Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Zac Hanson
Zac is the drummer for the band Hanson, which is 3 brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He's the youngest, 12-years-old when they had their massive hit "MMMbop" in 1997. We spoke with him in 2004 - he got married the next year and had a son in 2008.

Hanson Photo
SF: Can you tell us the meaning behind "MMMbop," and how you came up with that?

Zac: That's an interesting one. That song started out really as the background part for another song. We were making our first independent album and we were trying to come up with a background part. We started singing a slightly different incarnation of what is now the chorus of "MMMbop." That sort of stuck in our heads and never really worked as a background part, and over a couple of years, that piece really has stuck in our heads and we really crafted the rest of the song - the verses and bridge and so on.

What that song talks about is, you've got to hold on to the things that really matter. MMMbop represents a frame of time or the futility of life. Things are going to be gone, whether it's your age and your youth, or maybe the money you have, or whatever it is, and all that's going to be left are the people you've nurtured and have really built to be your backbone and your support system.

SF: Is there any truth to the rumor that the Grateful Dead inspired this song?

Zac: No truth at all.

SF: Can you talk about where some of the lyrics came from?

Zac: They weren't inspired by one artist in particular. The first music that we got into was '50s and '60s music. If anything, "MMMbop" was inspired by The Beach Boys and vocal groups of that era - using your voice as almost a Doo-Wop kind of thing. It was something we almost stumbled upon.

SF: Did you guys have any idea that this was going to be a monster hit and take you on this journey?

Zac: Nobody expected it to have that much success. You're proud of everything you do and you're confident in everything you do, but you never know how other people are going to react. You just put your whole self into it and hopefully you can be successful.

SF: Was this the song that got you a record deal?

Zac: That was one of the first songs that got us a record deal, along with "Thinking Of You" and a couple other songs that were on our second independent album.

SF: You performed the song seemingly everywhere. Do any of those performances stick out in your mind?

Zac: Venues and audiences stick out in my mind. In Melbourne, Australia, we were supposed to do an in-store in a little record store. So many people came that they moved it out to the parking garage at the mall. When we got there, there were 21,000 people in a mall parking lot. Playing the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall, venues like that where so many great artists and so many different styles of music have come through, to be able to check even one of those off is an amazing thing.

SF: What about your appearance on Saturday Night Live? (The bit involved Helen Hunt trapping the brothers in an elevator and playing "MMMbop" until they snapped.)

Zac: That was a fun one. To be on Saturday Night Live is a very cool thing.

SF: You poked a little fun at yourselves on that one.

Zac: You've got to take yourself lightly, there's always something funny or stupid that you do, and when it comes to performing on a live comedy show, I think if you didn't poke fun at yourself, you need to question who you think you are.

SF: How do you guys approach the songwriting?

Zac: It really happens a lot of different ways. More often than any other, it's one guy coming up with a part on his own, maybe it's a chorus or verse, or parts to the other guys and saying, 'Hey, what do you think,' and then finishing the song together. It happens where you're just jamming altogether, or one guy will write most of a song, finish it and bring it to the other 2 and say, 'What do you think, is it done?' The only thing that always ends up happening is the 3 of us always get our 2 cents in to make the song better, whether it's just a couple of lyrics, a melody or chord change, whatever it is, everybody ends up coming in and adding their musical sense and ear to each song.

SF: That must be the advantage to being brothers, because I don't think strangers could deal with that after a while.

Zac: I think you're the first person that has ever said it that way - most people say, "How do you do that, you're brothers?" I don't know if it's being brothers, or if it's the fact that we've been playing together for 12 years and we know each other really well, but I think it's really just a mutual respect we have for each other's abilities. I really do love the songs that Tay, and his musical sense that he brings to the table, and Ike's sense, and I think that's what it comes down to - respecting each other's opinions and knowing they've written a lot of songs you enjoy, and you want to know what they think.

SF: Your song "Penny And Me," can you tell us about that one?

