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Talking 'Mmmbop,' life and charity
By: Ethan Ullman
Posted: 9/29/09


Who among us would have imagined the Mmmbop-singing music sensation Hanson would still hold relevance in 2009?

Twelve years after their breakout album "Middle of Nowhere" Hanson is back and better than ever. Hanson has released four studio albums since then, all of which broke the Top 60 on the Billboard Charts.

All grown up with wives, children, and their own record label, the Hanson brothers will be hitting the road again in just a few weeks for yet another nation-wide tour. They will be stopping in Albany at Northern Lights on October 16th as part of their Use Your Sole Tour with HelloGoodbye, Steel Train, and Sherwood. Before the show, Hanson will be doing a 1-mile barefoot walk in Albany to raise money for charity, a tradition they started over 100 concerts ago. For each fan that walks barefoot with the Hanson brothers, they donate a dollar to charity.

The Albany Student Press was given an exclusive interview with Zach Hanson, the youngest of the three brothers.

Albany Student Press: Okay…but have you been to Northern Lights? Because it usually is kind of a scummy place, but I went there recently and it's actually pretty nice.

Zach Hanson: We played there and we said that we're not going play this place again because it was just dirty and kind of gross. When we started this tour, they came to us and said "hey, we've cleaned it up and remodeled a lot of stuff," so we said hey, let's go back because we want to be in Albany,

ASP: So, what exactly does "Mmmbop" mean?

ZH: "Mmmbop" was supposed to represent the passage of time, so if you listen to the lyrics there's one part of the song that's kind of like a bridge that says, "In an Mmmbop they're gone, in an Mmmbop they're not there." And so "Mmmbop" was supposed to just represent the futility of life…that things come and go in an Mmmbop, an instant, in a stupid phrase…

ASP: How has your music evolved since the 'Mmmbop days'?

ZH: Well, that's a good question because I think most of the sensibilities about what we do, about singing, the way we harmonize, the way we write songs and things like that…there is inevitably an evolution; we never tried to BE anything with any of our records…that's something very specific. We've never tried to sound like anything (in particular), or say "Hanson only sounds like this". We're just going make music that we feel passionate about and inspired by…and so I think each record has kind of evolved a little bit and pulled the band in a slightly different way.

ASP: What's your reaction when Hanson is parodied on TV, like in Family Guy or in Jon Stewart's book?

ZH: We're fans. We laugh our asses off…apparently Family Guy is going to be making a joke about "Mmmbop"…Cleveland sings "Mmmbop." They just sent us the script to ask if they could do it and I was like, "Of course!" That is like the biggest compliment - when your band is parodied, satire… it's a sign that you've kind of gone beyond just being a band and you've reached into culture and people know who you are in a different way… or in some cases, don't really know who you are, they just have a generalization of who you are. I think it's awesome and everything's incredibly funny, and we save as many SNL, Simpsons, and Family Guy jokes as they can come up with.

ASP: Have you ever accidentally stepped in anything like dog crap, or something gross on the barefoot walk for charity that you guys do before each show?

ZH: Um, I haven't… in the 115 miles that we've walked I haven't really done anything like that… I've stubbed my toe a few times… If you watch where you're going, you'll be fine. There are no syringes or glass bottles broken on every corner of every city in the country. Apparently, from what I've heard from other people, there's razor blades everywhere and you're going to walk away with diseases and infections…but that's totally not true from my experience.

ASP: Have you ever had a weird experience with a fan, like marriage proposals or anything like that?

ZH: Yes! Lots of them. The oddest marriage proposals to me are always the ones where you meet somebody and they're like "Will you marry me!?" and I'm like "But I'm married.", and they're like "I don't care!!"…like, this is awkward. We've had some crazy experiences with fans. Every [band] has a contingent of fans that go beyond hard-core…thankfully, most of our fans are just dedicated, music-loving, know-every-lyrics, awesome fans. There are not too many that try to cut off a piece of your hair and stick it in a jar, not in my experience at least. And we're glad. I like my hair- it should not go in a jar.