Those surprised to hear the brothers Hanson had been co-writing with the likes of Matthew Sweet and ex- New Radical Gregg Alexander, may be downright shocked to hear they’ve expanded their collaboration roster to include legendary tunesmith Carole King. The Hansons – Isaac, Taylor and Zac – have just returned from mega-manager Miles Copeland’s annual “songwriting bootcamp” at Chateau de Marouatte in France where they penned and demoed two tracks, “Let You Go” and “One More Time” with King. While at Copeland’s chateau, the trio also co-wrote a number, “Never Love Again,” with the Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson and Donny Brown of the Verve Pipe.
“It was scary,” Zac says of working with King. “Afterwards, I was talking to Tay and I was like, ‘You know, when I was writing with Carole…’ and then I sat down and thought, ‘What am I doing? I’m calling Carole King by her first name!'”
“We started from scratch,” Taylor adds. “And did it in a day. [King is] just a very, very talented person, doing her thing.”
The next giant on the Hanson’s docket is producer/arranger Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews), whom the boys will be working with sometime in the coming weeks, sizing him up as a potential producer for the follow-up to last year’s This Time Around. The threesome plan on taking nearly forty songs – including those written with King, Robertson, and others written with Fastball’s Miles Zuniga and Semisonic’s Dan Wilson – into a Los Angeles studio late next month. The trio co-wrote a potential title track called “Underneath,” with Sweet earlier this year, and have since composed another song with him called “I Almost Care,” a number Taylor describes as possessing, “a kind of a cynical, almost sick way of looking at things from the guy’s perspective.”
Obviously Hanson will have to trim twenty-five or so cuts from the heap for their album, which raises the possibility of one or more high-powered collaborations winding up in the vaults. “We’ll do it purely based on what the best songs are,” Taylor says. “There are songs, especially when you’re doing collaborations, where you go, ‘That is cool but it sounds nothing like us.'”
The boys have wisely chosen to document their recent run-ins with rock royalty, self-directing a documentary about the making of their new album as well as focusing on life as a Hanson in general. Borrowing a title from one of their new songs, “Your Illusion,” the film is being shot by Taylor, Isaac and Zac on digital video.
“It’s a documentary of the album-making process and sort of the whole gauntlet of things that go on,” Taylor says. “From the beginning of an album to the end. It’s like, ‘Here’s what you think we are, and here’s what we really are.’ We wanna take it to Sundance, see if we can get it into festivals.”
Meanwhile Hanson have just wrapped their cameo in the forthcoming flick, Frank McKlusky, C.I. Shot this week at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles, with Hanson stunt doubles at the ready, the trio’s big screen debut finds them playing yet another new number (“Get Up and Go”) for a crowd of extras. The performance is interrupted when actor Enrico Colantoni (of TV’s Just Shoot Me) rushes the stage and hijinx ensue.
Directed by Arlene Sanford (A Very Brady Sequel), the very slapstick McKlusky features an ensemble cast including Randy Quaid, Dolly Parton, Dave Sheridan, Chyna, Tracy Morgan and one-time Michael Jackson cohort Emmanuel Lewis. It’s slated for theatrical release later this year. “I think it’s gonna be hilarious.” Taylor says of the movie.