thing we did for our fan club was when we recorded the EP this last year, every day we wrote a song and recorded it, and we streamed it live, the writing process and the recording process, to our fan club members. And it was just like we’re going to let you watch us make records and let you sort of come inside the process and see it recorded live—it’s happening, you know, right now, and seeing this all around the world, experiencing that together with us. It’s just sort of those kind of things are, I think, stuff that brings the attention back to the reason you have fans, you know. It’s our music. It’s not that we were really funny guys or that we were good looking or—it’s the music. And so we have to put the focus there.

AVC: How do you guys stay balanced, and what grounds you while working together and being on tour?
ZH: I think we grew up with a good family that never let us get our heads too big, and being brothers, you tend to be pretty authentic and real with each other about sort of true behavior. Being a couple dweebs, you know—we, I think, all ended up with a feeling of respect for what we get to do, a love for making music, and an understanding that, you know, it could go away in a matter of a day or a week or a year, that you could not be that band that was lucky enough to actually make it a career. And we could have to go and find a real job instead of the awesomest job of sort of expressing your outlook on life and, hopefully, changing people’s lives. And so, when you think of it, you just have a little more respect, and hopefully it comes out in the way you behave around people and represent your band and your music, you know. It’s so easy to end up being one of those bands that’s drunk all the time and fighting and sort of having the cliché rock star persona because there’s so many facilitators when you’re put in a position of success, so many people who want to sit next to you and just sort of grab a piece of what you’re doing.

We just are lucky enough, I guess, that we just see that for what it is; it’s like it is just people who want a piece of that, and you’ve got to figure out what’s real in the world, and sort of know beforehand who’s real and who’s not as much as you can.

AVC: Yeah, I’m sure that there are probably a lot of painful lessons.
ZH: The biggest thing I think is just early on, we just knew that sort of that adage of no one’s going to care about what you do more than you do. No one else is going to have to live with it.
A manager or a producer or a label, you know, they go and they sign somebody else. They go and they work with another band, if it comes to that. But you are—unless I go change my name—I’m always Zac Hanson, a member of Hanson. And you’ve got to, whether it’s decisions to not make dolls, decisions to, like, not make lunch boxes, you know, just sort of do the things that you would feel proud of later in life, you know, then that’s just—that’s just what we tried to do.

AVC: Do you feel like you’ve made it? Or what would happen for you to feel like you’ve had everything that you’ve wanted?
ZH: Well, I think there’s no question we’ve made it, you know. If you play the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall and stand on stage in front of 50 or 60 or 90,000 thousand people, you know, and don’t say “we’ve made it” at some level inside you, then I don’t know what you would say.
I think the thing we’ve always wanted to do is sort of make music that would affect people the way it affected us when we were kids, you know, sort of changing their lives and sort of just inspiring people, and just being the kind of things you’ll sing and remember your whole life and carry with you. But, you know, we always wanted to sort of do that for the next generation, the next group of musicians who are kids right now.

That’s the element of “we’ve made it,” I think, that can never fully be realized. It’s sort of your ambition to sort of—gosh, it sounds sort of overdone or dramatic, but just sort of the greatness of, “Can we be artists that can live up to creating a legacy that’s worth remembering, that is inspiring, that is the music that people will, you know, cover in 20 years or whatever?”
You know, that’s what you never really know, because like many great visual artists, probably the true extent of your impact will not be had till you’re dead.

AVC: Kind of like a cutting-off-your-ear kind of a day.
ZH: Obviously we all have our individual drives and styles and all that within what we do, but I think we just try and set high goals for ourselves and just not settle and not have the sort of complacency that comes with “we’ve made it, we’ve done it.” Like, there’s knowing that you’ve reached a level that so few people ever experience, but then you have to wake up the next morning and go, “I still have to work just as hard or harder to be in this position.” Like, now I’m even more in the spotlight, now it’s time to bring the A-game, you know, but now it’s time to do more in order to sustain this, in order to grow this, in order to, you know, use just potential success for, I don’t know, whatever it is that my music is meant to do.

AVC: What are you really excited about going forward?
ZH: It’s hard not to be thinking about this tour, just because it’s so fresh on our minds right now. We’re three shows in, you know, we’ve got about 40 left almost. It’s been really amazing, the first three shows, different albums each night.

AVC: What is that like for you guys to be playing some of that old stuff? What kind of feelings is that bringing back for you?
ZH: It’s been amazing to me to see how well the music plays together. In a normal concert scenario, we’ve always played selections from older records; you know, you’re playing a little bit from Middle Of Nowhere and a little bit from This Time Around and things like that. But to sit down and play 12 songs from 15 years ago next to a smattering of the newer stuff, it’s surprising how well it plays together.

