Hanson, the trio of Oklahoma brothers that became teen sensations in the 1990s with the hit “MMMBop,” returns to New Orleans this week for a two-night stand at the House of Blues.
The 10-city “Roots & Rock ’n’ Roll” tour features Hanson performing two entirely different shows over two nights at each tour stop. Night one features the brothers performing songs that inspired and influenced them. For night two, they’re playing their own material, fan favorites and rarities from their largely self-penned catalog.
“Our idea behind this tour is to do something different and to create a fuller concert experience,” said drummer Zac Hanson, who turns 30 on Thursday. “We’re always looking for ways to push ourselves. We always trying to take our fans on a musical journey.”
Although the road never gets old for Hanson and his brothers, he said, the two-night concert concept added greater variety to the band’s shows than he’s ever experienced.
“It makes such a different dynamic when you’re playing other people’s music,” he said. “I’m having a blast.”
While the sets for two-night residencies vary from city to city, night one has featured songs by Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin.
“We’re adding new songs each night,” Hanson said. “It’s a lot of work but it’s gratifying. I don’t think I’ve smiled as much in a rehearsal as I did during these rehearsals. We’re playing legendary songs, things we grew up with.”
The trio feels an obligation to do justice to the non-Hanson music its performing.
“We’re never going to be these artists, but we try to capture the spirit of what they did,” Hanson said.
The “Roots & Rock ’n’ Roll” is also introducing Hanson’s fans to the band’s new craft beer, Mmmhops Pale Ale. For the past few years, work on their beer brand, as well as writing songs and producing for other artists, has kept the group off the road and away from recording their own music.
“It’s a new creative endeavor for us,” Hanson said of the beer company. “The intention is not just to license the Hanson name to a beer company. We’re learning to be brewers. More and more, I think my job is to create things. Sometimes that’s music, but a lot of times that’s visual arts, painting and design. Now it’s beer.”
Hanson band brews Mmmhops Pale Ale in Oklahoma and Missouri. Zac Hanson describes it as an English-style pale ale.
“It’s a full-flavored, malty beer,” he said. “If you drink Budweiser, it will seem strong to you. But we didn’t want to create a beer that’s trying to be the most outrageous flavor. Our taste is traditional. We want to brew classic-tasting flavors. That’s similar to the kind of music we want to make — songs people can come back to year after year.”