You probably didn’t expect to find the meaning of life in “MMMBop,” but Hanson’s No. 1 smash hit — which had everybody bopping 25 years ago — is deeper than you might think.
“The song [is] all about the passage of time and how very few things will last,” Zac Hanson told The Post. “‘In an mmmbop, they’re gone/In an mmmbop, they’re not there.’ And so it’s really saying, ‘Life comes and goes … so you better be conscious, you better dive into what you really want from it, because it’s just gonna be gone.’”
But a quarter-century after the signature single from this band of brothers was released on April 15, 1997, Hanson and “MMMBop” are still jangling along, continuing their steady output of music with a new album, “Red Green Blue,” out May 20. And drummer Zac, keyboardist Taylor and guitarist Isaac Hanson — who were only 11, 14 and 16, respectively, when the bouncy ditty catapulted them to pop stardom — are still bonded together by, as the song goes, the “secret no one knows.”
“It’s wild to see ‘MMMBop’ have that much longevity,” said Zac, who is now 36. “To sit here and have people still care about that song, it’s kind of this crazy inward spiral of the song’s meaning.”
“At the very beginning of our career, we had such a sense of wanting to … be an artist that could have that history,” added Taylor, now 39. “It feels good to just have reached some milestone and still at least be kicking and making some noise.”
Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the classically trained Hanson brothers began making music together around their family home when other boys were going to soccer practice. “We began transitioning into being a real garage band — or a living-room band, actually,” said Taylor.
Indeed, the singing siblings had racked up professional experience before “MMMBop” even dropped, having made their debut as a band in May 1992. Written by the threesome, the tune — inspired by old-school groups such as the Beach Boys and the Jackson 5 — came together in their living room as a kind of “campfire” song. It originally appeared on Hanson’s 1996 independent album “MMMBop,” but then the producer-duo Dust Brothers punched it up for the fair-haired trio’s major-label debut LP, 1997’s “Middle of Nowhere.”
“The big difference really is the tempo,” said Zac. “‘MMMBop’ originally started off slow.”
“MMMBop” shot to the top of the charts in 1997 while also winning critical acclaim: The song was voted best single of the year by the Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop critics poll while further earning Hanson three Grammy nominations, including for Record of the Year. But the brothers were laying the foundation for a career that could be about more than just one song.
“We were lucky that for all of the challenges, I think the most kind of redeeming quality for us was we were experienced-enough writers, we were able to write a lot of the songs that were on that [‘Middle of Nowhere’] record. We were able to write all of them,” said Isaac, 41. “We had a lot of confidence in the fact that it was our voice and that we knew who we were.”
Not that it’s always been easy navigating their musical aspirations as both bandmates and brothers — especially after finding success so early in their lives. “I think what we found was that we could, in a way, write our way through the difficulties,” said Zac. “You begin to write … about what you’re going through, and that becomes a form of therapy, and you have to share it with each other.”
Now, they’ve also had plenty of experience sharing fatherhood together, raising 15 kids between them — Isaac has three children, Taylor has seven and Zac has five — while each has been married for at least 16 years (Isaac and Zac got hitched in 2006, four years after Taylor).
So can we expect Hanson: The Next Generation? “I would be really surprised if one of them didn’t do something in this sort of a creative space,” said Zac.
“But we’ll discourage them at every turn,” added Isaac with a laugh.
In celebration of their 30th anniversary as a band, Hanson is busy gearing up for the release of “Red Green Blue” and a tour that’s scheduled to hit the Upper West Side’s Beacon Theatre on July 31. The LP — featuring each brother taking the lead for one-third of the tracks — gets its title from the colors their mother would dress them in as the three oldest siblings out of seven children.
“If you’re part of a big family, you’re constantly trying to identify your stuff versus other people’s stuff,” said Zac. “From an early age, I was blue, Isaac was green, Taylor was red … It was sort of fortuitous that they picked the right colors, but it does kind of fit with our style.”