Hanson: Roots rock with a cause
Posted on September 12th, 2008 in Food / Entertainment, Headlines by SCN
By Laura Long,

Hanson: Walk Around the World Tour. The Bijou, Knoxville. Oct 1, 2008. caught up with Taylor Hanson (on tour in Calgary, Canada) for a phoner on Friday, Sept. 12, 2008 to talk about why white guys love soul music and about one notorious “Family Guy” episode.

SCN: Your new tour campaign is to encourage fans and other individuals to do one mile walks to fight poverty –compiling enough miles to walk ‘around the world’ (24,902 miles). Where did the idea come from?

TH: Early in 2007 we asked ourselves if there was a way we could take our tour plans and engage our fans in a grassroots, intimate way. (The Walk Tour actually began last fall with one mile walks helping to provide thousands of shoes to children in poverty in South Africa with TOMS Shoes.) Last November we joined TOMS on their second shoe drop, and delivered 50,000 pairs of shoes to children in Africa. Our fans are so passionate and dedicated, so it just made sense to involve them in what we wanted to do, which was to help TOMS Shoes meet their goal.

SCN: Most bands that have reached the level of your success wouldn’t want to be out walking with a bunch of their fans.

TH: Right. And it’s not always safe. We’re crazy like that.

SCN: So what do you do, just jump out of a car, and kinda casually walk your mile and secretly hope nobody screams, “Hey! There’s Hanson!”

TH: Just the opposite. We walk around with a megaphone and yell at people to come join us and make their one mile count for something. So far, with only three shows into this tour, we’ve registered 4,000 miles. We have 48 more shows to go.

SCN: And for every mile that gets walked, the band contributes $1 to one of five different non-profits?

TH: Yeah, when a fan registers their mile (at they get to choose which cause (among the five we have selected) they would like to contribute to.

SCN: You guys are known for your high-energy performances. How has your music evolved over the last ten years?

TH: We’re at a great place musically. To use a painter’s analogy, we are now ‘removing colors from the palette’ and getting rid of the clutter and ‘the extra’ in our songs. We’re also rediscovering our roots, our influences, such as Chuck Berry and The Beach Boys and The Doobie Brothers and The Beatles. We are definitely in love with roots rock and on the next album we’ll go even further into that.

SCN: You know, people say the higher you go up on the ladder of success, the more you become a target. I suppose since you guys seem so perfect, good-looking, successful, making great money, etc., it’s the perfect opportunity for comedians to write jokes about you. Have you seen that one Family Guy episode about you…

TH: No, but I have had so many people tell me about it that I really don’t even need to see the actual episode, you know? And I love ‘Family Guy.’ Great show. Very funny.

SCN: And then there was that ‘Saturday Night Live” skit where Will Ferrell traps people in an elevator and makes them listen to your song, ‘MmmBop.’

TH: (laughs) What makes a joke really funny is that people have to understand what’s funny about it without it having to be explained. Those jokes are only funny because people know who we are and they know what I look like and they know that song. We have a broad recognition all over the world, and that’s great for any band. This is a business, you know.

SCN: And you wrote that song when you were only a kid!

TH: I was ten years old.

SCN: Sounds like you know how to be a good sport about the jokes, which is very cool, and I admire you for it. I guess you and your brothers, Isaac and Zac, keep each other level.

TH: By voice or by fist. We really aren’t that perfect. We have flaws. Everybody goes off the rail sometimes.

SCN: Well, there are certainly plenty of professionals in the music business who don’t mind praising your work. U2’s Bono said ‘MmmBop’ was one of his favorite songs of all time and the Village Voice has been quoted as saying you guys were “the finest straight-up rock band in America.”

TH: It’s certainly validating to have people you respect pay attention to your work. We’ve met U2 several times and the band has always been supportive. They gave our work a fair shake. It’s not so much whether they even liked it or not. They listened, and that’s what is important.