Zac: What Penny And Me talks about is how music weaves through your life and sort of how important it is. How it ties in all your friends and loved ones, whether it's a wife or girlfriend or whatever, it's always Penny And Me, you're always bringing these people with you through the music you listen to.

Referencing songs like "Feeling Alright," which is Traffic song, there's a line that says, 'Making it by under a pink moonlight,' which is a reference not only to the Nick Drake song, but that album, which is just an amazing record that everyone should listen to.

It's really a love song to music in a lot of ways, just the importance of what great music does, whether it's the song you dance to on your wedding night or that great album you listened to on a road trip with your friends, it's something that you really relate your life to, through what you heard, albums and songs.
Zac Hanson Photo
SF: Is there a reason you picked the name Penny?

Zac: Penny was a reference to "Penny Lane," The Beatles. It's a great name, and also just referencing their music sort of subconsciously was definitely a factor.

SF: You wrote that song a while ago, didn't you?

Zac: We recorded it a year and a half ago. That song has been written for a little while. This whole album process for the album Underneath, it took a while. There were a lot of songs written, and we got to the end of this process and we really felt like we hadn't finished the album without that song, so we went back in and we recorded that song. That capped off the album and we said, 'Hey, it's done.'

What it's talking about is that love of music and the importance of it. What it does throughout your life is something we wanted on the album.

SF: The song you did with Matthew Sweet, "Underneath," can you tell us about that one?

Zac: Underneath is the title track for the album. We wrote that with Matthew Sweet. We didn't really know Matthew that well, we heard his music, he's a great songwriter, and through a mutual friend, we sort of ran into each other and we were working on the new album, so we said, 'Hey, we've got some time tomorrow, you want to hang out and maybe write some music?' He had a little bit of time, so we got together and I think it was about 4 hours that we had before he had to go to a meeting and we had to do something else too, and we just threw together this song and we all just sort of sat back and went, 'Wow, it's done.'

Songs can take sometimes years, songs can come together in a couple of moments, the fluidity of how that song came together with Matthew and how natural it felt to write it with him was pretty cool.

SF: It seems like a fairly intense song. Did anyone in particular come up with the idea?

Zac: It wasn't anyone in particular. Matthew sort of came in with a chord pattern and then everybody sort of built off of that, focusing on an idea or a word or a melody part and then you sort of build out from there. It is an intense song, it's a song that I think everyone can relate to, in some way feeling - the line, 'Sitting all alone in this place, even though we're here face to face,' just talking about that ultimate disconnect, where you're right here, but you're not right here, and I think everyone's felt that in some form or another or will feel that in their life. It was just a meaningful song, and really a pillar for the whole album. After that song was written, just the way that song was, the way we recorded it and the sounds we used, it was a cornerstone for the whole record. That was part of the reason we called the album Underneath, in addition to the blatant meaning of a step deeper into who we are.

SF: The tune "Broken Angel," can you take us into that one?

Zac: It's a song about the fact that fairy tales aren't necessarily true, that people's dreams don't always flourish. Loved ones die, people who deserve so much don't get what they should, and you should still believe in fairy tales because of the beauty of it, and you should still get up and strive to be a better person, live a better life and do these things, not to fall into the norm, but strive to do something great with your life. It's kind of cheesy, but I think it's a story that everyone should put to their life and go for a little more.

SF: Back to a track on your second album, can you tell us about "This Time Around"?

Zac: That's the title track from our second album. When you hear it, it's about fighting back, 'You can't say I didn't give it, I won't wait another minute, on our way this time around.' The story line in the song, we almost pictured it as someone in the middle of a conflict, maybe a war, and the honor of giving one's self out to say, 'I'm going to go for it all no matter what the consequences are because of what really matters. I'm not going to live a free life with chains on, I'm not going to give away my friends.' It's about that ultimate sticking it to the man, the ultimate fuck you.

SF: Did it have anything to do with your record company at the time?

Zac: Not really. If anything, it's a statement to every artist and every musician out there just to say, go for it, mean something and do something great. Whatever that entails, that's what you should focus on.

SF: On a lighter note, how about the hidden track on your first album, "The Man From Milwaukee"?

