Hanson, still MMMBopping after all these years
A roadie named "Romeo"
found him the love of his life
by Paul Caine October 15,
2009 Article Tools
“MMMBop,” the 1997 mega-hit by Hanson, established the band
as a cultural phenomenon, though the Hanson brothers—Taylor, Isaac,
and Zac—were barely teenagers when the song was recorded; drummer
Zac wasn’t yet 12 when the multi-platinum Middle Of Nowhere
hit stores. The brothers’ precociousness, breeziness, and
tween-heavy fan base earned them a reputation as teenyboppers, but in
stark defiance of the cynics, the Hansons have turned a hokey hit into
a carefully planned career. Twelve years later the boys are still releasing
records—now on their own label, 3CG—and touring the country.
Oh, and they’re all married with children, too. In advance of
Hanson’s show on Thursday night at the Nokia Theatre, The
A.V. Club spoke to Zac about growing up in a band, music’s
evolving business model, and the roadie that wrangled him a wife.
The A.V. Club: Many people
think of Hanson as three young brothers, but now you’re all married
and have children. What’s it like touring with three different
Zac Hanson: I don’t think that it changes the way we tour as much
as it just changes the personal perspective on wanting to get finished
with the tour, or the reason you’ve got to go out and bring home
the bacon, that kind of stuff. For me, I just have one one-and-a-half
year old so it’s a relatively fresh experience for me. It’s
a little crazy, especially when we bring all the families out on the
road. You’ve got a bus full of kids and wives and you’re
trying to balance load-in and sound check and everything that has to
go with the business stuff with the little kids wanting to play video
games or “Oh, I wanna do that!” It does become kind of a
circus. I don’t know, we’ve been doing this for so long
and people ask me every once in a while, “What’s it like
working with your brothers?” and I go, “What’s it
like not?” Our first paying performance, I was 6 years old, you
know? I almost don’t know anything else, so I guess it feels pretty
normal to me.
AVC: You and your two brothers started families of your own fairly young.
Was this sort of a happy accident, or something more intentional, maybe
a need for grounding after being on the road for many years?
ZH: I think it’s several things coming together at the same time.
One is that desire to find relationships that you can lean on and trust.
When you become a band and you’ve got people who want to be a
part of your experience or want to get close to you for what you are,
not who you are, you have that challenge of trying to find out who’s
genuine. I think some of it is a response to that, but I think mostly
it’s just the fact that we started the band so young. We’ve
been doing what we do for a really long time. I’m about to turn
24, but I’m probably closer to the average 34-year-old in a lot
of ways. I never had the problem of, “Who am I and who do I want
to be?” I’ve known for so long, so I think that’s
why [getting married] made sense early. And then the biggest factor
is just finding really incredible women. I think that’s the part
about being in a band with female fans: You get to meet so many women,
and you figure out pretty quick which ones stand out in the crowd and
which ones are really connecting with you.
AVC: Is that how you met your wife—was she a fan?
ZH: Well, technically we all met our wives at concerts. It’s funny
to say that—I never thought I would meet a fan and marry her.
She was at a show, and somebody from our crew brought her backstage.
He was like, “You gotta meet this girl,” and I was like,
“Dude, come on.” The guy who brought her backstage, his
crew name was "Romeo." He was kind of known for bringing back
a certain kind of individual that was not for any kind of longer-term
relationship. It ended up being something much more long-lasting, but
we still took about five years to get married.
AVC: You mentioned a search for people to trust. For many years now,
Hanson has run its own record label. Did the band feel like it was hard
to find people to trust in the record industry?
ZH: It’s hard to find
people to trust in the record industry, always. It’s an industry
with a lot of bullshit. There’s a lot of people who are in positions
of power that really know nothing and care for nothing. So I think,
yeah, you learn pretty early on that you’ve really got to trust
yourself more than anybody else, and that nobody’s going to care
about what you do more than you. There’s always people who say,
“Oh, do that Britney Spears special” and “Go on tour
with Miley Cyrus.” We’re like, “But that doesn’t
sound fun at all.”
AVC: Do you feel more in control with your own label?
ZH: We’re definitely in control. For us, being a label, we took
out the whole aspect of the business that goes into sifting through
people who don’t care, who don’t get what you’re trying
to do. We can just hire and work with people who get it—the people
who understand what this project is about. When you’re on a label,
you’re just hoping somebody will stick their neck out and work
for you. Most bands are just like, “I hope they do it. I hope
they promote it.” But being a label, we know exactly what’s
happening. We know what interviews we’re getting. We know what
the people at radio are saying, what the guy at MTV did. We know every
conversation that’s happened.
AVC: Would you consider releasing other bands on your label?
ZH: We have considered it. I think for us, we don’t feel like
the future of music is in the act of being a record company. We feel
like the future of the music business is in empowering artists to have
better and better tools to communicate with their fans. We want to be
people who are saying to artists, “Look, you don’t need
that company over there to release your album. You can do it this way.”
Almost more of a band partnership than a label-artist relationship.
Not about ownership of content, but about empowerment.