STARPOLISH: With the rise of boy bands such as *NSYNC and singer-performers like Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson, I was wondering if there's been a backlash of respectability for acts like Hanson that actually write their own songs, play their own instruments, sing live at concerts
ISAAC: Actually, it's really a bit scary when people go -- actually I got a little bit annoyed with it on the last record, because people were like, "Man, you guys write your own songs, and play your own instruments and sing great," and I'm like, "Wait a second -- these are things that people are pointing out as really unique, positive attributes?" I mean wait a second - that's normal stuff.
TAYLOR: What else are we supposed to do? We write, we play, we sing - that's why we're a band.
ISAAC: Exactly. I have nothing against the concept of people being singers and performers purely, and not writers, or not players. Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin
STARPOLISH: Frank Sinatra
ISAAC: Yeah, hello
TAYLOR: Great singers But there is a difference in the stuff now, 'cause there's a real insincerity about it, it's about this (holds two fingers slightly apart) deep, and everybody knows that it's fabricated. And Frank Sinatra was a great performer and amazing singer, and Aretha Franklin is the same way. So I think it's kind of weird, because when our first record came out, it was sort of like, "OK, it's too poppy" -- we were really young then we're still young, but we were really young then - and it was like, "Ooh." And it kind of turned slightly to where we're like the rougher side of those bands
ISAAC: We're like the old-timers now (laughs).
TAYLOR: Yeah, we're like the old school compared to the rest of those bands. But to be honest, we've always been just a band, and those comparisons have always been, well, we don't even really fit into that category. So I just hope we're seen for who we are
ISAAC: As opposed who are in comparison to other people.
STARPOLISH: So do you think there's been a renewed sense of respect for Hanson among fans? Because it seemed like you always had the respect of your peers
ZAC: We never had a problem with
TAYLOR: Credibility in the industry.
ZAC: From the first record to now
ISAAC: The reviews have always been very, very good
ZAC: The reviews have been good, besides the fact if they don't like the record. I think that's only been a wrong public people who didn't give it a chance to even listen to the music...
ISAAC: OK - here's the easy one, though, for like a young guy who's my age -- he goes, "Oh man, they got long hair and they look like girls." Oh, that took a lot of thought
ZAC: Or, "They must be gay three guys, they spend a lot of time together." (everyone laughs)
STARPOLISH: The fact that you're brothers doesn't
ZAC: No, we're not from Arkansas(laughs). Oklahoma - close, but no cigar. You didn't go to school, did you?
TAYLOR: I think you can almost blame those misconceptions on all of the broad press. You're right -- the industry, as far as the people in bands, anybody who knows what we do knows who we are as a band. So that's never been a problem. But it is in the broad sense - yeah, there are huge misconceptions about Hanson, massive. It's so funny that so many people know the band, but have so many misconceptions about it. And so it's always just like, "I'm glad you know who I am, but do you know who I am, do you know what the band is about? And that, I think, is where we are, trying to make sort of continuing to put out records and continue to let people know what it's about. And then it's just about us enjoying music, and that's all that really matters.
ISAAC: The reason that you get guys like we worked with -- Matthew Sweet, we wrote a song with him
TAYLOR: And Ric Ocasek.
ISAAC: Or all these different people, is that when you actually get in the room with these people (snaps fingers), like that there's no ego involved, there's no nothing, because you're musicians and you instantly connect on that level. And everybody realizes that. There's no question like
TAYLOR: Like a camera sitting there, or some person from Bop magazine, saying, "Oh my god, your hair," or "What toothbrush do you use," or comparing you or Rolling Stone saying you can't possibly be with Ric Ocasek 'cause he's cool and you're not. Because you're sitting there and he goes, "Oh, I heard your record and I liked it," and we say, "We heard your record and we liked it." And if it worked, then it worked, and that's what it comes down to. You sit in a room and just do it.
STARPOLISH: What was it like working with Carole King? Was it intimidating?
ZAC: The amazing thing about that was that it wasn't like that. When you step in the room with her I mean, I scared myself, going, "Hey, when I was working with Carol" (laughs). That's cool Ooooh! (laughs)
ISAAC: We're on a first-name basis with Carole King! (laughs)
ZAC: It's such a curious experience. It has nothing to do with egos, and anything -- all the crap, the phlegm -- kind of just goes away.
ISAAC: Phlegm? That's a really nice picture I just got there(laughs)
TAYLOR: You know, on the first record we did a couple of co-writes, and we'd never really done that before, it was kind of like, "Why would we need to co-write with someone?" But you're right -- it was always just the three of us writing songs. There are struggles in co-writing and a lot of people don't ever do it because its kind of a pain, like, "Well, there are personality issues" But when it is cool it's really cool, and when you find someone you mesh with, it really works, and it should just be like as if it were these two guys. The only difference is, the three of us know each other really well, and we deal with each other in a way that's comfortable because we know what's going to come out. If you get a co-writing situation where you go, "Wow, Barenaked Ladies" or "Matthew Sweet," who are people we've worked with, "Let's see what happens." And if you connect in the right way, then it's great, and it is a different thing. More than anything it's just about learning to work with people and get around personality issues, and trying to just get through to the music.
