They're scarcely out of grade school, but the boys of Hanson understand a solid pop hook when they hear one. The three brothers' infectious pop ditty, "Mmmbop," has brought them from the drilling town of Tulsa, Oklahoma to the top of the Billboard singles chart. MTV News caught up with the lads in New York's Central Park as they wound down from a riotous "Seventeen" magazine photo shoot.
MTV NEWS: The lead line of all your material says "Hanson: Where Music is Headed." Do you guys think this is true. Is this where music is going?
TAYLOR: It's kind of a marketing thing. Just to...
ZAC: It's just a good line, I guess you'd say. We don't neccesarily think we're the big shots.
ISAAC: Yeah, yeah. We're the big shots. Right.
TAYLOR: I think things are going away from the alternative thing. So I guess in a way it's where music is headed. Just because the music we make is more up and just more fun. And I guess in a way that may be true.
MTV NEWS: Why do you suppose now is the time for that?
TAYLOR: I don't know.
ISAAC: We really don't know.
TAYLOR: Things change. They're always going to change.
ISAAC: I think music is always evolving. Things are always changing. People are always changing what they like and...
TAYLOR: Styles change.
ISAAC: Just like styles change, music changes.
MTV NEWS: Did you evolve your music to fit into that?
ALL THREE: No.
MTV NEWS: Did you ever think "Oh man, alternative is really big, we're never going to make it."?
ALL THREE: No.
ISAAC: We were always doing what we loved to do. We weren't worrying about what other bands were doing. We do what we do. And they do what they do. That's the way of the world.
MTV NEWS: But did you ever think you'd have the number 6 single in your second week of releasing?
TAYLOR: You'd be happy.
ISAAC: The fact that we're in the top ten is, like, "Oh my God!"
TAYLOR: It's pretty crazy.
ISAAC: Yeah. How does that kind of thing happen? You don't know.
ISAAC: No. You can never expect that. You can maybe expect to be in the top 40.
MTV NEWS: Do you look at other artists that are in the top ten with you now and wonder, "How did we get here with Notorious B.I.G.?"
ISAAC: You start laughing. You go "Oh my Gosh! Michael Jackson is right there. And Jamiroquoi."
TAYLOR: To hear Casey Kasem announce that you're on TV on his charts is.... To look in Billboard and see your name is pretty cool.
ISAAC: It says Hot Shot Debut. Number 16. You look in the Top 100 charts and see Hanson, "Mmmbop."
ZAC: You go "Yeah. Yes. We did it. Whoo Hah." (stands up and does a few karate moves)
MTV NEWS: So what are you going to do to celebrate?
ISAAC: We're probably going to have a giant party with our friends.
TAYLOR: Jump up and down. I don't know.
ZAC: Get girlfriends. ((hehe))
ISAAC: Go on some hot date with somebody. We'll definitely celebrate.
TAYLOR: Something. We'll do something.
ZAC: Go to Laserquest and play, like, fifty times!
ISAAC: The question is will you get there? That's the big question.
TAYLOR: If we get to number one. We'll be happy.
ISAAC: We'll be happy to sit down. I'm sure we'll definitely have a party or something if that happens.
MTV NEWS: Tell me about how you guys have been performing together for years. And specifically tell me about the Blue Rose Cafe.
ISAAC: The Blue Rose Cafe, a friend of ours owns that bar, and he really liked the music, and he really wanted us to play there. Because it was a bar, we really couldn't play inside, but the way the cafe is set up there's a really large wooden deck outside where basically half the people sit outside. And so, during the summer alot of people are out there, and they got the little mist things keeping people cool...
TAYLOR: So the story is in fact that we really can't play inside bars. That's kinda the point of it, that we had to play outside. But it ended up being better because the people from surrounding resteraunts could come over and everybody could come.
ISAAC: Yeah, we got alot of people from playing outside. There's a lot of restaurants in that area.
TAYLOR: And that's something we did a lot. That's the last concert we did before we made the record.
MTV NEWS: Are you guys getting a lot of offers to play in bars now?
ISAAC: Um, you know, I don't know.
ZAC: We don't know. We haven't been home for like a month.
TAYLOR: So we're basically, like, doing promotion stuff. We just got back from Europe, so we've been gone a lot. I guess people would want us to play. We would love to play pretty soon. It's kinda a bummer that you don't get to play all the time, but we're practicing, and hopefully we'll tour this fall.
ISAAC: We definately miss performing for people. It's a ton of fun to perform. We did get to perform in February. It something like February or March, and then we're doing Sam Goody on City Walk in Los Angeles which will be really fun, hopefully there will be a lot of people there.
MTV NEWS: So you've been doing little things all along.
MTV NEWS: As far as a full scale tour, you're thinking of the fall?
ISAAC: We're thinking about a full scale tour in the fall, yeah. I mean, we've never really done a full scale tour before. We've been doing local gigs for a long time, for five years, you know. We did 300 performances in five years.
ZAC: You know, I'm not talking.
TAYLOR: We look foward to touring, if the record goes well then we'll look at the tour from there.
MTV NEWS: So who are your guys early musical influences?
