Hanson Are Happy With Everything They've Done
Monday July 30, 2007 @ 05:00 PM
By: Staff


It was probably some philosopher who said that the best ideas are the ones that come without much serious forethought. But it was Hanson who found that true during the making of their new album.

When planning a two-week trip to South Africa and Mozambique to take action against HIV/AIDS last July, the band didn't intend to record anything. They changed their minds days before their departure and Isaac, Taylor and Zac say the decision was a key influence throughout their new record, The Walk.

"Different people have said that the fight against HIV and AIDS won't be won until the heartland of America looks at that issue as something that's pressing and really needs our support and attention," says Oklahoma-born drummer Zac. "It was something that we felt moved by, but we didn't want to go out and start talking to people like, 'You need to be involved' until we could actually say that we spent some time."

The band recorded three songs with local African choirs. Lead track "Great Divide" features a choir singing "Ngi ne themba," which translates into "I have hope." Beginning an album like that meant Hanson had to keep up the momentum. "The whole record does have a lot of the kind of messages that fit in with what we're talking about on 'Great Divide,'" says Zac of the band's "hopeful" fourth album.

"Most of the record is about the struggle and the decisions you have to make in life that are sometimes hard," he explains. "'Great Divide' does set a heavy tone to the album. I think the message behind it and the lyrics are heavy, but to me they're heavy in an uplifting way because they're saying things you wouldn't normally say. 'I find hope in your hate for me' is not something most of us think. It's the good kind of heavy that leaves you satisfied."

Their last album, 2004's Underneath, was released on the band's own 3CG label. But the majority of it was completed while still under contract with a major. The Walk, Hanson's first record completely overseen by themselves and released in the exact form they wanted, is a major accomplishment. But the challenge of balancing creativity with business was a strain for the brothers and likely also contributed to the heavy tone of the album.

"This was one of the hardest records that we've ever made," Zac says. "Though I feel passionate about running our own label, it definitely adds a whole other element of struggle and stress to the process."

The brothers obsessively checked phone messages and emails and held conference calls with stores placing orders while also trying to find a producer and eke out time for writing.

"We ended up saying, 'We're going to work on this record a little longer to make sure we have really put all the energy and passion into it that it needs to be the best album we can make,'" Zac says.

But the majority of the music-buying public may still struggle with the idea of the former child/teen pop stars as a socially-conscious indie band. Zac understands — sort of.

"I think it's hard for people to adjust to any band that has a past, period," he explains. "The only thing that can make having a past bad is when people are willing to take advantage of it.

"Yeah, of course some people still think of me as an 11-year-old boy singing 'MmmBop,' and they think maybe I'm not happy with that. I wrote 'MmmBop' when I was eight and I'm really proud of that.

"I think part of the reason why we have passionate fans is because we've never been one of those bands that said, 'Oh, we weren't who we were in the past. That wasn't me.' I say, 'Fuck you, that was me. Maybe I was a little annoying. Well, I was 11. So what? Get off your high horse and realize that I was pre-pubescent. Now I'm 21 and I'm a different guy.' I'm still really proud of what we've done. We've never done anything that we aren't happy with."

Hanson play Toronto's Guvernment on Tuesday.

—Angela Kozak