Zac: That's a really fun one. Pretty simply, it's about an alien encounter. I don't really believe in aliens, but it was just a funny idea that came along. We got stuck in Albuquerque, New Mexico - we drove out from Oklahoma to make our first album, we do that every time we make an album, we drive across the country, it's sort of the beginning of the journey of making a record and the writing process. The car broke down in Albuquerque. I was sitting on the side of the road, and I started coming up with the chorus part. I brought the other guys in and said, 'I've go this stupid song, what do you think?' They said, 'Hey, it's goofy, but it's fun, and sometimes you need that.' It's just about a guy's slow turn to finally going kind of crazy.

SF: Any reason you guys put it on as the hidden track?

Zac: It represents the joy in music, the same way as "Yellow Submarine." It's not necessarily the most meaningful song or the perfectly well-written song with every edge trimmed and achieved, but it's just about having fun and the joy. That one's kind of back to our roots as a garage band, it's crazy.

We spoke with Zac on August 2, 2004

Comments:

No Comments yet! Be the first to leave a comment!

Name
Where are you from?
Your Comment
 security code

Jon Anderson of YesJon Anderson of Yes
From the lake in "Roundabout" to Sister Bluebird in "Starship Trooper," Jon talks about how nature and spirituality play into his lyrics for Yes.
Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"
"How much does it cost? I'll buy it?" Another songwriter told Jonathan to change these lyrics. Good thing he ignored this advice.
Dar WilliamsDar Williams
A popular contemporary folk singer, Williams still remembers the sticky note that changed her life in college.
Songs About MoviesSongs About Movies
Iron Maiden, Adele, Toto, Eminem and Earth, Wind & Fire are just some of the artists with songs directly inspired by movies - and not always good ones.

