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The boys are grown
Road-tripping Hanson releases another album
By Donna Freydkin
(CNN) -- It's somewhere around lunchtime in the Motor City, and three photogenic lads by the name of Hanson are sitting in a van, en route to a Detroit concert.
Three years have passed since brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson released their debut "Middle of Nowhere" and invaded the pop charts with the contagiously sunny single "MMMBop." The album sold some eight million copies worldwide, according to Hanson's record label, and transformed three clean-cut kids into a trio of teen hunks. Critics say their success also helped pave the way for the current teen bands that glut record stores and airways these days: the all-mighty Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, as well as lesser lights LFO and 98 Degrees.
But not all boys - or their bands -- are created equal. Unlike the overly manufactured Backstreet Boys and their ilk, the Hanson brothers write their songs and play their own instruments. And they've even had such adult guests as Blues Traveler's John Popper and Beck compadre DJ Swamp appear on their album.
So it's somewhat ironic that, despite being far more accomplished musically than the teen studio acts to whom they're often compared, the Hanson boys aren't making much of a dent on the charts with their latest album, "This Time Around." The disc hasn't exactly exploded since its May release.
Zac and Taylor Hanson reflected on the making of their band, taking a few moments to look back as the Detroit landscape slid by outside.
CNN: Why the delay between albums?
Taylor: It's really just the way things happened. It's not based on difficulties or anything like that.
CNN: But such a long wait isn't de rigueur these days, when someone like Britney Spears releases a new album while her previous one is still on the charts.
Taylor: That's one way to do it. We really wanted to tour and we made a decision to tour in '98. We had a real longing for it. Then we did take a little break, for sort of a holiday, and last year we started the whole album process.
CNN: So you were never concerned that your fans may have lost patience and forgotten about Hanson?
Zac: You know there are still some people out there, because of them sending letters, and on the Internet, we have a huge fan base. But you never know.
CNN: What do you say to critics who blame Hanson for jump-starting the whole boy-band craze?
Taylor: I don't think one band can take credit for a whole group of people coming out. I think it all existed and it was waiting to be revived again. Our music is so different in a lot of ways that I think that it's hard to compare us to those bands at this point. I'm definitely not weird about it, because the music speaks for itself.
CNN: The three of you became musical sensations at such a young age. What was that like?
Taylor: In a lot of ways, we didn't really think about it. In some ways, we were really prepared for it. It totally blew us away, but we sort of always knew that was exactly what we wanted to be doing. The making of music and the goal of people hearing it: That was always what we wanted to do.
CNN: So how did you stay normal and sane?
Taylor: Having two brothers in a band with you kind of helps. You just try to stay as normal as possible, keep in touch with your friends, not let yourself get too carried away.
CNN: For you, what's the biggest perk of being a celebrity?
Taylor: The fact that you get to travel the world and see so many amazing places is pretty phenomenal. Just having fans is pretty phenomenal.
CNN: So what's been the freakiest thing a fan ever gave you?
Taylor: We get a lot of strange objects. One girl saved an apple that one of us had touched in a concert two years ago and put it in a jar and it was completely shriveled up. It was pretty nasty, actually. We actually signed her jar.
CNN: Do such rabid fans scare you?
Taylor: Sometimes there are certain things where you really wonder about the person, and you kind of go, 'Ooohh, I don't know,' and it's kind of scary. But in general, when you meet people, everyone is pretty normal.
CNN: What's a typical day like for you when you're not working?
Zac: We're always doing something. I don't think there is a typical day in your lifestyle. You're either on tour or promoting your record or working on your new album or demo'ing or something like that. But if you're off, if you have time completely off, it would probably be something like riding motorcycles, throwing paintball, rock climbing.
Moffatts tapping into teen market
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