Hanson at the Guvernment (132 Queens Quay East), Saturday (August 16). 6 pm. $25. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
Whatever hatred a pop artist may inspire, someone new always comes along for people to despise more who makes everyone else seem not so horrible. Take former teen-pop sensation Hanson, for example. The band was once considered an annoyingly ever-present epitome of the cutesy teen heartthrobs many people love to hate.
Now, I'd wager, even those who thought they were a gross, manufactured gimmick, would gladly take the brothers harmonizing and playing real instruments at their sold-out (!) acoustic gig at the Guvernment Saturday (August 16) over the processed pap of Willa Ford or the blowhard histrionics of Ruben Studdard.
So the Hanson boys, who got very little critical respect at the height of their popularity, have actually gained prestige as time passes. Perhaps that's because pop music seems to have gotten qualitatively worse.
Almost as if telephathic, Taylor Hanson echoed my thoughts on the downward slide of music post-1997, the year Hanson broke.
"The industry zeroed in on the fact that we were an interesting band - an anomaly," says the formerly androgynous moppet who's now a husband and father. "They decided to capitalize on the audience instead of stimulate it."
Even though Taylor and 17-year-old Zac Hanson were on the line throughout the interview, Taylor did most of the talking. Zac only said a couple things, but they were rad. When I asked about their favourite movies, Zac chose Babe: Pig In The City, which he described as "a great stoner movie!"
Although in hindsight Hanson seem like a pleasant musical memory, they're still largely thought of as one-hit wonders, particularly by those who profited most from their big hit, Mmm Bop. After their second disc failed to bring in the same dollars as their Middle Of Nowhere (Island) debut, Hanson were forced to wait almost three years to release their newest album, due out in early 2004.
A corporate merger led to disagreements with their label concerning the album's direction. That resulted in Hanson's departure and the release of Acoustic Underneath on the independent FanAxis label.
What's interesting about their forthcoming disc is the writing collaborations involve everyone from Matthew Sweet to the Barenaked Ladies' Ed Robertson. Even former New Radicals frontman Gregg Alexander, who famously dissed Hanson in his culture-jamming hit Get What You Give, had a hand in the new recording.
When asked about Alexander's participation, Taylor Hanson sounded remarkably forgiving.
"He told us he didn't mean to dis us in the song. You can never be too angry at the guy - he's a unique person."
Wow! That's an impressive turn-the-other-cheek response to someone who threatens to "kick your asses." In fact, it's possible that Hanson's rep as smiley-faced God-fearing goodie-goodies has been more of a hindrance than a help. Although that could change if we find out God really does exist and should be feared.
"We're definitely religious guys, and we're not afraid to show it," insists Taylor Hanson, who apparently would rather go to heaven than keep Hanson as Tatu-esque pin-ups for pedophiles.
Make no mistake, Hanson still have an overzealous fan base. The last front of Hanson-worship exists on the information superhighway, where thousands of girls, boys and creepy adults continue to drool over little Zac, old Isaac and "beautiful" Taylor.
The current acoustic tour is being presented as a "gift to the fans in an intimate club setting." It's really the least they can do for loyal followers willing to post their daydreamy Hanson stories - HansonFanFic as it's known on-line - about fantasy encounters (both erotic and non-erotic) with the boys a full six years after their rise to international prominence.
So what can we expect from Hanson's new disc? "Probably the mellowest thing we've ever done," allows Taylor Hanson. "From the beginning we wanted to have a lot of space on the album and have the individual parts speak more, with not as much overdubbing."
Even if they aren't mellow, the songs will still likely be drowned out by the squeals of those who eat, sleep and breathe the brothers Hanson. firstname.lastname@example.org