Search in Songwriter Interviews
search
Songwriter Interviews titles
Aaron Beam of Red Fang
Aaron Gillespie
Aaron Lewis
Adam Duritz of Counting Crows
Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne
Adam Young of Owl City
Al Anderson of NRBQ
Al Jourgensen of Ministry
Al Kooper
Alan Merrill of The Arrows
Alex Call (867-5309)
Allee Willis: Boogie Wonderland, Friends theme
Amanda Palmer
Amy Grant
Andy McClusky of OMD
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash
Angelo Moore of Fishbone
Ann Hampton Callaway
Anna Canoni about Woody Guthrie
Annie Haslam of Renaissance
Antigone Rising
Art Alexakis of Everclear
Asher Roth
Badi Assad
Bart Millard of MercyMe
Becca Stevens
Benny Mardones
Bill Withers
Billy Gould of Faith No More
Billy Joe Shaver
Billy Montana ("More Than A Memory" - Garth Brooks)
Billy Steinberg
Bo Bice
Bobby Liebling of Pentagram
Bobby Whitlock
Boz Scaggs
Brad Arnold from 3 Doors Down
Brad Smith of Blind Melon
Brandi Carlile
Brandon Heath
Brenda Russell
Brian "Head" Welch of Korn, Love and Death
Bronze Radio Return
Bruce Robison
Bryan Adams
Butch Vig
Buzz Osborne of the Melvins
Carol Kaye
Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)
Chad Urmston of Dispatch
Chan Kinchla of Blues Traveler
Charles Fox
Charlie Benante of Anthrax
Charlie Daniels
Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go's
Chris August
Chris Fehn of Slipknot
Chris Isaak
Chris Knight
Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes
Chris Squire of Yes
Chris Tomlin
Chris Willis
Chris Wilson of The Flamin' Groovies
Christopher Cross
Chuck Billy of Testament
Cody Hanson of Hinder
Colbie Caillat
Corey Hart
Craig Goldy of Dio
Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets
Cy Curnin of The Fixx
Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay
Dan Reed
Daniel Moore ("Shambala," "My Maria")
Danko Jones
Danny Kortchmar
Dar Williams
Darren King of MUTEMATH
Darryl Worley
Dave Clark
Dave Innis of Restless Heart
Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum
Dave Stewart of Eurythmics
Dave Wakeling of The English Beat
Dean Pitchford
Denny Randell
Desmond Child
Devin Townsend
Devo
Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)
Dez Fafara of DevilDriver and Coal Chamber
Dick Wagner (Alice Cooper/Lou Reed)
Dino Cazares of Fear Factory
Don Brewer of Grand Funk
Don Felder
Donald Fagen
Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)
Dr. John
Dropkick Murphys
dUg Pinnick of King's X
Duncan Phillips of Newsboys
Dwight Twilley
Eddie Carswell of NewSong
Eddie Reeves
Edwin McCain
El Sloan of Crossfade
Elvin Bishop
Emilio Castillo from Tower of Power
Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls
Eric Burdon
Eric Kretz of Stone Temple Pilots
Francesca Battistelli
Francis Rossi of Status Quo
Gary Brooker of Procol Harum
Gary Lewis
Gary Louris of The Jayhawks
Gary Numan
Gentle Giant
Georgia Middleman of Blue Sky Riders
Gilby Clarke
Glen Burtnik
Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket
Gordon Bahary
Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow)
Graham Parker
Graham Russell of Air Supply
Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Gretchen Peters (Independence Day)
Guy Clark
Gym Class Heroes
Hal Ketchum
Harold Brown of War
Harry Shearer
Hayes Carll
Henry McCullough
Henry Paul of The Outlaws, Blackhawk
Holly Knight
Holly Williams
Howard Bellamy
Howard Jones
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull
Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"
Ian Astbury of The Cult
Ian Thornley of Big Wreck
Ingrid Croce
J.D. Souther
Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees
Jake Owen
James Williamson of Iggy & the Stooges
Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed
Jane Wiedlin from the Go-Go`s
Janis Ian
Jann Klose
Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup
Jason Michael Carroll
Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica)
Jason Reeves
Jason Roy of Building 429
Jay Graydon
Jeff Walker of Carcass
Jello Biafra
Jeph Howard of The Used
Jeremy DePoyster of The Devil Wears Prada
Jess Origliasso of The Veronicas
Jesse Valenzuela of Gin Blossoms
Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds
Jimbeau Hinson
Jimmy Jam
Jimmy Webb
JJ Burnel of The Stranglers
Jo Dee Messina
Joe Ely
Joe Grushecky
Joe Jackson
Joe King Carrasco
Joe Rickard of Red
Joel Crouse
Joey + Rory
Joey Burns of Calexico
John Doe of X
John Gallagher of Raven
John Lee Hooker
John Oates
John Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls
John Waite
John Wheeler of Hayseed Dixie
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde
Jon Anderson of Yes
