Hanson Details 'Finally It's Christmas' Album & Plans for 2018

By Nicole Mastrogiannis

December 24, 2017

Hanson

For Hanson, Christmas arrived way before December 25th. The trio of brothers released their first holiday album in 20 years, Finally It's Christmas. Their first and only other Christmas album, Snowed In, was released in 1997, but now, fans have a new record to celebrate the holidays with.

Finally It's Christmas features 14 songs, which include Christmas classics like "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," in addition to a re-imagined version of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time." Hanson's new Christmas album also features several original tracks, including the title track and "'Til New Years Night."

Isaac, Taylor, and Zac recently opened up about the making of their new Christmas album during an exclusive interview with iHeartRadio. They talked about what it was like to choose songs to include on Finally It's Christmas, how they made those songs their own, including their version of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time," and what fans can look out for in 2018.

Finally It's Christmas is your first Christmas album in quite a while. What was it like to put together this time around?

Zac: "Putting together this record was difficult because we did do a lot of our favorite Christmas songs on our first Christmas album 20 years ago, Snowed In. So finding the right combination of things that really added to that record was important. That's really at least the way that I look at it is, this is an addition to Snowed In. So Finally It's Christmas is the new record, and now you sort of pair those two albums together. But I'm really happy with what we came together [with]. It has a mix of, more of those, you know, with 'Blue Christmas' and 'Please Come Home for Christmas,' you get a little more of this old 50s bluesy thing. But then there's still 'Til New Year's Night' and 'Finally It's Christmas,' the title track. [Those are] originals from us that sound really rock 'n roll and sort of ruckus; definitely a party. And then, it captures a few moments that, really, weren't as much there on Snowed In 20 years ago, which is when you hear 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' or 'Someday at Christmas.' There's a beautiful, symphonic, somber quality to the record that really fills in all those feelings that, there's lots of different emotions associated with this time of year, and hopefully together they make one great package."

Taylor Hanson

How did you choose which Christmas songs to include on Finally It's Christmas?

Isaac: "I think for me, picking the Christmas songs for this record was a good challenge, because it required us to not only consider some of the songs that we'd grown up listening to and singing, but also maybe some slightly more modern ones. Because you start saying to yourself, 'Okay, well, we need to find some different things than we did on the last record,' like, for example, 'Wonderful Christmas Time' done by Sir Paul McCartney. Great song. We really kind of R&B'd it. We took that and we're like, 'Okay. This is cool, but how do we make it our own?' And so we kind of turned it into, like, a Motown groove."

Zac: "The original version, his version, is great, but it's very synthesizers and it sort of sounds like it's straight out of the 80s or late 70s. Those sounds, those sonic tablature that was really that period of the world. And so looking at it now, kind of going, 'Well, how would we have written this song?' And so, we actually added to the song. We took a chorus we had, that was a different idea, and we put it in the middle of Paul's song, and it kind of became this interesting medley of Hanson and Paul McCartney. And then we put the whole song with really an R&B kind of old Motown-y drum group."

Taylor: "It's a new Hanson and McCartney collaboration."

Isaac Hanson

What are your favorite Christmas songs of all time?

Taylor: "Some of them are the ones that we've done. When you pick songs for an album, you're picking songs that you love. And the hard part is you pick songs that you love because you love those versions, and so you're always [saying], 'Oh, how do I live up to that version?' On this new record, Aretha Franklin's version of 'Winter Wonderland' was our inspiration for the way we did it."

Isaac: "We kind of rock 'n rolled it a little more than she does it."

Taylor: "And, Perry Como's version of 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' and 'There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays.'

Zac: "'Jingle Bells,' the Frank Sinatra version, we were talking about that."

Taylor: "The original Elvis [Presley] 'Blue Christmas' is so iconic. That's the one that everybody's been trying to emulate. So, picking Christmas songs is a combination of picking your strengths that you know you can do well, and also just picking the songs you love, and the songs that have those memories for you."

Zac: "I will say it's very daunting to go in and you're looking at all these amazing performances by artists over the years, right? Talk about Aretha Franklin's version of 'Winder Wonderland' and then you're gonna do your own, and you go, 'How do we do this without just falling flat on our face?' Because you're going up against some of the greatest performers ever. I think about 'Please Come Home For Christmas.' When we did that vocal for that song, it was like, 'Just don't screw it up.' It's really hard because you love these people that have done these records, and you want to be able to come up there behind them and sort of support the legacy of these songs without destroying them by making them your own."

Does that make you nervous?

Isaac: "I think inevitably you are a little bit nervous covering other people's stuff, but not in necessarily an apprehensive way. More out of respect for it. It's the kind of thing where you say to yourself, you know, when you do 'Someday At Christmas' by Stevie Wonder, you say to yourself, 'Okay, I want to make sure that I do this song justice, I do it properly, but also I do need to make sure that my identity isn't an impersonation of the version that was done before.' I think that that's really the key, is both having the respect for the music that has come before you, having the respect for the artist that you're covering, but also not finding yourself in a place where you're actually mimicking something that they've done. Actually really taking it in and your own."

Zac: "I almost think of it like, you need to add to what that song is, and your performance needs to be something that builds on a tapestry of different people who have put their take on it, their fingerprint on these songs. Because if you listen to Charles Brown's version of 'Please Come Home For Christmas,' it's perfect. Like, you can't do better that style at that song. So when you come at it, you need to find a unique angle to that song without also making it no longer the spirit of what it was. So, it's a balance. It's hard. But I think we managed to do something I'm really proud of."

Zac Hanson

As 2017 comes to a close, what can fans look forward to in 2018?

Taylor: "Well, we haven't announced everything, but there's one thing -- we will definitely be playing more shows and we have a special tour that we're gonna do. Haven't announced the exact nature of that tour. But definitely gonna be bringing shows to fans again next year. And then for a lot of fans that are sort of on the inside, we do an EP for our fan club every year no matter what. So there's always looking forward to that sort of creative expression."

Isaac: "We'll do that in the early part of the year, and then we'll probably also have some other music that goes along with the tour in some way or another.

Taylor: "We feel like this year is not the end of 25 years, but the start of the next, and so it's kind of getting us up to speed for what's coming."

Hanson - 'Finally It's Christmas'

Photos: Rachel Kaplan

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