For better or worse, when you start looking back, you definitely see your patterns and sort of start to see the fingerprint of Hanson and go, “Okay, I guess this is what people think of these,” sort of these harmonies, the sort of pop choruses that, you know, it’s sort of undeniable that it still feels like the same band in an arc, obviously, that one record sounds a little more organic, and one record sounds a little more R&B, and one record sounds a little more rock, and whatever. But there’s definitely, you know, just a style that the fingerprint goes through it all. And, I don’t know, like you said, it just sounds surprisingly good together; it’s surprisingly more like one show than I would have thought.

AVC: When you guys are in Chicago, you’re going to be doing Underneath for your talk here. What are you guys going to be focusing on for that?
ZH: Well, you know, what that is is it’s an event only for our fan club members. And so it’s a free event if you’re a fan club member. And, you know, we’re just going to talk about everything, and we’re going to take questions, you know. I mean, mainly telling the stories that a lot of people know because of the documentary that was made about that record. But, you know, hopefully being able to enlighten people on sort of more of the in-depth feelings you’re having. Because a song can only tell so much, you know.

With the focus of this tour being on albums, it’s another way to just talk about the career, look back to go forward, sort of. With this studio album, [it’s felt] like a really great time to do that, to be looking at your past and going, “Wow, we’ve done a lot together, we’ve”—you know, with most of our fans, you know, we—“we’ve been making music, we’ve been going to concerts with them for 15 years almost,” you know?

AVC: That’s major.
ZH: For us, it’s huge. And so it just seemed like a good time to do that, you know.
Next year is the 20-year anniversary of us being a band. You know, people didn’t know the band for about five years, but—

AVC: Are you guys going to be doing anything special then for your 20-year?
ZH: We haven’t settled on anything, but we know that we gotta do something. I mean, 20 years is a big deal.

AVC: Hopefully you will have 20 more years to come. That’s a major milestone.
ZH: Yeah. [It feels] kind of silly when I say it out loud, you know? But, I mean, we did our first performance when I was 6 years old, and that was sort of when we started doing professional paying gigs and, so anyway... Hopefully we’ve got more than 20 more years, you know, assuming that we all don’t lose the fire, you know. I mean, in 20 more years, I’ll only be 46, so according to The Rolling Stones’ standards, I’ve got another 40 years.

AVC: What are you going to do?
ZH: I’m quitting this band before 40 more years.

AVC: You might change your mind.
ZH: I was just teasing.

AVC: Do you like Adele?
ZH: I think we all have a ton of respect for Adele. I think she’s great. It’s just great to see somebody singing with taste.

AVC: She’s kind of got that new soul thing going on as well.
ZH: She’s actually singing with soul. There have been R&B singers for years, you know, but it’s like it’s just been a long time since there’s been people just singing without this sort of vocal acrobatics.

AVC: I grew up listening to Motown, so getting to hear this like clean, lovely, soul, pop music is so nice. I’m glad it’s back.
ZH: Yeah. I think it’s great. Her and people like, you know, the late Amy Winehouse were sort of—just sort of the simplicity is so important for people to understand that great records and great songs usually sort of distilled and distilled and distilled and distilled, and I think that record in particular is a great example of—there’s just so few parts and it’s just sort of [the song] and the conviction of the singer that is making it a hit.

AVC: Anything else that you wanted to touch on that we didn’t?
ZH: I think you know when the Chicago shows are.

AVC: I do. And you have two, which is crazy.
ZH: We love Chicago.

AVC: My friend saw you guys six months ago at the Bad Apple. Do you guys hang out in Chicago a lot?
ZH: We like Chicago a lot. We definitely are there a couple times a year. Sometimes it’s for fun, a lot of times it’s for work, but it’s been a great city for us. We have lots of friends who have come out of Chicago, and so it’s a good place.

AVC: Do you have favorite places that you go here?
ZH: We do actually have favorite places, but I prefer not to say them. They might get repeated.

Hanson Meets with Young Tri-County Wildfire Victims

HOUSTON - Students from Magnolia High School missed almost a week worth of classes as their school was used as a command post during the Tri-County wildfires.
The group was forced to learn some real life lessons, but for one weekend,  the young aspiring journalists learned some lessons from the band of brothers Hanson, who were performing at Warehouse Live in Houston.
The brothers, known best for the songs "Where's the Love?" and "MMMBop," which were released during their teen years, shared their time out before the band's concert to discuss the pressures of being a teen, getting along as siblings and staying true to what is in the heart.

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Read more: http://www.myfoxhouston.com/dpp/entertainment/music/110926-hanson-warehouse-live#ixzz1ZBMNlg9T

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hanson's On the Fence About Making Another 'Full' Album



Zac Hanson says there will "definitely be a next album" from him and his brothers, though "not 'til the middle of next year."

But in a moment he clarifies that comment. "To be honest, we're not sure whether we want to make a full record again or not," the drumming third of Hanson tells Billboard.com.

He explains, "We want to do something a little different. The music industry has changed, so I think we will definitely do another project, but it might end up being multiple small things. We like to innovate and do things we're excited about. I think one more normal, 12-song album isn't what we want to do now."

