The longhaired teen trio Hanson came and went with a quick "mmmBop" in 1997. Now, following three attempts at holding onto their multiplatinum status, the brothers have created Underneath, a sincere and overwhelmingly hook-laden pop album. There's no mistaking the 1997 vintage of Hanson underneath its current image, but the boys are coming at the world with a fresh edge (and new haircuts!). Just days before the start of their Underneath tour, drummer Zac Hanson took time out from rehearsing to talk about the recording process, the band's upcoming tour, and its notorious fans. And he just wants you to know one thing: He's not 12 anymore.

Creative Loafing: Hanson has been promoting Underneath for two or three months now. What goes into that?

Hanson: The worst part is generally when you're out doing interviews. You're not doing music. I can either sit with you for an hour-and-a-half and tell you why and how I make music, or I can stand in front of you and play a three-minute song, and you'd understand.

You've talked about the symbolism of Penny [from Underneath's "Penny and Me"] as being a great memory or person in your life. What have been some of the "Pennys" from the time surrounding the recording of the album?

Those joyous moments in the album when you really finish something and you say, "Hold on, we got it. No more shakers, no more vocals, just stop." When we wrote "Strong Enough to Break," there was a drum box — it's a hollow wooden box with strings strung across it, so it snaps whenever you hit it — and there was a 1912 pump organ and Ike was playing a 1950s 335 [guitar]. And we just sat down with all these weird instruments. [Co-writer Greg Wells'] guitar was this little papoose, it's this half-size guitar tuned to G, but I was like, "Screw it, it doesn't matter that I'm playing a box and he's playing a pump organ that's been out of tune for 50 years." It's about the feeling, not the perfection.

When you're on tour, do you all talk about each performance or do you leave it as a "feeling" that it was and go on?

We're so hypercritical of ourselves that I must say we do criticize ourselves. The thing about a Hanson show is that you're not going to get pyrotechnics or a crazy light show or a [backdrop] that's out of this world. You're just going to see guys playing music. It's going to be fun — it's going to have rockin' tunes — it's going to have old Hanson stuff and new Hanson stuff and everything in between and then a lot of covers and whatever fun song we feel like working up in soundcheck. Don't come if you aren't ready to open your ears and have fun and dance and get involved.

What are some of the covers you love to play?

Everything from Little Richard tunes to Radiohead tunes to Ryan Adams — not Bryan Adams. If it's a great song and if we could pull it off, we'd love to play it.

Have the fans grown up?

Oh yeah! People go, "So your fans are still like what — 12?" and I go, "Am I 12? No, I mean I was 12, seven years ago, so that makes my fans 12, seven years ago." For them to keep coming back to you for the music and for you to be able to be their emotional relief of sorts, it's such a cool thing. You really want your music to strike an emotional chord — hopefully your lyrics and everything of who you are that you're putting into the album and songs can really speak to people.

You talk about appreciating the people who are working to get out there — are you involved in the process of picking these kinds of artists to open for you?

Completely. Most of the bands who are going out with us are bands who are really out there trying to get heard and trying to get to their audience and find fans. Every tour we've ever done, we've taken out bands like that. You hope to be able to do the things that people did for you when you were starting out, with helping them out with what you can and finding talented musicians.

Hanson plays the Tabernacle, July 6, at 8 p.m. $25. The Tabernacle, 152 Luckie St., 404-659-9022. www.atlantaconcerts.com/tabernacle.html.