After dealing with "heavy" topics on 2007's "The Walk" and "challenging" recording sessions for that album and 2004's "Underneath," the sibling trio Hanson "just wanted to have some fun" on its latest outing, "Shout It Out," which releases June 8.
"We wanted to make an upbeat record," oldest brother Isaac Hanson tells Billboard.com. "I think we were just ready to move forward with a really upbeat kind of attitude -- this is probably the most upbeat record we've done, period. I think we're saying that you can have a heart and compassion for others and do good things in your life, and at the same time dance in the street."
Youngest Hanson Zac adds that "it's a record where we said, 'Yeah, let's just play really loud cowbell and horns...As long as that's what makes you feel motivated and excited and gives you a sense of joy when you hear this music, that's what we need to do.'"
The 12 tracks on "Shout It Out," including the lead-off single "Thinkin' 'Bout Somethin'," represent some of the most soulful work Hanson has committed to record as well. Seven of the songs feature horn charts by Jerry Hey (Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire), while one of Motown's Funk Brothers, bassist Bob Babbitt, guests on the album, which was produced by the three Hansons and recorded in El Paso, Texas, Tulsa, Okla., and Los Angeles.
"Y'know, we grew up listening to a lot of that early R&B stuff, especially '60s and '70s R&B," notes Isaac. "Otis (Redding) and countless others, and Motown...you forget how much horns played a part in a lot of really iconic kind of American R&B sound. And that also translated into more pop and singer-songwriter stuff we used to listen to, like Billy Joel's 'An Innocent Man,' which is one of his biggest records, there's horns all over the placed on that record. That was the stuff we grew up listening to and...really worked its way onto this record."
Hanson performs "Thinkin' 'Bout You," a song that first surfaced on the group's "Taking the Walk" studio podcasts from its last album, Friday on CBS' "The Late Show with David Letterman" and April 26 on NBC's "Today" show. The group will perform at Bamboozle New Jersey on May 1 and then play eight dates on the Bamboozle Road Show in May. Meanwhile, the trio is currently gearing up for a five-show run at New York's Gramercy Theatre from April 26-30, each of which will feature a different one of Hanson's last five albums played from start to finish.
"We've been a band for a long time, and ('Shout It Out') is kind of a special record," Zac says, "so I think we just wanted to take a moment and reflect on where we've come from and sit down and say, 'OK, what is this band? What has it been?' and play these records back to back before we blaze into the future."
Isaac says he's "nervous and excited" about the shows, noting that "it's a little bit of a blur, 'cause when you're working up 65 tunes, that's a lot. But I've been pleasantly surprised by how consistent the material feels." He says the group plans to film and record the shows for subsequent release, though no details have been determined. Live streams of the concerts are also being considered, he says.