|PENS EYE VIEW|
Submitted by admin on Mon, 10/12/2009 - 23:09. Richie Frieman Todays Feature
While everyone in the world knows Hanson (Taylor, Zac and Isaac), my age group knows them from a unique perspective – you see, back when they were taking over the planet with songs like “MmmBop”, I was a punk kid in middle school (like every other boy in middle school). So when my little sister and her friends starting worshipping sunny music that was a far stretch from the bands I was rocking out to (Nirvana, The Offspring, Pearl Jam, Rancid) – I of course (being a punk) labeled the music, my sister and her friends as “stupid!” And I thought I was such a brain trust… sigh…Anyway, it turns out these three brothers aren’t stupid at all. In fact, Bono called their misc “genius”! And as I’ve matured, Hanson has gone from “Middle of Nowhere” (which had three Grammy nods), to their most recent work including “Underneath”, one of the most successful self-released albums in history, as well as their latest effort, “The Walk”. And wow – there’s so much to talk about concerning this record – from the music and the inspiration behind it to the way Hanson has taken it to the world.
“The Walk” was co-produced with the legendary Danny Kortchmar (Billy Joel, James Taylor, The Eagles), and released on their own 3CG Records in exceptional fashion; each week leading up to the release date, the boys released a podcast of a docu-series titled “Taking The Walk”, an insider look at the making of “The Walk” as well as the building of an independent label. Not too shabby. The album was recorded in old-school indie style to give fans a true piece of Hanson sound with songs that are honest and direct. The collection celebrates the activism work Hanson keeps up with, including Take the Walk.net – a site dedicated to taking on some of our greatest global challenges, from poverty to AIDS. Hanson has even been working with PEV alum, TOMS Shoes!
One of the tracks off of “The Walk” is titled “Great Divide”, which was released in honor of World AIDS Day after an important trip to South Africa and Mozambique. Taylor, Zac and Isaac stayed at an orphanage in Mozambique and “were awed by the overwhelming sense of optimism of the people they met, despite being surrounded by disease and poverty.” Hanson then recorded the children's choir there onto a laptop, including the chorus off of “Great Divide”: “ngi ne themba” which translates to “I have hope”. And that’s just one tune from the album! (And by the way, all proceeds from downloading “Great Divide” go to the Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU) at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa). Like I said, there’s a lot to talk about concerning “The Walk” – and there’s a lot more to learn in the answers below. Check out Hanson on the “Use Your Sole” tour with HelloGoodbye and get into the XXQ’s.XXQs: Hanson – Taylor Hanson
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Hey Taylor, thanks so much for taking the time with us.
Taylor Hanson (TH): Hey, not a problem.
PEV: So where’d I catch you right now?
TY: I’m actually back in Oklahoma, getting rehearsals done for our tour at our offices.PEV: I’ve been reading up about the tour, so tell what can fans expect from the “HelloGoodbye Tour” and the line up you are bringing with you?
TY: Our fans that haven’t seen them before, I’d say that we feel there are a lot of similarities to us, and our fans will really like that. It kind of comes from a different place, not quite as organic as what we do – a little more dance. But they will get to see some great music and we’re also excited to meet their fans as well.
PEV: I’m also checking out the EP, “Stand Up, Stand Up”. How is this work different from your past work?
TY: It’s kind of transitional piece of music. It’s songs we sat down and recorded and the EP is a sampling of the songs done acoustically. There is only one full electric song on the EP. So, that song we took the title from, there is a line in there “Stand Up, Stand Up” and we wanted to use that. The song, “World On Fire” - it’s kind of call to action. It’s a good name to have people connect with, especially with the walks we’ve been doing. That is such a big part of this tour.
The EP is for people that have been watching us for the past few tours, that has some really strong songs that have a good message to them and engage you. Some of the songs hopefully, if your groggy it will get you going (laughs).
PEV: You touched on the walks, the “Take the Walk Campaign” where you do a one mile barefoot walk before each concert. How did this all come about?
