Hanson still bopping
You may remember them as high-voiced teens on inline skates but Hanson can still write a catchy song to make you sing and dance along.
Hailing from Tulsa in Oklahoma, Taylor, Zac and Isaac Hanson had barely hit double digits when they had a monster singalong hit called MMMBop in 1997.
The song came off their third album and commercial debut, Middle of Nowhere, which sold more than 10 million copies. While none of the band’s subsequent eight albums has scaled the same heights, the Grammy-nominated brothers have continued to tour consistently for the past 15 years and have grown their fan base with a strong catalogue of fresh-sounding pop songs.
Hanson, who play Fremantle in September, have released two live albums and made a couple of documentaries, including one about their struggle with a major label, which rejected more than 50 of their songs because they lacked commercial appeal.
Early last decade, Hanson set up their 3CG Records label and website after leaving Island Def Jam Recordings. They say going independent has been a major reason for their continued success.
Now 29, middle brother Taylor, who sang lead on MMMBop, says it seems somewhere in the world a radio station is always playing the song and the band aren’t complaining. These days YouTube hits for the song surpass sales of the album.
Taylor, Zac, now 26, and Isaac, 31, are all married and between them have enough kids for a couple of bands. Married at 19, Taylor and his wife Natalie have four children and are expecting their fifth later this year. A multi-instrumentalist like his brothers, Taylor plays keyboards and shares vocals in Hanson.
If MMMBop ever looked like a novelty song, Taylor says, in the brothers’ minds there was never any question they were in it for the long haul.
“We are and always were musicians but it just happened that we had success with our first major release,” Taylor says.
“Most of the artists we looked up to – the Beatles, Otis Redding, the Beach Boys – they were all making music as kids. We just happened to break while we were really young.
“We love making music and love being in a band. So the only question was ever were we stubborn enough and driven enough to just keep doing it.”
Taylor and his brothers have loved music for as long as he can remember, to the point of being total geeks about it. There’s also nothing in the Hanson catalogue which he feels embarrassed about.
“As I have gotten older, I have learnt to value each of our albums for what they were, what we wrote and the people we worked with,” he says.
Constantly wanting to be creative, Taylor is part of the band Tinted Windows, with former Smashing Pumpkin James Iha, Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne and Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos. The part-time project has released one album.
The musician says writing a song doesn’t always hit the spot though. That’s why creative moments might call for an excellently executed bowl of pasta or taking a photograph.
“Music and other arts are ways of connecting. I’ve started taking photos all the time and have a nice collection of cameras,” he says.
Hanson will finish their Australian tour in Fremantle. They were here in 2005 and, while in Melbourne, recorded their second live album, The Best of Hanson: Live & Electric.
Taylor says the band have always had great fans here.
Hanson play Metropolis Fremantle on September 22. Tickets from Oztix.