Hanson says that he and older brothers Isaac and Taylor are acutely aware that "you're up against so much multi-media content that you really have to create an 'experience' of listening to something." He feels the sibling trio addressed that somewhat with the release of its 2010 album "Shout It Out," which came out in a variety of special editions that included everything from a documentary to custom-made headphones and a hand-done painting.

"You want to create the type of experience where people put a record on and surround themselves with your craft and they experience it not just in the background on the CD player but as an activity itself," he explains. "That's the type of thing we'd like to do more of."

It may be a while before Hanson, the band, starts to hone in on exactly what its next recording project will be. The trio, which made a cameo in the video for Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night," is currently in the midst of its Music Ride Tour, for which its letting fans in each city vote on one of the group's five albums they'd like to hear played in its entirety. Zac reports that "there's been a lot of variance" in the voting so far. "I sort of expected nostalgia to win handily and to see (1996's "Middle of Nowhere") most every night, but after the first week in, four of the five albums have already won a different show. It seems much more broad than we expected.

"It's a crazy thought to us that we have new fans, and some of them were born around the time that first album came out. So they're coming to our shows now and they know the later albums like 'The Walk' and 'Shout It Out' and that's what they want to hear."

The tour also tacitly celebrates 15 years since "Middle of Nowhere," Hanson's quadruple-platinum major label debut, and its chart topping hit "MMMBop." Zac laughs as he recalls the kinds of questions he and his brothers were asked back in those days, when they were teen sensations and not necessarily expected to produce another album, much less four more.

"We'd do interviews and they'd go, 'OK, what jobs do you want to have when you grow up?' " recalls Zac, who was 11 at the time and is 25 now, married with two children. "It was so patronizing, so frustrating. You're just like, 'Really? This is what you're asking me?' We said the same thing then as we would say now, that we'd be doing music whether it's in a garage or a stadium or a club, whatever, until we can't walk anymore, because it's part of our blood. It's part of who we are... since we were little kids hearing rock 'n' roll and Motown records from the late 60s and early 60s. It's something that, when it's in you, you can't do anything else."

Interview: Taylor Hanson

Posted by Lauren LaBorde on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Hanson
Hanson
Like many women my age, I once loved the band Hanson in the kind of devastating way only teenage girls are capable of feeling for complete strangers. After I heard their insanely catchy single "MMMBop" and saw a picture of the boys — who all had sandy, tousled locks and were close to my age (I had a chance!) — I was infatuated. 

But even after my contemporaries and I tore down the Tiger Beat posters from our bedroom walls and moved on to N*SYNC, Hanson kept working. Since their "MMMBop" period, they've been touring regularly, doing humanitarian work, and have released four other studio albums. While none of them have achieved the commercial success of their breakout Middle of Nowhere, they are solid power-pop albums that are well received by critics. And none of the brothers — Zac, 25; Taylor, 28; and Isaac, 30 — have appeared in a mug shot or on Celebrity Rehab

So when I had the opportunity to interview the band, I felt I owed it to my 13-year-old self who one time cried in bed for hours after hearing a rumor that Zac had died in a car accident (that, of course, was untrue). I got to talk to Taylor who, besides performing with the band, played in the power-pop dream team Tinted Windows, whose members also included Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos and Fountains Of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger. I didn't tell him that thing about his brother. 

I read that Isaac met his wife at a show in New Orleans. Is that true?
It is true.
[Note: All the brothers are now married with children, so don’t go to the show purely in hopes of being the next Hanson bride.]

How have your experiences with New Orleans been while playing here?
We love it. We’ve played House of Blues a few times and for one, with different House of Blues venues there’s different aesthetics with different rooms, but that one in particular always has such a great energy to it. And the city — there’s nowhere like New Orleans. Even post Hurricane Katrina … it’s remained, I think for everyone that visits, it still has that character and you know, I think as an artist it has a particular energy about it. We always have a good time.

Anything in particular you plan on doing while you're here?
Eat beignets. And probably … we love this place called Rock 'N' Bowl. We’ve gone there a couple times. But often times, your days are full. You do the show and all the things surrounding that, so you rarely have time to venture unless you have a day between shows. But food comes to mind when I think of New Orleans, immediately. So many great restaurants — I wouldn’t name one out particularly, but I feel like we always get great food.

On this tour you're letting fans go online and pick what album you play at the show. Have people just been picking Middle of Nowhere, or has there been some variety?
Well you’d think obviously Middle of Nowhere being the record it is, the breakout album and all that, you would think it would win over and over, but it’s not really the case. It’s kind of amazing just how different albums have won every night. The first show of the tour the first record one, the second show This Time Around, our second album, won, the third show I think was the new album. I think one of the things that causes that to happen is the people who are going on and voting are not just sort of like the casual fan. The people who are voting are fans enough and into it enough to have their favorite albums, favorite songs.