ZAC: Me, me, me, me (Raising hand in air).
MTV NEWS: I heard there was some "Time Life" tape thing you guys were forced to listen to?
ZAC: Well, our first influence is, were early 50's and 60's Rock and Roll. The reason we listened to early 50's and 60's Rock and Roll is because our dad, he works for an oil company, and his job took us overseas. And since we couldn't listen to the radio, we had to get some tapes. And we got one of those Time Life tapes. Order now, will not find in stores. (Says that pretending to be Time Life announcer).
TAYLOR: So we got the 1958 Time Life tape, and we listened to that over and over, and over, and over. And then later got the whole rest of the set, and that's all the fifties and sixties Rock and Roll. Like, "Johnny Be Good", "Splish, Splash", "Rockin' Robin", "Good Golly Miss Molly" and everything else.
ISAAC: And we really love that kind of music, it's great.
TAYLOR: That's the music that really inspired us the most.
MTV NEWS: Do you guys ever perform that music?
ISAAC: That was some of the first music we performed, along with originals that we were writing. We also performed 50's and 60's stuff. "Johnny Be Good", "Splish, Splah", "Rockin' Robin".
TAYLOR: It's always fun when you play songs that the audience gets into old originals. So hopefully, we'll put some of that in our show to add some flavor.
ISAAC: Yeah, we definately want to do that. You can say that that kind of music is "Dear to us", because it was very inspirational.
ZAC: It's dear to us, like Rudolph.
TAYLOR: That music is what started it all.
MTV NEWS: Are there any current artists that are influences on you guys as well?
ZAC: I wouldn't say influences but that we like.
ISAAC: We definately listen to people like Aerosmith, Counting Crows, Spin Doctors.
ZAC: Alanis Morissette.
ISAAC: Alanis Morissette, No Doubt.
TAYLOR: Natalie Merchant, I mean, just everything. All the Top 40 stuff and everything else.
ISAAC: Also listen to R&B things and stuff like that.
MTV NEWS: Yeah, there's sort of an R&B vibe to what you guys are doing. I mean, people think that "Mmmbop" sounds like a Jackson Five song.
TAYLOR: Well, really the first, we did two independent records before this, and the first one was, before we had picked up instruments. It was a mostly R&B record, 'cause the next step was to do an R&B thing, because we really didn't play instruments.
ISAAC: Yeah, we were singing to tracks.
TAYLOR: And that was what, we had also had that influence through that older music, so that's, and then on our next record it was much more of a Pop Rock thing because we were playing instruments, and there wasn't a lot of synth stuff. And really on this album, we mixed the two and had some R&B flavored songs and some Rock and Roll songs.
MTV NEWS: How did you decide which one of you guys were going to play which instrument? And how long have you been playing it?
ISAAC: Zach has a philosophy over that one, I think.
ZAC: Yeah, well the philosophy is, let me tell you this (stretching his fingers).
MTV NEWS: You're the ham of the group, aren't you.
ISAAC: Yeah, he's definately the ham.
ZAC: No, I'm a chicken. My philosophy is, OK, nobody's arms were long enough so Ike can play the guitar, so the piano Ike can play as well as Tay, because Ike had been playing long enough.
TAYLOR: So I went to the keyboard.
ZAC: And then, what else is left?
ISAAC: Zac was left with the drums. He kinda draws it out, he should tell it faster.
TAYLOR: He's the drummer.
MTV NEWS: How long did it take before you guys were good?
ISAAC: I mean, when when you start out, you aren't as good as you are now.
TAYLOR: Put it this way, we got the drums and the instruments, and a week later we played live. But that doesn't mean we were good when we played live, it just mean we got out there and did it.
ISAAC: We got out there, and we really wanted to play, we loved the instruments.
TAYLOR: We wanted to be able to do it ourselves.
ISAAC: We had also been playing piano a lot live in addition to doing a capella stuff, I would get behind the piano or Tay would get behind the piano, and we'd play. So we've been playing piano for a long time, but all the instruments was a totally different thing, totally new thing.
MTV NEWS: We keeping you up, Zac?
ZAC: (Yawning) Yeah.
MTV NEWS: So now, Zac, how did you guys figure out there were four M's in "Mmmbop"?
TAYLOR: Actually, there's three M's.
ZAC: There's three M's. OK.
TAYLOR: I think it just looked good.
ISAAC: It just looked good. Three M's looks like the right size. It wasn't quite Mmmmmm Bop, and it wasn't quite Mm Bop, it was Mmmbop, a little bit in the middle. It just looked good, three M's and a Bop.
MTV NEWS: What does that mean, "Mmmbop"?
TAYLOR: "Mmmbop" is really about friendships. The first verse said "You have so many relationships in this life/Only one or two will last/You go through all the pain and strife/And you turn your back and they're gone so fast." And that's what it's really about. It's deeper than it sounds.
**This isn't from the same interview part, but we thought it was funny, so we put it here anyway....**
ZAC: He's [Isaac] goofy funny. I'm goofy stupid...
ISAAC: No I'm goofy stupid.
ZAC: We're both goofy and we're both stupid... and it's funny sometimes. Oh God!