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Q&A with Zac Hanson

by Monica Watrous


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It’s not cool to like Hanson.

It’s not cool to go to a Hanson concert. It’s not even cool to read a magazine article about Hanson.

Say whatever you want about the Tulsa-based band of brothers performing Friday at The Beaumont Club, but few musicians can boast the longevity, philanthropy and fan base of Isaac, 28, Taylor, 26, and Zac Hanson, 23.

Of course, I’m a bit biased. Twelve years ago, I was a huge Fanson.

I collected all things Hanson — an unauthorized biography called Hanson: MMMBop to the Top, Teen Beat magazines, CDs and tapes. I even scribed some PG-13 fan fiction about the middle brother.

I grew up, but so did they. Turns out, the guys are still making music — good music, at that. All grown up with a catalog of catchy piano-driven pop, wives, kids and a tour in progress, Hanson might just be cool after all.

I spoke with the youngest brother, Zac, over the phone about the tour, the upcoming album and a special charity project the boys are backing.

Ink: I gotta say, this is a little surreal for me because I was a huge Hanson fan about 12 years ago.

Zac Hanson: You were? Man, we lost you!

I may have lost my way, but then this morning, I actually heard The Walk (the band’s 2007 release) in its entirety for the first time and I loved it.

Oh, thank you.

Oh, it’s great. And now I’m wondering when you’re going to come up with some new stuff. You guys have an album coming out in the spring, right?

The plan is to release it in May. And we have a new EP coming out this fall with the tour.

That would be Stand Up, Stand Up?

The Stand Up, Stand Up EP. It’s basically all new songs — four are acoustic and one is a full electric song. It’s only available at the show and on hanson.net, and we’re probably going to put it up on iTunes. It’s not really a big push for us. It’s just something so we can start to leak out the new music.

What can people expect from the new stuff?

The new stuff is still Hanson, but every record is an evolution. We’ve been in a band for 17 years, and I think it kind of shows on this record.

What’s a Hanson show like these days?

We’re not bashful about (playing) songs on records from 10 or 12 years ago. That’s part of who we are as a band. Really, it baffles me sometimes because people will ask that question, “Do you play songs like ‘MMMBop’?” Which was our first song we ever put out.

Never heard of it.

I’m like, “Of course we play it.” It’s one of our songs. We play songs from every record, and particularly that song, which so many people know us for. It’s part of why so many of our fans love the band. Of course we’re gonna play it.

Tell me about the charity you’re doing.

This tour, the “Use Your Sole” tour, is a continuation of something we’ve been doing the last couple years.

Our heart has really been in the fight against AIDS and extreme poverty, particularly in Africa, and how we can play a role in simple donations or actions to make a difference on issues we might be taking for granted.

We do one-mile barefoot walks before every concert, and we ask anyone to come out and join us. The whole idea is just to put yourself in a position where you’re trying to understand a basic need like shoes and just a mile in someone else’s lack of shoes.

(The brothers donate for each person who walks. Find out where the walk in Kansas City will be at takethewalk.net.)

What’s the new record called?

We don’t have a title yet for the next record. But we’re open for suggestions.

From me or in general?

Sure. Any ideas?

I got nothing. I don’t know. All Grown Up.

I’ll have to play you some music and then let you come up with something. It’s better to give you some reference first.

OK. Well, Zac, you have made my inner 12-year-old a very happy little girl.

Well, I’m happy. I think.

No, that’s a good thing.

Hanson: It’s good? OK. It’s good.