What’s it like playing songs you created when you were teenagers alongside newer material?
There’s some songs that feel like they’re from another period, especially I think in lyrics — there’s some songs where you go “gosh, I wouldn’t write that anymore.” But there’s not really any songs that don’t feel like still they represent a part of this band. Even if it’s talking about where we come from. There’s some particularly lighthearted moments on certain records that we knew they were lighthearted then, but they feel different now. Musically, it was always our stuff, always our songs. It wasn’t us, early on, making music that was sort of someone else’s vision, it was always ours, it was ours when we were teenagers. I think the main difference is just sort of the purpose behind the songs changes a little bit as you get older, and you just kind of have different perspective on the stuff you’re trying to get across, and so I think you just feel less directly identifying with the moment in the song you were writing when you were 16 because that’s touching on things you were trying to communicate a decade ago.

I saw you guys on a VH1 special where you talked about "MMMBop," and it seems like you have a pretty good sense of humor about your status of 90s pop stars. Is that the case? Would you rather focus more on your new stuff, or can you kind of combine the two and be proud of both?
You have to combine the two and be proud of it. As far, in general, taking yourself too seriously, you can’t do that. You have to be willing to realize that somethings, whether they’re accurate or not, you have to be willing to laugh at yourself and your situation. I think we’re really proud of where we’ve come from and kind of, like I was just saying, it’s always been our music even if it was us at 14 or 15, it was still coming from us. To some degree you have that to fall back on, because you can only run away from yourself so far, and we’ve never done that. 

Over the years, our shows have always mixed eras and in fact, this tour is probably the most speaking to a specific period each show because of the voting. We’re playing a lot of times a whole collection of songs from one album, plus some extras. Usually at our shows we bounce between something that was brand new to something 10 or 15 years old, or something that was 5-6 years old, cognitively. And you realize how much commonality there is. But ultimately, you have to be proud of where you come from, because what you’re doing right now, at some point, is going to be the thing that you did way back then, you know what I’m saying? You have to be proud because one day, the thing you’re running from is the thing you thought you were proud of in the moment. Take it as it is. 

How do you juggle doing a side project with being in Hanson? And how does working with your brothers compare to working with others in bands?
I think the main difference with forming other groups or writing with other people, like doing the Tinted Windows thing with those guys, you’ve got a lot less shared experience as far as understanding everybody’s sort of built in role in the group. So much of being a band is just figuring out how to play off each other and how to build music together, so when you go off to do a side project, a lot of it, musically, you have a language you understand immediately. But the part is most different is just developing a rapport as a group of people and figuring out like “this guy wants to take the lead here” and “this guy kind of has his way of doing things, he needs a little space before or after the show” or you know just the way you deal with each other. And that’s what ultimately creates something greater than just a group of people playing together — it becomes a group.

When I did the Tinted Windows thing ... it started off as just kind of an unknown. It was like “Hey, well let’s just try this and write a few songs and see what happens.” I never had a lot of interest in being in another band. It’s one thing to write songs and produce things, but the idea of being in another band and going out and doing promotions and playing shows, doing tours, it takes a whole other level of commitment. But what I think what made that work is that really just that everybody was in it for the right reasons, and didn’t expect too much from it, but was really proud of the music. And we kind of knew exactly what it was when we started: It was straight ahead power pop, loud guitars, melodies, and that’s it. And we just enjoyed it. 

The horn arranger Jerry Hey, who has worked with Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones and Earth, Wind and Fire, worked with you guys on your latest album Shout it Out. You can definitely hear those influences on the record. Did you seek him out to achieve that particular sound on the record, or did the sound just come from working with him?
We worked with him one time so we knew … so I guess you can say we did search him out for those reasons, because the arrangements of the songs and the sound of the record was very much inspired by the kind of music we grew up listening to, and we always talked about those influences as being key components of the band. Different albums have sort of drifted away … the last two albums before this one were sort of more down-the-middle pop rock, they were a little less R&B, a little less, you know, inspired by that stuff. And so when we were looking at our own arrangements, Jerry was the perfect match. He really helped craft the aesthetic of a lot of these artists that we know with those arrangements. There was no question he was it. He executed perfectly what we heard in our head. So much of that for him, what he brings to the table, is just a really inherent sense of hook, of song hooks, and how to be an arranger that facilitates the song, and kind of accentuates the catchiness and melodic nature of the song without sort of overpowering the song. That’s definitely an art in itself, in understanding that — and who can know better than someone who put together some of the most iconic arrangements? 

You guys got so much attention such a young age, especially from teenage girls. Most people in that position have gone crazy. How have you stayed so sane over the years?
Well I think probably the first key is to be just a little bit insane on the ground level. If you’re already a little bit off, it helps. I mean that only in jest a little bit, because it is true — you have to have a sort of makeup that kind of wants to take on sort of a high pressure, high stimulus, high energy lifestyle. And also you have to be really sort of narcissistic about what you do, because you have to be able to take a beating, take the ups and the downs, and still wake up every day and go “hey, I’m proud of what I do” and not take all of the stuff too seriously. I think what happens to people — I’ll try and put this into somewhat of a sentence that makes sense — I think the main reason why people get lost is because you forget why you started and you forget why it began. Because all this other stuff shows up: the possibility of money, success, influence and pride. And I think our main factor that’s kept us at least I think relatively focused and relatively normal is just continuing to have people around us and one another that have kept the focus on where we started, which is just loving music and really, genuinely wanting be able to make records, write songs and have that be our job, have that what we wake up and do every day. It can be challenging, you know, to keep that in focus. I think that’s the main thing, is that we try to remember how we got started and not ... we haven’t gone to find other things to make us excited and sort of lose track of how it all began. 

