Hanson Grow Up This Time Around

Teenage brother trio flirt with more rocking sound on upcoming album.

Your average teen undergoes serious life changes from ages 13–19, but the members of the teenage rock trio Hanson are going through those transformations in front of thousands of screaming fans.

The three brothers who make up Hanson are growing up while touring the world and selling millions of records, and the process affected the musical direction they took on their upcoming album, This Time Around (May 9).

"As a band, I think we've evolved," lead singer/keyboardist Taylor Hanson, 17, said. "You live life. As you grow up, you experience things and reflect on them in different ways, and you grow as musicians.

"Of course, as you live your life, it will change the way you write songs and your perspective. This album is definitely a different Hanson" (RealAudio excerpt of interview).

It's been three years since the release of the band's 8-million-selling major-label debut, Middle of Nowhere — which spawned the power-pop hit "MMMBop" (RealAudio excerpt). In the interim, the band has released a collection of early demos, a Christmas album and a live album. But This Time Around is Hanson's first studio album of all-new material since Middle of Nowhere.

More Rock 'N' Roll

The new album — a collection of 13 songs — finds the Tulsa, Okla., trio adding a rock edge to their sugary pop sound, as well as taking a stronger hand in creating the material.

"There's probably a lot of reasons why it's a little more rock 'n' roll," Taylor Hanson said of such songs as the blues-rocker "In the City" and the gospel-tinged "Dying to Be Alive." "It's definitely not a thought-out thing. It's just a natural evolution. On your first record, it's your first experience on a big level. You work with different writers — which was an amazing experience — and it starts to dilute what is truly Hanson."

As a way to get back to that essence, Taylor said the group members decided to pen all of the album's songs themselves, as well as to co-produce the effort with Stephen Lironi (Black Grape), who also co-produced the trio's debut.

Speeding through the Los Angeles hills after taping a segment for an upcoming edition of NBC-TV's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," eldest brother, guitarist Isaac Hanson, 19, said the group thinks of the album's gospel-pop title track — and first single — as a bridge between the sweetness of Middle of Nowhere and the more diverse sound of This Time Around.

"Hopefully, there are different songs people gravitate to, based on the person and their musical tastes," he said. "We've always been very hands-on about everything. I think it just turned out that you're a little more hands-on, because you have more experience. You have a real specific direction that you're wanting to go, and you really know what you want" (RealAudio excerpt of interview).

That experience led the group to sprinkle in a bit of virtuoso harmonica playing from Blues Traveler leader John Popper on the track "If Only." They also mixed Popper's harp, some turntable scratching and a straight-up rock guitar solo into the gritty "In the City."

Staying Grounded

Not that the brothers have abandoned their signature sound. The swaying love song "Save Me" bears a resemblance to the Middle of Nowhere hit "Weird" (RealAudio excerpt), with Taylor Hanson's vocals displaying a wider, more mature range.

After years of performing locally and releasing two independent albums, Hanson emerged from Tulsa in 1997 with a sound that combined the classic Motown soul-pop of the Jackson 5 with subtle scratching and other modern touches, courtesy of producers the Dust Brothers.

Right after the initial success of Middle of Nowhere, the group's label released the 1997 Christmas album Snowed In. The following year, Three Car Garage: Indie Recordings 1995–1996, a collection of songs from the group's early days, and Live From Albertane, the band's live album, were issued.

Even with the success of their debut and their status as leaders of a new pop school that includes the boy band Backstreet Boys and teen queen Britney Spears, drummer Zachary Hanson said he and his brothers aren't taking anything for granted.

"You're hoping to sell [any] records at all," Zachary Hanson, 14, said. "You have no idea how it's going to go, ... which is kind of scary. You're sitting there going, 'I hope this sells. I hope there's a lot of people like me, because obviously I like my record' " (RealAudio excerpt of interview).

The new album's title song is also its first single. The video for "This Time Around," directed by Dave Meyers (Kid Rock, Creed), will debut on MTV's "Total Request Live" on March 6, according to an Island/Def Jam spokesperson, who requested anonymity. (SonicNet is a division of MTV Interactive). The single is also slated to debut on radio the same day.

The full track listing for the album is: "You Never Know," "If Only," "This Time Around," "Runaway Run," "Save Me," "Dying to Be Alive," "Can't Stop," "I Wish That I Was There," "Love Song," "Sure About It," "Hand in Hand," "In the City" and "A Song to Sing."