Jon Foreman of Switchfoot
Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Jon Tiven
Josh Kelley
Josh Shilling
Josh Thompson
Julian Lennon
Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues
Kasim Sulton (Utopia, Meat Loaf)
Keith Morris of Black Flag and OFF!
Keith Reid of Procul Harum
Kelvin Swaby of The Heavy
Ken Block of Sister Hazel
Kenny Vance
Kerry Livgren of Kansas
Kim Thayil of Soundgarden
Kirk Franklin
Kristian Bush of Sugarland
Kristine W
Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust
Larry Burnett of Firefall
Larry Wiegand of Crow
Laura Bell Bundy
Lecrae
Lee Ranaldo
Leslie West of Mountain
Lindi Ortega
Lisa Loeb
Lita Ford
Little Big Town
Lori McKenna
Louie Perez of Los Lobos
Lukas Nelson
Mac Powell of Third Day
Marc Roberge of O.A.R. (Of A Revolution)
Marcy Playground
Maria Muldaur
Maria Neckam
Mark Arm of Mudhoney
Marshall Crenshaw
Martin Page
Martin Smith of Delirous?
Martyn Ware of Heaven 17
Marvin Etzioni of Lone Justice
Mary Gauthier
Mat Kearney
Matisyahu
Matt Pike of High On Fire
Matt Pryor of Get Up Kids
Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon
Matt Sorum
Matt Thiessen of Relient K
Matthew West
Max Cavalera of Soulfly (ex-Sepultura)
Mia Doi Todd
Michael Bolton
Michael Gilbert of Flotsam and Jetsam
Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root
Michael Schenker
Michael Sweet of Stryper
Mick Jones of Foreigner
Mike Campbell
Mike Donehey of Tenth Avenue North
Mike Love of The Beach Boys
Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies
Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater
Miles Doughty of Slightly Stoopid
Millie Jackson
Mitch Myers about Shel Silverstein
Mitts of Madball
Mountain Heart
Neil Fallon of Clutch
Neil Giraldo
Nick Van Eede from Cutting Crew
Nick Waterhouse
Nick Wheeler of The All-American Rejects
Nina Persson of The Cardigans
Nona Hendryx
Oliver Leiber
Our Lady Peace
Ozomatli
Pam Tillis
Pat Alger ("The Thunder Rolls", "Unanswered Prayers")
Paul Dean of Loverboy
Paul Evans
Paul Williams
Pegi Young
Penny Ford of Snap!
Pete Anderson
Peter Lord
Petula Clark
Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")
Philip Cody
Queensr├┐che founder Geoff Tate
Radney Foster
Raghav
Ralph Casale - Session Pro
Randy Goodrum (Oh Sherrie)
Randy Houser
Randy Montana
Randy Newman
Randy Sharp (From Glen Campbell to Edgar Winter)
Randy Stonehill
Rebecca St. James
Reverend Horton Heat
Rhonda Vincent
Richard Hell
Richard Marx
Richard Patrick of Filter
Richie McDonald of Lonestar
Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)
Rick Finch
Rick Springfield
Rick Wartell of Trouble
Rik Emmett of Triumph
Robert Ellis
Roger Clyne
Rosanne Cash
Rupert Hine
Ryan Star
Sam Phillips
Sandy Chapin
Sarah Brightman
Scorpions Rudolf Schenker
Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders
Scott Jason of Thriving Ivory
Scott Stapp
Scotty Emerick (Beer For My Horses)
Serena Ryder
Seth Swirsky
Shane Volk of One Bad Son
Shaun Morgan of Seether
Shawn Smith of Brad
Shelby Lynne
Skip Ewing ("Love, Me," "The Gospel According To Luke")
Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D.
Speech of Arrested Development
Spooner Oldham
Squeeze: Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford
Stan Ridgway
Steel Magnolia
Stephen Christian of Anberlin
Steve Azar
Steve Hindalong of The Choir
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith
Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai
Sugarland
Sum 41
Sunny Sweeney
Supertramp founder Roger Hodgson
Tanita Tikaram
Taylor Dayne
Terry Cashman
Terry Jacks ("Seasons in the Sun")
Terry Taylor of Daniel Amos and Lost Dogs
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
The Dandy Warhols
The Fratellis
The Limousines
They Might Be Giants
Thomas Dolby
Tim Butler of The Psychedelic Furs
Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles
Tina Shafer
Tobin Esperance of Papa Roach
Toby Lightman
Todd Harrell of 3 Doors Down and 7dayBinge
Tom Gabel of Against Me!
Tom Johnston from The Doobie Brothers
Tom Keifer of Cinderella
Tommy James
Tommy Lee James ("She's My Kind Of Rain")
Toni Wine
Tonio K
Tony Hiller and Brotherhood of Man
Tony Joe White
Travis Stever of Coheed and Cambria
Trent Wagler of The Steel Wheels
Udo Dirkschneider (UDO, ex-Accept)
Van Dyke Parks
Vanessa Carlton
Ville Valo of HIM
Vince Clarke
Vinny May of Kodaline
Vonda Shepard
Wayne Hussey of The Mission
Wednesday 13
Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit and Black Light Burns
Will Jennings
Yael Naim
Yoko Ono
Zac Hanson
Zakk Wylde
ARCHIVES (Show)
Other Songfacts Blogs
Songwriter Interviews
Song Writing
Music Quiz
Fact or Fiction
They're Playing My Song