They took a bit of a break to hang out at this year’s South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, but Isaac and Taylor Hanson are hard at work, with brother Zac, on their third major-label studio album, which they hope to have out by the fall.
“I’m really excited about the songs we’re writing,” says Taylor. “It’s actually moving more and more towards kind of power pop stuff – The Cars, The Raspberries, the Jayhawks, that kind of stuff. I started to hear some of that and thought, ‘This is where the band is moving.'”
Isaac, meanwhile, describes the new music as “a little bit more dynamic” but says the sibling trio from Oklahoma hopes to “explore mellow” a bit more than on its previous releases. “You want people to be able to feel the different emotions. You want to make sure you’ve really got people hooked on that really mellow moment and that really exciting, no-holds-barred moment, and that ‘this is a good driving song’ moment.”
Hanson has some surprising collaborators on the project, too. The group has been working with producer Bob Marlette, best-known for his hard rock projects but whom Isaac says “understands where we want to go and where we need to go.” Hanson also hooked up with Matthew Sweet for a new song, “Underneath,” that the band considers the song to be “a title-track contender” for the next album.
“We went out [to Los Angeles] planning to write with Ben Folds, and then our time schedules didn’t work out,” says Taylor. “We met with [Sweet] a couple nights before and had dinner with him, and we said, ‘Hey, let’s write,’ so we just hooked up one night and recorded a song.”
“It happened in four hours,” says Isaac. “It was ridiculously fast. We’ve done co-writes before that have been so long and so unnecessarily laborious. This was an incredibly good fit and we wound up with what we think is a really, really good song.”
Hanson hopes to include footage of the writing session with Sweet in a documentary about the making of the third album that the brothers are directing and hope to release along with the disc. The band’s most recent album, last year’s This Time Around, posted disappointing sales numbers compared to the group’s 1997 multiplatinum debut, Middle of Nowhere.