Meagan Clements | Senior Staff Writer
…For three-brother band Hanson, raising awareness starts with taking action
Heralded as “the finest straight-up rock band in America by New York’s Village Voice, the three-brother band Hanson fought poverty and AIDS in Africa through their Use Your Sole tour sponsored by TOMS shoes.
Encouraging students to join in the cause, the band hosted one-mile barefoot walks at college campuses across the U.S. For each individual who walked, $1 was donated to help those in need.
“These walks are not just about us walking to fight poverty and AIDS in Africa; they are about us taking an opportunity to serve others,” guitarist Isaac Hanson said. “This is a service walk, a walk that says, ‘we are here not purely to act, but [we are here] in solidarity with those who are struggling.'”
Senior psychology major April Novall supports the band’s efforts to give back to nations in need.
“To know that they are contributing to save children [in poverty] around the world makes you feel as if you are a part of something bigger,” Novall said.
Isaac says the solution to any problem is in the action.
“It is our opportunity to act that is the most crucial,” Isaac said. [Action] makes a difference in everything.”
Isaac feels there is danger in looking only to the past and the future rather than living in the present.
“Ultimately, we’re waiting for something that we’re not willing to make happen ourselves,” Isaac said.
Isaac added that the walks are about more than raising funds.
[It’s] more about putting the action first and putting the responsibility not purely on a fund raising event, but on an action event,” Isaac said. “It’s more about engaging one another in the process of acting, not in the process of raising funds.”
Fan Holly Snider who has supported the band since 1997 feels walking barefoot is a simple reminder of the necessities often taken for granted.
“I can put my shoes back on any time I choose,” Snider said. “There are so many people who don’t have that option.”
Pianist Taylor Hanson agreed.
“Where things really make a difference is [when] you put yourself with those who are struggling, with those who are in need and get over yourself,” Taylor said. “So much of the reason why people are afraid to do things is [because] they are deeply afraid of what it means to put themselves against someone who is truly in need.”
Taylor noted that effort plays a vital role in making progress possible.
“People get caught up in the optimism of wanting to see things succeed really quickly,” Taylor said. “It takes effort to do the things that make progress possible.”
Isaac feels raising awareness is sometimes easier than taking action.
“You’d be amazed how many people are excited and willing to talk about what it is that we’re doing when we take a barefoot walk, but you’d be amazed at how scared people are when we say, ‘let’s do this barefoot,'” Isaac said.
Although the band has devoted much of their efforts to fighting issues in Africa, Isaac feels something as simple as a smile, a touch or a kind word has an equally likely chance of making a powerful impact on someone’s life.
“Hopefully our actions will be that smile, that hand up and that opportunity to possibly affect others,” Isaac said.
Drummer Zac Hanson says giving unities people of all ages and is not dependent on success of failure.
“You don’t have to succeed before you begin to give back or do things you’re passionate about that will leave the impact and the legacy you want for your life,” Zac said. “[Giving] is something that we can do as a part of the way we live and not as a byproduct of our success or failure in the commercial world.”
Longtime fan Kira Cox, describes the barefoot walks as an eye-opening experience.
“I have a feeling of peace and unity when I am taking these walks, I feel what it is like to have sore and freezing feet like children who don’t have shoes and I feel gratitude for the things I have that I tend to take for granted,” Cox said.
Using music as an avenue for expression, the band plans to release their fifth studio album this spring.
“Music is a powerful tool to engage people even if it’s just in subtle ways where you’re encouraging people to see themselves as having value,” Taylor said. “People that are confident in their own skin are going to be much more willing to get out there and do something.”
Senior music major Joel Simpson feels music is about more than a hit singe.
“You can’t touch the world just by writing songs that sell,” Simpson said. “Bands are starting to realize that what they say matters to people [regardless] of what the economy is like.”
Simpson commended Hanson for using their gift of music to give back to the world.
“Music touches everyone’s emotions and bands like Hanson have the power,” Simpson said. “It’s a blessing and about time bands stop being selfish and change the world. It’s a fresh feeling.”
To find out how you can get involved, visit: http://www.takethewalk.net.
Meagan Clements is the senior staff writer and music journalist for The Clause, weekly paper Azusa Pacific University.