Hanson, who parted ways with Island Def Jam in May, announced on Wednesday the formation of their own 3CG Records label, which will issue their new album, Underneath, in the spring.
Underneath will contain several songs that Zac, Isaac and Taylor Hanson have already issued on their Underneath Acoustic EP, currently on sale via their Web site. The fresh-faced trio’s first single will be “Penny and Me,” produced by Don Henley associate Danny Kortchmar. Michelle Branch and Matthew Sweet also appear on Underneath, whose title track was co-written by Sweet.
“In general, records these days tend to be overproduced,” guitarist Isaac, 22, said. “For us, it was all about the songs. We wanted to make sure every instrument had a purpose, so that the dynamics were more contained, more powerful. You have a lot less range when you start at eight and go to 10 than if you start at four at go to 10.”
Hanson broke the news at New York’s storied Bottom Line club before a press corps attracted by the promise that the brothers would announce plans to “own” their place in music history. Singer/keyboardist Taylor, 20, said they created the independent 3CG label, named after the 1998 rarities collection Three Car Garage, in response to changes in the music industry.
Those who remember Hanson as the blonde “MMMBop” cherubs – who hit #1 in 1997 when their oldest member was a mere 17 – might have been surprised by the guys’ latest look. Isaac was sporting a preppy blazer and tie, while drummer Zac had become a brunette.
“We’re three individual guys and always have been,” Isaac said. “People are getting the opportunity to see that a little more clearly as time goes on. It’s not deliberate – it’s just who we are. When it all comes down to it, this band is just about the music.”
In keeping with the unplugged vibe, Hanson are currently in the midst of an extended acoustic tour that wraps up November 5 at Carnegie Hall. Tickets for the show went on sale Thursday. Isaac said it was a lifelong dream to “be able to stand on the same stage as so many of the artists we so admire.”
“It’s older than our home state of Oklahoma,” Isaac said. “It was built in 1891. Oklahoma was a state in 1907. When Andrew Carnegie built the place, he said, ‘There’s no house orchestra. We want everyone to be able come in and play. We want this place to be filled night after night.’ There’s no restrictions. We appreciate that Carnegie decided everyone could come on in and we could have a chance to play there.”
The show at New York’s most renowned concert venue will be yet another triumph for the band from Tulsa. The success of “MMMBop” helped pave the way for boy bands like Backstreet Boys and ‘NSYNC, and their debut album, Middle of Nowhere, sold 4 million copies. This Time Around followed in 2000.
Fans who’d like to raise a glass with Hanson to celebrate, take note: Make Zac’s a cranberry juice, because he’s still only 17.