What bands that are out right now are you all listening to today?
One thing that’s indicative of what we’re listening to is people that are out with us (on tour). The artist Meiko playing with us in the first half of the tour … she comes from this community of artists in L.A. — she’s not from L.A., but she sort of came up with this group out of Hotel Café, which is this club in L.A. that has all these singer-songwriters from around. She’s a killer songwriter, great melodies, somebody who should be heard by millons. And Charlie Mars who has reached a little bit further in his exposure to a broader fanbase ... again — great sound, great songs, he’s sort of got his own kind of swagger. There’s some of the bigger artists of the last year I really like. The whole world’s excited about Adele — I love her record, and I think it’s great that somebody’s having a smash record that is really about music, not just about being flashy. And I really like the Mumford and Sons stuff. And there’s many more, but you’ll run out of space.

Hanson plays at the House of Blues Saturday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29 in advance, $32 day of show. Meiko opens. Buy tickets here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

HANSON — 15 years after ‘MMMBOP,’ brothers still going strong

Published: Thursday, September 22, 2011

By Gary Graff
Of The Oakland Press
Zac Hanson remembers well the kind of questions he and two brothers were being asked during 1996, when their national debut album, "Middle of Nowhere," was going four-times platinum and the single "MMMBop" was at the top of the charts.

"We'd do interviews and they'd go, 'OK, what jobs do you want to have when you grow up?' " recalls the drummer, who was 11 at the time and is 25 now, married with two children. "It was so patronizing, so frustrating. You're just like, 'Really? This is what you're asking me?'

"We said the same thing then as we would say now, that we'd be doing music whether it's in a garage or a stadium or a club, whatever, until we can't walk anymore, because it's part of our blood. It's part of who we are...since we were little kids hearing rock 'n' roll and Motown records from the late 60s and early 60s. It's something that, when it's in you, you can't do anything else."

And Hanson -- which also includes Zac's older brothers Isaac, 30 (married with two children), and Taylor, 28 (married with four children) -- hasn't been doing anything but music since "MMMBop" the group a pop sensation 15 years ago. The trio has released 10 albums since, the last five -- as well as three EPs -- on its own 3CG label. Hanson maintains a steady touring schedule out of its Oklahoma base, and while the band may not be in the multi-platinum, arena-filling ranks anymore, it's still alive -- and active -- and its sound has evolved into an well-crafted, high-energy blend that led no less an arbiter of cool than the Village Voice to declare Hanson "the finest straight-up rock band in America."

And Katy Perry gave her stamp of approval by including the brothers in her cameo-filled video for "Last Friday Night."

"It's hard not to feel pretty damn good about that," Zac notes. "To be able to come back year after year and play shows and make a career out of it makes you part of an elite group. Our fans have chosen us as one of those bands from the 90s that they say, 'Yeah, I'm gonna keep listening to them. I'm not gonna listen to the Spice Girls anymore. I'm not gonna listen to the Backstreet Boys anymore. But Hanson, we still like them.'

"We don't take that for granted."

After releasing its latest album, "Shout It Out," last year, Hanson is taking this year to take a bit of stock of its past 15 years. For its current Musical Ride Tour, the trio -- which played each of its five studio albums in their entirety during a residency last year in New York -- is letting fans in each city vote for one of the albums the group will perform at its show there. "It's a way to let our fans experience what we did in New York, 'cause not many of them could make it there," Zac notes, and so far he and his brothers have been pleasantly surprised by the results.

"There's been a lot of variance," he says. "I sort of expected nostalgia to win handily and to see ('Middle of Nowhere') most every night, but after the first week in four of the five albums have already won a different show. It seems much more broad than we expected.

"It's a crazy thought to us that we have new fans, and some of them were born around the time that first album came out. So they're coming to our shows now and they know the later albums like 'The Walk' and 'Shout It Out' and that's what they want to hear."

But, he adds, the group still feels comfortable playing those songs from their teen years.

"We've never been a trendy band," Zac explains, "and we've always tried to write things we would be proud of down the line. Even a song like 'MMMbop'...it's really about relationships and the fact few things last in life and there's going to be a few things you're gonna hold on to that are important to you and will last. You have to find what those are and make sure to grab onto them.

"I think when we play it now, not only is that message still true but our fans and ourselves have experienced that kind of feeling and made those kinds of choices. So it holds up."

