Like most guys of a certain era, Taylor Hanson and his brothers grew up watching — and compulsively re-watching — “The Blues Brothers,” the 1980 cult classic featuring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as the titular brothers on a mission (from God) to save an orphanage. But unlike most guys of a certain era, they didn’t just watch it for the copious car-chase sequences.
“We all watched that movie over and over again as kids. I think I’ve probably seen it 1,000 times by now,” Hanson told MTV News on Friday (April 16). “And, what’s great about it is, sure, you can sit around with a bunch of guys and watch it again and again because you want to see the car chases. But that’s only part of it. We all loved it because it captures a certain renegade spirit and the kind of blind optimism that goes with making music. Being in a band is reckless and kind of messy, and the film definitely captures that reckless nature.”
So, in the back of their minds, Hanson had always thought about paying homage to the film — they just didn’t know when they’d get the chance to do it, until one fateful day earlier this year when the band were kicking around ideas for a video for “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’,” the first single off their upcoming Shout It Out album. They wanted something that matched the joyous, retro-leaning feel of the tune and, all of a sudden, something clicked.
“We wanted to announce that this record is sort of an unapologetic, bright, melodic thing, and so we — since we love this movie so much — we all watched one particular scene, with Ray Charles and the Blues Brothers band [performing “Shake a Tail Feather”] and we realized that if you played our song with the scene, it almost looks like they were playing ours,” Hanson said. “I mean, it was crazy. The tempo is perfect. It hit every music-geek button for us, and we absolutely couldn’t have predicted it. So we figured, now’s as good a time as any to make a video.”
So, Hanson did just that. Working with Tulsa-based choreographer Heather Hall and director (and friend) Todd Edwards, they re-created the music-shop set from the “Blues Brothers” film (building it in the offices of their 3GC Records), recruited both fans and professional dancers and got to work. They shot the “Somethin’ ” video in two days, taking great pains to match the film, frame by frame, right down to the costumes and thoroughly outrageous facial hair of the Blues Brothers Band.
“We put Isaac in a beard and long hair, and he looks almost exactly like [Blues Brothers' guitarist] Steve Cropper. He was saying, ‘Is this too much? I look like Moses,’ but it was perfect,” Hanson laughed. “Honestly, it wasn’t all that tough to do. It was like when Peter Jackson directed ‘Lord of the Rings’ — he was already obsessed with it. And that’s how we were with ‘The Blues Brothers.’ ”
The “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’” video premiered Thursday on MySpace, and almost instantly struck a chord with audiences everywhere, including Perez Hilton, who praised the clip and singled out the cameo by “Weird” Al Yankovic, a longtime Hanson friend and collaborator who just had to make an appearance.
“We’ve known him since ’98 and, small world, but he shot [the 1989 film] ‘UHF’ in Tulsa. Plus he’s sort of the king of re-creating these pop-culture moments, so having him in it was almost like a blessing,” Hanson said. “He was a consummate professional. He learned all the dance moves, got the wardrobe just right. He was great.”
So, really, the video is a success on many different levels: It let the band realize a long-standing dream, it has earned them all sorts of exposure and it reunited them with old friends. And while all of that is nice, Hanson says the most important thing is that the clip seems to resonate with people of all generations.
“On the surface level, some people may just see it as a bunch of dancing, and that’s great. But then, as a deep cut, a lot of people instantly recognize it as being a tribute to ‘The Blues Brothers,’ ” he said. “It was very much a labor of love for us. It was a true DIY production, much like everything this band does … we’re really happy so many people like it.”