Hanson Is All Grown Up and Back on Tour

One of the group’s members reflects on working with his siblings and why they love playing in metro Detroit — despite receiving a death threat during a previous visit
Zac (left), Taylor, and Isaac Hanson perform in Royal Oak in December. // Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Weiner

It wasn’t long after Hanson released “MMMBop” that it became the summer ’97 anthem of teens across America. In the years that have followed, the pop-rock band of brothers out of Tulsa, Oklahoma has continued to churn out hits without losing its trademark wholesome sound. In honor of the holiday season, the trio has embarked on its Wintry Mix Tour, in which they’ll perform some of the season’s classic hits and give fans a preview of songs from the seventh studio album, set for release in 2020.

Prior to Hanson’s show at Royal Oak Music Theatre on Dec. 17, Hour Detroit chatted with Zac Hanson — vocalist, drummer, and the band’s youngest member — on what it’s like to work with your siblings, their new album, and performing in Detroit.

Hour Detroit: Tell us about your sibling dynamics.

Zac Hanson: The benefit of being siblings is the shared experience and the fact that you generally have similar values. There’s a lot of aspiration in our music. Even though we write about it in different ways, it’s very much about our desires of where we want to be, how to overcome things, and our dreams. So, it’s a huge asset growing up together — not just meeting at some point along the way and discovering you’re similar. Also, it sounds kind of funny, but you’re almost trained to work well together. We really do, genetically, have similar vocal chords, and it lends to us sounding good together. The blood in your veins plays a big role.

Why do you feel that Tusla is a better home base than Los Angeles or New York?

Being from Oklahoma, being from Tulsa, is always so important. Not because of what Tulsa is, but the idea that you’re from somewhere. You have roots and somewhere to go back to. You’re not just one more band from Hollywood. We’ve always wanted to represent something and be recognizable as a band that’s about something. So, Oklahoma just happens to be right in the middle. If you go to Google maps and you zoom in somewhere in the center you land near Tulsa. Not as many bands are from a place like that, and if they are, they move. That’s fine, but we just felt that Tulsa was part of who we want to be.

Can you talk a bit about your new album?

I think it’s full of a lot of joy. As it stands, it’s unfinished. It’s fairly comfortable with itself, and I mean that in the best way. It’s a lot of “I don’t care what I’m supposed to sound like, I don’t know care what people think Hanson is. I know what I am.” So, every song presents itself like that. It presents itself and says it’s fully formed and happy to be who it is. That’s all I can share.

How do you feel about being back in the Motor City?

Zac Hanson: Detroit is a good music town. We’ve played at Royal Oak a bunch of times, and we had a death threat there once, but we played the show anyway. I remember that very vividly. I was like “Oh, shoot! Somebody said they’re going to come kill us, do we play the show?” We looked at each other and we were like, “You know what? We’re going to do it, and if we’re going to go out, let’s go out on stage in Detroit.” Not the best Christmas memory maybe but we’ve had great times [laughs]. It’s always about the experience onstage. We always joke that going on tour is just dumpsters and dives and back alleys and shuttle vans, because that’s sort of what you see, but we’re not there for the sights. We’re there for the people.