THE NEW ALBUM
ZAC: We've been down in Dallas working on demos for that record for a couple of months now -- it's just the process it takes to get into the studio to do it. We're right about to go into the studio now, and the album should be coming out early next year.
STARPOLISH: Have you announced that Glen Ballard is going to be producing it? Have you made any announcements about who'll be producing it?
TAYLOR: Actually, we haven't made an announcement yet about the producer, because there's going to be a couple of different [ones]. There's a new producer who we're really psyched about -- his name is Greg Wells, a young guy and he hasn't done a lot of things you would know, but we really connected with him musically, and we're going to start the record with him. And probably Glenn Ballard, we'll do a few things with. There are a lot of really great producers we're really psyched about working with, so we're not really looking to say yet, 'cause it would be kind of stupid to make that point this early in this thing
ISAAC: We've been talking to a lot of people and there have been no definitive decisions besides the fact that we are going to be doing some stuff with this young producer, Greg Wells, to start things off.
DEALING WITH FAME AND FORTUNE
ISAAC: I think that the main issue that's held us together is, number one, our relationship with each other, but also
TAYLOR: Common sense
ISAAC: Common sense, but also we have a really good relationship with the rest of our family. And I think that's kept us in check, in that they've kind of they maintain being our family, and we maintain being brothers and band mates and then it all kind of balances itself out, in a sense. I think we never really cared about being world-famous rock star something-or-others -- I think it always sounds funny
ZAC: We're not rock stars
ISAAC: We're really just guys in a band.
ZAC: [A] rock star is not something you are, it's something you becomelike something that you put on. Bono is a rock star, not because that's what he really is, or whatever his real name is, it's because he's made up this person that he becomes when he's the "I'm Bonohear me roar (laughs)." It's whether you let yourself become that or not. In the end, I think it should always - and will always - come down to you as a musician. When you spend all your money on Ferraris and escort services and whatever things you want, eventually you're going to have to come back to the music again, and
ISAAC: And make another record
ZAC: And make another record, and have to be successful at that, and if you can't, then you're just
ISACC: A lot of people lose grasp of who they are because they get so excited about the fact that, "Oh my gosh, I've made money"
ZAC: People love me!"
ISAAC: And they don't realize that one, they haven't made as much money as they think they have, and number two, they made some crappy deal, and number three, they have to pay the record people back, you know? And it all just starts adding up And you have to keep it all in perspective, as Zac said, it has to be about you musically and what you're trying towhat you're going for in the first place. We were never in it for the girls, we were never in it for the money -- we were in it 'cause we couldn't help it.
ZAC: Just the nice things(everyone laughs)
ISAAC: We couldn't help but just being a band. It was one of those things we tripped over..
ISAAC: I know we were too na´ve then, but now we're all cynical and skeptical
TAYLOR: Actually, I think we've always had early on we met up with several really, really smart people and kept ourselves from doing really stupid things. And I think we got really good advice from several different peopleattorneys who saved us from deals that would have killed us. Honestly, the music industry is one of the worst businesses in the world as far as (looking at camera) "Hi everybody, I'm in the music industry"-- and anybody in the industry knows it And the reason is because the people who are in it, the people that originated it, it's a creative thing, so what happens is it just gets raped. As long as the bands do what the bands are supposed to do, and they realize that there's those other guys who are making money off of them, and they just remember that it's about the music, and the fans and the shows and the passion that comes out of it, and that they're not stupid enough to get screwed, then they'll be OK
ISAAC: Chuck Berry
STARPOLISH: Really? I've heard that he's one of the nastiest people(everyone laughs)
ISAAC: I know, I knowvery nasty. But here's the thing-the record company made him a nasty man because they stole all his money
ZAC: Nooo (everyone laughs). If he's old man, then he's a nasty old man
ISAAC: Some people just let themselves become nasty old men, I don't know, but he gets paid in cash and all that kind of stuff because he did get ripped off, he really did seriously
ZAC: He's a music icon, a huge influence, he was a huge influence on us from the beginning I don't know if that's who I'd choose, but I mean, he was one of the originators of what is now known as rock 'n roll. It's hard to be much more influential on music if you're not the Beatles
ISAAC: He was one of the first people to introduce "lead guitar" as kind of a main musical theme in a song. Here's my riff
ZAC: (hums riff to Johnny B. Goode)
ISAAC: Keith Moon!
ZAC: Oh dudesomething musical
STARPOLISH: Not just crazy?
ZAC: Yeah -- boom!
ZAC: I try not to choose drummers because they're a sort of psycho, blowing themselves up.
STARPOLISH: Like Spinal Tap
ISACC: Zac's actually tried that several times - it hasn't worked yet
TAYLOR: There's so many I'd actually like to play with Michael Stipe, that's one that seems cool and of course Michael Jackson, what an amazing artist. What about you, Zac?"
ZAC: Yanni (laughs).
ISAAC: Maybe Billy Joel or something?
ZAC: Yanni Kenny G, maybe
ISAAC: Kenny G, Yanni and John Tesh - together, in concert! (everyone laughs)
TAYLOR: With Zac on drums!