Even as it reviews its past, however, Hanson is starting to eyeball the future. Riding a bit of additional buzz from the Perry video -- "We were glad to be part of it," Zac says -- Hanson is planning to release some new music from 2012, but the group is also looking at the commercial landscape and may not release a conventional album.

"I think one more normal, 12-song album isn't what we want to do now," Zac says. "We might do multiple small things, but you're up against so much multi-media content out there that you really have to create an experience for people. It's not just something in the background on the CD player anymore; there has to be an 'activity' of listening to the music.

"We like to innovate and do things we're excited about. I mean, we made our first record on two-inch tape and have seen the full conversion from the end of cassettes and vinyl into this whole digital age and all these crazy new technologies that seem to be trying to put musicians out of business. We're just happy we're still here to be facing that challenge."



IF YOU GO


Hanson and Meiko perform Monday, Sept. 28, at the Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 day of show. Call 248-858-9333 or visit www.the crofoot.com.

Brian McCollum's big gigs: Motion City Soundtrack, Chromeo



From left, Zac, Taylor and Isaac Hanson bring their Musical Ride Tour to Pontiac on Monday.
From left, Zac, Taylor and Isaac Hanson bring their Musical Ride Tour to Pontiac on Monday. / Jiro Schneider


FRIDAY-SATURDAY

Motion City Soundtrack

The Minneapolis quintet serves up a treat for the diehard fans with this two-night stand, which will feature performances of the band's four albums in their entirety -- two each night. Detroit is the tour's final night for MCS, which is literally an indie rock band at the moment. Now out of its Columbia Records deal, the band will be shopping its new record to labels for an early 2012 release. 7 p.m., St. Andrew's Hall, 431 E. Congress, Detroit. 313-961-6358. $25. Story, Page 10.
SATURDAY

Jackson Browne

It's just Browne, a guitar and a prodigious repertoire of smart, sensitive songs from a four-decade hall of fame career. His Solo Acoustic Tour brought him to Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor for a pair of concerts in April; this time it's East Lansing in a show that will back such causes as Don't Waste Michigan and the Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes. 8 p.m., Wharton Center, Michigan State University campus, East Lansing. 517-353-1982. $27-$77. (Browne will also play Interlochen on Friday: 7:30 p.m., Interlochen Center for the Arts. 800-681-5920. $33.50-$50.50.)

Verizon's How Sweet the Sound

Hosts CeCe Winans and Donald Lawrence are joined by judge Marvin Sapp as this nine-city contest rolls on, with gospel choirs competing for the national crown. The Michigan groups Family of Faith Community Choir, Apostolic Church Sanctuary Choir and Wings of Love Voices of Praise are among those vying for the regional win and a spot in the L.A. finals, to be scheduled for a date in November. 7:30 p.m. Joe Louis Arena, 600 Civic Center, Detroit. 313-396-7000. $10, $15.
MONDAY

Hanson

The boy-band-all-grown-up steers its Musical Ride Tour to Pontiac, giving fans the chance to shape the night's set. One of these albums will be played in its entirety: "Middle of Nowhere," "This Time Around" or "Underneath." You can cast your vote at hanson.net. Singer-songwriter Meiko opens. 7 p.m., the Crofoot, 1 S. Saginaw, Pontiac. 248-858-9333. $30.

Chromeo

Lush electrofunk grooves and a dose of '80s escapism from a smart Montreal duo that's as apt to cite French lit as Hall & Oates. Opening is Mayer Hawthorne, the Ann Arbor native who has earned his stripes summoning the sounds of vintage soul, performing with his band the County. 8 p.m., Majestic Theatre, 4120 Woodward, Detroit. 313-833-9700. $25.
TUESDAY

Fuel

The original Fuel was a staple of rock radio for a decade, churning out full-throated post-grunge fare such as "Shimmer" and "Innocent." Vocalist Brett Scallions has toured with assorted names and players since the band fractured five years ago, reemerging under the Fuel banner last year. 7 p.m., Emerald Theatre, 31 N. Walnut, Mt. Clemens. 586-913-1920. $15.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

All grown up, Hanson returns to town

Published: Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Zac Hanson remembers well the kind of questions he and two brothers were being asked during 1996, when their national debut album, “Middle of Nowhere,” was going four-times platinum and the single “MMMBop” was at the top of the charts.

“We’d do interviews and they’d go, ‘OK, what jobs do you want to have when you grow up?’ “ recalls the drummer, who was 11 at the time and is 25 now, married with two children. “It was so patronizing, so frustrating. You’re just like, ‘Really? This is what you’re asking me?’

“We said the same thing then as we would say now, that we’d be doing music whether it’s in a garage or a stadium or a club, whatever, until we can’t walk anymore, because it’s part of our blood. It’s part of who we are...since we were little kids hearing rock ‘n’ roll and Motown records from the late 60s and early 60s. It’s something that, when it’s in you, you can’t do anything else.”

