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When pop rockers Hanson split from their major label back in 2001, many thought that would be the last they heard from the three brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The band themselves though, well they had a plan.
Hanson created their own label 3CG Records (named after their original guise of 3 Car Garage), and with their new found independence, began to write the kind of music they dreamed of creating, taking as many creative risks as their imaginations would allow.
The most recent incarnation of this creative freedom is String Theory; a collection of the band’s most meaningful songs throughout their career, rearranged and accompanied by a live orchestra, and presented as a two-disc album. They now tour the songs around the world, taking to many iconic concert halls.
With the String Theory tour coming to the UK in February, we chatted to the band’s Taylor Hanson to find out more.
How much are you looking forward to bringing the String Theory tour to the UK next month?
We’re excited! You’re always excited to share your music and you always look forward to a new tour. We love playing in the UK, we played some great shows here in 2017, but this tour really is special. It’s a whole new musical endeavour for us. We’ve played live for 20 years, but with this tour, we’re walking out on stage and performing with 60 other musicians every night. It’s exciting for us, it’s creatively engaging and it forces you to really be at your best.
I think it’s a really great new experience for fans who have been with us throughout our career, but it’s also great for those who may be intrigued to come and see a Hanson show for the first time.
The tour kicked off in the US last year, how did you find those initial shows?
It was such a great learning experience because in most cases, we were arriving in a city and working with a symphony and a conductor that is based in that city. So you have to let the music communicate what you’re trying to achieve. You walk in and play it together almost without any rehearsal. It’s such an amazing thing to witness and to be a part of. It gives you great respect for those other musicians and it really challenges you. It proves to you that you can do more than you thought possible.
This tour you’re playing concert halls instead of traditional pop/rock venues. Do you find the atmosphere of the room affects how you perform?
We’ve gotten to play some iconic venues like The Greek Theatre in LA and we’re playing two nights at the Sydney Opera House later this year. This tour has definitely allowed us to play different environments and it’s been amazing.
It’s different for fans too, as all these shows are seated venues, so the fans get to sit and listen to the music in a different way. We don’t discourage them from standing though!
When you started putting together this album and tour, you had to revisit a lot of older songs and put them under the microscope. Did you find yourself learning anything new about them?
Two things really stand out. Firstly, we really wanted the shows to be about that craftsmanship and making sure that the song itself is the thing that you’re featuring. When putting together the tour, we had to re-evaluate the songs and remove things to allow space for the orchestra.
Secondly, we really wanted to focus on the story of the show. We found themes in our songs that we didn’t recognise during our career and it allowed us to paint a picture and create a story. Then we wrote a bunch of new songs that to fill in the gaps.
The story is in some way autobiographical, but it’s really just more of a human story about having aspirations, believing in possibilities, setting challenges, failing them and having to put yourself back together again. It was a cool challenge to try and figure out how we could weave together a narrative out of 90 minutes of music.
You’ve been a band for 25 years and you’ve toured a lot in that time, where does the hunger come from to keep going?
Stubbornness. A musician’s job is a strange existence where you’re constantly mining your emotional experiences and trying to crystallise those things into the form of songs. This is who we are. Once you’ve done it, especially since you were a kid, you kind of get addicted. You need to do it. That’s your outlet and way of making sense of the world.
You’ve got an affinity for the UK and have a great fanbase here. If there was one thing you could take from here and bring back to the US, what would it be?
This is probably sacrilege to most Brits, but I often crave Pizza Express!
You’ve got everything here, great music, great food and great fans. Everywhere you go you feel appreciation for your fans, but I think the UK has always been especially supportive of us. We’re very grateful that people continue to come out and see us.
Catch Hanson performing String Theory at the following dates this February:
11 February 2019 – Symphony Hall, Birmingham
12 February 2019 – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
14 February 2019 – Rock City, Nottingham (Non String Theory show)
15 February 2019 – Royal Festival Hall, London
17 February 2019 – Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
Last remaining tickets for the tour are available through Ticketmaster.co.uk