TY: Well, I mean, it started by a personal journey. We’ve always felt that music is supposed to impact people and we were lucky to advocate for a lot of causes. I mean you get a lot of people knocking on your door and you don’t want to be the disingenuous celebrity that endorses everything. So we had a chance to take a trip to Africa with people that we really respected. They committed to give away technology to a hospital in South Africa and make a difference. The hospital takes that technology to do research on things like Aids and HIV. We took that trip as something personal. Not as “Hanson”. We came back knowing that technology changes the playing field for these people. We took away the knowledge that over here, we have the ability to engage in causes and we just need to start and take on a more direct approach. More of a one on one message. We thought about ways to reach out and came up with these walks. The first one we did was with TOMSShoes and got them involved. They give away a pair of shoes for every one purchased. It just shows that there is so much you can do and get involved. By taking off your shoes and going for the walk, it kind of resonates with that fact. We started two years ago, and done thousands of walks. We’ve started walks all over the world, and asked people to tell us about it. Last fall we set out to walk around the world and we surpassed that and now thousands of people are walking. We’re past 28,000 miles now and just getting people involved. We’re working on the next walk around the world and taking their shoes off. We can start by just using what we have to make a difference. Despite the economy being down, we are still very privileged and this is a great opportunity to show people that.
PEV: I think this is great. We actually featured Blake – the founder of TOMSShoes a couple of years ago and their work amazing. It’s great to see you connect with them. Obviously we’ve known you guys from when you were a lot younger and of course a lot of time has passed but you are still doing great work. How has life and music changed for you since back when you first arrived on the scene?
TY: Well, I mean, you know we were always really intense about our music. That hasn’t really changed. Obviously, we’ve had songs that are very pop oriented and positive and that has been the core of what we’ve done. Our craftsmanship over the years has evolved and we are looking to ways to spread our wings about what we do. There are songs that bring people further in and engage people more. That’s our drive – to just look around the world and grab things that are important to you and put them into songs.
For me, it’s the ever changing list of things going through your ideas and beliefs that go into your song. This last year, as a band, we’ve switched to a different path by starting our own label. We’re comfortable with where we are and who we are. The songs on the upcoming record are more soulful and more straight ahead. It’s music that gets you going.PEV: Being brothers, you are obviously very close knit and travel around all the time together but what is it like when you are away from the business. What is a normal day like for you?
TY: We have pretty kind of diverse interests. It’s everything; we are all into our own stuff like the outdoors. We all have land and like to get out there and be with nature. Zac is all into the next generation of paint ball and does these competitions. It’s pretty intense. Kind of like board games for adults. Everybody has diverse interests – I mean, we are all artists and I love to paint and draw, so does Zac. Everyone has a lot of creative outlets and we just keep busy.
And with our families, we love spending time with our families. I have a whole brood at home with four kids. So, whenever there is extra time, I love spending it with them. It all goes back into the family for sure.
PEV: How has family life changed you as an artist?
TY: For me, it’s just more to pull from. You see yourself in the good and the bad in all of them. They do the stuff you are proud of and you’re not. They keep you going. They remind you that you are out there and hoping to reach out to people that they will appreciate as well. They’re the reason why you get to wake up every day.
PEV: Do you get to take them on the road with you? How is road life for you?
TY: On and off. We have our families and they are totally familiar with road life. They take time off to come on the road with us sometimes. This is a shorter tour, just a bunch of quick stops. But as a rule we always definitely mix work and play a lot! We make sure that the family and road life to together.
PEV: With all the touring you do, have you found one band that you think we should all be looking out for today?
TY: That’s a really good question. I’m not as tuned in at this moment. But there is an artist named Meiko who is really great and getting some good attention. She’s really great and hope that she succeeds.
PEV: We’ve kind of touched on this a little before about your artistry and how you create music but is there a certain atmosphere or environment you have to be in to create music?TY: For me, it usually starts with an idea or a melody. As far as creating music, you like to have some kind of solitude for you to just focus in but to create music, how it begins, comes from anywhere. You just have to be listening and not closing off. It’s not like I sit down and say, ‘I’m going to write a song today’ and do it. I mean, sometimes you can and it’s good to exercise those creative juices. But as a rule, you always have to keep your eyes and ears open and listen. Sometimes something you see or something someone says, sparks an idea for a song. You have to be willing to go for it. Never stop writing, always be creating.
PEV: I don’t want to keep you too long but one last question, what is next for Hanson?
TY: We’re excited for going into a new phase of the band. We’re looking forward to the full-length record to come out next year and a world tour. We want people to come out, check out the shows and just get ready for next year as well.
PEV: We’ll be looking out for you guys when you come by our town.
TY: Yeah, please do. Come on out for a walk as well.