And Hanson — which also includes Zac’s older brothers Isaac, 30 (married with two children), and Taylor, 28 (married with four children) — hasn’t been doing anything but music since “MMMBop” the group a pop sensation 15 years ago. The trio has released 10 albums since, the last five — as well as three EPs — on its own 3CG label. Hanson maintains a steady touring schedule out of its Oklahoma base, and while the band may not be in the multi-platinum, arena-filling ranks anymore, it’s still alive — and active — and its sound has evolved into an well-crafted, high-energy blend that led no less an arbiter of cool than the Village Voice to declare Hanson “the finest straight-up rock band in America.”

And Katy Perry gave her stamp of approval by including the brothers in her cameo-filled video for “Last Friday Night.”

“It’s hard not to feel pretty damn good about that,” Zac notes. “To be able to come back year after year and play shows and make a career out of it makes you part of an elite group. Our fans have chosen us as one of those bands from the 90s that they say, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna keep listening to them. I’m not gonna listen to the Spice Girls anymore. I’m not gonna listen to the Backstreet Boys anymore. But Hanson, we still like them.’

“We don’t take that for granted.”

After releasing its latest album, “Shout It Out,” last year, Hanson is taking this year to take a bit of stock of its past 15 years. For its current Musical Ride Tour, the trio — which played each of its five studio albums in their entirety during a residency last year in New York — is letting fans in each city vote for one of the albums the group will perform at its show there. “It’s a way to let our fans experience what we did in New York, ‘cause not many of them could make it there,” Zac notes, and so far he and his brothers have been pleasantly surprised by the results.

“There’s been a lot of variance,” he says. “I sort of expected nostalgia to win handily and to see (‘Middle of Nowhere’) most every night, but after the first week in four of the five albums have already won a different show. It seems much more broad than we expected.

“It’s a crazy thought to us that we have new fans, and some of them were born around the time that first album came out. So they’re coming to our shows now and they know the later albums like ‘The Walk’ and ‘Shout It Out’ and that’s what they want to hear.”

But, he adds, the group still feels comfortable playing those songs from their teen years.

“We’ve never been a trendy band,” Zac explains, “and we’ve always tried to write things we would be proud of down the line. Even a song like ‘MMMbop’...it’s really about relationships and the fact few things last in life and there’s going to be a few things you’re gonna hold on to that are important to you and will last. You have to find what those are and make sure to grab onto them.

“I think when we play it now, not only is that message still true but our fans and ourselves have experienced that kind of feeling and made those kinds of choices. So it holds up.”

Even as it reviews its past, however, Hanson is starting to eyeball the future. Riding a bit of additional buzz from the Perry video — “We were glad to be part of it,” Zac says -—Hanson is planning to release some new music in 2012, but the group is also looking at the commercial landscape and may not release a conventional album.

“I think one more normal, 12-song album isn’t what we want to do now,” Zac says. “We might do multiple small things, but you’re up against so much multi-media content out there that you really have to create an experience for people. It’s not just something in the background on the CD player anymore; there has to be an ‘activity’ of listening to the music.

“We like to innovate and do things we’re excited about. I mean, we made our first record on two-inch tape and have seen the full conversion from the end of cassettes and vinyl into this whole digital age and all these crazy new technologies that seem to be trying to put musicians out of business. We’re just happy we’re still here to be facing that challenge.”

Music: Hanson Keeps it Real

By Brianna Snyder/Explore / Updated 01:45 p.m., Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Hanson performs at Northern Lights, Oct. 12, 8 p.m. 
(Photo by Jiro Schneider) / AL 
 
If there was a craze in the '90s and early '00s for '80s nostalgia -- Flashdance, legwarmers, Boy George -- it's now that we're experiencing, on a mass level, major '90s nostalgia. This year is the 25th anniversary of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Beavis and Butthead are going to be on TV again, Justin Timberlake is a leading man on the screen and on the radio (and on Saturday Night Live), and a few months ago, Nickelodeon launched a special block of programming called "The '90s Are All That," airing beloved preteen programming such as Clarissa Explains It All, Doug, Kenan and Kel, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and more. Clearly a generational thing, this '90s resurgence comes at the hands of late-generation millenials everywhere, who are worming their ways into all areas of the workforce. (Nickelodeon, when announcing the launch of "The '90s Are All That," said the idea came from the office interns. Genius.)

Icons of that decade, Hanson is touring strong today all over the world. The brother band and pop superstars broke huge with "MMMBop" in 1997, a song for which they're probably still best known and that they still perform today. Their eighth record, Shout It Out, came out in the summer of 2010 to fairly favorable reviews. And they've been touring almost constantly in the past 14 years.

An Oklahoma band, "MMMBop" made Hanson famous when the boys were just 12 (Zac), 15 (Taylor) and 17 (Isaac). Their blend of middle-America puberty pop was an odd type of success but a kind that seems to have enabled their enduring popularity. Because of the Internet, niche cultures are thriving, and it's happily likely that Hanson will survive indefinitely on the web, playing to old and new fans forever. Hanson has picked up a new wave of fans in the '00s, and retained quite a few of their '90s devotees, too. They represent nostalgia, good down-home middle-America core values, and safety-dance-pop fun. Their tunes are cute, upbeat and nonthreatening.

