By JAY CRIDLIN
Times Staff Writer
Want to feel old? Listen to this: Taylor Hanson is 27.
He's older than Mark Zuckerberg. He's older than LeBron James. He's older than Rihanna, Rafael Nadal and Scarlett Johansson.
Criminy: He's older than the Fox network.
"Especially with the last album, we've started to see, actually, a younger contingent of fans," said Hanson, the lead singer and keyboardist for his eponymous band of brothers. "They're still in high school and college, which makes you realize, 'Wow, we've been doing this for a while.' "
When MMMBop took the world by storm in 1997, critics not only praised the song but predicted that Hanson's talent would enable them to stick around the music industry for the long haul. Turns out they were right. Oklahoma bros Taylor, Zac and Isaac have aged well since their days as pixieish blond preteens, releasing album after album of well-received rock 'n' soul and winning over fans who, believe it or not, couldn't care less about MMMBop. When Hanson hits the State Theatre on Friday night, hundreds of Taylor-loving women in their 20s will be singing right along to later songs like Penny & Me, This Time Around or Thinking 'Bout Somethin', from their 2010 disc Shout It Out.
We caught up with Taylor by phone from his Oklahoma studio, where he was working on a five-disc DVD set, 5 of 5, consisting of live performances of each of the band's five albums.
I'm going to the show in St. Pete, and I'm looking forward to it. But you probably won't be surprised to know that my wife played a big role in our decision to buy tickets. Do you get a lot of that in your crowds — husbands and boyfriends who are incapable of stopping their wives from buying a ticket?
(laughs) Well, I hope it's not too painful for you. You know, there's a unique dynamic with the band. You have, on one level, guys who were probably 14 when I was 14, who are like, "Man, I hated you — all the girls were screaming; they had their Hanson posters on the wall, and I wanted to put a fist through it." But that goes away over time. We've always had more female fans, but unless you're, like, a heavy rock band, that's almost always true. There's almost always more music buyers that are women. Guys are just slower. We're more stubborn.
You're 27, but you've lived on the road almost your whole life, and you have four kids. Are you starting to feel old?
(laughs) Yeah, man, I'm all kinds of things. We've definitely put our bodies through stress and strain in the last decade. But I wouldn't say anything like, "I feel the gray hairs coming in."
You haven't reached the point where you're like, "Oh, the music these kids today are listening to, I just don't get it."
Well, I've always felt that way.
You didn't understand why people were listening to Hanson in the '90s?
I was glad people were listening to Hanson. But there's always only a few things that are current, that are popular, that I think are good. Every time we put out a record, I'm always scratching my head about half of what's on the radio, thinking, "I'm glad they're playing our record, but what about that other stuff?"
So what are you into these days?
I think Arcade Fire continues to put out great records. I think Taylor Swift is a refreshing pop artist, because she actually knows who she is. She has no delusions about who she's talking to, and she's really talented.
Were you upset that she and Taylor Lautner sort of co-opted the Taylor name?
(laughs) I think I'd have to take that one up with their parents. And also, we've met a couple of times, and she's been nothing but complimentary of me and of us. So, no problem with the Taylor name. I think she's done a pretty good job with it.
Who's the most surprising Hanson fan you've ever met?
We've had a few different people like Alice Cooper or Michael Stipe from R.E.M., where we were like, "Oh, I didn't expect that." (Toto's) Steve Lukather, who is definitely a rock dude, has been really complimentary.
Have your kids shown any musical proclivities just yet?
I would be lying if I said no. They're definitely musical, highly musical. But I think being musical and whether they'll actually be musicians is a whole different question. We were going to be musicians because it was obvious that we had this strange drive, and our folks said, "We can't really stop you. We need to support what you're doing." . . . All I know how to do is just wait for it to come from them, and be willing to encourage it.