I talked to Isaac Hanson by phone at his home in Tulsa, Okla., from where the now-30-year-old father and guitarist chatted about industry woes and the ways the Internet has changed band-fan interaction. "The Internet is an incredibly positive thing," Hanson says. "There are so many opportunities for bands to grow."
In a recent set of shows in London and New York City, Hanson performed entire albums -- including their biggest, 1997's Middle to Nowhere -- and for other shows the brothers allowed fans to vote online for the records they'd like to hear performed in full at upcoming concerts. (Indie-alt-country-rockers Wilco, too, have interacted with fans this way, encouraging them to cast votes online for song requests, and performing some of the most-voted-for tunes. Hanson does this, though, with full records.) Isaac Hanson says he likes this voter setup, and that he and his brothers rehearse their full catalogs to keep in practice.

Following a messy fallout with Island Def Jam Records, a struggle about which a documentary was made in 2005, Hanson began its own label, 3CG Records. The band has since released a couple of albums on its own. This is still more proof of the Internet's liberating effects on today's (and yesterday's) struggling bands: As album sales drop, major labels panic and liquidate, with bands eventually taking back control over their own music.

Isaac Hanson admits that control has limitations, though, despite any kind of ability to harness the web for creative aspirations. For "Thinkin' 'Bout Somethin'," a single off their most recent record, Hanson recruited professional dancers (and a few amateurs) to construct a viral-feeling, good-vibesy video for their hooky tune. The video also happened to feature Weird Al. It's been viewed more than 1.2 million times.

Isaac H. points out the paradox, though, of being a successful band (as his is) with access to major resources. "The bigger the band you are, the more expensive it is to do what you do," he says. "It's a weird economy of scale." "Thinkin' 'Bout Somethin', for instance, cost "tens of thousands of dollars to make."

But with the fast evolution of technology, the web and its many niches will to create more real estate for more artists trying to get their music heard and played. Creativity and innovation and talent are rewarded. Hard work seems to pay off. And Hanson works hard.

"There's an enormous growth within the Internet culture and Internet airwaves," Isaac says. "And ultimately it's a great opportunity."

Hanson performs at Northern Lights Oct. 12, 8 p.m. Go to northernlightslive.com for tickets.
(Photos by Jiro Schneider)
 

Hanson gives hometown crowd night of glee at Cain's

By JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer


Before fans lined up outside Cain's Ballroom for the Hanson concert on Tuesday evening, they went to the band's official website to vote for their favorite album.

In an unusual step for any touring act, the crowd was able to choose the longtime Tulsa band's setlist.

Mere notes into the first song of Hanson's set, Taylor Hanson yelled, "How you doing, Tulsa?" and the crowd erupted in high-pitched glee. Fans waved and jumped and hugged one another as the "Musical Ride Tour" revved up.

"It's good to be home," Isaac Hanson said as he and his brothers launched into "Waiting for This," "Where's The Love" and "Thinkin' 'Bout Somethin'."

Taylor Hanson told the crowd: "You helped us pick our setlist tonight, so we're taking you back to the year 2000." The crowd erupted as Hanson launched into their second studio album, "This Time Around," including the title track and tunes "You Never Know," "If Only," "Can't Stop," "Runaway Run" and "Love Song."

Tuesday night was definitely a family affair. Young girls twirled on their tip-toes, summer skirts flared out. Moms joined in, holding their arms out toward their daughters.

Brave boyfriends wove their way through the crowd to the front of the stage, girlfriends in tow.

Fatherly figures gravitated to the rear of the standing-room-only crowd. One daughter laced her fingers in her father's as he laughed and smiled. The pair faced each other and danced.

The band performed for nearly two hours.

After touring the world, a hometown show is always welcome, brothers Zac, Taylor and Isaac said.

Like anyone needs to remind anyone, these guys aren't teens anymore. They haven't been for a long time, and Tuesday night's show was a far cry from the preteen bop of three blond boys in leather jackets huddled around a microphone during Mayfest in 1992.

Their Motown-esque soul roots are still there, as are their perfect-pitch three-part harmonies. But, now, these men write the songs. They control their paths, with the unwavering support of an ever-expanding fanbase with an always-growing age range.

They're well into their 20s (OK, Isaac's 30 now) and own and run their own mini-empire from right here in Tulsa. The Hanson brothers are about as "indie" as can be.

Opening act Meiko was soulful in her solo acoustic set, her smoky voice captivating the crowd. She soon had the audience clapping along with her, keeping time to her beat.

"I like you!" she crooned to the fans. She sweetly thanked Hanson for taking her on tour, saying, "I'm so grateful. They're great and just so ... good looking," then cleared her throat.

The crowd sighed with her in a bonding moment. From then on out, the place was hers.


Original Print Headline: Hanson inspires glee in hometown crowd

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